TIME justice

Congress Divided on Eric Holder’s Legacy

Democrats and Republicans quickly split on a divisive figure

Lawmakers were divided Thursday in their reaction to Attorney General Eric Holder’s impending resignation, underscoring his divisive tenure as the country’s top law enforcement official.

On TV, on Twitter and in public statements, Democrats were as quick to praise the nation’s outgoing top cop as Republicans were to vilify him.

“I hate to see Eric Holder leave,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, told NBC. “I remember the day he was sworn in and the huge cheers that echoed throughout the Department of Justice—throughout the building—because they were finally getting somebody who actually knew how the Justice Department worked, who cared about law enforcement, cared about the rule of law.”

“I’ve been here through a lot of attorneys general and nobody has done it better than he has,” added Leahy, who was elected to the Senate in 1974.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Holder has “led the fight to protect the right to vote for all citizens.”

And Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights hero who gave a glowing tribute to Holder for the TIME 100 this year, was taken aback when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced the news at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation event.

“Oh wow,” said Lewis. “Why? That is so bad. … That is so sad.”

“His resignation is a great loss for any American seeking justice in our society,” Lewis said in a statement later. “He became the symbol of fairness, an embodiment of the best in the federal government. He has been a persistent and consistent leader in the struggle for civil and human rights. That legacy is in his bones. It is written on his heart, and his intelligence and committed leadership will be hard to replace.”

Republicans didn’t share in the Democrats’ grief.

Rep. Darrell Isssa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee and perhaps Capitol Hill’s most vocal Holder antagonist, cheered the news, tweeting that Holder has the “dubious distinction” of being the first Attorney General held in contempt of Congress. Issa led the drive for that 2012 House vote after Holder declined to hand over documents related to the so-called Fast and Furious scandal, in which federal law enforcement agents allowed the sale of weapons so they could track the flow of them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the weapons was found at the scene of the shooting death of an American border patrol agent in 2010.

“Eric Holder is the most divisive U.S. Attorney General in modern history,” Issa tweeted. “By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Holder’s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any AG before him.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in a statement that Holder had “repeatedly refused” to enforce U.S. law and that his resignation is “great news” and long overdue. Brady said his record includes the following: “Ignoring the clearly unlawful behavior of IRS employee Lois Lerner, illegal gun-running to Mexican drug cartels and being held in contempt by the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said in a statement no other Attorneys General had “attacked Louisiana more than Holder.”

“He’s tried to defund a Louisiana youth program because students prayed, sued to block voucher scholarships going to poor kids in failing schools, and threatened the release of Louisiana voters’ personal information,” Vitter said. “I’m proud to have voted against this Senate confirmation.”

TIME justice

Eric Holder Will Leave a Legacy of Civil Rights Activism

Barack Obama, Eric Holder
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, to announce Holder is resigning. Evan Vucci—AP

Holder used the bully pulpit to highlight racial injustices he saw around him

Attorney General Eric Holder showed in his second week in office that he planned to approach the job of top law enforcement officer differently.

“In things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” he said, in prepared remarks to Justice Department staff on Feb. 18, 2009. “Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must—and will—lead the nation to the ‘new birth of freedom’ so long ago promised by our greatest President.”

The remarks earned a backlash from the West Wing staff around President Barack Obama, but Holder’s attitude never changed, nor did his determination to use his office to highlight the injustices that continued to exist under his tenure. “We’ve got to have the guts to say that these are issues that need to be fixed,” he told a group of black journalists during a meeting at the White House last year.

As news broke Thursday of Holder’s decision to retire after almost six years in the job as the first black leader of the Justice Department, civil rights activists were quick to praise him. “No attorney general has demonstrated a civil rights record that is similar to Eric Holder’s,” Al Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network, told reporters in Washington.

“Attorney General Holder never shied away from the issues that greatly affect us all,” Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain activist Medgar Evers, said in a statement.

Through his tenure, Holder often referred to the portrait of his predecessor Robert F. Kennedy, which hangs in his office, as a guiding light for him. Like Kennedy’s efforts to address civil rights issues in the 1960s, Holder’s department made criminal justice reform a priority, and has worked aggressively to continue to challenge limits on voting rights after the Supreme Court overturned parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Holder has also launched a number of high profile investigations of the conduct of local police departments in about 20 cities, often obtaining consent agreements that change police conduct.

