Save the Date: MLK Day Event on Jan. 16 Focuses on Death Penalty|
JSPAN, in collaboration with Arcadia University's Office of Institutional Diversity and the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP, will host a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event "A Community Discussion on the Death Penalty." The program will be held on Monday, January 16th, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Murphy Hall, Stiteler Auditorium, at Arcadia University.
Panelists include Arcadia's Dr. John Noakes, Associate Provost of Academic Improvement and Interim Dean of Graduate Studies; Attorney and Activist, Michael Coard; and Marc Bockman, Executive Director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. The panel discussion will be moderated by E. Steven Collins, Radio One's Director of Urban Marketing and External Relations and host of Philly Speaks on 107.9, WRNB FM. (Panel still in formation).
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.
2012 - Our Unique Mission in Court|
By Kenneth Myers, Esquire|
Vice President, JSPAN
JSPAN is unusual in its commitment to monitoring and entering court cases. Why? The courts usually have the last word on people’s rights and obligations. And never doubt that the judges make law, including "liberal" judges and "originalist" judges and all those in between. They make law when statutes present open questions, leaving issues either overlooked or left vague for political reasons. They make law when changes in society bring new issues, or technology brings new possibilities.
In 2012 expect to see a good deal of judge-made law on important social
policy issues. Consider key cases that JSPAN's Church-State Policy Center
and its Health Care and Bioethics Policy Center are monitoring or entering
at this time:
Other major issues that are assured or very likely to come up in 2012, include whether Arizona or other states may pass laws that seek to impose special controls on immigrants, whether state laws will be allowed to chip away at women's rights, challenges to gerrymandered election districts, and a number of church-state separation cases.
- The Affordable Care Act, the central achievement of the Obama Administration's first two years in office, requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay the government a penalty if they choose not to do so. This "individual mandate," which is key to the important insurance reforms in the law, is under attack by 26 state attorneys general. JSPAN is working with other Jewish agencies to prepare an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court urging that the law preserves both individual rights and states rights, and should be upheld.
- A very bad idea adopted by Congress during the Clinton Administration is the Defense of Marriage Act, establishing a federal definition of marriage and hobbling laws in several states that allow gay unions. A few courts have held this provision of DOMA unconstitutional, an unjustified federal government intrusion into an area always controlled by the states. Other courts disagree. Massachusetts, which allows gay union, challenged DOMA. JSPAN has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the state's position.
- A well known retail clothing store chain insists that its sales staff dress in the style of clothes it sells. It does not allow Moslem headdress (or, hypothetically, Jewish kippot?). The JSPAN Church-State policy Center is studying this current case in which the retail employer is accused of failing to provide religious accommodation. The employer argues that the salesperson took the job knowing the policy and knowing that she would not comply, but said nothing.
The JSPAN Church-State Policy Center is unique in this region, and is a
central force in our pursuit of social justice and equality. And through our
Health Care and Bioethics Policy Center, JSPAN programming and action attain
state-of-the-art currency and relevance in this important subject area.
Executive Director Leaves JSPAN to Pursue New Civic Roles|
Ruthanne Madway, JSPAN's Executive Director, announced her resignation to the Board last month to pursue many of her civic engagement interests. The Board regretfully accepted. Ruthanne enjoyed a long list of accomplishments at JSPAN-among them managing the most successful Social Justice Award event the organization has had, improving substantially the organization's financial health, and developing and implementing numerous effective administrative and organizational policies. She came to JSPAN after serving as founding Executive Director of East of Broad Improvement Association, an organization that spearheaded the revitalization of the east of broad district of center city. Although functioning in a volunteer-driven, fiercely independent agency was a significant change in direction and challenge, she leaves JSPAN in the best shape ever on all fronts, and for that the Board is extremely grateful and wishes her well in her new pursuits.
Women's Rights - Always in the Headlines|
At the close of the year, two significant developments in Pennsylvania abortion law occurred. After heated debate in the legislature, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill requiring expensive facility and staff expansions for clinics that perform abortions -- legislation that prochoice supporters, including JSPAN, actively opposed. Also, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act does not allow a court to deny judicial authorization to a minor for an abortion purely because the minor did not receive parental consent for the abortion. At least for now, the Court's decision is being hailed as a victory by both sides of the abortion debate. See below. -Ed.
