September 7, 2018
In this issue:
- It’s Clear: Kavanaugh Will Act to Overturn Roe – Call Your Senators
- Many NOW Members Running for Elective Office
- Send Chance to View Smash Hit, RBG, New Dramatization Coming
- New Chapter Portal Available Soon – Please Check Your Spam Inbox
- New Member Sign-Up – Link Offered to Update
- URGENT – Need More House Sponsors for VAWA – Pls. Help
It’s Clear: Kavanaugh Will Act to Overturn Roe – Call Your Senators is now abundantly clear that Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh will vote to either seriously restrict or fully overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that recognized a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause that would grant women’s right to abortion. During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week, Kavanaugh refused to respond to questions about whether Roe was correctly decided — minutes after he said he thought that the Nixon case (limiting the power of any U.S. president to claim executive privilege) was rightly decided, and which he previously had said was wrongly decided.
Kavanaugh also ducked a question about his views on abortion while he was in the Bush White House. But, today, The Washington Post reports that Kavanaugh advised against referring to Roe as “settled law of the land” in a 2003 email message when he was vetting judicial nominees for the George W. Bush administration. And, during the hearings, Kavanaugh refused to answer whether he agreed that a woman’s right to control her reproductive life impacts her ability to participate in the economic and social life of the nation.
The nominee who no doubt was carefully coached on what to tell senators, did say that he respects precedence and that Roe is “precedence upon precedence” – citing the Roe affirmation of Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992). But NOW activists need to know that “respecting precedence” and recognizing “settled law” are essentially meaningless claims; any prior Supreme Court decision can be overturned at any point. And, this nominee was selected because Donald Trump vowed that he would only put justices on the Supreme Court that pass his litmus test of overturning Roe v. Wade. Trump also said during his presidential campaign, that “women who have abortions should be punished.” So perhaps if Kavanaugh ascends to the Supreme Court, we can look forward to the Court considering cases which would criminalize women for having an abortion.
If confirmed by a simple majority in the Senate, Kavanaugh would become the fifth vote, joining four other opponents of women’s abortion rights – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch. Republicans are determined to get their man on the High Court because his work as a Republican political operative and his record as a judge on the important U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shows that he is very conservative and will vote to protect governmental power and corporate interests. That key fifth vote is something that abortion rights opponents have been working toward for 45 years, with the investment of what is likely by now hundreds of millions of dollars from fundamentalist and Catholic Church-related organizations as well as deep-pocketed right wingers. Not only have they funded numerous anti-abortion rights organizations and right-wing legal advocacy firms, these groups have promoted and funded efforts at the state level to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. Since 1995, more than 1,000 anti-choice measures in various states have been adopted, according the NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Tens of thousands of key documents have not yet been released about Kavanaugh’s years as a White House counsel involved in some of the most controversial actions under President George W. Bush and as a key assistant to Independent Counsel Ken Starr in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for having an affair with an intern. Democrats have sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the National Archives and the George W. Bush Library, but the Trump administration is now shielding those documents under executive privilege – something that has never been done with documents connected to a judicial nominee’s record.
But on the eve of the hearings, some 5,148 documents (or 42,390 pages) were sent to Judiciary committee members and staff and were to be treated as “committee confidential” — not available to the public. Shockingly, these documents were reviewed by Bush lawyer, William A. Burck, before sending on to the Senate; undoubtedly for the purpose of pulling any document that could be controversial. Ordinarily, documents requested by Congress are reviewed by a government official in a neutral capacity, not a private lawyer and friend of the nominee. This is really quite unethical.
Today, Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Cory Booker (D – N.J.) broke Senate rules and released the 5,148 documents, some of which addressed racial profiling, but also related to a comment by Kavanaugh on Roe as settled Law. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – Calif.) read Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein read one of the unreleased documents — a Kavanaugh email discussing the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
In that email, first disclosed by The New York Times earlier in the day, Kavanaugh proposed an edit to an op-ed about Roe v. Wade where he commented that he was “not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent.” Though Kavanaugh said he was only commenting on a draft, some may have taken this comment as revealing what he really thinks about Roe.
According to an analysis by Planned Parenthood, there are 13 abortion cases now in the pipeline that Kavanaugh could rule on. We know that the Court will be asked to decide a pivotal case on abortion, as well as others on reproductive rights, soon. Every one of these cases provides an opportunity to overrule or severely weaken a woman’s constitutional rights to access abortion. The 13 cases could be joined by 11 more cases related to reproductive health that are one step away from the Supreme Court. The Court is also poised to determine a person’s basic right to access affordable birth control, sex education, and preventive care at a Planned Parenthood clinic. We believe that Brett Kavanaugh would vote on the wrong side in all these cases, causing irreparable harm to women’s health and lives.
Please Call Your Senators – The Senate Judiciary Committee vote on confirmation could come soon, so please call your Senators – regardless of whether either is on the Committee and let them know that you oppose the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 and here is the Senate Directory. For more information on Judge Kavanaugh.
Many NOW Members Running for Elective Office -While NOW PAC is very excited about the more than 175 feminist federal candidates that we have endorsed whose races will make it possible to take the Congress back, we are also so excited that many of our members have taken the electoral plunge. In fact, former Fort Myers/Naples Florida NOW President April Freeman won her congressional primary in Florida’s 17th district. Another non-incumbent running for US Congress is Julia Peacock of Riverside CA NOW, hoping to be elected to California’s 42 District.
