Tracking the latest developments in the fight for a fair America
“Have you ever seen a situation where a professional attorney at the Department of Justice said, ‘I can’t do it. I’m walking away from this’? I’m gonna resign if I have to, but I will not sign that in good conscience.”
-Sen. Richard Durbin to Chad Readler, nominee to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Late Friday, December 14, 2018, District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush nominated judge, declared the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Criticism of the decision was widespread across the ideological spectrum of the legal community. For the millions of Americans who rely on the Affordable Care Act and its protections for preexisting conditions, this decision is potentially devastating.
For those who have long been fed up with President Trump’s relentless attacks on judges and the justice system, recent days provided a seeming bright spot: the Chief Justice offered a rare pushback against the President. Chief Justice Roberts’s comments that there are no partisan “Obama judges” as the President alleged – nor “Bush judges,” “Clinton judges” or “Trump judges” – looked for all the world like Roberts was claiming some sort of moral high ground. Yet progressives should be very wary of the Chief Justice’s remarks.
For one thing, they were inexplicably tardy. President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for the rule of law since his campaign days. He has stated that he expects loyalty from those in law enforcement. He has demanded investigations and prosecutions of his political opponents and the media. And he has consistently attacked judges who have ruled against him.
Forced arbitration, which has been eroding our rights for too long, is finally suffering a long-overdue correction. The #MeToo era has made it impossible to justify why workers should be forced to sign away their rights to pursue sexual harassment claims in court. This development deserves to be followed by a move to put all of the “fine print,” which so often characterizes forced-arbitration clauses, under the microscope.
Kavanaugh “reminded senators that he has no concern for people outside his rarefied social circle.”
Bangor Daily News, October 2, 2018
On September 27, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credible sexual assault allegations against him. Since that hearing, much of the focus has been on Kavanaugh’s blatant lies. But Kavanaugh’s performance also laid bare what many had already known: Brett Kavanaugh acts cruelly toward those outside of his elite circle of friends and colleagues. In fact, Kavanaugh’s lack of empathy appears to extend to anyone without a country club membership. It is a central character trait – he has repeatedly demonstrated, throughout his life, a callousness that has no place on our highest court.
After a Senate hearing where Brett Kavanaugh responded to credible accusations of sexual assault by misleading senators about his past, shouting partisan conspiracy theories about Senate Democrats and the Clintons, and demonstrating a temperament completely unbefitting a Supreme Court Justice, Republicans have put a short hold on his nomination. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony – a persuasive and heartbreaking account of her assault by Kavanaugh when she was fifteen years old – convinced at least one GOP Senator that the Senate Judiciary Committee had to “hit the pause button” and allow an FBI investigation.
While a supplemental FBI background check investigation is the bare minimum due diligence that should be provided to Dr. Blasey Ford and other survivors, it’s important to remember that the country has been here before. Twenty-seven years ago, the FBI launched an investigation into Anita Hill’s credible allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. The investigation was wanting in almost every conceivable way, from an insufficient witness list to rank partisanship corrupting the process.
Thankfully, the country has come a long way since 1991 in terms of how we treat survivors of sexual violence. Women across America are sharing their stories – in texts, quiet conversations, and public displays throughout the country, processing their own trauma and personal experiences with sexual violence.
And yet, on Friday, the Trump Administration’s instructions to the FBI proved that we are about to repeat the mistakes of the past. The similarities between Trump’s apparent sham investigation of Brett Kavanaugh and the investigation of Clarence Thomas are striking.