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The Sound of Ideas

Civil Rights Issues Today

Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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Civil Rights Issues Today The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department was started in 1957 by President Eisenhower. Its mission was to "uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals." While a lot has changed in half a century, that mission remains the same. What has expanded is the various types of issues that falls under the Civil Rights Division - from dealing with post 9/11 backlash, ensuring medical care to all persons affected by viruses such as H1N1 and access to reproductive health clinics. On top of it, issues like voting rights and religious freedom are still on the top of their to-do list. Wednesday on the Sound of Ideas, the top attorney for civil rights joins us to talk about priorities both nationwide and in Ohio.


Government/Politics, Other, Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Ethics/Religion


Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice
Steven Dettelbach, United States Attorney for Northern District of Ohio

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repstew 8:24 AM 10/13/10

What deos Mike Mcintyre mean when he says aren’t we supposed to be lving in a post racial America...we elected a black president...? Is he suggesting that racicism and hate somehow disappeared with the election of Obama. That’s a common natinal media narrative that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Eric Resnick, Gay People's Chronicle 8:30 AM 10/13/10

There’s another question on DADT that needs to be asked.

The fact is that the mere repeal of DADT does NOT mean that gays and lesbians will be able to serve openly in the armed services.  It only means that the state of the law goes back to pre-1993.  It also means that the Pentagon will have the say over directing the policy as to who serves and who does not.

So the additional question is, even if DADT is repealed, what will the Department of Justice and the administration as a whole do to ensure that lesbians and gays are able to serve openly?

Does the administration see THAT as a civil rights matter?

And if they do, why have they done nothing administratively to either set it up, or reduce the number of gay firings from military service - none of which requires action by Congress?

Julia Shearson, Council on American-Islamic Relati 8:31 AM 10/13/10

Welcome to Cleveland, Mr. Perez.
We are glad the Civil Rights Division is aspiring to restore the luster to what Attorney General Holder has called the “Crown Jewel” of the Department of Justice.

However, with respect to civil rights abuses against the Muslim community in America, there are serious institutional and policy impediments within the DOJ itself that are part of the problem.For example: the 2008 DOJ FBI Investigative Guidelines that permit threat assessment investigations against innocent Americans without factual predicate; and the “2003 Guidance on the Use of Race in Federal Law Enforcement” that creates loopholes for the use of race in “national security” and “border” contexts.

When the DOJ, through its investigative arm of the FBI, and in concert with the Department of Homeland Security permit the “special registration” of over 10,000 Muslim men, and round up and deport thousands, in some cases, without due process, it begs the question as to whether the DOJ can truly protect the rights of American Muslims. The DOJ can’t have it both ways. To be successful in protecting the rights of Muslim Americans, the Civil Rights Division must recognize and deal with this head on and with courage. We hope Mr. Perez is the man for that job.

Art 8:56 AM 10/13/10

I appreciate the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform the health care system by eliminating the practice of denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions beginning in 2014.

But why isn’t this practice in itself unconstitutional? Don’t we have two sets of practices - one for a individuals who get their insurance through their company’s group plans but are not subjected to a screening process to determine eligibility, and another for self-employed individuals who must purchase individual insurance plans and are subjected to a screening process and may be denied coverage based on that screening process?

Joane Johnson 9:03 AM 10/13/10

I think Mr. McIntryre was speaking tongue in cheek.  We all know that is a lie.  We are not in a post racial anything.  Frankly, with the election of this president, it allowed the true feelings to show.  They can hide it under tea-party, birthers, etc.  It does not matter.  It is the status quo letting their true feelings show.  I agree the media has it’s collective head buried in the sand.  Spare me the ‘legitimate concern’ of people.  They acted this way BEFORE the election and the day AFTER.  He had done nothing.  So do not take me for the village idiot.  As for people of Islam, hang in there, the same tact was used against us.  We had none or very little help legally for a long time.  To be perfectly honest, I have more to fear from extremist white christian Americans, just from a historical perspective, than I ever will from people of Islam. Oh, I forgot, we black people should forget about it.

Joane Johnson 9:09 AM 10/13/10

Sorry, Art.  it works that way for both. I work for one and we had to go through the screening for pre-existing, also.  All plans do not call for this.  It depends on the contract the company chooses.  That group, also, has the right to ‘waive’ the condition.  There is no double standard.  Trust me.

Mike McIntyre 9:50 AM 10/13/10

repstew said: “What does Mike McIntyre mean when he says aren’t we supposed to be lving in a post racial America...we elected a black president...?”

Repstew: Thanks for listening and for your question.

This was a leading and somewhat rhetorical question. It acknowledges that there was a time in the country when it was believed that race issues would be behind us when we elected a black president. So the question “Aren’t we supposed to be in a post-racial America?” is informed by that belief and not an opinion that we are. Mr. Perez uses the device himself in his speeches, asking the questions and answering, as he did today, with a resounding “no.”

Art 9:55 AM 10/13/10

Joane, my point is that some individuals can get health insurance without going though a screening process and others have to go through a screening process. Two people with the same health history will not necessarily qualify for the same coverage (or any coverage at all) because of this. I am questioning whether this practice is constitutional.


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