Posts tagged with "senate"

Tree illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

California – New State Parks Program

California State Parks, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the Natural Resources Agency today announced the opportunity for fourth graders to apply for a free California State Parks Adventure Pass. Effective today, they can apply for the pass that will give them the opportunity to explore 19 select state parks free for a full year.

“The California State Park Adventure Pass is an incredible new program that will help promote a healthier, more equitable California for all—a California where every child has the opportunity to explore, learn and benefit from our state’s natural wonders,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Championed by the First Partner, whose California for All Kids initiatives support children’s physical, mental and social-emotional well-being, the California State Park Adventure Pass Program expands the opportunity for fourth graders and their families to enjoy the benefits of connecting with nature, with each other and with their communities.

Applying for the free pass online is simple. All that is needed is a name, address, phone number and an email address. For individuals who do not have access to a smartphone, computer or printer, and/or do not have an email address to use when applying online, they can still apply for a pass by visiting a State Parks Pass Sales Office—click here for a list of locations—or by calling (800) 444-7275. For detailed information on the program and the list of participating park units, please visit parks.ca.gov/AdventurePass.

Assembly Bill 148, signed by Governor Newsom in July, established the California State Park Adventure Pass Program, a three-year pilot program that waives day-use entrance fees to 19 state parks for fourth graders and their families for a full year. Earlier this year, the governor also signed Senate Bill 129, legislation that includes $5.6 million to fund the new Pass program. 

When determining which park units would be selected to participate in the pilot program, State Parks reviewed several factors including a diverse list of park units that span the state geographically. By spreading the park units throughout the state, the department will be able to maximize participation by limiting the distance that would need to be traveled to the nearest participating park. State Parks was also mindful of including a diverse collection of park units in terms of park features. The final list includes beaches, museums, redwoods, off-highway vehicle recreation, hiking trails and important cultural history.

The State of California believes in the right of all Californians to have access to recreational opportunities and enjoy the cultural, historic and natural resources found across the state. Too many Californians cannot access the state’s parks, beaches and outdoor spaces, nor the state’s array of museums and cultural and historical sites. Given this, the California Natural Resources Agency and California State Parks are prioritizing efforts to expand all Californians’ access to park, open space, nature and cultural amenities. This priority requires reshaping funding and programs to expand opportunities to enjoy these places. Doing so advances Governor Gavin Newsom’s strong personal commitment to building a “California for All.”

illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

DEBATING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE DRAFT

By: Clara Guthrie

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have proposed a revolutionary reconfiguration of the federal military draft that is aimed at including women in the Selective Service System, according to a release from POLITICO. As the law stands now, all American men must register for the service when they turn 18, although the draft has not actually been enacted in more than 40 years since the Vietnam War. Refusing or failing to register can lead to fines, being denied student financial aid or federal jobs, and even prison time.

In the new proposal – authored by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed of Rhode Island – the language regarding who must enlist at 18 would be expanded to include “all Americans,” not just men.

The conversation around including women in the draft has picked up speed and garnered national attention in the past few years. In June, the National Coalition for Men brought a case to the Supreme Court that challenged the male-only draft, calling it unconstitutional. While the Court declined to hear the case, three Justices—Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh—did release a public statement on the topic. The statement argued that the exclusions of women from the draft made little sense when considering how much the military has changed in the past four decades since the Supreme Court first held up the original policy. The tone of the statement was unsure about whether the draft meets the standard of “exceedingly persuasive justification” to discriminate on the basis of gender. The Justices also noted the monumental 2015 decision from the Pentagon to open all military combat roles to women as further evidence.

This hot-topic issue most recently entered Capitol Hill in 2016. At the time, the Senate voted to have the decision become part of the annual defense policy bill; the House Armed Services Committee adopted a similar provision, but eventually scrapped it. As a compromise, an independent commission was formed to study the draft and the pressing question of what role gender plays in it. In March of 2020, the commission published its final report, which backed the idea of requiring women to register for Selective Service.

