Urge the Senate to Censure Senator John Cornyn

Proving that certain politicians can define new lows in outrageous behavior, Senator John Cornyn of Texas demonstrated his sympathetic understanding that violence against judges might be expected against judges that defend the Constitution in carrying out their duties.  Senator Cornyn, himself a former judge, sought to link his outrage against the courageous judges who refused to intervene in the tragic Terri Schiavo matter with recent violent attacks against judges and their families.  Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Cornyn, while speaking out against the recent Supreme Court decision making minors ineligible for the death penalty, made a startling and patently offensive argument, stating:
“It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions … I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country.  Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that’s been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in – engage in violence.”

The two recent national cases of violence against judges, (Judge Joan Lefkow of Chicago, whose mother and husband were brutally murdered in her own home by a man who had been ruled against in a medical malpractice suit and Judge Rowland Barnes, who was gunned down in his court room by an accused rapist who went on to murder three other people in an attempt to escape) had nothing to do with judges being unaccountable to the public or making political decisions.  They were the acts of deranged, dangerous criminals, and nothing can justify the terrible crimes that were committed.  To try to tie these incidents back to a clearly political agenda is disgusting.

Senator Cornyn’s remarks were dangerous and offensive, and pander to the most base instincts of a lunatic fringe.  They could easily lead to violence.  Mr. Cornyn should be censured by the Senate.


Stop the REAL ID Act!

Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives passed the REAL ID Act, bringing us a giant step closer to a “national ID.”  The REAL ID Act would establish a vast national database of ID holders, where even a small percentage of errors would cause major social disruption.  The ID would essentially be an internal passport that would be shown before accessing planes, trains, national parks, and court houses – an irresistible target for forgers and identity thieves.  It would also divert resources from security measures that could actually work.  And in calling for the use of “common machine-readable technology,” the REAL ID Act paves the way for the federal government to force every state to put radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into their ID cards.

The Senate needs to be reminded that such proposals have always been rejected for good reason:  our privacy and civil liberties are at the core of what it means to be an American citizen, and they shouldn’t be traded for what amounts to security theater.  Tell your senators to reject the REAL ID Act!


Tell Congress: Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, H.R. 1059 – the measure that seeks to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.  This measure would remove the ban on gay, lesbian and bisexual troops and allow them to serve openly in the military.  An Associated Press article dated April 8, 2005 profiles an openly gay solider who wants to remain on active duty – highlighting the urgent need for Congress to pass MREA.

Ask your Representative to co-sponsor the measure today.  Personalized letters to Congress are even more effective, so please take a few minutes to add your thoughts to the letter below.  If you are a veteran, military personnel, or a family member of military personnel, share your story.


Urge Congress to Enforce Sunset Provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act

Some provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to “sunset,” or expire by the end of 2005, while other provisions will remain in place if not removed or amended by Congress.  Write your Senators, Representatives and the White House and urge them to enforce the sunsets currently in the USA PATRIOT Act, co-sponsor and pass the SAFE Act and amend the over broad definition of “domestic terrorism.”


Stop the Partisan Power Grab of Our Federal Courts!

In their drive to install President Bush’s most radical, out-of-the-mainstream nominees in the federal judiciary – and even the Supreme Court – the Republican leadership in the Senate is considering using the so-called “nuclear option”:  eliminating the filibuster through a rule change so that Democrats would have no way to block unacceptable nominations, which could then be approved by a simple majority on a strict party-line vote.

Such an arrogant misuse of majority power to stack the federal courts is a grave threat to our very form of government and the Constitutional system of checks and balances.  If the majority party will change the rules to force through extremist Supreme Court judges, what else might they change the rules for?  Where will they stop?

This battle will come to a head soon, as several of these judges will be brought back before the Senate in the coming week.  Please take a moment TODAY to help block this partisan power grab.


Michigan – Protect Abortion Access

House Bill 4446 and Senate Bill 307 amend the 24-hour waiting period requirement of the “Public health code” to require an ultrasound, allow patients the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image of, and to provide the woman a picture of the ultrasound image of, the fetus prior to performing an abortion.  

