This month, people from all over this country have exercised their First Amendment rights as they protest the murder of George Floyd and the countless other Black lives that have been taken at the hands of police.
We have seen peaceful demonstrators take to the streets demanding change. We’ve also seen civil unrest in some places and, sadly, acts of police violence against protestors. We must not let those images derail the fight against systemic racial injustice and inequality. Speaking out is an important first step, but this moment requires more than words—it requires us to change. We must do the work of introspection and make real, lasting change within our organization.
As a democracy and voting rights organization, we must be part of the progress that is catalyzed at this moment. We will listen to civil rights leaders spearheading this effort, and we will use our power, our talents, and our collective voices to support and amplify their work.
Good news from SCOTUS
As the United States Supreme Court concludes its 2019-2020 term, we received three landmark victories for civil rights in cases in which we filed amicus, or “friend of the court”, briefs:
Bostock v. Georgia & Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC
The Supreme Court ruled LGBTQ employees are protected under Title VII. Never again can a person be discriminated against at work due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This victory provides long-overdue protections for LGBTQ people in education, housing, and healthcare—and offers much-needed clarity for the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace and could set the stage to combat the increasing violence in this community.
DHS v. Regents of University of California
On the week that marked the eighth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Supreme Court decided to overrule the wrongful termination of this crucial program. Since the September 5, 2017, announcement by US Attorney General Sessions on the decision to terminate DACA, more than 700,000 families have held their collective breath on whether they would be here to stay.
This ruling makes clear that Congress must act in a bipartisan manner to provide permanent legal protections for DREAMers and their families, without using them as a bargaining chip for enforcement and border wall funding. Now it's time for a permanent solution that includes a path to citizenship for every DACA recipient.
June Medical Services v. Russo
Every woman deserves access and privacy to make her own reproductive choices and, just yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled Louisiana will retain the three clinics in the state that provide abortion care. In striking down the unconstitutional law, the Court is protecting women, especially women of color who are simultaneously grappling with COVID, police brutality, racist violence, and voter suppression.
Women Power the Vote for 100 Years: A look at our (virtual!) 54th National Convention
Last Thursday ahead of our 100th Anniversary Convention, and on the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, we hosted a virtual Lobby Day—urging Congress to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act. League members across the country took to Twitter to call on their Senators to restore the vote and participated in a Twitter storm sharing information on the devastating effects of the Shelby County decision.
That evening we kicked off the Convention with a panel of voting rights experts—who happened to be all women! Our conversation on Facebook Live included DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Valerie Jarrett of When We All Vote, Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and Alejandra Castillo of YWCA USA.
On Friday, we were honored to hear from CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell who delivered an inspirational and celebratory keynote address. Our League delegates then elected Dr. Deborah Turner as the 20th board president of the League of Women Voters of the United States for our 2020-2022 biennium. Deborah has an impressive resume, as a doctor, an attorney, and a long-time League member.
Watch her remarks and those of our CEO Virginia Kase.
We know graduation this year wasn’t what we expected, but there is still much to celebrate.
As a generation, the Class of 2020 has demonstrated an enormous capacity to use their voice to affect change and engage in civic affairs—now, make sure they know that one of the most crucial steps to having your voice heard is registering to vote. 2020 will be a defining year in their life and voting for the first time should be one of the highlights!
Encourage the recent graduates in your life to take a more active role in our democracy by directing them VOTE411.org where they can easily begin the voter registration process and see our checklist for first-time voters.