Action: Tell your senators that voting for Federalist Society judicial nominees is a racist action.
UPDATE 6/11: Justin Walker just got cloture. Up for vote Friday or Monday. We need 4 GOP senators to vote against him. Call your friends and family in RED states!
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pronounced himself “appalled” by the killing of George Floyd. and intends to hold hearings on policing, racial discrimination by police and police/community relations. Frankly, we don’t want to hear him prattle on about the causes of police officers casually administering capital punishment in our streets. We know what causes it – racism – embedded in every layer of our public life. Organizations such as the Marshall Project, Campaign Zero, Movement for Black Lives and the Sentencing Project have been analyzing this issue for years and the House has already put together a bill. The almost all-white, GOP-controlled Senate is hoping we’ll get too distracted by something else to notice that they won’t pass it.
You want to do a real thing to combat racism, Senator Graham? Refuse to pass through any more right-wing extremist judicial nominees committed to protecting the structure of racism – the interests of corporations and the richest 1%. Under the cover of strengthening states’ rights, their true mission is suppressing voting rights, removing health care and safety net access, degrading labor rights and worker protections, militarizing police, impoverishing public education, and permitting the poisoning of the very air we breathe and the water we drink. They are the judicial backstop behind every choke-hold that goes awry and every shooting of an unarmed person.
Every Federalist Society nominee moves us closer to third-world poverty, increasing racial and economic inequality, unfettered authoritarian repression and a nation on fire.
Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to vote “NO” to Justin Walker and Cory Wilson and all other Federalist Society members. They are proven enemies of civil rights, women’s rights, unions, public education, the environment and health care, all essential for attaining racial equality.
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (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?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com
Deeper Dive – How racist is this judicial nominee?
Today, we’re talking about two Federalist Society judicial nominees: Justin Walker, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Cory Wilson, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. We’ve talked about their odious positions on issues before. We’ve talked about the Federalist Society. Now we’re putting these points together to show how these men will contribute to racism in America for another generation. (This is urgent. Justin Walker will be coming to a floor vote Friday or Monday, Wilson just passed through the Judiciary Committee.)
Why is keeping Justin Walker off the D.C. Circuit so important?: The D.C. Circuit is considered the second most powerful court in the country. It closely oversees agency actions on topics like worker rights, the environment, consumer protections, and other vital issues. It also often has the final say on the scope of presidential power and the rule of law. According to former Judge Patricia Wald, “Aside from the U.S. Supreme Court, it resolves more constitutional questions involving separation of powers and executive prerogatives than any court in the country.” We need four GOP senators of conscience to cross the aisle.
How are you rating a judge for racism?We’re not searching through their social feeds, for racial slurs. We’re using the NAACP’s Legislative Priorities as a measure of whether or not their judicial decisions and/or public statements strengthen or dismantle racism. (Note: Not all of the NAACP policies are listed here.) “The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.” ― How to Be an Antiracist
NAACP: “Enactment of Safe, Sane & Sensible Laws to Curb Gun Violence” “Given the disproportionate damage gun violence is having on our communities, the NAACP has advocated for sane, sensible laws, to help eliminate or at least to decrease the damage and death caused by gun violence. Requiring universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers, banning military-style, semi-automatic assault guns, enacting tough, new criminal penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers, and allowing the Center for Disease Control to research gun violence as a major public health issue are just a few of the reasonable steps lawmakers could take to stem the tide of gun related deaths in neighborhoods across the nation.”
Justin Walker: During a Fox News interview on September 3, 2018, Walker endorsed a theory that gun restrictions based on public safety are “precluded by the Second Amendment” because of “the decision by the framers to make that balancing choice themselves and to take some of that question out of the democratic process.” He was exuberant at the prospect that Kavanaugh’s nomination would see the “end to bans on semi-automatic rifles.” When Walker clerked for him, Kavanaugh took an extremely narrow view of the lawfulness of modern-day gun safety measures, including bans (District of Columbia v. Heller) on semi-automatic weapons, and Walker has praised that decision.
Cory Wilson: “Mr. Wilson opposes reasonable firearms restrictions that would make our communities safer. As a state legislator, he voted for a bill, HB 1083, to allow concealed carry on all public property, including on college campuses. The bill was opposed by a prominent education organization, the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning, which stated: “HB 1083 compromises our ability to protect and ensure the safety of those on our campuses because it nullifies and prohibits any policies and/or authority to designate sensitive areas of campus where weapons should not be allowed.” The bill was not passed by the state senate…(On an NRA questionnaire in 2015) he stated he opposed any restrictions on the sale or possession of semi-automatic firearms (the kind used in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, as well as the mass shooting in Las Vegas) and limits on the capacity of their magazines; he opposed universal background checks on all private sales or transfers of firearms; and he opposed any type of state registration or licensing of firearm owners.”