However, another distinctive school of thought advocates for the abolition of the draft altogether, as opposed to requiring all young people to register regardless of gender. As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote in his recent piece, Women don’t register for the draft, and men shouldn’t either, “Selective Service has outlived its usefulness. It should be consigned to history. […] Congress shouldn’t just end male-only draft registration. It should end draft registration, period.” Jacoby goes on to argue that the draft is an outdated practice and that an all-volunteer army is far more effective: “Compared with draftees, [those who volunteer for service] work harder, serve longer, perform better, and are more likely to regard their service as a calling, not a compulsion. Their commitment and skill are reflected in the consistent No. 1 ranking of the military as the most trusted institution in America.” This final point is supported by a 2019 Gallup Poll that found that Americans trust the U.S. military more than any other public institution. 

But, of course, there are legitimate issues posed by relying on a solely volunteer force. The All-Volunteer Force Forum (AVF Forum) is a network of military personnel and citizens alike who support some sort of draft being reinstated in order to combat the civil-military gap (a disconnect in views between military and non-military individuals). The AVF Forum cites issues including unsustainable recruiting techniques, a lack of socioeconomic and geographic diversity in the armed forces, and an inability to draw from the largest pool of possible candidates as all being exacerbated by a reliance on volunteerism.

In April, The AVF Forum held a conference to discuss potential amendments to the draft which do not include the complete dissolution of the institution. One solution is as follows:

“The conscription of only 5 to 10 percent of the force from the top 10 percent income tax bracket, [presented] by Marine Corps veteran and author Elliot Ackerman. The logic being that those within reach of the levers of power would be more inclined to limit military involvement if their own children faced drafting and deployment.”

No clear solution was reached at The AVF Forum conference, as the complicated debate continues to rage.

While it is unclear where exactly President Biden stands on the matter, he did share a clarifying quote at the Military Officers Association of America candidate forum in September of 2020 before he assumed the presidency. “The United States does not need a larger military, and we don’t need a draft at this time. […] I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts,” said Biden.

The original proposition by the Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to be considered during committee markup this week. However, there will be no official floor action on the bill until at least later this year. 

If the legislation eventually passes, the measure would only go into effect one year after approval.

The Nation cover illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original cover art Illustration by Barry Blitt) for 360 Magazine

Elie Mystal × The Nation

Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?

There is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges.

In The Nation’s latest cover story, justice correspondent Elie Mystal explains:

“While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.”

Making the case that there is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges, Mystal evaluates whether Biden can fix the courts that Trump broke: Happily, there is a solution, and that solution is to expand the lower courts.

Congress has used its constitutional authority throughout history to expand the federal judiciary. Historically, these lower court expansions were bipartisan: As the country grows in population, so does the number of lawsuits. Adding judges is just a thing we used to do to keep the judiciary running smoothly. But since 1990, when the last judgeship bill was passed, the US population has grown by a third; the number of district court cases has grown by 38 percent; and the number of cases involving a felony defendant has grown by 60 percent. The number of judges has not changed.

“I absolutely believe that if Trump had won reelection and McConnell had hung onto the Senate, Republicans would be working on court expansion right now,” writes Mystal. “There just aren’t a lot of vacancies left in the federal judiciary. Republicans can always find some casus belli for stacking the courts with conservative judges. The only question is whether Democrats will ever realize there’s a war, and they’re losing it.”

“To balance out decades of inequity, Biden’s judicial appointments shouldn’t ‘look like America;’ they should overrepresent the kinds of Americans routinely excluded by Republican administrations,” he continues. “You can’t balance a seesaw by standing in the middle when an elephant is sitting on one side.”

Read the full cover story here. Mystal, who covers the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics for The Nation, has also recently reported:

Biden’s Supreme Court Commission Is Designed to Fail

Biden’s recently announced commission to study court reform isn’t designed to offer solutions—it’s designed to be an excuse to do nothing.

