Stop Kavanaugh: rallying cry at IEB’s August AMM

It’s not just about getting out the vote on November 6, 2018. Yes, that’s critical. But there’s more than one front in our ongoing battle against Trump and his minions, so we gotta walk and chew gum at the same time! As important as the election — and with very long term implications — is the fight over control of our federal judiciary. A shocking statistic: Congress has already confirmed more of Trump’s nominations to appellate judgeships (24) in his first term than any other president going back to Reagan!

Right now, perched at the top of our judicial concerns sits the Supreme Court. The Republican-controlled Senate is pushing hard to get Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s uber-conservative nominee, confirmed as soon as possible. Hearings are scheduled to start on September 4 — with most pundits predicting that success is almost certain.

The good news is that “almost certain” means “not 100% certain.” This fight is still winnable … if we act like it!

All of which brings us to the Indivisible East Bay August 26 All Members Meeting. An overflowing house packed the room, with many of the 200+ people there showing up for their first-ever IEB event.

Fighting the Kavanaugh Nomination

For the top attraction, we joined with MoveOn’s Unite for Justice national day of action to promote the fight against Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Linh Nguyen, co-lead of the IEB Judiciary Team, delivered an impassioned presentation detailing exactly why we must push as hard as we can to delay or prevent the vote on Kavanaugh:

  • Linh gave a distressing overview of what we already know of Kavanaugh’s equally distressing record: his opposition to Roe v. Wade, his assertions that a sitting President should be exempt from any investigation, his support for unlimited pardon power for the President (even before defendants stand trial), his belief that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, his opposition to climate change protection measures, and his support for vote-suppressing voter ID laws.
  • There’s likely much more, but it has been hard to find out; thanks to the GOP’s obstruction in Congress, only 6% of his record has been made available to the public!
  • Yes, Kavanaugh has stated that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” But don’t be seduced by this admission! Saying the case is settled does not imply that Kavanaugh believes it was correctly decided. If he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he could still act to overturn it — and probably would.
Linh Nguyen's presentation on Kavanaugh, photo by Catherine de Neergaard
Linh Nguyen’s presentation on Kavanaugh. Photo by Catherine de Neergaard

Linh also talked about the Judiciary Team’s efforts to coordinate with Indivisibles and other groups around the country to block other Trump nominees to federal courts — nominees who are too far-right, blatantly partisan, or unqualified to hold the lifetime positions. The Team’s work has paid off! Activists’ pressure has terminated the nominations of Jeff Mateer, Brett Talley, Matthew Petersen, and Ryan Bounds. These potential judges were exposed as racist, homophobic, and/or lacking in any judicial experience. While Trump appears to view these attributes as desirable, our opposition eventually forced an embarrassed GOP to abandon the nominees.

What can you do?

All of which bring us to … YOU, and what you can do to prevent further judicial disaster from becoming a reality.

First and foremost: contact your senators EVERY DAY by phone, email, or fax to voice your opposition to Kavanaugh. It doesn’t matter that they’re already on record as opposed to his confirmation — contact them (every day) anyway! Their staff tells us it helps immensely for them to hear our support. Otherwise, they only hear from constituents who disagree, making it harder for them to hold to their positions. That’s why, at the meeting, all attendees took direct action by making phone calls and writing more than 300 (!) postcards to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

IEB member Amelia hand-delivered 160+ postcards to Senator Harris
IEB member Amelia hand-delivered 160+ postcards to Senator Feinstein. Photo by Amelia Cass.

Please do the same…right now!

What to say:

My name is ____. I’m a constituent from [zip code] and a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I’m worried by his opposition to a woman’s right to choose, environmental and consumer protection, workers’ rights and common sense gun safety. His willingness to shield the president from prosecution and investigation is frightening. Kavanaugh’s nomination should be rejected.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Next: we can’t stop there. It’s essential that all 49 Democratic Senators are steadfast in their opposition to Kavanaugh — plus we need to get at least two Republicans to vote no. To accomplish this, we must contact Democratic voters in other states, particularly ones with vulnerable Republican Senators, encouraging them to voice their opposition to Kavanaugh and vote NO.

Three generations of resisters! Ellen, Meriam and Iris. Photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Three generations of resisters! Ellen, Meriam and Iris. Photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

But wait, there’s more: Expanding on Linh’s call to action, IEB Governance Committee members Andrea and Charlotte offered additional actions you can take:

  1. Sign up for the IEB weekly newsletter. Each issue opens with 3 action items, and the actions are also listed on the Calls & Emails page of our website, and are featured on our Facebook page.
  2. Use social media to get the message out. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your support for IEB’s positions on your own social media pages, your Twitter feed or even on Nextdoor. Check out this perfect example of boosting the cause!
  3. Share these tips with your family and friends, especially those in other states, and ask them to take action.

The goal: make it so “expensive” for Mitch McConnell to twist arms that he abandons the effort to confirm Kavanaugh. We have the opportunity to win by running out the clock. If Kavanaugh is not confirmed by the end of the 2018 Congressional session, the nomination gets kicked back to the President, forcing a delay that could doom the appointment — especially if we win a majority of the Senate in November.

