Tennessee House Republicans, led by Speaker Cameron Sexton, voted to expel two Black Democratic Representatives on Thursday, but also voted against the expulsion of a white Democrat. The actions of that right-wing super-majority legislative body are “illegal” and violate the First Amendment, argues former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance.
“What happened in Tennessee on Thursday was outrageous and stupid and petty, and then the legislature went on to advertise their racism. It was also illegal,” Vance, a professor of law and well-known MSNBC/NBC News contributor, wrote overnight in her Substack newsletter. “It shouldn’t take long for the next stage of this to play out in the courts. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that it happened in the first place.”
Thursday evening, Republicans voted to expel state Rep. Justin Jones and state Rep. Justin Pearson. The vote to expel state Rep. Gloria Johnson failed. All three were “charged” with violating House decorum – House rules, by standing in the well and speaking in support of the thousands of protestors exactly one week earlier, who came to the state house to demand lawmakers enact gun control policies after the school mass shooting in Nashville last week.
Vance pointed to the late Julian Bond, a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who passed away in 2015.
He was also a four-term Member of the Georgia House of Representatives, but his path in the 1960’s to be able to actually represent his district was only first decided at the ballot box. Ultimately it had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“White members of the Georgia House challenged Bond’s right to be seated,” Vance writes, after Bond issued a statement against the Vietnam War.
Bond fought to be seated but a Georgia House committee voted against him. He took it to the courts, and lost in a 2-1 federal district court ruling. He brought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and while waiting for that appeal to be heard so much time had passed he had to run for re-election. He won.
Although Georgia House members again refused to seat him, Bond finally won at the Supreme Court.
“The unanimous Supreme Court decision in Bond’s favor relied upon a famous First Amendment case, New York Times v. Sullivan, holding that although a state may impose a requirement that legislators take an oath of allegiance, it cannot limit their capacity to express views on local or national policy,” Vance explains, adding: “'[D]ebate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’ the Court wrote, citing the decision in Sullivan.”
Vance also points to the ruling’s conclusion, which reads:
“Legislators have an obligation to take positions on controversial political questions so that their constituents can be fully informed by them, and be better able to assess their qualifications for office; also so they may be represented in governmental debates by the person they have elected to represent them. We therefore hold that the disqualification of Bond from membership in the Georgia House because of his statements violated Bond’s right of free expression under the First Amendment.”
Jones and Pearson both spoke eloquently and passionately on the House floor to defend their right to represent their constituents, while some Republicans barely tried to hide their apparent contempt and disdain for both Black men.
Reinforcing her allegations of obvious racism against the two now-former lawmakers, Vance sums up her argument: “A challenge to those members’ First Amendment rights cannot be dressed up as a violation of decorum rules; it’s still a violation of First Amendment rights. And when two Black representatives are expelled while a white one narrowly avoids expulsion, no amount of dissembling can erase the obvious conclusion.”
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
McCarthy Now Blaming Likely Shutdown on Fentanyl, President Biden, and His Own House Republicans
Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a raucous gaggle with reporters Tuesday afternoon blamed the increasingly likely shutdown of the federal government on fentanyl, President Joe Biden, and his own House Republicans.
Political experts have said the Republican Speaker could avoid a government shutdown, which will happen at midnight on Friday if legislation is not passed, by making a deal with Democrats and a small number of House Republicans. Doing so would likely cost him his job.
Asked on Tuesday by CNN’s Manu Raju, “Are you ruling out a clean CR without any border security?” McCarthy immediately launched in to a diatribe.
“You know what’s so concerning here? What do you tell to the families that tomorrow morning are gonna wake up and their child’s dead? Because fentanyl came across?” he asked the CNN reporter (video below). “What do you tell to that border agent that you saw the other day? Now his network doesn’t believe it but he’s all in blood. Or the cartels, the billions of dollars that they’re making. Or to the young girls that get raped?”
Another reporter, seemingly frustrated, interjected and asked, “But what do you tell the workers who are concerned they’re gonna get furloughed next week because there is no agreement in your chamber, sir?”
“Well, I know. It’s easy,” McCarthy claimed. “All the President has to do is say, ‘You know what, as one of my fundamental jobs as the President of the United States is to secure our border.'”
Another reporter, ignoring the Speaker’s apparent obfuscation, loudly asked, “Speaker McCarthy if we see the rule votes fail later today, is it possible to even move on to a CR [continuing resolution] for you?”
“Oh, yeah, I never give up,” McCarthy said smiling.
“I know that,” she replied, “but do you think you have the votes?”
Again, not delivering a straight answer, McCarthy smiled and replied, “Oh, I’ve got a lot of things I can try.”
CNN’s Raju reported that McCarthy, when asked about the “math,” meaning if he has the votes to keep the government open, said: “What’s concerning to me is that there are people in the Republican Party who will take the position of President Biden against what the rest of Americans want.”
That could suggest some Republicans have indicated they would vote with Democrats on a bill to keep the government from shutting down.
Raju also reported he asked “Speaker McCarthy if he believes he could survive a vote to oust him from the speakership, as [Rep. Matt] Gaetz has threatened, and he said: ‘I don’t count that vote.'”
NPR’s Joel Rose has reported, “Close to 90% of … fentanyl is seized at ports of entry. Immigration authorities say it is smuggled mostly by U.S. citizens, as well as other travelers who are legally authorized to cross. Virtually none is seized from migrants who are seeking asylum.”
On Monday The Washington Post Editorial Board wrote: “The U.S. government will almost certainly shut down on Oct. 1, the work of ultraconservative holdouts who want to ‘burn the whole place down,’ as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put it. Yet, for now, Mr. McCarthy does not appear willing to take away the matches. He could sideline the objectors by calling House Democrats and agreeing to pass bipartisan legislation to fund the government.”
