Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: August 10, 2018

Federal Courts

What are they hiding?

Senators have begun meeting with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and will resume doing so after the Senate’s short recess. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is planning to fast track this nominee — pledging to ensure hearings and a vote prior to the start of the new Supreme Court term beginning on October 1. However, senators have yet to see the records requested let alone all of the materials during Kavanaugh’s time in the White House. The Senate must have sufficient time to thoroughly review all of his materials, and Kavanaugh’s hearing must not be scheduled until the Senate has seen every single record it is entitled to see.

Given Kavanaugh’s extensive record that requires close scrutiny, Senate Democrats this week filed an unprecedented Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to access Kavanaugh’s records from the Bush White House.The Senate Republicans decision to exclude a request for Kavanaugh’s records from his time as White House Staff Secretary, corrupting what should be a bipartisan process, leads one to question: What are they trying to hide?  Read NCJW’s full statement here.

Take Action!

  • NCJW is proud to cosponsor the national day of action to #StopKavanaugh on August 26 through Unite for Justice. Click here to see what’s happening in your city.
  • PLEASE KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS, and remind your networks to do the same! Senate offices are tracking these calls on a daily basis, and every single one counts! Call the Capitol Switchboard (#202-224-3121) and click HERE for a script.
  • Meet with your senators while they are at home! Visit NCJW’s #SaveSCOTUS page for education and action resources.
  • Download this sign http://bit.ly/2Lxfr3y and share it with your networks. Write why you oppose Kavanaugh, and then snap a pic! Post it on your own social media with #StopKavanaugh (here’s an example), and either tag @NCJW or send it to Stephanie Cohen (scohen@ncjw.org).

Pro and anti-DACA litigation continues

Since President Trump cruelly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (known as DACA) in September 2017, a number of lawsuits have been filed, both opposing and supporting DACA. Currently, three suits have successfully defended DACA at the district court level in Washington, DC, California, and New York. Judges in California and New York ordered the administration to continue processing DACA renewal applications for those who already had legal status in the program. The judge in Washington, DC not only ordered the administration to process renewals, but to begin processing new applications provided the administration did not appeal the case. On August 6, Attorney General Sessions filed an appeal, which means new applications will not be processed for now.

On August 8, Judge Hanen of the Northern District of Texas held a hearing in a case opposing DACA brought by Texas and six other states. Judge Hanen is the same judge who issued a nationwide injunction in 2015 halting an expanded DACA program, as well as a program for parents of DACA recipients. The judge has not yet issued a ruling, but it is widely expected that he will move to terminate DACA. If that occurs, each of the four DACA-related cases will make its way through the appeals process (note: the California case was heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but no decision has been issued), and ultimately land in front of the US Supreme Court. Activists fear that if Kavanagh has been approved by that time, DACA will be permanently terminated. NCJW supports DACA and passing a clean Dream Act, which would provide a permanent path to citizenship for these young people.

#CourtsMatter to Immigration

On August 7, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Trump administration’s new asylum rules. The suit seeks to block the administration from unfairly keeping thousands of migrants from seeking asylum.

#CourtsMatter to LGBTQ rights

On August 6, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Trump administration’s transgender military ban could not be enforced. This is the second federal court to deny a request by the Trump administration to lift an injunction on banning transgender individuals from serving in the US military, echoing a similar ruling by a federal Judge in Seattle in April. The Trump administration argued that their new policy — which was devised after the original attempt to ban transgender service members was blocked in court — was not a total ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The administration appealed the earlier Washington State ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Civic Engagement

Shortened recess

This August, the House of Representatives is currently in its usual five-week recess. However, the Senate is out on recess only this week, and will be back in session August 16 to address judicial nominations (including Kavanaugh) and spending bills.

Take Action! Meeting with your Members of Congress in district is a great way to build relationships and advocate for our issues. Follow these tips to have a successful advocacy visit and email Faith Williams (fwilliams@ncjw.org) if you have any questions.


Civil Rights

“Voting rights” panel had preconceived conclusions

In May 2017, President Trump signed an executive order creating a Presidential Commission on Election Integrity to investigate so-called voter fraud. The Commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was disbanded in January 2018 after months of inactivity. This week, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a former member of the commission, released a public letter accusing President Trump and Kobach of using the commission to support foregone, erroneous conclusions of voter fraud to further their political agendas. NCJW opposed the commission from the start.

Economic Justice

Black women face deep pay inequality

August 7 was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into 2018 a black woman has to work to earn as much as a white male earned in 2017. Overall women earn only 80 cents for each dollar earned by a man, and black women earn only 63 cents.

Take Action! Tell Congress that black women deserve equal pay!


Immigration and Refugees

“Public Charge” executive order creeps closer

This week, various news outlets reported that President Trump’s latest proposed anti-immigrant executive order is nearing publication. The “Public Charge” rule would would make it possible to deny green cards to immigrants if they have used almost any form of welfare or public benefit, such as tax credits, food assistance, or Medicaid. It represents a massive shift from how residency applications have been evaluated over the past fifty years. The policy is in large part the brainchild of White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller, whose other dangerous anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies include the Muslim Bans and “zero-tolerance” at the border.

Nominee to lead ICE

On August 6, President Trump nominated Ronald Vitiello to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Vitiello’s nomination comes at a time when the agency is under increased scrutiny for its detention and deportation of immigrants and asylum seekers.


Sign On Letters

  • On August 6, the National Coalition for Public Education, of which NCJW is a member, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget urging it to close a loophole that allows donors to private school voucher programs to receive both state and federal tax benefits for the same donation.


Amicus Briefs

  • NCJW sign on as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to a brief in Azar v. Garza, a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in support of the “Janes,” unaccompanied immigrant minors in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) who are being denied access to abortion.

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