In a major address to the American Bar Association in August of 2013, Holder did not just lay out a set of reforms to reduce prison terms and improve rehabilitation efforts, but he also challenged the country for what he saw as moral failures. “One deeply troubling report… indicates that in recent years black male offenders have received sentences nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes,” he said. “This isn’t just unacceptable—it is shameful. It’s unworthy of our great country, and our great legal tradition.”

Before speaking those words, he had given a draft of his remarks to Obama during a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. In an interview with TIME earlier this year, Holder recalled Obama’s reaction. “It’s a gutsy speech,” the President told him, encouraging him to deliver the speech.

Holder also spoke multiple times about the discrimination he believed he had experienced as a black man. “I am the attorney general of the United States, but I am also a black man,” he said during a visit to a community meeting in Ferguson, Mo., this year, where he recounted his anger at being stopped by police while running down the street in Washington, D.C., and while driving on the New Jersey turnpike. “I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”

Like many other efforts, he spoke these words not just as a cabinet secretary but as a social activist, urging the country to be better. “The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the Attorney General of the United States,” he said in Ferguson. “This country is capable of change. But change doesn’t happen by itself.”

TIME Crime

Civil Rights Leaders Want Feds to Intervene in Ferguson Probe

“Whether they wear blue jeans or blue uniforms, criminals must be held accountable”

Civil rights leaders called Thursday for the federal government to intervene in criminal investigations into the deaths of two unarmed black men killed by police.

Officials from the National Urban League, the National Action Network and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People condemned the law enforcement response to both the cases of Michael Brown, who was shot by a Missouri police officer on Aug. 9, and Eric Garner, who died after being held in a chokehold by New York police earlier this summer. Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., the parents of Michael Brown, joined Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network said police offers need to be held accountable for the deaths of both men.

“Whether they wear blue jeans or blue uniforms, criminals must be held accountable,” Sharpton said. The news conference took place as Police Chief Thomas Jackson of Ferguson, Mo., publicly apologized to Brown’s family, weeks after often violent clashes in the St. Louis suburb over the shooting drew national attention.

Brown’s parents did not publicly comment on the police chief’s apology, but Sharpton said Thomas’ response was “too little, too late.”

“The answer is justice for this family,” Sharpton said. “Now to come with an apology when the family is here asking for the Justice Department to come in is suspect at best.”

A grand jury has been convened in Ferguson to determine whether or not charges should be brought against the officer responsible for Brown’s death. The grand jury proceedings have been wrought with uncertainty, and local civil rights leaders have suggested an indictment may not be coming. The Department of Justice is also investigating, looking into whether there were any civil rights violations at the time of the teen’s death.

But civil rights leaders said Thursday they want more. While they are in Washington, the families of Garner and Brown are set to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have convened for their annual legislative conference about federal legislation to end racial profiling and better monitor police activity. The leaders also announced an upcoming march to bring the “Hands Up” protest movement sparked by Brown’s death to the nation’s capitol.

TIME justice

Attorney General Eric Holder to Resign

Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Justice Department in Washington, on Sept. 16, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

His tenure as attorney general has been the fourth-longest in history

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation Thursday, a Justice Department official confirmed, bringing an end to the tenure of one of President Barack Obama’s closest and longest-serving aides.

Holder is expected to make his announcement later on Thursday, according to NPR, which first reported the news. Obama is scheduled to make a statement from the White House late Thursday afternoon. Holder, 63, and the country’s first black attorney general, has been increasingly “adamant” about leaving the Justice Department soon for fear that he’d otherwise be locked in for the rest of Obama’s presidency, NPR reports, and plans to do so once a successor is confirmed.

His tenure as attorney general has been the fourth-longest in history, and he served from the outset of Obama’s presidency, staying in the Administration long after many other top aides left. It was marked by a focus on civil rights that was praised by some black leaders but criticized by others who expected more from the nation’s first black president and first black attorney general.

“No attorney general has demonstrated a civil rights record that is similar to Eric Holder’s,” Al Sharpton, the civil rights leaders and president of the National Action Network, told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. He was speaking there Thursday as news of Holder’s impending resignation broke. “If reports are true, we have lost in effect the most effective civil rights attorney general in the history of this country,” Sharpton said.

