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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court’s decision today in June Medical Services v. Russo struck down a Louisiana law imposing targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP laws) that the Court had previously found unconstitutional in Texas. TRAP laws are not designed to protect women’s health, but rather to expand the power of patriarchal church leaders and conservative Republicans and to dictate women’s most personal health decisions. 

The court also declined to rule on third-party standing which means that abortionproviders can continue to challenge laws that restrict access on behalf of their patients which is a crucial win for abortion activists. The case was a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his majority opinion, this case was “almost word-for-word identical” to the law at issue in the Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, from 2016. In that case, the crucial fifth vote was cast by Justice Kennedy—but his replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voted to keep the restrictions on the books.  

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority in this case, but only because he agreed with Breyer that the issues had already been decided by the Court.  He reiterated his opposition to the arguments made by the majority in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt.  He doesn’t agree with Justice Breyer that the Texas and Louisiana laws “will continue to make it impossible for abortion providers to obtain conforming privileges for reasons that have nothing to do with the State’s asserted interests in promoting women’s health and safety.”

This means that with John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch on the Court, access to abortion care is still on the brink of repeal.  NOW applauds today’s legal victory, but we have no illusions about the challenges women still face in defending their reproductive rights from activist judges and extremist politicians.

Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we march—and in November, we vote.

June 24, 2020- WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate’s failure to movedecisively on comprehensive policing reform underscores the urgent need for Congress to follow the lead of their constituents, who overwhelmingly support an end to abusive policing practices, state-sanctioned violence and systemic brutality against Black people at the hands of law enforcement.  Senate Democrats are right to call B.S. on the JUSTICE Act, a pathetic excuse for reform.

NOW supports the position of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to demand that Congress adopt a set of fundamental reformsthat must be in any policing legislation Congress adopts.

These priorities are: (1) the creation of a use of force standard that allows force when necessary and as a last resort; (2) a ban on chokeholds; (3) a ban on racial profiling; (4) the establishment of a police misconduct registry; (5) the inclusion of a “reckless” standard in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 that enables federal prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable for criminal civil rights violations; (6) a prohibition on no-knock warrants, especially in drug cases; (7) the elimination of the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity, which allows officers and other government actors to evade accountability when they violate individuals’ rights by abusing and killing suspects; and (8) the demilitarization of law enforcement agencies. 

In less than 12 hours, more than 450 civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice organizations, including NOWsigned on to that letter to support these reforms – none of which are adequately addressed in Senate bill, S. 3985, the so-called JUSTICE Act. The Senate was poised to vote on this bill today.

While some Senate Republicans are showing good-faith interest in at least making a start at reform, Mitch McConnell continues to revel in his self-described role as the “grim reaper” standing in the way of racial justice.  His political posturing and cynical maneuvering continues to cause irreparable harm to marginalized communities and is ultimately costing lives.

NOW activists will continue working with advocates to dismantle this structural racism that has disproportionately caused harm to the Black community.  We stand for racial justice—and the victims of racial profiling, police brutality, and blatant prejudice and hatred.  The American people know what’s happening in the streets.  We demand justice.

"Juneteenth is a time to recommit ourselves to the work that remains undone. We remember that even in the darkest hours, there is cause to hope for tomorrow’s light." -Barack Obama
 
Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 that the remaining enslaved people in the United States learned of their freedom — some two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The day has regained urgency this year, and Virginia NOW and National NOW join with all those seeking racial justice to re-commit to working together to build a more equitable society.
 
We would like to share with our readers a personal commentary in the June 19th issue of Virginia Mercury by Kai’eshia Cole. She is an organizer with NextGenVirginia, where she works with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to register and engage young voters in the political process. She lives in Norfolk. Her full commentary is here.
 
"In the year 2020, Juneteenth has painfully regained its importance — and grown in prominence — as we face a system that is still not here for us, a pandemic that affects our community at the highest rate, and a trend of unconscionable violence against our community. With the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Toni McDade, Dion Johnson, Robert Fuller, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other unnamed Black people, we are reminded of the harsh events that our ancestors had to overcome....
 
