The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: judicial crisis network

Senate Confirms Vanita Gupta To Civil Rights Post Despite GOP Attacks

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

After months of Republican attacks, Vanita Gupta was confirmed Wednesday afternoon as associate attorney general. Vice President Kamala Harris was available to break a tie, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted to advance Gupta's nomination to a full Senate vote earlier in the day, then followed up in making it a 51 to 49 vote to confirm. Gupta is the first woman of color and the first civil rights lawyer in this role.

Gupta is eminently qualified: She headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under then-President Barack Obama and is the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. But she's a woman of color who has focused her career on civil rights, which means Republicans see her as an enemy.

Gupta has been the target of nearly $1 million in attack ads by the far-right Judicial Crisis Network, and a group of Republican state attorneys general also attacked her, focusing on her work in the Obama Justice Department heading up investigations of police departments after white officers killed Black people. Those attacks came despite glowing endorsements from many law enforcement leaders. "She always worked with us to find common ground even when that seemed impossible," wrote the head of the nation's largest police union.

At her confirmation hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) sneeringly attacked Gupta for having the nerve to believe that implicit bias is a real thing, trying to turn it around on her by asking: "Against which races do you harbor racial bias?" Cotton also claimed that Gupta supports "decriminalization of all drugs," which she does not, and that she had misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about her stance on decriminalization, which she had not.

The Republican attacks weren't done there. On Wednesday, as the Senate moved toward a vote on Gupta's nomination, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell painted Gupta as having "a record of astoundingly radical positions." The notoriously dishonest McConnell also assailed Gupta's honesty, charging: "She's levied attacks on members of this body, and during the confirmation process, she employed the loosest possible interpretation of her oath to deliver honest testimony." The attacks on Gupta's truthfulness come essentially because she said that she would represent the Biden administration's positions, as she has in the past represented other organizations, be it the Obama Justice Department or the ACLU. This is a standard position for a nominee to take, but when it comes from a woman of color, it's portrayed as a character issue.

Gupta is far from the only woman of color whose confirmation has run into ferocious Republican attacks in recent months. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first American Indian Cabinet member ever, was likewise described as a "radical" during her confirmation process, of which former Sens. Tom Udall and Mark Udall noted, "Were either of us the nominee to lead the Interior Department, we doubt that anyone would be threatening to hold up the nomination or wage a scorched earth campaign warning about 'radical' ideas."

Many of the same Republicans who managed not to hear about any of Donald Trump's most outrageous tweets for four years were extremely well-informed about every strongly worded tweet ever to come from former Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden. Her nomination was ultimately sunk by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, ostensibly over those tweets, though Manchin had voted to confirm full-on misogynist Twitter troll Richard Grenell as ambassador to Germany under Trump.

Most recently, Republicans pulled out pretty much the same playbook on Kristen Clarke, Biden's nominee to head the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, that they tried on Gupta: She's a radical who cares about civil rights—how dare she! In fact, she's the real racist, whether because she wrote a satire of The Bell Curve as a college student or has called for accountability in police killings of civilians.

If Republicans were distributing their venom equally across Biden's nominees, you'd say, well, they just hate all Democrats. But that's not what's happening here. There's a very clear pattern of especially fierce, personal opposition to women of color, and it doesn't seem like Senate Republicans mind how obvious it is, either.

At Hearing, Sen. Whitehouse Blasts Barrett Nomination As Dark-Money Maneuver To Rig Courts

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

During her Senate confirmation hearings this week, Judge Amy Coney Barrett — President Donald Trump's far-right nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court — has been questioned by Democratic senators who include Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Whitehouse, during his questioning, focused heavily on some of the conservative groups and judicial activists that are pushing aggressively for Barrett's confirmation — and Whitehouse laid out, in detail, the right-wing scheme to "rig" the federal courts.

Read Now Show less

For Truly Grotesque Hypocrisy, Meet The Judicial Crisis Network

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Judicial Crisis Network, the primary right-wing group involved in supporting or opposing judicial nominees, has released a hypocritical ad that calls for a nomination to be made to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and for the Republican Senate to quickly confirm the nominee.

In February 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, JCN launched an ad campaign under the banner "Let the People Decide" that argued that the vacancy's proximity to the presidential election meant that it should be filled by that election's winner, rather than by then-President Barack Obama.

Read Now Show less

Supreme Court Ruling Upholds LGBTQ Rights — And Enrages The Republican Right

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing media figures had a meltdown after the Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional for employers to discriminate against LGBTQ people, calling it "Orwellian" and "a brute force attack on our constitutional system." In one of the most significant rulings for the rights of trans and queer people, the court ruled 6-3 that LGBTQ employees are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The Supreme Court issued a combined ruling on several cases; two were on behalf of men who were fired for being gay and a third about a woman who was fired for being trans. In that third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented a funeral home owner who fired employee Aimee Stephens after she came out as transgender. Stephens died on May 12 and was unable to see the landmark decision in her favor.

Read Now Show less

Right-Wing Leader Who Pushed Gorsuch Is Furious Over His LGBTQ Rights Opinion

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The head of a far right wing activist group is furious that conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote Monday's majority Supreme Court opinion that finds discriminating against LGBTQ workers is illegal.

Judicial Crisis Network, a "powerful dark money group pushing [the] court to right," ran a $10 million campaign in 2017 to force Gorsuch onto the bench. He is President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court nominee. The group also spent $1 million to block President Barack Obama from putting Merrick Garland on the bench.

In a series of tweets Carrie Severino blasted Justice Gorsuch and the five others who sided with his opinion. She even claims they are merely trying to appeal to college students by finding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

Gorsuch, a textualist who replaced Justice Antonin Scalia on the bench, decided that as written, the actual words of the Civil Rights Act make clear that discriminating on the basis of sex is illegal.

Severino, who also happens to be married to Roger Severino, a far right wing religious activist who heads the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights under Trump, is furious.





President Trump and his administration oppose rights for LGBTQ workers and actively lobbied to have the Court rule discrimination is legal.

On social media many – including some conservatives – are mocking her.











Report: $22 Million In Dark Money Behind Kavanaugh Nomination

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

A just-published report by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics’ award-winning OpenSecrets.org reveals the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative secretive dark money group received $22 million from anonymous donors in the year leading up to the Tump administration and conservatives’ push to place Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A full $17 million of that $22 million came from one anonymous donor.

“The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, pledged to spend as much as $10 million to ensure Kavanaugh’s confirmation — the same amount that it spent to help confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017,” Anna Massoglia and Andrew Perez at OpenSecrets reveal in their report Friday.

“JCN has close ties to Trump’s judicial adviser Leonard Leo, a longtime executive at the Federalist Society, the influential conservative and libertarian lawyers network based in Washington, D.C.”

If you’re not familiar with the Judicial Crisis Network, here’s one of their ads you may have seen on TV in the run up to the Kavanaugh confirmation vote:

 

Here’s where it gets even more disturbing.

“The bulk of JCN’s funding has typically come from the Wellspring Committee, another secretive nonprofit run by operatives who wear multiple hats in a larger network of opaque groups.”

That “larger network of opaque groups” links to another OpenSecrets report: “New clues link $1 million Trump inauguration mystery money to secretive ‘dark money’ network.”

OpenSecrets adds, “Wellspring has continued to send massive annual endowments to JCN since the group launched in 2005. JCN, in turn, has continued to pour tens of millions of dollars into every subsequent Supreme Court nomination fight and working to reshape the judiciary. Wellspring reported donating almost $15 million to JCN in 2017, on top of $23.5 million in 2016. Neither organization discloses the sources of its funds.”