Fri 2/7: Judges matter. Call your senators!

Andrew Brasher, a rightwing extremist, is up for a lifetime judicial seat in the 11th Circuit Court. Call your senators!

Senator Kamala Harris’ video statement here.

The non-trial is over and McConnell isn’t wasting any time.  He’s only guaranteed until November to turn the judicial branch into a extremist right-wing rubber-stamp for Trump’s policies.  At the beginning of Trump’s reign, lawyers told us that we shouldn’t worry about young extremist Trump-udges, that essentially they would fall in line with the years of precedent that was slowly moving America towards a more just nation. Um, no. Even before Trump, there were huge setbacks, such as 2010’s Citizens United v. FEC, and in 2013, parts of the Voting Right Act (Shelby v. Holder). Now the march back to the 1950’s has accelerated, as these new judges are pushing off the guardrails and starting to deliver on their destructive potential. (See “Deep Dive” below)

Per the Hill, the Senate is expected to take its first procedural vote on the slate Monday evening, on Andrew Brasher’s nomination to be a judge on the 11th Circuit, the court that oversees federal cases originating in the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. 

Andrew Brasher is so disturbingly extreme that his confirmation has been opposed by the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human rights. Alliance for Justice, The National Council of Jewish Women, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The League of Conservation Voters, People for the American Way, Lamba Legal, National Urban League, and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Call your senators and contact your family/friends groups to contact theirs, especially those with GOP senators.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Sen [___] for opposing the confirmation of Andrew Brasher, whose extremist views are in direct conflict with the interests and rights of the population he serves.Contact:
Senator Feinstein: emailDC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Meet Andrew Brasher – an extremist who wants a lifetime gig on the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 

image.pngHe has only been a district court judge for six months. In that time, he has presided over just three trials that have gone to judgment; none of which were criminal matters. He has not written a published decision or an opinion concerning significant constitutional issues.

However, in his capacity working in Alabama’s Attorney General’s office, he has demonstrated that he is an ultraconservative extremist. In both his professional and personal capacity, he has opposed voting rights,  rights for women, communities of color, the LGBTQ community, organized labor, consumer and environmental protections. He is a member of the extremist Federalist Society (we wrote a post about it here), and coordinated with both Beckett Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom, anti-LGBTQ organizations labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And best of all for the GOP…he’s only 38 years old!!! Decades of repression, suppression and injustice ahead. Here’s a summary of what he’s dedicated his life to so far:

  • Reproductive rights:
    • He has defended many unlawful anti-choice policies, including:
      •  an unconstitutional law that would allow a judge to appoint an attorney for a fetus and the DA to call witnesses to testify regarding a minor’s maturity.
      • laws requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals,
      • restricting where abortion providers’ facility location based on proximity to schools.
      • supporting criminalizing the most common method of second-trimester abortions.”
      • challenging the contraceptive mandate in the ACA, and personally questioned the validity of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) the “undue burden” issue. 
  • Civil rights:
    • He filed an amicus brief in Shelby County v. Holder that supported eroding the Voting Rights Act,
    • He defended Alabama’s felon anti-voter law that, could disenfranchise over 286,000 Alabamians,
    • He argued that it was unconstitutional for the Census to count people who aren’t citizens, supporting the Trump administration’s goal of undercounting immigrants.
    • He supported an Arizona law, rejected by the Supreme Court, that would have required voters to show proof of citizenship before voting.
    • He’s defended unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in Alabama and in Virginia and, in his personal capacity, has criticized the Supreme Court’s efforts to remedy racial gerrymanders.
    • He decided he was more acceptable if he changed his answer on whether or not the Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided to “YES”. As much moral fiber as our president.
  • LGBTQ:
    • He filed an amicus brief opposing marriage equality in Obergefell, arguing that marriage is not a fundamental right and that bans on same-sex marriage were lawful because the government has a legitimate state interest in keeping children with both of their biological parents.
    • He opposed marriage equality by falsely implying children fare worse when raised by same-sex couples and arguing that discrimination against same-sex couples should be legal based on a business owner’s religious beliefs.
  • Environment:
    • He has opposed the expansion of the Clean Water Act
    • He filed a brief on behalf of AL and 17 other states that “critical habitat”  protections for endangered species were too bradly defined.
    • He filed another amicus brief in a similar case arguing that “the Ninth Circuit’s decision gives the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service unfettered power to declare areas critical habitat.”
  • Gun violence:
    • He opposed gun laws banning semi-automatic weapons in Connecticut and New York following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.
  • Death Penalty and Criminal Justice:
    • He repeatedly defended death sentences that were struck down by the courts, including one instance, he sought the death penalty for a defendant with mental illness after denying him sufficient access to a competent psychiatrist as required under federal law. The Supreme Court struck down the sentence.
  • Consumer and Worker protections: 
    • He defended an Alabama law that retaliated against the Alabama Education Association by restricting its members’ ability to pay dues to the association unless it stopped engaging in any political activity.
    • He has repeatedly demonstrated that he is far more interested in protecting corporations from litigation than making it possible for individuals to hold big businesses accountable for injuries to consumers.
    • Brasher filed an amicus brief that advocated for making it harder for people to band together in a class action in order to sue corporations that had injured them.
    • He joined Scott Pruitt and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, to sue to invalidate the Dodd-Frank Act, legislation that has protected consumers since the 2008 financial crises.

