Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Trump's Supreme Court Pageant: a Silly Show to Fill a Stolen Seat

MORNING MESSAGE

Richard Eskow
Trump’s Supreme Court Pageant: a Silly Show to Fill a Stolen Seat
But cheap tricks like Trump’s live, prime-time Supreme Court announcement do serve a purpose: They distract the public from everything else he’s doing. It’s government by three-card monte, and in this case it draws attention away from the most important fact of all about this Supreme Court seat: The Republicans stole it from former President Barack Obama.
Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary—fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder—is out of touch with the needs of working people. Despite having built his business and fortune on the backs of hard working Americans, he opposes meaningful increases to the minimum wage and overtime pay.

GORSUCH NAMED FOR SCOTUS SEAT THEFT

Gorsuch likely bad for voter rights. The Nation’s Ari Berman: “Like Scalia, as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Gorsuch has been hostile to abortion rights and environmental regulations, and sympathetic to large corporations and the religious right. He has criticized liberals for challenging bans on gay marriage before the courts. Though his paper trail on civil-rights cases is slim, he’ll presumably be in sync with Scalia on these issues too.”
Gorsuch to swing Court right. Politico: “…he could join with other conservatives to rule that individuals and businesses sometimes have the right to discriminate against gays for religious reasons … Conservative judges tend to be deferential to the executive branch on national security-related issues, but Gorsuch’s strong concerns about religious liberty might lead him to be skeptical about rules that are arguably designed to impact a particular religion … Perhaps the most certain result of putting Gorsuch on the court is an eventual setback for public employee unions … The one view that made Gorsuch such a star with legal conservatives is his view that judges should do more to check the power of the modern regulatory state.”
Republicans could nuke filibuster for SCOTUS. Politico: “…Republicans can lose two of their 52-member caucus. They’re already down one with Collins … Few are actively pushing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take the ultimate step. But conservatives such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and even more pragmatic lawmakers like Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are holding out the threat … The overwhelming preference of Republicans is to somehow persuade eight Democrats to get on board. Democrats say this is theoretically possible, but they expect opposition to quickly build and won’t rule out ultimately blocking Trump’s nominee.”
Will Kennedy resign now? W. Post: “…an undercurrent of Trump’s first choice for the court was whether it would soothe Kennedy, making him feel secure enough to retire and let this president choose the person who would succeed him … Who better, then, to put Kennedy at ease than one of his former clerks? … Some say Kennedy would be reluctant to leave, too, if it meant a more conservative court that would reverse some of his landmark decisions, especially on gay rights. But others who know him suggest he is ready to go … Pleasing Kennedy is wise but not dispositive, as lawyers at the court like to say.”
Mixed reaction from Senate Dems. The Hill: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren … said she would oppose his nomination … ‘I cannot support any nominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people,’ [Sen. Sherrod] Brown said … Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also signaled his opposition … Seven Democrats in the Senate – Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) – have said they oppose a filibuster.”
Schumer expresses “serious doubts.” Yahoo! News: “The Senate minority leader also emphasized that the Senate should keep its 60-vote standard — the amount necessary to defeat a filibuster — to approve Supreme Court nominees, calling it ‘a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees.'”
Dems should fight, argues NYT’s David Leonhardt: “The presumption should be that Gorsuch does not deserve confirmation, because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate.
Activists demand full court press. The Atlantic: “‘If grassroots Democrats hear their elected leaders treating Trump’s nominee as business as usual, it’s not that they’ll be disappointed or crestfallen, they’ll be furious,’ [MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler] said …

STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES PROTEST TRAVEL BAN

1000 State Department workers protest Trump travel ban. NYT: “By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it. The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants.”
Brown Prof. Corey Brettschneider makes case for why Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional, in Politico: “Giuliani’s admission is a textbook case of drafting an order in a way that avoids overt declaration of animus against a religious or ethnic group, while retaining the motive and much of the effect … An executive order or law displays unconstitutional animus and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause when it has the ‘purpose and effect of disapproval of a class recognized and protected by state law,’ as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor.”
Children suffer from ban. NYT: “Children who are most in need of emergency international assistance come from five of the seven countries covered by President Trump’s order barring entry to the United States, according to a United Nations report … ‘This shows who the ban really impacts: the world’s most vulnerable, women and children who are fleeing terror,’ said Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president at the International Rescue Committee…”
Universities sound alarm. Yahoo! News: “‘The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others,’ the nonprofit Association of American Universities stated…”

BANNON TERRIFIES EVERYBODY

Top House Dems demand Bannon leave NSC. Yahoo! News: “Rep. Barbara Lee and the chairs of four Democratic caucuses in the House of Representatives are demanding President Trump remove his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, from the National Security Council … The congresswoman said she has a ‘team of people’ looking into what Democrats can do to oppose Bannon if their demands to Trump fall on deaf ears, and it will continue to target him.”
Bannon worries Republicans. The Hill: “‘The president has the right to appoint him to be his adviser, but I think there is a lot of concern about his influence,’ said one GOP lawmaker, who spoke on background to offer a candid view from Capitol Hill … Many Republicans fear that Bannon’s ascendance is coming at the expense of Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus…”

BREAKFAST SIDES

“Border tax sets off frenzy of lobbying” reports The Hill: “In the last six months of 2016, more than 35 companies and groups specifically lobbied on the border-adjustment tax, with many opposed to it … While retailers are among those most concerned about the tax plan, it could also have major repercussions for the oil and gas industry.”
World prepares for trade war. Bloomberg: “After the U.S. president said Germany and Japan are gaming foreign-exchange markets to win favorable trade terms, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday in pushing back and leading a global counter-charge to the accusations … Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last week talked by phone and spoke out in favor of closer trade ties, signaling a global pact opposed to Trump’s protectionist agenda.”
Senate Dems boycott committee votes for Mnuchin and Price, delay Sessions vote. Politico: “Hatch told reporters he would try again to vote on Price and Mnuchin on Wednesday, and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also set up a Wednesday attempt to complete a vote on Sessions. But it’s all but guaranteed that Trump’s Tuesday night Supreme Court selection will raise temperatures in the Senate, and Democrats said they might keep withholding consent for routine decisions. … Democratic senators on the environment committee huddled Tuesday afternoon to decide whether to mount a boycott of Wednesday’s panel vote on Scott Pruitt … Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins said today that she is still undecided about whether to support Pruitt … Collins and Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski also on Tuesday reserved the right to oppose Betsy DeVos on the floor…”

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