The ultimate symbol of America

While info and direct action to #StopKavanaugh was going full steam, kitchen science was also happening! IEB Wizard Ted Lam conducted extensive testing (yeah, noms!) to perfect a recipe for homemade Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend ice cream, and he let loose his team of IEB family members (his son Lucas and  volunteers extraordinaire Tiffany and George) to churn up 12 delectable quarts with a robin’s egg blue vintage electric ice cream maker.  

Tiffany, Lucas and George making ice cream for the resistance!
Tiffany, Lucas and George made ice cream for hungry activists! Photo by Heidi Rand

The action we take

George did double duty, and says that “after churning up resistance . . .  I mean ice-cream, I was posted post-haste to help out at the Postcards to Voters table.” Members flocked to write 100 postcards to Democratic voters in support of Audrey Denney and TJ Cox, running for Congress in California Districts 1 and 21. Both districts, largely rural and agricultural, are ripe to be flipped.

Aaaand that brings us full circle — back to the importance of the midterm elections, as we mentioned at the top of this article. Almost every problem we face right now will get better if we can end the GOP’s control of Congress; however, we need to continue keep making noise and applying pressure. Every phone call, postcard, and email counts!

 

July IEB Postcard Party & Snack Potluck

Please join us at Indivisible East Bay’s postcard party & snack potluck July 15, anytime between 11 AM and 3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. RSVP here – not required, but it’ll help us know what supplies to bring for you.

All are warmly welcome — from the postcard-curious to committed carders — for a combo of direct resistance activism, friendly chat, and noshing! Feel free to bring snacks to share if you want, but we’d prefer if you bring a friend (or 5) and/or your family (children welcome).

We’ll provide supplies, explain everything, and have newbies up and writing in a few minutes. Our postcard parties have been huge successes, with IEB members & friends stepping up to write 100s of cards! We’re upping our game and offering several options:

  • Postcards to Voters: this fantastic resource provides an ideal way for blue state activists to write directly to Democrats in other districts & states to urge them to vote. We’ll provide addresses and scripts – currently P2V is writing to get out the vote for Danny O’Connor, the Democratic candidate running in the August 7 special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. 
  • Postcards for truth and justice in support of Andrew Janz, running for Congress against Putin’s puppet Devin Nunes in California District 22.
  • Postcards to U.S. Senators: we’ll have sample scripts so you can write postcards to your Senators to vote against Trump’s unfit judicial nominees. Want to write these postcards at home? See our Judiciary team’s awesome page for expert info on the nominees plus scripts!
  • New! We’re hosting Scott from Vote Forward, an exciting project using letters (instead of postcards) mailed to targeted voters in selected campaigns. For people who want to learn about this option, Scott will bring letters & envelopes for you to write, and he’ll answer questions. He’d appreciate donations to cover letter postage, or you can bring your own first-class letter stamps.

More deets:

  • You can bring your own postcards or we’ll have lots there for you to use – some designed and donated by IEB’s super postcard party guru Michael, and others donated by IEB angels
  • Bring postcard stamps (.35 each for cards a max of 6″ x 4.25″) if you have, or  we’ll have stamps for you (not donated, so we’ll just ask you to reimburse us for the cost)
  • We’ll also have pens and markers, fun GOTV washi tape, and other supplies
  • Already a verified P2V writer? Bring your own addresses if you want!

Learn more about activist postcard-ing at our article The Pen (plus .35 stamp) Is Mightier Than Yelling At Your TV

We’re set to be in the upstairs mezzanine at Sports Basement (take stairs or elevator up), but if there’s a last minute change of room check for Indivisible East Bay or IEB postcard party on the chalk board at the entrance.

Have other questions? Want to let us know about your own postcarding events? Email us or contact @heidirand on Slack.  

IEB’s Judiciary Team Rocks the Nation!

When the current occupant of the White House started what has turned into a terrifying court-packing effort (together with his cronies in the Senate), a few of IEB’s fearless research-loving members went into high gear. Since late summer 2017, what is now our Judiciary Team has created and shared an extensive database of information about judicial nominees as well as creating and sharing digital toolkits, and has become a resource for Indivisible National, Indivisible chapters nationwide, and other organizations. We’re proud to tell you some of their many achievements:

