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Author: Hannah Dugan

Who Counts and When: On Women’s Suffrage, Census, and incremental steps towards citizenship and Civil Rights

2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, confirming women shall not be denied the right to vote, and marked the 150th anniversary of the first full United States census of African-Americans. These milestones are consequential for women, and Black women, respectively. They prompt reflection about the hard fight obtaining, retaining, and maintaining both ballot access and census accuracy. The day the 19th Amendment was adopted, American swelled representative democracy by millions; its single largest such expansion. Despite this achievement, America continued to deny the vote to millions of women. Disenfranchising barriers would not...

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Shirley Abrahamson: First female Chief Justice of Wisconsin Supreme Court dies of pancreatic cancer

Chief Justice Emerita Shirley S. Abrahamson, a monumental and historic figure in Wisconsin’s judicial and public service history, died at the age of 87 of pancreatic cancer on December 19. During her fourth 10-year term, she became the longest-serving justice on the Court – almost half that time serving as chief justice. She was the first woman to sit on the Court when Governor Patrick Lucey appointed her to the high court in 1976. She was short-listed twice for presidential appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Breaking glass ceilings and longevity have their places. But it is the content...

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Who Counts and When: On African-American suffrage, census, and the incremental steps for Civil Rights

2020 marks the 150th anniversaries both of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confirming male African American suffrage, and of the first full United States census of African-Americans. Commemorating these consequential milestones prompts reflection about the hard fight obtaining, retaining and maintaining both ballot access and census accuracy. The steps towards official African American citizenship and civil rights were absurdly incremental; they began decades before 1870 and were not achieved in law for nearly ten decades after 1870 – upon the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In recent years, the federal judiciary removed critical enforcement...

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Who Counts and When: On Citizenship, the Census, and the Enduring Specter of Korematsu

The end of 2019 inauspiciously brought the seventy-fifth anniversary of Korematsu v. United States, the United States Supreme Court decision affirming the wartime, race-based internment of more than 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. While the notorious 1944 Korematsu v. United States[i] decision is decades old, its core concerns haunted 2019, the executive orders allowing mass internment, national interest decision-making based on race, government reparations, and citizenship stats and the counting of persons. Recent court decisions have turned back executive orders requiring the ban of certain foreign-born persons and the registration of others; have...

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Appraising the value of freedom, personal liberty, and human dignity on Bill of Rights Day

The Bill of Rights Day, December 15, 2019, celebrates the 228th birthday of the first Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights not only confirms individual and inherent rights but also amounts to the first tweaks to the limits and controls of the federal government. Quarrels abound about interpreting this quill-penned document but its genius remains unchallenged. It continues to play an integral role in the everyday lives of Americans — including right here in Milwaukee County in 2019. The Bill of Rights as Part of the Every Day Lives in Milwaukee — The Sixth...

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Constitution Day: Remembering the responsibilities and opportunities of being a U.S. citizen

September 17 is Constitution and Citizenship Day, and the federal observance commemorates not only the creation of the U.S. Constitution but also those who have become citizens. The federal law creation Constitution and Citizenship Day mandates that civic and local government institutions plan for the “complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and locally.” The designation of “Constitution Week” extends from September 17 to 23. September 17 marks the date in 1787 when 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention signed the proposed Constitution, and then sent it off to the original...

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