William Brennan, the former Supreme Court Justice who ardently fought for civil rights and individual freedoms, died July 24 in an Arlington, Virginia nursing home. In his 34-year career on the high court, he helped the Constitution achieve its purpose of protecting the dignity of all individuals, no matter what their rank or standing. In addition to upholding freedom of speech, Brennan led the Court in denouncing sex discrimination, protecting abortion rights and promoting affirmative action. In 1972, Brennan argued that treating the sexes differently was only permissable when a compelling government interest was at stake. The same year, his opinion striking down a Massachusetts law banning the sale of contraceptives paved the way for Roe vs. Wade. He wrote, "If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwanted governmental intrusions into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as whether to bear or beget a child." In his 1979 United Steelworkers of America v. Weber opinion, Brennan explained that federal anti-discrimination law does not prohibit employers from adopting affirmative action programs. On his last day as a Supreme Court Justice in 1990, Brennan spoke for the 5-4 majority upholding federal affirmative action in government contracting.
Media Resources: USA Today and The Los Angeles Times - July 25, 1997
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .