Rights’ Relief from Courts – Sometimes

The federal judiciary is much more than just the US Supreme Court.  There is also the Federal District Courts as well as the nine appellate courts. Thousands of cases are heard at these two lower levels of federal courts every year whereas only about 100 cases are heard by the US Supreme Court.  In some cases, as noted in Nel’s New Day blog, democracy and concern for the welfare of people still reign. Here is a sampling of these cases.

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Rights’ Relief from Courts – Sometimes

via https://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/rights-relief-from-courts-sometimes/

Democracy from people often comes from court decisions. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suspended democratic action by blocking any discussion for President Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court Justice, SCOTUS moved away from people’s rights with Neil Gorsuch’s nomination by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Fortunately, the Supreme Court makes fewer than 100 decisions per year while courts across the nation can rule on constitutional rights in thousands of cases.

Recently, five Supreme Court justices removed rights from workers when five justices determined that employees must settle disputes through individual arbitration behind closed doors rather than through class action in open court. The decision worsens an earlier ruling allowing corporations to avoid class-action lawsuits from consumers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg read part of her dissent from the bench:

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts — including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims only one-by-one. Federal labor law does not countenance such isolation of employees. Trying to arbitrate such claims individually would be too expensive to be worth it, and “the risks of employer retaliation would likely dissuade most workers from seeking redress alone.”

Federal labor law permits employees to work together in improving their conditions and fight low wages, harassment, and discrimination, but the court states that companies can use arbitration clauses, forced on employees if they want the job, to ban joining together in legal actions. Employees must now fight individually against violations of minimum-wage laws, refusal to pay overtime, and requirements to work off the clock. Few private attorneys will take cases for so little money.

The day after this Supreme Court ruling, the National Labor Relations Board delivered an opposing position, that employees have the right to organize, bargain collectively and “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” According to the Board’s interpretation of Section 8, an employment agreement requiring employees to resolve disputes by arbitration or on an individual basis is an unfair labor practice. The question now will be what opinions supersede others.

In a Supreme Court’s decision that states can legally bet on college and professional sports, Justice Samuel Alito said that each state has the right to act on its own if Congress does not regulate sports gambling. Next year, the Supreme Court will hear a case on when federal law trumps state law.

After churches in Morris County (New Jersey) received almost $5 million for repairs, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution forbids using public money for religious purposes. A year ago, the Supreme Court allowed taxpayer monies to be used for repair of a church’s playground in Missouri, but the ruling did not address houses of worship. The case may go to the Supreme Court.

A federal court in California ruled Friday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in deciding that the agency violated privacy laws by using the Social Security Administration to analyze loan forgiveness for students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges. The court ordered debt collection from defrauded students to stop after DeVos stated that only part of federal loans would be forgiven. DeVos is supporting other for-profit colleges. She appointed the dean of DeVry to head a team to investigate these schools, including DeVry. She has also frozen protections for students and reduced loan forgiveness relief for students defrauded by these schools.

Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, fought for years to use the bathroom in high school, and a federal judge ruled the school officials of Gloucester County (VA) violated his constitutional rights for stopping him from using the bathroom matching his gender identity after the 4th Circuit Court sent the case back to the lower court.

Judge Orlando Garcia, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled that the state must comply with the federal National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) (or “motor voter” law) and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Construction on the final 18 miles of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in St. James (LA), located in an area called Cancer Alley, has been halted after a judge ruled that state regulators violated guidelines in issuing a coastal use permit. Town residents would have no way to evacuate after an explosion or other pipeline failure emergency, a fact not considered in the state’s permit. The company building the pipeline faces a legal challenge for its U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit through the Atchafalaya Basin, a National Heritage Area and massive river swamp. The 5th Circuit Court began to hear this case the beginning of May, but pipeline builders are already cutting down old growth cypress trees.

DDT cannot block people from his Twitter account, according to a federal judge who wrote:

“The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President.”

DDT can mute people’s accounts so that he doesn’t have to look at their comments.

Another DDT sign came down when a New York State judge ruled that the name “Trump Place” can be removed from a high-rise condo. The bad news is that the condo cannot change its name, and the sign will stay until two-thirds majority of the condo association agrees to remove the signs. DDT’s name has already been removed from three Manhattan buildings and hotels in New York, Toronto, and Panama.

