99 percent of American women who have ever been sexually active have used birth control.
65 percent of Americans think that insurance plans should have to cover contraception.
Yet the leaders of the GOP, in an effort to make it harder for women to obtain birth control, have sided with a splinter faction of the Right that wants to allow any employer to prevent any employee from privately obtaining contraception coverage from their insurance provider.
Why are they so out of touch? Why have the leaders of a major party staked out a position on contraception to the right of 57 percent of American Catholics and an even greater percentage of the population as a whole?
Here’s a picture of a panel gathered by the House GOP for a hearing about the issue:
And here’s major Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess explaining today why he just doesn’t understand why women need birth control:
In Virginia yesterday, the state House GOP pushed through a bill mandating that women seeking abortions undergo a medically unnecessary vaginal probe without their consent. The governor, a top contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination, has said he will sign it.
This is no longer about religious liberty for institutions that preach against contraception. This isn’t about women’s safety. This is about who gets to make the decisions controlling women’s bodies.
And for the GOP right now, that isn’t women.
Photo: Planned Parenthood
WASHINGTON – Reflecting the millions of Americans concerned about the undue influence wielded by corporations and wealthy special interests in our democracy, 50 organizations have jointly signed and presented a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees requesting hearings to explore constitutional remedies to overturn the Supreme Court’s flawed decision in Citizens United v. FEC and related cases. This letter follows over 350 events in 49 states – from teach-ins to courthouse protests – organized by many of signing groups to call attention to the negative effects of Citizens United on the second anniversary of the decision.
“In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to influence elections, thereby ruling that governmental restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections are invalid and unconstitutional,” the letter reads. While disclosure legislation may mitigate some of the damage of this decision, “Only amending the Constitution can fully secure the American people’s authority to regulate corporate influence in our elections and restore our democracy.”
“Americans have become increasingly distressed at the toxic effects of unrestrained corporate and special interest money that is influencing our political system,” and are demanding action from our elected representatives. So far in the 112th Congress, 13 constitutional amendment resolutions have been introduced, and dozens more have been passed at the state and local level. “As activists have mobilized and protested across the country,” the letter states, “it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the Court’s decision,” and advance “the critical debate about how the Constitution should be amended to return our democracy to the people.”
Signatories to the letter include People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, MoveOn.org, Free Speech For People, Move to Amend, Public Campaign, Greenpeace and African American Ministers In Action. Please follow the links to the full letters to the House and Senate.
February 14, 2012
The Honorable Lamar Smith, Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Trent Franks, Chairman
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member
House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution
H2-362 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairmen Smith and Franks and Ranking Members Conyers and Nadler:
We are writing to request that the House Judiciary Committee hold hearings this year on the need to amend the Constitution to remedy the damage done to our nation by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and related cases. That decision, along with prior and subsequent cases, have unleashed a flood of corporate and special interest money that threatens to undermine the integrity of our elections and our democracy.
In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to influence elections, thereby ruling that governmental restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections are invalid and unconstitutional. As to that astounding principle, Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that the framers “had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.”
Congress may pass legislation to try to mitigate the effects of this decision, for example to provide for public disclosure of election expenditures. But such measures, while beneficial, cannot undo the harm done by the Court in Citizens United v. FEC. Only amending the Constitution can fully secure the American people’s authority to regulate corporate influence in our elections and restore our democracy.
So far in the 112th Congress, there have been 13 constitutional amendment resolutions about this issue introduced in the House and Senate. While these resolutions vary in scope and approach, they all were introduced because of the growing realization that the problems created by Citizens United and related decisions are so immense and so fundamental that they can only be addressed through constitutional remedies.
Americans have become increasingly distressed at the toxic effects of unrestrained corporate and special interest money that is influencing our political system. Fully 92% of the American people believe that the extent of corporate influence on our political system is a problem. Just one month after the Citizens United decision, polling revealed that eighty percent of Americans opposed the ruling.
As activists have mobilized and protested across the country on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Court’s decision, and as city and county councils and state legislatures take up and pass resolutions calling for amending the Constitution to reverse Citizens United, it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the Court’s decision.
