Articles Tagged with civil rights

daan-stevens-282446-copy-300x191It is a controversial move but one that is considered to be a reflection of the reality that many state governments are not able to sustain the increasing healthcare costs of their citizenry. Chicago is no exception, and its new managed care provisions reflect a need for reform. Recently, the state has amended the law in such a way as to move Medicaid users towards the more affordable managed care options. Like any change, there are political and legal ramifications to this one. Some have argued that the changes are inhumane and could actually constitute a illegal or unconstitutional act. At the moment, the supreme court has not yet fully pronounced itself on the matter.

Meanwhile, the provisions of the law continue to impact the citizens of Chicago. It is particularly onerous for those who are disabled in some way or another. There are benefits to the managed care options, including an investment in infrastructure such as ramps. However, some of the Medicaid users feel that there will also be an additional administrative burden and the possibility of being rejected for full benefits. The changes are based on a public-private partnership model that has been used in other areas of public spending. In this case, not-for-profit organizations such as the Community Care Alliance are given access to some funds and income generating opportunities so that they can provide services that better reflect the needs of the service users.

Practical and Administrative Changes

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200Chicago has been one of the cities at the forefront of confronting the pressing issue of equal pay and conditions. Advocates have been regularly demonstrating in front of the legislative assembly demanding reform. A flurry of laws and legislative amendments have been passed in order to correct historical and current injustices in the arena of work. The only problem is that many ordinary members of the public do not really know the law or even how it is meant to apply to them. The justifications for the amendments range from moral ones to practical ones that speak of the benefits of having a rational pay structure.

The evidence is undisputed; many women in Chicago were paid a fraction of the wages paid to men for the same job. This was not a situation that was unique to Chicago alone. Unequal pay has been in existence from the moment that women joined the formal workforce. One of the provisions of the act is to bar employers from asking about wage and salary history because this is often used to mask the application of unequal pay. Women who have been on the receiving end of a raw deal can end up being trapped in that structure because the current and prospective employer wants to base the pay offer on past wages.

Technical Provisions Within the Law

peter-hershey-282615-copy-300x200The law on sexual minorities is in its infancy stage in Chicago. There are a host of issues that are of concern to LGBT people in Chicago, the law being one of them. Specifically, advocacy groups have sought for protection at a time when the federal government has tried to declassify LGBT people as a protected group. That status of being a protected group is the starting point for many of the civil rights protections that are extended to minorities who have been traditionally marginalized in American society. Chicago is by no means an anti-LGBT city. It certainly has a much better record than some of its counterparts. Nevertheless, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to entrench these protections.

The law should be able to protect all citizens of Chicago from hate crimes. This is often a controversial issue because one person’s rights are another’s infringements. The freedom of expression in particular has been an area of contention. There is a continuum of liberty from being able to kiss your partner freely in a public place without harassment to not getting beaten to pulp on a Saturday night because someone thinks that being gay is a crime against “the laws of nature.”

The Right to Self-Identity and Human Dignity

nitish-meena-198784-copy-300x200The law on sanctuary cities has been at the heart of Chicago politics for some time now. Sanctuary cities are hated by conservative government officials precisely because they threaten one of the cornerstones of federal immigration policy. For example, if the federal government enacts a tough stance on illegal immigrants by denying them certain services, the sanctuary city will find a public interest in offering those services of their own volition. As a consequence, the sanctuary cities have sometimes been accused of breaking the law or alternatively encouraging others to break the law. The new Trump administration has issued an executive order that is designed to pressurize sanctuary cities into fully complying with federal law on immigration matters.

The Immigration Advocates Join the Fray

Now that the positions have been set and are diametrically opposed, the only thing for it is conflict. That conflict will take the form of penalties on cities that refuse to enforce the order. At the same time, immigration attorneys will be at the forefront of defending the rights of those that are inadvertent victims of the current strictures. Whereas, the federal government may strip funding from sanctuary cities; the localities can respond by cutting essential services and afterwards, causing a public outcry.

elliott-stallion-105205-copy-300x200The battle for same-day voter registration in Chicago highlights some of the constitutional anomalies and controversies that have dogged the USA since its inception. All the judicial decisions made are subject to intense debate. There are those that believe in the absolute right to access the ballot regardless of the bureaucratic inconvenience that it causes. Others are of the view that if you really want to vote, then the government does provide avenues for you to vote. By the same token, if you fail to turn up, there is nobody but yourself to blame for that particular failing.

Meanwhile, the civil rights activists are up in arms about the possible exclusion of whole swathes of the populace who are simply unable to fulfill the bureaucratic requirements for voting in Chicago. The courts have traditionally been reluctant to create rights where none exist and also to prevent the use of arbitrary decision-making. One particular area of contention involves the perceived and actual differences between the rules that apply in rural areas of Illinois and those that are associated with the urban centers.

The Rationale for Voter Registration Law