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“Right to Work” Rears Its Ugly Head Again

It must be Groundhog Day. There’s another Supreme Court case that could “deal a major blow to labor unions.”

Yes, the National Right to Work Foundation is getting another chance to impose “Right to Work” on the entire nation through Supreme Court fiat.

Nevermind how voters may feel about it. After Maine lawmakers passed “Right to Work” in 1947, voters repealed the law by a two-to-one majority. In 1958, California and Colorado voters refused “Right to Work” by three-to-two margins; Ohio voters turned it down two-to-one; and voters in the state of Washington said “no” by a margin of nine-to-five. Ohio lawmakers ignored the 1958 ballot results and passed “Right to Work” in 2011; and voters repealed the law by an overwhelming margin. Missouri lawmakers passed “Right to Work” last year; but the law is now on hold, and voters will have the final say in a referendum this fall.

Nevermind the state legislatures that have had second thoughts about “Right to Work.” In both New Hampshire and Delaware, state legislatures adopted “Right to Work” in 1947 – and then repealed it in 1949. Louisiana’s legislature passed “Right to Work” in 1954 and repealed it in 1956 (and then passed it again in 1976). Indiana passed “Right to Work” in 1957 and repealed it in 1965 (and then passed it again in 2012).

Nevermind that conservatives are supposed to be opposed to judicial activism. The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to make “Right to Work” the law of the land. The Foundation has been using court cases to chip away at labor unions since 1968 – and they’re proud of it. You can read a list of the court cases they’ve brought against unions here.

If they succeed, what happens next? All the press coverage has been about the potential damage to labor unions. But what about

Government contracting? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that government contracting is an “inherently political” process. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of government contracting? At last report, the federal government negotiated more than 3.8 million contracts a year, totaling about $440 billion in spending – and about 2% of the federal workforce was made up of “contract professionals” (who are not union members). What happens if the Supreme Court adds “politics” to the list of reasons a procurement decision can be challenged? Will taxpayers or business competitors be able to challenge contract decisions on the basis of politics? (For instance, the $24 million refrigerator upgrade to Air Force One – was that decision tainted by the $16.7 million in lobbying that Boeing paid for, last year? The more than $1 million its PAC has “invested” in this year’s federal campaigns? The more than $2 million it spent on the 2016 campaigns?)

Employers’ rights? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that an employee’s “right” to not associate with the union takes precedence over his employer’s right to determine conditions of employment. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of employer-employee relations? What happens when an employer requires a security clearance, but the employee wants to associate with terrorist organizations? When an employer wants to maintain a mainstream “brand” but the employee wants to use Facebook and Twitter to advertise his association with the American Nazi Party?

States’ rights to decide the terms and conditions of their workers’ employment?

40 years’ worth of judicial precedents, not just in labor law, but also First Amendment interpretation? (If workers’ First Amendment rights trump their public employers’ interests, won’t that open the floodgates for “leaks” to the press?)

What about all the other potential ramifications of this case?

Yep, it’s Groundhog Day. Another opportunity for the Supreme Court to overlook long-term consequences, in a case brought by political insiders.

Remember Citizens United? Citizens United President David Bossie is on the GOP’s National Committee and a “veteran conservative operative.” The Supreme Court used his court case to overturn campaign finance laws. Now Congress is openly doing what their donors (not voters) want. Read the Brennan Center’s How Citizens United Changed Politics and Shaped the Tax Bill.  Read Politico’s Big donors ready to reward Republicans for tax cuts. Is this really what the Supreme Court had in mind, when it ruled in Citizens United?