We urge you to use this session of the 112th Congress to advance the very healthy and critical debate about how the Constitution should be amended to return our democracy to the people.
A New Way Forward
African American Ministers in Action
Alliance for Democracy
Americans for Democratic Action
Campaign for America's Future
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
Communications Workers of America
East Bay Citizens for Action
Food Empowerment Project
Free Speech for People
Friends of the Earth
Indiana Alliance for Democracy
Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Project
International Forum on Globalization
Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Main Street Alliance
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Move to Amend
National Education Association
Oil Change International
People For the American Way
Pesticide Action Network North America
Rebuild the Dream
Story of Stuff
Sum of Us
The Other 98%
We the People Campaign
Where's Our Money
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Working Families Win
cc: House Judiciary Committee, Members
The Senate today voted 89-5 to end a GOP filibuster of the nomination of Adalberto José Jordán to sit on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, only to be met with another shameless Republican delaying tactic. Despite the overwhelming vote in favor of ending the filibuster on Jordán, one GOP senator invoked a “post-cloture period,” which will force the Senate to wait another 30 hours before taking a final vote on the nomination.
Once he is confirmed, Jordán will become the first Cuban American to sit on the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Jordán, who has been a federal district court judge in Florida since 1999, has the full support of his home-state senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, and was approved unanimously by Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. An ABA panel unanimously gave him its highest rating of “well qualified.” Yet despite unquestioned qualifications and overwhelming bipartisan support, Jordán was forced to wait four months for a vote after he was approved without objection by the Judiciary Committee.
“No wonder Americans think Washington is broken,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “The Senate GOP, presented with an impeccably qualified nominee for a judicial vacancy that desperately needs to be filled, insisted on trying to block the nomination. They chose to filibuster for four months a nominee to whom they had no objection, and then, even after an overwhelming vote to end the filibuster, added another needless delay.
“In filibustering Jordán’s historic nomination all these months, the GOP is pointedly ignoring the glowing endorsement of one of its own members, Sen. Marco Rubio, and the support of Florida’s Cuban American community, for whom this nomination is a historic first. This is a party that is putting gridlock above all else – and the American people are noticing. Now it is time for the Senate to put obstruction aside and confirm Jordán and the other 17 highly qualified nominees who have cleared the committee and are awaiting a vote.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Marge Baker, People For the American Way
Date: February 10, 2012
Re: Why is the Senate GOP Filibustering the First Cuban American Nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court, Florida’s Adalberto José Jordán?
Florida District Court Judge Adalberto José Jordán has been waiting four months for the U.S. Senate to approve his nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday, the Senate will hold a vote to break the Republican filibuster of Jordán’s nomination, a step that is traditionally taken only when the minority party has significant objections to the nominee’s qualifications.
So why is the GOP filibustering Jordán?
They have stated no reason, which leads to the natural conclusion that stalling Jordán’s nomination is just part of their larger effort to create gridlock in Washington. In the process, they have kept a highly-qualified jurist – one who is wholeheartedly supported by both Florida senators, including GOP Sen. Marco Rubio – from becoming the Eleventh Circuit’s first Cuban American judge and filling an urgent vacancy in the federal courts.
In October, Sen. Rubio praised Jordán to the Judiciary Committee, saying, "I think his experience and his resume will speak for itself. ... As a community, we're very proud of Judge Jordán's nomination and we look forward to his appointment."
Jordán immigrated from Cuba when he was six and is the quintessential American success story. After graduating from the University of Miami Law School, Jordán clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and became a federal prosecutor. Since 1999, he has served ably as a federal district court judge in Miami, where he has presided over nearly 200 trials on a wide range of civil and criminal matters.
He received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and the Judiciary Committee members who reviewed his record agreed, voting unanimously to advance his nomination.
If confirmed, Jordán would become the first Cuban American to sit on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. What’s more, the Eleventh Circuit desperately needs this vacancy filled, so much so that the Administrative Office of the United States Court has formally declared it a judicial emergency. In other words, there are so many cases and so few judges that Floridians, Georgians and Alabamans are facing unnecessary delays as they seek their day in court.
