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    From California Healthline/KHN, republished by permission — bolding of organizations and locales, and subtitles added.

    Battle Lines Drawn As Abortion-Rights Activists Leave Their Mark Outside Clinics

    by Ana B. Ibarra, California Healthline

         Haley Pollock carries a box of chalk in her car, ready for action.

         In her spare time, she and fellow community activists convert the sidewalks outside of crisis pregnancy centers into political canvases, scrawling phrases such as “Fake Women’s Clinic Ahead” and “End the Lies.”

         Her team soon plans to carry out nighttime sorties — guerrilla-style — so people living near these centers find the pink, blue and yellow messages first thing in the morning.

        “People are appalled when they learn about fake clinics,” said Pollock, 34, a student at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, who said her goal is to educate people.

    Abortion-rights activists in California and beyondhave launched or stepped up information campaigns in response to a June [2018] U.S. Supreme Court ruling

    [NIFLA v. Becerra] that crisis pregnancy centers cannot be required to tell women about the availability of publicly funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion.

         Through sidewalk drawings, bus-shelter ads and pop-up messages on mobile devices, these activists seek to spread the word themselves about such services, especially to young, low-income women. They aim to warn them about what they see as incomplete or false information provided by the centers, which are typically affiliated with Christian organizations and seek to persuade women to continue their pregnancies. Some of the centers are not licensed medical facilities.

         The court ruling “inspires us to work harder, faster, more visibly than we were before,” Pollock said.

         The [Supreme] Court’s decision[on The California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act a.k.a. FACT Act etc.] addressed a California law that went into effect in 2016, which had required the centers to post a notice informing women of state-funded health care options, including abortion and prenatal care. And if the centers were not medically licensed, or didn’t have licensed medical professionals on staff, they had to post a sign saying so. But the court ruled that the law, known as the Reproductive FACT Act, probably violates the centers’free speech rights.

         In an email to California Healthline, Anne O’Connor, vice president of legal affairs for theNational Institute of Family and Life Advocates [NIFLA], lambasted the campaigns by abortion-rights activists as dishonest. Her organization filed the lawsuit taken up by the Supreme Court.

        “There is nothing ‘fake’ about our medical professionals or our medical services,” she wrote. “Pro-abortion advocates will find that campaigns maligning pro-life pregnancy centers in this way are ineffective because they are not true.”

         Nearly 1,200 of her group’s 1,450 member centers nationwide are licensed medical facilities staffed by doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, O’Connor said. The remaining centers do not provide medical assistance, but rather counseling and social services, she said.

         Of the 142 centers associated with the institute in California, about 100 are licensed medical clinics, O’Connor said. (Women who want to check whether a pregnancy center is a licensed clinic can search the state Department of Public Health’s “Cal Health Find Database.”)

         Individual centers contacted directly for this article referred questions to O’Connor’s organization.

    Borrowing from the playbook of anti-abortion activists

    who gather outside Planned Parenthood clinics, abortion-rights advocates are rallying regularly near crisis pregnancy centers, wielding signs and posting flyers. Pollock said they abide by existing laws and do not harass or block patients.

        “At this point our only tool is information,” said Nourbese Flint, a program manager with the Los Angeles-based organizationBlack Women for Wellness. “We’re using ads to expose them and to let our communities know that these catfish clinics are out there.” (“Catfish” is a slang term that means deceptive or trying to pass as something it’s not.)

         Her group is investing roughly $15,000 in ads, and eight went up at BART stations in the Bay Area last month, said Gabby Valle, a consultant leading the ad campaign in California.

         The bright-pink posters show young black women next to messages such as “Catfished by a Clinic?” and “Stop Fake Clinics.” They also refer to a website that calls the pregnancy centers “F*@! Clinics” and “the Netflix and chill of clinics.”

         Similar ads will appear on buses and bus shelters in south Los Angeles as early as this week.

    Abortion-rights advocates charge that these [pregnancy crisis] centers are deceptive and trick women, especially young women of color, into coming into their offices by offering free diapers, pregnancy tests or ultrasounds — without offering a full-range of medical services.

    The activists say these clinics often set up shop in low-income communities, and near high schools and community colleges.

         In New York City, an ordinance requires pregnancy centers to post a sign if they’re not licensed. Aviva Zadoff, director of advocacy at the National Council of Jewish Women in New York, said she and others fear the ordinance will be challenged given the California precedent.

         The council leads what advocates call the “Pro-Truth” campaign, which has mapped out so-called fake clinics in New York City. Since the Supreme Court decision, the campaign plans to distribute brochures and flyers at community centers and colleges.

        “We’ve learned that we can’t rely on laws and policies,” Zadoff said. “We as advocates have to work hard to educate each other and do what the law won’t do to protect women.”

         Valle, of Black Women for Wellness, said the group has tried to create messages that resonate with women who use public transportation. The tricky part, she said, is describing a complicated matter in a small space. “We want to get the word out, but we don’t want to create fear of going to the doctor, because as it is, women of color are more likely to put off health care,” Valle said.

        Black Women for Wellness is also sponsoring pop-up ads for mobile phone apps that link people to more information on these pregnancy centers. Valle estimates the mobile ads will reach approximately 250,000 people in San Bernardino, Riverside and Sacramento counties.

         Meanwhile, chalk squads have hit the streets in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.

         After their work is done, the activists often remain near the pregnancy centers toting signs. Sometimes cars honk in support, Pollock said, or she’ll engage in fruitful conversations with locals.

        “For the most part, neighbors are really receptive,” Pollock said, “but one time someone did call the police on us.”

    Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    ✱ Note: manypieces of legislation at federal and state levels over past years and decades have been dubbed “FACT Act”& similar.

    Related from KHN —The Women's Center, one of only two abortion clinics in Nashville, closing its doors

    One of only two abortion clinics in Nashville is closing its doors, and it remains unclear when or where it will reopen. The Women’s Center, which has operated in the city since 1990, stopped taking new patients over the weekend and is now referring women to clinics in Knoxville and Bristol, said clinic attorney Thomas Jessee. The center is closing because the owners have agreed to sell the building and the details of the sale are being finalized, Jessee said. The Women's Center intends to reopen and is now searching for a new location, he said. (Kelman, 8/14)   

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    Campaign Action

    Sen. Chuck Schumer isn't doing much to help keep the resistance fired up to help Democrats fight the unindicted co-conspirator's illegitimate Supreme Court nominee when he makes deals with Mitch McConnell to push through Trump's judicial nominees in record time. Tuesday, before heading out for a very long Labor Day weekend, the Senate pushed through a slew of nominees, both executive and judicial, many of which were confirmed with simple voice votes.

