The man behind a third of the Supreme Court

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 09.53.57

Behind the scenes, during Republican Administrations, they are very engaged in identifying and recruiting for judges candidates who are ultra-conservatives—who are opposed to our rights and liberties across the board, whether it’s women, the environment, consumer protections, worker protections.” Gorsuch is likely to be only the first of Leo’s Trump Administration appointees: he is preparing for yet more vacancies on the Supreme Court, and also finding candidates for some of the hundred-plus vacancies on the lower courts, deepening his imprint on the judiciary.

pub. 04/2017

When does “alarmism” simply become “reality”?

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 19.54.07

The last lesson in “On Tyranny” is to be as courageous as you can. Do you actually care enough about freedom that you would take risks? Do individuals actually care about freedom? Think that through. I think if enough of us take the little risks at the beginning, which aren’t really that significant, this will prevent us from having to take bigger risks down the line.

pub. 05/2017

The current concept of “gun rights” is only recent, and you can thank the NRA for that

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 12.16.22

One lesson: patience. The fight for gun rights took decades. Another lesson, perhaps obvious: There is no substitute for political organizing. A century ago the satirical character Mr. Dooley famously said in an Irish brogue, “No matter whether th’ Constitution follows th’ flag or not, the Supreme Coort follows th’ iliction returns.” Before social movements can win at the court they must win at the ballot box. The five justices in the  Heller majority were all nominated by presidents who themselves were NRA members.

pub. 05/2014

Opinion: “Free speech” isn’t that simple

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 14.41.12

Lyotard shifted attention away from the content of free speech to the way certain topics restrict speech as a public good. Some things are unmentionable and undebatable, but not because they offend the sensibilities of the sheltered young. Some topics, such as claims that some human beings are by definition inferior to others, or illegal or unworthy of legal standing, are not open to debate because such people cannot debate them on the same terms.

When one person’s “free speech” is a dismissal of others’ humanity or a demand that others justify their humanity, the latter are either treated as non-participants in the debate or have their participation limited to defending their right to be there–which means they don’t truly have free speech themselves. Thus:

It has been regrettably easy for commentators to create a simple dichotomy between a younger generation’s oversensitivity and free speech as an absolute good that leads to the truth. We would do better to focus on a more sophisticated understanding, such as the one provided by Lyotard, of the necessary conditions for speech to be a common, public good. This requires the realization that in politics, the parameters of public speech must be continually redrawn to accommodate those who previously had no standing.

pub. 04/2017

Organizing and Mobilizing: People Power

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 13.50.43

Regular citizens can only do so much to help the ACLU, primarily donate to the organization so its lawyers and other experts can work within the legal system to do what the rest of us can’t.

In the wake of the 2016 election, the ACLU saw the untapped passion of its many new members and took its record donations to a new project, a mobilization arm called People Power.

People Power is, at its core, a grassroots member-mobilization project. Through People Power, the ACLU will engage volunteers across the country to take action when Trump or his administration attempt to enact unconstitutional policies or trample on people’s constitutional rights. By mobilizing in defense of our civil liberties, volunteers will build local communities that affirm our American values of respect, equality, and solidarity.

seen 04/2017

If you’re still looking for the right movement or activist coordination group for you, and if you appreciate being part of something backed up by the history and expertise of the ACLU, take a look at People Power’s website and events map.

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Contacting Representatives: Resistbot

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 11.23.26

Resistbot is a pretty sweet little tool that takes messages you text and turns them into hard copies to send to Congress via fax or mail. Aside from a few tweaks as users get more experienced, that’s all there is to it–which means that if you hate making phone calls, it’s never been easier to share your thoughts with your representatives!

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Video: How to protect your digital privacy during a protest

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 13.29.52

pub. 04/2017

The Intercept has produced a three-minute video of tips to protect your identity, location, and communications from authorities who might surveil protestors or try to access your phone during arrest. If you’re off to a protest, even what you expect to be a peaceful one, it couldn’t hurt to spend a few minutes preparing.

The video is the beginning of a series, Cybersecurity for the People, that will cover other privacy and security measures regular folks can take as activists or to retain greater control over their everyday digital lives.

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.