“She’s a brilliant choice because, with luck, she’ll be able to summon the rest of the country to appreciate the legacy that she now protects: the amazing landscape of the American West, the ancestral home of her own people and of many of our ideas about American identity. If she can leverage those powerful sentiments to get the resources she needs to underwrite a fair transition away from fossil fuels for the Western states, she will have played an outsized role in protecting that land, and the whole world, for the next thirty-five generations.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has asked the Justice Department, now overseen by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to look into the unusual circumstances through which Brett Kavanaugh’s large debts disappeared before his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Last May, Whitehouse, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), released a report titled “Captured Courts: The GOP’s Big Money Assault On The Constitution, Our Independent Judiciary, And The Rule of Law.” It outlined how the “Conservative Legal Movement has rewritten federal law to favor the rich and powerful,” how the Federalist Society and special-interest money control our courts, and how the system benefits the big-money donors behind the Republicans.
On March 10, Whitehouse began hearings to investigate the role of big money in Supreme Court nominations and decisions. Aside from Chief Justice John Roberts, every Supreme Court justice named by a Republican president has ties to the Federalist Society, a group that advocates an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, which prohibits the use of the courts to regulate business or to defend civil rights.
A reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has officially passed in the House of Representatives, and now heads to the Senate, where it is poised to face staunch Republican opposition over the gun control measures it contains.
This legislation makes critical changes to VAWA, which was the first federal law to ever comprehensively confront violence against women including domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking by allocating grant money to combat and investigate these offenses.
“What I’m doing is what our foremothers prayed for,” Nevada state Sen. Pat Spearman said. “It didn’t happen in their lifetime. But they worked very hard to make sure that there was enough of this fight for equality left, so they could hand it off to the next generation.”
That next generation is predominantly Black women, women of color and LGBTQ+ people. Spearman, a Black queer woman, is among a group of state lawmakers around the country who sought to get enough support to ratify an amendment that its supporters believe is still needed to address glaring disparities in areas like compensation, child care access, pregnancy protections, and domestic and sexual violence. While sex discrimination protections have been expanded by court rulings over several decades, legal experts say there are still gaps.
“When we retire, that’s when you really see more women retire in poverty than men,” said Spearman, a Democrat who has been vocal about addressing pay inequities. “And that is even worse for Black women. So that is what the ERA is about.”
The increase in racial and gender diversity in statehouses appears to have made a difference in the fight for acknowledging the Equal Rights Amendment.