The Initiative has continued its earlier projects and has begun several new projects in 2012:
Exclusion of African Americans from Juries in Alabama Counties
In a decision filed March 28, 2012, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that the Equal Protection clause afforded no injunctive relief to Plaintiff jurors and that 18 U.S.C. Section 243 provides no private right of action. Applying a broad construction of the principles articulated in O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488 (1974), Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and Luckey v. Miller, 976 F.2d 673, 679 (11th Cir. 1992), the district court reasoned that: (1) the relief requested by Plaintiffs would permit any member of a class subject to a peremptory strike to enforce an injunction which would necessarily interrupt a State criminal proceeding; (2) the enforcement of the injunction would require federal intervention and would be extremely intrusive on the state courts and the administration of state law; and (3) the collection of information concerning peremptory strikes and monitoring of State court proceedings would violate principles of comity.
Plaintiffs appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Among other things, Appellant argued that failure to grant injunctive relief would wholly deprive jurors subjected to discriminatory preemptive strikes (as distinct from a criminal defendant who may have divergent interests) of a remedy for Equal Protection violations and that the relief requested was distinguishable from O’Shea and Luckey because Appellants contemplated neither continuous federal oversight of State court proceedings nor utilization of the data collected as a predicate for a federal court order to enjoin a state proceeding. In an unpublished decision filed December 31 2012, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, emphasizing the intrusiveness of the requested relief. The 11th Circuit denied rehearing and rehearing The 11th Circuit denied rehearing and rehearing en banc. Consideration is underway with respect to filing a petition for review in the United States Supreme Court.
Equal Rights Center - Housing Discrimination Project
The Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil-rights organization dedicated to promoting equal opportunity in housing, employment, and access to public accommodations and government services through education, research, testing, advocacy, and enforcement.
The ERC is currently conducting testing to determine whether housing providers in various geographic locations are discriminating on the basis of national origin. Drinker Biddle & Reath’s Barbara McDowell High Impact Pro Bono Initiative has teamed up with the ERC to prepare a public report highlighting key issues and concerns with respect to national origin discrimination. Following the release of the report, DBR may assist the ERC in its efforts to remedy any discriminatory practices discovered.