A New York appeals court refused to allow DDT to stay a defamation case by Summer Zervos regarding her claim that DDT sexually assaulted her. At this time, DDT can be deposed in the case, and lawyers can proceed with pretrial discovery, including demands for documents. In addition, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he’s vetting two more women on their claims that DDT gave them large hush-money payments. Zervos will subpoena documents from the Trump Organization about DDT’s alleged mistreatment of women, recordings from the archives of the president’s former reality show, and surveillance footage from the hotel in which Zervos says she was attacked.

The third federal judge has ruled against DDT over cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. The judge wrote that ending grants two years early was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” The 73 organizations receiving grants will have to follow DHS’ new requirements to focus on abstinence programs for continued funding while the eight suing organizations will not.

White supremacist Jacob Scott Goodwin has been found guilty of malicious wounding, nine months after he battered a young black man in a Charlottesville (VA) garage before his victim, 20-year-old DeAndre Harris was attacked by other white supremacists who broke his arm and injured his spine. Other attackers are awaiting trial. At the same event, another white supremacist deliberately drove into a crowd, killed Heather Heyer, and injured more than another dozen people. Two days after Goodwin’s guilt was established, white supremacist Alex Michael Ramos was found guilty of “malicious wounding” in the same attack. Both men face 20 years in prison. Two other men face trials for the assault.

Muslim-American Yonas Fikre is suing the government for putting him on its no-fly list to blackmail him into being an FBI informant to provide information about his place of worship, Portland’s largest Sunni mosque. His lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, has asked a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court to continue the suit that had been dismissed after the government removed Fikre’s name from the list stopping him from returning to his home in the U.S. Judges were irritated by the DOJ sudden offer to stop the appeal by promising that Fikre won’t be put back on the list for the same reasons as in 2010. They asked why the DOJ does not think that Fikre deserves declaratory relief after his marriage was destroyed and his business was disrupted. Mayfield has been awarded a $2 million settlement after the FBI wrongly arrested him as a suspect in the 2004 Madrid train bombings and subjected him to the same unconstitutional actions as the government did to Fikre.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, is the next cabinet member to be sued. A rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration established in 2015 mandated assessment of local segregation patterns, barriers to fair housing, and planning to correct the problems. Carson called desegregation efforts “failed socialist experiments” and suspended the rule. The lawsuit asserts that Carson did not provide for public notice or comment opportunity. Carson said that the process was too burdensome. In addition, the lawsuit claims that HUD violated its duty to guarantee that federal funds promote fair housing—for example, giving millions in HUD grants to white suburbs in Westchester County that refuses affordable housing.

The next branch to be covered is the legislature.

Nel's New Day

Democracy from people often comes from court decisions. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suspended democratic action by blocking any discussion for President Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court Justice, SCOTUS moved away from people’s rights with Neil Gorsuch’s nomination by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Fortunately, the Supreme Court makes fewer than 100 decisions per year while courts across the nation can rule on constitutional rights in thousands of cases.

Recently, five Supreme Court justices removed rights from workers when five justices determined that employees must settle disputes through individual arbitration behind closed doors rather than through class action in open court. The decision worsens an earlier ruling allowing corporations to avoid class-action lawsuits from consumers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg read part of her dissent from the bench:

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts — including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims…

View original post 1,334 more words

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words, "Democracy is Dissent."

What to Do This Week of Jan 8, 2017: Actions for Democrats, Independents, & Republicans of Conscience

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words,

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

As promised, I am once again reblogging Jennifer Hofman’s weekly “To Do” list.  This week’s actions focus on more Cabinet-level nominees. These include

  • Ben Carson for Health and Human Development
  • General John Kelly for Homeland Security
  • Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Energy
  • Wilbur Ross for Commerce
  • General James Mattis for Defense
  • Mike Pompeo for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

After making your calls, read the links at the end of the blog to see the good news she lists.  As a teaser, here’s some of the good news she includes:

  • President Obama bans drilling in the Atlantic and the Artic Oceans (for as long as this can last under the new administration).
  • Several senators introduces legislation that would ban discriminatory registries.
  • Charles Feeney, the “James Bond of Philanthropy” gives the last $7,000,000 of his multi-billion dollar fortune to Cornell University to support students doing community service. Other donations over the years have spanned the fields of education, human rights, peace, scientific research, and public health
  • and more…

So read on, make your calls, and enjoy the good news.