    This means, to date, Trump has gotten confirmation for 33 district court judges and 26 appeals court judges, not to mention a Supreme Court justice. These are generally hyper conservative and young, meaning that Trump's stamp is going to be on the federal courts for decades to come. These are the judges who are going to be forwarding every extremist legal challenge up the chain to what's going to be Trump's Supreme Court. And this week, Schumer allowed it to be hurried up.

    There's not much Senate Democrats can do to stop these nominees entirely, not while Republicans still hold the Senate. But there's an awful lot they could do, as detailed in this thread by former leader Harry Reid's deputy chief of staff Adam Jentleson, to slow down the works. Just like Republicans did under President Obama. But fighting Trump's nominees is not about tit-for-tat, even though there's a sizable portion of the activist base that needs to see a willingness on the part of Democrats to play as dirty as Republicans. It's about the integrity of the courts. It's about the fact that the person in the Oval Office is very likely there in part because he conspired with a foreign adversary to get there. He simply should not be in a position to reshape the courts.

    Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is the stooge Trump needs to fight the inevitable legal process against him. The only hope we've got of stopping this train wreck is convincing one or more Republicans that he's too extreme and dangerous to have on the court. That he would be is not in question. His views on health care and on executive authority in particular are enough to demonstrate that. But how is a Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) going to be convinced to buck her leadership and oppose him if it's obvious that the Democrats aren't being whipped to stand together against these nominations? Why would she stick her neck out?

    So that means it's on us. We're going to have to be the leaders on this, clearly. That means we have to whip the half of Senate Democrats who haven't stated where they stand on Kavanaugh. We have to lead them where Schumer won't. 

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

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    Sen. Chuck Schumer's deal that walked seven Trump nominees to the judiciary this week is going to allow eight more next week. That's 15 lifetime appointments from the unindicted co-conspirator to the federal courts. In August alone, Trump will have gotten more confirmations than President Obama did in more than a year's time when Democrats held the Senate; they only got 14 confirmed.

    It's a deal, right? So Schumer must have got something in return? Well, it looks like the reward was a very long Labor Day break for the 10 Democrats running for re-election to get home and campaign. There wasn't any reason at all for those 10 Democrats to stick around D.C. this week—Schumer could have just had one or a handful of senators around to force McConnell to eat up hours and hours of floor time in the cloture process. Apparently, they also got two Obama appointees who Republicans had blocked for years, a Democrat, Mark Pearce, re-nominated to the National Labor Relations Board, and a "tiny fraction," in the words of Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, of the documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Bush years that Republicans have been withholding.

    The only clear "win" there is the two Obama judges, against the nearly three dozen Trump's gotten so far. The Pearce nomination to the NLRB is just that—a nomination, not confirmation. And Democrats already have a Freedom of Information Act filing to get all of the Kavanaugh documents, and have threatened to sue to obtain them. Those threats don't look particularly serious when Schumer is so willing to cave so easily on confirmations.

    The capitulation is baffling to activists, even those who know Schumer well. "Mitch McConnell is in the middle of stealing the federal courts for conservatives, and Democrats continue to bring a butter knife to a gunfight," Brian Fallon, executive director of the progressive judicial group Demand Justice, told Bloomberg. "It is hard to think of a more pathetic surrender heading into the Kavanaugh hearings." Fallon used to be Schumer's spokesman.

    Since Schumer apparently isn't going to lead on this one, the grassroots has to. We'll be the ones to whip against this potentially disastrous nominee.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your Senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

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    Campaign Action

    The hearings for the unindicted co-conspirator-in-chief's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh start Tuesday, with hundreds of thousands of documents relevant to his career and his qualifications being withheld from the Senate and from the public. That means that for the past few weeks, Republicans have brought in a vast array of far-right legal brains to pre him in how to not answer any difficult questions from Democrats.

    His hearing rehearsal has even featured "faux protesters to make sure Kavanaugh stays cool in the event of a midhearing outburst" and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC), Rob Portman (OH) and Dan Sullivan (AK) standing in as pretend committee members as well as Orrin Hatch (UT) as faux-committee chair. "The mock hearing room has been outfitted with a dais, nametags, microphones and a clock with red and green lights meant to keep his answers within the allotted time limit."

    Just in case, though, all this prep hasn't covered all the bases there are going to be war rooms set up by the White House near the committee room where the hearings will be held, staffed by administration aides and officials as well as senior Senate leadership staff. And "in case there's a surprise" there's also going to be a war room in Vice President Mike Pence’s Senate office.

    All this prep is normal, but you have to wonder what "surprise" they're so paranoid about. Maybe something to do with Kavanaugh's aiding and abetting the Bush-Cheney torture regime? Maybe some newly unearthed record of his true views about abortion, about LGBTQ equality, about executive power. It's all there—there's plenty to bury this nominee with a public that already is giving him anemic support. Plenty to give senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski pause before signing off on him.

    That's why they're racing to get this nomination done and to do it before the National Archive has time to finish going through documents—they want to have the vote before we have the full picture.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

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    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) apparently doesn't want to be elected in Maine again. Maybe she is operating under some delusion that there's something bigger for her out there, because she sure as hell is burning her bridges with the people who helped get her elected in the first place. Officially, she is undecided on Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court pick of the Russian asset in the Oval Office. Unofficially, however, it appears the fix has been in since even before the nomination was made public.

    A source close to Collins’s staff tells the Huffington Post's Laura Bassett that Collins consulted with Trump before it was finalized, and signed off on Kavanaugh. Collins's spokeswoman, Annie Clark, gives a weak denial to the report, telling HuffPost "that while the senator talked extensively with Trump throughout the process of choosing a nominee, she 'never gave [the White House] a list and never committed to supporting anyone.'" Yeah, in all those "extensive" talks with Trump, Collins never indicated who she'd be willing to rubber stamp.

    It's not really been much of a question, particularly after she met with Kavanaugh and told reporters that when she asked him about abortion rights, he said "that he agreed with what [Chief Justice John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law," and that his answer on Roe was "very strong." Sure, Roberts might have said in his confirmation hearings that Roe is settled law, but that's talk in a hearing. Since he's been on the court, he's voted to uphold a late-term abortion ban, voted with the minority against a majority ruling that states could not place an undue burden on a woman's access to abortion, and voted to overturn California's regulation of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.