Holder also frequently found himself as the favored target of congressional Republicans, especially over the so-called Fast and Furious scandal, in which federal law enforcement agents allowed the sale of weapons so they could track the flow of them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the weapons was found at the scene of the shooting death of an American border patrol agent in 2010.

While serving on the D.C. Superior Court in the late 1980s following an appointment from President Ronald Reagan, Holder earned the nickname Judge Hold ‘Em for not setting bail for those accused of violent crimes. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., in 1993, and in 1997, President Bill Clinton tapped him to become Deputy Attorney General.

-Additional reporting by Massimo Calabresi and Maya Rhodan

TIME justice

Surfers Beat Billionaire in Landmark California Beach Case

A surfer hops the gate at the top of Martins Beach Road, crossing property owned by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla in order to get to Martins Beach on August 7, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

The latest ruling in the ongoing battle over a northern California surf spot is a blow to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla

A California court issued a milestone ruling Sept. 24 that may restore public access to a beach that requires traveling across privately owned land, the latest turn in a multi-year legal frenzy that has pitted the surfers who cross the property against the billionaire who owns it.

Judge Barbara Mallach of San Mateo Superior Court ruled against venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who was sued by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation after his property manager blocked the public from accessing a beloved seaside spot known as Martins Beach.

At the center of the controversy is a low-slung metal gate that sits at the top of Martins Beach Road, an offshoot of the Pacific Coast Highway that is the only way to access Martins Beach from dry land. The road snakes across 53 acres that Khosla bought for $32.5 million in 2008. For two years, his property manager allowed the public to occasionally visit a stretch of sand where locals have gone smelt-fishing and surfing and picnicking for decades. But Khosla allowed the gate to be closed permanently in 2010 after his property manager received a letter from the county demanding that it stay open every day.

The conflict comes at a time when an influx of tech wealth has sharpened class tension in northern California. “[Kholsa] believes that he can find a way to use his wealth and power to strong-arm the situation,” says Chad Nelsen, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation.

Khosla doesn’t own a home on the land and says he has no plans to build one. The decision to shut off access to the road was a way to take a stand about what he felt were his basic rights. “This is a case about private property,” Khosla told TIME in an email. “We need to assert our rights and get the courts to clarify them.”

Khosla’s lawyers say they are considering appealing the verdict. “We will continue to seek protection of the constitutional rights of private property owners that are guaranteed by the U.S. and California Constitutions and that have long been upheld by the United States and California Supreme Courts,” his attorneys said in a statement.

Surfrider’s argument rested on a seemingly bureaucratic detail. The organization claimed that under the 1976 Coastal Act, which gave a statewide Coastal Commission jurisdiction over beachfront land, Khosla needed to apply for a development permit in order to close the gate. The commission will often only grant development permits, typically to build a home or another structure, if the public gets an established right of way in return.

“Because they’re in charge of beach development, they’re allowed to do this quid pro quo,” says Arthur McEvoy, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They can ask you in trade to dedicate a little easement, if the development threatens to impede public access.”

The tricky matter is that while beaches are widely considered public, people don’t necessarily have a right to cross private property to get there. Cases such as this one set precedents that resonate up and down California’s 840 miles of coastline.

The view of Martins Beach from the bottom of Martins Beach Road includes a rock formation known as the “shark’s tooth.” Katy Steinmetz for TIME

It’s easy to see why Martins Beach is beloved. Its sands wrap around a cove with cliffs jutting out on either end, creating a rare surfing spot protected from the wind and also preventing people from walking to the beach from the north or south. Secluded and full of wildlife, its dramatic rock formations are often blanketed by birds. Seals pop their heads up between surfers and the beach.

For decades, cars that wound their way down the road from Highway 1 paid a small fee to the landowners for parking and frequented a snack shop that has fallen into disrepair. A now-defunct sign advertising $15 parking, the amount Khosla’s employees charged when visitors were allowed, still lays on the ground.

Steve Baugher, Khosla’s property manager, testified at the trial that it was his decision to close the gate. He also testified that he hired security guards to “deter trespassers”; their presence prompted five surfers to defiantly march past them last October to proclaim their right to be on the beach. Known as the “Martin’s 5″ the surfers were arrested by the county sheriff but the District Attorney declined to prosecute–inspiring more surfers to take advantage of this legal limbo and hop the fence with abandon.

