Case Update Telephone Conversations with 2020 Grantees

The Barbara McDowell Foundation sets itself apart from other foundations with frequent grantor/grantee communication to monitor the status of its grants. Foundation communications with grantees include the following three items. 

  1. The submission of quarterly timesheets by a grantee confirming the hours and names of each attorney working on the case for which the grantee received funds.
  2. The submission of a six-month interim grantee report detailing updates on the case and a year-end report summarizing how the foundation’s funds were used throughout the grant period. The six-month reports from the 2020 grantees are summarized in a recent News story, here, and posted to the Foundation’s website, here.
  3. Telephone calls with the grantee to discuss the progress of their grant-funded case. 

These grant monitoring efforts ensure the funds granted by the Foundation are being used as agreed upon by the social justice organization in their grant agreement with the Foundation and serve as an assurance to potential donors that their contributions to the Foundation are making an impact. 

What follows are the highlights of the most recent telephone calls between the 2020 grantees and Foundation President, Jerry Hartman, which took place in June 2020. 

Fair Elections Center

Cross motions for summary judgment are pending and have been on file since December 2019.  This case is unique in the spectrum of cases seeking the restoration of voting rights for felons because it is based upon First Amendment grounds. The Fair Elections Center anticipates that there will be an appeal to the Sixth Circuit no matter the outcome in the district court.

National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ)

Cross motions for summary judgment are pending in the suit challenging Montgomery, Alabama’s debt collection and policing practices.  NCLEJ is preparing a brief in support of its motion for class certification should it not be successful on summary judgment.  Extensive discovery occurred in support of that motion.

National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP)

NVLSP is now preparing its complaint challenging the availability of benefits to retired disabled individuals in the Navy and Marine Corps.  Consideration is being given to filing a motion for class certification at the same time that the complaint is filed.  NVLSP is searching for individual plaintiffs to be named as class representatives in the litigation.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

NWLC filed a consent motion to stay the appellate proceedings in Equal Rights Advocates v. DeVos until August 28, 2020. (Equal Rights Advocates was substituted as plaintiff for SurvJustice in the case for which NWLC received its original Barbara McDowell Foundation grant.) That lawsuit was dismissed because the Interim Guidance interpreting Title IX that the lawsuit challenged was not final and therefore the case was premature. 

The Foundation is also supporting Victim Rights Law Center v. DeVos, the case that NWLC filed in early June of 2020 in the District of Massachusetts challenging the Education Department’s final Title IX regulations on sexual harassment. The final Title IX regulations were issued on May 6, 2020, with an effective date of August 14, 2020. NWLC is currently identifying individuals who can join the litigation as plaintiffs and anticipates amending its complaint to add individual plaintiffs. In addition to NWLC’s lawsuit, three other lawsuits have thus far been filed challenging the lawfulness of the Title IX regulations—one by the Attorneys General of 18 states and D.C., one by the Attorney General of New York, and one by the ACLU. NWLC is playing a coordinating rule identifying amici curiae who will file briefs in the cases brought by the state attorneys general.   

The motion to stay the Appeal in Equal Rights Advocates reasoned that if the Title IX regulations go into effect as scheduled and survive legal challenges, this will likely moot the appeal while if the regulations are vacated in whole or in part, it may be appropriate to proceed with the appeal. This consent motion was granted by the Ninth Circuit and the parties will file a status update on or before August 28, 2020. 

Upon the release of the regulations and the filing of the lawsuit challenging the Title IX regulations NWLC was widely quoted in the media explaining the harm threatened by the regulations and the ways in which they fall short of Title IX’s guarantees. NWLC received significant media coverage of its lawsuit, including in Newsweek, CNN (which distributed it through their wire service), The Washington Post, Politico (twice), The New York Times, The Hill, Axios, The Associated Press (to both its wire service and its daybook), CBS News, Forbes, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, NBC News and Vox, and in two op-eds: one in Teen Vogue and one it co-authored with Derrick Johnson of the NAACP for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (NCPLS)

In their challenge to solitary confinement in North Carolina state prisons, NCPLS has filed its motion for class certification.  The Judge entered a scheduling order on May 5, 2020, allowing Defendants two weeks to decide whether or not to seek discovery regarding class certification issues.  Defendants declined such discovery and then had 30 days to provide a response to the request for class certification.  Defendants have requested (and NCPLS has consented to) a 30-day extension of that deadline, which would make Defendant’s response due on July 7, 2020.  

In the interim, NCPLS is interviewing local and national experts who would testify as to the harm caused by solitary confinement. NCPLS reported that there are several other cases that have been filed throughout the United States challenging solitary confinement, but its case is unique because its suit claims that the use of solitary confinement inflicts “cruel or unusual punishment prohibited by the North Carolina state Constitution..




 




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