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Exclusive: “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?”

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“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?”

#feels #president #United #States #target

Tuesday’s hearing of the House select committee probing the January 6 attack on the US Capitol ended with perhaps the single most emotional segment in the hearings to date: a mother-daughter team of former Georgia poll workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, discussing what it was like to be singled out as part of former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories that the election was stolen — and that poll workers like Moss and Freeman were involved in the plot.

In doing so, they highlighted a serious and ongoing threat to American democracy.

In the weeks following the 2020 election, the Trump campaign and its allies publicly accused the two women of committing election fraud in Fulton County (home to Atlanta). Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, at one point claimed that the mother and daughter — who are Black — were passing around USB sticks full of doctored votes like they were “vials of heroin or cocaine” (it was actually a ginger mint, according to Moss).

During Trump’s now-infamous call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pressured the latter to “find” enough votes to alter the election result, he mentioned the two women 18 separate times. (Raffensperger also delivered testimony at Tuesday’s hearing.)

The result was a wave of harassment that ruined the two women’s lives. Moss testified that she received “a lot of threats, wishing death upon me — telling me that, you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like ‘be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’” She went into hiding and said she gained 60 pounds from the stress. Trump supporters attacked her grandmother’s home, barging in and “exclaiming that they were coming in to make a citizens arrest.”

Freeman, for her part, used to proudly wear T-shirts with her nickname — “Lady Ruby” — on them. “Now,” she testified in a videotaped deposition, “I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore.” She continued:

There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen, who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic.

This testimony revealed the real damage done to human lives by lies spouted by Trump and his allies. But it also pointed to something deeper — the way that attacks on individual poll workers chip away at the very foundations of our democracy.

Civil servants across the country, from ordinary people like Moss and Freeman to officials like Raffensperger, step up to make sure our elections run lawfully and smoothly. By targeting them so personally, Trump and his anti-democratic allies are raising the costs of such civic participation — and opening the door for MAGA disciples to infiltrate our elections infrastructure in 2022 and beyond.

Undermining democracy, one poll worker at a time

While Moss and Freeman were special targets of Trump and Giuliani, they were not the only poll workers to experience vicious harassment in the last election cycle. A 2021 survey found that 17 percent of America’s local election officials experienced threats due to their jobs during the 2020 election cycle. David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told me last year that this was very far from normal prior to 2020.

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“It’s not even accurate to say [threatening election workers] was rare prior to 2020. It was so rare as to be virtually nonexistent,” he said. “This is beyond anything that we’ve ever seen.”

Sometimes, these threats were the direct result of Trump singling a poll worker out — as was the case with Freeman, Moss, and other officials like Raffensperger.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican responsible for election oversight, became a lightning rod when Trump tweeted that he was someone who was “being used big time by the Fake News Media” as a cover for election fraud. He received a wave of threats; a deputy commissioner, Seth Bluestein, was subjected to antisemitic abuse. Schmidt’s wife got emails with threats such as “ALBERT RINO SCHMIDT WILL BE FATALLY SHOT” and “HEADS ON SPIKES. TREASONOUS SCHMIDTS.” The family left their home for safety reasons after the election; Schmidt has announced he will not run for reelection in 2023.

In other cases, presidential involvement wasn’t necessary to incite harassment. Trump’s conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen, and that local election officials were often part of “the steal,” had created a climate in which hardcore Trump supporters felt empowered to take matters into their own hands.

In Vermont, not exactly a swing state that interested Trump, one of his supporters sent a series of threatening messages to election officials in late 2020 — warning them, among other things, that “your days are fucking numbered.”

This harassment obviously did not enable Trump to overturn the 2020 election. But it has done immense psychological harm to election workers like Moss and Freeman, who work difficult jobs for little pay. A 2020 nationwide survey of election officials conducted by the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College found that about a quarter of respondents planned to retire before the 2024 presidential election. One of the top reasons cited was “the political environment” — meaning that the politicization of their jobs and attendant threats made them want out.

When dedicated poll workers quit, it means the person’s years of expertise in specialized and technical areas vanishes. One departure, or a handful, might be manageable. Mass resignations — and an environment that dissuades the civic-minded from stepping up to fill the vacancies can be catastrophic to election management.

That’s especially true given that Trump’s allies are working to insert their supporters into key election roles. A September 2021 ProPublica investigation documented the emergence of a “precinct strategy,” beginning with a call to action on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s radio show, in which Republicans have begun flooding local voting precincts with volunteers who could shape the counting process in the next election cycle. They found that thousands of Republicans had signed up for these roles since Bannon’s campaign began, with no similar surge on the Democratic side.

“Your best-case scenario [if poll workers quit en masse] is more problems at polling places and in voting,” Becker told me. “The worst-case scenario is not just if we lose it, but what happens when that experience gets replaced by hackery … more people who believe that their job is to deliver their election to the candidate that they want to see win.”

Election security analysts are already worrying about the 2022 midterms — in particular, whether the campaigns of harassment and intimidation of 2020 will be repeated. There are good reasons to think they will be, given that a majority of Republicans still believe Trump’s fictions about a fatally compromised electoral system.

There is a real chance that Moss and Freeman will not be the last poll workers to have their lives upended as part of Trump’s quest for power. That looming possibility and its chilling effects on civic-minded Americans could prove debilitating for our democracy.

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Exclusive: Democrats Hopeful in Retaining Senate Control – TalkOfNews.com

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Compelling Television

#Democrats #Hopeful #Retaining #Senate #Control

“When asked to share their candid thoughts about the Democrats’ chances of hanging onto their House majority in the coming election, party strategists often use words that cannot be printed in a family newsletter,” the New York Times reports.

“But a brighter picture is coming together for Democrats on the Senate side. There, Republicans are assembling what one top strategist laughingly described as an ‘island of misfit toys’ — a motley collection of candidates the Democratic Party hopes to portray as out of the mainstream on policy, personally compromised and too cozy with Donald Trump.”

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Exclusive: The Precedential Value of Shadow Docket Cases – TalkOfNews.com

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No Pseudonymity in Challenge to Federal Vaccination Mandate

#Precedential #Shadow #Docket #Cases

Over the past year, the Supreme Court decided three important cases concerning the major questions doctrine. The third decision, West Virginia v. EPA, was decided on the regular docket. But the first two cases, like most COVID cases, were rendered on the shadow docket.

First, Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS declared unlawful the eviction moratorium. Second, NFIB v. OSHA declared unlawful the vaccine/testing mandate. Both unsigned opinions relied on the major questions doctrine. At the time, I wrote that the Court has treated these shadow docket cases as precedential.

Now, we have West Virginia v. EPA. And the Court cites the Alabama case as part of the major questions canon. Here, the Court invokes Alabama and Brown & Williamson in the same breath:

Such cases have arisen from all corners of the administrative state. In Brown & Williamson, for instance, the Food and Drug Administration claimed that its authority over “drugs” and “devices” included the power to regulate, and even ban, tobacco products. Id., at 126–127. We rejected that “expansive construction of the statute,” concluding that “Congress could not have intended to delegate”such a sweeping and consequential authority “in so cryptic a fashion.” Id., at 160. In Alabama Assn. of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Servs., 594 U. S. ___, ___ (2021) (per curiam) (slip op., at 3), we concluded that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could not, under its authority to adopt measures “necessary to prevent the . . . spread of ” disease, institute a nationwide eviction moratorium in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. We found the statute’s language a “wafer-thin reed” on which to rest such a measure, given “the sheer scope of the CDC’s claimed authority,” its “unprecedented” nature, and the fact that Congress had failed to extend the moratorium afterpreviously having done so. Id., at ___–___ (slip op., at 6–8).

And here, the Court lists Alabama in a string cite with Brown & Williamson and Gonzales v. Oregon:

And the Agency’s discovery allowed it to adopt a regulatory program that Congress had conspicuously and repeatedly declined to enact itself. Brown & Williamson, 529 U. S., at 159–160; Gonzales, 546 U. S., at 267–268; Alabama Assn., 594 U. S., at ___, ___ (slip op., at 2, 8). 

The Court also cites NFIB v. OSHA in the same passage as Gonzales v. Oregon:

Similar considerations informed our recent decision invalidating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mandate that “84 million Americans . . . either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense.” National Federation of Independent Business v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 595 U. S. ___, ___ (2022) (per curiam) (slip op., at 5). We found it “telling that OSHA,in its half century of existence,” had never relied on its authority to regulate occupational hazards to impose such aremarkable measure. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 8). 

By contrast, Fulton, quite deliberately did not cite Tandom v. Newsom or Roman Catholic Diocese.

