This week is shaping up to be a busy one for President Trump’s judicial nominees. The Senate will vote on six circuit court nominees this week—three times the number of circuit court nominees Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed to receive a vote in President Obama’s entire last two years in office. The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hold hearings for six judicial nominees. Here are the key names you need to know about:
- Michael B. Brennan – Brennan, nominated for the Seventh Circuit, will face a cloture vote late Tuesday or early Wednesday. If approved, he would become the fourth judicial nominee in history to be confirmed over the official objection of the home-state senator. Senator Tammy Baldwin has refused to return her blue slip on Brennan, as he has a problematic record, especially concerning civil rights. Senate Democrats have never confirmed a judge over the objection of a Republican blue slip objection.
- Kurt D. Engelhardt – Engelhardt faces a cloture vote for his nomination to the Fifth Circuit early this week. He gained notoriety when he overturned convictions of five New Orleans police officers charged with shooting unarmed civilians after Hurricane Katrina. He also has a history of “preventing sexual harassment cases from even being heard by a jury.”
- Ryan Wesley Bounds – Bounds’ hearing for his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is already breaking records—but not for the right reasons. He will be the first judicial nominee in history to receive a hearing over the objection of both home-state senators. Like many of his fellow nominees, Bounds is a member of the Federalist Society, “an outside group to which Trump has indicated he has delegated the identification of candidates for judicial nominations.” Bounds’ record of racist comments makes him unfit to serve.
- J. Campbell Barker – Barker, nominated to be District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, is virulently anti-immigrant. He also has fought against “efforts to protect the environment; defended Texas’s discriminatory voter ID laws and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s access to an abortion; and defended businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.”
This is by no means a comprehensive list—even for this week! So make sure you’re following @WhyCourtsMatter on Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest judicial nominees. Although they are rarely on the front pages, these nominees will have the power to shape courts for decades to come, long after Trump leaves office. Find out more in this new video from the Center for American Progress.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Stop the Attacks on Women. Early in his presidency, Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which impacts “almost $9 billion in funding for vital programs that serve the world’s most vulnerable populations.” Now, some anti-choice members of the House are trying to push Trump to adopt a “domestic gag rule,” which would ban doctors from “receiving Title X health care funding if they mention abortion or abortion-related services.” Demand your representatives oppose this rule by using Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s easy contact tool.
Teacher Appreciation Week. This week is a time for all Americans to thank teachers for their critical role in educating our nation’s future leaders. But, it also is an opportunity to take a look at how we undervalue and underserve teachers, particularly by paying them rock-bottom salaries. Not only are teachers underpaid, but they often lack the needed preparation to excel in their roles. Teachers need to be adequately prepared and paid to stay in the teaching profession, but given the teacher strikes happening across the country, that is clearly not happening in most cases. So this week, don’t just thank a teacher—find out how we can make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession a top education policy priority.
Russian-Linked Facebook Ads. As early as this week, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to release 3,000 Russian-linked Facebook ads, “in what would offer the broadest picture yet of how the social network was manipulated during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The release of the ads would follow a series of shocking reports that found that Cambridge Analytica, a firm associated with the Trump campaign, “harvested data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users to psychologically profile voters.” Additionally, the plan to release thousands of Russian-linked Facebook ads comes just weeks after the House Intelligence Committee’s majority prematurely ended their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, finding no evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
UNDER THE RADAR
Increasing Asian American Voter Turnout. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the country and will “constitute nearly 10 percent of eligible voters by 2036.” However, “language barriers, voter suppression tactics, and lack of quality engagement from political parties have produced a large, persistent racial disparity in voter turnout.” The Center for American Progress has a new report detailing how to fight this disparity through five actions: collect robust disaggregated data on Asian Americans; eliminate language barriers to voting; prioritize Asian Americans outreach in political campaigns; end discriminatory voter purging policies; and, remove barriers to voter registration. Read the full report here.