Archives for category: Democracy

Greg Brozeit notes here an alarming aspect implicit in the Alito draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade. His comment appeared on the blog. Alito and four other radical conservatives demonstrated that precedent and stare decisis mean nothing to them. Despite their assurances under oath to the Senators who interviewed them, the radical justices intend to overturn a right declared by the Supreme Court 49 years earlier. Never in the history of the Supreme Court has a right granted by the Court been overturned. This radical, reckless decision will set off more demonstrations and protests. Recent polls show that only about 20% of the nation believes that abortion should be banned under all circumstances. The rest believe that it should be safe and legal, with certain conditions, such as rape, incest, the life of the mother. The sweep of this unprecedented revocation will leave many people wondering what other prior decisions will be overturned.

Greg Brozeit writes:

Just as CRT is not about education, the Alito Roe draft is not about abortion. It is much bigger. Some of you come oh so close to crossing the rhetorical goal line. The real question is not if or why, but how this becomes a legal mallet that makes no decision “safe.”

If the wording “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” remains intact in the final opinion, it basically creates a precedent that precedent no longer exists. It would effectively be the first mortal wound in the legal doctrine of stare decisis as a check on judicial power. Its goal is to make a mockery out of the idea of judicial review as to render it meaningless. It’s “reasoning” could seep into and dominate all law from civil to maritime to military. And it fits perfectly with ALEC’s strategy to marginalize judicial review with packaged, ready-to-go legislation for lazy, partisan, or stupid (or all of the above) statewide elected legislature or governor.

This was not a legal shot over the bow. It was a direct hit on democracy and left no doubt that the only thing this court wants more is a tailor-made case that will give them stronger legal “reasoning” to be even more draconian. That would be the only reason this language might not be in the final decision handed down. It would be a short-lived “victory” that would be a prelude to something even worse for average and poor Americans.

This is the typical drivel the DNC-driven agenda gives us, focusing on individual policies rather than the real existential threat to democracy the Republican Party poses from local government through the office of the presidency. Now as correct as we may be about the fate of women’s rights and as big as that issue is, this is about much, much basic stakes. The radical right and their few partners on the looney left understand this. Hardly anyone else, it seems, does. Or at the very least, they can’t identify the true threat this enemy is posing. If they do not win now or in the next elections, they will continue to poison and cripple the system until they do. That, it seems, is the best we can hope for now. A slow death with faint hope for a miracle recovery rather than an immediate plunge into fascism.

Republicans like to complain about “cancel culture,” but they are its biggest practitioners. If it were up to them, Democrats would be completely silenced, as would gay students and teachers who want to teach honestly about racism.

Beto O’Rourke is running against Republican Governor Gregg Abbott, and he’s discovering that many venues in red districts won’t allow him to speak because he is a Democrat.

The Texas Monthly describes what happened to Beto in Comal County, a deep red district.

When Democratic candidates for statewide office tour Texas, an atmosphere of doom and despair typically haunts their campaigns, like a pack of wolves shadowing a wounded elk. In 2014, I rode on state senator Leticia Van de Putte’s campaign bus as she embarked on a multiday expedition to South Texas toward the end of her race for lieutenant governor. The bus, which departed from San Antonio, ran for two hours before breaking down around Falfurrias. A few weeks later, she lost by nearly twenty points.

Beto O’Rourke’s first statewide campaign, when he challenged Ted Cruz for a U.S. Senate seat, by contrast, felt enchanted—the political equivalent of a Disney-animated romp with singing woodland creatures. For a year and a half, O’Rourke roamed the state, putting thousands of miles on a truck and a minivan that did not break down, visiting towns other statewide politicians of both parties wouldn’t waste time in. He played with dogs, livestreamed even the smallest events, and had (sometimes awkward) meetings with local elected officials in conservative parts of Texas, trying to find areas of agreement. He spoke often, and in a pretty idealistic manner, about his hope that Democrats he fired up in small red towns would be empowered to create lasting change in their communities.

It felt wrong, somehow. I chatted with O’Rourke about how smoothly things seemed to be going after a picture-perfect event at the hip tent-hotel El Cosmico in 2017, in the decidedly not red town of Marfa, on one of those summer nights in West Texas when the sun sets in a peach-colored sky a little after nine. When I asked him what he would do if protesters—anti-abortion, pro-gun, whatever—started actively disrupting his events, denying him space in the public square and threatening the premise of his campaign, he said he would engage them in dialogue. That struck me as naive, but to my surprise those protests never materialized in the 2018 election. He seemed, in all things, charmed. Of course, he still lost, but by an unexpectedly small margin, all the while boosting down-ballot candidates in suburban districts he helped to flip.

Since then, O’Rourke has had an eventful few years, as has the nation, and his second campaign for statewide office has been more difficult. Gun-rights protesters and open carriers have been showing up at his events since well before he launched his bid for governor, drawn by O’Rourke’s rash proclamation, during his brief 2020 presidential campaign, that he favored confiscation of semiautomatic weapons. And this past weekend, in a small community an hour north of San Antonio, the O’Rourke campaign, hoping to hold a town hall, tried and failed to secure the use of four different event venues and was effectively run out of town.

This debacle took place in Comal County, the southernmost of the two counties in the Interstate 35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin, which ranks as one of the most Republican areas of the state. But there’s still reason for Democrats to think they can do better here. In 2016, Trump won Comal by fifty points; in 2020, he won by a little more than forty. The county’s major population center, New Braunfels, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation.

When O’Rourke’s gubernatorial campaign set out to hold a town hall in Comal County, it aimed not for New Braunfels but for Canyon Lake, population around 30,000. That community, remote and deeply conservative, was the kind O’Rourke had made a special effort to visit in 2018. This time, however, news that O’Rourke would be coming set off agitation in Canyon Lake, especially on social media.

The campaign first announced that O’Rourke would speak at Maven’s Inn & Grill. Some locals threatened to boycott the restaurant if it hosted the event, according to the local news website My Canyon Lake. On Facebook, the restaurant’s patrons made clear their displeasure. “So I heard y’all are hosting Texas’s most famous drunk driver on Saturday,” one wrote, referencing O’Rourke’s 1998 arrest for driving while intoxicated. Maven’s soon canceled the event. Another woman, voicing what clearly was a minority view, objected. “Knuckling under to bullies,” she wrote. “This is how democracy dies and autocrats rise.”

The campaign then announced that it would hold the town hall at Canyon Lake High School. (It’s not uncommon for politicians to rent out school gyms and auditoriums to hold events.) Shortly thereafter, officials with the Comal Independent School District quickly reassured county residents that the event had not been “fully and properly vetted internally,” that the campaign had prematurely announced the town hall, and that the district did not, as a rule, allow rallies to take place on school grounds. Facebook commenters believed they now had Beto on the run. “DON’T BE SURPRISED TJAT BETO WON’T STEAL SOMETHING OUT OF COMAL CTY. OR BIRGLARIZE SOME BUSINESS,” wrote one man, with the tone that’s typical among users of the social network.

The campaign looked for a third venue. It believed it had found one in the Canyon Lake Resource and Recreation Center. But the center, too, backtracked. The head of the nonprofit group that runs it said his team was worried about “safety” at the event and that O’Rourke was polarizing. The campaign then briefly planned to hold an event at the nearby Whitewater Amphitheater, but that offer was rescinded too

Read on to see how closed-minded people did their best to shut down O’Rourke.

Judge Samuel Alito went out of his way to say that the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would not affect other decisions, like contraception and gay marriage. But in the same decision, he asserted that the Constitution contains no “right to privacy,” on which these cases were built.

The Miami Herald interviews Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the gay marriage, who expressed his fear that the Court meant to strike down all rights based on the right to privacy.

In his draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito tries to limit the blast radius of his ruling by writing that abortion is fundamentally different from other privacy matters — like contraception and marriage equality — that have historically challenged the court. “The abortion right,” Alito writes, is “critically different from any other right that this Court has held fall within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of ‘liberty.’” Overturning one, he says, would not necessarily undermine the others. Jim Obergefell doesn’t believe him.

The plaintiff in the landmark 2015 case before the Supreme Court that established same-sex marriage as a constitutional right now says he is tired, disheartened and terrified of what may come after reading Alito’s sweeping rationale in the draft decision published Monday by Politico. “I’ve been asked if I believe what he says in that decision — that this is specific to a woman’s right to an abortion, and really should not be used on marriage equality,” Obergefell told McClatchy in an interview. “I don’t believe that whatsoever, because so many of the things he says in that decision open the door to using those arguments against marriage equality. And where does it stop?”

“I’m terrified. I really can’t put it any more simply than that. I am terrified,” he continued. “Marriage equality, while we had it for seven years, clearly will not pass his definition of tradition or history.”

Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark civil rights case that culminated after years of litigation in a 5-4 decision at the high court, requiring all 50 states and U.S. territories to perform and recognize same-sex marriages the same as opposite-sex marriages.

Alito dissented from that decision, and in a speech to the Federalist Society in 2020 criticized it once again. “You can’t say marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” he told the conservative organization. “Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.”

At that time, Alito found himself in the minority. But the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy — who wrote the Obergefell decision and several other key gay rights decisions that preceded it — provided then-President Donald Trump with an opening to nominate a conservative replacement.

Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh, who currently supports the decision to overturn Roe that Obergefell now fears.

“All I have to say is, they said in their confirmation hearings that they considered Roe v. Wade settled law,” Obergefell said. “Clearly they were misleading the Senate — not being truthful — so regardless of what they said during their confirmation hearings about marriage equality.”

“Losing Justice Kennedy was a loss to the LGBTQ+ community because he was so instrumental in decisions bringing us forward as a nation and toward a more perfect union,” he added. Gay rights organizations told McClatchy they have been preparing for a decision ending Roe v. Wade for months, but were nevertheless stunned by the sheer sweep of Alito’s written opinion.

Top officials and attorneys at the Human Rights Campaign held an emergency huddle on Monday night when the leaked draft published, and both HRC and GLAAD leaders are working to mobilize support for protests around the country with pro-choice groups. “The fact that Alito in this decision takes the track that, if these fundamental rights that we enjoy in our nation are not specifically enumerated in our constitution, then they’re questionable and should only be based on our nation’s history and traditions – to me that is one of the scariest things to hear a Supreme Court justice say,” Obergefell said.

“The history and tradition in North America, in the land now known as the United States of America, was for white people to own black people. There’s a longer tradition there than there is of freedom,” he added. “So it’s just a terrifying thing.”

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/article261132807.html#storylink=cpy

The Intercept contains an article that is worth your time about the leaked Alito decision that overturns Roe v. Wade.

Jordan Smith writes:

AS A MATTER of fact, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is wrong.

In a leaked draft of the court’s majority opinion in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Alito writes that Roe v. Wade and its successor Planned Parenthood v. Casey must be overturned — an extraordinary move that would topple precedent in order to constrict, rather than expand, constitutional rights.

The missive is aggressive and self-righteous and reads like the greatest hits of those who disfavor the right to bodily autonomy. There’s the linking of abortion to eugenics, for example. “Some such supporters have been motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population,” Alito writes. “It is beyond dispute that Roe has had that demographic effect.” The ahistorical comparison misses the fact that an individual choosing to abort their own pregnancy is not analogous to forced sterilization by the state to alter the American gene pool.

And there’s the claim that because the word “abortion” isn’t found in the Constitution, the right to it doesn’t exist. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito writes. This completely ignores the historical significance of the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction-era addition meant to ensure individual liberty, including the right to decide whether and with whom to form a family. “Most Americans understand the plain truth reflected in these protections,” Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in a statement. “A person cannot truly be free, and is not truly an equal member of society, if they do not get to decide for themselves this most basic question of bodily autonomy.” Alito’s opinion, she said, “frighteningly bulldozes past the Constitution.”

