Sunday, June 11, 2017

Education Benefits Outweigh Costs

(June 2, 2017 – Washington, D.C.) The proposed federal budget includes $9.2 billion dollars in cuts to federal education programs. Programs and services scheduled for reduction include Title One, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Title IV ESSA (which funds computer science literacy grants), Career and Technical Education, Special Olympics, TRIO and Upward Bound. Cutting effective programs may prove to be penny-wise and pound foolish.  There is no assertion that these programs are outmoded, wasteful or ineffective.  
Nothing works better than education to raise lifetime earnings, improve family stability, decrease income inequality, reduce crime and improve competitiveness. It is wiser to have high quality public education for all children, regardless of socio-economic status, geography or race.  We should resist the temptation to think of education as a commodity reserved for the privileged among us. Students from all walks of life benefit from increased educational opportunity.  Moreover, education is good for the nation - not just the individual - because it teaches more than job skills.  Learning lights the path to citizenship.  For example, black boys who attend college reduce the odds of incarceration from 30% to 5% (even if they don't graduate). In short, education pays for itself.
The National Council of Negro Women urges the House of Representatives to give careful thought before reducing the effectiveness of the nation’s educational effort.  The National Council of Negro Women is a 3,000,000-member coalition of women’s groups that was organized 82 years ago by Mary McLeod Bethune, who was an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In its early decades NCNW fought for peace and against race discrimination.  Today, NCNW works to lead, advocate and empower women of African descent and their families.  The key to empowerment is education.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

States Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice

Senator  Sessions,  Massive  Resistance  and States' Rights

Senator Jeff Sessions' nomination to become the next U.S. Attorney General has been broadly criticized by civil and human rights advocates. Criticism has focused on Sessions' attitudes toward blacks, and to a lesser degree, toward the LGBTQ community. Mr. Brooks and NAACP officials voluntarily went to jail in protest. Vida Johnson who teaches at Georgetown has organized a letter from 1400 law professors in opposition to Sessions. As despicable as racism is, there is another reason - perhaps just as compelling - to carefully scrutinize  Senator  Sessions' public record.

In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954  decision outlawing government-sanctioned racial segregation,  parts of the South  mounted  a campaign of massive resistance to federal law. "If we can organize the Southern States for massive resistance to this order I think that in time the  rest  of  the  country will realize that racial integration is not going to  be  accepted  in  the  South." With these words, Virginia U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd  launched  Massive Resistance, a deliberate campaign to  delay  and obfuscate  compliance with federal  law.

Opponents of the Brown ruling and integration used the doctrine of interposition, which argued that the state could "interpose" between an unconstitutional federal mandate and local authorities based on State Sovereignty. The General Assembly adopted a resolution of interposition in 1956 that clearly defied the authority of the federal courts.

Fortunately, after more than a decade of massive resistance, the south slowly but surely accommodated itself to open public accommodations. The schools desegregated, the parks integrated, city and county councils adopted single member district plans permitting the first wave of black  elected  officials, segregation academies  lost their luster.

Some Southerners never were reconstructed after the legal and social civil war that changed America in the middle of the 20th century.

As Attorney General Mr. Sessions will become the nation's prosecutor in chief. The massive resistance took the form of closed public schools, erection of memorials to confederate heroes, hoisting of Confederate battle flags, and in my hometown turning a public swimming pool over to seals, rather than permit black children access.

Over the past decade, Mr. Sessions offered legislation that would require states and cities to accept surplus military equipment. He offered to permit states to impose criminal penalties for violation of immigration law. He would  permit states to defy and delay federal enforcement of the Clean Air Act. He authored legislation excluding drinking water quality from fracking rules. Mr. Sessions' ideas are so extreme that most of these measures never made it out of committee and never became law. His states' rights positions are so extreme that his fellow conservatives could not support them in the Senate.

One of the main tenets of massive resistance and interposition was the notion that federal government had no role to play in state and local policy. The most visible symbol of massive resistance was Wallace statement in support of segregation now, tomorrow and forever. Massive resistance was fought out on the battlefield of race relations, but its philosophical underpinning was always broader.