Remember Hobby Lobby? Salon describes how Hobby Lobby is “quietly funding a vast right-wing movement.” The Supreme Court used its case to give religious rights to for-profit corporations, and now we’re beginning to see the consequences. Cardozo Law Review explored how employers could use the Hobby Lobby decision to sidestep employment-discrimination laws. And at least one federal court has already allowed a corporation to fire an employee for “religious” reasons, notwithstanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Notice how “Right to Work” is being pushed by special-interest organizations? The Koch-connected American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-affiliated US Chamber of Commerce. And, of course, the Koch-funded National Right to Work groups. Notice how it’s not being pushed by actual businesses? Not in New Hampshire. Not in Ohio. But the ripple effect of this court case could be huge.

Groundhog Day. Janus v. AFSCME. Another chance for the Supreme Court to reinforce the impression that it’s an extension of the Republican Party. After all the headlines about Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch, what are citizens supposed to think? Both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claim Justice Gorsuch as “an accomplishment.” The RNC based a fundraising campaign on his confirmation. The Court just blocked a lower court’s order that North Carolina redraw its election maps, because the old maps were unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that favored the GOP. (And now Pennsylvania’s GOP legislators want the Court to block a similar ruling in their state.)

Groundhog Day. Another attack by the special interests that have been transforming our government into an oligarchy. (“Oligarchy” – government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes)

Voters’ view, last election day: 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.” 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”

Granite Staters’ view, now: only 14% think voters have more influence than special interests.

Groundhog Day, the movie, reminds us that we can be doomed to repeat the same thing over and over until we “get it right.” (How fitting that the movie is now back in theaters for its 25th anniversary.)

It’s supposed to be our government. When are we going to get this right?

Sen. Shaheen Urges GOP Leadership To Schedule Hearings For SCOTUS Nominee (VIDEO)

“The American people expect Senators to be faithful to our oath. They also expect us to do our jobs – regardless of whether it is an election year.”
— Senator Jeanne Shaheen

(Washington, DC) —U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) delivered remarks on the Senate floor today urging Republican leaders to consider President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, and set a hearing and a vote on his nomination. Shaheen called out Senate Republicans for breaking with bipartisan tradition and refusing to fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities to hold hearings and a vote on Judge Garland’s nomination. President Obama nominated Judge Garland in March, however, Senate Republicans have not held a hearing on his nomination. Since 1975, the average length of time from nomination to a confirmation vote for the Supreme Court has been 67 days. 

“Every Senator swore to ‘support and defend’ the Constitution – full stop,” said Shaheen. “Our oath does not say: uphold the Constitution ‘most of the time’ or ‘only when it’s not a Presidential election year.’ The American people expect Senators to be faithful to our oath. They also expect us to do our jobs – regardless of whether it is an election year.”

Shaheen continued, “Let’s do the job we were sent her to do by the American people. Let’s follow the Constitution.”

Senator Shaheen met with Judge Garland in April to discuss his nomination.

Watch Here 

Activists Deliver Beach Balls To Senator Ayotte: Time To Do Your Job

SCOTUS Beach Ball Action, Sen. Ayotte Office Desk Filled, 8.31.16Beach Ball Delivery to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte: Summer’s Over, Time to #DoYourJob and Fill the U.S. Supreme Court Vacancy 

PORTSMOUTH, NH – The Why Courts Matter New Hampshire coalition – including Granite State Progress and People For the American Way – delivered eight beach balls and ninth deflated one to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office today with a message to get back to work and #DoYourJob.

“Congressional recess – summer break – is coming to a close and it’s time for Senator Ayotte to do her job and fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “A full 60 percent of New Hampshire constituents oppose the decision of Senator Ayotte and Senate Republican leaders to not hold confirmation hearings and an up-or-down vote. People are tired of Senator Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court.”

President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created earlier this year by Justice Scalia’s passing, but Ayotte and the Republican-led Senate refuse to hold a timely hearing and confirmation vote. Ayotte and her colleagues now hold the record for the longest number of days from nomination to confirmation in SCOTUS history, continuing their pattern of partisan obstruction for judicial confirmations in general.