Alito also dismisses the notion that there are any clearly identifiable reliance issues at stake in discarding abortion rights. In this context, the concept of reliance posits that when expectations have been built around the stability of a particular law or judicial pronouncement, those interests should be protected and the precedent underpinning them upheld. In addressing the issue, Alito comes off as if perplexed: The court knows how to evaluate “concrete” reliance issues like those implicated in “property and contract rights,” Alito writes, but assessing an “intangible” reliance is a whole other story. “That form of reliance depends on an empirical question that is hard for anyone — and in particular, for a court — to assess, namely, the effect of the abortion right on society and in particular on the lives of women.”

Yet again, Alito is wrong — and there’s plenty of research to prove it.

A Mountain of Evidence

In an amicus brief filed in the Dobbs case, 154 economists and researchers took direct aim at the how-could-we-possibly-know-what-abortion-has-done-for-society nonsense. The brief details a substantial body of research demonstrating that access to legal abortion has had significant social and economic impacts, increasing education and job opportunities for women and reducing childhood poverty.

The expansion of abortion access after Roe reduced the overall birthrate by up to 11 percent. For teens, the drop was 34 percent; teen marriage was reduced 20 percent. Research has revealed that young women who used abortion to delay parenthood by just a year saw an 11 percent increase in hourly wages later in their careers. Access to abortion for young women increased the likelihood of finishing college by nearly 20 percentage points; the probability that they would go on to a professional career jumped by nearly 40 percentage points. All these effects, the economists noted, were even greater among Black women.

“Abortion legalization has shaped families and the circumstances into which children are born,” the economists wrote. Abortion legalization reduced the number of children living in poverty as well as the number of cases of child neglect and abuse. “Yet other studies have explored long-run downstream effects as the children of the Roe era grew into adulthood,” reads the brief. “One such study showed that as these children became adults, they had higher rates of college graduation, lower rates of single parenthood, and lower rates of welfare receipt.”

In other words, the effect of the abortion right on society is not remotely “intangible.” There is decades’ worth of evidence showing that abortion access has positively impacted women and their families. “But those changes are neither sufficient nor permanent: abortion access is still relevant and necessary to women’s equal and full participation in society,” the economists wrote, challenging Mississippi’s argument in the Dobbs case that contraception and employment policies like parental leave have essentially made abortion unnecessary. Indeed, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended and nearly half of those pregnancies end in abortion. “These statistics alone lead to the inevitable (and obvious) conclusion that contraception and existing policies are not perfect substitutes for abortion access.”

Jordan goes on to write about her own experience. As a sophomore in college, she got pregnant. Her mother immediately sent the money for an abortion. This was the right decision for her, allowing her to finish college, go to graduate school, and pursue a career.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott is in a competition with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to see who is meanest. He wants to relitigate a 1982 Supreme Court decision that requires the state to provide a free public education to all children, especially the children of undocumented persons.

In the wake of the leaked Roe decision, he assumes the Court might agree with him that children whose parents are not here legally have no right to be educated at public expense.

In a conversation with a conservative talk-show host, Abbott expressed his desire to stop funding the education of these children.

Here’s the exchange in full:

Talk show host:

“We’re talking about public tax dollars, public property tax dollars going to fund these schools to teach children who are 5, 6, 7, 10 years old, who don’t even have remedial English skills,” Pagliarulo said. “This is a real burden on communities. What can you do about that?”

Governor Abbott:

“The challenges put on our public systems is extraordinary,” Abbott said in reply. “Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe. And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue about denying, or let’s say Texas having to bear that burden. I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

Governor Abbott would like to have many thousands of children in the state who are illiterate. No doubt he would also like to deny them access to any healthcare or other public services.

Jeff Bryant writes here about the decision by the Oakland, California, school board to close a number of schools because of a budget shortfall. Some of these schools were popular Community schools, offering services that benefited children, families, and the community. Bryant shows that the closure of these schools would not solve the budget shortfall.

