On the Hill Updates: February 1, 2019
Senate Judiciary Committee to consider 45 nominees in one Monster Markup
On February 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a vote on forty-four judicial nominees who received hearings but were not confirmed during the 115th Congress. The list includes numerous partisan operatives promoting harmful ideological agendas, several of whom NCJW opposes. NCJW is outraged by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) decision to consider 44 judicial nominees and the Attorney General nominee in one session. This is a clear abdication of the senators’ constitutional duty to advise and consent, as such a rushed agenda precludes the Committee from properly doing its job.
- Read more about these nominees and learn how you can take action here.
Kavanaugh’s proposed replacement, a rape apologist, to receive a hearing
On February 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Neomi Rao to fill the vacancy on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit created by the elevation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Rao is an ultra-conservative “deregulatory czar” who currently serves as administrator of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Rao has published several pieces that are insensitive to race, LGBTQ rights, sexual assault survivors, and beyond, thus rendering her incapable of being a fair and independent judge. Rao has never served as a judge or argued a case, and was recently added to the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees that the White House distastefully updated after Justice Ginsburg missed one day of oral arguments. NCJW opposes Rao’s nomination. Read our letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee here.
Fifth Circuit blatantly violates precedent in Louisiana abortion case
On January 25, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency motion asking the US Supreme Court to block implementation of a Louisiana law designed to close the state’s three remaining abortion clinics. The law, set to go into effect on February 4, would require any physician providing abortion services in the state to have to admit privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. There is no medical justification for this requirement as complication rates for abortion are extremely low. In 2016, the Supreme Court declared an identical Texas law unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. NCJW opposes burdensome TRAP laws and supports the Women’s Health Protection Act which would prohibit states from imposing restrictions on abortion that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with patient’s personal decision making, and block access to safe, legal abortion care.
Administration switches sides in voting rights case
As part of ongoing litigation over Texas redistricting, the Department of Justice (DOJ) told the federal court it no longer believes Texas should be required to get DOJ approval for redistricting maps that will be drawn in 2021. This is areversal of their previous opinion, established under President Obama, that the state’s history of discrimination against minority voters meant that approval was necessary. The filing of the reversal was not signed by career DOJ attorneys, signaling their disapproval of the shift. This isnot the first time DOJ has switched sides in voting rights cases in the Trump administration.
Attorney General nomination proceeds
On February 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of William P. Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States. If a majority of senators on the committee vote in favor of Barr’s nomination, it will proceed to the full senate floor for a vote that will likely be held the week of February 11. Read more about Barr’s record here. NCJW opposes Barr’s nomination.
- Take Action! Click here for more information and a sample script to call your senators.
Gun Violence Prevention
Gun safety bill introduced in House
The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology (SAFETY) Act (HR 6109) was re-introduced by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) on January 31. The SAFETY ACT provides tax incentives to small businesses for the development of gun safety technology and encourages consumers to buy firearms that utilize new breakthroughs in safety.
Equal pay legislation introduced
On January 30, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act (HR 7/S 270) which would strengthen equal pay protections. Currently, women earn only 80 cents of every dollar earned by men, and the gap is wider for women of color. The introduction followed the 10th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Obama. NCJW supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, an effective tool of redress for women experiencing wage discrimination.
Budget negotiations underway
There are now 15 days remaining in the temporary continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government, which gives Congress until February 15 to reach a deal and avoid another shutdown. Though bipartisan negotiators have started meeting, President Trump has publicly stated he would shut down the government again if he does not receive $5.7 billion for a border wall, even suggesting that he may circumvent Congress by declaring a national state of emergency. Trump’s shutdown, the longest government shutdown in history, cost the economy $11 billion, $3 billion of which won’t be recovered according to a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And, thousands of federal workers went without pay, including federal contractors who will not receive back pay.
Take Action! Call the US Capitol Switchboard (#202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to your lawmaker. Tell them to reject Trump’s wasteful border wall demands and prevent another government shutdown.
Trump administration delivers another blow to asylum seekers
This week the Trump administration began implementing its Remain in Mexico policy, officially dubbed “Migrant Protection Protocols.” Asylum seekers will now be forced to stay in Mexico for months or years while their claims are processed, and it’s not clear how the government will keep track of people or alert them about upcoming court dates and etc. If asylees fear for their safety in Mexico, they have to prove a higher standard of credible fear in order to stay in the US.
Legislation to defund Muslim Ban
On January 29, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced legislation (S 246/HR 810) that would prohibit Trump’s Muslim Ban from being funded, effectively blocking its continued implementation. The legislation comes two years after the ban was first announced.
Sign on Letters
- On January 28, NCJW signed on to support the Military Justice Improvement Act offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
- On January 28, 78 civil rights groups including NCJW sent a letter to all US senators prepared by the Leadership Conference opposing the nomination of William Barr to be the next Attorney General of the US.
- On January 30, 44 civil rights groups including NCJW joined a comment prepared by the Leadership Conference in response to proposed changes to Title IX.
- On January 31, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State released a statement signed by 43 organizations including NCJW opposing Project Blitz, an anti-religious freedom effort.
- NCJW signed on as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to a brief in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, a case before the US Supreme Court about a religious monument on public land.