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February 01, 2017

Legal battles are not always fought in court. We invite our community members to share information about their activist pursuits here


The views and opinions expressed in these postings are those of the students and alumni who submitted them. They do not reflect the position of Penn Law or the Toll Public Interest Center. 


  • Protect SNAP with the Coalition Against Hunger
    President Trump’s proposed budget calls for massive cuts to “entitlement programs” including SNAP (formerly food stamps). Simply put, SNAP is our nation’s strongest defense against hunger, and even at current funding levels, it falls short of the need. Take some time to learn about the effectiveness of SNAP, the program’s impact on each county and congressional district in Pennsylvania, and why “block grants” actually mean cuts to the program. Learn more here .
  • 5/24/17 in D.C. - Teach-In: Intersectionality
    Street Address: 
    Impact Hub, 419 7th St. NW
    Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm

    Hosted by Impact Hub
    RSPV here.

    Intersectionality. Feminism. Womanism. After this year’s Women’s March, these terms are gaining traction in everyday conversations, but what do they mean exactly? If you’re passionate about ensuring equality for everyone, regardless of gender, you will not want to miss this teach-in which will explore the importance of keeping feminism intersectional.

    Krystal Leaphart, a recent Boss Girl awardee, will lead this dynamic workshop so you can emerge as a stronger, informed ally and feminist activist.

  • 5/18/17 in D.C. - Rally to Save Net Neutrality
    Street Address: 
    Federal Communications Commission 445 12th St SW
    Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

    Hosted by Free Press
    Connect on facebook here.

    FCC Chairman Pai is moving ahead with his plan to gut Net Neutrality. At a meeting on May 18 he will officially release his awful proposal — and Free Press will be there to represent millions of people who need Net Neutrality and will fight for it.

    WHAT: A Rally to Save Net Neutrality
    WHEN: Thurs., May 18, at 10 a.m.
    WHERE: Outside the Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C.
    WHAT TO BRING: Bring friends and signs defending Net Neutrality

    The rally will feature speeches by Net Neutrality champions, music and chanting. 

    People depend on the open internet, but Pai refuses to hear the people his agency is supposed to serve. Instead he wants to hand over the internet to his corporate friends at AT&T, Comcast and Verizon and continue the Trump administration’s authoritarian, white-nationalist assault on people around the country.

    Show Pai what the internet is made of. Join up to rally for Net Neutrality on May 18.

  • Leona Goldshaw L’04 - Co-Director Indivisible NW Philly Wants You to Join the Resistance

    We are one of 5000 Indivisible groups throughout the country. Our mission statement is:

    1. Resist Trump’s agenda. We believe Trump’s agenda is racist, authoritarian, and corrupt, and it must be stopped.

    2. Focus on local, defensive congressional advocacy. We demand that our own local Members of Congress serve as our voice in Washington, DC.

    3. Embrace progressive values. We model inclusion, respect, and fairness in all of our actions.

    Join us in the fight against Trump’s harmful agenda! 

    Details can be found here:

    Join the Resistance!

  • Voices for Civil Justice on how to Defend Civil Legal Aid

    Dozens of articles nationally and locally have featured or significantly mentioned the threat to LSC and the devastating consequences that losing access to civil legal aid would have on the lives of Americans across the country. That’s a great start, and it’s now on all of us to build on this strong foundation.


    What generates the strongest media coverage for civil legal aid?


    • Connecting reporters with clients who have been helped by civil legal aid. Being able to connect reporters with individuals willing to talk about the impact of LSC-funded legal aid in their lives was a tremendous help for reporters looking for a human impact story to tell. Thanks to the network’s essential advance work, several such stories were featured in major national coverage of the budget proposal, and more are on deck for when the cuts next take center stage.


    • Using media to educate people who aren’t familiar with civil legal aid or LSC. Voices’ research confirms that when people understand civil legal aid, they support it. By engaging reporters, participating in radio interviews, writing op-eds and more, you can reach, and educate, people who have never heard of LSC or civil legal aid at all. Once a piece has run, amplify it by sharing the link with key audiences, and ask others in your network to do the same.
    • Focus on who legal aid helps, and how elimination of LSC funding would affect them. There is power in emphasizing the value of fairness and promise of justice for all that LSC funding supports. Messages that illustrate the importance of civil legal aid to veterans, domestic violence victims, seniors, people with disabilities, and others, are especially strong. (This op-ed by former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna , although not focused on federal funding, is a good example.) In contrast, resist the urge to talk about impact in terms of how cuts would affect program budget, staff size, number of offices, etc.



    Here are three follow-up steps you can take:


    • Continue to share with us your compelling stories of people you have helped.


    • Personal stories also include experiences from legal aid lawyers themselves. This example is from the UK – “I am a legal aid lawyer for people facing eviction ” – but could easily have been written for an American outlet. First-person op-eds are in style in many outlets. If you are itching to write about your experiences in legal aid, please let us know.