In California, public access to the beach is protected by the public trust doctrine, a common law that can be traced back to the English crown proclaiming rights to all submerged lands, in order to let the public use the water above them for fishing and navigation.

“Our culture abhors private beaches, and generally speaking our law abhors private beaches as well,” McEvoy said. “And any landowner is going to want to keep people away from their beach.”

In an earlier case that went Khosla’s way, a group called the Friends of Martins Beach used a different angle to sue, testing a clause in the state constitution that declares that no entity shall “exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose.” In a 2013 ruling, another San Mateo Superior Court judge said that because Martins Beach had been part of a land grant that settled the Mexican-American war in 1848, a year before the constitution was adopted, the intentions of that document were immaterial.

Beyond the ongoing court cases, two other avenues may force the drama to a close. One is a bill sponsored by State Senator Jerry Hill, a San Mateo Democrat, that would require the State Lands Commission to consider purchasing the road if negotiations with Khosla for public access fail. Meanwhile, the Coastal Commission, which has been fielding the public’s complaints about the closure of Martins Beach, is asking people to write in about how they’ve used the area in the past. That testimony may prove there’s a historic right of access that Attorney General Kamala Harris can sue to restore on the Commission’s behalf. “The Commission is trying very hard to bring it to a close,” says Nancy Cave, a commission manager who was part of negotiations with Khosla’s team that went nowhere. “We are frustrated, too.”

Khosla notes that he is not the first owner of the property to limit access, pointing out that previous owners closed the gate during certain hours and seasons and even inconvenient days. In court, property manager Baugher testified that he received a letter from the county demanding that the gates be open year round and parking be charged at the rate of $2, what beachgoers paid in 1973. Khosla has also accused Surfrider and the Coastal Commission of attempting to “blackmail and coerce him,” charges both deny. Surfrider emphasizes that Khosla has allowed changes that are far from what his predecessors did—like painting over a billboard that used to welcome people to come down from Highway 1 to the beach, turning it into a dark green slab.

Surfrider had hoped that the court would also fine Khosla for failing to apply for a permit but Mallach declined, saying that those who closed the gate had acted in good faith that they had the legal right to do so. Nonetheless, Surfrider championed the decision as a “huge victory.”

“Today’s court decision upholding the Coastal Act is an important victory for Martin’s Beach and ultimately strengthens the public’s right to beach access in California,” Angela Howe, Surfrider’s legal director, said in a statement. “The Surfrider Foundation remains vigilant to protect beach access rights, not only in this case, but also in other cases where the beach is wrongfully cut off from the public.”

TIME justice

Navajo Nation to Receive $554 Million Settlement From U.S. Government

It's the largest settlement ever received by a Native American tribe

The U.S. will pay the Navajo Nation $554 million as the result of a settlement agreement, the largest ever obtained by an American Indian tribe.

The agreement settles a 2006 lawsuit by the Navajo Nation, alleging that the American government improperly handled Indian assets for more than five decades, the New York Times reports.

The Navajo Nation, alongside officials from the Obama Administration, will formally announce the settlement on Friday, from Arizona. The Nation owns about 14 million acres of land, which the federal government oversees, though the tribe said the U.S. has not provided tools and invested the proper resources to foster economic growth.

The Department of Justice said the money will be transferred to the Navajo Nation as quickly as two months from now. The settlement is reportedly part of about $2.61 billion worth of agreements the Obama administration reached with various Indian tribes, in an effort to improve relations between the Federal government and Native tribes.

[NYT]

TIME Supreme Court

Justice Ginsburg Suggests Senate Republicans Are Keeping Her At Her Job

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes remarks during a forum at the Newseum to mark the 30th anniversary of the first female Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's first term on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 11, 2012.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes remarks during a forum at the Newseum to mark the 30th anniversary of the first female Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's first term on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 11, 2012. Mike Theiler—REUTERS

A revealing interview to a women's magazine shows how politics is impacting the court

Correction appended Wednesday, 9/24

The dysfunctions and passions of modern partisan politics is not supposed to influence the behavior of the nation’s highest court, but for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the circus taking place across U.S. Capitol Plaza seems to be having an impact.

