“We are disappointed the Supreme Court ignored the overwhelming evidence in the Rucho case, which proved the constitutional rights of citizens were violated. We agree with the majority that now this issue is most likely to be addressed in the legislative process, as flawed as that solution is, especially for states like Wisconsin that don’t have citizen initiative.
“Importantly, though, something has changed because of these cases decided today, the Wisconsin case that started this decade’s trend, and the immense interest and activism of citizens across the country. People now know that partisan gerrymandering exists, and they hate it. Three-quarters of Wisconsin citizens want reform, and they are willing to hold elected officials accountable on this issue. So our work continues.” -Sachin Chheda, Director, Fair Elections Project
–Sachin Chheda serves as director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the Whitford case, and as chair of the WI Fair Maps Coalition, which includes 15 organizations committed to nonpartisan, independent redistricting reform.
More information about the lawsuit and campaign can be found at the Fair Elections Project website at fairelectionsproject.org, at Facebook.com/wifairelections, and on Twitter at @WIFairElections and @FairElections.
Contact: Mary McCarthy
Grassroots North Shore is hosting or co-hosting three sets of debate watch parties on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27. We hope lots of people enjoy the evenings rooting for their favorite candidates with friends. You can sign up for these events, or just come.
Mequon at Ferrante's Restaurant (10404 N Port Washington Rd.):
Glendale at Bar Louie (5750 Bayshore Dr)
Milwaukee at Art Bar (722 E. Burleigh):
There's nothing like a good party to put us in the right mood to take back the White House in 2020!
“You may have heard of ‘self-segregation,’ the idea that black people wanted to be in segregated housing.” said Reggie Jackson, speaking at “The Hidden Impact of Segregation,” his address at Plymouth Church on May 5. “That has not been the case in Wisconsin. Housing is segregated by intention and policy.” According to Jackson, housing segregation has been institutionalized by a history of corporate influence and government policy at every level. Jackson is Head Griot of America’s Black History Museum, Adjunct Professor at Concordia University and a frequent researcher and speaker on housing and social justice issues (“Griot” (Gree-yoh) is a west African term for storyteller or teacher). Over one hundred people attended the discussion and met with representatives from organizations working to address racism and segregation.
Milwaukee ranks as the “most segregated” metropolitan area in the U.S., and Wisconsin is the second most segregated state in the nation, said Jackson. Jackson reviewed the history of Wisconsin housing segregation progression, citing policy specifics at both local and national levels. He noted effects of contracts for individual sales restricted sales to “Caucasian” buyers; the conracts were legally enforced until 1948. On the Federal level, an agency called the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation shaped real estate reality, and gave realtors and lenders resources to implement color-coded maps for discriminatory purposes.
On 1938 housing maps, designed according to federal policy, designated red or yellow areas to guide home lenders and insurance companies to charge higher interest rates. In his research Jackson found maps with neighborhoods colored red because of the “detrimental influence” of Polish residents, “infiltration of Mexicans,” “Negro slum residents and lower-type Jews.” This structural discrimination suppressed home values in those areas and prevented many black, Latinx, and other families from obtaining loans and taking the first step to securing a place in the middle class. In addition, educational funding based on property values causes schools in historically redlined districts to be chronically underfunded, compounding institutionalized barriers. The accrual of wealth of whites based on home ownership was promoted by these maps, while the lack of home ownership by Blacks resulted in long-term economic disparities.
In a Q&A session, Jackson responded to written questions from the audience. To one query about effective ways to repair and respond to racism and housing segregation, Jackson mentioned a number of strong organizations. On the question of reparations, Jackson stressed that “people think that reparations is writing a check,” but emphasized that reparative justice needs to focus on housing and education. Members of Bridge the Divide (info@BridgetheDivide.life); RID Racism (www.ridracismmke.org) and SURJ (showingupforracialjustice.org) staffed tables to give relevant volunteer information to Grassroots North Shore membership. All of us at Grassroots North Shore thank those participants for their time, with a special thank you to Reggie Jackson for his effort and leadership.
Restoring Access to Driver Licenses for Immigrants and Low-Income U.S. Citizens Vital for the Economy, Public Safety and Keeping Families Together
By Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera
Voces de la Frontera is a nonpartisan organization engaged in advocacy on issues of civil rights and equity that does not endorse or oppose any candidate, party, or political committee. This column was republished here at no expense to the charity.
