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Barack Obama and The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

Tuesday, April 1, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The Politico.com story from yesterday brought to public light the questionnaire he filed out prior to his 1996 campaign for the Illinois state senate. The resume that is attached to the questionnaire alerted me to the fact that Senator Obama included on his resume his service on the board of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. I don’t know when he joined the Board, but here’s a sampling of the cases the CLCCCR handled in the years 1990 to 1996 —and these are just the ones on the organization’s website:

1990 In Rochon v. FBI, the Committee joins in the suit against the FBI, the Department of Justice, and individual FBI agents for extreme, prolonged racial harassment, including death threats. Counsel seek to have Edwin Meese, Bradford Reynolds, and the entire Civil Right Division of the Justice Department disqualified from participation in the grand jury. (Kinoy Taren Geraghty & Potter; Sachnoff Weaver & Rubenstein )

On behalf of an African American family, seven of whose twelve children were poisoned by lead paint, Committee attorneys sue the current and past owners, alleging violations of the residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and breaches of the implied warranty of habitability. (Mayer Brown & Platt)

1991 Chicago Urban League v. State Board of Elections leads to the creation of the first majority Latino congressional districts in Illinois, while preserving three minority African-American districts. The 1992 elections result in the most racially diverse Congress in U.S. history. (Robbins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi)

The Committee sues the Immigration and Naturalization Service, challenging the INS detention system, under which alien detainees are rotated daily among several unsanitary, inaccessible facilities operated by the County and suburban municipalities. (Foley & Lardner)

1992 Filed in 1973, the race, national origin, and sex employment discrimination case, brought against the Chicago Police Department, is finally resolved as hundreds of officers receive their long overdue back pay and are given their proper seniority rights.

The Committee returns its attention to Juvenile Court with the establishment of the Children’s Advocacy Project. One of the Project’s major focuses is the overrepresentation of poor African American and Latino youths in the juvenile court system, and particularly the lengthy delays that result when the State attempts to prosecute juveniles as adults. (Winston & Strawn; Lord Bissell & Brook)

1993 On behalf of various women’s low cost health services providers, the Committee files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in NOW v. Scheidler, arguing that the protesters’ criminal attempts to shut down these clinics do not impinge on 1st Amendment rights.

A group of four fair housing organizations join forces to end the illegal use of only white people as models in housing advertising, and convince numerous developers to integrate their ads. (Robinson Curley & Clayton)

1994 On behalf of a group of Latino individuals and housing organizations, the Committee brought a major class action housing discrimination suit against HUD and CHA, alleging the severe underrepresentation of Latinos in public housing programs. (Sidley & Austin)

The Committee files Marie O. v. State Board of Education, alleging that Illinois failed to meet its obligations under federal law to provide early childhood intervention for children with disabilities. The court’s 1996 order required defendants to inform families of their rights under the Act, and eliminate the waiting lists for services. (Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal)

1995 In Ramos v. Kraft, a vicious 10-year campaign of harassment and hate crime ends when a settlement that includes an agreement by the Krafts to sell their house and move is finally reached. The settlement garners international media attention, bringing much needed attention to the breadth of hate crime in America. (Altheimer & Grey)

A Small Business Development Program is established to provide legal assistance to new entrepreneurs setting up businesses in inner-city neighborhoods.

1996 Working as part of the steering committee of the state-wide Coalition for Equal Opportunity, the Committee successfully organized opposition to proposed legislation to abolish affirmative action in Illinois.

After a year-long investigation, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee releases a report entitled Environmental Injustice: Community Perspectives on Silver Shovel, which detailed the efforts of residents of the Lawndale community to shut down two of the largest Silver Shovel dumps, only to be frustrated by the inaction, delay and weaknesses of the public agencies charged with protecting health and the environment. The report proposes a series of reforms to protect Lawndale and other minority communities from the destructive effects of waste dumps. (Miller Shakman Hanilton Kurtzon & Schlifke)

No doubt many liberals will applaud the goals and results of many of these cases, but most Americans will find something on the list over which an eyebrow will arch. Perhaps some MSM organization will get down to the business of figuring out what the organizations that Barack Obama helped lead stood for and stood against?

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