  • Indivisible National cites IEB’s Judiciary Team for our work and recommends us as a resource (about 3/4 of the way down this page).
  • Judiciary Team members Linh, Donna and Heidi have begun organizing with Lawyers For Good Government, a national group interested in working on Trump’s judicial nominations.
  • IEB Judiciary Team member Donna helped organize Rapid Resist text/phone bank campaigns into Texas and North Carolina against the nomination of Gregory Katsas for the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Indivisible SF also helped with the North Carolina campaign. Shout outs to Alysia, Cassie and Yoni of Rapid Resist!
  • Two groups in North Carolina have also mobilized against the nomination of Thomas Farr for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, after receiving information from us.
  • We have provided our friends at Indivisible SF with information and scripts to help their work contacting a network of groups in Colorado to mobilize against the nominations of Katsas and of Allison Eid to fill Neil Gorsuch’s seat on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Shout outs to Jonah and Kristen at ISF!
  • We have been in contact with two groups in Idaho that will call their Senators against Trump’s judicial nominations.
  • Donna has also been in contact with Indivisible chapters and other progressive groups in Minnesota and Oregon that have mobilized against Trump’s court nominations.
  • We have worked extensively with Indivisibles in Texas. At the request of Indivisible Houston, we created and provided a toolkit with talking points for MoC meetings, blog posts, graphics for social media posts, and call scripts. Indivisible Austin ended up using our materials to create a blog post/call to action. Indivisible Houston used the toolkit for a visit to Senator Cornyn’s office to discuss the nomination of Jeff Mateer (the one who said that trans children are “part of Satan’s plan”). Indivisible Denton did a call script and call to action. Indivisible Austin used our materials in their blog. Judiciary Team member Amelia also reached out to Equality Texas, which was also doing a call to action on Mateer, and shared their link with the Texas Indivisibles.
  • The latest addition to the state list: Arizona, where Rapid Resist has just begun campaigning against the Katsas nomination with IEB’s help. Thanks to Alysia, Cassie, and Yoni at Rapid Resist!

Have a questions for the Judiciary Team, or want to lend a hand? Contact us!

It’s August and we’re all still here

We marked our 6-month anniversary of visits to Senator Feinstein’s office with another wide ranging policy discussion. Her state director, Sean Elsbernd, doesn’t expect bipartisan progress on health care until after the upcoming budget fight, which itself isn’t likely to be resolved before the government runs out of money at the end of September. We talked about the need to keep a close watch on the beleaguered Jeff Sessions (Sean joked that we finally had something in common with the president) and asked the Senator to throw her weight behind Barbara Lee’s AUMF repeal, which has rankled Republican leadership despite – or perhaps because of – its support from the Republican rank and file. We learned that one of Senator Feinstein’s top climate change policy priorities is a carbon fee and that while the Senator likes our idea of whistleblower protections for those exposing torture, her intelligence staff is already overtaxed by the day-to-day crises of this administration. We also checked in about the Senator’s concerns regarding the falling standards in the Judiciary Committee’s evaluation of nominees for the Federal Bench: Chairman Grassley is rushing nominees through without waiting for the traditional review from either Senators from the courts’ home states or the non-partisan American Bar Association. And we reminded Sean that we are anxiously awaiting our next chance to discuss all these issues and more with the Senator in person at her August town hall (even if we have to travel to San Diego or Fresno).

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Grandpa and Grandma

Statue of Liberty. Original photo copyright Joao Carlos Medau small

Do you have whiplash from watching the ping-ponging court decisions on Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban(s)? The latest rally began in March, when Hawaii District Court Judge Derrick Watson found Trump Ban II unconstitutional and halted it with a preliminary injunction.

After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the injunction the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in October, but until then it entered a split decision, allowing the travel ban to keep out travelers from six majority-Muslim countries who have no “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity.

The Supremes didn’t define that ambiguous phrase, leaving Rex Tillerson’s State Department to construe it cruelly, directing that “close family” did not include grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins, and brothers- and sisters-in-law. On Thursday Judge Watson disagreed, using a combination of common sense and legal precedent to find that all of the above ARE “close familial relationships”.

With the ball on Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ side of the net, he vowed to appeal Judge Watson’s order. Indeed, on Friday night the feds asked the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit to stay the order. The Supremes didn’t grant a stay, rather ordered the State of Hawaii and other plaintiffs to respond.

Whatever the courts do, how heart-wrenching that so many people’s lives have been thrown into chaos and turmoil by this horrific travel ban, by Tillerson’s twisted interpretation of it, and by Sessions’ dogged defense of it in court.

See more history of the Muslim Ban in court here, here, and here.

These groups are fighting the Muslim Ban – volunteer or donate to help:

By Heidi Rand

Supremes Smack Down North Carolina’s Racial Gerrymandering

 

The_Gerry-Mander

Justice Clarence Thomas cast the tie-breaking vote in Cooper v. Harris, Monday’s Supreme Court opinion upholding a lower court’s ruling that after the 2010 census North Carolina illegally packed two congressional districts with African-American voters, reducing the influence of African-American voters in other districts.

Cooper is expected to have a large impact nationwide by helping voters establish that their state legislators violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when they inject race into redistricting decisions with no compelling reason.

Although the districts in Cooper were redrawn before the 2016 election, other Republican-gerrymandered districts across the country played a role in Trump’s winning enough electoral votes to gain the presidency, as well as swaying other national down-ticket and state races. Bringing court cases is expensive and time-consuming, so should be a remedy of last resort. To flip the House and elect progressives in other elections, we need to fight for more citizen-oriented and transparent redistricting.

What can you do? Some Indivisible chapters, such as Indivisible Austin (Texas) and Indivisible Central Florida, are already hard at work in their districts. To learn more about electoral manipulation nationwide and locally, and how you can help fight, check out End Gerrymandering. Another group, The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was created in 2016 and is chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder. NDRC is building a strategy for Democrats to fight gerrymandering and produce fairer maps in the 2021 redistricting process. 

By Heidi Rand