On the Hill Updates: Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Federal Courts

Cunningham confirmed to the Federal Circuit!

On July 19, the Senate confirmed (63-33) Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Tiffany Cunningham, supported by NCJW, will bring deep expertise and much-needed diversity to the Federal Circuit, which has never had a Black judge in its 39-year history.

Fair, diverse, and qualified judges set to advance in Senate Judiciary

On July 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the nomination of Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr. to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. If confirmed, Chief Judge Gelpi would be the second judge from Puerto Rico to ever sit on the First Circuit. And, on July 29, the committee is expected to vote on the nomination of Myrna Pérez, a voting rights expert, for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. If confirmed, Pérez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW supports Chief Judge Gelpí and Myrna Pérez, two outstanding nominees for lifetime positions on the federal bench.

Two public defenders await vote in Senate for lifetime appointments

On July 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (11-10) and Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (12-10) out of committee. Both Lee and Rossman — supported by NCJW — have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years.

Voting Rights

March On for Voting Rights

On Saturday, August 28, March On, SEIU, National Action Network and the Drum Major Institute are organizing a “March On for Voting Rights” to demand that legislatures across the country end their push for restrictive voting laws and that Congress pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act. These critical bills will ensure free, fair access to the ballot for every American voter. Marches will be held in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Phoenix, where voting rights are under attack, and in Washington, DC, where Congress is debating voting rights legislation. To learn more about the March On for Voting Rights, visit www.marchonforvotingrights.org. Stay tuned for how to get involved with NCJW!

Additional Updates:

Update on recovery package

Last week, Senate Democrats from the Budget Committee reached consensus on the topline priorities of the next COVID-19 recovery package. The negotiations on the package are closely tied to negotiations on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is in motion as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for a vote to advance the bipartisan bill this week. There’s a lot in flux, and NCJW is following closely to ensure that our priorities in the recovery package make it to the finish line.

  • Take action! Tell your senators that Congress must pass a broad recovery package that helps women, children, and families alongside an infrastructure package.

Judge rules against DACA

On July 16, Judge Hanen in the Southern District of Texas partially ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which allows young immigrants to live and work legally in the US. The ruling means that no new DACA applications can be granted, though current DACA recipients can still apply for renewals. This ruling is further evidence that temporary protections leave people vulnerable. The only thing that can protect DACA recipients and other temporarily protected immigrants — other immigrant youth, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and essential workers — is a pathway to citizenship. NCJW condemns the decision and calls on Congress to include a path to citizenship in the next COVID-19 recovery package (see paragraph above).

Education Department releases guidance for DeVos-era Title IX rule

On July 20, the US Department of Education released new guidance to help schools understand their obligations under the DeVos Title IX rule while it undergoes a comprehensive review. The Title IX review follows President Biden’s March executive order that directed Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to review the 2020 Title IX rule and issue new guidance. NCJW opposed the DeVos Title IX rule and provided a written comment for the Title IX Public Hearing last month urging the restoration of longstanding protections for students and student survivors in a Biden Title IX Rule.

On the Hill Updates: Friday, July 16, 2021

Federal Courts

Senate Judiciary holds hearing on Pérez nomination

On July 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on a number of judicial nominees, including Myrna Pérez for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Pérez has argued cutting-edge and complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country, taught at both Columbia and New York University law schools, testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights-related issues, and speaks frequently on academic and bar association panels. If confirmed, Pérez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW strongly supports the nomination of Myrna Pérez for a lifetime appointment on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators to support Myrna Pérez and other qualified, fair, and independent nominees to the federal bench.

Cunningham’s nomination to Federal Circuit advances in Senate

On July 15, the Senate passed a cloture motion (63-34) on Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the US Patent and Trademark office with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law. Her confirmation would make her the first and only Black woman on the Federal Circuit. NCJW supports the nomination of Tiffany Cunningham for a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

Two public defenders move closer to confirmation to the federal bench

On July 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to refer the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (11-10) and Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (12-10) out of committee for consideration by the full Senate. Both Lee and Rossman have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years. NCJW supports the confirmations of Eunice Lee and Veronica Rossman for lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Voting Rights

Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy

On July 17, a year after John Lewis’ passing, the Leadership Conference, Transformative Justice Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, and many more partners are organizing nationwide candlelight vigils for democracy. The Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy will see people across the country make their voices heard to demand the passage of the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood and to not let the Jim Crow filibuster stand in the way. A flagship vigil is being organized in Washington, DC with echo vigils across the country. Check here to see if there’s a vigil in your area and, if not, consider planning your own!