How the Supreme Court Gave Cops a License to Kill

Derek Chauvin’s defense team is hoping that the 1989 Graham v. Connor ruling will be his ticket to acquittal.

The Blue Wall of Silence Is Crumbling Around Derek Chauvin

For one of the first times in memory, police are testifying against one of their own. But will it lead to an actual conviction?

ABOUT Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column, “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Mystal was previously the executive editor of Above the Law and a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton. He’s a frequent guest on MSNBC and Sirius XM. 

Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.

LGBTQ+ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Corporate Leaders × Anti-Lgbtq Bills

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states 

Chris Adamo, vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America; Brad Figel, vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc.; Molly Fogarty senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA; and Tom Langan, North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever:

  • “As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.
  • “These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic…This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.
  • “Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.”
  • “Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.”
  • Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans”

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people.

As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.

These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people. Such laws not only threaten hard-won progress to bring greater awareness, support and equality to transgender Americans, they also threaten the livelihoods and safety of their communities and their families.

This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.

Member companies of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, including Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA and Unilever United States, urge the entire U.S. business community to do the same.

This issue is not political. Providing the same basic protections to LGBTQ+ people as are provided to protected groups under federal law is the right thing to do for businesses and for society.

We employ tens of thousands of people in communities across the country. We embrace diversity in our workforces. Inclusive principles already guide the way we work, run our successful businesses, and engage with our employees and communities.

Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.

In Kentucky, for example, proposed legislation would allow health care providers to turn away LGBTQ+ and other patients, and bar trans youth from K-12 public school and university sports. Similarly, in Texas, legislators have proposed bills that would ban transgender girls from youth sports.

When states legislate this way, not only do they create an environment where not everyone feels safe and welcomed, they endorse it. Such environments deny transgender and nonbinary people the opportunity to fully contribute to the economies in places where they work and live. This harms them and their families and hinders businesses and local communities.

We applaud Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision this week to veto legislation that would have banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor’s veto Tuesday.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs a bill in March 2021 to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.

Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.

Legislation hurts states’ economies

The ramifications of these discriminatory bills on states’ economic and financial health are also well-documented. A UCLA study found that the social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people negatively impact Texas’ economy by tens of millions of dollars each year. Another study by the Texas Association of Business estimated that discriminatory legislation could result in an estimated economic loss to Texas’ gross domestic product ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion.

The impacts of such bills are not limited to the states where they are passed. Researchers that studied 39 countries found a clear link between LGBTQ+ discriminatory practices and legislation and the corresponding loss of potential economic output. For LGBTQ+ youth, the study found that discrimination harms their learning, resulting in increased dropout rates and, consequently, reduced participation in the workforce.

We acknowledge that words are powerful. But for companies to engage new generations of workers and consumers, while fostering an environment good for people and for business, we must move beyond only public statements of support for LGBTQ+ issues.

Companies should protect employees

Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans.

We four SFPA companies are committed to stepping up and taking action, including through our advocacy on this important issue. Doing so will support an environment in which all people can grow, thrive, compete and succeed as their true, authentic selves.

Chris Adamo is vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America. Brad Figel is vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc. Molly Fogarty is senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA. Tom Langan is North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever.

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Cassandra Yany

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday after her long battle with cancer. The 87-year-old Supreme Court justice was a trailblazer who continuously worked to end gender discrimination and preserve our civil liberties. 

The Supreme Court announced Friday that Ginsburg passed away at her Washington D.C. home due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She had previously overcome lung, liver and colon cancer. In July, she revealed that the cancer had returned, but that she would continue to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s revolutionary career started when she graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in government. Two years later, she attended Harvard Law School with her husband, Martin Ginsburg. There, she was one of only nine women in her class of over 500 students, according to NPR.

During their time at Harvard, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer, so Ruth would take notes for the two of them and help him with his work, all while trying to juggle being a new mom. When Martin landed a job at a firm in New York, the family packed up and Ruth finished her education at Columbia University. 

