2018-07-04 / Political Page

I On Politics

RESPONSES TO SCOTUS DECISION TO UPHOLD TRUMP’S MUSLIM TRAVEL BAN: The Supreme Court announced on June 26 its decision to uphold Trump’s Travel Ban that he ordered in September 2017, also widely known as his “Muslim Travel Ban” as most of the countries on the list are predominantly Muslim. The ruling on Trump v. Hawaii was 5-4 in the majority conservative court since Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch. Outraged local elected officials released the following statements:

House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) released the following statement after the Supreme Court announced its decision on Trump v. Hawaii:

“This decision will be remembered as one where the Supreme Court of the United States legitimized discrimination and religious intolerance. This is a deeply shameful decision that strikes at the heart of the principles our nation was founded on and the values we hold dear as Americans.

“Instituting a religious test and vilifying refugees seeking asylum is immoral, ignorant, and hateful. President Trump’s Muslim ban is the antithesis of everything we stand for, and we will continue to fight against this policy and this administration’s xenophobic and intolerant agenda.”

Congress Member Gregory W. Meeks, Senior Member, House Foreign Relations Committee: “I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to uphold President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. As has been made clear from the very beginning, Trump’s executive order was born from an intent to single out Muslims, and midwifed through post-hoc security justifications. Rather than protecting our nation from threats abroad, the Muslim ban plays directly into the hands of extremists who welcome the narrative of a religious war.

“The theft of President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination by the Republican Senate has already proven to have far reaching and long lasting consequences. With Justice Gorsuch further slanting the bench toward a conservative ideology, SCOTUS has failed to serve as a check on Trump, it has failed to protect women, it has failed to block minority voter suppression, it has failed to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, and it has failed again today.

“In empowering the White House to discriminate based on nationality and religion, our nation’s highest court has abetted in one of our nation’s lowest points in history. The absence of rigorous judicial oversight has left only Congress to serve as a check on this administration’s prejudicial animus.”

Borough President Melinda Katz, Attorney and Former Professor of Constitutional Law: “The Supreme Court has been on the wrong side of history before, and history will judge this decision just as harshly. Such state-sanctioned discrimination and xenophobia have rendered some of the deepest stains on our nation’s history. Queens—the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States, courtesy of the Flushing Remonstrance, home to over 2.3 million residents (half of whom were born abroad), and host to New York City’s two major airports—is deeply disappointed by this decision that affirms such wholesale profiling.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and Queens is about all of our families’ futures.” She mentioned her Queens Immigration Resource Fair that was held on June 28 as part of Know Your Rights Week for Immigrants, designed to connect our communities to committed legal experts, advocates and other resources, adding, “Together, we will continue to do everything possible to help counteract the hostility of the current political climate.”

Catalina Cruz, Democrat for State Assembly (39th District): “Today’s Supreme Court decision fails to safeguard the principle of religious neutrality promised by the First Amendment. It is a sad day for our nation when our highest court ignores the evidence that this policy violates the Establishment Clause because it clearly targets a religious group. The president routinely touts his disdain for our Muslim brothers and sisters and has kept his campaign promise to exclude them from our country once elected. With today’s decision, the court has approved the separation of thousands of families and signed the death certificate for thousands more looking to find a safe heaven in our country. We will not stop fighting to keep families together. We firmly stand with our Muslim community and resist Trump’s racist agenda at every turn. America is better than this.”

SCOTUS RULES AGAINST LABOR, 5-4: The Supreme Court ruled against union labor, 5-4, in Janus v. AFSCME on June 27. The following officials released statements:

House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-14, N. Queens, E. Bronx): Crowley stated that the Supreme Court decision undermines workers’ rights and protections in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31: “Today’s decision is an attack on American workers and the labor movement in our country. Unions are at the core of lifting up America’s working and middle class families, by fighting for better wages and benefits and fair working conditions. Despite this unfortunate decision, Democrats will continue to push for workers’ rights and protect the unions that fight for them.”

NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-22): “The Supreme Court shows in yet another decision it has been radicalized and gone to the far right. A day after upholding the Trump Muslim Ban, five justices have dealt a crushing blow to organized labor in this country. Those who benefit from a union-negotiated contract should pay their fair share. Instead, this decision will only empower major corporations with no regard for hardworking men and women. New York City is a union town, and I will continue to fight for members to get a fair wage for the hard work they put in.”

NYS Senator Jose Peralta (D-13): “Our nation is moving backwards. A day after the US Supreme Court upheld Trump’s racist travel ban, the highest court ruled against hardworking people. The Janus case decision is a blow to unions and the labor movement. Simply put, this is an attack on the working class. This year I fought to include language in the budget so that unions would be protected in anticipation of today’s outcome. I will continue to fight for unions so that they have the ability to protect workers in New York.”

NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-25): “The Janus decision is part of the far-right’s larger plan to kill US labor unions,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), a son of a union organizer and proud former member of the United Federation of Teachers. “Labor unions are the backbone of the middle class. They have fought for and secured living wages, fair work hours, safe job conditions and health benefits for working families. The Supreme Court majority has demonstrated that they are completely out of touch with working people in the United States. We know that America is great because of organized labor. I will continue to stand with our unions in support of our working families everywhere.”

MALONEY REACTS TO NEWS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE KENNEDY TO RETIRE: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) released the following statement after Supreme Court Justice Kennedy announced his retirement: “With Justice Kennedy leaving the court, every hard-won civil right is now vulnerable. Every woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, marriage equality, labor rights and affirmative action are now at stake in an instant.

“We cannot allow the confirmation to the Supreme Court of any nominee whose record indicates that he or she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade or turn back the clock on gains made by women and minorities. We must block the seating of another justice who would turn a blind eye to the toxic effects of dark money in politics, who would blithely ignore the hateful rhetoric of a president seeking to ban all the members of one religion from entering our country and allow the imprisonment of children.

“Senator McConnell, in postponing any Supreme Court nomination hearing until after the 2016 presidential election, set a new standard and since we followed it then, we must follow it now. The US Senate must be consistent and wait until after the new Senate is seated in January 2019 to give consideration to any nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat.”

MEEKS: CROWLEY CHAMPIONED AMERICAN FAMILIES, HERE & IN DC: Congress Member Gregory W. Meeks (NY-5) issued the following statement regarding the election results of New York’s 14th District: “As a representative of a neighboring district, I’ve had the opportunity to know Joe Crowley as a champion for American families in both DC and at home in Queens. Throughout his tenure as Congressman, as Chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, I have never known Joe to shy away from a fight. Chairman Crowley has faithfully served his country and constituents with conviction, always working to address the issues facing everyday Americans, like making housing more affordable and fixing our health care system, or making it easier to raise a family. He has stood alongside minorities in the fight against discrimination, with immigrants against this administration, and with workers fighting for fair wages.

“I thank him for his tireless efforts and congratulate Ms. Ocasio-Cortez on her victory last night. I look forward to working together to better our borough and our nation.”

MALONEY: SCOTUS FAVORSFAKE’ WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTERS: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), author of H.R.2566, the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Healthcare Services Act, released the following statement after the Supreme Court released its 5-4 decision on National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, No. 16-1140.

“I am deeply disturbed that the Supreme Court decided today that fake women’s health centers should be allowed to keep lying to women about their reproductive healthcare. These fake clinics, which are just fronts for the anti-choice movement, deceptively lure women looking for honest medical care into their facilities. These clinics do not provide the comprehensive healthcare services that they claim to, but rather have the goal of dissuading women from having abortions. Often there are no medical professionals on the premises.

“I will continue to fight for my Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Healthcare Services Act because it is not acceptable to lie to women and rob them of their right to truthful information about the reproductive healthcare to which they are entitled. The last thing pregnant women should have to worry about is being intimidated, lied to or preyed upon when they are seeking care. We would not tolerate this in any other area of healthcare, and healthcare for women should be no different.”

ADDABBO’S HOLOCAUST CURRICULUM BILL APPROVED: To ensure all students in New York schools receive specific instruction about the devastating history of the Holocaust, the State Senate recently approved legislation (S.5530) co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to require the State Education Department (SED) to examine courses of study currently being offered around the state on this “horrific world-changing event,” Addabbo said.

“While most schools throughout the state provide instruction about patriotism, civil rights, human rights, the inhumanity of genocide, citizenship and other vital issues in their classrooms, there isn’t any specific requirement that the Holocaust be part of the curriculum,” said Addabbo. “Under this proposal, the SED would look into Holocaust courses of study now being taught, and then develop regulations to ensure they are provided at all schools in New York State.”

Addabbo noted that the Holocaust, perpetrated during World War II, involved “the coldblooded torture and slaughter of six million people of the Jewish faith and millions more innocent people who were targeted and put to death by the Nazi regime. In recent years, with acts of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes on the rise in New York and across the nation, some individuals and Neo-Nazi groups are denying that the Holocaust even occurred. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 48 identified Neo-Nazi organizations operating in New York State alone.

“Our children need to know what happened during the Holocaust, and why, because it is only through knowledge and compassion that we can assure this horrific event is never forgotten and can never be repeated—in any way, shape, or form,” said Addabbo. “Ensuring that all schools teach a curriculum about the Holocaust will make sure that our young people have the facts they need to understand the horror so many millions of innocent people endured as a result of their religion, their appearance, and other characteristics deemed unacceptable by Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime.”

The legislation, having passed the State Senate, is now under consideration by the Assembly Education Committee.

ADDABBO BILL PROTECTS PRIVACY OF LOTTERY WINNERS: Both the State Senate and Assembly have now approved legislation (S.219) co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. that will protect New York State Lottery winners from potential physical harm or fraudulent business practices by prohibiting the Lottery from releasing their names without their express consent.

“While you may have to be ‘in it to win it,’ hitting the NYS Lottery jackpot shouldn’t also immediately mean that your name and hometown will be splashed all over the front pages and the nightly news,” said Addabbo. “Some announced lottery winners have become the victims of violent crime or been swindled by unscrupulous people posing as financial advisors or wealth managers. People holding winning tickets should have the option of remaining anonymous to protect their privacy and to avoid harm.”

Noting that the lottery privacy legislation is very similar to a bill (S.5466) he introduced last year, Addabbo explained that the State Lottery now generally requires that the names and cities of prize claimants be publicly disclosed, and that winners participate in media announcements. The reasoning is that the Lottery is a government agency, that prizes are public funds, and that the identities of winners should therefore be disclosed. Under this bill, holders of winning tickets may remain anonymous by submitting a written request to the Lottery that the information be withheld from the public.

“Even if the Lottery doesn’t disclose the street addresses and phone numbers of winners, this kind of basic information is easily found online if someone is willing to look for it or pay what is usually a small fee,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. “The agency itself will have all of the identifying information it needs to administer the program and responsibly disburse the funds.”

There have been instances throughout the United States in recent years where lottery prizewinners have been murdered by family members or people who befriended them after the news of their sudden wealth became public, Addabbo explained. States that already allow lottery winners to remain anonymous in all or some circumstances are Maryland, Delaware, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina. Georgia allows anonymity for those who win in excess of $250,000.

“Now that the lottery privacy bill has been approved by the Senate and Assembly, I hope Governor Cuomo will sign it into law and implement a system where the integrity of the New York State Lottery can be maintained and the privacy and safety of winners can be protected,” said Addabbo.

ADDABBO, BARNWELL PASS BILL FOR SEAWALL STUDY: Legislation (S.6927/A.8686) sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and Assembly Member Brian Barnwell to create a New York City Seawall Study Commission has been approved by the State Senate and Assembly.

The intent of the bill, which will now go to Governor Cuomo for final action, is to determine the feasibility of constructing a seawall or seagate along the New York City coastline to protect residents from any future extreme weather events.

Almost six years after Hurricane Sandy, Addabbo said, “…despite a great deal of progress, some of our residents are still working to recover from a storm that claimed human lives, destroyed properties and transportation systems, demolished local businesses, and otherwise presented extraordinary challenges we had never faced before in our communities.”

Under the Addabbo/Barnwell legislation, the 14-member New York City Seawall Study Commission would be created within the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and chaired by the DEC Commissioner. Appointees must have expertise in at least of one of these areas: climatology, hydrology, environmental science, aquaculture, oceanography, coastal ocean science, and engineering. Members would serve without compensation, but would be reimbursed for expenses associated with their work on the commission.

The commission might look to the experience of Galveston, Texas, “which built a seawall in the early 1900s following a Category 4 hurricane that killed up to 12,000 residents,” said Addabbo. “The seawall has protected Galveston in many ways in the years since. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers estimated that the structure prevented $100 million in damage to Galveston following Hurricane Alicia in 1983.”

By December 31, 2020, at the latest, the New York City Seawall Study Commission would be required to present its finding to the governor and State Legislature.

MALONEY STATEMENT COMMEMORATING LGBTQ PRIDE MONTH: As LBGTQ Pride Month comes to an end, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement after joining her House colleagues to introduce a resolution formally recognizing Pride Month.

“Today, I joined 94 of my House colleagues to offer a resolution recognizing June 2018 as LGBTQ Pride Month, so that this important time for the LGBTQ community and its allies is officially recognized by the US government.

“Each year, we mark LGBTQ Pride Month by celebrating the incredible contributions the LGBTQ community has made in pushing our country toward fairness and equality and to recognize the strides we still need to make. I reaffirm my pledge to be an ally and fight for full and total equality because no one should be fired from their job, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are and who they love. I will continue to fight with my colleagues to pass the Equality Act, much needed civil rights legislation that will provide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people all across this country.”

—With Contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

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