Newswire : All eyes on US Supreme Court: Fiery nomination battle expected

 

By Barrington M. Salmon

Supreme Court
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald Trump has announced his choice for the next U. S. Supreme Court justice. He is U. S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh of Washington, D.C., a nominee who has already drawn fire from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and the NAACP.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far right majority on the Supreme Court,” the NAACP issued a statement within hours after Trump’s prime time announcement July 9. “Coming after Neil Gorsuch’s appointment, a Kavanaugh confirmation would re-make the Court in President Trump’s own image. This prospect is unacceptable to the American people, and the NAACP is ready to lead the fight of a generation.”
The statement continued, “The NAACP knows Judge Kavanaugh well. We opposed his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit for good reason.  In his 12 years on the bench, he has proven us correct. He has been a strong and consistent voice for the wealthy and the powerful. Over and over again, he has ruled against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights, and women’s rights.
With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing.  We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy.  We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system.  We could see the elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination.  We could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the guarantee to accessible health care for millions.”
The nomination is only the beginning. After lengthy hearings before the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee, he will only be confirmed if he receives a majority of the Senate.
“President Trump with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh has fulfilled two of his campaign promises — first to undo women’s reproductive freedom and second to undo the ACA (Affordable Care Act),” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a CBS News interview. “So, I will oppose him with everything I’ve got.”
Kavanaugh would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose decision to leave the highest court caught many by surprise and has ignited emotions ranging from alarm to panic to concern among civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights advocates, centrists and progressives.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, agrees there’s much at stake with this Supreme Court vacancy.
“Justice Kennedy has been the swing vote on a number of core Civil Rights issues. This could transform African American life for years to come,” said Clarke. “There’s no doubt about the impact – in voting rights, criminal justice and women’s issues. The Senate must do its job of vetting to ensure that the nominee is fair, unbiased and faithful to applying and interpreting the law.”
Clarke says every senator has an obligation to properly vet the nominee. “It’s their duty,” Clarke said. “This should not be a partisan battle, but we’ll see. We must fight to preserve the integrity of the court and not allow it to fall victim to the political gamesmanship that sometimes takes over politics.”
Clarke warns the importance of this appointment cannot be underestimated.
“This is a huge issue,” Clarke explained. “There are 140 vacancies in federal courts. The judiciary has always mattered to Black people because it is a place of last resort. Ninety-nine percent of cases are heard in federal and district courts. Ninety-one percent of those Trump is putting forward are White and male and they are the fringe. He’s turning back the clock to the Jim Crow era.”
Trump has been packing the lower courts since taking office and he has been aided by McConnell, who blocked Obama nominees and left them open for Trump to fill. McConnell refused to even consider or meet with Obama pick Merritt Garland and held that seat open for Trump to nominate Neil Gorsuch. In the past 15 months, the administration has retreated from the US government’s legal positions on voting rights and election law, on how workplace disputes are settled, and eroded labor union power, cast off provisions and protections for gay and transgender people.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has overseen restrictions and other limits on affirmative action and other legal remedies, advanced a hard line on immigration, and has pushed to reduce or eliminate women’s reproductive rights, and promoted sharp cutbacks on regulations.
The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, says the reason for the fight is clear:
“The rights of African Americans to fully participate in democracy and in every facet of social and economic life, on an equal basis, lie in the balance. The next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next three decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens. To each and every Senator, we say: This is THE civil rights vote of your career. We will be watching closely. Make no mistake – we are in the fight of our lives, and we hope you are prepared for battle.”

Newswire : Sens. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray reveal outline of health insurance deal

By: Associated Press
Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander
Senator Patty Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander

Two leading senators said Tuesday they have the “basic outlines” of a bipartisan agreement to resume federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. The agreement also includes funding for advertising and navigators for the ACA healthcare marketplaces that were also cut by the President. Both Senators said in separate interviews that they still have unresolved issues but expressed optimism that a compromise was near.
The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets.
In exchange, Republicans want Congress to give states “meaningful” flexibility to ease some coverage requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law. “The definition of meaningful,” Alexander said when asked what the remaining stumbling blocks were.
Alexander agreed with his negotiating partner, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who said the two lawmakers “have the basic outlines” of an agreement but have differences to bridge.
The two senators planned to brief colleagues in separate GOP and Democratic Senate lunches. Alexander chairs the Senate health committee and Murray is that panel’s top Democrat.
Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama’s law. The repeal effort failed, as did an earlier GOP attempt to dismantle the law in July.
Trump’s halt of the payments and worries about its impact have galvanized lawmakers in both parties to take action to prevent it.
Even so, strong opposition by some conservatives means the congressional fate of a compromise would be uncertain. For their part, Democrats believe Republicans in control of Washington will be blamed by voters for future health care problems and are reluctant to bend too far toward GOP demands for opening loopholes in Obama’s law.
Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray. “He says he doesn’t want people to be hurt in this interim,” said Alexander, a reference to Trump’s desire to revisit the effort to scrap Obama’s statute next year.
Trump repeated his gloomy assessment of a law that’s expanded health coverage to 20 million people and required insurers to cover specified services and limit costs, but has also seen premiums rise and limited competition in some regions.
“Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s stoppage of the payments “showed that he’s willing to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s health care for the sake of politics.” He said congressional support for an agreement between Alexander and Murray would show lawmakers have “no intention of going along with President Trump’s reckless sabotage of the nation’s health care law.”
Under Obama’s 2010 overhaul, the government must pay insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for lower-earning customers. A federal judge has ruled that Congress hadn’t legally approved the payments, but Obama — and initially Trump — continued them anyway. Trump halted them last week, even though by law insurers must continue reducing costs for lower-income consumers.
Trump and some Republicans consider the payments to be bailouts to carriers. But Democrats and some Republicans say halting them will create chaos in insurance market places.
The so-called cost-sharing reductions cost around $7 billion this year and lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people. The people receiving this marketplace subsidy live in states carried by Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.