Deeper Dive in Trump’s judges: 

The damage has already begun. These examples are from pfaw.org. Read their full report here.

  • Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch was the deciding vote in more than a dozen decisions which, among other damage, upheld the Trump Muslim ban; approved Ohio’s purge of more than a million voters and reversed a decades-old precedent that protected workers’ rights.
  • Trump-appointed 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett voted to allow a corporation to racially segregate its workplaces
  • Trump-appointed 5th Circuit Judge Don Willett cast the deciding vote to give Trump the power to fire the head of an independent housing finance agency set up by Congress
  • Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch cast deciding votes that approved indefinite detention of some legal immigrants, put into place the Trump military transgender plan, and authorized the immediate execution of a prisoner before a lower court could even consider his religious discrimination claim.
  • All four Trump judges then on the 6th Circuit – Judges Thapar, Bush, Larsen, and Nalbandian – voted to reverse a prior ruling and uphold Ohio’s law barring funding to Planned Parenthood for health care because it provides abortions with non-state funds.
  • The four Trump judges on the 7th Circuit – Judges Barrett, Brennan, Scudder, and St. Eve – cast deciding votes to rule that older workers cannot claim that an employer’s hiring practices have a discriminatory impact on them, despite federal law.
  • The three Trump judges on the 11th Circuit – Newsom, Branch, and Grant – joined an opinion by Newsom that made it much harder for victims of illegal job discrimination to prove their case and “drops an anvil on the employer’s side” of such cases
  • Trump 7th Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett wrote a decision to uphold denial of a visa to the wife of a US citizen, despite a strong dissent by a Reagan-appointed judge
  • Trump 6th Circuit judge Joan Larsen wrote a divided ruling that dismissed citizens’ group petitions to review air pollution permits without even reviewing the merits of their claims
  • Trump 5th Circuit judges Willett, Ho, Engelhardt, and Oldham voted to allow a devastating Louisiana anti-choice law to take effect, a decision that was temporarily reversed by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote in which Gorsuch and Kavanaugh dissented.
  • Judge Neomi Rao is paying off her debt. In a dissent notable for its bizarre reasoning, she wrote a “get-out-of-jail” card to shield Trump from comgression oversight while ignoring Supreme Court precedent.
  • Trump 5th Circuit judge James Ho, also knows how to get ahead, decided that rich people have a constitutional right to buy elections.  He, like Judge Duncan below, decided to use his power to hurt a transgender woman.
  • Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, who worked with Beckett Fund, the same anti-LGBTQ hate group that Andrew Brasher coordinated cases with, refused to allow a transgender woman currently serving time in federal prison to change her name. To further her gratuitous public humiliation, he also refusing to use her preferred pronouns and calling her “gender-dysphoric.” “If a court orders one litigant referred to as ‘her’ (instead of ‘him’),” he writes, “then the court can hardly refuse when the next litigant moves to be referred to as ‘xemself’ (instead of ‘himself’).” (We “featured” him here.)

 

 

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