“Senator Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but her continued obstruction around the U.S. Supreme Court nominee shows otherwise,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way. “Merrick Garland has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Senate Republicans refusing to do their jobs and leaving the Supreme Court to operate with just eight justices means the Supreme Court is unable to do its job. Because of Republican obstruction, the Supreme Court finished this year’s term with a 4-4 tie on some of the most important issues to reach the court in recent years, denying justice to millions of our families and neighbors in the process.” 

The organizations delivered beach balls taped with headlines and editorials from across the state calling on Ayotte to stop obstructing the Supreme Court nominee, and with the message #DoYourJob when she returns to Washington, DC from Congressional summer recess next week.

“Supreme Court Justices” Convene At Senator Ayotte’s Nashua Office

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 Constituents bring the court to Ayotte’s office, call on her to do her job and fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat

NASHUA, NH – Eight U.S. Supreme Court “Justices” held court outside of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua district office today to highlight Ayotte’s continued obstruction to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Senator Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but her continued obstruction around the U.S. Supreme Court nominee shows otherwise,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way. “Merrick Garland has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Public polling shows that Ayotte is out of touch with her constituents who disagree with her handling of the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.”

President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created earlier this year by Justice Scalia’s passing, but Ayotte and the Republican-led Senate refuse to hold a timely hearing and confirmation vote. Ayotte and her colleagues now hold the record for the longest number of days from nomination to confirmation in SCOTUS history, continuing their pattern of partisan obstruction for judicial confirmations. The Why Courts Matter New Hampshire coalition – including Granite State Progress and People For the American Way – are hosting events during Congressional Recess and beyond to highlight Ayotte’s obstructionism and call on her to #FilltheSeat because #WeNeedNine.

“Granite Staters are tired of Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans refusing to do their jobs and leaving the Supreme Court to operate with just eight justices means justice is jeopardized or delayed for millions of Americans,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress.

Ayotte Is Still Failing To Do Her Job, Doubles Down On No Hearings For Garland

On a right-wing radio station this morning, host Keith Hanson pressed Sen. Ayotte on why she continues to refuse to hold even hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Linds Jakows issued the following statement in response: 

“Sen. Ayotte’s continued blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is reckless and goes against the wishes of over two-thirds of Granite Staters. Yet instead of doing her job by following the Constitutional process of hearings and a vote, she’d prefer the Supreme Court seats be filled by Donald Trump, who she’s still voting for even after his attacks on women, veterans, and immigrants.”

Transcript below from WNTK Radio this morning at 8:40 AM. 

5:17

Radio host: I wanted to talk about the Garland issue. The last thing I want to do is see Obama appoint yet another activist, liberal judge. Why not allow the hearings?

Ayotte: we’re in a situation that’s somewhat unique. We have a 4-4 court, the court has shifted, this is going to impact our constitutional rights for decades. we have divided gov…we should let the voters have a voice. To me, that’s a very important question, and when you have this situation, where it’s going to fundamentally impact people’s constitutional rights, you gotta let the people weigh in with the next presidency of which direction the country is going to take.

7:05:

Radio: it’s seems like there’s a painting in the corner when it’s an outright refusal, it gives ammunition to the left. Why not at least go through the motions?

Ayotte: So you’re saying I should go through the motions, and you say that’s a more honest approach than letting the people weigh in? I don’t know if I agree with that. That’s certainly not something I would do.

Here is what Ayotte does not seem to be able to grasp: The people have already weighed in on who they want to pick the next Supreme Court Justice and his name is President Barack Obama.  He overwhelmingly won the 2012 election and that is who the American people decided should appoint the next Justice when the time comes and that time is today.

Ayotte’s obstructionism is unprecedented. Never before has nominee to the Supreme Court been held up for this long.  Merrick Garland deserves a hearing and a confirmation vote.  Garland was confirmed for his current position in the DC Circuit by the Republican controlled Senate in 1997 by a vote of 76-23.

If Garland was good enough to be confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate in 1997, why is he not even good enough to hold confirmation hearings for now?

