Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Civil Rights Roundup: 09/03/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news

Backlash over the Postville raid may be prompting the government to change its immigration enforcement tactics somewhat.

Orange County Register: The diversity given by immigration is a source of strength, not weakness, to our nation.

Same-sex marriage: good for the economy. How long until "pro-family" groups start up their victim complex by railing against "Big Marriage"?

Also on the marriage front, a New York court has thrown out a suit challenging Gov. David Patterson's (D) decision to recognize out of state gay marriages.

Police are charging several men with civil rights violations after shouting homophobic slurs and assaulting four men outside of a night club.

The Boston Globe reviews Mark A. Noll's new book, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History. Noll is an evangelical Christian who documents the way in which religion and race have always been intertwined on both sides of America's race question -- from slavery to civil rights. Also interesting: I didn't know that Harriet Beecher Stove became a White supremacist after the Civil War.

Obama is up with radio ads attacking John McCain on abortion. That's rare from a Democratic candidate, but the fact that Roe is genuinely imperiled this election makes it wise move, in my view (and others as well).

A New York area supermarket chain was found to have cheated some of its managers out of overtime pay. Basically, the company tried to claim they were salaried employees to avoid giving overtime, but then would treat them as hourly to dock them pay if they missed part of the day.

Third Circuit: Spanish-speaking workers bound by arbitration ruling written in English. The trial court had held the agreement unenforceable because the workers had no way of knowing that it had an arbitration clause at all.

New Jersey schools still asking enrolling students about immigration status, despite it being a violation of state and federal(?) law.

Conservatives and Black people? Together under one roof? What a weird place New York is! Rich Lowry brings the funny.


PG said...

I didn't know that Harriet Beecher Stove became a White supremacist after the Civil War.

The book reviewed takes all of its information on Stowe and her brother Henry Ward Beecher from Edward Blum's Reforging The White Republic: Race, Religion, And American Nationalism, 1865-1898. Blum's central argument is that white Protestant northerners impeded Reconstruction efforts towards racial justice and equality by a rush toward reconciling with their southern counterparts. To say that Stowe became a White supremacist after the Civil War both overestimates her belief in racial equality prior to and during the war, and underestimates the extent to which her 1870s public and private writings from Florida were founded in a desire to defend her brother and to ingratiate herself with her new neighbors.

As a reading of Uncle Tom's Cabin makes clear, Stowe never seemed to believe that blacks could live in the U.S. as the racial equals of whites. When slaves escaped, it wasn't ultimately to live in the North but to go to Canada or Liberia. Her "good" white characters don't accept blacks as their peers and equals, but instead show virtue by guiding and pitying the unfortunate slaves.

As people like bell hooks understand the label, Stowe always was a white supremacist. Her Christian conscience was outraged by slavery and its incidents, particularly the separation of families, but at no point of which I am aware did she claim the races to be biologically equal (e.g. in physical beauty) nor advocate for legalizing miscegenation. In short, she was a liberal about slavery, but a conservative about real equality.

PG said...

Also, what surprised me about the 3rd Circuit decision is not the substance but the fact that the 3rd Circuit depends on the ALI to tell it what the rules of the common law are. I loves me some Restatements, but I didn't know anyone considered them a substitute for citations to case law. Shouldn't judges (well, really their clerks) just plagiarize the cases the Restatements cite without citing the Restatements themselves?

With regard to the decision itself, I agree with the 3rd Cir. that in a relatively non-routine contract such as an employment contract, the burden is on the signer of the contract to actually read it. (This is contrast to really insane pro-arbitration decisions like the 7th Circuit in Hill v. Gateway 2000, where the customer was held to have accepted arbitration because he didn't return the computer within 30 days -- no signature or even "click ACCEPT if you agree to these terms" was involved.) I would be more skeptical of the 3rd Cir.'s decision if it were premised not on a signature but on the plaintiff's having, say, accepted a paycheck. Caveat signer.

The dissent doesn't seem to realize that its rule that the employer cannot insert itself between the employee and the contract by offering a translator without assuming liability for any incompleteness in translation wouldn't actually increase the incentive for companies to find perfect translators who will grill the employee on his understanding of the contract. Rather, it will increase the incentive for companies not to bother helping employees at all.