Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: June 12, 2020

Voter Engagement

Anti-health care judges move forward

On June 10, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on the nomination of his protégé Justin Walker for a lifetime seat on the second-highest court in the land — the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. A final floor vote on the Walker nomination could come next week. Walker has scant experience and was nominated after only three weeks as a district court judge in Kentucky. A former intern of Sen. McConnell and a former law clerk for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Walker has a record and history of hostility to voting rights, affirmative action, and the Affordable Care Act among other issues. And as expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee, along party lines, voted on June 11 to approve the nomination of Cory Wilson to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. During his years in the Mississippi legislature and his brief time as a state court judge, Wilson has made his hostility to the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, affirmative action, and reproductive rights among other rights, abundantly clear. Sen. McConnell is likely to file cloture on Cory Wilson next week, likely setting up a vote for the week of June 22 but perhaps earlier. A letter opposing Cory Wilson’s confirmation for organizations in the Fifth Circuit states only is still open for signatures.

Take Action!

  • Join NCJW, Senator Schumer (D-NY), other senators, and partners on Monday, June 15 at 3 pm ET for a digital rally live-streamed here to #StopWalker #StopWilson.
  • Contact your senators to urge them to oppose these anti-health care nominees.

Messy primary in Georgia

Voters in Georgia faced significant issues casting their ballots during the state’s primary on June 9. Some voters waited for hours to vote, primarily in African American-majority counties in and around Atlanta. For context, after the Supreme Court decimated the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Georgia closed 214 polling places; there were 80 fewer polling places for this primary in metro Atlanta. In addition, there were numerous reports of requested absentee ballots never arriving or arriving damaged. The issues Georgia faced this week — both those related to voter suppression and election administration — are indicators of what other states will face in the coming months.

Civil Rights

Police reform bill introduced

On June 8, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was introduced in the House (HR 7120) by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) as well as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA)  and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate (Senate bill number tbd). This transformative legislation, supported by 166 Representatives and 35 Senators, is not only a response to the recent protests but also a step towards addressing years of failed efforts to root out injustice and racial bias in our law enforcement. Among many provisions, the bill includes:

  • Banning the use of chokeholds and other tactics;
  • Limiting the transfer of military weaponry and equipment to police departments;
  • Changing the legal standard to make it easier to hold police accountable for misconduct when they use deadly force on American citizens;
  • Making lynching a federal crime; and
  • Helping prevent police misconduct in the first place by increasing data and transparency, as well as important modifications to training and practices.

The House is expected to pass the legislation within the next two weeks, with Senate Republicans expected to introduce a separate police reform effort. NCJW supports this measure as an important first step towards protecting communities and ensuring police accountability.

Economic Justice

Mobilize to speak up against poverty, racism, and injustice

NCJW is proud to once again sponsor the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC) summer mobilization. PPC is a movement that aims to shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor people. Sign up here to join NCJW’s virtual delegation at the virtual Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March at 10:00 AM ET on Saturday, June 20, to highlight the crisis of poverty and interlocking injustices in America. The program will be broadcast again on Sunday, June 21st at 6:00 pm ET.

Immigration and Refugees

Sweeping anti-asylum regulation introduced

This week, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security released a draft rule, to be published next week, that would once again make it more difficult for asylum seekers to find safety in the United States. The rule would (among many harmful provisions) increase the standard of proof in “credible fear” screenings, summarily dismiss claims of persecution based on gender or sexual orientation, and penalize an asylum seeker for passing through more than one country on their way to the US. The rule will be open for comment for 30 days. NCJW opposes this latest attack on asylum seekers.

  • Take Action! Learn more about the rulemaking process and how to fight back by watching NCJW’s webinar on administrative advocacy.

Sign-On Letters

  • On June 4, NCJW joined more than 200 organizations on two letters to the Department of Justice (DOJ), one calling on DOJ open a federal civil rights investigation into Breonna Taylor’s death, as well as a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department for its potential systemic constitutional violations, and the other requesting that the DOJ be transparent about its findings from the FBI’s criminal investigation into George Floyd’s death and calling for a pattern or practice investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department for its history of police brutality.
  • On June 5, more than 400 immigrant justice groups and their allies, including NCJW, signed a solidarity letter in support of Black communities.


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