Supreme Court Lets Virginia High School
Keep "Race Neutral" Admissions Policy


     The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to allow an Alexandria, Virginia high school to choose its own racially-influenced admissions policy rather than intervening at the request of Asian American students.
     The elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology adopted an admissions policy in 2020 that got rid of standardized test scores. It also gave a preference to high-performing applicants from surrounding middle schools.
     Afterward, the number of Black and Latino students rose but the number of Asian Americans dropped. 
     Some Asian American parents sued, saying the policy allows race to be an issue despite Supreme Court rulings saying school admissions policies should not make race a priority.
     The high school’s administrators say the policy is race neutral, despite the fact it gives greater consideration to applicants who are economically disadvantaged or still learning English.

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Justice Dept. Retracts Information
Implicating Bidens in Taking Bribes


     The FBI is trying to backtrack this week after the indictment of an informant who incorrectly implicated President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in taking $5 million apiece from the head of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
     The informant, Alexander Smirnov, was indicted for lying.
     His false information was being used by Republicans in Congress for their investigation of the Bidens and calls for the president’s impeachment.
     “As alleged in the indictment, the events that Smirnov first reported to the FBI Agent in June 2020 were fabrications,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
     “The indictment alleges that the defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against Public Official 1 after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his presidential candidacy,” the press release said in reference to President Biden.
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Legal Briefs

We Could Use Your Help

     Thousands of DC residents need a lawyer, but can’t afford one. They could be illegally evicted from their homes, lose custody of their children, experience domestic violence, and more, all because they lack legal representation. 
      You could make a difference. By making a donation to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, you will provide free, high-quality, zealous legal representation to low-income DC residents. 
      Your support could prevent homelessness, domestic violence, hunger, or family separation. In fact, if just 10 people who see this ad give $28 to Legal Aid, it will be enough to staff an experienced attorney at the courthouse for a day.
      That way, DC residents like Keith King (pictured above) can get the legal representation they need to win their cases. As Mr. King put it, if it wasn’t for his Legal Aid lawyer, “I would have been homeless again.”
     Here is the link to the Legal Aid website for donations: https://www.legalaiddc.org/donate-to-legal-aid/

     For more information, contact Rob Pergament at Legal Aid at rpergament@legalaiddc.org​

D.C. Mayor Threatens Lawsuit to Keep
Sports Teams at Capital One Arena


     Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is threatening to sue the owners of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals to prevent the teams’ move to a new sports complex planned for Alexandria, Va.
     Bowser said last week the move would violate the city’s lease agreement with the basketball and hockey teams.
     Both the Wizards and the Capitals are currently headquartered at Capital One Arena in Washington’s Chinatown.
     Ted Leonsis, chief executive officer of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards, the Capitals and the Washington Mystics, wants to build a new mega-complex for his teams in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard.
     Despite Bowser’s threat of litigation, Leonsis plans to proceed with the move. He has support from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, whose advisors have said the move could bring 30,000 jobs to the state and billions of dollars in new revenue.
     Last week, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill approving the relocation to Alexandria. Now the bill is pending in the state Senate.
     In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Bowser wrote, “In 2007, the District gave the arena’s ownership group $50 million for building upgrades in exchange for keeping the teams in D.C. until 2047…”
     The District has offered Monumental Sports & Entertainment $500 million of the estimated $800 million the company says the Capital One Arena needs, which Bowser said is another reason for the teams to keep their current headquarters.
     “We intend to keep our end of the bargain and enforce the leases with Monumental that require the Wizards and Capitals to play at the arena through 2047 and the Mystics to play in Congress Heights through 2037,” Bowser wrote.

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Latest News

D.C. Lottery Player Says He Was Cheated
Out of $320 Million Powerball Lottery Prize


     A Washington, D.C., man is suing the company that produces Powerball after he said he was overlooked for $320 million with his winning lottery ticket.
     John Cheeks said the winning numbers that were displayed on the Powerball website for three days matched the ticket he purchased Jan. 6, 2023.
     When he contacted Powerball contractor Taoti Enterprises to claim his prize, he said he was told a clerical error incorrectly listed his ticket on the website, according to a report from News4.
     The true winning numbers were drawn on television but no match was found for them among the tickets sold when the prize stood at $320 million, according to the company. Instead, the amount of the lottery was raised, eventually growing to $754.6 million before a ticket holder claimed it on Feb. 6.
     Cheeks asks in his lawsuit that Powerball pay him the $320 million he believes he won plus $72,000 a day in interest, bringing the total compensation he seeks to $340 million. The lawsuit says the additional payments are “due for failure to pay.”
     Cheeks chose the numbers for his ticket from his family’s birth dates.
     Cheeks tried to claim the prize by going to a lottery retailer. It was denied.
     Next he went to the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming prize center. Again he was denied prize money but this time a claims officer told him to throw the ticket in the trash.
     Instead, he hired attorney Richard Evans to help file his lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

D.C. in Brief

    The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@gmail.com, which will be published here.

Letters to the Editor

Power the Civil Rights Work of Our Time

     Each day members of our community are experiencing wage theft, the effects of gentrification, discriminatory policing, collateral consequences, marginalization in schools, and barriers to public accommodations. 
     We fight alongside people facing the effects of gentrification like Amira Moore. Our work empowers the people and communities who need it most, “We can do more than we think. There’s a path to equity, we just have to step to it.” –Ms. Moore
     For more than 50 years, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights in our community. We deploy the best legal talent, we tackle the tough cases, we fight, and we win. 
     Our work is as important today as it has ever been. Through your support, you can play a role in creating justice for thousands of marginalized members of our community. Together, we will dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.
     Join us! Donate & subscribe: https://www.washlaw.org/support-us
     Volunteer with us: https://www.washlaw.org/get-involved/
     For more information, contact Gregg Kelley at Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org​

Environmentalists Sue EPA for Data
On Health Risks of Forever Chemicals


     Environmentalists sued the Environmental Protection Agency last week in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking information about health risks from forever chemicals in fluorinated plastic containers.
     The two groups that sued accuse the EPA of withholding information about PFAS. They are called forever chemicals because they can take centuries to break down in the environment.
     Fluorinated containers that contain PFAS are used for many applications, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverages. Fluorination makes the plastic stronger and prevents fluids and oxygen from leaching into the containers.
     Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Environmental Health said in their lawsuit PFAS are associated with cancer, impaired fetal development as well as liver and thyroid problems.
     Center for Environmental Health attorney Bob Sussman said in a statement, "Given the unquestionably major public health stakes, EPA should be stepping up and maximizing access to health and safety data, but the agency is disclosing vital information only grudgingly and with lingering secrecy even though disclosure is mandated by [the Toxic Substances Control Act].”​
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