Once Ginsburg finished school, she began to experience the discrimination that came with being a female lawyer. According to TIME, she was unable to secure a position at a premier law firm or one of the Supreme Court clerkships, regardless of the fact that she had been the first students to serve on both the Harvard and Columbia Law reviews, and graduated at the top of her class. These jobs were instead easily given to males who had ranked lower than her in school. This led her to work a lower court clerkship and teach at the Rutgers Law Newark campus.

At Rutgers, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. While she was there, she learned that she wasn’t earning the same wage as one of her male counterparts. The dean attributed this pay disparity to the fact that the male professor had a family to support, while Ginsburg’s husband already had a good-paying job. This type of discrimination caused her to hide her second pregnancy.

After her son was born, Ginsburg began teaching at Columbia, becoming the university’s first tenured female professor. There, she also co-authored the first case book on discrimination law. She later went on to co-found the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972.

During her work as a lawyer, Ginsburg established that equal protection under the law, as stated in the 14th Amendment, should extend to gender. She won five out of the six cases that she argued before the Supreme Court on gender discrimination. She often chose to find this prejudice in cases where males were the plaintiffs being discriminated against, as seen in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex. 

In 1980, Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She became the second woman on the Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice since 1969 when she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. During her time, she eliminated almost 200 laws that discriminated against women. 

Ginsburg also fought for the rights of immigrants, the mentally ill, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She approved gay marriage in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, stating that if you can’t deny a 70-year-old couple the right to marriage due to their inability to procreate, you can’t deny a gay couple of that right either.

Ginsburg supported women’s reproductive rights, fighting for the coverage of contraceptives despite anyone’s religious beliefs. At the time of Roe v. Wade, she litigated a case where a pregnant Air Force captain was told she would have to have an abortion in order to return to her job. She noted the hypocrisy present in this case— that the U.S. government was encouraging abortion – and found that it served as a clear example of why women should have the right to make their own life decisions.

Ginsburg’s passing gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump the ability to appoint a new justice, despite her dying wish to not be replaced until after a new president is elected. This opportunity could make the Supreme Court more right-leaning and jeopardize cases like Roe v. Wade that are at the forefront of equal rights movements. 

This comes four years after McConnell’s 11-month Republican blockade of President Obama’s nominee for the court, where he argued “that a president shouldn’t be able to seat a new justice in the final year of their term.” Obama noted this in a statement released early Saturday, where he said “A basic principle of law— and of everyday fairness— is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”

After the news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court to pay tribute and create a memorial on the building’s steps. Many signs have since been left outside of the court honoring her legacy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday morning that there will be a statue built in Ginsburg’s hometown of Brooklyn to “serve as a physical reminder of her many contributions to the America we know today…”

Trump issued a proclamation Saturday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment “As a mark of respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg…”

RBG will be dearly missed by Americans on both sides of the aisle. We have lost a longtime champion of equal rights, but her legacy will never be forgotten.

Rita Azar Illustrates a Basketball Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Jaylen Brown x George Floyd Bill

by Justin Lyons

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics wing, in a press conference Sunday said he would like to see the city of Boston pass the George Floyd bill.

Brown, who has been one of the more active players in social justice conversations throughout the NBA, was asked about the Celtics’ commitment to spend $25 million over the next ten years to fight social injustice.

He said it was a great step, and that change happens over a period of time, but he thinks there are things that can be catalysts for change right now.

“One thing I would like to see in Boston is the George Floyd bill enacted,” Brown said, adding that conversations need to be had about police and qualified immunity. “Some things just need to be held accountable, and hopefully Boston can be a place where a tone is set that can be transpired in other cities.”

Brown went on to say that he thinks Boston is moving in the right direction, but he would still like to see more companies and organizations be diversified as well as more opportunities for people of color.

“I’m proud to be a part of the Celtics organization. I’m proud to have an ownership group, or a leadership group, that’s willing to take these steps because they recognize that we need to live in a better, more forward progressing world.”