Many readers of this blog used a Zoom link provided by friends in Oakland to listen to the crucial meeting of the school board when the vote was taken. I listened for four hours, as hundreds of students and parents spoke out against the closure of their beloved school. Not a single student or parent during the four hours I listened supported the closings.

The board was unmoved. Two members—Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams— voted against the closings, but the majority voted yea.

One of those who voted for the closings just announced that she was resigning. Shanthi Gonzalez is not waiting for the next election. She claimed that she was interested only in raising academic quality when she supported closing schools.

Shanthi Gonzales, who represents District 6 on the Oakland Unified School District board, announced Monday that she is stepping down from her position immediately, seven months before her term is set to expire.

In a lengthy public statement published on her blog on Monday morning, Gonzales denounced the increasingly hostile discourse surrounding public education in Oakland, which has led to protests, strikes, and personal insults lobbed at school board members. She also called out the lack of progress the district has made in supporting students’ academic needs, and slammed the Oakland Education Association teachers union and its supporters for resisting moves to improve the quality of schools…

Along with board president Gary Yee, Gonzales introduced a resolution in December for the board to consider closing schools because of deep financial troublesbrought on in part by years of declining enrollment. That resolution led to the board’s February decision to close seven schools over the next two years, and merge or downsize several others. Three of the schools slated for closure, Community Day School, Parker K-8, and Carl B. Munck Elementary School, are in Gonzales’ district. null

Opposition to the district’s closure and consolidation plan has been fierce. In recent months, community members have held marches, two educators have staged a hunger strike, and protesters have rallied outside the homes of Gonzales and other school board members. The Oakland Education Association teachers union staged a one-day strike that effectively shut down classes this past Friday. School board meetings have also been contentious, with regular heckling and disruptions at in-person meetings.

All the members who voted for the closings should be voted out of office.

The two members who opposed the schools’ closings are Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams. They are true leaders.

It has been widely reported in the media that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. A draft decision written by Justice Samuel Alito claims that the 50-year-old decision was wrongly decided. The implications of this decision—if it stands as written—are profound. The Supreme Court decided in 1973 that women had a right to decide what happens to their bodies. This Court is poised to say they do not.

This is Donald Trump’s legacy. This most ignorant of presidents appointed three of the Court’s most conservative justices. All three are Catholics who are staunchly opposed to abortion. they will join with at least two other Catholic justices to overturn Roe. (Neil Gorsuch was born Catholic but apparently is or may be Anglican.) Justice Sonia Sotomayer, who is also Catholic, will not vote for this decision. President Biden, an observant Catholic, opposes this decision and supports women’s rights to control their own body. Nancy Pelosi, another strong Catholic, supports Roe.

As an American, I ask how it is possible that a Court dominated by members of one religion can impose their beliefs on the entire nation? I am beyond outraged by this potential decision. The same decision could also have been written if the Court had a majority of Orthodox Jews, who oppose abortion. That too would be abhorrent.

Women who are not Catholic will be required to bend to the hardcore doctrine of the most ardent Catholics. That includes Protestants, Jews, and moderate Catholics, as well as those of other faiths or none at all.

Several states, anticipating this decision, have passed laws banning abortion after six weeks, before a woman knows she is pregnant. These laws make no exception for women who are victims of incest or rape. The victim must give birth to her rapist’s child. The victim must give birth to the child of her father or brother.

Abortion is a painful decision for most women. It should be their decision, made in consultation with a qualified health-care specialist. The Supreme Court wants the decision made not by those it affects, but by state legislatures. Women who have the money will travel to the states where it is still legal to get an abortion.

Women without the means to travel will seek abortions from back-alley abortionists in unhygienic circumstances. Or they will try to self-abort with wire hangars or other methods that risk their lives. Women will die because of this decision, if it represents the final decision.