Jordán’s nomination has been languishing on the Senate floor since October 13. That was four months ago. Republicans have absolutely no excuse for this latest obstruction and should allow a simple up-or-down vote on his nomination, as well as the 17 others still awaiting votes.
The Senate today confirmed the nomination of Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, based in San Diego. The 90-6 vote highlighted the needlessness of the obstruction that caused Bencivengo to wait 126 days for consideration by the Senate after her unanimous approval by the Judiciary Committee.
Bencivengo will fill one of a dozen vacant federal court seats in California, and one of six that have been designated “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Bencivengo, who is currently a Magistrate Judge, received the highest rating from the American Bar Association and a glowing recommendation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“The Senate’s confirmation of Judge Bencivengo brings a talented jurist to the federal bench, and is a step toward relieving the enormous caseload burden that has caused Southern Californians to face long delays as they seek their day in court,” said People For the American Way’s Marge Baker. “The judicial crisis in California, unfortunately, is not unique. The Senate GOP should immediately allow votes on the other eighteen highly-qualified nominees still on the calendar. Our Justice system is too important to be a pawn in partisan politics.”
Bencivengo’s confirmation leaves eighteen judicial nominees on the Senate’s calendar. The overwhelming majority have strong bipartisan support. Thirteen are women or people of color.
President Obama’s district court nominees have waited an average of 90 days after committee approval for a vote from the full Senate, in contrast to a mere 23 days for George W. Bush’s district court nominees at this point in his presidency.
People For the American Way today called on GOP presidential candidates to speak out against the inclusion of a white nationalist leader this week at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The conference—which will be addressed by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and other GOP leaders— will be hosting Peter Brimelow, the founder of VDARE, a white nationalist website which frequently publishes the works of anti-Semitic and racist writers. Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain, has expressed fear of the loss of America’s white majority, blames non-white immigrants for social and economic problems and urges the Republican Party to give up on minority voters and focus on winning the white vote. He said that a New York City subway is the same as an Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting room, “an underworld that is not just teeming but also almost entirely colored.”
“It’s shocking that the CPAC would provide a platform for someone like Brimelow,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Responsible GOP leaders should speak out against the bigotry and hatred that Brimelow and VDARE push on a regular basis. That’s doubly true of anyone who aspires to the presidency of the United States. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum need to make it perfectly clear that they won’t be silent when they’re confronted with racism and anti-Semitism.”
VDARE has published the work of people like Robert Weissberg, who says that black and Hispanic students are responsible for problems in the American education system, Marcus Epstein, the Youth for Western Civilization leader who karate-chopped a black woman after calling her a n****r (and later pled guilty to assault), and J. Philippe Rushton of the eugenicist Pioneer Fund.
“The inclusion of Brimelow is all the more galling given the fact that another group, GOProud, was excluded from the conference simply for advocating equality for gay people,” said Keegan. “CPAC should make very clear that hatred has no place in our civic discourse.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists VDARE as a White Nationalist hate group and notes that “VDARE.com’s archives contain articles like ‘Freedom vs. Diversity,’ ‘Abolishing America,’ ‘Anarcho-Tyranny — Where Multiculturalism Leads’ and ‘Why Immigrants Kill.”
On Thursday, February 2nd, a coalition of groups including People For the American Way, Daily Kos and Granite State Progress will deliver over 100,000 petitions to New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney, calling on him to conduct a full investigation of the alleged voter fraud conducted by activist James O’Keefe.
In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama called for an end to the unprecedented obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees.
Following up on the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast controversy -- In today’s Daily Times, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Council members Knight and Ashley attempted to distance themselves from the prayer breakfast but said that Boykin would speak as planned:
People for the American Way today called on the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City, Maryland to cancel the invitation to retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin to headline this week’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:
Cleveland, Ohio – Representatives from over a dozen Ohio social justice, legal and community action organizations from every part of the state participated in a conference call with White House staff today to discuss growing concern about the ongoing crisis in the federal courts.