Category Archives: Politics

Teens Resist Was Created by High Schoolers to Help Youth Engagement in Politics

Source: Sonia Chajet Wides and Kate Griem, Teen Vogue, August 24, 2018

Teens Resist offers biweekly news and action items you can engage with.

In this op-ed, sophomores Sonia Chajet Wides and Kate Griem, both of Brooklyn, explain why they started the youth-advocacy website Teens Resist and why they believe youth engagement is so key.

It’s no secret that Gen Z is incredibly informed and opinionated. But we need comprehensive resources to turn our opinions into tangible action. That’s why we started Teens Resist, a platform that provides those resources in order to make political activism accessible to passionate youth in a world where their voices matter more than ever.

In publishing biweekly lists on our website that contain briefings and actions to take on topics in the news, Teens Resist hopes to make complicated issues easy to understand. The lists are practical, and made by and for teens. We also publish longer features, written by our core of staff writers or by contributing writers who have extensive knowledge of a particular issue, going deeper into particular issues, including DACA and net neutrality. We also use social media, such as our Instagram, for more frequent updates on current events, lists, and activism opportunities…..

Today’s GOP leaders have little in common with those who resisted Nixon

Source: Michael Koncewicz, The Conversation, August 23, 2018

Republican leaders in 2018 are profoundly different than the ones who dealt with Watergate in the 1970s.

During Watergate, a significant number of GOP members of Congress and the Nixon administration publicly resisted President Richard Nixon’s efforts to undermine the rule of law.

Today’s GOP leaders, with few exceptions, meekly follow President Trump.

Republicans in Congress, and even GOP candidates for Congress, have been loathe to criticize the president. Their submissiveness has significant implications. In my view, some Republicans today are, with the support of the president, openly impeding an ongoing investigation that may or many not implicate Trump.

Recent attacks from Republicans on Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has made that much clear.

That’s in contrast to how some prominent members of the GOP acted during the Watergate crisis that led to President Nixon’s resignation.

Research in my forthcoming book “They Said No to Nixon” reveals that Republican civil servants serving in President Nixon’s administration blocked his attempts to politicize their work.

Their stories, when contrasted with the actions of Republicans today, show how the GOP has transformed from a party that included moderate civil servants to one that embraces a culture of loyalty now….

Laundering Racism Through the Court: The Scandal of States’ Rights

Source: Lynn Adelman, Dissent, Summer 2018

When three conservative law students founded the Federalist Society at Yale Law School in 1982, they probably didn’t expect that it would become one of the most influential legal organizations in the United States. They styled themselves as renegades, fighting back against a liberal legal establishment that was using the courts to trample individual freedoms. But the students had support from a few prominent jurists, including Antonin Scalia—one of their first faculty advisers—and with Ronald Reagan in office, the political tide was turning in their favor. Three-and-a-half decades later, the Federalist Society has some 40,000 members and millions of dollars in funding from conservative megadonors including the Koch brothers. No less than five of its current or former members have served on the Supreme Court (including Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch). Membership in the organization has become an important qualification for an appointment to the federal bench.

Moreover, since roughly the Society’s founding, the doctrine of federalism has become the basis for a new, conservative orthodoxy in U.S. law. The last two Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist and John Roberts, have been strong adherents of federalism, as have virtually all of the other conservative justices. And President Trump is currently stocking the lower federal courts with like-minded jurists at a record pace.

By federalism, these legal conservatives mean that the authority of the federal government is limited, that states are sovereign bodies, and that courts should enforce limitations on federal power and bolster the power of states. On its face, the conservatives’ attachment to federalism may not seem particularly objectionable. After all, the founders did divide power between the federal government and the states so as to facilitate policymaking by those legislators most familiar with the issues in question. It is becoming clear, however, that the practical consequences of the conservatives’ attachment to federalism are far from benign. For African Americans, particularly those living in states of the former Confederacy, the impact of federalist doctrine as implemented by the Supreme Court has been no less than devastating—so much so that the justices’ view that it is justified by the principle of state sovereignty is indefensible.

In this article, I explore this issue primarily in the context of two of the Roberts Court’s most important federalist decisions, Shelby County v. Holder and National Federation of Independent Business (“NFIB”) v. Sebelius. In Shelby County, the Court struck down, on states’ rights grounds, the formula provided in the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) for determining whether states and municipalities had to get approval from Washington (preclearance) for any change in their voting rules to ensure that the change was not racially discriminatory. Similarly, in NFIB, the Court struck down the inducement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for states to participate in the act’s Medicaid-expansion program on the grounds that it violated states’ rights. In both Shelby County and NFIB, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the principal opinion…..

Reformism Yesterday and Social Democracy Today

Source: Maecel Liebman, Jacobin, August 22, 2018

We shouldn’t try to resurrect the social-democratic politics of the past. What we need is a socialist movement that pairs radical demands with mass, militant action. ….

…. Marcel Liebman didn’t live to see Tony Blair lead the British Labour Party. But in the mid-1980s, the Belgian Marxist had already witnessed enough: social democracy, he proclaimed, was dead. “The new-style reformism means reformism without reforms,” he wrote…..

….In “Reformism Yesterday and Social Democracy Today” — first published in the 1985–86 edition of Socialist Register and reprinted below in a slightly abridged form — Liebman traces this history, from the heady days before World War I, when socialism seemed inevitable, to the descent into a more straightforwardly technocratic, uninspired reform politics.

While Liebman arguably understates the obstacles that any socialist project faces in a capitalist democracy — focusing on party machinations instead of the structural power of business  — his essay is an important read as the socialist left regains its footing today. It is only by revisiting the pitfalls of the past that we can chart a more viable path in the present…..

Bias in Perceptions of Public Opinion among Political Elites

Source: David E. Broockman, Christopher Skovron, American Political Science Review, Volume 112, Issue 3, August 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The conservative asymmetry of elite polarization represents a significant puzzle. We argue that politicians can maintain systematic misperceptions of constituency opinion that may contribute to breakdowns in dyadic representation. We demonstrate this argument with original surveys of 3,765 politicians’ perceptions of constituency opinion on nine issues. In 2012 and 2014, state legislative politicians from both parties dramatically overestimated their constituents’ support for conservative policies on these issues, a pattern consistent across methods, districts, and states. Republicans drive much of this overestimation. Exploiting responses from politicians in the same district, we confirm these partisan differences within individual districts. Further evidence suggests that this overestimation may arise due to biases in who contacts politicians, as in recent years Republican citizens have been especially likely to contact legislators, especially fellow Republicans. Our findings suggest that a novel force can operate in elections and in legislatures: Politicians can systematically misperceive what their constituents want.

The Political Strategies and Unity of the American Corporate Inner Circle: Evidence from Political Donations, 1982-2000

Source: Jennifer A Heerwig, Joshua Murray, Social Problems, Advance Access, August 21 2018

From the abstract:
Recent work has offered competing explanations for the long-term evolution of corporate political action in the United States. In one, scholars have theorized that long-term structural changes in the American political and economic landscape may have radically transformed inter-corporate network structures and changed the political orientation of corporate elites. In another, a small group of corporate elites continues to dominate government policy by advocating for class-wide interests through occupying key positions in government and policy planning groups. We offer new evidence of patterns in and predictors of political strategies among the nation’s elite corporate directors. We utilize an original dataset (the Longitudinal Elite Contributor Database) linked with registries of corporate directors and their board memberships. We ask: (1) has the political activity, unity, or pragmatism of the corporate elite declined since 1982; and (2) are individuals who direct multiple firms more pragmatic in their political action? Evidence suggests that corporate elites are more politically active and unified, and continue to exercise pragmatic political strategies vis-à-vis their campaign donations. Using random- and fixed-effects models, we present evidence to suggest that becoming a member of the inner circle has a significant moderating effect on elite political behavior. We offer an alternative mechanism of elite coordination that may help explain the continued political cohesion of the corporate elite.

IRS Will No Longer Require Disclosure of Certain Nonprofit Donor Information

Source: David H. Carpenter, Congressional Research Service, Legal Sidebar, LSB10187, August 14, 2018

In July 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that certain organizations that are exempt from paying federal income tax (tax-exempt organizations or EOs) under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), including social welfare organizations, labor unions, and trade associations, will no longer be required to disclose the names and addresses of their “substantial” donors in Schedule B of their annual Form 990 returns to the IRS. Charitable tax-exempt organizations described in IRC Section 501(c)(3), which are statutorily required to disclose certain donor information, were not impacted by the July 2018 policy.

The IRS noted several reasons for making the change, including reducing administrative burdens and protecting sensitive, nonpublic personal information. In opposition, some have argued that the IRS’ policy change will reduce transparency over the funding sources of EOs’ political activities and make it more difficult for the IRS to enforce tax laws. At least one state has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the new policy set aside, alleging that the IRS implemented the policy in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

This Sidebar will first provide background on the statute and regulations regarding EOs’ disclosure of contributor information. Next, the Sidebar will discuss the justifications of and reactions to the new policy, including the views of proponents and opponents of the new policy. The Sidebar will then discuss the litigation Montana has filed against the policy. Finally, the Sidebar will provide considerations for Congress…..

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, updated August 14, 2018

Source: Barry J. McMillion, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44236, August 14, 2018

The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. To receive appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process (after the President selects, but before the Senate considers) by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically, the Judiciary Committee, rather than the Senate as a whole, assumes the principal responsibility for investigating the background and qualifications of each Supreme Court nominee, and typically the committee conducts a close, intensive investigation of each nominee.

Since the late 1960s, the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of a Supreme Court nominee almost always has consisted of three distinct stages — (1) a pre-hearing investigative stage, followed by (2) public hearings, and concluding with (3) a committee decision on what recommendation to make to the full Senate…..