Election Connection – Supreme Court Edition

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I have been struggling as I know many people around the country are struggling, especially women, girls, and trans and non-binary people with uteruses. I can’t promise that my language will be consistently inclusive in this writing. I can promise to try. Not mentioning trans/NB people doesn’t mean that they are not part of the discussion or part of my thoughts and fears, but right now, I have two strong emotions at play: first, my daughter and millions like her and second, the Constitution.

For those of us who grew up with constitutional norms and the sentimentality as well as the reality of the rule of law, who grew up with William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and for the people following now in the turmoil and unease of an activist court and are looking towards Ketanji Brown Jackson for similar inspiration, the death knell of the Constitution is heart-wrenching. Not as heart-wrenching as the forced birth of pubescent children or the forced trauma of losing a wanted pregnancy as well as the derailment of dreams, but it is still something to be mourned. I’m not sure we can come back. My eternal USA-USA optimism has been shaken to its core these last several years and this term of the Supreme Court has been the nail in the ever lowering coffin.

I studied law for half my college career and that came after a hobby of reading everything law related available, studying in my own way the law, knowing legal precedents and bathing in the light of the dreams of freedom. Re-reading that sentence now, it is so clear that I am speaking from a place of extreme privilege, my whiteness showing starker than the background of the screen I type on. Everything else, my Jewishness, my womanhood, my economic status – all of that is hidden under the whiteness that wrote that beloved Constitution. When I graduated from college, I got rid of most of my textbooks, but I kept ALL of my law books. Why? Well, they were historical. They set precedent with opinions from the greats, both before and during my lifetime. These books would continued to be studied for generations and while they would be added to, they would still be the basis for many rulings to come.

Little did I know.

The year I had jury duty was the year Justice William Brennan retired. I went to Brooklyn Federal Court, after driving over an hour and a half, parking underground, and walking across a public park to the courthouse, and I bought a Time magazine with his picture on the cover. I read it during my lunch before I was assigned to a case. I was excited. Until I listened to the case and discovered the weight of my civic duty. I was a hold-out for awhile, but we sorted it out and I was dismissed with the thanks of a grateful court. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

With one term, one swoop of Russian interference, Republican obstinance and recalcitrance, Senatorial and Presidential corruption, and let’s be honest, overt racism, and those books on my shelf have become obsolete.

Miranda – not required.

Engel v Vitale – coercive prayer

Roe v Wade – no bodily autonomy if you’re a woman, no privacy

MA v EPA – overturned – enjoy your brown air and water

Griswold, Casey, Oberfell – their futures in question

But Skokie? Skokie remains. Oh, unless you’re picketing the Supreme Court justices. In that case, no first amendment rights for you. Who cares about McCullen v Coakley?

This week in Akron, Ohio, a ten year old girl was forced to go to Indiana to obtain an abortion after her rape because a judge ruled that she was three days over the legal limit to get one in Ohio. Truly, the Lord’s work, amirite? During this same week and same town, a Black man (Jayland Walker) was shot in the back sixty times (ninety rounds fired) for running away from a traffic stop.

These two incidents, traumas on families and communities are only a microcosm of what is happening across this country.

It is only a matter of time before a rapist is granted joint custody with their victim for a forced birth baby. Who thinks that this is okay?

We (with SCOTUS leading the way) are dismantling the First Amendment. The most important amendment. So important it comes first, before anything else. I remind you that we are not a Christian nation. We are multicultural, interfaith, NO faith, multidimensional, and to stay free we must act free. All of us. Violating one person’s civil rights, their human rights is a stain for us all.

The First Amendment falls as fascism rises: little by little and then all at once. You are here in the timeline.

Yesterday morning, I attended my church online. I usually attend online. As the mass ended and the congregation was dismissed to relay the Good News, the priest and deacon processed from the altar to the music and singing of America the Beautiful. I can’t say what I would have done had I been there, but at home, online, I turned it off. I thought, and continue to think it’s inappropriate. I get that people want a patriotic song, and as far as patriotic songs go, this one isn’t bad, but as a recessional to mass?

No.

