MR Daily Review
1. Voting rights expanded in North Carolina for now.
As of last week, 56,000 people in North Carolina will newly be eligible to register to vote. The voting rights expansion comes after a court ruled a 1973 law violated the state constitution as discriminatory against Black residents. The law had prevented anyone convicted of a felony but no longer in prison from registering. While this is incredibly good news, the win is not yet final as ghoul Republican lawmakers are appealing the lower court’s ruling granting the voting rights. For now, people like Daquan Peters are celebrating their right to register. North Carolina is a battleground state with approximately 7.3 million registered voters, so any new voters can make a difference, which is also why Republicans will no doubt fight to further suppress these voters.
2. Biden announces the US appeals court nomination of pro-abortion attorney who represented the abortion clinic at issue in Dobbs.
Julie Rikelman’s nomination comes one month after the Supreme Court ruled there is no longer a nationwide right to obtain an abortion. Rikelman represented the last abortion clinic left in Mississippi that challenged a state law barring abortion after 15 weeks. By far, Mississpi has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, at 8.27, Louisiana, who is second worst, is 7.53. It is also among the top for maternal mortality rate, at 33 deaths per 1,000. While it is nice to get a pro-abortion judge instead of a pro-life one, that seems to be the stasis as long as we are not looking as Biden only withdrew his earlier nomination of pro-life Chad Meredith after considerable pressure. The numbers about health outcomes also make it clear it’s not a judgeship we need but a public health emergency to address the crisis that is healthcare in this country.
3. After Pelosi and center dems fought like hell for his primary win, Rep. Cuellar introduces legislation that would pretty much gut all worker protections.
Rep. Henry Cuellar’s bill targets workers who are subjected to shifting work schedules, specifically those in the “gig economy” but really any low wage worker who’s schedule is subject to change. It will exempt companies that use these work schedules, wage work for quick shifts, or quick gigs, to be exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. As many have pointed out, the law is ridiculous on its face, since the FLSA already provides for flexibility in work, and having a changing work schedule should not exempt anyone from basic labor protections. Although similar in many ways, the act goes even further than Prop 22 would – going beyond the ‘gig’ economy as it would increase the workers who would fall into this new category. While Prop 22 has been halted, for the months that it was in effect the results were clear – companies made it impossible for contractors to get their minimum hours to obtain the promised benefits, and their wages plummeted well below what they made prior to Prop 22. Another similar aspect to the Prop 22 bill is the language that seeks to make it invulnerable to change. Prop 22 made its own repeal impossible without a vote of 7/8 of the state assembly, while Cullar’s bill explicitly says States cannot provide additional rights to the workers categorized in this new class of “super-exploited” worker. This is unusual – the federal government is considered to be the bare minimum as far as setting rights is concerned and States may provide more rights to their citizens if they vote to. Here the federal government is looking to enshrine minimum rights and protections and prevent the state from overriding that, an unusual and unfortunate development straight out of the prop 22 playbook. Pelosi has yet to denounce the bill even though she voted for the PRO act, to register your disgust with Cuellar and center Dem leadership for standing this ghoul, you can contact Pelosi here.
4. Predictably, evictions have climbed to way above pre-pandemic levels as moratoriums expire and public assistance is gone.
Mass evictions are here and they are occurring across the country. Pandemic moratoriums and protections are gone but people’s back rent still exists. Nobody has acted on that, not Congress, not the president, and not the courts (well they did act, to end the moratorium). There have been over a million evictions since March 2020, and 11,519 in the last week. Tenants are often forced out of their homes with little protections and very few have access to counsel. Corporate landlords evict at much higher rates and landlords in general are well supported by lawyers bent on getting tenants out of their homes. The goal of the state, of our social systems, shouldn’t be to press people out of their homes, it should be to invest in them and keep them there. That’s why forgiving people’s back rent has been a moral imperative the whole pandemic, but unfortunately it never happened. Freezes and moratoriums were a start but far short of actually relieving people of that obligation.
5. Biden’s US prosecutors seek enhanced 8 year prison sentence for anti-pipeline activists.
Ruby Montoya is accused of property damage to part of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the pipeline also protested at Standing Rock. Despite the fact that her actions caused no harm to any person, the US attorney’s office under Biden has argued her actions amount to domestic terrorism, and have sought an 8 year prison sentence on those grounds. Her co-defendant, Jessica Reznicek, is already serving an 8 year domestic terrorism sentence – the enhanced punishment was upheld in June. It is worth noting that Reznicek was also ordered to pay $3 million in restitution for property damage to a fossil fuel energy company worth billions. The move to categorize non-violent environmental activists as terrorists will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the larger water protector and militant environmentalist movement. The link to support Jessica and sign the petition about the egregious sentencing is here.