Last week we learned that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had been flown around the world by billionaire Republican high-donor Harlan Crow “like an Instagram model. And Crow paid for his mama’s house,” as comedian Roy Wood Jr. noted at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
We learned about more ethical lapses by Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts himself last week. But MAGA Republicans brushed off calls for Supreme Court ethics reform as politically motivated (though for some reason they don’t view the lavish gifts to Supreme Court justices to be “politically motivated”). While Democrats recognize the importance of impartiality and the necessity of ethics in our judicial branch, Republicans consider our judiciary as just another means to expand their power, and so they have used every tool at their disposal to push our courts further and further to the right.
President Biden and Congressional Democrats have worked hard to restore balance to the judicial branch, and they’ve confirmed 119 judges so far. But the rapid pace of that progress has slowed to a trickle, for two reasons. One is the absence of Senator Feinstein, and the other is Republican abuse of the blue-slip process.
The blue-slip process is a tradition in which senators from the home state of a nominee show their support by submitting those slips for them. The tradition is to respect home-state senators’ opinions. Nominees were usually presented after consultation with home-state senators and received blue slips as the norm. This process first became politicized in the 1950s, when a Senate Judiciary Committee chair from Mississippi allowed the withholding of blue slips to block judges sympathetic to school desegregation.
When Republicans regained the Senate majority in 2015, McConnell ramped up the deliberate withholding of blue slips to block President Obama’s nominees to the judicial branch. Republicans’ aggressive use of that tactic left 105 seats for Trump to fill. When Republicans retained the Senate majority in 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley was happy to ignore blue slips again in order to confirm Trump’s far-right nominees, such as the judge in Texas who recently tried to abolish the FDA’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone.
After that bitter history, it is hard to understand why, when Democrats have such a slim Senate majority, Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin decided to honor blue slips again. When traditions have been willfully abused, they should be abandoned until such time as both parties respect fair play. Instead, once again, Republican senators are using the blue slip process to stall judicial nominations.
Tell Sen. Alex Padilla, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, to push Chair Durbin to jettison outdated Senate traditions that prevent Democrats from restoring fairness to the federal courts.
Keep up your protection: Get another bivalent booster against COVID-19!
The protection you get from vaccination gradually wanes over time, so it’s important to regularly get boosters to maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19.
People who are 65 and older, or of any age who are immunocompromised, can now receive an additional bivalent booster following after their previous dose, per updated CDC guidance. Everyone else, from six years on up, can get a bivalent booster if they haven’t already. The California Department of Public Health has detailed, up-to-date information on when you can get your next booster.
The updated guidance also simplifies the schedule to remove the use of the outdated original monovalent (single-strain) vaccines. Now the bivalent vaccines are the only mRNA vaccines recommended in the United States. If you or your child only recently started the monovalent series, you’ll finish it with a bivalent dose.
The bivalent vaccines, introduced last year, provide better protection against more recent strains of the virus that causes COVID-19, particularly the Omicron strains. Keep up your protection by keeping up to date on your vaccines.
Continue to support Pajaro farm workers through long recovery
The Major Disaster Declaration for California, including relief for the town of Pajaro, has been signed and FEMA has arrived. Senator Padilla has visited, promising to “pressure” the pace of Pajaro levee repair. Volunteers have continued to support rehabilitation efforts including a clean-up day. Most of the more than $200,000 raised by local mutual aid groups has been distributed. However, many challenges remain for the farm workers and other Pajaro residents who had to evacuate when the Pajaro River levee broke on March 11 and flooded their homes and fields.
While FEMA aid is critical and will be helpful, it’s not straightforward or convenient, nor does it include a significant portion of those living in Pajaro, because they are undocumented. While there is a California bill proposed to provide disaster aid to the undocumented, there is extremely limited state-provided help for them. The livelihood of all the farm workers remains at great risk.
To continue to help those who face a long and difficult recovery, many community groups are providing cash, clothing, food, and cleanup supplies to the victims of this disaster, and they could use your financial support:
- Center for Farmworker Families provides direct support to farmworkers (donation page)
- Santa Cruz Community Ventures Undocufund (the previous Campesina Womb Justice GoFundMe is directing remaining funds here)
- Raíces y Cariño
- Watsonville Campesino Appreciation Caravan GoFundMe
- Second Harvest Food Bank
- Community Foundation of Santa Cruz Disaster Fund
- Community Foundation for Monterey County Storm Relief Fund
If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens.
Indivisible SF Federal Working Group: Thursday, May 11, 7:30–9 PM. Planning meeting where we discuss strategy to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Meeting starts promptly at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Register here!
Cuatro de Mayo with Central Valley Matters: Thursday, May 4, 5–6 PM. Join this inspirational conversation with our community partners from California’s Congressional district 22. This virtual fundraiser benefits our friends in the Central Valley working in this critical part of California. Come learn how we can Win Together by Mobilizing Voters. RSVP on Mobilize.
SFPUC Community Power Update: Thursday, May 11, 10-11 AM, O’Shaughnessy Conference Room at 525 Golden Gate Ave. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) invites you to its next Community Power Update meeting to share updates about its programs and services with community partners and gather feedback. RSVP to attend in person on Eventbrite, or sign up to join in on Zoom.
Budget Town Hall with Assemblymember Phil Ting: Friday, May 12, 12:30-2 PM, Ronald M. George State Office Complex at 455 Golden Gate Ave. Come hear a presentation about the California state budget, then give feedback that’ll help shape our next priorities. RSVP here.
District 2 Town Hall with City Attorney David Chiu: Monday, May 15, 6-7 PM, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco at 3200 California St. City Attorney Chiu, District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, and SFPD Northern Station Captain Derrick Jackson will provide district updates and answer questions from the audience. RSVP here.
About this week’s photo
If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue.
Today’s image is a graphic comprised of an image of a blue slip and a photo of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room before the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford on the sexual misconduct of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh in 2018. The photo of the hearing room was taken by J. Scott Applewhite for AP Photo and featured in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.