Local Government

News in Brief: In Case You Missed it (June 2023)

•June 30 – Student Loans: US Supreme Court, on a 6-3 vote, blocked President Biden’s student debt forgiveness program that would have delivered loan relief up to $20,000 per eligible student.   In the same session, the court majority ruled in favor of a wedding web designer who refused to create websites for same-sex weddings out of religious objections. President Biden said the “decision weakens long-standing laws that protect all Americans against discrimination in public accommodations” and pledged his administration would work to uphold civil rights protections.
•June 29 – Affirmative Action in University Admission Policy: US Supreme Court majority (6-3 with all three women judges dissenting) ruled affirmative action in college and university admissions unconstitutional (but leaves in place legacy admissions and affirmative action for military academies). Affirmative action in college and university admissions policy stemmed from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in an effort to encourage diversity in higher education, matching the demographics of the population. Right-wing Students for Fair Admissions, the group that brought the case, files lawsuits over race-based university practices. Edward Blum (a white man) heads the group. (For information on education history in California, see Chapter 6 of the just released CA Task Force on Reparations report at https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/media/ch6-ca-reparations.pdf)
•June 29 – Reparations: California State Task Force released the final report on proposed reparations for African American residents harmed by racism, segregation, and racial discrimination. (Read the report by visiting https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121/report)
•June 22 – Water Pollution Settlement: A $10.3 Billion Settlement agreement has been reached with 3M chemical manufacturer in the PFAS (forever chemicals threatening water supplies nationwide) case to be paid over the next 13 years in testing and cleaning up the chemicals in drinking water.
•June 8 – Gerrymandering Shot Down: US Supreme Court protected the Voting Rights Act by ruling against partisan gerrymandering in Alabama’s Republican-dominated legislature’s drawing of election districts to disadvantage black voters.
•June 12-20 – Teens Sue State:  Fifteen Montana teens (with the support of Our Children’s Trust) sued their state for lack of action against climate change and support of fossil fuels which threaten their future and the future of the planet.  A decision in the trial that ended on June 20 is expected within a month. A coalition of over 1,200 climate and social justice groups delivered a petition in support of the youth plaintiffs. For updates and more information, visit https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org

•May/June/July – Heat Waves: Record-breaking extreme temperatures in May and June were recorded in Texas, Mexico, India, and China, with temperatures reaching 100 to 120 degrees. According to a Washington Post article on the issue, “Longer and more frequent heat waves are expected to increase as climate change worsens.” (For an interactive chart that looks up conditions in any area of the mainland US, visit https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/interactive/2023/heat-extremes-china-mexico-texas-india/

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  1. About stupid Supreme Court Rulings by court majority: Happily President Biden announced he would be re-installing the student debt relief program by using the Higher Education Act of 1965 (which was just reconfirmed in 2022). Hope some work-around can be found for the court’s other stupid rulings. And why haven’t the unethical actions of several of those judges in receiving gifts from oil and other entities with cases coming before the court – at the very least triggered recusal – if not impeachment?