Save the Date for our Supreme Court Forum on May 3
Since the founding of Get Money Out ten years ago, we have been working to overcome barriers to political equality erected by the Supreme Court in decisions that culminated in Citizens United v. FEC and that have continued to erode voting rights, weaken protections against racial gerrymandering, and concede more and more to the skyrocketing power of big money. In the past few years, people have begun to analyze how big money influences the Court itself. GMOM and For the People — Maryland coalition are taking up Supreme Court reform as an issue.
|Wednesday, May 3, 1:00-3:30 PM, Westminster Hall, on the campus of Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore. $5.00 Entry Fee. Registration info forthcoming.|
|Other Invited Speakers: U.S. Sen Sheldon Whitehouse; Rep. Jamie Raskin; Prof. Larry Gibson, Carey School of Law; Kedric Payne, Campaign Legal Center|
Public opinion polls show a sharply declining regard for the Supreme Court as a neutral and independent arbiter. The Court stands accused of ethics violations – failing to recuse when appropriate and receiving lavish gifts and more – and also of encroaching on other institutions and traditions, such as Congress, the Executive, state judiciaries, and legal precedents. Dark money organizations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to secure the appointments of and to influence the current Justices. What are the dangers of continuing on the present course? What are the prospects for reform of the Supreme Court? What can Congress accomplish by statute or can reform only happen by Constitutional Amendment? How can citizens play a role in accomplishing needed reforms?
Supreme Court takes a small first step on ethics reform
Supreme Court justices have not been operating under a code of ethics. There are many aspects to the issue, including allegations that justices or their spouses may have received money and/or gifts from parties before the court and from organizations that file amicus briefs. A recent Washington Post article lays out many of these issues. The justices now will abide by new rules on reporting gifts and trips. MS-NBC: Sen. Whitehouse reacts to Supreme Court ethics reforms and sketches reforms still needed.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D, RI) is reintroducing the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act with Rep. Hank Johnson (D. GA). Sen. Van Hollen co-sponsored last year’s version of this bill at our request. Sen. Chris Murphy (D, CT) is introducing the Supreme Court Ethics Act, also with Rep. Johnson. Sen. Cardin has agreed to co-sponsor the Murphy bill after discussion with our coalition. Read here to follow progress on these bills. In the wake of repeated media attention and expressions of Congressional concern, the high court announced this past week that it has accepted the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States that somewhat tightens gift-reporting requirements on the Justices. Still, dark money problems are eased in a minor way.
News flash from Washington Post: Sen. Chris Van Hollen will use his budget post to further pressure the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of ethics.
Johns Hopkins and the Agora Institute are sponsoring a debate about the Supreme Court at which, “our legal experts will discuss whether or not the Supreme Court is ‘broken,’ and if so, what, if anything, can be done to fix it” Click the image below to register.
Congress will keep political equality issues on the agenda
We met with Rep. John Sarbanes, prime author and sponsor of the omnibus Freedom to Vote Act in the House. The bill will be reintroduced in April or May in both chambers. The main goals of the bill are to reduce the influence of big money in our elections, limit gerrymandering, and promote equal access to the ballot. The DISCLOSE Act has also been reintroduced as a stand-alone bill. The House version of the Freedom to Vote Act will include public campaign financing for Congressional races.Rep. Sarbanes believes that mone in politics is the most powerful issue in the public mind. Read the notes of our meeting.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act will be reintroduced separately. It would strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was gutted in 2013 by a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the pre-clearance provisions for states with ahistory of voter suppression.
Here’s an important notice from one of our partners.
North Carolina Common Cause: In this brief video, the plaintiffs in the Moore v. Harper Supreme Court case give a very basic explanation of what is at stake.
Roll Call: The President proposes to apply a new federal tax to unrealized gains on wealth for families who are worth more than $100 million. (Similar to the way people pay state and local taxes on the value of real estate.) A dark money group calling itself Saving America’s Family Enterprises is running ads against the proposal and says it represents middle-class families who own businesses. The group doesn’t disclose its donors, but it seems likely that very wealthy people are using the middle-class enterprises to divert attention from the real issue of taxing the ultra-wealthy.
GMOM and For the People — Maryland teleconference
Monday, April 3, 7:30 pm
|2 ways to join|
1) Dial 1 301 715 8592, meeting ID: 931 3066 2622. Password: 173976.
2) Click on your device if you have downloaded the app from Zoom.Meeting Agenda
Our work on Maryland legislation, strategy for bills in Congress, and planning a forum on corruption at the Supreme Court.