NAACP: “Protect union / collective bargaining rights of public employees” – The D.C. Circuit hears more cases related to workers’ rights, safety, and the ability to organize to fight for fair and safe workplaces than any other court in the country. It reviews decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and challenges to health and safety protections adopted by other key government agencies. For example, the D.C. Circuit upheld OSHA rules that will reduce workers’ exposure to cancer-causing silica and prevent thousands of cases of silicosis. The court also upheld the NLRB’s joint-employer standard ensuring that workers could bargain with employers that have indirect control over their wages and working conditions.
Antiracism aspect: There is a well-documented link between declining union membership and rising income inequality. There is also a relationship between unions and racial inequality. A 2012 study found that if unionization rates remained at their 1970s level—when African American workers were more likely than white workers to be union members—black-white weekly wage gaps would be nearly 30 percent lower among women and 3 to 4 percent lower among men. Research also consistently finds that racial wage gaps are smaller among union members than among nonunion members. This evidence shows that a rebound in union membership could reduce the racial wage gap that has been growing since 1979.
Justin Walker: Walker has expressed hostility towards labor unions. As a lawyer, he opposed mine workers fighting for better wages. He also wants to erode the ability of agencies like OSHA to protect health and safety,
NAACP: “Oppose publically funded private school vouchers”, “Maintain the federal role in ensuring a decent public education /civil rights protections”, “Public School Construction, Repair and Renovation” and “Making College Affordable / reduce or eliminate massive student loan debt.”
Immediat importance: The D.C. Circuit hears critical cases regarding students and schools. The court upheld Obama Administration rules designed to protect students from fraudulent for-profit colleges and rejected a lawsuit intended to divert money away from public schools. However, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, is currently diverting money from public to private schools and the lawsuits are already starting.
Antiracism aspect: To create equality of educational opportunity for every public school student, requires equalizing funding, class size, equipment and teaching expertise. “The U.S. educational system is one of the most unequal in the industrialized world, and students routinely receive dramatically different learning opportunities based on their social status. In contrast to European and Asian nations that fund schools centrally and equally, the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. school districts spend nearly 10 times more than the poorest 10 percent, and spending ratios of 3 to 1 are common within states. Despite stark differences in funding, teacher quality, curriculum, and class sizes, the prevailing view is that if students do not achieve, it is their own fault. As late as the 1960s, most African-American, Latino, and Native American students were educated in wholly segregated schools funded at rates many times lower than those serving whites and were excluded from many higher education institutions entirely.” After controlling for socioeconomic status, the large disparities in achievement between black and white students were almost entirely due to differences in the qualifications of their teachers.
Justin Walker: Walker has fought equal access to quality public education. In a 2019 symposium discussion, Walker made clear his hostility to public education. He bemoaned the “billions of taxpayer dollars” spent on maintaining “a minimum level of funding to offer an adequate education for all students” and criticized the right to quality public education found in many state constitutions.
NAACP: “Preserve clean air & clean water laws, rules & regulations.” (NAACP) “Historically, American society has failed to make the connection in terms of the direct impact of environmental injustices, including climate change, on our own lives, families, and communities, all of whom depend on the physical environment and its bounty. Toxic facilities, like coal fired power plants and incinerators, emit mercury, arsenic, lead, and other contaminants into the water, food, and lungs of communities. Many of these same facilities also emit carbon dioxide and methane – the #1 and #2 drivers of climate change. At the same time not all are equally impacted. For example, race – even more than class – is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country. And communities of color and low income communities are often the hardest hit by climate change.”
Immediate importance: The D.C. Circuit will be deciding disputes over border wall funding, trophy hunting, removal of scientists from advisory committees, and FERC pipeline approvals and challenges to the Trump administration’s Clean Power Plan replacement and its decision to block California from setting stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Justin Walker: Walker was excited at the prospect of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court precisely because it would undermine federal agencies, including the EPA. Quoting favorably Jonathan Adler, he wrote, “In Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump may not have found a justice to ‘deconstruct the administrative state’ — in Steve Bannon’s formulation — but he has found one who will help bring it to heel.” Currently, executive agencies are permitted to exercise rulemaking authority pursuant to a valid delegation from Congress. As long as the delegation provides a “sufficiently intelligible principle, there is nothing inherently unconstitutional about it.” Walker argues that agencies should not be able to exercise such authority, even if Congress properly delegates it and calls for reinvigorating the “non-delegation doctrine“, which was last used successfully in 1935 by a famously reactionary Supreme Court majority bent on invalidating the New Deal. This is a radical, destructive theory that even the late Justice Scalia did not support.
Cory Wilson: According to the League of Conservation Voters (LVC): “In his frequent writings criticizing environmental protections, he accused the Environmental Protection Agency of being “unchecked and unaccountable,”1 dismissed renewable energy as “unworkable,” and glibly mocked efforts to reduce carbon emissions.“
NAACP: “Preserve gains made in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”)” and “Protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits.” (NAACP) “…(Our) mission includes a focus on the right of African Americans and other people of color to have optimal health outcomes and access to timely, quality, affordable health care. African Americans continue to have the highest incidence, prevalence and mortality rates from chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and issues like HIV/AIDS continue to overwhelm the Black community more so than any other racial or ethnic group.The NAACP is committed to eliminating the racial and ethnic inequities that exist within our health care system that undermine communities of color their life opportunities and their ability to contribute fully to the common good.”