    It's all semantics for Collins—as long as she hears the code words "precedent,""settled law," and "Roe," she'll ignore the willingness of these justices to chip away at abortion rights until there's nothing left. She'll pretend that she's not complicit in the erosion of women's reproductive rights, that she's not the key vote that could end this nomination and uphold the principles that she supposedly represents.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

    Do you live in Maine? Susan Collins needs to hear from you. Click here to give her a piece of your mind.

    Friday, Aug 31, 2018 · 8:02:22 PM +00:00·Joan McCarter

    Well. We’re on her radar. Or her staff’s, anyway. Since they’re listening, now’s a good time to get in touch with her!


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    The confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, the unindicted co-conspirator's Supreme Court nominee, is opening Tuesday morning with protests and demands for adjournment from Democratic senators who are incensed over a last-minute release of tens of thousands of documents Monday night, giving senators no time to review them.

    Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) demanded that Chairman Chuck Grassley adjourn the hearing until senators had time to review the documents, a request Grassley repeatedly refused. While Democrats were objecting, crowd members protesting Kavanaugh's nomination erupted.

    Trump has claimed executive privilege to withhold well more than 100,000  documents, though not with the committee which Sens. Leahy and Whitehouse raised as a point of order. Grassley is unilaterally hiding 141,000 pages from the public by designating them as "Committee Confidential" to try and prevent Democratic senators from asking questions related to them.

    Grassley is setting dangerous precedent here, trying to push through a Supreme Court nominee under a massive cover-up.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

    Tuesday, Sep 4, 2018 · 2:01:33 PM +00:00·Joan McCarter


    Tuesday, Sep 4, 2018 · 2:09:42 PM +00:00·Joan McCarter

    Grassley refuses to vote on Blumenthal’s motion to adjourn and Harris’s motion to postpone, or Booker’s motion to move to executive session. Breaking the rules of the committee.

    Tuesday, Sep 4, 2018 · 2:14:55 PM +00:00·Joan McCarter

    Grassley resisting the vote because Democrats have the majority right now—Republicans Graham and Crapo aren’t there.

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    Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats continued their protest at the beginning of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, pointing out again and again that Republicans are hiding as much as 90 percent of Kavanaugh's documents.

    Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley out-and-out lied about the document release, saying that they were making as much available for Kavanugh as Democrats did for Justice Elena Kagan, an assertion destroyed by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who corrected the record with the facts: 99 percent of the White House's Kagan records were made public 12 days before the hearings began, as opposed to the Kavanaugh debacle, where just 4 percent of documents have been made public and 40,000+ were released just hours before.

    Leahy also pointed out in the hearing and in a tweet that among the documents that were released, there are tens of thousands of duplicates of inconsequential documents: "We're hearing 'We've received thousands of documents.' Let's look a little closer. What we got includes event invitations like this, duplicated MORE THAN 44,000 TIMES. The American people need to see #JudgeKavanaugh's full record. #WhatAreTheyHiding?"

    So what are they hiding? Something that the Trump Justice Department wants to keep under wraps. And who made that decision has also been secret. No one, "not the Justice Department, the White House, nor Burck—provided on-the-record comment over the weekend about who made those decisions, beyond what was contained in Burck's letter." That would be William Burck, the Bush lawyer put in charge of document vetting. He's also legal counsel for Trumpists like Steve Bannon, as well as other  current and former Trump White House figures who are involved in the Russia probe.

    That raised some key questions from Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin: "By what authority is this man holding back hundreds of thousands of documents from the American people? Who is he? Who is paying him?" The answer is that all the Republicans are paying him, and they're paying him to steal the Supreme Court for Trump.

    Democrats' attempts to either adjourn or postpone the hearings fell on Grassley's deaf ears, and Democrats weren't willing to go the extra step and walk out.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh's confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your Senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

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    Campaign Action

    The confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, the unindicted co-conspirator's Supreme Court nominee, opened Tuesday morning with protests and demands for adjournment from Democratic senators who are incensed over a last-minute release of tens of thousands of documents Monday night, giving senators no time to review them.

    Democrats are putting the focus on the massive document cover-up, a "Black Hole" of 35 months in Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-IL) words, when Kavanaugh was entrenched in George W. Bush's Oval Office. What was going on in those 35 months? What was happening in those three years is much of what's at stake with this confirmation: same sex marriage, federal partial birth abortion ban, torture, unlimited detention power.

    The public seems to be agreeing with Democrats that this nomination should not be rushed through. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Kavanaugh gets anemic support—just 38 percent support this nomination, while 39 percent are opposed. But here's the kicker: "Kavanaugh’s confirmation gets strong thumbs down in the Northeast (33/43 percent) and the West (33/46)—which should be of note to the GOP pro-choice senator from Maine (Susan Collins) and from Alaska (Lisa Murkowski)."

    Since arguments about the Constitution and the health and strength of our democratic republic don't seem to make a dent with Republicans—especially Susan Collins!—maybe raw politics will. Maybe saving their own political skins will appeal to Collins and Murkowski. Call them to ask.

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh's confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

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    Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), the guy who loves to issue vague, passive-aggressive statements that might be signaling that he might not be happy with something the unindicted co-conspirator in the Oval Office says, is not at all vague when it comes to putting the little ladies of the Senate in their place. What's all this about Roe v. Wade, he wants to know, then brings out a dog whistle everyone can hear.

    "People are going to pretend that Americans have no historical memory," he said, "and supposedly there haven't been screaming protesters saying, 'Women are going to die' at every hearing for decades." Got that? "Screaming" protesters. He's just getting warmed up, though. "The fact that the hysteria has nothing to do with [Kavanaugh] means that we should ask what's the hysteria coming from?" Ooooh, a two "hysteria" sentence. But wait. "The hysteria around Supreme Court confirmation hearings is coming from the fact that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Supreme Court in American life now."

    That's three "hysterias" in two sentences, and we all know who gets hysterical, huh? Those ridiculous, screaming women. Like Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, maybe? The "pro-choice" women of the Republican conference who say they want to hear Kavanaugh tell them Roe is "settled law"? Which, by the way, is meaningless as another one of their male colleagues is happy to explain. It "would be disqualifying in my opinion if he would not listen to both sides of the story and decide accordingly" on Roe, Graham said this weekend. "He will give great deference, I'm sure, to Roe v. Wade. But it can be overturned like every other decision."

    Are you listening to these Republican men, senators? Are you hearing them call you hysterical? Are you aware how willing they are to trade away your political careers on this vote? Are you going to go along with it?

    Every Democratic senator must announce their opposition to Kavanaugh's confirmation immediately. Use this tool to tell your senators—Democratic and Republican—to oppose this confirmation.

    Do you live in Maine? Susan Collins needs to hear from you. Click here to give her a piece of your mind.

    Live in Alaska? You have the power. Sign and send a petition to Sen. Lisa Murkowski: Save Roe v. Wade. Oppose any anti-choice Supreme Court nominee.

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    Campaign Action

    The first hours of questioning of Brett Kavanaugh in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing were infuriatingly predictable, in which he gave mushy answers and Republicans senators lobbed him plenty of softballs like Grassley's opening question of what makes a good judge and why would he be one. Gosh, that's a head-scratcher. Kavanaugh used the opportunity to say he'd be totally independent, no deference to the unindicted co-conspirator in the Oval Office, no not at all. He also took the opportunity to say he thinks Brown v. Board of Education is a good example of judicial independence. Oh, and he's a "pro-law" judge and that will make him independent.

    Then Grassley threw him the opportunity to lie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the supposed "Ginsburg Rule" in which she supposedly set the precedent of saying justice candidates shouldn't say anything of substance in their hearings which totally a lie. For the record, she said she would not want to speculate on future cases in this setting, but she also made her views on abortion and Roe v. Wade very clear: "[Abortion] is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she's being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices."

    Then it was Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) turn, in which she pushed him on assault weapons and on Roe, and whether he viewed it as "settled law." Kavanaugh dissented on a 2011 ruling upholding Washington D.C.'s ban on semiautomatic weapons, and Feinstein asked his reasoning. He said he was following Supreme Court precedent and in his view because semiautomatic guns are widely possessed and in "common use," they can't be banned. Feinstein, incredulous, asked if numbers of weapons determine common use of weapons. Kavanaugh ended up by saying that he would pretty much draw the line at machine guns.

    Answering Feinstein on Roe, Kavanaugh said it is "settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court entitled to respect under stare decisis," (the principle that when an issue has been settled by a previous decision, it sets a precedent that should not be departed from) but then launched into a discussion of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, as a reaffirmation of Roe. Casey, however, reaffirmed the basic right in Roe, but strongly limited its protections. That's Kavanaugh saying in not so many words that he's open to adding new precedents that would eventually gut Roe.

    So there's two key issues settled, or not. Kavanaugh thinks machine guns should be where regulation of weapons start and is perfectly willing to keep on chipping away at Roe.

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    The New York Times has some documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's time as George W. Bush's staff secretary, including an email on whether abortion rights is really settled law. That email, the Times says, is among the "committee confidential" records that Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to allow be released publicly and prevented Senate Democrats from raising in the hearings. It "was among several an unknown person provided to The New York Times late Wednesday."

    In the March 2003 email, Kavanaugh is considering drafting an opinion piece to run under the names of anti-abortion women in support of one of Bush's appeals court nominees, which is just a perfect storm of sexism. There was a line he was debate: "it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land."

    "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level," Kavanaugh wrote in the email, "since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so."

    The Court can always overrule its precedent.

    That was not the view Kavanaugh expressed in Wednesday's hearing, where while he was slippery on abortion, as all Republican nominees have been for decades, he called abortion rights "precedent on precedent," defined by both Roe v. Wade and then reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That was a tell right there, because what Casey has actually done is provide for a great deal of leeway for states to put restrictions on abortions. In that answer, Kavanaugh was telling Republicans he's perfectly willing to keep chipping away until abortion is a right in name only, impossible to actually achieve.

    That's crystal clear, and this newly released email suggest that Kavanaugh believed in 2003 that it could be wholly overturned. So the question now is whether Sen. Susan Collins will continue to pretend that Kavanaugh would protect abortion rights.

    Do you live in Maine? Susan Collins needs to hear from you. Click here to give her a piece of your mind.

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    Given the revelation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has expressed two conflicting views of Roe v. Wade to different audiences—it’s settled law; it’s not settled law—his pathetic performance at Wednesday’s hearing answering questions related to the 1973 ruling is easy to understand. Honesty just isn’t his gig. Check out how straightforward one of these nominees was and how much the other tiptoed around the impact of precedent without actually saying how he might rule in an abortion-related case: 


    That calculated mushiness couldn’t keep him from getting pinned in his seat by Sen. Kamala Harris in an exchange that had him stammering: 


    Perhaps, the next question that should be asked of him is: “If men could get pregnant, do you think abortion would be a sacrament?”

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    Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is reprising last December’s role as either the single most willfully stupid or duplicitous member of the Senate. Back then it was about her savvy negotiating with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, in which she was extracting all sorts of promises about how the Senate would have votes on strengthening the Affordable Care Act. How many votes did the Senate have on that? Yep. Z.E.R.O.

    Now she's playing the game again, with even larger stakes: the lifetime appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and a potential fifth vote to gut the right to an abortion. That's even after the release of an email Kavanaugh wrote in 2003. "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level," Kavanaugh wrote in the email, "since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so." Here's how Collins is trying to spin that:


    Notice how she completely skips over the "since Court can always overrule its precedent" part of that sentence. That's just the beginning of problematic facts she's going to have to pretend to misinterpret or ignore in the coming weeks. There are also those emails in which he's preparing extreme far-right anti-abortion nominee Priscilla Owen for her hearing. It's advice he seems to have taken himself: "She should say that she has a commitment to follow Supreme Court precedent." Sounds vaguely familiar, huh?

    Collins has a new challenge, however. She's going to have to figure out how to reconcile Kavanaugh's statement referring to birth control as "abortion-inducing drugs"in his hearing Thursday. Yep, he said that, defending his dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case in 2015.

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    As the Kavanaugh hearings go on, women’s lives very literally hang in the balance.  Yet when women speak up, we get mocked as hysterical.  Speaking up for ourselves is “screaming” or “screeching.”  Gosh, why can’s we just sit quietly and voice our disagreements in a whisper when someone’s kind enough to give us permission? 


    Sometimes it’s time to get up, shout your lungs out, and say #ImSoHysterical.



    As always, WOW is a team effort.  Thanks to officebss, elenacarlena, Clio2, Besame, SandraLLAP, and all the WOW crew for links and discussion.

    Reproductive Rights:

    A federal court struck down the “fetus funeral” law in Texas.

    A historian on life before Roe v. Wade.

    Violence and Harassment:

    A male principal dancer at the NYC Ballet is being sued over harassment.

    A Mormon woman at a church meeting was physically hustled from lectern by two men as she publicly accused a former head of the church's Missionary Training Center of rape (video included). The accused man has partially admitted to the alleged 1984 incident in the basement of the MTC, and to other sexual misconduct, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The complainant has been seeking legal redress, without success so far.

    Birmingham, UK airport puts a warning system in bathrooms for people being transported against their will, whether for trafficking, FGM, or forced marriage.

    Gurbaksh Chahal, who once called himself “America’s most eligible bachelor,” sentenced to 6 months for domestic violence.

    Chinese billionaire leaves US despite arrest on suspicion of sexual assault.

    Philippine dictator Rodrigo Duterte is at it again with his rape “jokes.”

    Noam Dworman, owner of the Comedy Cellar, defended Louis CK after his unannounced appearance last week.  Now after getting some blowback, he’s complaining that, “I’m very upset with him because my life has been substantially affected and his life has not, and I’m not sure he’s aware of it. I’m not sure that he gave it sufficient thought.”  Gee, what must that be like?


    In 1974, Jocelyn Bell Burnell made a discovery, but her male supervisor got the Nobel Prize.  Now she’s won a $3 million physics prize.

    We call it labor, yet often fail to recognize pregnancy and giving birth as work.

    The gender gap in professional entomology.

    Mari Okada:  From teenage recluse to anime superstar.


    A harrowing story of the intersection of Islamophobia and domestic violence.

    Why is Mel Gibson still making movies? His latest is as racist and sexist as you’d expect.

    Aretha Franklin’s family didn’t know what they were getting  when they had Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. speak at her funeral.  He belittled single mothers, which Franklin was, and criticized Black Lives Matter, which she strongly supported.  Where’s the respect?


    Indonesian province bars unrelated men and women from dining together.  (Paging Mike Pence!)

    What do women need in our clothes? FUNCTIONAL POCKETS!

    Good News and Action Items:

    Contact your Senator and tell them Brett Kavanaugh is unacceptable for the Supreme Court.

    A 10-year-old girl finds a way to honor slain civil rights hero Edwin Pratt.

    All hail Melitta Bentz, inventor of the coffee filter.

    Jim C. Hines will do more of his awesome role-reversal book covers as a fundraiser to fight violence against women:


    Nike ad from Mexico:


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  • 09/11/18--14:00: Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile
  • A Mini-Rant

    Commentary by Chitown Kev

    There was something said at this past Netroots Nation in New Orleans that irked the heck out of me.

    I don’t recall the specific session but I was sitting in the front row of the session next to shanikka with Miss Denise and Armando two and three seats to my right.

    It was during the question and answer period near the end of the session; I don’t remember the specific question, to be honest, but I do remember that the questioner asked something or another about differences between the ‘’progressive and marginalized communities’’ or how could both communities could be helped or could help each other...something like that.

    I am pretty sure that I scrunched my face at the implication of the question that was asked.

    ’’Excuse me, what is the difference between the progressive community and the marginalized communities?,’’ I whispred into shanikka’s ear.

    Shanikka simply shrugged and shook her head and said, ‘’I don’t know.’’

    For starters, it would seem to me that a ‘’marginalized community.’’by definition, would also be a progressive community; after all, striving to move from an ‘’unimportant’’ or ‘’powerless’’ position in a given society to having some power and a voice is progressive by definition, I think.

    Now there can be competing versions of what constitutes ‘’progress’’ or ‘’progressivism’’ that can be reconciled but who controls these definitions and language?

    I found it rather ironic that a white woman was the one that asked the question, given that any white woman would, in accordance with the power dynamics in this society, would occupy both a privileged and a marginal position in this do most of us, in some respects.

    It is a construction that I have heard before and it irritates me to no end; it’s as if there are separate and distinct communities instead of intersecting communities (think of your Venn Diagrams!)...and for much of the history of progressivism, that has, indeed, been the case.

    After all, from the very beginning of what might be considered to be historical progressivism or what Dr. Charles Mills, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center, calls racial liberalism, that separation has been apparent.

    Mills: Yes, sure. The reason for engaging with Kant and Rawls is that the plausibility of my case will be enhanced if I can demonstrate that two of the most important white moral/political philosophers of the modern period were “racial liberals.” Kant was a racial liberal in the straightforward old-fashioned racist sense—he said we should give respect to all persons while simultaneously declaring that blacks and Native Americans were natural slaves. Rawls is a racial liberal in the subtler contemporary sense—he condemns racism while devising a theory of justice which launders European colonialism and imperialism, structurally excludes the correction of historic racial injustices, and is basically oriented by the perspectives and priorities of the white settler population (Native Americans make no appearance in the 2000 pages of Rawls’s five books.) Moreover, Kant and Rawls are linked in that Kant is the most important inspiration for Rawls’s “deontological liberalism,” a liberalism supposedly predicated on justice and respect for equal persons.

    Yesterday on Morning Joe, Princeton University Professor Eddie Glaude said that,’’Oftentimes, African Americans are treated as a cause or a problem.’’

    Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half- hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.

    Yeah…when I heard the question that the young lady posed, I heard that same question...’’the real question’’ that would be posed in a variety of ways to Dr. Dubois over a century ago...and I presume that question was posed all the way up to the very end of his life on the eve of the 1963 March on Washington.

    How does it feel to be a problem?

    Yes, I’m black. I’m gay. I’m one of working poor, living from paycheck to paycheck.

    Don’t assume that I am powerless or that I don’t have a voice or a brain with opinions, my own ideas of how this world should work; my own experiences from my own point of view...of course I do.

    I can allow that I still have much learn...a lot to learn, really.

    Then again...take it away, Professor Davis

    Black people have exposed, by their very existence, the inadequacies of not only the practice of freedom, but of its very theoretical formulation.

    Is man free or is he not? Ought he be free or ought not he be free? The history of Black Literature provides, in my opinion, a much more illuminating account of the nature of freedom, its extent and limits, then all of the philosophical discourses on this theme in the history of Western society. Why? For a number of reasons. First of all, because Black Literature in this country and throughout the world projects the consciousness of a people who have been denied entrance ito the real world of freedom.Black people have exposed, by their very existence, the inadequacies not only of the practice of freedom, but of its very theoretical formulation. Because, if the theory of freedom remains isolated from the practice of freedom or rather is contradicted by reality, then this means that something must be wrong with the concept...

    Or, in the context of my theme here…to separate the ‘’progressive’’ and the ‘’marginalized,’’ as that young lady along with so many (white) progressives do doesn’t simply brand me a ‘’problem’’...or maybe even a ‘’cause’’...not only does it open me up to be patronized or even entirely erased... there can be no reciprocity of knowledge or experience.

    And I won’t be the only one to lose out under that scenario.


