Civil Rights Commission Releases Negative Evaluation of Bush Administration
The United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a report last week evaluating the accomplishments and setbacks in civil rights’ progress. The Commission examined areas of continued disparities for minority groups such as housing, employment, voting, and education, reporting an overall negative assessment of the Bush Administration’s efforts. The report, entitled “Redefining Rights in America—The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004”, cited the administration’s resistance in making civil rights a priority, in eradicating entrenched discrimination, in protecting the rights of the disadvantaged, and in promoting minority access to Federal Programs as evidence of their assessment.
The report cited the administration’s failure to speak about initiatives, place civil rights advocates in appointed positions, or add spending to the six major civil rights programs. The commission concluded that Bush has “implemented policies that have retreated from long-established civil rights promises.” It cites the Administration’s failure to enact Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in enough time to effect the 2004 elections, the stripping of money from minority and low-performing students in the No Child Left Behind Act, increased tolerance of racial profiling, and inadequate support for affirmative action, housing support, environmental justice and hate crimes as evidence of these shortfalls.
The commission reported that the Administration failed to provide both protections for immigrants and resources and funding for Native Americans. Bush has also opposed legislation that would provide protection for gay individuals, while supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which if passed, “would be the first in U.S. history to limit rather than preserve and expand the rights of a group.”
Specifically investigating the Bush Administration’s work for women’s rights, the commission issued mixed reviews. While citing his efforts to secure capital for female small-business owners and entrepreneurs, the President also abolished the Department of Labor’s Equal Pay Initiative, and withdrew distribution of Department of Education guidance on sexual harassment on the Internet and in the workplace. The President also “attempted to redirect Title IX enforcement, but ceased his effort after overwhelming public expressions of support for the law.”
The report was recently published on the Internet after completion of the commission staff’s work, but before commissioners made final challenges and took votes. Republicans on the commission have suspicions that the timing of the release, just before the November elections, has political motivations. According to the New York Times, the commission’s Chairperson Mary Frances Berry, an independent, answered this claim and justified the immediate posting of the report on the web as an attempt to undermine media leaks, not one with political motivation. In fact, the decision to make a preliminary draft open to the public via the Internet was approved by a majority of the commissioners two years ago. The report, a blow to the Bush Administration’s perceived commitment to civil rights, will not be considered by the commissioners until after the election, but will in the meantime remain accessible to the public.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .