Welcome to “The Brief,” a monthly roundup of Democracy Forward’s latest work to use the law to fight for good government on behalf of all Americans. Read on below for news of our victories, newest filings, latest case updates, and resources to learn more.
Last month brought fall in with a fury. As the Delta variant surged in schools and communities across the country, we have seen a number of governors and state actors seek to abuse their power and make it so schools, communities, and families cannot protect their children’s health. Powerful interests have sought to make it more difficult for states to generate much needed revenue for people and communities. And women’s health is being harmed in unprecedented ways in the states.
The challenges facing people and communities are daunting. And sometimes we may feel like obstacles are insurmountable. But, as we marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Justice Ginsburg, we reflect on one of the important lessons she taught us: Never give up. And we certainly haven’t at Democracy Forward.
We are honored to fight for the promise of democracy on behalf of all Americans and are more energized and determined than ever. Read on for more about our work.
In The Courts
Representing American Academy of Pediatrics and State Partners to Elevate Science In the Fight For Children’s Health
Why Does It Matter?
- The prevalence of pediatric COVID-19 has skyrocketed since the school year began.
- The CDC has found that schools without universal mask policies at the start of the year were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks than schools that did.
What Are We Doing?
- On behalf of the nation’s leading children’s health experts, the American Academy of Pediatrics and its state chapters, Democracy Forward has filed a series of briefs in Iowa, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Utah, to ensure the courts have access to the scientific and pediatric consensus around the threat of COVID-19 to kids.
- We have already contributed to important victories. Courts in Tennessee, California, and elsewhere have relied on AAP’s medical experts in upholding school mask policies or striking down efforts to block them.
- The fight continues as conservative state governments are appealing our victories and additional cases are ongoing in Florida and other states. Democracy Forward will keep fighting for kids in these states.
Supporting Maryland’s Effort to Ensure Big Tech Pays
Its Fair Share
- In February, the Maryland Legislature passed a Digital Ad Tax on large advertising platforms, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, operating in the state.
- Almost immediately after the tax became law, however, industry groups challenged its legality in federal court in Maryland.
Why Does It Matter?
- The pandemic has only worsened educational inequities in the state experienced by families and local communities.
- The Digital Ad Tax seeks to generate much needed revenue to overhaul the educational system in Maryland to make sure that all kids in the state receive a good education, regardless of race or socioeconomic background.
- Big tech is seeking to avoid paying its fair share by creating a broad shelter from this state tax law and trying to make it harder for other states to follow Maryland’s lead.
What Are We Doing?
- On behalf of tax law Professors Darien Shanske and Young Ran (Christine) Kim, we filed a brief explaining that Maryland’s Digital Ad Tax rests on firm legal ground.
- We are supporting Maryland in this case and fighting for the people and communities throughout the state that would greatly benefit from the revenue this tax raise.
Beyond the Court
We’re not just in court — we’re helping important voices like the National Association for Social Workers reach the government.
- Social workers tend to have high student debt, but relatively low pay, making participation in this essential profession financially difficult. This is exactly the kind of work Congress intended to support with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but this program has failed to relieve social workers’ frequently unbearable debt burden.
What Are We Doing?
- With our legal assistance, the National Association for Social Workers submitted a comment in response to the Department of Education’s Request for Information regarding how to improve this program.
- The comment provided social workers’ own voices to the agency explaining why student debt was unacceptably high and proposed ways to provide social workers with urgently needed student loan debt relief. Learn more here.
To learn more about our regulatory work on behalf of clients, click here.
In Case You Missed It
We took a break from sending this newsletter out in August, but we didn’t take a break from the work.
- We defended minors’ rights to consent to vaccines.
- We urged DOJ to reverse a legally flawed Trump-era memo limiting home confinement for previously incarcerated persons.
- We supported DOJ’s rulemaking to retract Trump-era constraints on agency guidance documents.
For more about our work, check out the news.
- Read our most recent blog on what we’re doing to protect children’s health.
- Check out the MadamPolicy podcast where Democracy Forward President and CEO Skye Perryman spoke about the fight for social progress, and women’s rights.
- The Associated Press wrote about the brief we filed in Iowa on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Iowa Chapter.
Whether protecting our environment, defending access to healthcare, improving communities, strengthening education, propelling economic opportunity, or protecting public health, we are in awe of the difference our clients make in the lives of so many. And we couldn’t do our job to bolster their impact without your support. Please be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and join our community. Thank you.