    News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor



    What happened to the superstar was shocking. It was not surprising. The Atlantic: Serena Williams's U.S. Open Loss Was Humiliating—But Not For Her


    On Saturday, many tennis fans witnessed an emotional, gut-wrenching conclusion to the U.S. Open. They also witnessed exactly what women of color lifting each other up looks like—even during personal devastation.

    In this case, 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, won her first ever Grand Slam title by defeating her tennis idol, Serena Williams. But the mood in the wake of the game was hardly celebratory.

    For many, the joy for Osaka’s hard-won victory was soured by the way Williams was treated during the match. During the second set, the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, gave Williams a game penalty after he said that she had accrued three violations: receiving coaching, smashing a racket in frustration, and then verbally abusing the umpire after the initial penalties.

    Williams refuted two of the three penalties, growing angry at the notion that the umpire thought she was cheating by receiving advice from her coach. “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose,” she said. As she tried to defend herself against the umpire’s call of verbal abuse minutes later, after she called him a “thief,” she was heard saying: “There are a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things and do not get that punishment. Because I am a woman you are going to take this away from me? That is not right.”

    The crowd loudly booed U.S. Open officials after the match, leaving Osaka in tears as she stood on the podium, awaiting her trophy. When given the mic, Williams used her platform not to trash talk the umpire or the U.S. Open, or lament her loss, but to ask the crowd to stop booing and instead use the moment to celebrate Osaka’s victory. “Let’s make this the best moment we can and we’ll get through it,” she said. “Let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due.”

    For her part, Osaka spent much of her victory lap thanking her parents and praising Williams, saying that it was an honor and dream to play her in such a high-stakes game. In a post-match interview, Williams said that during the trophy ceremony she looked at Osaka, and thought, “I definitely don’t want her to feel like that.”



    Because black girl’s really do rock! The Glow Up: 6 Women, Endless Inspiration: Black Girls Rock! 2018 Reminds Us of Our Infinite Potential


    “Tonight’s honorees represent our radiance and our royalty … Thank you all for showing the world how bright we shine and how hard we rock,” said Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond, speaking to the audience at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center during the Black Girls Rock! Awards, which aired on BET on Sunday night.

    Lena Waithe, Naomi Campbell, Tarana Burke, Mary J. Blige, Judith Jamison and Janet Jackson were all on hand to receive their awards at the 12th annual awards ceremony, which honors the unique greatness and accomplishments of black women. Also saluted were the Coca-Cola-sponsored “M.A.D. Girls”: first national Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Every Kid Fed founder Shanay Thompson and child activist Naomi Wadler, who said in a taped interview:

    “As long as you have made an impact, you have been successful and you have made a difference.”

    “Collectively, you all represent why black girls rock,” host Queen Latifah told the honorees, each of whom had major words of inspiration to share with those of us watching. We encourage you to print them out, post them on your mirror, or tattoo them on your arm, as needed.

    (L-R) Ledisi, Naomi Campbell, Lena Waithe, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Beverly Bond, Tarana Burke and Jazmine Sullivan onstage during the Black Girls Rock! 2018 Show at NJPAC on August 26, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey.
    Photo: Astrid Stawiarz (Getty Images for BET)



    Over time, the Brazilian samba circle turned into a predominantly male realm. Now female musicians are pushing back. New York Times: Women Move From Samba’s Sidelines to the Center of the Circle


    Step up to a traditional samba circle in Brazil and you’ll find this: a group of 5 to 15 men, each playing an instrument — a tambourine, a cavaquinho, a drum. Then you’ll typically see women, not playing music, but rather shimmying in the front row of the crowd, dancing to the pounding syncopations.

    The samba circle, or roda de samba, is a Unesco-recognized part of Brazil’s cultural heritage. These communal releases of weekday worriescrop up across the city regularly. The samba circles are free, they’re rowdy and, increasingly, they’re changing.

    With astonishing speed, over the past couple of years, female musicians in Brazil have in the past couple of years begun breaking into the male realm of samba circles, taking a seat at the table both literally and figuratively. Just a few years ago, the musicians playing in a samba circle jam session used to be almost all male. In 2018, though, a clutch of all-female samba groups have set out to change that, and in doing so, they have generated what could be a sea change for this beloved Brazilian musical genre.



    Emotional viral video about being the country’s only black TV presenter leads to national debate. The GuardianCécile Djunga: ‘It hurts – so we must talk about racism in Belgium’


    It took just five minutes to film on her iPhone. But 2.1 million Facebook views later and Cécile Djunga’s emotional account of her first year as Belgium’s only black TV presenter has sparked a national debate about racism, drawn promises of a sea change in the representation of ethnic minorities in the media and led to an intervention from the prime minister.

    Djunga, 29, a weather presenter on the French-language public service broadcaster RTBF, had not expected any of it. “If I knew it was going to go viral I would have made it shorter and done my hair,” she told the Observeron Saturday.

    The video that has sent Belgium agonising over race – a reckoning that many believe has been a long time coming – had been intended as a light-hearted response to some of the more bizarre racist comments Djunga has endured since being announced in 2017 as the face of the weather on the channel La Une.

    “If you want a good laugh, I’ve got a good one for you today,” she told her followers in last week’s post, before recounting the tale of a woman who had called in days earlier to complain that the presenter was “too black and all people could see were my clothes”.

    Her colleague, tongue-in-cheek, had responded to the complainant that perhaps she could change the contrast on her television.

    Djunga laughs along in her film at the “absurdity” of it all, but her eyes well up. Something catches in her throat. “It doesn’t stop. I’ve been doing this job for a year and I’m fed up of getting tonnes of racist and insulting messages,” she said. “It hurts because I’m a human being.”



    This is a film that we needed yesterday. LA Times: 'The Hate U Give' cast discusses their Black Lives Matter-inspired film


    Filming a movie about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality can be daunting. But for the cast and crew of “The Hate U Give,” which had its world premiere Friday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, they took the opportunity to pay respects to those who’ve lost their lives.

    “The whole process of filming felt like a grieving process, a space and time to honor the lives of those who’ve been killed by police, to think about the significance of their lives...” said Amandla Stenberg, who leads the film as Starr, a high schooler who witnesses her best friend being shot and killed by a white officer.

    Directed by George Tillman Jr., “The Hate U Give,” also stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Algee Smith, Common, Issa Rae and KJ Apa. It will hit theaters Oct. 19.

    Scene from the “Hate U Give"


    Meet the Black Woman Behind Reversing Roe The Root: Netflix's New Documentary About the Legal Battle Over Abortions


    Like many women in media—particularly women of color—Keli Goff wanted to be like Oprah. But not for the fame or the Oprah-size paychecks.

    “I always admired the fact that, for her, being on camera was really a starting point,” Goff said, praising the media’s mogul’s ability to transform that platform into other avenues to tell stories.

    Oprah “[meets] people where they are,” she observed; and that’s what she’s hoping her latest work does.

    Goff, a screenwriter, playwright and journalist, recently produced her first film, the timely Reversing Roe, which debuts on Netflix on Sept. 13. Originally, Goff had envisioned the documentary as an Eyes on the Prize—the revered documentary series on the Civil Rights movement—for reproductive rights.

    “I was interested in sort of doing a deep dive into the first 100 years of Planned Parenthood,” Goff told The Root. “Then I realized there hadn’t actually been a film or series of films that told the story of the reproductive justice movement in America.”

    Over several years, the idea evolved—the result is a 90-minute documentary that focuses on the judicial and political battles around reproductive rights that began shortly before Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that codified a woman’s right to choose whether or not to abort a pregnancy.

    As The Hollywood Reporter wrote in its review, the Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg-directed documentary takes a cerebral approach to its subject, choosing to gather a variety of voices and perspectives to illuminate how we arrived at the current moment, where the right to an abortion is among the most divisive and polarizing issues in America.

    Keli Goff



    The justices again appear poised to pursue a purely theoretical liberty at the expense of the lives of people of color. The Atlantic: The Supreme Court Is Headed Back to the 19th Century


    When the Louisiana State Militia finally arrived at the Colfax courthouse on April 15, 1873, all it could do was bury the bodies. Two days earlier, a large force of white supremacists had taken control of the courthouse from the mostly black faction protecting it. J. R. Beckwith, the U.S. attorney for New Orleans, told Congress that in the aftermath the ground was “strewn with dead negroes,” their bodies plundered by whites who had come to watch the bloodshed. The dead remained “unburied and mutilated,” Beckwith said, until federal troops arrived days later to shovel them into a mass grave.

    “Not a single negro had been killed until all of them had surrendered to the whites who were fighting with them,” The New York Times reported at the time, “when over 100 of the unfortunate negroes were shot down in cold blood.” Some were killed as they tried to surrender, and others as they attempted to flee the courthouse, which had been set on fire. President Ulysses S. Grant called the Colfax massacre a “butchery” that “in bloodthirstiness and barbarity is hardly surpassed by any acts of savage warfare.”

    Many white Southerners saw it differently. Robert Hunter, the editor of The Caucasian, a Louisiana newspaper, told Congress in 1875 that some of his own staffers had participated in the massacre. “I approved it, as most of our people did,” Hunter testified. “Had not the Colfax affair ended as it did, not less than a thousand niggers would have been killed later.”

    Seventy-two men were ultimately indicted for their role in the Colfax massacre, charged under the Enforcement Acts of 1870, which were passed to help the federal government suppress the Ku Klux Klan. But their convictions were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which concluded that the federal government lacked the authority to charge the perpetrators. Justice Joseph Bradley, a Grant appointee, wrote that the United States had not clearly stated that the accused, in slaughtering more than 100 black men, had “committed the acts complained of with a design to deprive the injured persons of their rights on account of their race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” And it wouldn’t have mattered if they had, argued the Grant-appointed Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite, because the Fourteenth Amendment’s powers did not cover discrimination by individuals, only by the state. “The only obligation resting upon the United States is to see that the States do not deny the right,” Waite wrote. “This the amendment guarantees, but no more. The power of the national government is limited to the enforcement of this guaranty.”

    This decision, in United States v. Cruikshank, the legal historian Lawrence Goldstone argues, provided a guide for the campaign of racist terrorism that would suppress the black vote and enshrine a white man’s government for generations. “The Colfax defendants would have had to announce their plan to violate their victims’ rights on account of the color of their skin in order to be culpable,” Goldstone wrote. “Justice Bradley had thus communicated to any Redeemer with violent intent that to avoid federal prosecution one need simply to keep one’s mouth shut before committing murder.”

    Grant was enraged that “insuperable obstructions were thrown in the way of punishing these murderers … and the so-called conservative papers of the State not only justified the massacre, but denounced as federal tyranny and despotism the attempt of the United States officers to bring them to justice.”

    The decision in Cruikshank set a pattern that would hold for decades. Despite being dominated by appointees from the party of abolition, the Court gave its constitutional blessing to the destruction of America’s short-lived attempt at racial equality piece by piece. By the end, racial segregation would be the law of the land, black Americans would be almost entirely disenfranchised, and black workers would be relegated to a twisted simulacrum of the slave system that existed before the Civil War.

    The justices did not resurrect Dred Scott v. Sandford’s antebellum declaration that a black man had no rights that a white man was bound to respect. Rather, they carefully framed their arguments in terms of limited government and individual liberty, writing opinion after opinion that allowed the white South to create an oppressive society in which black Americans had almost no rights at all. Their commitment to freedom in the abstract, and only in the abstract, allowed a brutal despotism to take root in Southern soil.

    The conservative majority on the Supreme Court today is similarly blinded by a commitment to liberty in theory that ignores the reality of how Americans’ lives are actually lived. Like the Supreme Court of that era, the conservatives on the Court today are opposed to discrimination in principle, and indifferent to it in practice. Chief Justice John Roberts’s June 2018 ruling to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting a list of majority-Muslim countries, despite the voluminous evidence that it had been conceived in animus, showed that the muddled doctrines of the post-Reconstruction period retain a stubborn appeal.





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    Campaign Action

    The right to have an abortion in the United States could either be overturned entirely or whittled down enough to be meaningless by next summer, if Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh becomes a Supreme Court Justice. Planned Parenthood has identified 13 cases now pending at the circuit court level, any of which could become the vehicle leading to the end of Roe v. Wade.

    There are two cases before each of the 5th, 6th, and 11th circuits, three each before the 7th and 8th, and one at the D.C. Circuit. They run the gamut from requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital to requiring facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center standards. Included in the list are cases that could ban abortion because of the fetus' sex, race, disability, or even fetal abnormalities. The most common abortion procedure in the second trimester, dilation and evacuation—also the procedure often used to make sure a miscarriage is complete—is in danger of being banned. States are trying to make it impossible for minors to get abortions, and creating more and higher hurdles for women to jump in obtaining them, from ultrasounds to longer waiting periods.

    Red states have been playing a game since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which states that laws can't place an "undue burden" on the right to an abortion. That game has been to push the limits of what "undue" means. Kavanaugh has called Casey the "precedent upon precedent" in his non-answers on whether Roe is settled law. By continually invoking Casey, Kavanaugh was showing just how willing he is to help the forced birth movement broaden the definition of "undue" into nothing.

