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COMMENTARY: Right Wing Judges Put Millions’ Rights and Access to Health Care at Risk

Don’t ever forget that the judges who are willing to sacrifice reproductive freedom are usually just as eager to allow states to restrict voting rights. The right-wing judges who vote to eliminate individuals’ right to privacy and health care are often the same judges creating new “rights” to protect corporations’ ability to buy elections, get away with harming workers and communities, and discriminate against some of their employees.

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Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.
Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.

By Ben Jealous, President of People For the American Way

The political and legal movement to criminalize abortion in the U.S. is on the brink of its biggest victory in 50 years. Most at risk are those who are already among the most vulnerable in our country: Black and Brown women and LGBTQ people who will be denied access to potentially lifesaving health care.

On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of a Mississippi abortion ban. That law was written by a right-wing legal group. It was part of a long-term strategy to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that recognized that pregnant people have a constitutional right to make decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

Groups that want to eliminate access to abortion like to describe themselves with terms like “pro-life” and “pro-family,” but those are deceptive. If we eliminate access to family planning and abortion services, the health of millions will be compromised. Some will die needlessly. Their families and communities will suffer.

Futher, the same groups call themselves “pro-freedom,” but they are aggressively trying to restrict people’s freedom to make decisions about their own health and families.

If you want a sense of how much parents’ and children’s health and well-being mean to backers of the abortion ban, take a look at Mississippi. When the state’s previous governor signed the ban, he declared that he wanted to make Mississippi “the safest place in America for an unborn child.” The current governor has used similar language, saying he made a commitment to God and to voters that he would do everything in his power to make Mississippi the safest place for an unborn child.

But what kind of commitments have these politicians made to children and their parents?

When the Mississippi law was signed, the state ranked 50th in the health of women, 50th in the health of children, and 50th in the health of infants. It was the worst state for infant mortality.

Things haven’t changed much since then. Mississippi is also the state where Black people make up the biggest percentage of the population. During oral arguments at the Supreme Court, the attorney for the health clinic that challenged the law talked about a deadly reality: she noted that “it’s 75 times more dangerous to give birth in Mississippi than it is to have a pre-viability abortion. And those risks are disproportionately threatening the lives of women of color.” This is about political power and the corruption of our courts.

When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised conservative white evangelical leaders that he would put judges on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Don’t ever forget that Senate Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nomination for a year.

They abused their power to create a Supreme Court vacancy for Trump to fill. Then these same shameless politicians took advantage of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death to rush Trump’s final nominee onto the Court a few days before the 2020 election — as voters were already casting ballots to dump Trump out of the White House.

And don’t ever forget that the judges who are willing to sacrifice reproductive freedom are usually just as eager to allow states to restrict voting rights. The right-wing judges who vote to eliminate individuals’ right to privacy and health care are often the same judges creating new “rights” to protect corporations’ ability to buy elections, get away with harming workers and communities, and discriminate against some of their employees.

Like the right-wing campaign to restrict voting, the campaign to eliminate access to safe and legal abortion has built power through organizing at the state and national levels.

We who believe in freedom must do the same. Among the activists and protesters who gathered outside the Supreme Court on December 1 was a group of interfaith leaders who provided the moral clarity and urgency that the progressive movement needs to more effectively defend our freedom and our families.

Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive.

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Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Activism

Following More Mass Shootings Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9. The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns. President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

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The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans
The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire

Two proposals aimed at curbing the spread of assault rifles were submitted today by Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The Assault Weapons Ban seeks to prohibit the commercialization, distribution, production, and importation of assault rifles and other firearms designed for use in military operations, as well as high-capacity magazines and similar devices.

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9.

The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns.

President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

Biden said that the number of mass shootings declined during the decade that the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

“In the 10 years that the Assault Weapons Ban was on the books, mass shootings went down,” Biden remarked.

“After Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled,” he declared.

Both houses of Congress were urged to take quick action by the president.

According to Biden, “the majority of American people agree with this rational measure.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he insisted.

In the House of Representatives, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline said he plans to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s Assault Weapons Ban.

Feinstein said assault rifles “seem to be the unifying denominator in the seemingly endless number of horrific shootings.”

“Because these firearms were created for maximum efficiency in mass murder,” the senator noted.

“They have no place in our society or educational institutions. It’s time to take a stand against the gun lobby and do something about getting these lethal weapons off the streets, or at the absolute least, out of the hands of our youth.”

Blumenthal added, as the gunman at the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park demonstrated just days ago, assault weapons are designed for one and one purpose only: to murder or hurt human beings.

“These military-style combat weapons – built for the battlefield and designed to maximize death and destruction – have brought bloodshed and carnage to our streets and continue to be the weapon of choice in countless mass shootings,” Blumenthal said.

“Guns don’t respect state boundaries, which is why we need a national solution to restricting the ownership and use of assault weapons. Now is the time to honor gun violence victims and survivors with this commonsense action.”

Rep. Ciciline argued that it is long past due to reinstate an assault weapon ban and remove these “weapons of war” from civilian areas.

The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans,” Ciciline noted.

“We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership in this fight and look forward to introducing the House companion bill in the coming weeks.”

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Activism

With a 97.3% Strike Vote, More Than 500 Richmond Educators Rally Before School Board Meeting

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

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Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day
Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day

By Post Staff

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) held a rally urging West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) officials to reach a “fair settlement” and avoid a strike.

Teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors, program specialists, librarians, and speech-language pathologists are calling for a settlement that includes community schools, shared decisions, and competitive compensation that keeps outstanding educators in the community — and brings the next generation of educators to the district.

The rally was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

In mid-November last year, the Legislative Analyst Office of California announced additional guaranteed, ongoing funding for the 2023-24 school year. The district intends to only provide less than half of the percentage of ongoing permanent funding it receives from the state for educator compensation, according to a statement released by the UTR.

Despite that projection of continued funding by the state, the school district declared an impasse in negotiations with UTR. Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day.

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