No. No. No.

The song on its own wasn’t the problem. Play it after the mass is actually over, while people are still congregating, but not as part of the closing.

I have two distinct memories of my father’s patriotism. We were at a professional baseball game (The Mets, of course), and I didn’t stand for the National Anthem. It wasn’t a protest. It was a lazy elementary school child. The look he gave me. The same for a school assembly when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I had no problem with the Pledge, but my sitting wasn’t an option. This look was accompanied by a whispered admonition. And I remember those moments with my dad. He wasn’t a nationalist; he wasn’t our country can do no wrong, but he knew the importance of that respect and I do too. I don’t think he would appreciate how I feel today and how I don’t want to celebrate Independence Day. Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States took away what little freedom my daughter and I had, and I can’t celebrate that. I hear Black and brown people asking what we’re celebrating in the first place, and I hear them.

I have four books to recommend to everyone and then one more thing:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal, which I am currently reading.

About six or seven years ago, maybe a bit longer, I was driving in the car with my daughter and she suddenly said through a tight throat and tiny tears that she didn’t want to have a baby. She hadn’t even gotten her period yet. She was under ten or was ten, I don’t remember. What I do remember was trying not to cry because she was so appalled about the idea of having a baby, not the idea of being a mom even though that was kind of foreign to her, but physically being forced to have a baby when she didn’t want one. I said to that she didn’t need to worry about that. No one was going to force her to have a baby. She wanted to know how I knew that. I told her I knew that because I would never let that happen. Never.

And I never will.

Not my daughter, and not yours, and not trans men or non-binary folks. No one.

We won’t go back.

Election Connection – Press Freedom Day

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As much as my fury wants me to write about the White House Press Corps and their dereliction of duty over the past five plus years, I will refrain as the importance of freedom of the press is paramount as we look to on this day as remaining a democracy and seeing inside many authoritarian regimes.

Journalists continue to be targeted despite the illegality under humanitarian law and viewed as a war crime. 1519 have been killed in the line of duty since 1993.

The two links that follow are relevant to today’s journalists and their freedom of access. The first is an interactive map of the 2021 Attacks on the Press. The second is a piece of writing about the press and getting the information out of Ukraine during their current war with Russia.

I would also highly recommend keeping up on the press and the journalists at home and abroad through the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Please also visit UNESCO’s site for information on yesterday’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference.

Attacks on the Press in 2021 (CPJ)

On This World Press Freedom Day, Ukraine is Front of Mind

Election Connection – Buckle Up, 2022!

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NOTE: After writing this and scheduling it for publication for this morning, late last night I read this article from Rolling Stone about Sen. Joe Manchin’s constant reversal on voting rights, some of which I witnessed in real time through news reports and interviews. In addition to what I’ve written below, we need to ensure that ONE Senator, even one from our side doesn’t have so much control over somethng as fundamental as voting rights.

I also want to note that Joe Manchin (along with Sen. Sinema) torpedoed the Build Back Better bill that they had continuously supported with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (that passed and was signed into law by President Biden.) Build Back Better was the main bill that would help more working class Americans. Manchin needs to be made irrelevant by adding to our Senate majority.

How Joe Manchin Knifed the Democrats…

It looks like I chose an appropriate quote to begin my original subject.



Politics don’t corrupt people; people corrupt politics.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson

I’m not sure people realize the gravity of the upcoming election situation. It may seem as thought everything is standing still it’s important to recognize that in the first year of the Biden Administration an enormous amount of work has been done, and is continuing to be done. (* See graphics below.*) We need to call out the Republican hypocrisy and fascism (and yes, that’s exactly what it is) whenever and wherever we see and hear it. We need to call out the lies and misinformation whenever and wherever we see and hear it. It doesn’t matter whose feelings it hurts. Lies are lies and their lies are killing us.

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Election Connection – 2022 Mid-Terms

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I know we’ve been saying this is the most consequential election for the last three elections, and each time it’s been true. If you watched even a small amount of the disgusting, racist display put on by the Republicans during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, you can see there is a disconnect with the American majority and an appalling lack of morals and integrity. There is not one Republican member of the Judiciary Committee who is exempt from this. I will have more on this subject in next week’s Election Connection.

