Top 3 Things You Need to Know - March 7, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017




Attorney General Sessions Authorizes Civil Rights Rollback
With just over 20 days into his term as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already announced a trilogy of rollbacks aimed at weakening or dismantling key civil rights and justice policies. Under his leadership, the Department of Justice has announced that it will reduce resources to pursue suit against local police departments in cases of overt racism or excessive force. This is a direct reversal of the policy enacted under the previous administration. Attorney General Sessions has indicated that those resources will now be used to aid police in fighting crime. 

Additionally, the Department of Justice reversed its own guidance to the Bureau of Prisons instructing them to reduce or decline the renewal of private prison contracts. This guidance, which was released under the Obama Administration, was aimed at ensuring consistency in safety, security, rehabilitation services in prisons across the board, and to limit abuse in profiting from the incarcerated. 

Finally, the Justice Department reversed its position on the Texas Voter ID law case, dismissing the Department’s earlier position that the law was intended to discriminate against minority voters. These decisions have placed the Department of Justice and Attorney General Sessions on the wrong side of the fight for civil rights. The Department of Justice’s main focus should be to uphold policies and laws which protect the rights of all Americans, not to strip away the very mechanisms we use to fight injustice in this country. 

The National Urban League will remain vigilant and responsive to any and all threats to civil and human rights. While the Urban League is open to working with the new administration to advance civil rights, we will hold them accountable when their actions prove to hurt, not help our communities. 

Minority Leader Schumer Commits to Implement the Rooney Rule 
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Democratic Caucus will adopt new rules to ensure diverse hiring practices, including the Rooney Rule, which would require senators to interview at least one minority applicant for each senior staff opening. Senate staff diversity is critical to having a Senate that operates on behalf of all Americans and not just the chosen few. The National Urban League commends Minority Leader Schumer for taking this important step toward prioritizing diverse hiring practices in the senate, but we will continue to beat the drum on this issue until we see some measurable change. The U.S. Senate must go further by disclosing their hiring numbers and making the hiring process more transparent by posting their job vacancies publicly, rather than doing the hiring behind closed doors. The National Urban League will continue to work on both sides of the aisle to ensure that senate staff diversity makes meaningful progress in the coming months.    

Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is an annual opportunity for the country to recognize the revolutionary women who have shaped our history and continue to break barriers in their fields. Throughout Women’s History Month, the National Urban League will honor the African American women who have, against all odds, shattered the obstacles in their way and made an indelible mark on our history, while also raising awareness of the many challenges that American women face. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @NULPolicy for our Women’s History Month updates.