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Blue Wave News

Friday, August 21, 2020

It's Biden and Harris, as Democrats Head Into Landmark Convention!!

We Must Think About Our Judicial Future

Byr Cori Wilbur

The courts decide what a law means and how that law is to be implemented. Paying attention to which judges we vote in is also imperative this November if we want to protect individual rights and promote genuine equity. 


The federal court system is split into three parts: district courts, circuit courts and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court acts as the final level of appeal for any court case. Each state has its own state and federal court system. In San Diego this November, we have the opportunity to vote in judges who will support our individual rights and a healthy democracy. 


The right-wing agenda to control the court system did not start with Donald Trump but this current administration has allowed the GOP to acknowledge its utmost potential. A second term would solidify alt-right control of the federal court system. This empowers big money and diminishes individual rights and dismantles democracy. 


In less than 4 years, Trump has appointed almost as many judges and justices as Barack Obama did in 8 years. These judges and justices have been hand-selected by the Federalist Society because of their conservative bias and loyalty to corporate America. The Federalist Society grooms, vets and selects candidates pliant with this partiality. These candidates are backed by billions of dollars in untraceable funds. 


Why is the right focused on the makeup of the courts? The goal to pack the courts with conservative judges in favor of corporations and lobbyists can be traced back to former Supreme Court justice, Lewis Powell in 1971. Before Powell accepted Nixon’s Supreme Court nomination, he wrote a memorandum for the Chamber of Commerce, arguing that corporate America was under attack by progressives. The “Powell Memo” established a blueprint for conservative business interests to reclaim America from the perceived threat of New Deal-era reform. 


The purpose of these efforts is to turn economic power into political power, which is then utilized to increase economic inequality in the United States. What conservative control of the Judicial Branch means is that you can work for years toward a cause, get the bill through Congress and still have it overturned in a heartbeat by the Supreme Court, according to Howard Wayne, Co-Chair of the American Constitution Society. 


Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society has been responsible for coordinating hundreds of millions of dollars in dark money donations to fuel campaigns for conservative judges and justices. These donations come from non-profits, shell corporations and other organizations, such as the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which provide anonymity to its source. 


In 2016, Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Republican-led Senate refused to acknowledge this nomination and JCN spent 23.5 million dollars to prevent the confirmation of Garland. 


Additionally, the organizations that support these judges and justices file Amicus briefs or lobbying documents with the courts. Under John Roberts’ chief justiceship of the Supreme Court, the Chamber of Commerce has filed 25 Amicus briefs and has won 25 times. 


Also under Roberts, there have been 80 Supreme Court rulings made by 5-4 partisan decisions. These decisions typically have leaned in favor of corporations and affected voting rights. In the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the outcome rolled back the contraceptive mandate. 


In 2016, Trump consulted with Leonard Leo to provide him a list of judges that he would appoint and basically outsourced the choosing process to the Federalist Society. Both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have traceable ties to the Federalist Society and Senator Mitch McConnell currently leads a confirmation operation. Since there are no term limits on judges and justices, another 4 years of the Trump administration would cement in conservative command of the courts for generations to come. 


Aside from possibly implementing term limits on judges and justices, going forward, there are some basic reforms we need to demand from the courts: financial disclosure about organizations funding these campaigns; disclosure about who is paying for Amicus briefs; disclosure about judges and justices’ travel and gifts; or disclosure about private meetings with special interest groups.  


As Louis Brandeis once said, “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”

Does institutional or systemic racism still exist in our society?

by Cori Wilbur & Narima Lopes

CoastNews Commentary,

Aug. 3, 2020

When Barack Obama became the first African American president, many believed that political division and racism in the United States would end. However, discrimination still exists in criminal justice, employment, housing, healthcare, political power and education, among other systems.

According to Political Science Professor Zoltan Hajnal (UCSD), our current democracy holds systemic imbalances and to quote Reverend Madison T. Shockley (Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Carlsbad) “Systemic racism is still enwrapped in our major institutions.”

When it comes to voting on policy, there is a huge discrepancy between the needs of white versus black people. “As America has become more racially diverse, it has also become more racially divided. Institutionally our system is set up to disadvantage racial and ethnic minorities,” continued Hajnal.


Whether or not that was the intent, the effects of this system disadvantage racial and ethnic minorities, particularly black people, and in general, black people tend to lose out on policy more than any other minority.