These bills are just one more attempt by anti-choice hardliners to limit access to medically, safe, legal abortions.  This legislation does not seek to provide women with more information to make informed decisions.  Instead it is redundant and politically driven, and does not have the best interest of women in mind.  

Contact members of the Michigan House and Senate to oppose passage of HB 4446 and SB 307.  Urge your legislators to support increased funding for family planning services, expanded contraceptive coverage for all women, and comprehensive abstinence-plus education as methods for reducing the number of abortions in Michigan.  


Iraq War Funding Vote Imminent – Contact Your Senators Today

The full Senate will begin debate Monday on the president’s request for additional funding for the war in Iraq and a final vote is expected on this legislation early next week.  This is a critical opportunity for your senators to make a simple declaration that the U.S. does intend to withdraw all military troops and bases from Iraq.  No deadlines, no timetables, just a simple declaration of intent that would be important for people in Iraq, in the Middle East, and in the United States to hear.

Key Senate aides are telling FCNL that your pressure and the pressure of thousands of others has opened up a little space for a debate about U.S. policy toward Iraq.  Several senators have already said they intend to sharply question U.S. policy toward Iraq during the debate next week on the floor of the Senate about the request for supplemental funding for the war in Iraq.  Several senators are also considering introducing a resolution along the lines that FCNL has been proposing.  But many senators from both parties, even if they are supportive in private, are still reluctant to speak out in public on this issue.


Thank Senators Boxer and Snowe: U.S. Senate Overturns Global Gag Rule!

In a victory for women’s health activists and an important first step toward a pro-woman foreign policy, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), led the Senate in repealing the Global Gag rule on Tuesday, April 5, by a vote of 52-46.

President Bush had reinstated the global gag rule on his first day in office in 2001, thus denying U.S. financial assistance to any international organizations that counsel women on access to abortion, advocate for abortion rights, or provide abortions, even if they do so with their own privately-raised funds.

What the gag rule does is silence those groups on the front lines that provide critical health services to the poorest women and children around the world.  The $34 million denied to United Nations Population Fund last year alone could have prevented 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, and 4700 maternal deaths, as well as 77,000 infant and child deaths each year.

Send your thanks to Senators Boxer and Snowe, and let them know how much we value them as strong advocates for women’s health in the Senate!


Top Ten Ways To Protect Wetlands

America’s wetlands provide shelter to a wide array of wildlife species, filter our drinking water and protect urban areas from flooding, yet these important natural resources are being increasingly drained, polluted and developed.  Recent efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act and remove protections for certain types of wetlands threaten to further degrade the nation’s waters.  Without a commitment to maintaining and restoring a diverse and abundant number of wetlands, these vital natural resources run the risk of being severely depleted.  You can help fight for America’s wetlands by signing the petition at the link below asking members of Congress to support the ten wetlands conservation measures also listed at the link.


If Maryland Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

On April 5, 2005, Maryland passed historic legislation that will require large, profitable corporations to pay their fair share of their employees’ health care.  This is an important step towards ensuring that all Americans are able to access the health care they need.

We can’t stop now!  Please send a message to your elected officials that if they can do it in Maryland, they should do it in your state.  When large corporations like Wal-Mart don’t pay for their employees’ health care, guess who does?  We all do.  We pay when those without coverage show up in emergency rooms, just like we pay when they receive their coverage through government programs like Medicaid.  Your state needs to follow Maryland’s lead and hold corporations accountable for their employees’ health care.

The longer we wait to fix the health care crisis, the worse it’s going to get.


Tell Senators Levin and Stabenow to Say “NO” to the Asbestos Trust Fund

Senator Specter is soon going to introduce an asbestos trust fund bill. This is the latest of an ongoing effort to kick asbestos victims out of the courts and into a new federal bureaucracy that would immediately limit corporate accountability and liability while delaying or preventing fair compensation for victims.

Sign our petition TODAY to let Senators Levin and Stabenow know that they should NOT support Sen. Specter’s asbestos reform bill.


These and over 375 other action alerts are archived at http://shetquaker.blog-city.com/

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