Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: May 1, 2020

Senate returns in midst of pandemic to consider unqualified, anti-healthcare judge

Despite health and safety concerns and the District of Columbia’s stay-at-home order, the Senate is expected to gavel into session on Monday, May 4. Rather than passing legislation to protect Americans from COVID-19, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) plans to “start confirming judges again.” Specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, May 6, which is expected to include Justin Walker, nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Walker, 38, was nominated for this powerful appeals court exactly three weeks after being sworn in as a district court judge — a position for which he was rated “Not Qualified” by the nonpartisan American Bar Association last year. Walker has repeatedly praised Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for whom he once served as a law clerk, for his criticism of the ACA and attempts to dismantle it. NCJW strongly opposes Walker’s nomination and condemns Senate leadership’s irresponsible decision to risk the health of Senators, staff, and others in order to advance it.

  • Take Action! Click here to learn much more and urge your senators to reject Walker.

Join us for a digital rally for birth control access!

On May 6, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania, two very important cases that NCJW is watching this term. The Justices will decide whether employers and universities can refuse to cover birth control as part of their health insurance under the guise of religious or moral objections. NCJW was proud to lead faith-based organizations on an amicus brief in these cases and to offer this toolkit for people of faith to take action. While we can’t be together at the Court for oral arguments, advocates from across the nation will gather for a digital rally from 3:00-4:30 pm ET on May 5. NCJW CEO Sheila Katz will be speaking as a representative of the faith community to make it clear that a person’s ability to access birth control should not be dependent on the religious views of their employer or educational institution. Register here to receive a Zoom link for the rally 24 hours in advance or livestream the event on Facebook here. After nearly a decade of legal back-and-forth, NCJW urges the Court to finally affirm that everyone deserves access to birth control, no matter where they work or go to school.

SCOTUS dismisses gun case; Kavanaugh promises different result next time

On April 27, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in  New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, one of the cases that NCJW is watching this term. The case challenged now-repealed New York City regulations limiting locations to which holders of a “premises license” could transport their handguns both within and outside of the city. Despite the fact that the rules are now repealed, the NRA hoped to use this case to roll back gun safety legislation nationwide. In a per curiam opinion, the Court ruled that the case was moot, meaning there was no dispute left to be resolved. Justice Kavanaugh wrote separately to indicate that while he agreed that the question at hand was moot, he also agreed with Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion that the regulations would have violated Second Amendment protections. He wrote that the Court should address these concerns “soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.” Unlike Justice Kavanaugh, NCJW supports policies that regulate firearms to promote gun safety.

And, NCJW joined sign-on letters related to the coronavirus:

  • More than 260 organizations sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding the retraction of her most recent guidance to exclude undocumented students, including DACA recipients, from accessing over $6 billion the federal government directed to colleges and universities.
  • 44 organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling on them to include support for young people newly seeking employment (such as soon-to-be high school and college graduates) in the next response package.
  • 118 organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership strongly opposing any proposal to give businesses immunity from potential liability for exposing workers or customers to COVID-19.
  • More than 200 organizations sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to pass the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020, which would require the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to develop standards businesses must follow to protect workers who must go into work from exposure to COVID-19.
  • 24 (and counting) organizations sent an open letter to the Senate urging them to prioritize pandemic response measures over anti-healthcare judicial nominees.

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