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Week in Review: The $74,000 Question

July 24, 2021

“What will my daughter learn in kindergarten?” For Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas, that’s the $74,000 question.

After being stonewalled by her public school district, Nicole got representation from the Goldwater Institute, which filed a public records request to find out what her daughter would be taught in school. This week, the district responded with an unbelievable answer: It would cost Nicole $74,310 for the district to give her answers.

Goldwater Director of National Litigation Jon Riches writes at In Defense of Liberty that this fee is undoubtedly excessive: “Under Rhode Island law, a ‘reasonable charge’ may be made for ‘the search and retrieval’ of public records, but $74,000 is definitely unreasonable—particularly when the records are plainly described and should be readily available.” Goldwater is evaluating the district’s response and its next steps—so stay tuned.

The Rise of Wokespeak

You’ve probably noticed that our language is changing—or rather, some words are being replaced with “woke” alternatives. It’s no longer “mothers,” but “birthing persons.” It’s no longer “equality,” but “equity.” That’s all part of a concerted effort to upend the way we define justice in America.

In the latest installment of Stossel TV, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur joins John Stossel and Columbia University linguist John McWhorter to discuss the ways in which social justice activists seek to manipulate language to accomplish political goals. It’s a tactic being employed by today’s Critical Race Theory movement, whose adherents are seeking to rewrite history, erode free speech, and attack the institutions of civil society. There’s no doubt this is having a real, concrete impact, Sandefur writes at In Defense of Liberty. “Violent protests have shut down controversial speakers on campuses across the country, while Critical Race Theory is being used in K-12 curriculum to change how children view themselves and their country.”

But at Goldwater, we’re fighting back. “The Goldwater Institute is working to restore free speech on college campuses with a model bill designed to ensure free expression within America’s public university systems,” Sandefur continues. “And we’re combating Critical Race Theory in the classroom by empowering parents with the knowledge of whether it is being taught to their children.” You can read more about Goldwater’s efforts to combat Critical Race Theory here.

Supreme Court Should Strike Down New York’s Concealed Carry Ban

In New York State, it’s next to impossible to exercise one’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. But this week, the Goldwater Institute filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to change that and strike down the state’s concealed carry ban.

New York’s restrictive requirements to get a concealed carry permit are “the opposite of how constitutional rights should work,” writes Goldwater Senior Attorney Jacob Huebert. New York courts have ruled that a person seeking a concealed carry license must “demonstrate a special need for self-protection” that’s different “from that of the general community or persons engaged in the same profession.” As Huebert writes, “Of course, almost no one can satisfy that requirement, because most victims of violent crime don’t receive a specific warning in advance.”

Fortunately, a group of New York gun owners have sued to strike down the state’s concealed carry ban, and the Supreme Court will hear their case in its new term that will begin in October. By hearing this case, Huebert writes, the Court has an important opportunity to “recogniz[e] that the Second Amendment protects not only the right to keep arms in one’s home, but also the right to bear arms—without going through an arbitrary, virtually impossible licensing process like New York’s.”

You can read more about Goldwater’s brief here.

LAST CHANCE: Sign up for Public Union Accountability Webinar

Public sector labor unions—from teachers unions to firefighter unions to police unions—wield massive amounts of power, shaping collective bargaining agreements that shield government actors from accountability. Government must be accountable to the public, not to narrow special interests. But how do we achieve that?

On Wednesday, July 28, at 1 p.m. Arizona time (4 p.m. Eastern)Philip K. Howard, lawyer, bestselling author, and chair of the bipartisan Campaign for Common Good, will join Jon Riches, Director of National Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, for a webinar about how to restore accountability—and the freedoms that depend on it—in union contracts that should serve the public, above all.

You can register for this special event here.



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