Our Courts Must Protect Civil and Human Rights to Meet This Moment

Courts News, Covid-19 04.22,20

Judiciary plays vital role in ensuring that our protections and democracy do not become casualties of this virus

Contact: Rafael Medina, [email protected], 202.869.0390

WASHINGTON –On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Fair Courts Task Force, 42 groups outlined four principles for federal, state, and local courts to protect our civil and human rights and provide justice for all during this public health crisis. The principles were outlined in a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

The four principles outlined in the letter are:

  1. Civil and human rights are essential;
  2. Public health and safety demands care for all;
  3. Courts must respond to this pandemic and operate safely; and
  4. Courts must be transparent and provide justice for all.

“How we emerge as a country from this pandemic is determined by what we all do right now,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Already, the public health crisis has been used as an excuse to roll back issues of critical—sometimes lifesaving—importance, making the administration of justice and the protection of our rights even more imperative. This is not acceptable. The nation is counting on the judiciary to ensure that our civil and human rights, laws, and protections are prioritized so that our democracy can work for all of us. Our lives today, tomorrow and in the future depend on ensuring that our courts continue to function and provide safe, transparent, and fair access to justice every day.”

“We have seen this administration attempt to use the coronavirus pandemic both to excuse and to distract from its efforts to curtail our rights on many fronts,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People For the American Way. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that our justice system protects civil and human rights, especially for vulnerable communities most affected by the pandemic. These include people threatened with loss of their homes or those denied needed health care, those suffering racist attacks related to bigotry around the virus, immigrants, and incarcerated people. The pandemic creates urgent needs and challenges for a justice system that already has many, and we must be vigilant to ensure it meets this moment.”

“The courts play a critical role in protecting people across the country in times of crisis,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of National Women’s Law Center. “At this unprecedented moment, our courts must prioritize our civil rights and ensure equal access for those seeking justice. The courts’ decisions can impact people’s lives for decades to come and it’s essential they act responsibly during a public health pandemic.”

The full letter is available here and is signed by the following groups.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
National Women’s Law Center, Fair Courts Task Force Co-Chair
People For The American Way, Fair Courts Task Force Co-Chair
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Alliance for Justice
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Association of University Women
Center for American Progress
Center for Law and Social Policy
Coalition for Disability Health Equity
Demand Justice
Drug Policy Alliance
Equality California
Equal Justice Society
Family Equality
Hindu American Foundation
Human Rights Campaign
Innocence Project
Lambda Legal
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Association of Social Workers
National Council of Jewish Women
National Disability Rights Network
National Health Law Program
National Organization for Women
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Urban League
Partnership for America’s Children
PFLAG National
Silver State Equality – Nevada
Southern Poverty Law Center
Transformative Justice Coalition
Union for Reform Judaism

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.