This week, Elle magazine asked Ginsburg the question on everyone’s mind: Why not step down from the court now, with a Democratic President, to ensure another left-leaning replacement? Her answer was telling, for an 81-year-old justice who was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1993 with only three Republican senators voting against her.

“Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?” she said. “If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court. [The Senate Democrats] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided.”

The implication of this is that she must wait for cooler heads and the 2016 election, when either Republicans might move to the middle or Democrats could win a larger majority in the upper chamber. It was also remarkably frank admission of something Supreme Court justices often try to avoid doing publically: Connecting the whims of Democracy to the wisdom of their collective deliberations.

Under the constitution, the political process officially has an impact on the court at two points: When the Senate confirms justices for the court in the first place, and when Justices decide to leave the court at the end of their career. In 1929, shortly after the stock market crash, Chief Justice William Howard Taft declared in a letter to his brother, “I must stay on the court in order to prevent the Bolsheviki from getting control.” Chief Justice Warren Burger famously sped his retirement out of fear that Republicans would lose control of the Senate in 1986. Justice Harry Blackmun famously scribbled notes to himself the day after President Clinton was elected in 1992, debating when he should now retire.

In recent years, Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican appointee, has made a point of trying to build unity in the court amid the growing national division outside the building’s walls. In the last term, 60% of the cases were decided unanimously, the highest percentage in decades. But on the biggest issues, from union dues to Obamacare to religious freedom, divisions are still deep and wide.

From Ginsburg’s view, the recent rightward drift of the court will end, if not reverse itself, with time. On the question of abortion, she told Elle, the court has gotten “about as conservative as it will get.” But when asked about the pendulum swinging left again on the larger issues of women’s rights, she pointed to the same body that she suggests is keeping her in the job. “I think it will,” she said, “when we have a more functioning Congress.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the group Ginsberg said took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments. They are the Senate Democrats.

TIME 2014 Election

Voting Rights Rally Students As North Carolina Senate Battle Heats Up

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, left, talks with voter Donald Parrott of Charlotte outside Precinct 75 at Holy Covenant UCC in Charlotte, N.C., on May 6, 2014 Jeff Siner—The Charlotte Observer/AP

Students at Appalachian State University are among a coalition of folks pushing back against the threat of disenfranchisement in North Carolina

Boone, North Carolina

Correction appended Sept. 24

Appalachian State University played host to Rock the Vote’s 2014 National Voter Registration Day rally and concert on Tuesday, with an eclectic mix of students and local politicians gathered amid brisk September winds on Duck Pond field, a grassy valley near the stadium where the Mountaineers football team plays. “We’re here celebrating our constitutional right to vote,” said Andy Ball, mayor of the town of Boone. “We want to encourage everyone to speak out in this election.”

The message was familiar, but North Carolina is in a unique position this time around. The state is ground zero of the ongoing battle to protect voting rights and the students Appalachian State, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Tar Heel state, are the test cases. A sweeping 2013 state voting law that will be in place for the first time during a statewide election, eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting, and shortening the early voting window by ten days, all changes that could disproportionately impact young people.

“We’re worried,” says Rachel Clay, 21, a student at ASU. “But, there’s a big pushback from grassroots organizations on campus to get students engaged and address misinformation.” Clay is helping to organize a march to the polls during the early voting period, and plans to vote on the first day the polls open—Oct. 23. She was one of many students who voted at the campus’ polling site in 2012, which has been moved by the local board of elections from the centrally located student union to a site further away from undergrads on main campus. The GOP-controlled Watauga County Board of Elections also recently rejected a proposal to have the campus serve as an early voting site, though the campus was home to an early voting site every year since 2008.

On Tuesday, students trickled in and out of to rally ahead of the 2014 Midterm election. They were drawn to the event for different reasons—many had come from grabbing a bite to eat at the nearby student center and were drawn to the music. Others were truly concerned about protecting their right to cast a ballot, and wanted to make sure every student at ASU had the opportunity to have their voice be heard.

Republicans in the state have called the voting law a common sense reform that will help prevent fraud at the state’s polls. In 2016, additional rules are scheduled to take effect that would prevent students from presenting their student identification cards as proof of residence when casting a ballot, as is currently permitted. Voter rights advocates worry the laws changes to early voting and same-day registration will place an undue burden on certain voting blocks including African Americans, low-income voters, the elderly, and young people.