    That's not the only code word he used in his testimony, however, and it's not just Roe and abortion rights we have to worry about; it's also Griswold v. Connecticut and our right to use contraception.

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    Campaign Action

    The only two even remotely likely Republican senators to oppose Brett Kavanaugh are Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), and their opposition is less likely than you may think. Both are feeling pressure at home, Collins from pretty much everyone, and Murkowski from the Native Alaskan population that got her elected last time around and is justifiably concerned about the hostility Kavanaugh has demonstrated toward native groups.

    Neither is showing a great deal of inclination to oppose Kavanaugh, though. Murkowski is more of a question, since she's playing this very carefully, but Collins has all but showed her hand. She needs a reason to go out on a limb with leadership, and thus far the threat to her 2020 re-election from irate constituents in Maine hasn't been enough of one. Neither, though, has any incentive to buck Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell if their votes are going to be wasted.

    And those votes will be wasted if Democrats don't hold together. So far, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has refused to whip against Kavanaugh. That's despite the fact that Democrats on the Judiciary Committee did some very heavy lifting and real damage to Kavanaugh. With just a fraction of the documents relating to his long career in politics being made available, Judiciary Democrats gave the whole team every possible reason they could need to justifiably oppose this nomination. They demonstrated four ways to Sunday that Kavanaugh is not fit to serve on the highest court in the land, from his repeated instances of perjury to his refusal to commit to not being Trump's get-out-of-jail-free card on the Supreme Court.

    Even if there are red-state Democrats who don't want to get into the politics of Trump's corruption, fine. They can oppose Kavanaugh on the basis of the threat he poses to health care. Even Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) have been politicking on the threat posed by a lawsuit that would take away protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, which could very well come before the Supreme Court.

    There is no reason for Schumer not to be whipping Democrats, because there's no reason for Democrats not to be united in opposition to Kavanaugh. If Democrats are united, all the pressure is on Collins and Murkowski to do what their constituents are demanding. Defeating Kavanaugh—and defeating Trump—is actually within our grasp. Schumer has to make it happen.

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    Campaign Action

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is apparently so afraid of getting a primary challenge from the right in 2020 that she's willing to lose all of the moderates, the independents, and the Democratic women who have supported her in the past. In order to save her own career, she's seemingly willing to sell out generations of women, of people of color, of LGBTQ people with a vote to put a young, hyper-partisan extremist Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. How far right has she swung? She's giving exclusive interviews to outlets like Newsmax, which hosts a white supremacist radio show host on it's multimedia channel.

    That interview, by the way, is so that she can blow off the efforts of two political action committees in her state—the Maine People’s Alliance and Mainers for Accountable Leadership—who've teamed up with healthcare activist Ady Barkan to crowdfund a warchest for her 2020 Democratic opponent, whoever that might be. Collins and her press secretary sniff that this is just like bribery and she is so far above that that it won't make any difference and that she will "will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination."

    Which is utterly laughable. On the merits, this guy has lied to the Senate. This one got glossed over with the stolen emails and everything else, but in a confirmation hearing in 2004 he actually told Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) that "my background has not been in partisan politics." This is the guy who almost single-handedly created the Vince Foster was murdered by Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory when he was working for Ken Starr, and who "argued internally for the most-intrusive possible investigation and questioning of President Clinton vis-a-vis the Lewinsky affair, and adopted a maximal view of Clinton's legal liability and vulnerability to impeachment." He was part of George W. Bush's legal team that bullied Bush into the White House in Bush v. Gore. When Republicans decided to politicize the most horrible thing one man had ever endured—Michael Schiavo's decision to remove his brain dead wife Teri's life support—Kavanaugh woke Bush up in the middle of the night to intervene by signing "emergency" legislation.

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    Campaign Action

    The Judiciary Democrats' tough questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed his absolute contempt for workers' rights and immigrants' rights. Organized labor is marshaling forces to put the pressure on.

    They're using a successful playbook, says Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union. "We intend to make it the same thing as repealing [Obamacare]. … We are going to organize the three votes that are required to block this nomination." Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, adds "We cannot let this court continue to swing to the extreme right. It's out of step with what America believes."

    The unions will target Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) this election, but promise this vote on Kavanaugh will have legs. They're "staffing phone banks, unions are mobilizing to target vulnerable Republican senators in their home states." Henry told Politco that "We've added organizers collectively … with our partners in Alaska, Nevada and Maine." That's you Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

    "We think that we can put up a fight like you've never seen because that's what we do best in the labor movement," added Shuler. And boy, do folks in Nevada know that. Enjoy this SCOTUS vote, Sen. Heller. It's going to be your last.

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    Campaign Action

    The Judiciary Committee is meeting Thursday morning to discuss the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as well as a slew of other potential judges—three circuit and 17(!) district. The vote on Kavanaugh will be held over until next week, giving senators plenty of time to consider his answers, and more importantly non-answers, to their follow-up written questions.

    Like a series of questions from Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) about Judge Alex Kozinski’s mistreatment and sexual harassment of at least 15 women who also clerked for him, for whom Kavanaugh also clerked. Coons asks if Kavanaugh ever saw Kozinski "mistreat" clerks. Kavanaugh responds to a series of four questions about Kozinski's treatment and inappropriate behavior with the qualifier "of a sexual nature" or answers an entirely different question.

    Kavanaugh told senators he doesn't have a gambling problem, a question that arose because of his excessive debt related to buying baseball tickets. Kavanaugh insists "I have not had gambling debts or participated in 'fantasy' leagues." He explains that he has an old house and had to spend a lot of money on that, but he doesn't really answer how he managed to pay off that $200,000 in debt in a year's time.

    He didn't answer the opportunity to expand his views on whether prosecuting or indicting a sitting president is constitutional, but reiterated that he believes the president has "prosecutorial discretion," as he expressed in a 2011 dissent on the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. That's where he said "Under the Constitution, the President may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional." So that's a pretty unitary executive, in his view: "the Supreme Court said this principle applies to civil enforcement as well. The limits of prosecutorial discretion are uncertain." He also refused to answer whether at "any point during the process that led to your nomination, did you have any discussions with anyone—including, but not limited to, individuals at the White House, at the Justice Department, or any outside groups—about President Trump’s position on loyalty?" He gave the same non-answer he provided in the hearings: "As I said at the hearing, I am an independent judge and am loyal to the Constitution. My answers to all questions posed by the senators were my own."

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