    • Go back to reporters who have written about this. Invite them to visit an office. Gauge their interest in writing about this in the future. Offer them additional story ideas. If you need our help with ideas or would like to know who has covered this issue in your area, we are happy to assist.
  • PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) #StopTheHate

    In the first few weeks of the 2017-18 legislative session, Pennsylvania legislators introduced five bills that target immigrant and refugee communities in the state. Many state legislators believe that because both President Trump and Senator Toomey campaigned on platforms that targeted immigrant, refugee, and Muslim communities, they should follow suit and introduce and support punitive, discriminatory policies that target so-called “Sanctuary Cities” and immigrant and refugee communities.

    Now is the time to tell our elected representatives to #StoptheHate!

    Legislators are so committed to these bills, that on Feb. 7, 2017 the PA Senate pushed through SB10, a bill targeting the many counties and cities in Pennsylvania that have policies limiting local law enforcement collaboration with ICE. The next step is for the PA House to decide whether to vote on the bill. In just one week, House members return to Harrisburg, and could decide to consider SB10 and bring it to a vote. This means we have one week to let them know that hateful anti-immigrant bills are the wrong choice for Pennsylvania!

    Take 10 minutes today and help put a stop to SB10:

    1. Write an email to your legislator
    2. Follow-up with a call to your legislator’s office (the number will pop up after you send the email)
    3. Register for PICC’s statewide strategy call
  • Help PA Health Law Project Defend the ACA

    Penn Law graduate and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP), Laval Miller-Wilson is looking for Penn Law alumni and/or current students to help conduct research to keep the public informed as the ACA repeal and replacement become reality. PHLP needs help identifying opportunities for their audiences and supporters to contact federal policymakers and influence their decisions.


    To get involved please contact .

  • Speak Up to Save Medicaid!

    Kristen Dama L’07 is a staff attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia where she advocates Medicaid law and policy. She encourages Pennsylvanians to contact Senators Toomey and Casey to ensure they do not support Medicaid cuts.


    Raise Your Voice: Speak Up to Save Pennsylvania Medicaid!

    In the coming weeks, Congress will decide if it will end Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  It will also debate converting Medicaid to a block grant.

    Tell your Pennsylvania Senators that you support Medicaid expansion and oppose proposals to convert Medicaid to a block grant!


    • Senator Pat Toomey (202) 224-4254 or (855) 552-1831
    • Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (202) 224-6324 or (866) 461-9159

    Here’s what you can say when you call:

    I am calling today because I support Medicaid.   It’s important to keep Medicaid expansion in place, to protect the 700,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on it to get and stay healthy.

    I oppose federal proposals to convert Medicaid to a block grant.  A Medicaid block grant would lead to huge funding cuts for Pennsylvania.  It would not give Pennsylvania the right kind of flexibility to run its Medicaid program.  Instead, it would create a huge hole in Pennsylvania’s state budget, and it would force Pennsylvania to cut Medicaid benefits or limit enrollment.

    As a Pennsylvania voter and taxpayer, I ask you to protect federal funding for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program.                                                                                                                                                                             

    Thank you.                                             

    Here is some more information about Medicaid expansion and block grant proposals:

     Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion has been an enormous success.

    • Pennsylvania expanded Medicaid in 2015.  Medicaid expansion covers working Pennsylvanians who were uninsured because they did not qualify for Medicaid under pre-2015 rules, do not have coverage through their jobs, and cannot afford to buy coverage on their own.
    • In early 2017, Medicaid expansion enrollment will reach 700,000 Pennsylvanians.  Enrolling in Medicaid expansion helps people to get healthy and stay healthy, because they have coverage for “essential benefits” like preventive care, prescription drugs, and hospital stays.
    • Medicaid expansion also helps taxpayers and the economy.  It has saved more than $500 million in state funds by shifting people from state funded coverage.  It supports hospitals by allowing them to spend less on charity care.   It creates health care and social services jobs.

    Converting the federal Medicaid program to a block grant would hurt Pennsylvania.

    • Through block grants, the federal government uses a formula to make set payments to states.  Funding increases are capped at low rates.  Block grants are designed to save federal dollars, by giving states less federal funding than they would receive under current program rules.
    • Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program already keeps costs as low as possible.  A block grant, with its severe cut in federal funding, would force Pennsylvania to cut benefits or make eligibility rules stricter.
    • Supporters argue that block grants would give states more flexibility in running their Medicaid programs, allowing them to innovate.  A Medicaid block grant would only give Pennsylvania one type of flexibility:  the “flexibility” to cut benefits or limit enrollment, in response to less federal funding.

    Speak up for Pennsylvania Medicaid!

    Tell your Pennsylvania Senators: 

    • Keep Medicaid expansion; and
    • Don’t block grant Medicaid.


    More information about threats to Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and other safety net programs can be found here .

  • Saturday, February 4 - Philadelphia Protest for Humanity

    Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project will be attending the Philadelphia Protest for Humanity on Saturday, February 4. The protest will focus on the recent immigration ban on seven Muslim countries and the wall.

    Prior to the protest there will be a sign-making party at Penn Law in the Clock from 11am to 12:30pm. Pizza will be served. The group will then head over to Thomas Pain Plaza for the protest at 12:30pm.  


    Sign-Making Party: 11am-12:30:pm at Penn Law in the Clock

    Protest for Humanity: 1pm to 4pm at Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA