Tracking the latest developments in the fight for a fair America
We are currently witnessing an unprecedented attack on women’s reproductive rights in the United States, one that has materialized on two fronts: the proliferation of more aggressive attempts to ban abortion procedures at the state level, and the nomination and confirmation of growing numbers of anti-choice federal judges. Clearly, the two are related, and they pose an existential threat to reproductive rights as we know them.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to count the number of people in the United States. The decennial census is conducted on Census Day, and the next one is exactly one year from today – April 1, 2020. But while civil rights groups are fighting to ensure every person is counted, Michael Park, a partner at Consovoy McCarthy (which one commentator described as “the go-to legal shop for conservative ideologues looking to fight everything from voting rights to affirmative action to abortion”) has been fighting to ensure 6.5 million people are not counted. And this effort appears to have helped earn him a prestigious nomination to a powerful federal court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The data the census collects is critical. The information determines representation in the House, and it is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funds, including critical money for education, health care, economic development, and transportation.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party (which has repeatedly engaged in racial gerrymandering and partisan redistricting to make it harder for people of color, Latinos, Native Americans, young people, and the economically disadvantaged to have their vote count) is now also trying to rig the census: The Trump Administration is trying to add a question to the 2020 census asking U.S. residents to disclose if they are citizens.
“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.