March On for Voting Rights

On Saturday, August 28, March On, SEIU, National Action Network, and the Drum Major Institute are organizing a “March On for Voting Rights” to demand that legislatures across the country end their push for restrictive voting laws and that Congress pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Restoration Act. These critical bills will ensure free, fair access to the ballot for every American voter. Marches will be held in Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Phoenix, where voting rights are under attack, and in Washington, D.C., where Congress is debating voting rights legislation. To learn more about the March On for Voting Rights, visit www.marchonforvotingrights.org.

Additional Updates

Senate Dems announce recovery package toplines

This week, Senate Democrats appeared to reach consensus on the topline priorities of the next COVID-19 recovery package, which includes many elements of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. The recovery package will take the form of a budget resolution so it can be passed under special rules requiring only a simple majority (51 votes). The proposed framework includes $3.5 trillion in total investments to be paid for by health care savings, raising taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and projected long-term economic growth. Priorities in the framework include:

  • Investments in clean energy to combat climate change;
  • Funding for the caregiving economy, including universal pre-K for three and four-year-old children, childcare, paid family and medical leave;
  • Investments in anti-poverty measures such as housing assistance, extending the expanded child tax credit, and nutrition programs;
  • Expanding Medicare benefits and closing the Medicaid coverage gap in states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; and
  • Providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers (young immigrants brought to the US as children), essential workers, and possibly other immigrant populations.

There are still many obstacles before these toplines become law. Next, Senate Democrats need to actually pass the budget resolution (Majority Leader Schumer has called for a vote next Wednesday, July 21), which will then go to the House of Representatives (where advocates believe the resolution can pass, narrowly). That kicks off the formal reconciliation process, in which Congressional committees are instructed to turn these priorities into legislative text. Voting on the actual reconciliation bills itself is not expected until late in the calendar year.

On the Hill Updates: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Funding bills eliminate abortion coverage bans

On July 12, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 was released and did not contain the discriminatory Hyde Amendment. This means that the ban on abortion coverage through federal health plans and programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program was eliminated in the bill. Hyde language was also removed from the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill, impacting those in federal prisons and immigration detention; the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill (SFOPS), impacting Peace Corps volunteers; and the Financial Services and General Government bill, impacting federal employees and dependents. The Global Gag Rule (which blocks US funds from foreign organizations that provide abortion services, referrals, or information or that advocate for abortion access in their own countries) and the Helms Amendment (which bars US foreign assistance funds from being used for abortion services) were also eliminated from the SFOPS bill.

We’ve advocated for decades to end these immoral policies that have denied access to abortion care both across the US and around the world. Now, representatives (particularly Appropriations Committee members) must reject efforts by anti-abortion lawmakers to add these discriminatory and immoral coverage bans back into the bills. Instead, NCJW urges lawmakers to pass clean bills to ensure respect, dignity, and equal access to the resources necessary to control our bodies, families, and futures, including insurance coverage of abortion.

Federal Courts

Advocates sue to block Texas abortion ban

On July 13, a coalition of Texas abortion providers and funds alongside practical support networks, doctors, health center staff, and clergy members filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas to block the state’s six-week abortion ban. The law (known as SB 8) also includes an outrageous and unprecedented provision that asks private individuals to file lawsuits seeking “enforcement” of the ban and creates monetary rewards for any member of the public who successfully sues an abortion provider or people who “aid and abet” someone getting an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Because the law was purposefully designed to be enforced by private citizens and lawsuits, it was impossible for advocates to sue the state government officials, the typical defendants in similar federal challenges to unconstitutional abortion bans. Instead, the plaintiffs — represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU — sued every state trial court judge and county court clerk in Texas, plus the attorney general and state medical boards. They are asking a federal judge to prevent any of the states more than 1,000 trial court judges throughout Texas from enforcing the law and to block court clerks from accepting the lawsuits. NCJW will continue to monitor this case closely and applauds our partners and Texas leaders for acting to protect our constitutional rights and access to abortion care.

Civil rights expert nominated to the Second Circuit

On July 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Myrna Pérez for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has argued cutting-edge and complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country, taught at both Columbia and New York University law schools, testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights-related issues, and speaks frequently on academic and bar association panels. If confirmed, Perez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW strongly supports the nomination of Myrna Pérez for a lifetime appointment on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators to support Myrna Pérez and other qualified, fair, and independent nominees to the federal bench.

