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2018-SEP to NOV:
President Trump's administration:
Abortion case appealed to Supreme Court.
Midterm elections: Democrats control House.
Impact of the midterm elections on the
possibility of President Trump's impeachment.
Massachusetts defeats anti-LGBT
2018-OCT-22: The first appeal of a abortion access law reaches U.S. Supreme Court since Justice Kavanaugh added to the bench:
Earlier, a federal trial court had reviewed an Indiana omnibus abortion law that bans pregnant women from having an abortion based on sex, race, or disability. Mike Pence, the current Vice President, had signed the bill into law during 2016 when he was Governor of Indiana. During 2017-SEP, the trial court had blocked various provisions of the law. That decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which upheld the lower court ruling.
Only one week after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Justice at the U.S. Supreme Court, the High Court received an appeal from the State of Indiana to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. The next step is for the Justices of the High Court to vote on whether to accept the case. In his appeal, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill had argued that the issues involved were "nationally important." 1
2018-NOV-06: Midterm elections: Democrats gain control of the House; Republicans increase their hold on the Senate:
Adrian Morrow, writing for the Globe and Mail, said:
"In advance of the vote, Mr. Trump doubled down on his nationalist agenda, stoking fears over immigration in a bid to rev up his base. The President repeatedly railed against a caravan of Central American migrants working its way through Mexico and mused about ending birthright citizenship."
(Note: Birthright citizenship means that every person born in the U.S. is a citizen, whether their parents are citizens or not.)
"[President Trump said that Democrats]... want America to be a giant sanctuary city for drug dealers, predators and bloodthirsty MS-13 killers."
"One [TV] campaign ad the weekend before the vote implied that the caravan was full of people who wanted to murder police officers. CNN deemed the ad so racist it refused to air it; Fox News, NBC and Facebook ran versions of the ad Sunday before dropping it amid a popular outcry."
(Note: MS-13 refers to "Mara Salvatrucha," an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, in the 1980s, and spread to much of North and Central America.)
The Democratic Party needed 23 additional seats in order to gain control of the 435-member House. As of 3 AM Eastern Time on the day after the election, they had increased their number of their House seats by 25. When votes are fully counted, they may have seized additional seats. Surprisingly, after having lost the House, President Trump tweeted:
"Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all."
Nancy Pelosi, the former Minority Leader in the House now becomes the Majority Leader. She said that the results promised a:
"... new day for America. A Democratic [House in] Congress will work for solutions that bring us together because we have all had enough of division."
According to the votes counted by 12:15 AM on NOV-07, the new House Democrats will include 25 women, 16 persons of color, 6 military veterans, 30 members under 55 years of age, and 22 members who refused to accept corporate PAC money.
Before the election, the Republican Party held a 51-49 majority of seats in the Senate -- a one-vote majority. As of NOV-07, they held 51 seats and were leading in Arizona and Florida. They may also win the Mississippi run-off in later November. 2,3,4,7
Some atypical individuals were elected to the Senate, House and State elections:
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a pro-lifer who investigated Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts, won a Tennessee Senate seat.
- Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) became the first state governor who is openly gay.
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), aged 29, has become the youngest women ever elected to Congress.
- Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, became the second Native American woman in Congress; the first who is also openly lesbian.
- Voters in Massachusetts considered a ballot measure to terminate the rights of transgender persons in the state. They voted to reject the measure, and reaffirmed Senat Bill 2407 -- a 2016 law that extended nondiscrimination protection to transgender people. See below for details.
- Voters in Michigan passed a ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older.
- Voters in Missouri passed a ballot measure that legalized the medical use marijuana -- the 31st state to do this.
- About 1.5 million Floridians had previously lost their voting privileges permanently because they had been convicted of a felony and imprisoned. During the midterm elections, voters passed an Amendment that restored the vote to most of them after their release from prison. Since about half are black, many are expected to vote Democrat. Their votes might make significant differences to future election patterns in the state. This leaves two states -- Iowa and Kentucky -- as the only places in the U.S. where former felons continue to be permanently disenfranchised. 5
- The One News Now web site has brief descriptions of other ballot measures. 5
- During 2015, County Clerk Kim Davis (R-KY) of Rowan County had spent five days in jail because she refused -- on religious grounds -- to supply a same-sex couple -- David Ermold and David Moore -- with a marriage license. She believed that religious freedom includes the religious freedom to discriminate against others in violation of the Golden Rule. She sought reelection as county clerk, but lost to Elwood Caudill Jr (D-KY). Ermold had expressed the hope that Kim Davis would win reelection. He told the Associated Press:
" just want him to lose. I would rather Kim Davis win. At least Kim Davis has the integrity to stand up for what she believes in. Elwood Caudill is a liar."
- North Dakota's Republican-controlled state government passed a voter ID law that requires voters to have personal identification showing their name, birth date, and street address. Many Native Americans have no street address and would be denied the right to vote; some only have PO boxes. Democrats say that the new law was politically motivated with the goal of suppressing the Native American vote.
- Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson (D-MN) became sheriff of Hennepin County, the first openly gay sheriff in the Midwest.
- Even though Texas' population is 40% hispanic, it has never sent a Latina to Congress. At this election, it sent two: Veronica Escobar (D) and Slvia Garcia (D).
- Rep. Ayanna Pressley is the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts.
Impact of the midterm elections on the possibility of President Trump's impeachment:
Paul Wood, writing for Spectator USA, discussed the structure of the federal government:
"... one half of a co-equal branch of government -- the Congress -- is now in the hands of the opposition party. In normal times, this would mean the usual Washington gridlock, the constitution having been designed to be deliberately inefficient. But these are not normal times. The President’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, national security adviser, and his personal lawyer are all awaiting sentencing on various charges. The President himself is under investigation, accused of being the creature of a hostile, foreign government. ..."
