AFSCRE: Our Work
We supported the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University in drafting legislation to introduce in Congress. The legislation would create a fund to provide behavioral health support to people who have been victims of police violence. We are working with Congresswoman Cori Bush to advocate on the Hill and get the Bill introduced and passed into law.
We represent NAACP LDF in a challenge to voting laws passed by the Texas legislature after the 2020 election. The LDF believes the laws restrict access to voting, will disproportionately impact minority voters and is unconstitutional.
We researched and provided responses to a request for information from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The request issued by OSTP focuses on the public and private sector uses of biometric technologies. Biometric, artificial intelligence, and other similar technologies, including facial recognition technology have been continuously shown to have racial bias. This raises concerns about disparate impacts on communities of color, such as through racial profiling, mass surveillance, and its misuse by law enforcement. The comment to the OSTP will focus on Title VI and how it applies to these technologies.
We were engaged to provide advice relating to the laws of a variety of states relating to the process for the certification of elections, remedies for failing to properly do so, and other matters relating to free and fair elections.
Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Most of these deaths are preventable.
ArentFox Schiff attorney Anne-Carmene Almonord hosted a discussion on racial disparities in maternal health care and how to end them.
The panel of experts includes:
Dr. Joy Cooper is a practicing ob-gyn based in Oakland, California, and a co-founder of Culture Care, which connects patients with culturally sensitive physicians via telemedicine.
Dr. Tiffany Wiggins is a Medical Officer with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and a former White House Fellow whose portfolio focuses on innovative mechanisms to advance maternal and child health. She is a board-certified ob-gyn and preventive medicine physician.
ArentFox Schiff attorneys analyzed 50 state laws regarding voting poll regulations. They researched the nuances of whether voters were allowed to cast a ballot if they had been waiting in line after polls closed, waiting in line to get into the parking lot, not physically standing in line, and how these protections applied to curbside voters or voters unable to reach a polling site due to parking lot congestions. Their findings concluded that individuals in line at the time of a poll closing were permitted to vote in the states.
ArentFox Schiff assisted the Washington Lawyers’ Committee with racial disparities research in connection with traffic stops. The project included collecting all existing information, assessing prior research and reports, identifying potential sources for interviews, and working with the Committee to engage other advocates.
ArentFox Schiff attorneys provide assistance to low-income individuals and families struggling with bail bond debt through the LCCR Bail Clinic; advised low-income entrepreneurs starting or developing small businesses in economically distressed neighborhoods and who hire employees with arrest and conviction records through the Legal Services for Entrepreneurs project; and provide homeless and low-income individuals with information and specialized referrals to local centers and organizations at the GLIDE Memorial Church Unconditional Legal Clinic. ArentFox Schiff has:
- Staffed four Legal Services for Entrepreneurs virtual clinics to meet with and answer questions from low-income small business owners;
- Conducted nearly 100 one-hour commercial lease consultations with local businesses;
- Assisted previously arrested individuals with the negotiation of bail-bond debts through LCCR’s upcoming virtual Bail Clinics; and
- Prepared and filed a Standard Form 95 administrative claim against ICE and DHS under the Federal Tort Claims Act on behalf of an immigrant family who was separated upon their entry into the United States.
LCCRUL engaged ArentFox Schiff to assist in a multi-faceted project to safeguard the right to equitable access to the ballot and ensure a fair redistricting process. The initiative includes research in preparation for the process, legal assistance during the process, and litigation support as needed after maps have been adopted. For the first part of the research phase of the project, ArentFox Schiff researched and prepared a memorandum addressing requirements and providing information regarding the redistricting process for elections within the State of Alabama. For the second phase of the research, ArentFox Schiff prepared a memorandum summarizing the issues, participants, activity, and outcomes in Alabama during the immediately preceding redistricting cycle following the 2010 census.
ArentFox Schiff attorneys conducted legal research for CBC on HHS’s decision to change COVID-19 reporting and essentially bypassing the CDC. Their research found:
- HHS has the legal authority to respond to national health emergencies and coordinate epidemiological research technology. Because the CDC is a division of HHS, HHS may direct how COVID-19 reporting data is received within the overall agency.
- Additional information regarding the decision could be obtained by FOIA requests, but response time can be lengthy and some exceptions may allow HHS to refuse to produce important documents. ArentFox Schiff has included several sample FOIA questions in the memorandum. If CBCF decides to proceed with FOIA requests, ArentFox Schiff will develop a comprehensive set of FOIA requests.
ArentFox Schiff attorneys and staff conducted nonpartisan remote pre-election news monitoring in Alabama and Mississippi. Volunteers were divided into three groups to conduct monitoring through social media, traditional sources, and official sources. They spotted issues, including voter suppression and misinformation, and reported their findings to LDF through a survey. Sarah Benator and Justin Goldberg then analyzed the team’s findings and created weekly summary reports, flagging crucial findings, for LDF.
Timothy Chapple and Gabby Villafan also conducted outreach to polling precincts in Alabama and Mississippi to determine correct polling site locations. They compiled lists for each state and provided their data to LDF.
AFS Black History Month Event With Clint Smith
As part of Black History Month, ArentFox Schiff Partner and AFSCRE Board Member Eva Pulliam hosted a conversation with author Clint Smith that focused on his best-selling book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, its connection with current events, and work being done by AFSCRE.
In How the Word Is Passed, Mr. Smith, a staff writer at The Atlantic, examines the legacy of slavery in America — and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives. How the Word is Passed is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2021.
Related Firm Work of the Center
Chicago Police Monitorship
In addition to the work of the Center, Maggie Hickey was appointed as the Independent Monitor after the US Attorney General launched a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) policing practices, where the US Department of Justice (DOJ) found a longstanding, pervasive “pattern or practice” of civil rights abuses by the CPD. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General sued the City of Chicago to address the DOJ’s findings and negotiated a Consent Decree with the City of Chicago. The Independent Monitoring Team is required to regularly assess and report on the City of Chicago’s and the CPD’s progress on the reform efforts. Maggie’s team issued its sixth semi-annual monitoring report on December 15, 2022, finding the CPD to be in at least the first of three stages of compliance with over 70% paragraphs with requirements in the Consent Decree.
- Related Practices