Some states are trying to outlaw receiving abortion pills by mail. It’s hard to know how they will enforce this. It’s easy to imagine that the reddest states would devote more resources to stopping abortion than to caring for children after they are born, with medical care, good schools, nutrition, and the other supports they need. The extremists love the unborn more than the born.

Justice Alito says in his draft decision that one reason to overturn Roe is that it is so divisive. If this is the Court’s standard, we can anticipate the rollback of civil rights law, including the Brown decision, gay marriage, and anything else that is too controversial for the “Originalist” majority. (If Amy Coney Barrett were really an Originalist, she would resign at once since the original Constitution said nothing about women having the right to vote or participate in public life).

My own view is that the decision about abortion is private and personal. It should be made by a woman and her doctor. It should occur in a safe and hygienic clinic.

Those who oppose abortion should not have the power to impose their views on women who don’t agree with them. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If you need an abortion, that should be your decision, not the Red-state legislatures or the Supreme Court’s ultra-conservative majority.

Matthew Cunningham-Cook of The Lever reports that workers at Starbucks are voting to join unions. The Lever is a blog launched by David Sirota, co-author of “Don’t Look Up” and former speechwriter for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Big events continue to happen on the Starbucks Workers United front. On Tuesday, five Starbucks stores in greater Richmond, Virginia, voted to unionize. On Thursday, they won an election at the 100-employee-plus Starbucks Reserve Roastery flagship store in Seattle — one of the largest Starbucks stores to organize so far. Then, on Friday, the shamefully underfunded National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint over Starbucks’ February mass firing of union leaders in Memphis. Then again on Friday, the first Starbucks store in Colorado unionized. Struggling to keep track of it all? Reporters at Law360 developed this tool to track the growth of Starbucks workers’ efforts.

Good news from the Brooklyn Public Library for teens whose libraries have been ransacked by censors and other vandals.

The Brooklyn Public Library will give you free access to its collection, which is uncensored.

Like we needed another reason to love libraries: with book bans ramping up in school systems around the country, the Brooklyn Public Library is taking steps to make its massive catalog available to as many young people as possible.

Right now, and for a “limited time,” anyone in the United States between the age of 13 and 21 can apply for a free Brooklyn Public Library eCard, which gives access to 350,000 eBooks, 200,000 audiobooks, and online databases. (Normally, Brooklyn Public Library eCards are only free for people who live and/or work in New York state.)…

Teens who want to apply for the free eCard can send an email to BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org or a message to @bklynfuture on Instagram.

Amber Phillips reported in The Washington Post that the Michigan Republican Party selected a Trump-chosen person for the role of Secretary of State—the official who oversees and certifies elections. She sounds like a true believer in conspiracy theories:

Until the 2020 election, secretaries of state — at least at the state level — worked mostly under the radar, overseeing state elections and certifying the results. But then an election in a pandemic, combined with efforts by the sitting president to call into question the results, suddenly made the job a politically charged one.

That’s still true for the 2022 midterm elections. Donald Trump and his allies have recruited, supported and endorsed candidates who have denied the results of the 2020 election to run for secretary of state in key swing states. That has election-integrity experts worried that people who haven’t recognized basic election facts could be in charge of deciding who wins the 2024 presidential contest.

In Michigan, one of those candidates just got nominated to be on the ballot in November. Kristina Karamo is one of the loudest provocateurs among a dozen or so secretary of state candidates running on false election-fraud claims. She has Trump’s endorsement.

This weekend, in a sign of how much the grass roots of the Republican Party is with Trump on election fraud, the Michigan GOP voted to nominate her. In addition to denying election results without evidence, she has called schools “government indoctrination camps,” opposes the teaching of evolution and opposes coronavirus vaccines and childhood vaccines.

Thinks Trump won in 2022: check.

Hates public schools: check.

Opposes teaching about evolution: check.

Opposes COVID vaccines: check.

Opposes all childhood vaccines (polio, measles, mumps, smallpox, diphtheria, etc.): check.

No one asked about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Wrap all those issues into one candidate and you gotta worry about the future of our democracy.

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