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