Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: August 28, 2020

Federal Courts

Trump administration continues anti-abortion crusade amid global health crisis

On August 26, the Trump administration filed an emergency petition with the US Supreme Court seeking permission to enforce a dangerous and unnecessary abortion restriction during the pandemic. Long-standing Food and Drug Administration regulation requires patients seeking an early medication abortion to risk viral exposure by making an unnecessary trip to their provider’s office just to pick up a pill and sign a form, even if they have already been evaluated by a clinician and will be receiving no medical services at that visit. A lawsuit was filed in May and, on July 13, a federal district court blocked the administration from enforcing the rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency. On August 13, an appellate court unanimously rejected the administration’s attempt to overturn that ruling. If the Supreme Court were to grant the administration’s new request for a stay of the injunction while the case proceeds, patients seeking medication abortion care would be forced to engage in unnecessary travel just to pick up their medication, needlessly jeopardizing their health and well-being. NCJW opposes all measures that restrict access to abortion, shutter licensed clinics and prevent patients from receiving care.

SCOTUS announces November session schedule

On August 19, the Supreme Court released the schedule for its session beginning on November 2, 2020. Oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a challenge to Philadelphia’s decision to stop foster care referrals to Catholic Social Services due to the agency’s policy against placing children with same-sex couples, and the consolidated cases of California v. Texas and Texas v. California, which will decide the future of the ACA, will be held on November 4 and 10 respectively. NCJW will be watching both of these cases closely and has joined amicus briefs supporting the ACA and the equal rights of same-sex couples.

Vehemently anti-abortion nominees up for lifetime appointments

At its July 30 executive session, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nominations of David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn to the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois by a 13-9 vote. The full Senate will vote on these nominees sometime after the August recess. During his successful campaign for an Illinois state circuit court seat, David Dugan made it clear that he believed that life began at conception and that “. . . from that moment forward, taking that child’s life is the taking of a human life.” He questioned the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and was involved in various organizations as an anti-abortion advocate. He supports biased counseling laws and restricting abortion access for young people. Stephen McGlynn was a leader in the Illinois Federation for Right to Life. He was endorsed in his campaign for the state appellate court by Illinois Citizens for Life PAC and by Family PAC, which is affiliated with the Illinois Family Institute, an organization designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. NCJW opposes David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn for lifetime seats on the federal bench.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators and urge them to oppose these two troubling anti-abortion district court nominees.

Anti-abortion, anti-immigration nominee for US District Court

On July 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Toby Crouse, nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Since 2018, Crouse served as Kansas Solicitor General where he proved to be a highly partisan opponent of many important rights — reproductive, voting, and workers, among others. On behalf of the state of Kansas, he urged the Supreme Court to review a case defunding Planned Parenthood, a case that the Tenth Circuit disagreed with and the Supreme Court declined to hear. Crouse joined amicus briefs in several other anti-reproductive health care cases. In private practice, Crouse defended the infamous Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a case challenging his redistricting plan. Later, as Solicitor General, Crouse supported other restrictive voting laws. He joined amicus briefs in anti-immigration, anti-worker, anti-gun safety, and other cases challenging basic rights. The Senate Judiciary Committee could vote on Crouse’s nomination as soon as September 10. NCJW opposes the nomination of Toby Crouse given his extreme views on issues impacting women, children, and families.

Human Needs

House takes action as Senate remains stalled on COVID relief

On August 22, the House of Representatives held a rare weekend session to pass the Delivering for America Act (HR 8015), providing $25 billion to the United States Postal Service (USPS) and blocking the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of the agency’s operations, in a vote of 257-150. Unfortunately, the measure has no chance of Senate approval as the chamber remains focused on building support for its “skinny” coronavirus relief bill introduced last week. The proposal — the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act” — would offer $10 billion to the USPS, $300 in boosted weekly federal unemployment benefits until December 27, another round of money for the Paycheck Protection Program, liability protections for businesses and schools, and emergency funding for health and education programs. Of course, this piecemeal solution comes nowhere close to the House-passed HEROES Act, which directs more than $3 trillion to state and local governments, health systems, and a wide range of progressive initiatives. NCJW urges the Senate to get back to work negotiating a real response to the ongoing global pandemic, which must include critical funds for states to ensure safe elections.

Sign-On Letters

  • On August 24, NCJW joined 15 faith-based organizations on a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leadership in support of nutrition assistance for military families in the FY’21 National Defense Authorization Act.

Related Resources