Tom Corbett Signs Law on Abortion Clinic Standards|
The Associated Press|
December 22, 2011
A bill that could mean expensive facility and staff expansions for clinics that perform abortions in Pennsylvania is now state law after a bitter fight in the Legislature. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill today without comment.
Operators of abortion clinics worry that they'll be unable to afford the cost to comply with the same standards as freestanding surgery centers. They say much will depend on how the state Department of Health decides how to apply them.
Lack of Parental Consent Can't Bar Judicial-Sanctioned Abortion|
The Legal Intelligencer|
By Gina Passarella
December 23, 2011
A Pennsylvania court cannot deny judicial authorization to a minor for an abortion purely because the minor did not receive parental consent for the abortion, the state Supreme Court ruled.
The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act requires unemancipated children under the age of 18 to receive parental permission to undergo an abortion. The act provides, however, that the pregnant youth can obtain a "judicial bypass" of the parental consent requirement if the court finds the minor is "'mature and capable of giving informed consent to the proposed abortion, and has, in fact, given such consent.'"
Abortion Opponents Heartened By Pennsylvania High Court Ruling|
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review|
By Bobby Kerlik
December 24, 2011
Abortion opponents are hoping a state Supreme Court decision clarifying how minors can get judicial approval for abortions will encourage county judges to scrutinize such requests.
The court ruled on Thursday that a 17-year-old's decision not to ask her mother's permission for an abortion was not a valid reason for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip Ignelzi to deny her the procedure in March 2010.
The 6-1 ruling was the court's first public decision on the issue of "judicial bypass" as part of the state's Abortion Control Act. The law states that if a pregnant girl younger than 18 doesn't get parental consent, a judge can authorize an abortion after determining she's "mature and capable of giving informed consent."
Helping Working People|
Eight states and San Francisco have increased minimum wage rates above federal levels in an effort to keep their wage floors in step with inflation. Due in part to conflicting research reports in this area, there is disagreement as to the effect of raising minimum wage on unemployment rates. Also with respect to wage and hour regulations, President Obama and Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Labor, The Honorable Hilda L. Solis, have proposed a rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to the nearly two million in-home caregivers across America - protections they currently are denied. -Ed.
Wage Floor Is Increasing in 8 States in New Year|
The New York Times
By Catherine Rampell
December 23, 2011
Eight states will ring in the New Year with a higher minimum wage, under state laws that require wage floors to keep pace with inflation. San Francisco, one of the few cities that sets its own minimum wage above the federal level, is also raising wages for the lowest-paid workers in the new year. It will become the first big city in the country to require companies to pay their workers more than $10 an hour.
The minimum wage increases in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will be 28 cents to 37 cents an hour, according to the National Employment Law Project. That is an extra $582 to $770 a year for a full-time minimum wage worker, and resets these states' minimum wages to $7.64 to $9.04 an hour.
Treating In-Home Caregivers as Professionals|
U.S. Department of Labor Website|
Remarks of the Honorable Hilda L. Solis
December 15, 2011
Good afternoon. Thank you for joining me on the call. Today, I was proud to stand with President Obama as he announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a new rule to recognize in-home care workers as the professionals that they are. Our proposed rule would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to nearly two million in-home caregivers across America - protections they're currently denied.
These caregivers are dedicated professionals who provide critical in-home services to the elderly and persons with disabilities. These services include tube feeding, wound care, or assistance with physical therapy. Their work allows our loved ones to stay in their homes and live independently.
Currently, workers who provide so-called "companionship services" are exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
South Carolina is one of more than a dozen states that recently enacted new, more restrictive, voting statutes requiring photo identification. The state is under particular restraints concerning changes to its election rules or practices. Pursuant to the Voting Rights Act, because of its history of discriminatory practices, South Carolina has the burden of proving that its new statute would not disproportionately suppress minority voting even where there is no evidence of discriminatory intent. As a result, The U.S. Justice Department has blocked the new law. In the meantime, Pennsylvania legislators have been hotly debating a bill containing similar voter identification requirements which, as recently amended, is likely to be signed by Pennsylvania Governor Corbett. -Ed.
Justice Dept. Cites Race in Halting Law Over Voter ID|
The New York Times|
By Charlie Savage
December 23, 2011
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department on Friday blocked a new South Carolina law that would require voters to present photo identification, saying the law would disproportionately suppress turnout among eligible minority voters.