Durham-based advocacy group Democracy NC says the law blocked more than 400 voters from casting ballots during the primary because of the changes to same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting, disruption they predict will be bigger during the Midterm election. That is, however, unless civil rights organization’s last-ditch attempt at judicial intervention proves fruitful. On Sept. 25, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union will represent a collection of North Carolinians in an expedited appeal hearing before the 4th Circuit Court.

In the meantime, the issue of disenfranchisement has become an election issue in the close federal senate contest. Incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan asked the federal government to investigate the new voting law last year, and has created a list-building website encouraging people to vent their frustration about the new law. Her campaign has criticized the Republican nominee Thom Tillis for working to pass the new voting law as speaker of the state House. Tillis defends his vote for the new law as part of an effort to restore confidence in the voting system.

“The mistake the extremists in state legislature made is that their actions have energized people,” says Rev. William Barber president of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP and leader of a statewide movement to galvanize voters.

It may take until after the election to find out if this enthusiasm will offset the decline in voter participation because voting will be less convenient this time around. “I’m not a political scientist,” says Anita Earls, the Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, “but I think we’ll see a jump in students voting this year because of their frustration that someone is trying to take their vote.”

Correction: A previous version of this story named the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People among the groups being represented by the Southern Coalition of Social Justice. The NAACP is involved in a separate suit against the state’s voting law.

TIME Military

WikiLeaks Source Chelsea Manning Sues Govt Over Hormone Treatment Request

Artist rendering of how Chelsea Manning sees herself. Alicia Neal—Chelsea Manning Support Network

Manning was diagnosed by military doctors with gender dysphoria after her arrest

Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth military prison for leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks, has sued U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel over the government’s refusal to pay for gender reassignment treatment.

“The government continues to deny Ms. Manning’s access to necessary medical treatment for gender dysphoria, without which she will continue to suffer severe psychological harms,” Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney and co-counsel with Manning’s long-term civilian lawyer David Coombs, said in a statement. “Such clear disregard of well-established medical protocols constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”

Manning first expressed her intent to live as a woman before she was arrested in 2010 for perpetrating what at the time was the largest leak of classified information in American history. Since her arrest, she has been diagnosed by military doctors with gender dysphoria, the term used by the medical community to describe someone who does not identify with the physical gender he or she was assigned at birth.

Since her incarceration, Manning has requested that the military pay for hormone therapy consistent with treatment others receive for gender dysphoria.

Providing treatment for gender dysphoria is not uncommon in civilian prisons, but the Pentagon’s policies differ from other prisons.The Defense Department considered moving Manning to a civilian facility in May, a move critics charged was an attempt to avoid confronting the decision of whether or not to provide treatment to military prisoners suffering from gender dysphoria.

“I am proud to be standing with the ACLU behind Chelsea on this very important issue.” said the civilian lawyer David Coombs. “It is my hope that through this action, Chelsea will receive the medical care that she needs without having to suffer any further anguish.”

TIME justice

3 Charged With Attacking Gay Men After Twitter User ID’ed Suspects

The Philadelphia District Attorney has charged two men and one woman over the September 11 attack

Two men and one woman were charged in Philadelphia Tuesday in connection with a violent attack on two gay men after Twitter users helped cops identify the suspects.

The suspects were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment after they allegedly attacked two gay men in the Center City area of Philadelphia September 11. The beating left one of the men hospitalized with multiple fractures, NBC Philadelphia reports.

The names of the three suspects are Philip Williams, 24; Kevin Harrigan, 26; and Katherine Knott, 24.

At around 10:45 p.m. on Sept. 11, the 27 and 28-year-old victims were walking from a local restaurant when the three alleged assailants, who witnesses described as visibly intoxicated, approached them. One of them asked “Is this your [explicative] boyfriend?” The group then attacked the two men with punches and kicks to the face head and chest, police say.

According to police, the suspects were identified after police posted a surveillance video of the three. A civilian then used Twitter and Facebook Graph Search to identify the suspects before alerting the authorities. That series of events would be a welcome departure from a trend among some social media users to attempt to solve crimes and identify the wrong suspect, which has led to serious harassment of innocent people in the past.

https://twitter.com/PPDJoeMurray/status/512057192292573184

[NBC Philadelphia]

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