"I’m told that one foreign ally’s intelligence service ... concluded that Trump’s did have incipient dementia. ..."
"... everyone in Washington is all to well aware that ... [the Democrats] are now in the majority on committees with the power to investigate the President and Russia. They have subpoena power. The Trump administration can expect a war of attrition, including televised hearings with a procession of ‘co-operating witnesses’, before the (probably) inevitable: articles of impeachment accusing the president of having ‘colluded’ with the Kremlin." 6
However, two thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of impeachment. That is very unlikely, since the Republicans has increased their majority position on the Senate.
2018-NOV-06: Massachusetts: Transgender equality upheld in a referendum:
During 2016, Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed into law "An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination" in 2016. It barred discrimination against transgender persons in public spaces. The law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places, such as hotels, restaurants, and stores.
Referendum #3 was a vote by the general public held with the midterm elections, It was to decide whether to either continue or revoke the law. Anti-LGBT campaigners claimed that if the law were allowed to continue, then sexual predators would gain access to women's spaces including public washrooms. During the two years that the law had been in place no such issues had materialized in washrooms or elsewhere in the state.
A non-profit group, "Freedom for All Massachusetts, Inc." promoted a "Yes" vote to retain the pro-equality law. Another non-profit, Keep MA Safe was organized to place the question on the ballot and to encourage voters to vote "No" in order to permit discrimination against transgender persons.
Ballotpedia reported that:
- ONE group, the Massachusettts Family Institute, a conservative Christian group, supported a NO vote.
- Governor Charlie Baker (R), Over 140 organizations, and approximately 180 businesses, and labor unions, 5 sports groups, 25 local public officials, 23 law enforcement organizations and officials, 19, colleges, and over 500 Christian, Jewish religious organizations, churches, and clergy supported a YES vote. (Numbers are very approximate.)
Pre-election polls indicated that 71 to 73% of voters planned to vote "Yes" on the referendum.
Results with 99% of precincts reporting were 68% "Yes" and 32% "No." The measure passed and the pro-equality/anti-discrimination law remains on the books. 13
Massachussets was the first U.S. state to uphold equality rights for transgender persons via a public vote!
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said:
"Massachusetts has set a clear precedent for every state and territory: When anyone comes for our rights, we and our allies will fight back and we will win. We will not be bullied and we will push against every myth and lie spread in the name of hatred. Particularly under a presidential administration hostile to the rights of transgender people, victories like this are all the more important. No transgender person should have to live their life in fear of prejudice, and we will always fight to protect strong, clear laws supporting our rights as full members of society. "
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said:
"By winning the first statewide popular vote on transgender rights, Massachusetts voters reaffirmed our Commonwealth as a place that fiercely defends our basic values of dignity and respect for everyone. When Massachusetts leads on equality, the nation watches -- and often, it follows. Tonight, we sent a message not just to transgender people and their families and friends here in Massachusetts, but to the entire country. At a time when transgender rights are being threatened nationally, we absolutely must preserve the rights we have secured at the state level." 9
German Lopez, writing for Vox.com, said:
"There’s also no evidence that nondiscrimination laws -- and other policies that let trans people use the bathroom for their gender identity -- lead to sexual assault in bathrooms and locker rooms. In two investigations, the left-leaning media watchdog organization Media Matters confirmed with experts and officials in 12 states 10 and 17 school districts 11 with protections for trans people, that they had no increases in sex crimes after they enacted their policies." 12
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Brie Shea & Jessica Mason Pieklo, "Gavel Drop: SCOTUS Gets Its First Abortion Rights Petition With Kavanaugh on the Bench," Rewire News, 2018-OCT-22, at: https://rewire.news/
- Adrian Morrow, "Democrats take control of House as Republicans hold Senate," The Globe and Mail, 2018-NOV-07, at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/
- Jim Young, Republicans hold onto power in U.S. Senate, may even gain some seats," The Globe and Mail, 2018-NOV-07, at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/
- "Meet the New Faces of Congress," "Progress Report" emailed to their mailing list by American Progress Action on 2018-NOV-07.
- "Voters also had their say on ballot issues," One News Now, 2018-NOV-07, at: https://www.onenewsnow.com/
- Paul Wood, "Does a Democratic House win pave the way to impeachment?," Spectator USA, 2018-NOV-06, at: https://spectator.us/
- Lt. Gen. William Boykin, "Significant Wins for Pro-Family Candidates," Family Research Council Alert mailing list, 2018-NOV-08.
- Bill Browning, "Lawbreaking anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis loses reelection," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-NOV-06, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
- Gwendolyn Smith, "Massachusetts voters reject right wing attempt to strip trans people of civil rights," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-NOV-06, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
- Carlos Maza, "Debunking The Big Myth About Transgender-Inclusive Bathrooms: Experts Call Bathroom Myth 'Beyond Specious'," Media Matters, 2014-MAR-20, at: https://www.mediamatters.org/
- Rachel Percelay, "17 School Districts Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Protections For Transgender Students," Media Matters, 2015-JUN-03, at: https://www.mediamatters.org/
- German Lopez, "Massachusetts votes to keep transgender protections with Question 3." 2018-NOV-07, at: https://www.vox.com/
- "Massachusetts Question 3, Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum (2018)," Ballotpedia, at: https://ballotpedia.org/
How you may have arrived here:
Original posting: 2018-JUL-06
Author: B.A. Robinson