Ayotte needs to stop playing partisan politics with Garlands nomination and just Do Her Job.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

People For The American Way Activists Deliver A Constitution Cake For Senator Ayotte’s Birthday

IMG_0150

Today, People For the American Way activists and allies held birthday celebration outside of Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s Manchester office to mark the Senator’s birthday. Activists delivered a Constitution cake to call for the Senator to fill her constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on the President’s Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.  

IMG_0148Ayotte has refused to support hearings and a vote for Garland for over 100 days now, despite pressure from 63% of Granite Staters who support a hearing and vote. Since the 1980s, every person appointed to the Court has been given a prompt hearing and vote within 100 days. Garland recently received the highest possible rating from a non-partisan committee of the American Bar Association.

“Sen. Ayotte is completely out of excuses,” said Linds Jakows, PFAW New Hampshire Campaign Organizer. “Since she can’t justify this unprecedented obstruction by claiming New Hampshire voters support it, it’s clear she’s intentionally holding the seat open to be filled by Donald Trump, who’s called for punishment for women seeking abortions and stated that a judge’s religion or heritage should disqualify them.”

In addition to delivering the Constitution Cake, activists sang Senator Ayotte a special version of Happy Birthday.  Check out the video here, or below.

Below is the text of the special Senator Ayotte Happy Birthday song:

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to Kelly, happy birthday to you!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, please uphold the Constitution and support hearings and a vote too!

Happy birthday dear Ayotte, you are 48. If you supported hearings that would be really great!

Happy birthday dear Ayotte, our Supreme Court isn’t fine. Justice for millions is waiting– we really need nine.

Happy birthday to Ayotte, listen to the people’s will. Stop holding the Supreme Court open for Donald Trump to fill!

Disappointment Over SCOTUS Immigration Tie Highlights Call For Senate To “Do Your Job”

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

The Supreme Court splits on DACA and DAPA, highlighting the urgent need to confirm a ninth Supreme Court Justice.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, the case challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). This means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against these initiatives will stand.

This ruling does not impact the original DACA program launched in 2012.

“One of the reasons why America is such a diverse and inclusive nation is because we’re a nation of immigrants,” said President Barack Obama. “Our Founders conceived of this country as a refuge for the world. And for more than two centuries, welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.”

“But for more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama added.

Confirming that this ruled does not affect the original DACA program and in an attempt to ease people’s minds, Obama continued:

“I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed today, but it is important to understand what today means. The deferred action policy that has been in place for the last four years is not affected by this ruling. Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling. This means that the people who might have benefitted from the expanded deferred action policies — long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents — they will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

“The decision is a huge disappointment for immigrant families and their defenders. It’s bad for American communities, workers and the economy,” wrote the Immigration Policy Council. “We will continue to explore all available legal avenues and will urge the government to do the same. Ultimately, the nation needs a permanent solution to our outdated immigration system, and that must come from Congress. The fight will continue.”

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “While we are deeply disappointed by the Court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.”

“This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the Administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights,” added Trumka.

Locally, elected leaders and advocates spoke out against this decision.

“Today’s SCOTUS un-decision comes as a hard blow to the millions of immigrants that could have benefited from DAPA and the extension of DACA,” said Eva Castillo, Program Director for the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “We will not stand still, we will continue to push back against anti-immigrant politicians and what they represent.”

“In November our vote will speak loudly against all candidates that stand for hatred, xenophobia and racism. That is our pledge,” Castillo added.

In 2015, Senator Shaheen joined more than 30 Senators and 180 Members of the House of Representatives, in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court before the case went to trial.

“Families shouldn’t live in fear that at a moment’s notice a father, mother or child could be separated from their loved ones,” said Shaheen. “The Supreme Court’s order today is extremely disappointing and demonstrates why having only eight justices on our nation’s highest court hurts our country.”