The police department has the opportunity and responsibility to protect and serve, but more often than not, they do their job in a way that disfavors and disadvantages people of color, particularly African Americans. These outcomes stem from a system built around a bias, which allows individuals to use excessive force on black people because a white person is at risk.

As citizens of a community, we need to push back and express our voices that a militarized police force is not the type of protection we want or need.

Another system in which racism still breeds is in our schools. School districts with union contracts allow experienced teachers to choose their school assignments, so most times, teachers with tenure will opt out of teaching in schools in urban areas; the areas with the highest need for experienced educators, leading to mostly black students in these urban areas not getting the opportunity and coaching to become successful pillars of the community.

Institutional Racism, cont'd

Also prevalent in places like Encinitas and Carlsbad, is the consequences of housing segregation. Members of these communities should question whether or not they are comfortable living in areas that lack real diversity. The legacy of our segregation policies is still with us.

Black people have made progress in closing the income gap. However, the wealth gap is what really makes a difference, it’s wide and it’s wider than it’s ever been. A lot of wealth is in our homes and the discrimination continues.

Ultimately, fixing these fundamentally biased systems is up to us. Firstly, we must realize that voting for candidates who promise to help racial and ethnic minorities is better for everyone in the long run. Secondly, we must question what factors lead to a lack in diversity.

We need to organize and look at why our cities look the way that they do. We cannot be blind and or uncritical when we see something that has a negative impact on our community. Finally, to result in a meaningful change, we need to work to close the turnout voting gap between white and black people.

Post Office Becomes Political Tool For GOP - Nation Reacts

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has backed away from his public campaign to create delays and chaos in the USPS - the organization he is responsible for. In a public statement, DeJoy said: "To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending initiatives until after the election is concluded."

One interpretation of the day's events is that DeJoy and Donald Trump recognize they have overplayed their hand, and are genuinely backing away from this voter suppression effort.

However, in some respects, the damage was already done. Much sorting equipment has been trashed and in many areas Letter boxes have been thinned out. This is in addition to the reduction in force and trimming of hours that has already taken place. It's also quite possible, as reports, that "the lesson was: "Don't be so damn obvious about your shenanigans." "  Due to the many state-level lawsuits and congressional inquiries, such further hijinks won't be easy. Nevertheless, Democrats are rethinking their recommendations for voting strategy, and doubling down on their  "get your ballots in early!" messaging.

It's a Team That Looks Like America

As of Friday, August 21, the Democratic National Convention is behind us. The largely studio-based approach, driven by pandemic social-distancing requirements, appears to have been quite a success. In a sense, the Dems can really congratulate themselves, both on the style and the content. With just a few awkward moments, the two-hour primetime slots were full and informative. The business of nominating and voting for our executive team was conducted in a way that highlighted diversity and togetherness. It's going to be a tough act to follow, and speaking for myself, I doubt the GOP will even try to match it. Many people are saying they probably won't even watch the RNC.

The convention touched most of the main planks of the Democratic platform: Equality of access to medical care, equality of opportunity across all demographic groups, support of active service members and veterans, gun safety and others. But the main theme was the pandemic, the underlying economic weakness exposed by the pandemic, and the unmitigated failure of the current administration in dealing with it. 

So now Joe Biden is our presidential candidate, and the selection of VP candidate Kamala Harris is viewed as a huge asset both to the ticket and to the resulting administration come January. The task is now laid before us to motivate and enable the voters of this country to resoundingly elect these two, flip the senate, and sweep in Blue candidates across the country at all levels.

Keeping Up The Good Fight - Postcards-To-Voters At ENCDC

A shout out to our postcard writing team of nearly

30 volunteers writing the Be A Voter postcards to voters in AZ, IA and now Alaska. So far they have sent out over 960 postcards, with more to come! Arrangements can be made with Nancy Hardwick to either pick up cards or have them dropped off.


As for "New VOTE" Postcards, 

the cards are being printed and will be delivered before the end of the month. Narima Lopes has ordered

the postage. Volunteers will be needed to help prepare the volunteer packets with 25 cards in each packet, along with the stamps, names/addresses and instructions. Distribution of the packets will come in early September, with a mail date in mid-September.


At least 10 more volunteers could be useful. Check in with Nancy if you want to join this effort.

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