civil-rights

When celebrity luster gives cover to how America judges its own
Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll remind us of the unfair burden placed on icons of color

People who hold up the late Jessye Norman, left, or Diahann Carroll as exemplifying America’s promise, that hard work will inevitably lead to reward, ignore the women’s own struggles , Curtis writes. (Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images file photos)

OPINION — I am not one of those folks who see celebrities as larger-than-life icons to be worshipped and admired. Usually. But the recent deaths of Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll hit me in the gut because those two amazing women were at once larger than life and so very real. The reactions to their accomplishments also illustrate an American or perhaps universal trait — the ability to compartmentalize, to place certain citizens of color or underrepresented citizens on a pedestal, at once a part of and apart from others of their race or gender or religion or orientation.

It allows negative judgment of entire groups to exist alongside denials of any racist or discriminatory intent. There are a lot of problems with that way of thinking. It places an unfair burden on the icons, a need to be less a human being than a flawless symbol. And it uses them as a rebuke to others who never managed to overcome society’s obstacles.

Congressional inaction drives LGBT rights case at Supreme Court
Court to hear arguments over whether protections based on ‘sex’ apply to gay, lesbian and transgender workers

A case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday could have sweeping social implications since 28 states have no express protections for LGBT employee rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court confronts a major civil rights issue Tuesday over how broadly the justices should read the word “sex” in a 55-year-old anti-discrimination law — and a key aspect is Congress’ current push to clarify that the law covers LGBT individuals.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits private companies from discriminating against employees on the basis of “sex,” seen at the time as a historic step for women’s rights.

Are LGBTQ workers protected by the Civil Rights Act? Supreme Court will decide

A sign welcomes visitors to the front steps of the Supreme Court in Washington. The Court will hear arguments on LGBTQ workers' rights, Oct. 8, 2019 (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a trio of cases regarding LGBTQ workers' rights as they pertain to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under Title VII, workplace discrimination "on the basis of sex" is prohibited, and the ruling from the Supreme Court will determine whether LGBTQ individuals, particularly those who are transgender, are covered under these rules.

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

Activists hold up signs at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday May 21, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

Long arc of history guides John Lewis in his call for impeachment inquiry
A man who’s been beaten, bullied and jailed would know a thing or two about justice

Rep. John Lewis, left, here with, from right, Reps. John Yarmuth, Conor Lamb and Anthony G. Brown, announced his support for an impeachment inquiry Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — No one can accuse Rep. John Lewis of lacking patience. The Georgia Democrat showed plenty, as well as steely resolve, as he changed millions of minds — and history — over a life spent working for equal rights for all. So when he speaks, especially about justice, a cause from which he has never wavered, all would do well to listen.

Lewis was not the only voice raised this week, as all sides raced to place a political frame on the narrative of the undisputed fact that a U.S. president asked a foreign leader to work with him and for him to smear a political opponent, perhaps with military aid in the balance. “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” President Donald Trump said, according to a transcript of the conversation based on notes. He also wanted to rope in his personal lawyer and the attorney general, who, by the way, works for the American people, not Trump.

House Democrats look beyond funding in census preparations
Trump’s protracted fight over citizenship question has fueled partisan suspicions

The Trump administration’s protracted fight to add a citizenship question to the census has fueld suspicions among Democrats about many Census Bureau decisions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Frustrated by President Donald Trump’s preparations for the 2020 census, House Democrats are increasingly looking for ways — inside the Beltway and out of it — to fill perceived gaps in reaching the nation’s hardest to count.

Trump’s protracted fight to add a citizenship question to the census has fueled suspicions among Democrats about a myriad of other agency decisions, ranging from how quickly it is spending money to how many local offices the agency will open. They fear Trump’s interference could undercount the communities they represent — particularly immigrants and minorities — when its results are used to divvy up political representation and federal funds, as well as serve as a base for business decisions and research.

Watch out 2020 Democrats, Trump might have a long game
3 takeaways from the president’s New Mexico rally as he tries to flip state Clinton won in 2016

President Donald Trump on Monday night enters a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The rally marks President Trump's first trip to New Mexico as president and the start of a three-day campaign trip to New Mexico and California. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in New Mexico was billed as an opportunity for the president to try expanding his base and flip a state he lost in 2016. But his message — again — offered little new to moderate swing voters.

Trump’s Rio Rancho campaign stop was calculated, with his campaign looking to flip a small handful of states won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton; she won New Mexico by 8.3 percentage points. It was the second state she won to which he has traveled to headline a rally this year; he was in New Hampshire last month. Collectively, there are nine Electoral College votes between the two states.

Payroll tax cuts off the table? Not so fast, says Trump in another whiplash reversal
No immediate move likely on taxes, as president also distances himself from gun background checks

President Donald Trump concludes a campaign rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | In yet another whiplash policy reversal, President Donald Trump directly contradicted his staff Tuesday by saying payroll tax cuts are on the table as he looks to stave off an election-year recession.

A White House official on Monday afternoon, responding to a Washington Post report that the White House was eyeing a payroll tax cut amid recession fears, dismissed the idea this way: “More tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time.”

Undeterred Trump to tout economy in ‘toss-up’ New Hampshire despite stock tumble
It’s not ‘guaranteed’ every Clinton state will remain blue in 2020, analyst says

President Donald Trump greets Blake Marnell of San Diego during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. He will hold another rally Thursday night in New Hampshire. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A White House official grimaced slightly Wednesday as a cable news chyron showed stocks plummeting, potentially undercutting President Donald Trump’s Thursday plans to say his stewardship of a strong economy should help earn him a second term.

Trump will make another campaign-trail pitch to voters Thursday evening in what his aides see as a likely 2020 battleground state that could be a photo finish next November: New Hampshire.

Trump’s new hard-line immigration rule at odds with independent voters’ views
75 percent of key voting bloc sees immigration as ‘good’ for U.S., poll finds

The “Defund Hate” campaign holds a protest on June 25 in the rotunda of the Russell Building to honor immigrants who died in federal detention. The Trump administration on Monday announced another hard-line immigration policy. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House on Monday again answered a chorus of criticism by pivoting to a hard-line immigration policy, even though it could drive away independent voters in key battleground states.

With the commander in chief on his third full day of a 10-day “working vacation” at his New Jersey golf resort, the White House deployed Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for a rare session with reporters in the James A. Brady Briefing Room — a briefing that came two days after former Trump friend and alleged child sex-trafficker Jeffery Epstein was found dead in his New York City jail cell.