It is useful to consider that we struggle today, more than 150 years later, with whether the civil war was fought over slavery, or states' rights to fashion their own economies. The great achievement of Dr. Martin Luther King and his followers was to make it inappropriate to discriminate based on race. But that momentous struggle for civil rights did not settle the question of states' rights.
The States Rights philosophy lives on. There is a theme that runs through Senator Sessions' public life that is more profound and more disqualifying than his racial attitudes, which  he has learned,with the  rest of the South to   euphemize.

Mr. Sessions' extreme strain of massive resistance to federal  law is compounded by the harm done to his own constituents. Alabama consistently ranks  in the  bottom quintile on every quality of life scale ...income, jobs, education, wealth, health. After decades of establishing a record in opposition to  all  federal  "intrusion", Senator Sessions' constituents are some of the nation's most disadvantaged.    A  review of his legislative record seems to support the view   that

Senator Sessions bears a grudge against the federal government, despite the fact that Alabama is perennially a net recipient of federal aid.

The Attorney General is the nation's chief prosecutor . Every prosecutor has immense choose which cases to bring, which defendants to negotiate with, which laws to prioritize for enforcement. Just as in the states, where the Attorney General represents the State, the U.S. Attorney General represents the United States. The United States is his client. Every lawyer knows that you cannot represent a client if personal, philosophical, professional or economic interests conflict with the client's to the extent that you cannot present the  merits of the client's case. It is worth examining the extent to which Mr. Sessions' long defiance of the role of federal government, and his apparent allegiance to State Sovereignty, disqualify him from representing the United States.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sisters in Law - The Radio Show

Davida Mathis and Janice L. Mathis
Real Sisters
Real Lawyers
Really Good Advice
Listen to Sisters in Law, Saturday  3-6 p.m. News and Talk WAOK.Com
Davida practices family and criminal law in Greenville, SC
Janice is Executive Director of NCNW, based in Washington, D.C.

Clean Water for Flint

Clean Water for Flint

NCNW urges U.S. lawmakers to act swiftly to replace lead-tainted water pipes in Flint, Michigan. Children exposed to lead are likely to suffer permanent impairment. The U.S. House and Senate agreed to provide federal aid to Flint under WRDA in September. Lawmakers are urged not to back away from that commitment. This is not a question of politics - it is a question of morality. The children of Flint deserve our support. Government exists to take action when no individual or local action is sufficient. 

The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) provides critical investment in the country’s aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, assists poor and disadvantaged communities in meeting public health standards under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and promotes innovative technologies to address drought and other critical water resource needs. 

In his first address as president-elect, Donald Trump pledged, "We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none." There is bi-partisan agreement that the situation in Flint is intolerable and dangerous. 

In September, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee, indicated “We applaud the House of Representatives for passing its Water Resources Development Act and for providing a path forward for a final bill that includes (funds to) address the drinking water contamination in Flint, Michigan. We are confident that Congress will send to the president’s desk this year another robust bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will grow the economy, improve public safety, and restore ecosystems while also providing support to communities facing failing water and wastewater infrastructure.” 

NCNW was founded in 1935 to lead, advocate for and support women and their families. Today, NCNW speaks on behalf of a coalition of national women's groups with combined membership of nearly 3,000,000.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sensible Gun Ownership
(June 17, 2016 – Washington, D.C.) NCNW expresses its sympathy for those who lives were savagely taken at the Pulse nightclub and we are heartbroken for the loved ones of the victims Orlando terror attack. 
The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) agrees with efforts to prevent terrorism suspects from acquiring guns or explosives. There is no reason to permit a person with sufficient ties to terrorism that they are included on a no-fly list to obtain a weapon. 
NCNW also agrees that it is time to close the gun show/Internet loophole.  Gun purchasers should undergo background checks no matter where the purchase is made.  There is no rational distinction to be made between guns sold online, in a brick-and-mortar store or at a temporary gun show.  If anything, it makes even more sense to conduct a background check in sales settings where the buyers and sellers are even more anonymous than they are at the typical retail store.  That includes purchases made at gun shows and Internet websites.

We would go further.  Permitting a gun purchaser to obtain a weapon if the background check cannot be completed in three days makes no sense, either.  Dylan Roof might have been stopped from slaying nine Bible study students in Charleston had he been denied a gun as a result of the crimes that a completed background check would have revealed.
Listen to Sisters in Law - Saturdays, from 3-6 p.m. on CBS Radio News and Talk 1380 WAOK