Today is a call to arms.

We need to be prepared for voter suppression and illegal and legal tactics that keep people from voting.

Vote Save America is out with their Mid-Term Madness. Go here and sign up for your region. There is an action to be taken by anyone, no matter how small or how large.

Work locally and be vigilent.

We need to keep the House and the Senate. If Republicans take over the Senate, it’s over for us. We need a solid supermajority so we don’t have to rely on the whims of two Senators getting their money from out of their states and against our interests.

Democracy is literally at stake, and we all need to do our parts

Election Connection 2022

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There are exactly forty-three (43) weeks until the next Election Day. This is the mid-terms and we need to keep the House AND the Senate. We have slim majorities in both, and we are already seeing how Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell has been abusing his power. We need to make Joe Manchin one of one hundred instead of THE ONE who can capsize what the majority of us want for this country and our families.

Yes, this is a mid-term election, but regardless, there are NO OFF YEARS. We need to get in it and STAY in it.

Check out the links below to see what you can do NOW!

NOTE: In the Pennsylvania Senate race, I am not endorsing either candidate, but giving you information and the websites of both candidates who I am familiar with. Both have government experience in local and state positions.

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Beto O’Rourke for Governor of Texas

Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia

Ohio Senate Candidate: Tim Ryan, currently Representative in the House of Representatives

PA Senate Candidate: John Fetterman, currently Lt. Governor of PA

PA Senate Candidate: Malcolm Kenyatta, currently Representative in the PA General Assembly

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Election Connection – Election Day 2022

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Election Day is in 49 Days!

Make a plan to vote.

RIGHT NOW!

We need to ensure that we get every seat we can in order to accomplish the American people’s agenda. Voting Rights. Reproductive Rights. End gerrymandering. Equal Justice. a non-partisan Supreme Court.

We can do it together. Let’s go.

Some places to get you started:

Vote Save America

Vote Save America: No Off Years

Democracy Docket

Fair Fight

Election Connection Special Edition:

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The Texas Abortion Ban

The Conservative Justices’ Reasoning in the Texas Abortion Case is Legal Mansplaining

This brilliant piece by Slate writer, Dahlia Lithwick is a must read by everyone who calls themselves pro-choice and those who don’t. The idea that the people crying ‘our body, our choice’ over masks are the same ones brutally stomping on the bodies of pregnant people. Stomping is not an exaggeration.

This law is unconstitutional, but somewhat more importantly it is unconscionable. We should be protecting women, transmen, and CHILDREN who find themselves pregnant and unready, for whatever reason, and not forcing them to give birth.

We must remember these draconian laws and constant attempts at controlling our reproduction and our bodies at every election moving forward. GET OUT THE VOTE. Each and every election.

Read the entire article, but this quote from Lithwick really brought it home for me.

The inevitable answer is chilling: This isn’t about guns or speech or money or war. It’s about women, their lives and their bodies and their autonomy. That’s what allows you to do shoddy work, with careless disregard, because who’s going to stop you? You only do the thing in the dead of night, without care or effort, because you believe women are so used to being gaslit that you expect them to just tolerate it. You only do the thing in the dead of night without care or effort because you genuinely believe that they’re only women, and they deserve what they get.

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

Election Connection: Voter Suppression

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Across this country, at least 43 states have over 250 laws proposed by Republicans to limit voting access (source: ACLU mailing), and these predominantly negatively affect minorities and lower income voters.

One of these bills that recently became law in Georgia is SB202, and when asked in Congressional committee about what it does, Stacey Abrams was cut off by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), so she released a video on Twitter that explained it.

We cannot rest while Republicans continue to keep eligible voters from casting their ballots. Voting is a right and should be accessible to all eligible voters.

Follow Democracy Docket for more legal challenges to these proposals and laws as well as Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight.

The below video of Stacey Abrams is a good example of the preconceived notions and misinformation that GOP lawmakers accept even when experts in voter suppression are willing to explain the situation to them. They just don’t accept it, and are willing to dismiss the voting rights of people unlike themselves (ie. middle class white men).

