The True Meaning Of Equal: Rest In Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Rest In Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Your contributions to preserving a just society have been incalculable, and now, we will fight for you. Read Jay Paul Deratany’s full statement on her passing at the end of the newsletter and contact your Senators to urge them to respect her final wishes and refrain from voting on a new Supreme Court nominee until after the election. You can sign a petition to the Senate here. You can also text the word RBG to 50409, the ResistBot hotline – the chatbot will easily help you fill in your personal information and send a letter to your Senators for you.
Firm Update: Appeals Victory For Cuyahoga County Case On The Death Of Ta’Naejah McCloud
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that when the government acts in a way that increases the danger for a victim, it can be held accountable for damages.
Caseworkers from the county interviewed Ta’Naejah and had her detail her injuries while her mother and her mother’s boyfriend were present. The county has a policy of not interviewing victims around their suspected abusers, yet county workers still did just that to Ta’Naejah. After those interviews, as a result of them being conducted in the presence of the very people who were harming her, Ta’Naejah suffered even worse harm. In 2017, she passed away from a brain bleed after being beaten and left alone by her mother and her boyfriend for ten hours.
While we are relieved that we get to continue the fight for justice for Ta’Naejah’s estate, there is no amount of justice that can bring back an innocent child’s life that was violently stolen by a preventable death. This is why Deratany & Kosner fights so hard for foster care cases and social services reform – because when agencies are negligent, the cost is unacceptably, unfathomably high for children and their loved ones.
Are you trying to get justice in a case of foster or adoption abuse? We’re the experts.
There are two and a half as many suicides as there are homicides every year – so why aren’t we talking about it more?
The COVID-19 pandemic has already significantly impacted our collective emotional health, so it’s more important than ever to talk about suicide prevention. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35-54. Due to the massive amount of stigma, fear of being called “weak” or “selfish,” and a variety of treatment access issues, many people dealing with suicidal ideation feel unable to speak out and get help.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, there IS help available and it is not weak to seek it out – it’s strong.
The confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7:
The Crisis Text Line is confidential and can be reached 24/7:
Text HOME to 741741
Jay Paul Deratany’s Film Foster Boy Comes Out This Friday
After a great pre-premiere drive-in event here in Chicago on the night of the 16th, Foster Boy is out in theaters and VOD this Friday the 25th. This story follows a lawyer representing a foster youth and discovering firsthand the acts of corruption, negligence, and abuse that the system is rife with. Check out the social media pages for Foster Boy for more information and look for it online or in person this Friday!
The Chicago Sun-Times reviewed Foster Boy, and says: “this is a solid and important story about systematic abuse within the foster care system, featuring an outstanding cast.” Read the full article below.
Want updates on Foster Boy’s Theatrical Release? Follow the Film on Social Media:
Jay Paul Deratany’s Dedication to Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Like many people across America, I am truly saddened by the death of the iconic and beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg – affectionately referred to as RBG by her supporters – but more than that grief, I am frightened. I would like to offer my thoughts about RBG’s legal legacy and what we must do to honor her spirit.
In 1993, when she was first appointed by President Clinton, I was a young attorney who had been practicing for only a few years, and I had just started my own law firm. As the years passed, I would read with keen interest her majority opinions, and later her dissents. She brought a fresh, intellectual view to the court. Her opinions were extremely well thought out and constitutionally based, but not based upon a “strict” construction of the Constitution. Those who advocate for a strict interpretation of our Constitution adhere to a view that those who created the document in the late 1700’s had very particular views and the court may not go beyond the precise words of the document. In other words, if the Constitution does not say it, then it is not allowed. RBG believed, as I do, that the Constitution is a “living breathing document” that must be interpreted contextually to the times we are in, and within societal norms and morals that have evolved.
The problem with the strict constructionist view is when the Constitution and most of the amendments were drafted and enacted, there were predominant views of racism, sexism, and bigotry that widely influenced society and thus the document itself. Black people were not allowed to vote, hold a paid job, or for that matter even be considered as a “full human being.” A gay individual could be executed at the time of the writing of the Constitution. Women could not vote, and it was perfectly acceptable for men to whip a woman to get her to obey. Under the strict constructionist view, the US Constitution would not protect the rights of minorities and would even actively allow for them to be harassed and oppressed.
RBG’s opinions rejected that notion and expanded the rights of individuals in line with the accepted societal norms and morals that have evolved in modern times. When she wrote Roe v Wade, she recognized that a woman’s right to have a say over her own body – and not be told what to do by a man – is an inherent right that should and must be constitutionalized. Obviously in the 1700’s, a woman had no protected right to any say, much less a say in her own health decisions. But RBG recognized that the word “equal” in the Constitution must be given its meaning by the norms of today – and that since men and women are equal, a woman must have dominion over her health decisions. Contrary to the far right’s still-favored inaccurate outcry that “a fetus has no rights and abortion is legal up to the time of birth,” she actually balanced the rights of women with the rights of a fetus, and looked to science and medicine in banning abortion in the last trimester unless it is to protect the life of the mother.
In RBG’s decisive vote on Obergfell vs. United States, RBG recognized that “equal” rights means that ALL people deserve to be allowed to marry, and that it does not matter if you are gay or bisexual or trans – you have the right to marry who you love. Of course, that too isn’t exact in the Constitution, but again the word “equal” is in the Constitution and RBG recognized that the word equal is meaningless if people are not allowed to be truly equal under the law.
Finally, in her decisions regarding voting rights, she recognized that Black citizens should not be disenfranchised by pretextual Jim Crow laws, from voting rights to prejudiced access to services based on the color of their skin. In her opinion, RBG strongly agreed that equal means that all of us have equal access to vote and participate in society.
While it is true that women’s rights, minority rights, and LGBT rights are not specified in the Constitution, RBG made sure that the living breathing document reflects the values that we hold dear – the most important one being equality under the law. Without a dedication to preserving that principle of equality, freedom is not truly free for all – and RBG knew that.
Equality – and the freedom that it protects – faces a grave threat if President Trump is allowed to name a judge from the Federalist Society. This group more than any has taken a vow to adhere to a “strict” constructionist view of the Constitution. This view will surely mean the reversal of a womans’ right to make final decisions over her health, voting rights for minorities, and the right that the LGBTQ have to marry who they love and be protected against discrimination.
This moment in time and this fierce debate over RBG’s seat is not simply a erudite theoretical discussion in a stuffy library -this is about people’s lives, and whether we will have a society that is truly equal, or equal as it was written in the 1700’s: a society that is only equal for white, landowning, heterosexual men. We must march, protest, call our Senators, and VOTE so that we can truly call ourselves “equal” once again.
RBG’s dying words to her granddaughter were “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” RBG fought for us until the very end of her life, and left us with last words that tell us how to carry on. We owe this champion of equality, rights, and true American freedom the honor of having her last wish respected.
You can sign a petition to the Senate here. You can also text the word RBG to 50409, the ResistBot hotline – the chatbot will easily help you fill in your personal information and send a letter to your Senators urging them to refrain from voting on a new Supreme Court nominee until after the election.
Rest In Power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Your contributions to preserving a just society have been incalculable, and now, we will fight for you.