Camden has the second highest cancer rate in New Jersey, and the eighth highest in the nation thanks to over 100 toxic waste sites. When the St. Lawrence Cement Company tried to build yet another polluting factory in Camden, citizens banded together and convinced a district court to halt construction. Then the Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v Sandoval that citizens could not sue based on discriminatory effect. In order to block the construction of yet another polluter, citizens would need to show that there was intentional discrimination.
Patricia Garrett was transferred and demoted from her job as supervising nurse at the University of Alabama’s Medical Center hospital after being treated for breast cancer, even though she could still perform her job well. Ms. Garrett took her employer to court. In University of Alabama v. Garrett, the Supreme Court ruled that states were exempt from civil rights law, even when they were guilty of violating their employees’ civil rights. The decision slammed the doors of justice shut for Ms. Garrett and millions of Americans with disabilities.
This clip focuses on the Westside Mothers, a group of parents using Medicaid as health insurance for their children. In 2001, they brought the state of Michigan to federal court because their children were not getting the health care the state had promised them. When their case came before the federal judge he denied the mothers their day in court by using a legal theory that would close the courthouse doors to mothers like them everywhere.
Made by award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson, this video exposes the negative consequences of a federal judiciary that is increasingly opposed to civil rights protections. Mr. Nelson puts a human face on what has come to be known as the rollback of civil rights. The full film is 22 minutes and is an excellent teaching tool for those interested in educating friends, family, and neighbors about these issues. Free DVD copies of this video can be obtained by emailing the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.