CALLING OUT BIG BROTHER, PART II — Progressive organizations continue to demand government transparency in the wake of realizations that the National Security Administration (NSA) is pushing the limits of the PATRIOT Act. Human Rights First sent a letter urging companies implicated in the PRISM program including Apple, Facebook, Google, Skype, and YouTube to disclose information requests from the NSA to the general public.
People for the American Way created a petition insisting Congress repeal the most ambiguous sections of the PATRIOT Act, including Section 215, from which Verizon’s phone records were recently confiscated. SIGN here.
SCHOOLHOUSE BLUES, JAILHOUSE ROCK — The Teacher Action Group launched “Faces of The Layoffs,” a website dedicated to documenting the ramifications of Philadelphia’s continued austerity measures against their public schools. The campaign follows Mayor Michael Nutter’s (D) decision last week to lay off almost 4,000 school employees. This latest cut comes after a March ruling by the Philadelphia School District’s state-run School Reform Commission to close 23 – about 10 percent – of the city’s schools. Philadelphia is just the most recent in a string of state and local governments across the country slashing education budgets, yet this fails to explain how they have $400 million to build a prison currently being built outside of the city.
PROGRESSIVE GROUPS APPLAUD VOTING RIGHTS — Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis commended the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) ruling that Arizona’s Proposition 200, which required people to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote, was unconstitutional: “With the tremendous success of the National Voter Registration Act in boosting participation through the mail-in voter registration form, as well as safeguarding the process against fraud, there is simply no need for laws like Prop 200 that only restrict access to the ballot.” While the majority’s decision invalidated by Arizona’s attempt at voter suppression, it left the door open for Election Assistance Commissions (EAC) to require additional proof of citizenship in the voting registration process.
Alliance for Justice, American Civil Liberties Union, American Constitution Society, The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Demos also released statements in support of the ruling.
SCOTUS is still scheduled to rule on affirmative action and gay marriage before the end of the month. United for Marriage is planning rallies across the country on DOMA and Prop 8′s decision day. Find out more HERE.
TAX CUTS = INCOME EQUALITY? — The Economic Policy Institute has found that policymakers’ decisions to cut taxes over the past 40 years have significantly contributed to the perpetually growing income divide between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country. READ: “Rising Income Inequality and the Role of Shifting Market-Income Distribution, Tax Burdens, and Tax Rates.”
JUSTICE FOR SALE — In light of debates concerning the increasing politicization of the justice system, the American Constitution Society found a significant correlation between campaign contributions and judicial rulings for the 89 percent of all state court judges elected by voters. Author of the report and Emory University Law School professor Joanna Shepherd: “We have found an increasing role of money in influencing judicial decisions.”
SANDY HOOK’S LEGACY – Following the six month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report yesterday revealing the ways that Congress has hindered efforts to thwart theft by gun dealers. “Lost and Stolen Guns from Gun Dealers” urges Congress to remove an existing appropriations rider that blocks the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from enforcing gun dealers to perform annual audits on their inventories. CAP senior fellow Arkadi Gerney: “Legislation to expand gun background checks remains the top priority in Congress, but another step [they] can take to help law enforcement keep guns out of the hands of criminals is removing the antipolice budget rider that contributes to the epidemic of lost and stolen guns.” Roughly 14 percent of gun-trafficking investigations involve guns stolen from gun dealers.
FROM THE WONK WIRE …
… THE PRIVACY GAP: Harvard Law Professor and Top Wonk Lawrence Lessig tells Bill Moyers that privacy guards and protections have not kept up with sophisticated technology, raising the potential for flagrant abuses of our civil liberties.
Find out more at www.topwonks.org
ON OUR AGENDA …
THEY PROTECT US, LET’S PROTECT THEM — On Tuesday, the Agenda Project Action Fund released a new video skewering 17 U.S. Senators who gutted a proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) which would have removed the adjudication of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. The video – which names the 17 Senators who voted against the Gillibrand proposal – features several military rape survivors testifying that the chain of command failed them. WATCH: 17 Senators.