Antiracist actions: All racial and ethnic groups saw gains in health coverage between 2013 and 2016, but these gains were especially pronounced for minority groups and individuals with incomes below 139% of the federal poverty level. In 2017, gains for minority groups generally flattened. The ACA’s disparity-reducing effects have been strongest in states participating in the Medicaid expansion.
Trump’s demands: Trump stated that he was looking for judicial nominees who are hostile to the Affordable Care Act, tweeting, “My judicial appointments will do the right thing, unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.” Political scientist Amanda Hollis-Brusky writes that “Federalist Society members had been invested in the litigation efforts against the ACA well before the Act was signed into law—before there was even anything concrete to litigate against.” On March 22, in the middle of a pandemic, Trump doubled down on his support for a lawsuit challenging constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). If it’s successful, 20 million people could lose health insurance; 135 million people with preexisting conditions – including cancer, pregnancy, and diabetes – will lose desperately needed protections; and nearly 12 million seniors will pay more for prescription drugs. The American Medical Association and other physician groups state that, if successful, the lawsuit “would have a devastating impact on doctors, patients, and the American health care system as a whole.”
Justin Walker: He praised Brett Kavanaugh for writing a “roadmap” to judges to invalidate the law and called Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion upholding the Act “indefensible.”
Cory Wilson: Wilson has repeatedly called for the Affordable Care Act to be overturned, calling it a “redistribution of wealth and power,” and he opposed expanding Medicaid in Mississippi, which has deprived 100,000 Mississippians of critical health coverage. 20 healthcare advocacy organizations have written to oppose his nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. (See also letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights here.)
NAACP: “Repair and Strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965″ (NAACP) The NAACP has given up on a judicial repair and is hoping that the legislature will pass H.R. 4 / S. 561 – The Voting Rights Advancement Act. “ This legislation would ensure maximum coverage, ensuring the right to vote of as many Americans as possible is protected .…As a result of the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, there are currently no states or jurisdictions which are required to comply with the “preclearance”directive under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). This means that states or jurisdictions with a proven history of discrimination are able to make changes to their election laws and policies without proving to the U.S. Department of Justice or the District Court in D.C. in advance that the proposed changes will not disenfranchise racial or ethnic minority or language minority voters.”
Sayu Bhojwani wrote in the Hill: “These obstacles (now allowed by the SCOTUS decision) have especially impacted New Americans, students, Indigenous communities, communities of color and low-income voters who must take off work, cover travel costs to distant polling locations, or pay for IDs just to access the polls. These factors keep establishment leaders in power, silence the voices of immigrant communities and communities of color, and prevent us from finding sustainable solutions to urgent issues impacting our communities. This is unacceptable. It’s time to restore power to the people and create a government that is reflective of America’s diversity.”
Federalist Society: Members prefer the strengthening of states’ rights, no matter how discriminatory, over federal oversight. In “Shelby County v. Holder“, the Court’s conservative 5-4 majority, four of whom were Federalist Society members, ignored the extensive legislative record compiled by Congress on the persistence of voting discrimination in the covered jurisdictions, declared that Congress’s findings out-of-date and that continuing to require preclearance would violate the equal dignity of states.
In the 24 years prior to Congress’s reauthorization of the VRA in 2006, the Department of Justice or a three-judge court blocked more than 600 discriminatory changes to voting laws in covered states and municipalities. Many observers described the VRA as the country’s most effective civil rights law. Within hours of the 2013 Supreme Court’s decision, a number of jurisdictions reinstituted discriminatory procedures.
Justin Walker: (in anwers to Senator Booker – he does not give a “YES/NO” answer to any question on Shelby County v. Holder)
“a. Do you believe that in-person voter fraud is a widespread problem in American elections? The right to vote is fundamental. As Chief Justice Roberts said, “it is preservative of all the other rights.” The Canons of Judicial Conduct prohibit me from going beyond that and opining on current controversies.
b. In your assessment, do restrictive voter ID laws suppress the vote in poor and minority communities? Please see my answer to Question 10(a).
c. Do you agree with the statement that voter ID laws are the twenty-first-century equivalent of poll taxes? Please see my answer to Question 10(a).”
Corey Wilson: Wilson supports measures to restrict minority voting. including voter roll purges and voter ID requirements, which he falsely claimed are “part of ensuring cleaner elections.” According to the LCV: “Wilson has repeatedly advocated for restrictive voter ID laws and criticized efforts to identify voter suppression. Wilson used his writings to further perpetuate myths of widespread voter fraud, despite extensive research to the contrary. At a time when our nation needs to take immediate action to ensure our elections are safe and accessible in the midst of a health crisis, it is unacceptable to prioritize the nomination of a judge who has actively promoted restricting access to the ballot. This is especially problematic given Mississippi’s long record of voter suppression and intimidation.” (See also letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights here.)
More to watch: