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Political Notebook

Harris hosts session on AI and civil rights

Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a meeting to discuss AI with civil rights leaders and consumer protection experts.Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Vice President Kamala Harris convened a group of civil rights and labor leaders Wednesday to discuss the field of artificial intelligence, which critics warn is already perpetuating discrimination and increased surveillance of American workers.

“Innovation has so much possibility to improve the condition of human life,” Harris said to open the meeting. “We must also ensure that in that process, we are not trampling on people’s rights.”

The meeting is part of a broader administration push to identify and tackle concerns with artificial intelligence technologies as their use by employers and the general public has exploded. Harris on Wednesday cited the need for privacy protections for consumers and workers.


Companies such as Amazon and Uber have been criticized by organized labor for using AI technology to improve performance and efficiency in ways critics say harm workplace safety.

President Biden tasked staffers with developing an AI Bill of Rights, published last fall, that includes tenets to guide business leaders. Biden signed an executive order earlier this year instructing federal agencies to identify actions to ensure that the use of AI advances equity, both within and outside of government.

Further actions from the executive branch are expected in the coming months, the official said.

Lawmakers in Congress have also echoed concerns about the tools’ potential to perpetuate discrimination, particularly through programs used to screen job applicants or intended for use in the criminal justice system.

Leaders from the civil rights, labor, and cybersecurity sectors joined the discussion with Harris. Attendees included AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights CEO Maya Wiley, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, and UnidosUS CEO Janet Murguia.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar and Domestic Policy Council Director Neera Tanden also joined the meeting.

Harris and Biden have spoken with business leaders to discuss adopting new privacy and security safeguards for consumers, including at a May meeting with the heads of top AI firms, including CEOs Sam Altman of OpenAI Inc., Dario Amodei of Anthropic, Microsoft Corp.’s Satya Nadella, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc.


Bloomberg News

Georgia election workers seek ‘severe’ sanctions for Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani should face “severe” sanctions for failing to preserve and turn over electronic records in a defamation lawsuit filed by two Georgia election workers who he accused of fraud after the 2020 presidential race, their lawyers said in a court filing.

Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, on Tuesday asked US District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington to enter a “default” judgment against Giuliani as punishment — meaning he’d be liable for defamation without going through a trial or other legal proceedings.

Giuliani and the plaintiffs had been in talks about a partial settlement, according to a separate filing on July 7. That agreement, which would cover “factual issues” about Giuliani’s liability, would avoid a sanctions fight and “resolve large portions of this litigation,” lawyers for both sides said in a joint request for more time to negotiate.

Tuesday’s motion from the plaintiffs signals they had failed to reach an agreement, at least for now.

Lawyers for the two election workers acknowledged they were asking for the most serious sanction possible. They argued it was necessary because Giuliani’s alleged failure to safeguard records hurt their ability to gather evidence to determine whether Giuliani knew the election fraud claims he was making against Freeman and Moss were false.


“Giuliani is an attorney with over half a century of experience and therefore is intimately familiar with his obligation to make reasonable efforts to preserve electronic discovery,” the lawyers wrote. “Despite this, Defendant Giuliani has now effectively conceded that he has not taken even the most basic steps to preserve evidence that might be relevant to this litigation.”

Giuliani’s attorney and his spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Howell isn’t inclined to enter the default judgment, the plaintiffs proposed several alternatives. They said Howell could order “adverse inferences,” which means a jury could reach negative conclusions about Giuliani’s liability based on the evidence issue. They also said the judge also could bar him from relying on evidence he hadn’t produced, or force Giuliani to turn over his devices for the plaintiffs to inspect.

Freeman and Moss have alleged that Giuliani, who helped direct former president Donald Trump’s post-election legal strategy, pushed false conspiracy theories that the pair committed election fraud to secure President Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia. State officials repeatedly disputed the fraud claims.

Freeman and Moss were formally cleared of any wrongdoing in a report issued in June. But in the months after the election, the women said that they received a torrent of threats and harassment.

Bloomberg News

Durbin says justices should follow ethics code

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responding to Associated Press investigative stories on the Supreme Court, said Tuesday it was time for the justices to bring their conduct in line with the ethical standards of other branches of government.


“If they just establish the basic standards of every other branch of government, it would give us much more confidence in their integrity,” Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said. He commented in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he was attending the NATO summit as part of the US delegation.

The AP published stories showing that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, aided by her staff, has advanced sales of her books through college visits over the past decade; that universities have used trips by justices as a lure for financial contributions by placing them in event rooms with wealthy donors; and that justices have taken expenses-paid teaching trips to attractive locations that are light on actual classroom instruction.

The series comes after stories over the past six months that have raised ethical concerns about the activities of the justices.

Durbin and other lawmakers in Washington have announced a vote next week on legislation that would require the court to adopt an ethics code. While the measure is unlikely to pass, it sends a signal of discontent about the court.

The nation’s highest court operates without an ethics code, instead following what Chief Justice John Roberts has referred to as a set of foundational “ethics principles and practices.”

Asked Tuesday about the AP stories, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, called them “powerful reports” that amount to a “drip-by-drip-by-drip indictment of a Supreme Court that seems answerable to no one for ethical breaches.


“The chief justice really ought to be taking these into account for the sake the court and the country because the Supreme Court will no longer exist as a truly viable institution if it continues the failure to face the need for a code of ethics,” he said.

In contrast, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of -Texas, another member of the Judiciary Committee, said he believes Congress should leave the ethics issue to the court and that the Democrats’ pursuit of ethics reform “is part of a longstanding assault against the court that the left feels is undermining a lot of things they’ve accomplished over the years by judicial action. To me, that’s the motivating factor.”

Associated Press