The George Floyd bill, or H.R.7120, aims to achieve a few goals.

First, it would lower the criminal intent standard to convict an officer of law enforcement. The standard currently requires that officers act willfully, while H.R.7120 would only necessitate that officers act knowingly or recklessly.

Second, it would limit qualified immunity, which grants officers immunity in lawsuits regarding violations of constitutional rights of civilians.

Third, it would allow the Department of Justice to issue authorizations to investigate departments demonstrating patterns of discriminatory practices.

It would also create a national registry of police misconduct, lay the bricks for prohibition of racial profiling and implement new standards for training regarding racial profiling and use of body cameras.

It passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 236-181, and it will move to the Senate.

Brown’s comments come just weeks after NBA players boycotted games on behalf of Jacob Blake, whom was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and victims of police brutality everywhere.

A reporter asked Brown if he thought the boycott’s message was still effective even as players returned to the court.

“These issues have been here for a very, very long time, and they’re still going to be here regardless of if we protest or not or boycott or not. I think sports plays a huge role in society, and I’m very aware of that, so using our platform is something I’m always going to support,” Brown answered.

While he said the cure for racism might not come from the NBA, the players can always use their platform to let the world know that these issues are important.

Brown, who wears the word “Liberation” on the back of his jersey, scored 21 points and picked up eight rebounds to help the Celtics defeat the Toronto Raptors Friday by a score of 92-87. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will meet up with the Miami Heat, who are playing on six days of rest after eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks in just five games.

The first game of the series begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. EST with the Celtics favored by a point and a half.

politics, business, red, tie, blue

Continued Protection For DACA Recipients

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was unlawful. This is a huge victory for 700,000 people protected by DACA who have only known the United States as their home and will not have to immediately fear being deported to countries where they have no connections.

Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling recognized that this administration’s rescission of DACA was nothing more than an outrageous abuse of power to attack DREAMERs and immigrant communities. It should come as no surprise that Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch dissented given their massive support for broad executive power and willingness to allow abuses of that power to go unchecked.

DACA recipients are an integral part of America’s tapestry. Amidst the global pandemic, DACA recipients have been on the front lines; they are medical workers caring for our families, educators rising to the challenge of distance learning, and service industry workers keeping open essential businesses. Today’s ruling grants temporary relief to hundreds of thousands of DREAMers to ensure they can continue contributing to their communities and living out their lives.

The fight to protect them is not over, however. Senate Republicans have advanced nearly 200 of Trump’s ultraconservative judges, including two dozen they knew to have egregious anti-immigrant records.

We must continue to fight for a justice system that protects all our rights, regardless of immigration status.”

Stock Market could predict Trump’s impeachment?

Those who want President Trump to stay in office should hope the stock market rises, and those who want him ousted should hope it crashes.

Why? History shows that the stock market is a useful indicator of people’s attitudes toward the president. Socionomic theory proposes that society’s overall mood regulates both stock prices and the public’s perceptions of its leaders. Positive social mood makes society feel optimistic, bid up stock prices and credit leaders for their good feelings. Negative social mood makes society feel pessimistic, sell stocks and blame leaders for their bad feelings.

These tendencies are evident in presidential re-election outcomes. Presidents Hoover and Carter, for example, lost bids for re-election during trends toward negative social mood as reflected by declining stock prices. In fact, the stock market is a better re-election indicator than inflation, unemployment and GDP growth combined, as my colleagues at the Socionomics Institute demonstrated in a 2012 paper.

Social mood’s influence is also evident in the results of U.S. presidential impeachments and near-impeachments. Twice in history, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to impeach a president. In both cases, social mood was trending positively, as reflected by rising stock prices, and in both cases, the Senate voted for acquittal.

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Figure 1

Figure 1 illustrates the timing of the first presidential impeachment. On March 2, 1868, the House of Representatives formally agreed to eleven articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson. The Senate took three separate votes, and each fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority necessary to remove Johnson from office. The Senate acquitted Johnson on May 26, 1868, during a stock rally that added to the 250% increase since October 1857.