I think the Court is signaling that a published decision with some analysis should be treated as precedential, even if rendered in the absence of full briefing and oral argument. Relatedly, Judge Trevor McFadden and Vetan Kapoor wrote a helpful article summarizing whether an emergency stay order is precedential.

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Exclusive: Opinion: Alito, Thomas Think Reality of Gun Violence Shouldn’t Concern SCOTUS – TalkOfNews.com

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Opinion: SCOTUS Unleashes Reign of Terror on Americans

#Opinion #Alito #Thomas #Reality #Gun #Violence #Shouldnt #Concern #SCOTUS

While the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has come under increasing scrutiny–and earned mounting disapproval and mistrust–because of a host of recent rulings, the July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois should, sadly but hopefully, call into question not just any one of these specific rulings, but their approach and method to Constitutional law itself.

The concern I want to raise is with a more generalized and thoroughgoing approach of the Supreme Court to the law and the Constitution itself—to reading it, to interpreting it, and, most importantly, to understanding its relationship to serving the lives of Americans.

The approach I’m talking about is one of bad faith and one that is disarmingly anti-intellectual–in addition to being absolutely lethal for Americans, as the July 4th shooting in Highland Park makes clear, demonstrating SCOTUS’s supreme disregard for American lives.

To explain this point, let’s start with Justice Samuel Alito’s attack on Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent in the court’s recent ruling striking down New York’s concealed carry gun law, in which Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion made it much more difficult to regulate the possession of firearms going forward, according to Justice Stephen Breyer.

Alito expressed outrage in the concurrence he wrote supporting Thomas’ majority opinion, accusing Breyer of writing and arguing beyond the scope of the case in referencing the epidemic gun violence and killing in America.

“Much of the dissent seems designed to obscure the specific question that the Court has decided,” he wrote, continuing, “That is all we decide. Our holding decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm or the requirements that must be met to buy a gun.”

He excoriated Breyer’s dissent, writing “It is hard to see what legitimate purpose can possibly be served by most of the dissent’s lengthy introductory section.”

Most pointedly, he asks, “Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years?”

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Breyer’s first line does reference the fact that in 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms.

But somehow, in Alito’s mind, this fact that links the largely unregulated proliferation of gun ownership to tens of thousands of murders is not relevant?!?

God forbid, I guess, that the laws we craft actually respond to the problems of the world in which we live!

As Jesus reminded the Pharisees in the gospel according to Mark, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

That is, laws are supposed to work for the benefit of human life, for those of living within the social world our legal system regulates.

Of course, Thomas in his majority opinion in this particular case and Alito in his decision overturning Roe v. Wade both relied on the absolutely invented principle that for a law to have validity it must be rooted in the history and traditions of the nation, meaning, as far as one can tell, that if one can’t find legal precedent dating back before the mid-nineteenth century, well, then, we simply can’t create a new law.

The July 4th murderous shooting, of course, underlines how deeply embedded gun violence and, well, murder, are rooted in the history and tradition of our country.

Rather than assess our history and re-think traditions that are unhealthy, indeed lethal, for us, SCOTUS, lead by the illogical minds of Alito and Thomas, use tradition to validate laws and decisions that are harmful to–deadly for–Americans.

In their view, we don’t look at the conditions of contemporary reality as we make law to regulate and support human life.

They refuse to look at how gun violence and the easy access Americans have to assault weapons put American lives in danger.

And yet, Alito attacked the justices who dissented from his overturning of Roe v. Wade, writing, “The most striking feature of the dissent is the absence of any serious discussion of the legitimacy of the States’ interest in protecting fetal life.”

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I’m quite sure the rights of potential lives are not discussed in the Constitution.

Yet these justices overlook the reality of life in American now.

Their attempt to invent a reality—or ignore reality—as the basis for their decisions recalls Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision in 2013 gutting the Voting Rights Act.  He played amateur sociologist and professional denier of reality in basically insisting that racism was no longer an issue in the United States, so that since the conditions of racism that made the Voting Rights Act necessary didn’t exist, the conditions of the act didn’t need to exist either.

Roberts’ ruling, of course, prompted the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to compare the decision to one throwing away one’s umbrella in a rainstorm because one is not getting wet.

Alito and Thomas, like Roberts, ignore reality, and even worse they conceptualizes law-making, as we see in Alito’s lashing out at Breyer, as an act divorced from the concrete reality in which live.

Not representing, and not crafting law to serve, those living in our contemporary reality is not just a big problem, it’s a form of aiding and abetting murder.

 

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