Cloture filed in the Senate for Cunningham to a lifetime appointment

On July 12, Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination. Nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the US Patent and Trademark office with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law. NCJW supports the nomination of Tiffany Cunningham for a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Three diverse nominees up for vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to refer the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit out of committee, for consideration by the full Senate. Additionally, Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr. awaits his first markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee for his nomination to the First Circuit. Both Lee and Rossman have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. NCJW supports the confirmations of Eunice Lee, Veronica Rossman, and Chief Judge Gelpí for lifetime appointments to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Voting Rights

Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy

On July 17, a year after John Lewis’ passing, the Leadership Conference, Transformative Justice Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, and many more partners are organizing nationwide candlelight vigils for democracy. The Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy will see people across the country make their voices heard to demand the passage of the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood and to not let the Jim Crow filibuster stand in the way. A flagship vigil is being organized in Washington, DC with echo vigils across the country. Check here to see if there’s a vigil in your area, and if not, consider planning your own!

On the Hill Update: Thursday, July 1, 2021

Federal Courts

Supreme Court weakens Voting Rights Act

On July 1, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case that assessed whether two voter suppression laws enacted by Arizona could be challenged by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Alito, the Court upheld the anti-voter provisions and, in doing so, substantially weakened the Voting Rights Act. The decision will embolden efforts across the country to cut early voting, reduce polling places, collect absentee ballots and beyond, and is a direct attack on the political power built by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and disabled voters.

In her dissent, Justice Kagan summed up this disturbing turn of events by stating that, “By declaring some racially discriminatory burdens inconsequential, […] the majority enables voting discrimination.” NCJW is angered by this decision, which has once again demonstrated the need for Congress to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act without delay.

A diverse slate of judicial nominees paused while Senate is on recess

The Senate is on recess for Independence Day from June 28 through July 9. In the meantime, a number of qualified and diverse judicial nominations await advancement when the Senate returns. Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination is up for a vote on the Senate floor. Nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the US Patent and Trademark office with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law.

Additionally, the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit await a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both Lee and Rossman have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. In fact, his confirmation would make him the second judge from Puerto Rico to ever sit on the First Circuit. NCJW supports the confirmations of Tiffany Cunningham, Eunice Lee, Veronica Rossman, and Chief Judge Gelpí for lifetime appointments to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Dedicated social justice advocate nominated for lifetime appointment

On June 15, Myrna Pérez was nominated for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has argued cutting-edge and complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country taught at both Columbia and New York University law schools, testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights-related issues, and speaks frequently on academic and bar association panels. If confirmed, Perez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW strongly supports the nomination of Myrna Pérez for a lifetime appointment on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators to support Myrna Pérez and other qualified, fair, and independent nominees to the federal bench.

Voting Rights

Deadline for Democracy

NCJW, Inc. is a partner of Deadline for Democracy, a joint mobilization during which activists across the country will hold visible, public, press-worthy events to tell Senators that the American people are showing up to demand a democracy that works for all. Use this toolkit to host a visible event in your community when the Senate is out on recess (June 28-July 9).

On the Hill Update: June 29, 2021

Federal Courts

Supreme Court renders anti-immigrant decision

This week, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Johnson v. Guzman Chavez that a subset of immigrants can be held in detention indefinitely while appealing deportation orders, which can take months or even years. The question at the heart of the case was which section of US law applied to this particular scenario. NCJW is disappointed by this ruling and believes that immigrants are entitled to due process prior to deportation. Johnson v. Guzman Chavez was one of the cases that NCJW was following this term.

Supreme Court will not take up transgender bathroom case

This week, the Supreme Court said it would not hear an appeal of Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm, leaving in place a lower court ruling that a school district’s policy barring transgender students from using facilities aligned with their gender identities violated the Constitution. The case was first brought by Virginia student Gavin Grimm in 2014. NCJW celebrates this victory for transgender student rights.

Diverse judicial nominees on brief pause while Senate is on recess

The Senate is on recess for Independence Day from June 28 through July 9. In the meantime, a number of qualified and diverse judicial nominations await advancement when the Senate returns. Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination is up for a vote on the Senate floor. Nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the US Patent and Trademark office with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law.

