fresh voices from the front lines of change







Congress Ready To Rebuke Trump's 'Emergency'

Congress on verge of rejecting Trump's border emergency. Reuters: "The U.S. Congress was on the verge of issuing a sharp rebuke to President Donald Trump over his declaration of an emergency at the border with Mexico, with a top Republican predicting the Senate would approve a resolution to reject it. Already approved by the House of Representatives, the resolution to terminate the declaration has sufficient support in the Senate to be passed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday. McConnell predicted that Trump would veto the resolution once it lands on his desk, however. McConnell also said that that there would not be enough votes in Congress to override the veto. A vote by the Republican-controlled Senate to block Trump’s declaration would be a huge embarrassment for him. In more than two years in office, he has failed to persuade Congress to fund his wall, even when both chambers were controlled by his fellow Republicans."

House Advances Electoral Reform Bill

House Democrats forge ahead on electoral reform bill. Politico "House Democrats on Tuesday took a big step in fulfilling one of their major campaign promises of last year's midterms, advancing a sweeping voting rights, campaign finance and ethics reform package. The House Administration Committee approved the bill — known as H.R. 1, or the "For the People Act" — by a 6-3, party-line vote. 'H.R. 1 makes it easier, not harder, to vote,' Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the committee chair, said at the hearing. 'It ends the dominance of big money in our politics. It ensures public officials work in the public interest.' It is expected to come to the House floor in the coming weeks, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the proceedings and End Citizens United Executive Director Tiffany Muller, whose organization has been strongly pushing the legislation. The Democratic aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because the floor schedule for next week has not been finalized. The bill will likely pass the House, having already secured 227 co-sponsors, all Democrats."

Dems Push To Restore Voting Rights

,a href="">The Democrats’ new voting-rights moment. The Atlantic: "The third time will certainly not be the charm for the Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill was introduced Tuesday in the House by Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama and in the Senate by Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and it seeks to restore and extend key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that have been neutralized. Sewell has championed the bill and introduced it in 2015 and 2017, but with a Republican-controlled Senate and President Donald Trump in the White House, the 2019 version also has no chance of becoming law. But that doesn’t mean that this time around is purely symbolic, either. This incarnation of the VRAA comes during a time when voter suppression against black, Latino, and indigenous populations has substantially altered elections and politics since the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which defanged key portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The bill’s introduction also comes shortly after an election cycle in which Democrats fared well by championing voting rights and mobilizing unlikely voters. And, as big, new progressive ideas like the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and reparations permeate the 2020 presidential-primary conversation, the reality for Democrats is that voting rights could be the only thing everyone agrees on—and the thing necessary for all of the other potential policies to ever become reality. At a press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday, Democratic leadership seemed well aware of the significance of the moment. Sewell found herself flanked by an all-star group, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Georgia representative and civil-rights legend John Lewis, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, and Senator Doug Jones of Alabama. 'There is nothing more bedrock in America than the right to vote,' Schumer said. 'There is nothing more despicable in America than denying the right to vote.'"

NC Reschedules GOP-Manipulated House Race

North Carolina schedules new election for last undecided 2018 race. CNN: "North Carolina's 9th Congressional District could elect its new representative in early September, the State Board of Elections announced Monday, in what should be the end of the last undecided contest from the 2018 midterm elections. The state will hold its primary election on May 14. The GOP candidate who ran in the November 2018 election, Mark Harris, has decided not to run again, citing health concerns. If no candidate in the primary earns more than 30% of the vote, a runoff will be held on September 10, with a general election on November 5. However, if a second primary is not needed, the general election will be moved up to September 10. Monday's announcement formally begins the new campaign, and the filing period for new candidates is March 11 to March 15. Democrat Dan McCready, who ran against Harris in the original election, has announced that he will run again for the seat. He is likely to face the winner of the GOP primary. The redo was called after Harris was at the center of an election fraud scandal, in which concerns were raised about irregular and compromised absentee ballots from a consultant, Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked for a firm hired by Harris. Dowless, a convicted felon hired by a consulting firm paid by the Harris campaign, led a loosely connected group involved in questionable absentee ballot activity. Dowless personally turned in 592 of the 1,341 absentee ballot requests in Bladen County, North Carolina -- and only 684 absentee ballots were ultimately cast in the county. Dowless was arrested last week and charged with felonious obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballot, in relation to absentee ballot irregularities in the 2016 general election and 2018 primary election."

Kavanaugh Attacks Separation Of Church And State

Brett Kavanaugh shows how eager he is to tear down the wall between church and state. Slate: "Does the Constitution compel state and local governments to subsidize religion? That question might seem preposterous, since the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from funding religious exercise and limits its ability to fund religious facilities. Yet in 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court flipped the First Amendment on its head by ruling, for the first time ever, that the Constitution sometimes requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer blew a chunk out of the wall between church and state. And on Monday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh announced his intention to demolish the remainder of that wall by invalidating laws that bar government subsidization of religion. In Morris County, 12 churches sought to help restore their facilities with historic preservation funds provided by the county. But the New Jersey Constitution, like the Missouri Constitution, bars direct aid to religion, and a taxpayer, represented by FFRF, sued to enforce this provision. Although the Supreme Court declined to hear Morris County, Kavanaugh wrote separately to condemn New Jersey’s 'pure discrimination against religion.' In his view, 'prohibiting historic preservation grants to religious organizations simply because the organizations are religious would raise serious questions under this Court’s precedents and the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee of equality.' Eventually, Kavanaugh wrote, the court should affirm the “'bedrock principle of religious equality' by striking down laws that restrict states’ ability to preserve houses of worship with taxpayer dollars. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined his opinion."

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