“This order ignores the clear intent of Congress to grant the executive branch the discretion to establish and enforce immigration policy. Our country is at its strongest when we are open, inclusive and embrace all people. DAPA and expanded DACA would be good for families, our communities, and our economy and I am deeply disappointed that partisan opposition has prevented these initiatives from going forward.”

“It’s now up to us in Congress to work together to advance immigration policies that will keep families together and strengthen our nation,” Shaheen concluded.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

This split decision only further highlights the need for the US Senate to hold confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice.

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland 100 days ago and some Senators, including New Hampshire’s own Kelly Ayotte, are refusing to hold confirmation hearings on Garland.

“Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to do her job has now hit the 100 day mark as she keeps a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill with an anti-choice justice,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “100 days later, New Hampshire voters still want Ayotte to do her job and give the President’s nominee fair consideration.”

“Granite Staters have had enough of Kelly Ayotte’s political obstruction and reckless support for a misogynist presidential candidate who would appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” Miller added.

“Today’s decision is a shattering blow to millions of families and a painfully clear illustration of why we need a fully staffed Supreme Court in order to address the most important issues we face as a country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of the People for the American Way. “Without issuing a real opinion or providing any reasoning, our hobbled Supreme Court has allowed a single district court judge to implement a twisted ruling that will have a profound impact on the lives of families all across the country. The Court has provided no guidance to lower courts while simultaneously impacting millions of people’s lives.”

The People for the American Way have been leading the charge for the Senate to confirm a new Justice. Baker continued by blasting Ayotte for failing to uphold her Constitutional duty to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice.

“This isn’t how our system of justice is supposed to work. Yet Republicans including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are eager to force their ideology into law by any means necessary, have refused to perform their most basic responsibilities and give fair consideration to a pending Supreme Court nominee. This is the result of a broken system of government, and make no mistake, Republicans have broken it on purpose.”

Governor Maggie Hassan, who is running against Ayotte, highlighted Ayotte’s failure to do her job and confirm a new Justice.

“Earlier this week, the American Bar Association affirmed what members of both parties have said to be true: Judge Merrick Garland is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States and his nomination deserves fair consideration,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte continues to side with her party leadership in obstructing the Supreme Court confirmation process – despite the fact that a majority of Granite Staters support considering Garland’s confirmation now.”

“As this irresponsible blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process marks 100 days, I call on Senator Ayotte to drop the partisan politics, do her job and stop putting her political party before justice for Granite Staters,” Hassan concluded.

The Supreme Court has shown twice now that they cannot function properly with only eight Justices. The Senate must do their Constitutional duty and confirm a new Justice.

Why Is Sen. Ayotte Holding the Vacant Supreme Court Seat For Donald Trump to Fill?

By Lindsay Jakows

Lindsay Jakows

Lindsay Jakows

Soon after Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. Kelly Ayotte said that she will support him in the general election. Since Sen. Ayotte has repeatedly indicated her opposition to providing fair consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, she has now made clear that her position is that the Supreme Court vacancy should be left open until a President Trump can fill it. I find this to be deeply troubling.

Our judicial system is meant to be above partisan politics, and our Founders laid out a clear process for filling Supreme Court vacancies when they occur. Article II of the Constitution is straightforward about the duties of both the president and the Senate: the president nominates a judge and senators provide “advice and consent.” There is no asterisk in the Constitution to say this does not happen during the final year of a presidency. There is no asterisk saying this does not happen when the Senate is controlled by a different political party than the president and the majority leader prefers for his party to do the nominating. That is simply not how the system works, and for good reason. 

Senate Republicans’ insistence on casting aside a well-established, Constitutional process is threatening the functioning of our democracy and the promise of an impartial judiciary — a fact that should be concerning to all of us. 

Nonetheless, Republican senators, including Sen. Ayotte, are doing just that, blocking the fair consideration of a nominee who is universally known to be even-tempered, hardworking, eminently qualified, and committed to the unbiased interpretation of our laws. Chief Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any prior Supreme Court nominee. He has gained the admiration of people across the political spectrum, including Republican senators like Orrin Hatch who once called Garland “a consensus nominee.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, a former colleague of Garland’s on the D.C. Circuit, once said that whenever Judge Garland disagrees with you, “you know you’re in a difficult area.” Former Solicitors General from Democratic and Republican administrations alike, spanning the ideological spectrum, agree that Judge Garland is “superbly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.” 

This is the judge President Obama has put forward: a moderate and exceptionally qualified nominee. On the other hand, if Donald Trump were to be elected, he would be the one making nominations, which is a truly frightening prospect. Trump’s proposals can be described as erratic and dangerous, at best. This is a candidate who has advocated killing the family members of terrorists, despite the Geneva Convention; supports a “total and complete” ban on Muslim people coming into the country; wants to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants by force; and has pledged to “open up” libel laws in order to attack news organizations. The list he released recently of his potential Supreme Court picks only underscores just how dangerous it would be for Donald Trump to be the person nominating our high court’s justices. 

It also makes it all the more distressing that our state’s senator has taken a stance against giving Judge Garland fair consideration, instead working to hold the seat open for our next president, who she hopes will be Trump. 

I believe Americans deserve better than this. Without a fully-staffed Supreme Court, the justices will likely continue to deadlock in 4-4 split votes, leaving important legal questions unresolved. Creating a precedent of unnecessarily obstructing Supreme Court nominees is harmful for both the Court itself and for Americans who should be able to rely on a working democracy. Sen. Ayotte should fight for a fully-functioning judiciary, not attempt to delay filling the Supreme Court vacancy so that a President Trump can do so.

Lindsay Jakows is the New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way.

Granite Stater Among A Dozen Young Leaders In Washington Calling On Senate To “Do Your Job”

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Young Leaders Join Members of Congress to tell Senators: #DoYourJob

Yesterday, national youth-led and youth-serving organizations released an open letter to U.S. Senators calling for fair consideration for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

At the press conference releasing the letter today at the Supreme Court, young leaders from across the country joined members of Congress and discussed why Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, needs to do his job and schedule hearings and a vote for Judge Garland instead of engaging in unprecedented partisan obstruction. Speakers also shared what’s at stake for young people in the Supreme Court vacancy fight.

“It’s energizing to see so many young leaders at the front of the growing chorus of voices urging Senate leaders to do their job and provide a fair process for the consideration of Chief Judge Merrick Garland,” said Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “The decisions made at the Supreme Court don’t just impact us today, they impact generations to come. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate do its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent by giving Merrick Garland a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote.”

“It’s been more than three months now since a vacancy opened on the U.S. Supreme Court, and during that time, we’ve seen a whole lot of partisan bickering, obstructionism, and political maneuvering,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN). “But you know what we haven’t seen: Senate Republicans doing their job as outlined by the Constitution. The President has fulfilled his duty by nominating Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the highest court in the land, and now, it’s the responsibility of us—the Senate—to fulfill our duty as well. That means we need Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and ultimately, an up or down vote on Judge Garland’s confirmation. I was pleased to join these young American leaders today to remind Senate Republicans that it’s time to take off their political blinders. This is far too important to ignore.”

“As a member of Congress who was elected to do my job, I take my constitutional duty seriously,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Senate leadership should stop their obstructionism and take their duties seriously, too. A lengthy Supreme Court vacancy can have severe and lasting consequences. It’s time for the Senate to do their jobs and give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.”

“This Supreme Court vacancy is critically important for all Americans, but especially for Latinos living in the United States,” said Rep. Linda Sánchez. “We are an especially young community with more than 14 million millennials. So our message is simple: The President has done his job, now it is time for Republican Senators to do their job.”

