Meanwhile in Washington…

June 27, 2018 5:45 am
(Photo by Melissa Boughton)

Republican state legislative leaders are continuing their mad rush to end the 2018 legislative “short session” this week with the consideration of as many as six state constitutional amendments for possible placement on the November general election ballot. As Policy Watch reporters Melissa Boughton and Joe Killian have been chronicling in a series of news stories and blog posts, the list of proposed amendments includes proposals to mandate voter identification at the polls, permanently cap the rate of the state income tax, shift the power to fill vacancies and the membership of various boards and commissions from Gov. Cooper to the General Assembly, enact a state crime victims’ rights law, and establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish. Be sure to check The Progressive Pulse blog throughout the remainder of the week for regular updates.

Unfortunately, these controversial proposals have been far from the only worrisome constitutional developments for North Carolinians this week. This is also the final week of the 2017-18 session of the United States Supreme Court and, as has become the Court’s unfortunate pattern since the elevation of Neil Gorsuch last year, justices have issued multiple 5-4 rulings that restrict important constitutional rights.

Two more of these extremely problematic decisions were handed down yesterday as the Court upheld President Trump’s infamous “Muslim travel ban” and ruled in favor of the of fake health clinics that had challenged a California law which required them to stop misleading women about their reproductive health options.

The following responses are excerpted from the statements of immigrant and women’s health advocates in response to the Court’s rulings:

On the travel ban ruling in Hawaii v. Trump

From the National Immigration Law Center:

Today the arc of justice just got longer. The Supreme Court ruling marks this as another painful day in our country’s history. The Court’s decision ignores and empowers this administration’s bigotry and serves as a tacit approval of religious and ethnic discrimination that runs counter to the inclusionary principles that our country aspires to. President Trump’s Muslim ban has already caused immeasurable suffering to families and communities and is part of the administration’s overall strategy of attacking and separating immigrant and refugee families.

The Supreme Court has been wrong before. Today, the Roberts Court joins the shameful legacy left by Court majorities that sanctioned the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans (Korematsu) and the perpetuation of slavery in the U.S. (Dred Scott).

The fights for religious freedom and justice for all immigrant families do not end here. The right to live in peace and be treated with dignity and justice no matter one’s race, ethnicity, or religion is too important to let one person, one president destroy. In November, we must elect a Congress that will hold this administration accountable. We continue to stand proudly with our plaintiffs, refugees, and the American Muslim community and will fight in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, at the ballot box, and alongside our communities until there is no Muslim ban ever.”

From the N.C. Justice Center (parent organization of NC Policy Watch):

In a narrow majority, our nation’s most powerful court stood on the wrong side of history. They endorsed an inhumane policy – one that has already caused great suffering – that will reflect on our government and nation for days and years to come. Their decision continues a disturbing narrative that began in the Trump administration’s earliest days in office and has continued as dehumanizing rhetoric and policies targeting immigrants, refugees, and children have plagued our nation.

Such a decision will only galvanize those who wish to disparage or attack our immigrant neighbors in the U.S. and people abroad, while putting our very communities in peril….

Since Day One of this administration, we have spoken out against harmful, bigoted policies. More than ever, we know we must fight for democratic institutions and policies that honor the best of our nation’s values and recognize that our country’s racial, ethnic, and religious diversity is one of our greatest strengths.”

From the national nonprofit, Muslim Advocates:

Today’s decision is clearly unpopular and unrepresentative of the America that so many of us know. We will continue to fight for the families still imperiled by this reckless ruling. We will continue to fight in the courts, and we will urge our members of Congress and the people to serve as a meaningful check on the administration.”

On the “fake health clinic” ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra

From NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina:

Today, an ideologically divided Supreme Court ruled in NIFLA v Becerra that fake clinics have a free pass to continue deceiving pregnant people, even though they prey on vulnerable pregnant women and their families, and often give people who come through their doors false and medically dangerous information. It was never up for debate that these clinics use lies and deception to spread a political, anti-abortion message; but five of the justices – including Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Justice who was hand-picked by his anti-abortion allies – still refused to end the lies.

Across the country, including in North Carolina, extreme anti-abortion groups have been cynically building a network of fake clinics with the primary goal of controlling people’s reproductive and sexual health decisions. These fake clinics target anyone seeking reproductive health care options, including abortion, and lie to them, deceive them, and provide inaccurate and misleading medical information, sometimes putting the patient’s health and life at risk. In particular, these fake clinics deliberately target low-income communities that have traditionally had less access to quality, affordable health care….

These deceptive centers do nothing but exacerbate North Carolina’s healthcare gaps. Providing access to affordable healthcare for the approximately 250,000 North Carolina women without health insurance should be a top priority for North Carolina lawmakers. Instead, they’ve refused to expand Medicaid, stopped state funding of trusted safety net provider Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and are now funneling over $1.5 million in taxpayer money to these anti-abortion centers that provide little, if any, actual medical care….

These fake clinics, the rest of the anti-abortion movement, and their political allies have been working together for decades to ban legal abortion in America. In bringing this case to the Supreme Court, the anti-abortion movement was hoping the court would give a legal pass to their political speech masquerading as medical advice, further setting the stage for the anti-abortion wing of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade and re-criminalize abortion, their ultimate goal.”

From the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

Today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling striking down the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, in a decision that implicates the rights and health of women, particularly low-income women and women of color. The law required so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide women accurate information and disclosures about public reproductive health care services, such as birth control, and abortion.

This decision is devastating for women, particularly women of color and low-income women, in need of access to accurate information to make the best possible choices for their reproductive health. ‘Crisis pregnancy centers’ target some of the most vulnerable women in communities today. The California law helped ensure that women would receive factual information and basic disclosures about public programs that provide access to contraception, abortion, and other critical family planning services.”

From Progress NC:

The Supreme Court has delivered a blow directly to the protections provided by Roe v. Wade. This is a court-sponsored blessing to anyone who wants to masquerade as a medical provider and lie to patients. North Carolina is home to more than 100 fake medical clinics, and now there is no limit on the falsehoods they can tell those who come to them in need.”

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Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors regular commentaries, and hosts a weekly radio show/podcast.