Watch McCarthy below or at this link.
When asked if he has the votes for a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown if the House rules vote fails, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says, “I’ve got a lot of things I can try.” pic.twitter.com/byzQP5XUCc
— The Recount (@therecount) September 26, 2023
House GOP Shutdown Demands Include Gutting Billions From Dept. of Education, Costing Over 200,000 Teachers Their Jobs
As House Republicans move closer to shutting down the federal government at midnight on Friday the details of their spending cut demands are becoming clearer, including their largest single target: the U.S. Department of Education, and specifically, a program that funds schools for low-income children.
As Semafor’s Jordan Weissmann explains, “Republican hardliners are pushing the government toward a shutdown so that they can force frontline members of their party to take a symbolic vote in favor of cutting federal funding for low-income public schools by 80%.”
Calling Tuesday “a big test for House Republicans,” The Washington Post reports the House “will vote on a procedural motion — a rule — to advance four of the 11 remaining individual spending bills the House hasn’t passed. If the vote fails, the chamber’s Republicans will seem even more unable to govern.”
“The vote is a last-minute play to appease a small group of hard-line Republicans and demonstrate that the party is working to enact deep, year-long spending cuts — but it will do nothing to prevent a government shutdown on Sunday,” The Post warns. “The only viable way to prevent a shutdown — which now seems likely — is to pass a continuing resolution, or CR.”
House Republicans want to cut spending “by $58 billion more than the amount to which President Biden and McCarthy agreed in May when they struck a deal to raise the debt limit, according to an analysis by Bobby Kogan and Jean Ross of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.”
About one-quarter of that $58 billion, if Republicans get their way, would come from the Dept. of Education, which has long been a target of the GOP. Many Republicans in recent years have called to get rid of the agency entirely.
“Removing the agency that protects students’ civil rights and distributes federal education funds has received an increasing amount of Republican support in recent years, including from Donald Trump,” The American Independent reported in March, when 161 House Republicans voted in support of eliminating the Department of Education.
Now, House Republicans want to cut “a single program that provides funding for low-income schools, known as Title I education grants,” The Post adds, gutting it “by nearly 80 percent, saving $14.7 billion.”
“Democrats have warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts could cost up to 224,000 teachers their jobs, and teachers unions have mobilized to lobby against them,” The Post notes.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona posted a map detailing how many teachers could lose their jobs under House Republicans’ proposal.
Extreme House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government unless they can cut education programs that support 26 million students by 80%.
Here’s what this means for your state ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/zhfmYPPYqa
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) September 22, 2023
See the Secretary’s post above or at this link.
Menendez Quickly Losing Support as Flood of Democratic Senators Call on Him to Resign ‘For the Good of Our Country’
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include Senator Booker, the latest Democrat to call on Sen. Melendez to resign, and to update the tally.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is losing support as more of his Senate Democratic colleagues formally call on him to resign after he was indicted again, this time on federal bribery charges that included allegations of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars.
As of Tuesday morning, at least ten Democratic U.S. Senators have now called on the twice-indicted senior Democratic Senator from New Jersey to resign, as they cite the gravity of the charges against him.
U.S. Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) was the first to call on Menendez to resign, on Monday. U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT) followed later that day.
On Tuesday morning, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Tester (D-MT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) all called on Sen. Menendez to resign. by 11 AM, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also called for him to resign.
Minutes later, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Senator Menendez’s Democratic New Jersey colleague, also called for him to resign. The New York Times reported Sen. Booker’s decision “to condemn Senator Robert Menendez underscores the deepening crisis Mr. Menendez faces after his indictment.”
According to the Dept. of Justice, Sen. Menendez, along with his wife Nadine Menendez, not only are alleged to have received bribes, he is charged with doing so in a scheme “to use his official position to protect and enrich” those he allegedly accepted funds from, and “to benefit the Government of Egypt.”
“Among other things,” the DOJ alleged, Senator Menendez “agreed and sought to pressure a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to protect a business monopoly granted to” a New Jersey businessman “by Egypt, disrupt a criminal case undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office related to associates of” another New Jersey businessman, “and disrupt a federal criminal prosecution brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey against” a third New Jersey businessman.
Former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman on Sunday called Sen. Menendez “a walking national security threat.”
“Imagine US official charged with selling US secrets, embassy security, US defense policy – and showing up for work the next day,” he added.
“From a purely legal perspective, Menendez appears to be a dead man walking,” Goodman continued. “The kind of forensic and documentary evidence in the Indictment is exceptionally strong for these types of cases. It looks inevitable that he will be going to prison.”
- News2 days ago
Pete Buttigieg Nails Trump for His Ugly Comments About Wounded Vets
- News1 day ago
‘Careening’ Toward ‘Risk of Political Violence’: Experts Sound Alarm After Trump Floats Executing His Former General
- News1 day ago
‘It Won’t Fare Well’: Legal Expert Trashes Trump’s Hopes for ‘Hail Mary’ Appeal This Week
- News1 day ago
‘Poof’: White House Mocks Stunned Fox News Host as GOP’s Impeachment Case Evaporates on Live Air
- News1 day ago
‘Height of Irresponsibility’: Top LGBTQ Civil Rights Group Slams House Republicans Over Shutdown and ‘Politics of Hate’
- News24 hours ago
‘Isn’t Glock a Good Gun?’ Trump Asks Before Saying He Is Buying One – Campaign Forced to Deny He Did
- News21 hours ago
Trump Appears to Think Jeb Bush Was President: ‘He Got Us Into the Middle East’
- News22 hours ago
Fulton County Judge in Trump Case Orders Jurors’ Identities and Images Must Be Protected