Tag Archives: Brennan Center for Justice

‘What Is Going On Here?’ Alarm as Document Reveals USPS Is Monitoring Social Media Posts

“What possible justification could there be for USPS running this kind of social-media surveillance program?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-23-2021

Photo: SidewaysSarah/flickr/CC

An internal government bulletin obtained by Yahoo News this week revealed that the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service is monitoring social media posts as part of a surveillance operation known as iCOP, a secretive program that sparked alarm among rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

The sensitive bulletin concerns the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) recent surveillance of Facebook, Parler, and Telegram posts related to the March 20 World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, anti-coronavirus lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstrations organized by far-right groups. Continue reading

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Analysis Details How Bill in Congress Could Stop GOP Voter Suppression Nationwide

By passing the For the People Act, as the House recently did, the Senate can “nullify new voter restrictions currently advanced by Republicans at the state level.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-16-2021

In response to the GOP’s ongoing nationwide assault on voting rights that threatens to restrict ballot access for tens of millions of Americans, the Brennan Center for Justice released a new analysis Tuesday showing that if the Senate joins the House in passing the For the People Act, Congress can “thwart virtually every single one” of the more than 250 voter suppression bills have been introduced by Republican lawmakers in 43 states.

Last week, legislation intended to make voting more difficult—particularly for communities of color and other Democratic-leaning constituencies—was advanced in Georgia by the GOP-controlled state Senate, while Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill that curbs early voting. Continue reading

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‘Downright Scary’: In 2021 Alone, GOP Introduces 100+ Voter Suppression Bills in 28 States

“Democrats have a clear choice. They can get rid of the filibuster to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act to stop GOP voter suppression, or they can allow the GOP to undermine democracy for the next decade.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-5-2021

Photo: Mark Buckawicki/Public Domain

Since former President Donald Trump failed to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans in more than two dozen states have introduced over 100 bills to restrict voting access, an alarming development that voting rights advocates have pointed to as yet another reason for Democrats to abolish the filibuster, an anti-democratic tool currently allowing the GOP minority to block the enactment of a suite of popular pro-democracy reforms.

Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman on Thursday reported on the GOP’s ongoing nationwide push to make voting more difficult—particularly for communities of color and other Democratic-leaning constituencies—and in some cases to empower state legislatures to overturn election results. He called state-level Republicans’ efforts “a huge scandal that should be getting as much attention as Trump’s plot to overturn the election.” Continue reading

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‘Wild and Timely’ Report Details Infiltration of Far-Right Militias and White Supremacist Groups in US Police Departments

The study comes amid unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the latest high-profile police shooting of a Black man and the shooting deaths of two protesters by an alleged far-right militia member.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-27-2020

Kyle Rittenhouse walks past police in Kenosha after allegedly shooting three people, killing two of them. Photo: Rod Breslau/Twitter

As law enforcement agencies and lawmakers respond to nationwide outrage over countless police shootings of Black Americans with pledges to address racial profiling and “implicit bias,” the Brennan Center for Justice released a report Thursday on what it called “an especially harmful form of bias, which remains entrenched within law enforcement: explicit racism.”

The presence of virulent racism within police ranks across the country has grown over the past two decades, Brennan Center fellow and former FBI special agent Michael German wrote in the report, as white supremacist and far-right militant groups have infiltrated law enforcement agencies. Continue reading

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‘Watershed Moment in Election Law’ as Judge Rules ‘Modern Day Poll Tax’ in Florida Unconstitutional

Advocates for restoring the voting rights of people with past convictions welcomed the ruling as “a powerful reminder that no one can trump the U.S. Constitution.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-25-2020

Screenshot: MSNBC

Civil liberties advocates celebrated after a federal court on Sunday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that would have denied the right to vote to nearly a million recently enfranchised state residents with past felony convictions until they paid all outstanding legal fees, fines, and restitution.

After Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelming backed Amendment 4—a ballot initiative that restored the voting rights of Floridians who have fully completed their sentences for felony convictions other than murder or sex crimes—state lawmakers passed legislation that critics condemned as a “modern day poll tax.” Continue reading

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It’s 2020 and Florida’s Supreme Court Just Ruled in Favor of a Poll Tax

“Florida cannot violate the U.S. Constitution’s protections. The right to vote cannot be contingent on the ability to pay.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-16-2020

Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. (Photo: Public Citizen/Twitter)

Florida’s state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of denying convicted felons the right to vote if they do not pay fines and fees associated with their incarceration, a decision that was immediately assailed by rights activists as an unconstitutional and immoral poll tax.

In a statement condemning the ruling (pdf), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the ruling “does not—indeed, cannot—alter what the U.S. Constitution requires.” Continue reading

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US Government Lists Non-Violent ‘Valve Turner’ Climate Activists as Threat on Par With Murderous Neo-Nazis

“Apparently DHS hasn’t gotten the memo that pipeline protesters are working non-violently to ensure that the children and grandchildren of DHS employees—and everyone else—have a habitable climate to live in.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-13-2020

Fifty-two-year-old Michael Foster, one of the “Valve Turners” pictured here on the day of the group’s action, was among the climate action advocates classified as a threat to domestic safety in a Department of Homeland Security document. (Photo: Shutitdown.today)

Climate action advocates on Monday condemned reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has placed non-violent environmental activists on a list of domestic terrorists alongside white supremacists and mass murderers.

Citing documents received by the non-profit group Property of the People, The Guardian reports how the Climate Direct Action members who shut off tar sands pipeline operations in an act of civil disobedience in October 2016, were called “suspected environmental rights extremists” by DHS. Continue reading

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In Rebuke of Trump’s Effort to ‘Weaponize’ 2020 Census Against Immigrant Communities, Federal Judge Strikes Down Citizenship Question

“Today’s ruling is a strong signal to the Trump administration that any attempts to politicize and corrupt the 2020 census will fail.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2019

Common Cause called the Trump administration’s goal of including a citizenship status question on the 2020 U.S. census “an attempt to racially rig the census” last year. Photo: kidskunst.info

Civil liberties and immigration rights advocates are applauding a ruling decision by a federal judge New York on Tuesday after the court struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to insert a citizenship question in to the 2020 Census.

Ruling on a lawsuit filed by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the ACLU, and other groups, U.S. District Judge Jess Furman said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census, acted illegally when he requested that the question be added. Continue reading

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‘Most Important Surveillance Story You Will See for Years’: Report Reveals How AT&T Buildings Serve as Secret Hubs for NSA Spying

“AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2018

AT&T Center, Los Angeles. Photo: Laurie Avocado/flickr/cc

“The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how AT&T became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

That was how whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden reacted to the publication of an explosive story by The Intercept on Monday, which reveals for the first time how “fortress-like” AT&T buildings located in eight major American cities have played a central role in a massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying program “that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.” Continue reading

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Landmark Survey Finds Special Interests are Pouring Money into Local Elections

Secret spending on the local level rose from 24 percent in 2006 to 71 percent in 2014

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-26-2016

Photo: Brennan Center

Photo: Brennan Center for Justice

While the outsized influence that Big Money is having on federal elections is well-documented, the local impact of the Supreme Court’s 2011 Citizens United ruling has not been fully realized—until now.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law on Sunday published a landmark report (pdf) documenting how secret donations have corroded democracy at the state level, where it is “arguably most damaging.” Continue reading

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