Thousands of immigrants, African American and Latinx citizens are currently disenfranchised from Wisconsin driver licenses with severe consequences. Lack of a valid driver’s license is a major barrier to employment, contributes to mass incarceration, undermines public safety, and leads to the separation of families. According a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee report, across the state of Wisconsin only 53% of black adults and 52% of Latinx adults hold valid licenses compared to 85% of white adults.
In 2007, after the passage of federal legislation, Wisconsin took away the ability of undocumented immigrants to renew or apply for a driver’s license. Under the Trump Administration's anti-immigrant agenda, traffic stops for driving without a license are leading to more deportations and the separation of immigrant families. Not only do immigrants face the burden of expensive fines and car confiscation, stops are the primary means to identify and deport immigrants.
In Waukesha, a father of four who came to the U.S. when he was 13 was detained by ICE after going to court for driving without a license. The number of deportation cases has grown significantly as ICE agents go into courtrooms, dairy farms and around schools to detain people.
For Black and Latinx citizens, inability to pay fines for driving without a license can lead to a suspension and jail. People lose the ability to get to jobs located far from segregated neighborhoods, locking them into poverty, unemployment and the stigma of a criminal record. This problem affects around 300,000 people, disproportionately Black and Latinx.
For 13 years, Voces de la Frontera has fought so that no one is denied the right to drive because of income or immigration status and this year we are poised for a breakthrough. Governor Tony Evers included measures to restore driver licenses for immigrant Wisconsinites in his 2019-21 state budget proposal. Voces will demand driver licenses for all at Joint Finance Committee hearings throughout the state, building towards a May Day mobilization. You can help:
- Call Senator Alberta Darling, Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, representing much of the North Shore, tell her that you support restoring access to driver licenses for undocumented people and low-income U.S. citizens at (608) 266-5830.
- March with us on a “Day Without Latinxs & Immigrants” on May 1st, 11am at the State Capitol in Madison. More info at vdlf.org/mayday2019.
In the past two years, Grassroots North Shore has partnered with Wisconsin Conservation Voters (then called the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters) to help elect environment-friendly candidates and to affect environmental legislation and policy.
The group just changed its name and branding this year to more accurately represent its mission of engaging voters to protect Wisconsin’s environment. The conservation voter movement is inclusive and welcomes everyone. The new name and logo communicate that better than the old “league” name.
Wisconsin Conservation Voters advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions and elects pro-conservation candidates who will champion our priority issues.
What are their priorities? They align well with those of Grassroots North Shore. They advocate for clean drinking water, public lands, and moving local communities as well as the state toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Those are the broad strokes of their work this year. But, as always, they will watch every bill that’s working through the State Capitol.
Their upcoming Conservation Lobby Day is a biennial event that brings conservation voters from across the state to Madison, where people learn more about conservation issues, speak with their legislators in person, and enjoy guest speakers and fellowship with their peers. It’s a crucial step to shaping the next two years of conservation work in the legislature.
Before being elected, all of the state’s executive officers signed the Wisconsin Conservation Voters Conservation Pledge. It’s a new day for Wisconsin’s environment, but the work is just beginning. As they help conservation voters across the state take action in the short term and on issues that demand a longer commitment, we think that some of our membership in Grassroots North Shore will want to join in.
In the swirling fog that is the 24/7 news cycle, sometimes really important things can be lost. On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, the Supreme Court issued their opinion in Timbs v. Indiana. In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether state governments must comply with the Eighth Amendment: ‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’ For the record, this particular liberty dates all the way back to the Magna Carta.
Historically, the 14th Amendment was ratified to ensure that the individual liberties found in the Bill of Rights would also be protected against infringement by state governments. In prior cases, SCOTUS held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights do apply to the states, but it had not specifically ruled on the Excessive Fines Clause. Noting this exception, the Indiana Supreme Court announced that it would “decline” to impose “a federal test” on Indiana in the absence of a direct command by the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the heart of this controversy is something called civil asset forfeiture, a process that has often been referred to as legalized theft. If an individual is simply accused of a crime, and not necessarily charged or convicted, their assets may be seized through a civil proceeding. It appears it is not necessary to prove these assets have a direct connection to the crime in question: dubious allegations seem to suffice. And there is this: civil proceedings do not afford the accused the due process safeguards found in criminal law. For too many years, this process has been used by various governmental and law enforcement agencies to guarantee for themselves a profitable revenue stream.
But, on February 20, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court for the first time prohibited all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, holding that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “excessive fines” applies to the states under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. While the decision will no doubt generate a myriad of questions, and likely be the basis for other court filings, there is much to celebrate.
The majority opinion was authored by Justice Ginsburg. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.