What to Do This Week of Jan 8, 2017

Actions for Democrats, Independents, & Republicans of Conscience

The intention of this weekly document is to make clear suggestions for action backed with well-considered research. Although these actions are intended to be helpful, they are still subject to human error. Please do your own research!

If you’d like to subscribe to this weekly action list, please go here:

http://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/

The most important thing this week: Senate confirmation hearings

This is a second dense action list in a row, but I promise you a ton of good news at the end as your reward.

In yet another unprecedented action, most of djt’s cabinet appointment hearings are stacked together starting Tuesday this week. Some will have hearings without a completed ethics review from the Office of Government Ethics. Even if you don’t think this is evasive and creepy, this schedule will make it hard for the OGE, the press, and the American public to understand who the new cabinet leaders are and assess their conflicts of interest.

What you can do is put pressure on the Senate committees so they know we’re paying attention.Yes, making calls can be stressful, but it’s working. Staffers are telling us they’re hearing from lots of people. Never underestimate the power of your voice.

Edited: If you oppose djt skipping the ethics process for the first time in four decades, go to Wall of Us for very clear instructions on how to protest this creepiness.

Here’s their link (and I suggest following them too!) Today (Sunday) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said no votes would be permitted until ethics paperwork is filed. It is good new, however, depending on when they’re filed, it doesn’t allow committees review the materials before hearings (the way Obama’s administration did eight years ago).

Your voice matters

For each cabinet appointee you feel is unfit to serve, take two specific actions:

  1. Tell the Senate committee chair (Republican) you oppose the nominee.
  2. Tell the Senate ranking member (Democrat) you oppose the nominee.
  3. Optional: Call your own two senators to oppose–especially if you are a Republican.

Note: Do leave a message if you get voicemail or call after hours/weekend.

Make the calls

  1. Oppose Housing and Urban Development Secretary appointee, Ben Carson.

Committee: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Call: Chair Richard Shelby 202-224-5744

Call: Ranking member Sherrod Brown 202-224-2315 (may be full?)

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. I would like him to know I oppose Ben Carson for HUD Secretary. I’m concerned about Carson’s lack of experience and opposition to this department. (source)

  1. Oppose Homeland Security Secretary appointee, Gen. John Kelly.

Committee: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Call: Chair Ron Johnson 202-224-5323

Call: Incoming ranking member Claire McKaskill 202-224-6154

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his/her role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. I would like him/her to know I oppose General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security. Not because he is unqualified, but I oppose militarizing the US cabinet. (source source)

  1. Oppose Environmental Protection Agency appointee, Scott Pruitt.

Committee: Senate Environment and Public Works

Call: Chair John Barrasso 202-224-6441

Call: Incoming ranking member Tom Carper 202-224-2441

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. I would like him to know I oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator. I’m concerned about his climate denial, anti-EPA lawsuit, and ties to the energy industry. (source)

  1. Oppose Energy Secretary appointee, Rick Perry.

Committee: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Call: Chair Lisa Murkowski 202-224-6665

Call: Ranking member Maria Cantwell 202-224-3441

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in her role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee. I would like her to know I oppose Rick Perry for Energy Secretary. I’m concerned about his ties to oil, climate denial, and history of opposition to this agency. (source)

Only three more! You can do it!

  1. Oppose Commerce Secretary appointee, Wilbur Ross.

Committee: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Call: Chair John Thune 202-224-2321

Call: Ranking member Bill Nelson 202-224-5274

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee. I would like him to know I oppose Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary. I’m concerned about his deep financial ties to Russia. (source)

  1. Oppose Defense Secretary nominee, Gen. James Mattis.

Committee: Senate Armed Services

Call: Chair John McCain 202-224-2235

Call: Ranking member Jack Reed 202-224-4642

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his role as the Chair/ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I would like him to know I oppose General James Mattis for Secretary of Homeland Security. He may be qualified, but we at a dangerous precedent when militarizing civilian cabinet posts. (source source)

  1. Oppose CIA Director appointment, Mike Pompeo.

Committee: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Call: Chair Richard Burr 202-224-3154

Call: Vice chair Mark Warner 202-224-2023

Script: I am calling Sen ____ in his role as the chair/vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I would like him to know I oppose Mike Pompeo for CIA director. I’m concerned about someone who supports government surveillance, torture, and religious oppression leading this vital agency. (source)

Still have time?

Last week’s email had seven additional cabinet appointees to oppose–some of whom will have a hearing this week. If you haven’t yet called to oppose them, here’s the link to last week’s document.

Good news

You did it! Here’s your reward: news of actual humans being kind, supporting each other, and standing up for what’s right. We are still a fantastic, diverse country (in case you needed a reminder).

  1. Some Rockettes choose to sit out on inauguration (story from Rolling Stone)
  2. Vermont governor pardons 192 non-violent marijuana convictions (story from NYT)
  3. A&E cancels plans for Escaping the KKK documentary (story from WaPo)
  4. Obama vaporizes anti-Muslim NSEERS program (story from Vox)
  5. A bunch of awesome senators introduce legislation blocking discriminatory registries (press release)
  6. Obama bans drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans (story from The Guardian)
  7. Adorable reaction of bystander to lesbian wedding proposal (from HuffPo)
  8. Billionaire donates the last of his fortune to charity (story from NYT)
  9. This will make you tear up. There are GOOD people in the world. (from newsner)

TOLD you there was good news!

Final action

  • Please share any or all content in this message today (no attribution needed).
  • Tweet: Oppose djt’s cabinet appointments before hearings start Tues! Deets:
  • Facebook: Cabinet hearings start on Tuesday and this list makes it easy to oppose them. Take action today!

Housekeeping

  • If you’d like to subscribe to this weekly message, please visit this link.
  • To see archives of What To Do checklists, click here (and scroll to the bottom)
  • If you’d like to contribute, click here.

We’re stronger together!

 

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words, "Democracy is Dissent."

Nominee Hearings: Make America Corrupt Again

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words, "Democracy is Dissent."

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

Some cabinet-level hearings have started. Several others are scheduled over the next two weeks before the presidential inauguration. Most are problematic. Here’s what Nel has to say about these next two weeks.

Check out my other blogs (click here and here) to find the Senate Committee chairs’ phone numbers where you can call to raise your opposition to the problematic cabinet-level nominations.

Meanwhile, here’s what Nel has to say about these next two weeks.

 

Nel's New Day

Writing about the timing for Senate confirmation hearings—at least accurately!—has become almost impossible. A few days, I was bemoaning how Cabinet members are being rushed through without deliberation, but every hour seems to change the GOP game plan. Originally, six Cabinet-level confirmations were scheduled on the same day that the chamber works on the budget (that one that grows the deficit by $10 trillion in the next decade) and Donald Trump (DT) gives his first press conference in six months to divert attention from his nominees. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “There is a whole lot of: ‘Don’t watch what we’re doing here.” Watchers now, however, can see how the GOP is failing at its job.

The inability of Betsy DeVos (Department of Education) put off her hearing until next Tuesday in the hopes that she can finished her required ethics paperwork. Her investment in a for-profit charter school would…

View original post 1,113 more words

Is Donald Trump’s Cabinet Anti-Woman?

Central Oregon Coast NOW

anti-women Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald J. Trump’s campaign was dogged by accusations of misogyny. Now his cabinet is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent memory to issues affecting women, advocacy groups for women say. Tax credits for child care and the prospect of paid maternity leave are exceptions to a host of positions that could result in new restrictions on abortion and less access to contraception, limits on health care that disproportionately affect women and minorities and curbs on funding for domestic violence, as well as slowing the momentum toward raising the minimum wage or making progress on equal pay.

Consider their positions on these issues.

Domestic violence

Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s selection for attorney general; Tom Price, chosen for Health and Human Services secretary; and Mike Pompeo, the pick for C.I.A. director, all voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which funds…

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Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

We Need to Save Both Blacks, Police

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said it all in her tweet:

“Black Americans shouldn’t be killed in routine traffic stops, and police shouldn’t be killed while protecting and serving their communities.”

Picture of a gun with a knotted barrel with the words "Stop the Violence" surrounding the gun.

Stop Gun Violence

Nel's New Day

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) husband was killed in a mass shooting in 1993, the same horrific event that seriously wounded her son. Elected to Congress four years later, she fought for gun safety legislation. Not until 2007 did she succeed—in a small way. During the last session before winter holiday recess that year, Congress passed a law requiring federal agencies to keep up-to-date records on people who might be disqualified from purchasing guns such as those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than a year, and those with documented mental health issues.  Other than a vote to renew a ban on plastic firearms in 2013, that’s the last gun safety legislation that got through Congress. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have died because of firearms, and the number of mass shootings are drastically increasing.

After the 50 deaths…

View original post 1,317 more words