Oscar R. Cornejo a junior at Dartmouth College studying Sociology and Native American Studies, was one of the many young leaders who traveled to Washington to urge the Senate to “Do Your Job.”

As an undocumented student from Mexico, Oscar co-founded Dartmouth’s first immigrant rights organization, advocating and raising awareness of the undocumented immigrant voice. During his three years at Dartmouth, Oscar has united campus stakeholders to cultivate inclusivity and access to undocumented students, organized the 2015 Collegiate Alliance for Immigration Reform conference, and lead a successful campaign to have the Library of Congress drop the I-word.

“I know some senators want to wait until after the election, until the next President is elected, to choose the next Supreme Court justice,” said Oscar Conejo, of Hanover, New Hampshire. “But the Senators need to do their job, not play politics with the Supreme Court. As an undocumented student, I know just how critical the decisions are that they make on important issues that affect me and my family, from education to immigration and so much more.”

The letter released today is signed by Young People For, Generation Progress, NAACP Youth and College Division, Sierra Student Coalition, the Roosevelt Institute, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Energy Action Coalition, American Constitution Society Student Chapters, the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, Student Debt Crisis, Advocates for Youth, and the Micah Leadership Council.

Text of the letter is below as well as selected remarks from some of the young leaders who spoke out yesterday.

Consuelo Hernandez, Tucson, Arizona: “I’m here today because I’m tired of conservatives in the Senate choosing politics over precedent and chaos over constitutional duty. On issues as wide-ranging as voting, reproductive justice, and economic justice, the day-to-day lives of young people are directly impacted by the decisions made at the Supreme Court. By choosing not to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland the fair and timely consideration afforded past nominees, conservatives are abandoning their constitutional duties and turning their backs on the constituents like me who put them in office.”

Max Levy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “As the president of the College Dems chapter at the University of Pennsylvania, I know how important it is to work with organizations from across the political spectrum.  Even though we don’t always agree, we work hard to foster productive dialogue on our campus. Right now, some Senators are saying we shouldn’t even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, and that’s just plain wrong. Dialogue is healthy for democracy. I know that’s true on my  campus, and it’s true for the Senate.”

Mary Marston, Concord, North Carolina: “Young people now make up the largest voting bloc in America and many are just becoming politically active. It is critical that our elected officials follow through on their constitutional commitments to keep young people engaged in the democratic process.”

Zach Wahls, Iowa City, Iowa: “I see the marriage between my moms—the possibility of their marriage—as our legal system keeping up its end of the American promise to a fair hearing and due process. Because the Court was able to act, and its decision was recognized as legitimate, my parents’ marriage is recognized in all fifty states—my parents’ sacred promise is recognized to mean the same thing in Iowa as in Alabama. We got a fair hearing, and we need to make sure that America can get a fair hearing, too.”

Peter Cheun, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “Law students across the ideological spectrum may disagree on who their ideal Supreme Court nominee would be. But in my experience, they have been nearly unanimous in their agreement that the Senate should do its job: Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and an up or down vote.”

Max Eichenberger, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “When employees fail to do their jobs, it is their business and consumers that ultimately suffer. For the U.S. Senate, their business is administering our representative government, and we are all the consumers. Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and keep this shop running.”

Joelle Gamble, National Director, Network at the Roosevelt Institute: “So far, in 2016, we’ve seen that young people just want the political process to work the way it is supposed to. If our leaders want us to participate, they have to ensure that the political process works in the first place. They must restore our faith in democracy.”

Karissa Gerhke, Sierra Student Coalition National Director: “Young people working for just, sustainable communities and the protection of the environment are not taking a back seat in this fight. We can’t and we won’t let obstructionists threaten everything we’re fighting for on our campuses and in our communities. The Senate should do its job to fill this vacancy.”

Stephen A. Green, NAACP National Youth and College Director: “Young people from across the country have courageously come together to call upon Congress to do their job or lose their job. We deserve a democracy that works for all people, give Judge Garland a fair hearing!”

Erik Lampmann, People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For Public Affairs & Policy Manager: “Keeping the Court understaffed is simply indefensible. Until our Supreme Court is empowered to function as it was designed, we will not stop calling on Senators to “Do Your Job” and treat the Court, the Constitution, and us with respect.”

Layla Zaidane, Generation Progress Managing Director: “As a generation, Millennials have grown up amid partisan gridlock and politicians more interested in playing political games than doing their job. But the Supreme Court vacancy isn’t a game to us: from marriage equality to reproductive rights, the decisions the Court makes affect our lives, every day. Millennials overwhelmingly support a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s nominee—it’s time for the Senate to do its job and ensure a fully-functioning, fully-staffed Supreme Court.”


Open Letter to the Senate

Dear United States Senators,

We, the undersigned youth-led and youth-serving organizations, call on all U.S. senators to give fair and timely consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

On issues as diverse as immigration policy, voting rights, and reproductive rights, the daily lives of young people are affected by what happens in our nation’s courts. We represent broad youth constituencies seeking to ensure that their rights are protected at the local, state, and federal level — including young immigrants, youth of color, trans* and queer youth, students, low-income youth, and differently-abled young people. We know the communities we work with are just some of the over 100 million people in this country who stand to be directly impacted by cases before the Court just this term.

A fully-functioning judiciary is essential to a flourishing democracy and critical to our ability to protect our rights and seek justice. Purposefully keeping the Supreme Court understaffed, as some senators are proposing, is indefensible.

Chief Judge Garland deserves the treatment traditionally afforded past Supreme Court nominees: prompt hearings and an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Senators who believe Chief Judge Garland should not serve on the Supreme Court are free to vote against him, but blocking the process entirely is an abdication of senators’ constitutionally-defined responsibilities and an insult to the people who elected them.

Young people are working each day to provide for themselves and their families; some are also studying for advanced degrees and vocational certificates or organizing their communities to create change. Across the country, young people are working hard at their jobs. They should be able to expect the same of their senators.

The undersigned organizations call on all senators to do their jobs and consider the President’s nominee to the nation’s highest court in a timely fashion. There are too many critical issues at stake for young people, and for all people, for ideologically motivated senators to play politics with our Supreme Court.

Respectfully,

Advocates for Youth

American Constitution Society Law Student Chapters

Energy Action Coalition

Generation Progress

Sierra Student Coalition

Student Debt Crisis

Micah Leadership Council

NAACP Youth and College Division

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Network at the Roosevelt Institute

Young Elected Officials Network

Young People For

Voters Disagree With Ayotte In Refusing To Hold Hearings For SCOTUS Nominee

New Poll Shows Majority of Voters Disagree with Ayotte’s Position that Trump Should Pick the Next Supreme Court Justice

Majorities of Republicans and Independents Also Believe There Should be Hearings on the Nominee

CONCORD – While Kelly Ayotte doubles down on her support for Donald Trump and continues to obstruct the Supreme Court confirmation process, a new poll shows that a majority of voters disagree with Ayotte’s position that Donald Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice.

A new Public Policy Polling survey released today showed that 53 percent of voters nationally do not trust Trump to pick the next justice, and 58 percent of voters want the seat to be filled this year.

There is also bipartisan consensus that the Senate should hold hearings on Merrick Garland, something Ayotte has strongly opposed. The poll found 65 percent of voters, including 56 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans want the Senate to hold hearings this year.

“This poll reinforces what we already knew: voters don’t agree with Kelly Ayotte that Donald Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice,” said Maggie for NH Communications Director Aaron Jacobs. “It’s disappointing that Senator Ayotte continues to toe the party line and would choose to leave such a crucial decision in the hands of Donald Trump. While Ayotte continues to refuse to do her job, Granite Staters are making their displeasure with her partisan obstruction heard loud and clear across the state — and they will make it clear again at the ballot box in November.” 

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