Backstage at a Texas drag show, credit BRANDON BELL, GETTY IMAGES


Wednesday September 27, 2023

09.27.23Carlos Aguilar

Judge rejects conservative activist effort to end diversity funding for Black women

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Conservative activist edward blum, credit Shuran Huang, The Washington Post, Getty Images

A federal judge in Atlanta has denied a conservative group’s request for an injunction to stop a Black women-owned venture capitalist firm from awarding grants exclusively to Black women entrepreneurs.

The American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER ) had argued that the Fearless Fund’s grant program amounted to racial discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Judge Thomas Thrash, Jr., Senior U.S. District Judge of Northern District of Georgia, denied the group’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the firm’s grant selection process while the lawsuit goes to trial, saying the case was a matter of free speech and charitable donations fall under the purview of the First Amendment.

Read the rest on CNN

The legal movement that wants to roll back the rights revolution

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Illustration of court building, credit Ben Kothe, The Atlantic

The struggle over the sweeping red-state drive to roll back civil rights and liberties has primarily moved to the courts.

Since 2021, Republican-controlled states have passed a swarm of laws to restrict voting rights, increase penalties for public protest, impose new restrictions on transgender youth, ban books, and limit what teachers, college professors, and employers can say about race, gender, and sexual orientation. Some states are even exploring options to potentially prosecute people who help women travel out of state to obtain an abortion.

In the early legal skirmishing over this agenda, opponents including the federal Justice Department have won a surprising number of decisions, mostly in federal courts, blocking states from implementing the new laws.

But eventually most of these issues are likely to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court’s six-member Republican-appointed majority has generally ruled in ways that favor the conservative social-policy priorities reflected in the red-state actions.

Read the rest on The Atlantic

Meet the lawyers who want to ban drag

Speaking Of...

Backstage at a Texas drag show, credit BRANDON BELL, GETTY IMAGES

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk made national headlines earlier this year when he issued a ruling that sought to ban mifepristone, the most commonly used abortion medication in the country. (That ruling is currently on hold pending appeal.) Now he has taken his ideological crusade even further by dismissing a First Amendment lawsuit against a public university in Texas that banned an on-campus drag show earlier this year.

“The First Amendment does not prevent school officials from restricting ‘vulgar and lewd’ conduct that would ‘undermine the school’s basic educational mission’—particularly in settings where children are physically present,” he wrote in his decision last week, quoting from legal precedents on how the First Amendment generally applies in public schools and speaking hypothetically.

Read the rest on The New Republic

In praise of drag queens

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Penny Cilyn of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire reads during Sunday service at the Cathedral of Hope on Aug. 17, credit Karen Attiah, The Washington Post

Last Sunday, in the parking lot of Dallas’s Cathedral of Hope, Regent Empress Penny Cilyn put the finishing touches on her hair and jewelry in the rearview mirror of her car. In a blue sequined gown, her red hair curly and Dolly Parton full, she was preparing to represent the United Court of the Lone Star Empire, a charitable organization serving the LGBTQ+ community.

Meanwhile, from the edge of the parking lot, homophobic vitriol: “Anyone check the weather today?!” a protester yelled into his megaphone. “’Cause it might rain fire and brimstone on this church and burn every homo inside!”

A dozen or so Catholic protesters holding rosaries and signs stood near the church’s entrance, chanting one Hail Mary after another. One played a bagpipe. In lighthearted counterprotest, a trickle of churchgoers paused to dance and flap their rainbow fans.

All because of what the Cathedral of Hope was about to do.

Read the rest on Washington Post