"Blacks in the United States are telling the world that we are not fighting for any form of supremacy, but simply the opportunity to own our existence without disruption.
 
"That is what Juneteenth should symbolize for us all." 
 
Steps - small and large - must be taken. Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he intends to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday, starting by giving state employees a day off today. Forty-seven states have already recognized it as either a state or ceremonial holiday. The full statement is here.
 
Today, we re-commit ourselves to racial justice.
 
Connie Cordovilla, President
Pat Reuss, Executive VP
Marj Signer, Legislative VP
 
Read the New York Times' project 1619, which aims to reframe the country’s history "by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the national narrative."
 
Read Juneteenth: Celebrate by Committing to a More Just Society," by Rebecca Rubin, a white woman in Fredericksburg who is the parent of a child who is a person of color.
 
 

 

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell made a devil’s bargain to stack the federal judiciary with ultra-conservative judges, cementing opposition to women’s rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ freedoms and environmental protections for generations to come. 

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 196 judges nominated by President Trump, including two associate justices of the Supreme Court, 51 judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 141 judges for U.S. District Courts, and two judges for the U.S. Court of International Trade. That adds up to almost 30% of the entire federal bench, and Trump’s appointment total in less than four years matches what Barack Obama and George W. Bush accomplished in eight. 

 

The murder of George Floyd has renewed our resolve to build a more equitable society. 
Since NOW’s founding, racial justice has been a core issue, but dismantling racism requires more of us than protesting. And the burden must not be on the shoulders of people of color. We believe the best way to honor the memory of George Floyd and all the other victims of racism is to work with allies to dismantle racial injustice. We present just some of the resources available. Please look at Black Lives Matter - prayerful, angry, reflective.
Take Action With and Support Organizations Working for Change (we offer these resources with thanks to Charlottesville NOW President Charlotte Gibson for her research and leadership):
4PM, TODAY, WEDNESDAY JUNE 10
The Women's March and Poor People's Campaign Zoom webinar about understanding and transforming white womanhood in the pursuit of true racial justice.
5PM, THURSDAY, JUNE 18
A discussion on the Equal Rights Amendment and its impact on the rights of girls and women of color. Panelists include Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, Jamia Wilson, Soraya Chemaly, Ilyasah Shabbaz, Ashley Sawyer, and Mona Sinha. Facebook and Zoom. Sign up
Fight for equality with the NAACP’s  "We are done dying"  campaign.  Donate  to the NAACP or join the NAACP . You can also  donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund .
The Bail Project, Inc.  combats mass incarceration at the front end of the system. The National Revolving Bail Fund pays bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence. Because bail is returned at the end of a case, donations to the fund are recycled and reused to pay bail multiple times, maximizing the impact of every dollar donated. In Virginia, you can  donate directly to the Richmond Community Bail Fund   https://rvabailfund.org
A national organization,  Higher Heights for America,  and its sister organization  Higher Heights Leadership Fund  are building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office and creating the environment for Black women to run, win and lead to advance progressive policies.
From Corinne Shutack in Medium August 2017 (and continually updated to remain relevant today) there is  75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice .
Continuously Educate Yourself
Fairfax County library's website resources on fighting racism include books, movies, television programs, and more, most readily accessible.
From Ms. Magazine, award-winning historian Keisha N. Blain shares some of the most vital books to read on race:   Recommended Books by Women to Understand the Uprisings
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has just launched  Talking About Race , an online portal to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society. The portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multi-media resources tailored for educators, parents and caregivers--and individuals committed to racial equality.
Coursera has curated a  collection of free courses  from world-renowned experts and thought leaders for those who want to confront racism and learn more about social justice and racial inequality. 
African Americans in most states are suffering greater impact from the pandemic. An NPR analysis on incomplete but growing data found that "in 32 states plus Washington D.C., blacks are dying at rates higher than their proportion of the population. In 21 states, it's substantially higher, more than 50% above what would be expected." The May 30 article,  What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State  includes a great visual representation.