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Figure 2

Figure 2 shows that a substantial trend toward positive social mood preceded President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the House and subsequent acquittal in the Senate. Note that some of the most serious events in the Monica Lewinsky scandal coincided with the largest downturn in the Dow during Clinton’s presidency. Yet, as the Dow recovered, so did Clinton’s approval ratings. And despite a $70-million prosecution of Clinton’s related perjury and obstruction of justice charges, the Senate acquitted the president as positive social mood lifted the Dow, Dow/gold and Dow/PPI to important peaks.

 

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Figure 3

President Richard Nixon’s near-impeachment and resignation from office serves as a textbook case of how social mood influences the fortunes of public figures. Figure 3 shows the Dow Jones Industrial Average surrounding his time in office. The soon-to-be-infamous Watergate break-in occurred toward the end of a strong 67% rally in the Dow from May 1970-January 1973. That trend toward positive mood helped Nixon win re-election in a landslide. But as mood trended toward the negative, the public’s view of its leader darkened, its appetite for scandal increased, the investigation accelerated, and Nixon’s fortunes changed. With almost certain impeachment looming, Nixon became the first president to resign from office on August 9, 1974.

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Figure 4

What does this history tell us about the probability that President Trump will serve a full term in office? We considered this question in the June 2017 issue of The Socionomist. Figure 4 is a chart from that issue, updated to the present. It depicts the trend of social mood as reflected by the Dow. We left the gray arrows showing our 2017 analysis in place, and we added red arrows to indicate the possibilities going forward. In July 2017, Congressman Brad Sherman formally introduced an article of impeachment against the president in the House of Representatives. Yet as the market rose during 2017, President Trump—despite low approval ratings, tremendous staff turnover, unrelenting criticism from the political left and numerous indictments and charges of Trump associates in the ongoing Mueller investigation—did not face an impeachment vote. After the stock market peaked on January 26, 2018, however, the tone changed, and even some on the political right became more critical of the president.

Since the October 3 stock market peak, disapproval of the president has grown steadily louder and more strident. At the same time, the Mueller investigation has implicated more and more of the president’s inner circle in illegal activities. The Democrats won control of the House in the 2018 midterms. A November 26 Gallup poll revealed Trump’s disapproval rating had hit an all-time high. On December 10, Fox News’s senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said Trump could be charged with “three separate crimes and could be indicted while serving as president.” By December 17, the Mueller investigation had issued more than 100 criminal counts and charged 34 people, 10 of whom have been found guilty. That same day, Wired published its list of “All 17 (Known) Trump and Russia Investigations” and said, “it’s increasingly clear that, as 2018 winds down, Donald Trump faces a legal assault unlike anything previously seen by any president.”

In the weeks since the Trump Foundation agreed to dissolve, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis and diplomat Brett McGurk have resigned. On December 24, Time reported, “National Christmas Tree to Stay Dark During Holiday Due to Government Shutdown,” and several news organizations ran stories with versions of The Atlantic’s headline, “President Trump’s Nightmare Before Christmas,” as the stock market plunged. Of course, stalwart supporters of the president remain. Yet the number of oppositional voices is rising. A December 19 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 41% of Americans favor impeachment hearings.

We don’t know what the Mueller investigation will ultimately reveal, but for Trump, the facts may not matter as much as the social mood. Fasten your seatbelt and keep your eyes on stock market indexes, our best reflection of the trend of social mood.

ABA × Congress

ABA urges Congress to apply pass-through tax reductions to professional service businesses on nondiscriminatory basis

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass sent a letter today to House and Senate conferees for H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” urging them to adopt the Senate’s version of “pass-through” business tax relief.

The ABA’s letter also urged the conferees to apply the tax relief to all pass-through entities — including law firms and all other types of professional service businesses — on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis.

The full letter can be found here.

Go to www.abalegalfactcheck.com for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.