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Election Connection: Impeachment, Take Two

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By the time you read this, the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will have begun. You can read about how the trial will proceed in this resolution, however beware that clicking the link will begin an automatic download of the pdf from the Senate website.

From attorney Marc Elias’, Democracy Docket: Second Impeachment, Explained

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Senate Impeachment Trial from NPR

If you’re not able to watch the trial live or choose not to, Elie Honig’s daily (approximately ten minute) podcast, Third Degree, is the way to go. His Twitter is here.

Jennifer Taub is also live-tweeting the trial.

Other reliable summaries should be found at Rachel Maddow’s nightly show at 9pm on MSNBC or on her Twitter.

Prior to watching the bulk of the trial, these podcast episodes are worth a listen:

House Managers for Impeachment (Follow on Twitter)
Rep. Jamie Raskin, Lead Manager
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. David Cicilline
Rep. Joaquin Castro
Rep. Eric Swalwell
Rep. Ted Lieu
Rep. Stacey Plaskett
Rep. Madeleine Dean
Rep. Joe Neguse

Also follow: Dan Goldman, former House Impeachment Lawyer

Election Connection: Welcome to the Biden Administration

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The Election Connection series will be a bit more sporadic, posted on a need-to-know basis now that we have an Administration that cares about its citizens in all the important and even in the most mundane ways. I still feel waves of PTSD at moments and then I see Press Secretary Jen Psaki swatting stupid questions, not arguing with White House correspondents, and offering experts to give briefings and answer questions, and I remember that it’s all going to be okay. It’s like the last four years were a dream, and I’m Pamela Ewing.

Unfortunately, the last four years weren’t a dream, and as nightmarish as it was to live through, it wasn’t a nightmare either. It was very real.

We need to take that same energy from the last years, the same energy brought to the Georgia Senate race, the same energy brought by the summer protests, and we need to focus it unrelentingly on the next two years, and then the two after that, and then the two after. We can never get complacent again.

Complacent = Complicit

We came very close to losing our republic. As it was, we witnessed a coup attempt, an insurrection that struck at the heart of our democracy. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer, but hundreds of others were injured. Two members of law enforcement have committed suicide. And still, there are Republicans who refuse to comply with law enforcement requirements to go through a magnetometer before entering the House floor. I mean, let’s be realistic and honest here, they’re also refusing to wear masks despite common sense and Executive Order, putting their colleagues and staff at risk (four members of Congress plus one spouse became covid infected because of Republican negligence on January 6th, and that was without their obvious complicity in the attack on the Capitol).

So, it’s time for a Civics lesson, and I will go extra slow as if I were speaking to the newly elected Senator from Alabama (this one) who doesn’t know the three branches of government (see below*) or a Supreme Court justice (this one) who doesn’t know the five rights guaranteed in the First Amendment (see below*).

Some things are etched in stone – the Constitution including the Bill of Rights is one of those things. The Constitution may be amended, and there are procedures in place to do that. In fact, we have amended the Constitution twenty-seven times, most recently in 1992.

Some things are not – Number of Supreme Court justices, the use of the filibuster. Supreme Court justices were based on the number of circuit courts, which have increased to thirteen. This is why many experts feel that the Supreme Court should be expanded to cover each circuit court with its own justice (as established in 1869 with what is known as the Circuit Judges Act).

The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, which makes it easier to change than amending the Constitution would be.

A couple of points:

Unity does not mean to continue to allow ourselves be abused or gaslit.

Unity does not mean giving in to bullies.

Unity does not mean power sharing when Democrats have a clear mandate.

Below the cut are Twitter follows of the Biden Administration, the House Managers of the Impeachment Trial, a selection of podcasts, and other accounts that I follow regularly and find are very informative and honest. Add your own in the comments and I can include them in the next Election Connection.

*Branches of Government
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Legislative Executive Judicial

*5 Rights Enumerated in the First Amendment:
1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom of the Press
4. Freedom to Assemble
5. Freedom to Protest the Government

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