There has been an unprecedented surge of NOW members running for state and local office this year which is a crucial development since we need a pipeline of feminists who have name recognition and have the electoral experience to run for higher office. We are only now learning the magnitude of our candidate strength. Here are just a few of our exciting NOW member races:
- The state that thus far wins the prize for the most NOW members running for office is Rhode Island with 19 members running for all levels of political office from Secretary of State to State house and Senate to Town Council races.
- The current president of Des Moines Iowa NOW, Connie Price, is running for the Iowa House.
- Two Washington NOW members, Pinky Vargas and Laurie Jinkins are running for the state legislature.
- Four members of Sussex County NOW, NJ are running for their respective Township Committees.
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul NOW member Trista Matas Castillo is running for Ramsey County Commissioner.
- Riverside County California NOW members: Michelle Singleton is running for State Assembly #67 and Joanne Schwartz, longtime South Jersey NOW—Alice Paul chapter member, and former Burlington County (NJ) Freeholder, is now running for Burlington County Clerk.
- Indiana NOW members Ashley Pirani is running for Monroe County Council, District 3 and Penny Githens is running for State Rep, District 60.
- The President of Rochester, NY NOW, Jaclyn Richard, is running for the New York State Assembly, district 136.
If you haven’t already, please let us know of other NOW members running for any level of political office this year. We will send out an update with more of the names we receive from our State and Chapter leaders. This flood of feminist candidates will change the face of government and ensure a feminist future for all of us.
Second Chance to View Smash Hit, RBG – Tune in, sit back and enjoy – Watch RBG, the box-office hit about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Sunday, Sept. 9, CNN, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. For those of us who have seen the film, we laughed a lot and shed some tears in this wonderful documentary about the life and work of the ‘notorious RBG.’ Purchasing a DVD of RBG for screening at chapter meetings and other events is a great way to educate and motivate young (and older) feminists. The film is not a dry accounting of the cases that Justice Ginsburg worked on in her earlier years that advanced women’s equal rights or her famous dissent in Supreme Court cases, but a thoughtful account of an important life well-lived. The film also portrays the romance and marriage of equals between Ruth and Martin, her husband of 56 years who passed away in 2010 and who adored his ‘notorious’ spouse.Trailer.
New Dramatization Coming – Exciting news arrives on the heels of the documentary’s wide screening and the CNN feature presentation: there will be a dramatic film released at Christmas, On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones, a dramatization of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fight against gender discrimination as young attorney in the 1970’s, presented by Focus Features and Participant Media. Trailer: On the Basis of Sex. Read more
New Chapter Portal Available Soon – Please Check Your Spam Inbox We are repeating this news from the last FYI NOW as we have received a few calls about the chapter portal, according to Chapter Services Specialist, Supria Bhatia.
NOW’s National Action Center is pleased to announce the release of the new chapter portal which will be available to all chapter leaders in the coming months. The system will allow officers to run their membership lists, transaction lists, search for members, and update their chapter information. This chapter portal has been designed for the convenience of chapter leaders and will be rolled out in your state soon. Since you will be able to run membership lists, please bear in mind that Chapter membership lists can only be used for official NOW business and cannot be given to potential candidates or allied organizations.
Once the portal is available in your state, you will receive an email from the Chapter Services Specialist, Supria Bhatia, highlighting what to expect before logging on. The emails may have the tendency to go to your Spam folder. If you are in Alaska, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Alabama, Kentucky or Tennessee and still did not receive the email to activate your account, please check your Spam inbox before contacting National. If you are a chapter leader and do not have an email address on file with NOW, please contact us immediately if you would like the access to the portal. For the states which already have access please email your questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org we will assist you as soon as possible. Please be patient with us as the portal is a new development for you as well as for the National office.
New Member Sign-Up – Link Offered to Update – Are your links updated? If you are a chapter that has the “Join Now” link on your website, please ensure that the link is up to date. If you have new members who are not visible on your membership list, please click here and update the link so future members can be added. For questions, please contact the Chapter Services Specialist for further assistance.
URGENT – Need More House Co-sponsors for VAWA Re-authorization – Please Help! – Every five years important laws are reviewed by Congress and, hopefully, reauthorized so that programs and funding are continued. The landmark Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization in 2018; technically, the VAWA programs expire on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and it doesn’t appear that the Republican leadership is in a hurry to take up the legislation. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a reauthorization bill, H.R. 6545, on July 31. Rep. Jackson Lee worked closely with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence to develop a strong bill. The legislation includes increased investment in sexual violence prevention programs, provisions to hold offenders accountable on tribal lands, updated definitions for incarcerated survivors, and many more improvements.
Time is running out on reauthorization – We need a groundswell of voices to demand that Congress reauthorize VAWA NOW! Please call your representative and ask her/him to become a co-sponsor, if they have not already done so, and to urge that H.R. 6545 be brought to the House floor vote ASAP. Both Democrats and Republicans need to hear from you; many Republicans support VAWA. To look up your House Member. Get the phone number, and go to the staff tab to reach call the legislative director, or women’s issues or judiciary staffers – or all three. You can also call the District office to deliver the message. If the staff member indicates that the representative might sign on, sent a note about this to NOW’s consultant on VAWA, Pat Reuss at email@example.com
Your message: Hi, this is (your name), calling from (your city). I would like to urge Rep.______ to become a co-sponsor to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2018, H.R. 6545, if they have not already signed on. Hundreds of thousands of women and their children depend on services and shelters that VAWA helps to support. Time is running out on reauthorization. To sign on, please contact Monalisa Dugue at 202-225-6906, staff member for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, sponsor of the bill, to let them know that Rep.__________ would like to become a co-sponsor.
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