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Pacific Legal Foundation
I n early December, several hundred pro-affirmative action demonstrators carrying signs reading “Fight for Equality” gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court to witness an historic occasion. For the first time since the groundbreaking 1954 Brown v. Board of Education when the Supreme Court ruled against separate but equal in America’s public schools, the justices were hearing cases that could test that landmark ruling.
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases testing when race may be used as a basis for assigning students to public schools. “The school policies in contention...are designed to keep schools from segregating along the same lines as neighborhoods,” the AP reported. In Seattle, Washington, “only high school students are affected,” while the Louisville, Kentucky “plan applies system-wide.”
The Seattle Times pointed out that in attendance at the proceedings was the widow of Thurgood Marshall—“the first African-American Supreme Court justice who, as a young lawyer, argued and won the landmark school-integration case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.” Also present were Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), “who co-authored a brief supporting the Seattle and Louisville school districts’ use of race in assigning students to schools,” and John Heyburn II, the U.S. district judge “who ruled in the Louisville case.”
In its brief to the court, the Seattle school district pointed out that, “The plan has prevented the re-segregation that inevitably would result from the community’s segregated housing patterns and that most likely would produce many schools that might be perceived as ‘failing’.”
The Bush administration is siding with “parents who are suing the school districts, much as it intervened on behalf of college and graduate students who challenged affirmative action policies before the Supreme Court in 2003,” the AP reported.
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a Sacramento, Californiabased anti-affirmative action legal organization, is aiding the Seattle parents hoping to scuttle that city’s school integration plan. PLF is also part of the team fighting Louisville’s school district. “The impact of the decisions in these two cases is going to transcend Louisville and Seattle because there are many school districts around the country, according to studies, that continue to use race in one degree or another in the assigning of kids to schools,” said Harold Johnson, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney. “There isn’t the academic support for these social engineering policies. They may make some people feel good, but we don’t see the evidence that they are raising achievement levels.”
F ounded in 1973, in recent years the PLF has been at the hub of battles against affirmative action. A PLF press release stated: “On March 5, 1973 government regulators found a foe; mainstream Americans found a friend; freedom in America found new meaning. On that day, Pacific Legal Foundation was established turning the voices that wouldn’t be heard into the voices that couldn’t be silenced. Since then, PLF has filled the void and has proven itself as a potent representative in the courts for Americans who have grown weary of overregulation by big government, over-indulgence by the courts, and excessive interference in the American way of life.”
In October 2006, as a way of honoring the accomplishments of Ward Connerly and marking the ten-year anniversary of Proposition 209 (the California initiative prohibiting racial preferences in public education), the PLF sued the Berkeley school district, “alleging its school assignment policy violates” Prop 2. Paul Beard, the lead lawyer for the case, called Connerly, a wealthy African American businessperson who has spearheaded anti-affirmative action initiatives around the country, “the spokesperson for racial equality, in our viewpoint.”
According to ExxonSecrets.org, PLF received initial financial support from members of the California Chamber of Commerce and J. Simon Fluor’s (of the Fluor Corporation) oil, nuclear, and mineral dollars. Since 1998, PLF has received more than $100,000 from ExxonMobil. Between 1985 and 2005, PLF received more than $5 million in grants from right-wing foundations. Unlike most mainstream press reports on the Supreme Court hearing, Jennifer Millman took a closer look at the organization’s funding stream. She found that among the organization’s consistent and largest benefactors were influential and aggressive right-wing foundations: the Scaife Family Foundations, the Castle Rock (Coors) Foundation, the nowdefunct John M. Olin Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
Recently, the PLF was asked by the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Committee, the campaign organization that sponsored Proposal 2—the Michigan anti-affirmative action initiative that was successful in November’s election—to defend the measure against legal challenges. Looking ahead to any potential legal battle over Proposal 2, Alan W. Foutz, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said, “We think that most of the arguments to be hurled at it already have been thoroughly vetted and rejected by the courts.”
Fighting to re-segregate America is not PLF’s only battlefront. “PLF earns its retainer by delivering law suits against such things as Equal Rights, Endangered Species and Clean Air.... When PLF wins a legal battle, the harm occurs almost immediately and may be felt for decades,” Scott Silver, executive director of Wild Wilderness, pointed out in an email exchange.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.