The move was the first time since 1994 that the department has exercised its powers under the Voting Rights Act to block a voter identification law. It followed a speech this month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that signaled an aggressive stance in reviewing a wave of new state voting restrictions, largely enacted by Republicans in the name of fighting fraud.
Pennsylvania Voter ID Bill Put Off Until 2012|
Philadelphia Weekly/Philly Now |
By Randy Lo Basso
December 14, 2011
After several amendments were passed through committee, the state Senate did not consider the Voter ID bill yesterday. This means the Legislature will not be able to consider the bill until January, since they're set to go on their long vacations this week.
The bill, as we detailed yesterday, was originally written to require a government-issued ID at the polls. It was amended to allow nursing home, college and some expired IDs. However, critics say these changes are moot and, once enacted, this legislation will still disenfranchise poor, minority and elderly voters, who often do not have ID.
The bill is opposed by several local and state groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Committee of Seventy. In an email blast yesterday, Seventy wrote, "The non-partisan Committee of Seventy opposes this voter ID bill. It especially hurts minority, low-income and senior voters who are more likely to lack an acceptable ID. There has been no evidence of rampant voter fraud that mandating a voter ID would prevent. Why insist on only photo IDs issued by the government?
HRC Launches Jewish Organization Equality Index|
Human Rights Campaign Blog|
By Paul Guequierre
November 11, 2011
HRC is launching the first-of-its-kind Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI) survey. JOEI is modeled after HRC's Corporate Equality Index and Healthcare Equality Index, and measures LGBT-inclusion at Jewish non-profit organizations.
HRC first announced the formation of JOEI in January 2011. Shortly thereafter, HRC hired a program manager who has spent the past ten months consulting with leaders in the Jewish community, executives of Jewish non-profit organizations and members of the clergy on how to most effectively rate Jewish nonprofit organizations on their workplace policies related to LGBT employees. The work also will include an assessment of organizations' cultural competency in delivering services to the LGBT community, such as whether the agency has inclusive language and messaging for LGBT clients, members, students, campers, youth, or parents.
The final JOEI report, due in the spring of 2012, will focus on accomplishments and highlight opportunities for improvement within organizations and the community as a whole in a non-punitive framework that encourages education, dialogue, and improvement.
The survey is open to all Jewish community non-profit organizations. Participants have until March to complete the survey. Any organization interested in participating in the survey can email HRC Foundation staff at JewishEquality@hrc.org or can visit www.hrc.org/joei
Guns in Public, and Out of Sight|
The New York Times|
By Michael Luo
December 26, 2011
Alan Simons was enjoying a Sunday morning bicycle ride with his family in Asheville, N.C., two years ago when a man in a sport utility vehicle suddenly pulled alongside him and started berating him for riding on the highway.
Mr. Simons, his 4-year-old son strapped in behind him, slowed to a halt. The driver, Charles Diez, an Asheville firefighter, stopped as well. When Mr. Simons walked over, he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
"Go ahead, I'll shoot you," Mr. Diez said, according to Mr. Simons. "I'll kill you."
Mr. Simons turned to leave but heard a deafening bang. A bullet had passed through his bike helmet just above his left ear, barely missing him.
Mr. Diez, as it turned out, was one of more than 240,000 people in North Carolina with a permit to carry a concealed handgun. If not for that gun, Mr. Simons is convinced, the confrontation would have ended harmlessly. "I bet it would have been a bunch of mouthing," he said.
Mr. Diez, then 42, eventually pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
Across the country, it is easier than ever to carry a handgun in public. Prodded by the gun lobby, most states, including North Carolina, now require only a basic background check, and perhaps a safety class, to obtain a permit.
In state after state, guns are being allowed in places once off-limits, like bars, college campuses and houses of worship. And gun rights advocates are seeking to expand the map still further, pushing federal legislation that would require states to honor other states' concealed weapons permits. The House approved the bill last month; the Senate is expected to take it up next year.
Your Opinion Counts|
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First Vice President
Secretary & General Counsel
Policy Centers Chair
Chair of the Board of Directors
David S. Broida
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Rabbi Elliot Holin
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Rabbi David Straus
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Jill Katz Zipin