Additionally, the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit await a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both Lee and Rossman have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. In fact, his confirmation would make him the second judge from Puerto Rico to ever sit on the First Circuit. NCJW supports the confirmations of Tiffany Cunningham, Eunice Lee, Veronica Rossman, and Chief Judge Gelpí for lifetime appointments to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Dedicated social justice advocate nominated for a lifetime appointment

On June 15, Myrna Pérez was nominated for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has argued cutting edge and complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country, taught at both Columbia and New York University law schools, testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights related issues, and speaks frequently on academic and bar association panels. If confirmed, Perez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW strongly supports the nomination of Myrna Pérez for a lifetime appointment on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators to support Myrna Pérez and other qualified, fair, and independent nominees to the federal bench.

Voting Rights

Deadline for Democracy

NCJW, Inc. is a partner of Deadline for Democracy, a joint mobilization during which activists across the country will hold visible, public, press-worthy events to tell Senators that the American people are showing up to demand a democracy that works for all. Use this toolkit to host a visible event in your community when the Senate is out on recess (June 28-July 9).

On the Hill Update: Friday, June 25, 2021

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

First appropriations bill introduced without Hyde

On June 23, the House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 was released and did not contain any abortion coverage restrictions. This means that the ban on the District of Columbia using its own Medicaid funds to provide insurance coverage of abortion, in addition to the ban on insurance coverage of abortion for federal employees and dependents, were both eliminated. To be clear, the original Hyde Amendment lives in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill — impacting Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program — which is expected to be released in July. But the historic step of eliminating similar restrictions from the FSGG bill is a significant win that would not have been possible without the leadership of women of color, who have been organizing in their communities and educating elected leaders on the impact of this policy and why we need it gone. NCJW will continue to work to end all iterations of the Hyde Amendment to ensure respect, dignity, and equal access to the resources necessary to control our bodies, families, and futures, including insurance coverage of abortion.

  • Take Action! Urge your lawmakers to support the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act (HR 2234/S 1021) to permanently end Hyde!

Federal Courts

Jackson-Akiwumi confirmed; Chief Judge Gelpi moves one step closer

On June 24, the Senate voted 53-40 to confirm Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. With her confirmation, Jackson-Akiwumi — supported by NCJW — will be the only person of color serving on a circuit with jurisdiction over several highly diverse states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

And, on June 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr., nominated to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. In fact, his confirmation would make him the second judge from Puerto Rico to ever sit on the First Circuit.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of Chief Judge Gelpi and other fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

SCOTUS rules against unions

On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled that a California regulation granting union organizers access to employees is unconstitutional. The 6-3 ruling in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, one of NCJW’s cases to watch this term, is a setback for unions and workers’ rights.

Voting Rights

For the People Act fails procedural vote on June 22

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a procedural vote for the For the People Act (S1)* on June 22. The vote on whether the bill should proceed to debate needed 60 votes to pass and failed 50-50, with all Democrats voting in favor. On Tuesday morning, NCJW sent a letter to all Senate offices urging them to let the bill move to debate. After the failure, NCJW released a statement expressing our dismay and vowing to continue the fight to pass S1.

Even though the bill failed in the Senate this week, it is not dead! Majority Leader Schumer is expected to bring the For the People Act up again later in the summer. In the meantime, there is so much we can do to push this essential bill forward.

  • Take Action! Call your senators and tell them you support the For the People Act.
  • Go further! Click here to find how you can plug in near you (this resource will be updated with new opportunities on an ongoing basis).

*A reminder: The For the People Act (S1) is a transformational democracy bill that would strengthen and restore voting rights, offer new protections for voters, end the dominance of big money in politics, and implement anti-corruption, pro-ethics measures to clean up government. The bill passed the House of Representatives in March 2021.

Additional Updates

Bipartisan infrastructure deal reached

On June 24, President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced they had reached an agreement on a $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure bill. The package, focused on transportation, water, energy, and broadband, represents a segment of the president’s American Jobs Plan. The agreement is promising but not a guarantee that the compromise package will actually pass Congress.

In addition to trying to pass the infrastructure bill, Senate Democrats will push for passage of the remainder of reforms in the American Jobs Plan as well as the measures in the president’s American Families Plan via reconciliation in the coming months. These policies include paid family and medical leave, investments in child care and education, expanded nutrition assistance, tax credits to lower health insurance premiums, and an extension of the expanded child tax credit (CTC). It’s essential that these progressive and NCJW priorities are not left behind in the wake of the bipartisan deal.