PA Voters File Lawsuit Challenging Partisan Redistricting

District 7
The Washington Post nicknamed PA's 7th District "Goofy kicking Donald Duck."
Pennsylvania's congressional map is among the starkest partisan gerrymanders in the country. In 2011, the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania legislature drew a map that intentionally packed Democrats together or scattered them across predominantly Republican areas. As a result, Democrats won 45% and 46% of the statewide vote during the last two national elections but took only 28%, or five out of 18, of the Congressional seats. It is not just Republicans who draw unfair districts: In other states, Democrats have used the same techniques to squeeze out any competition. So, on June 15, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and individual voters from each of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts challenging the 2011 map under Pennsylvania's constitution. If this case is successful, the court will declare the 2011 map unconstitutional, enjoin its use for future elections, and order the implementation of a new map. 

Learn More

Pennsylvania Redistricting Lawsuit
Crowdfunding Campaign

Press conference
Our work, like the many hours to prepare the Pennsylvania redistricting lawsuit, is only possible through the financial support of people like you. Now that the case is filed, we need your help to continue the fight. We estimate it will cost us $90,000 over the next two years to prepare this case and take it to trial. We've already raised $45,000.  We are turning to you to raise the remaining $45,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. There is much work to be done: interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents, filing legal briefs, and preparing for and bringing the case to trial. Win or lose, there will almost certainly be a trial. Your donation will help improve elections in Pennsylvania. Your donation will help us ensure that individual voters can elect the people they want to represent them, instead of politicians making those choices. We believe in this work. We hope you do, too.

Donate Button
Increasing Opportunities for Inclusion for Students with Disabilities in the District of Philadelphia - The Evolution of Resolution IU-7

In June, the School District of Philadelphia requested that the School Reform Commission ("SRC") approve a $36 - 54 million dollar contract to establish a K-12 program in segregated settings for students with emotional disturbance and low-incident disabilities. The proposal, SRC Resolution IU-7, aimed to rapidly place 200 students in the proposed alternative program by September 2017, with a goal of increasing enrollment to 600 over time. The resolution made no reference to inclusion, lacked both transparency and input from critical stakeholders, and would have been a significant step backwards from hard-fought gains to end discrimination against students with disabilities.  We testified in opposition to IU-7 at the June 15 SRC meeting and joined with Education Law Center-PA, the Philadelphia Coalition for Special Education Advocates, and other organizations in writing  a letter to the School Reform Coalition, asking it to deny approval of the resolution as proposed. Thanks to the rapid mobilization of advocates the vote on IU-7 was twice postponed, permitting stakeholders to weigh-in and resulting in significant improvements. The District now proposes a much smaller program aimed at placing 100 students--predominantly from segregated programs at Wordsworth Academy in Fort Washington, PA--into alternate programs located in active District schools where the students will have more opportunities to engage with the general education student population. The proposed contract amount was reduced, with the District committing to ongoing monitoring and to placing language in the contract to ensure that disciplinary practices are consistent District policies. The revamped SDP Resolution IU-7 is up for vote at a special SRC meeting on July 6.

Learn More

2017 Annual Celebration: Rise Up
Thursday, October 19, 2017
6 - 9 PM | Fringe Arts + La Peg

Rise Up
Mark your calendar and buy your tickets today! On Thursday, October 19 join us as we 
Rise Up  to protect the values of equality and opportunity that we treasure so deeply in this nation. The magnificent Fringe Arts will serve as the backdrop for a wonderful night of food, drink and celebration. Most importantly, we will honor others who have Risen Up, including:
  • our Tenant Clients for standing up to their landlords and trying to change the system in Landlord-Tenant Court
  • attorney Stephen F. Gold for advancing the rights of people with disabilities through decades of radical litigation and advocacy
  • Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross. 
We are also excited to announce that Tamala Edwards of 6ABC will serve as the event emcee! Tamala  is the weekday co-anchor of Action News Mornings from 4:30am-7am, and is a regular co-host of Inside Story.

Learn More

Law Center Joins Call to Protect Medicaid

The Law Center joined a group of 142 organizations in calling on Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey to protect MedicaidThe letter expresses our strong opposition to legislative proposals, such as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), that would cause millions to lose their health care. A vote on the AHCA was postponed on July 27, but legislators need to continue hearing from you. In Pennsylvania, make sure to tell Senators Toomey and Casey that the AHCA is bad policy for children and would result in a loss of Medicaid coverage for tens of thousands of Pennsylvania's children who are living at or near the poverty level. With the AHCA making essential health benefits a state option, the pediatric and preventive services children sorely need, including oral and vision care, could go away. Find your elected officials.

Learn More

Lawmakers Must Hear that School Funding is a Priority

For the upcoming year, Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $100 million increase in basic education funding. That proposal is not close to enough, particularly in a system that is underfunded by $3 billion. But we may not even get that $100 million. Rumors are flying around Harrisburg that the Governor's proposal may be scaled back as lawmakers attempt to pass a budget. Please call or email your legislators today and tell them that cutting back on an already inadequate proposal will only make this problem worse: Our public schools will be forced to make more cuts and impose ever higher local taxes on their communities. Find your legislators.

Learn More

Donor Spotlight: Independence Foundation

Independence Foundation
This month we salute the Independence Foundation , a generous and loyal supporter of the region's non-profit community, including the Law Center. Last year, we were privileged to be part of a new Independence Foundation initiative--a Change Cohort--which brought together the board chairs, executive directors and staff from non-profits from the cultural, educational and legal fields. The group met monthly over the course of a year to explore and embrace the dynamics of change. A Foundation-supported fellow launched our employment disabilities project and Foundation dollars helped us implement our Policy Circles: year-long convenings in each of our project areas to explore the City's unmet needs and determine what role, if any, the Law Center should play. And, finally, individuals associated with the Foundation have helped with everything from mooting lawyers for our most important cases to providing strategic planning support. For all this, in addition to the Foundation's ongoing general operating support, we thank you! 
Welcome to Ebony Griffin and our Summer Interns

Ebony Griffin
Ebony Griffin
This month we welcomed attorney Ebony Griffin to our team to carry on our important environmental justice work. Ebony has honed her skills at Enhesa, Inc., the U.S. EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In addition, the start of 
summer means our office buzzes with life as we are joined by a new class of interns. These students work hard and help us significantly move forward our projects and cases. This year's group has already put in a tremendous amount of work, and we are excited to have them for the rest of the summer!