FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump Administration is Intent on Weakening Civil Rights Enforcement

When new U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was asked on “60 Minutes” whether she thinks President Donald Trump is a racist, she responded with the candor that makes her a compelling force in Washington:

“Yeah, yeah, no question.”

This, of course, lit up the social media, with Trump supporters denouncing Ocasio-Cortez and progressives praising her. One would think after his dog-whistle, race-bait politics — from slurring immigrants to slandering a Hispanic judge to embracing the racist marchers in Charlottesville, Va., to denigrating Haiti and African nations as “s—hole countries” — that the question had been answered long ago.

What is clear is that, whatever the president’s personal views, the Trump administration is intent on weakening enforcement of civil rights laws across the board. The same week that Ocasio-Cortez spoke, two widely respected reporters from Washington Post, Laura Meckler and Devlin Barrett, reported that the Trump administration is taking the first steps toward rolling back a centerpiece of civil rights enforcement: the doctrine that starkly disparate impact can provide evidence of discrimination even without proof of intent.

If a government contractor announces that it won’t hire anyone who is living with someone of the same sex, the victims may not be able to provide direct evidence that the employer intended to discriminate, but the disparate impact of the announcement would provide the basis for finding discrimination. Disparate impact isn’t dispositive. Those accused can demonstrate that they have a rational reason for the regulation or action and that there are no less discriminatory alternatives.

In some areas, like election law, disparate impact is written in the legislation itself. In most areas, however, it derives from regulations on enforcing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, particularly Title VI which bars discrimination based on race, color or national origin by entities, including schools that receive federal funding.

In 2014, as Meckler and Devlin report, the Obama administration formally put public school systems on notice that they could be found guilty of racial discrimination if students of color were punished at dramatically higher rates than white students. Trump’s Education Department issued a report criticizing the regulation and has begun discussions about rescinding it.

This assault on a centerpiece of civil rights enforcement comes on top of Trump’s stunning reversal of civil rights enforcement across the government.

Under Jeff Sessions, the Trump Justice Department essentially abandoned the Obama effort to work with police departments to address systemic racially discriminatory police practices. Sessions directed the Justice Department to stop defending affirmative action programs and start enforcement actions against them.

The administration rolled back protections for transgender students, while banning transgender people from the military. The Justice Department chose to defend a discriminatory Texas voter ID law, which a district court later ruled was passed with discriminatory intent. In department after department, the administration has sought to weaken civil rights divisions and cut their budgets.

As head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Trump’s acting chief of staff Mike Mulvaney gutted the unit responsible for enforcing anti-discriminatory lending laws. This list can go on.

Is Donald Trump personally a racist? Whatever your conclusion, Trump surely campaigned by trying to stoke racial fears and divisions.

And this administration is the most hostile to civil rights and to equal justice under the law than any since the passage of the Civil Rights laws. Trump’s defenders insist that the president objects to being called a racist, that he signed the recent legislation rolling back some of the discriminatory sentencing practices, and that he happily has his picture taken with African-American children.

But the record of his administration is clear, and the disparate impact of the measures it has taken provides compelling evidence of its intent.

 

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

January 23, 2019
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail