Donald Trump won the Presidency in 2016 despite being trounced by Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.
Thanks to the Electoral College, the profoundly undemocratic body that actually elects our Presidents and Vice-Presidents, Trump’s slight margin of victory in a few key states outweighed the millions more votes cast nationwide by those who preferred Clinton.
The Electoral College has been enshrined in our system from the start, in Article II, section 1, paragraph 3 of the Constitution. It was modified in 1804, with ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, which requires separate votes for President and Vice-President.
Most years, the results of the Electoral College vote match up with the popular vote. But after 2016, when it thwarted the will of the people for the second time in 16 years (and for two of our last three Presidents), many people realized that we must do something about it if we want to make sure that the person who wins the most votes is the one who becomes President. Continue reading RULING ALLOWS ELECTOR DISCRETION BUT MIGHT IMPEDE EFFORT TO CIRCUMVENT ELECTORAL COLLEGE
When the United States Supreme Court weakened Voting Rights Act protections in 2013, many worried that it would open the floodgates to a new wave of voter suppression.
There was good reason to be concerned, as the Brennan Center for Justice has once again confirmed.
A report it released in July 2018 found that from 2014 to 2016—the two years following the 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529—almost 16 million people throughout the U.S. were removed from voting rolls. That was almost four million more than the number who were removed from voter lists between 2006 and 2008, a roughly 33% increase that far exceeded the growth in total population (6%) and total registered voters (18%) over that same time frame.
The Brennan Center also found that the purging occurred at a higher rate in those areas, mainly in the South, that because of their history of discrimination had been subject to the protections abrogated by the Supreme Court in Shelby. For the two election cycles between 2012 and 2016, those so-called preclearance jurisdictions, which were let off the hook by the Shelby ruling, had purge rates significantly higher than elsewhere. The Center calculated that if those jurisdictions had remained subject to the previous constraints, two million fewer voters would have been struck from the lists. Texas alone erased more than 363,000 voters in the first election cycle after Shelby.
Now, a follow-up report, made public on August 1, has found that the heightened rate of voter purges continued between 2016 and 2018. Continue reading MORE VOTERS PURGED WHERE SUPREME COURT LIFTED RESTRICTIONS
More than 20 U.S. state governments betrayed the health and well-being of their residents five years ago when they decided against expanding Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare. Now, thanks to a just published study, we have a good idea of the human cost: nearly 16,000 deaths over the four-year period from January 2014, when the expansion initially took effect, through the end of 2017.
The study, released on July 21, looked at what would have occurred if Medicaid had been expanded nationwide in 2014. Based on the differences in mortality between states that expanded and those that didn’t, the study found that 15,600 deaths in the non-expansion states would have been prevented if those states too had expanded Medicaid. Continue reading REFUSAL TO EXPAND MEDICAID KILLED 15,000+, NEW STUDY FINDS
New Jersey took a major step forward in protecting health care coverage for state residents on June 28, when Governor Phil Murphy signed a law authorizing the creation of New Jersey’s own health exchange.
Only 11 states, including New York and California, plus the District of Columbia, currently have their own exchanges, which are used by individuals and small employers to purchase government regulated and standardized health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. Continue reading NJ WILL HAVE OWN HEALTH EXCHANGE
It has been nearly six years since the quasi-public entity that was once responsible for the reservoirs that supply Newark’s drinking water shut down amid widespread corruption that sent at least six people to prison and helped drive the agency into bankruptcy.
Now, the person who once ran the agency and another high-level employee–both currently doing time in federal prison for their on-the-job misdeeds–are trying to collect pensions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it looks like they might get their payday.
Continue reading Thank You for Your (Dis)Service–Corrupt Former Newark Water Agency Head Seeks Pension Payoff
I was really happy to see last week that the New Jersey courts were taking concrete action to protect people from the harsh immigration policies of the Trump Administration.
Administrative Directive 07-19, released on May 23, states the view of the judiciary “that civil immigration enforcement activities should not take place in courthouses” and that “courthouses must be viewed by the public, all parties, victims, and witnesses as a neutral and safe forum to resolve disputes.” Continue reading NJ COURTS PROVIDE ICE SHIELD
I don’t write much about criminal justice issues, but I would like to share this article entitled “How Fear Contributes to Cops’ Use of Deadly Force.” It was written by Columbia University professors Rajiv Sethi and Brendan “Dan” O’Flaherty and posted today on The Marshall Project website. (Dan O’Flaherty is my husband.)
Their data-driven article starts out with the troubling fact that police in the United States kill civilians far more often than police in other countries, more than 1,000 each year, as contrasted with, for example, the combined 10 per year killed by British and German police.
Not surprisingly, there are striking racial disparities on who is at the receiving end of this police violence. For instance, black residents of Houston are four times more likely to face deadly force than white ones. In New York and Los Angeles, they are six to seven times more likely to die in police shootings. And in Chicago, they are 18 times more likely to be killed by police.
What is surprising is the regional differences that were found, which are so substantial that whites in Houston are more likely to be killed by police than blacks in New York City.
You can read the article here.
And if you find the topic of interest, read their book, published last month, called “Shadows of Doubt,” which looks at the impact of stereotypes and fear on policing and prosecution.
Yes, this is a shameless plug for my husband’s book but the book is a timely, deeply researched and thoughtful look at an important subject.
Image at top is from Wikipedia.
I was not going to write about the recent revelation that undocumented immigrants are being detained in Essex County in conditions that are, quite literally, sickening. Since the release of a report on February 13 that described serious health and safety lapses at the Essex County Correctional Facility, there have already been many news stories and editorials that have discussed and condemned the conditions it uncovered. There would seem to be little left to say on the subject. Continue reading FEDERAL REPORT SLAMS DETAINEE CONDITIONS AT ESSEX JAIL
As a former employment lawyer and a Baby Boomer, I am dismayed that two recent federal appeals courts, one within the last month, have held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect older workers looking for jobs from disparate impact age discrimination, only those who already have jobs.
We are talking about the use of hiring criteria that might not expressly mention age but disfavor job candidates who have too much experience or who graduated too many years ago—factors which correlate closely with age. Continue reading Federal Courts Limit Hiring Protections for Older Workers
Legislation that made it through various committees on February 7 would make New Jersey a better and fairer place, enhancing the financial security of retirees, helping people prevent the loss of their homes through foreclosure, and protecting against abusive civil asset forfeitures.
I have written about the Secure Choice Act before, which would establish a state-run retirement savings plan for people whose employers do not offer one. The legislation is in response to studies showing that most people do not save enough on their own for retirement, even though Social Security payments are not enough for seniors to live on—the so-called “retirement savings gap.” Continue reading PROTECTIONS AGAINST FORFEITURE, FORECLOSURE, AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS GAP ADVANCE IN LEGISLATURE