On the Muslim Ban

Senator Toomey,
Yesterday, the president signed an executive order turning away refugees, banning people from Muslim-majority countries, and instituting a religious test for getting into the United States. This order is absolutely unconstitutional. The president has violated the constitution and his oath of office. You’ve seen the resistance in protests all over our great nation. We, the people, demand that you work to counteract the Muslim ban. You’ve used freedom of religion as an excuse for your stances before. If you remain silent now, you prove that your brand of “freedom” is for Christians only. Further, you must work to impeach the president for the violation of his oath of office.

Lies and Lies and Lies

Lies are coming out of the White House. Particularly, lies about the murder rate in Philadelphia, used to justify federal interference like the president threatened in Chicago. If you need to use lies to justify your action, your action is unjust. Senator Toomey came out in support of the president’s stance on sanctuary cities, which was supported by lies. By not speaking against the lies, Senator Toomey is compromising his own position and integrity.

Muslim Ban

Hello Senator Toomey,
No one answered my call, and your voicemail box is full.
I’m deeply disturbed by the President’s executive orders intended to deport immigrants and ban refugees. Immigration is the foundation of our nation, and it is through immigration that the US continues to excel. It can only be through compassion for refugees that America demonstrates its commitment to all men being created equal. The fact that so many are fleeing areas impacted by ISIS is clear evidence that they want to live in a nation that respects freedom and opportunity, not under the reign of an abusive power that places undue importance on a person’s religion. Yick Wo v. Hopkins tells us it is unconstitutional for a law to disproportionately affect a protected class, but the proposed list of countries in the ban is exclusively majority-Muslim. This is unconstitutional policy must be opposed by everyone with a voice, and that includes you. If this executive order is carried through, we will be living under the reign of an abusive power that places undue importance on a person’s religion. We’ll be no better than those we wish to oppose, and it won’t be long before countries will start accepting American refugees.

Please, I expect you to publicly stand with our immigrants and refugees, and you must protect them from these severe and short sighted measures.
Thank you.

Stand against bad ideas

Senator Toomey tweeted this morning an appraisal of a person in the running for RNC chair.

Despite the fact that his phone was ringing off the hook yesterday with requests to condemn the hiring of Stephen Bannon, noted white supremacist, he has yet to make a public comment on the matter. This, as we’ve seen with Senator Toomey’s handling of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, can be taken as support for President-elect Trump’s choice of Stephen Bannon. In his re-election campaign, Senator Toomey pledged to “stand up to any president’s bad ideas.” Senator Toomey has not stood up.

Neutrality as cowardice

President-elect Trump has announced the hiring of noted white supremacist, Stephen Bannon, to his staff. Senator Casey has spoken out against this appointment. Senator Toomey is silent on the issue. Senator Toomey stayed neutral on Donald Trump’s campaign, refusing to distance himself from any of the racist and hateful rhetoric. It was revealed, when no one was looking, that he cast his vote for that campaign of racism and hate. This is another instance where Senator Toomey has not shown the strength of character to stand up for his principles. When it comes to racism, there is no neutrality.

Senator Toomey, you must make a public statement on the hiring of Stephen Bannon.

The November election is completed

Senator Toomey,
Congratulations to you on your reelection.
You invoked Vice President Biden’s words to justify his refusal to hold a hearing for any Supreme Court Justice that was nominated. Vice President Biden said, “[the president] should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not — and not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed.” Well, Senator, the November election is completed, and it’s time to hold a hearing for the next Supreme Court Justice. The length of time the Senate has taken to hold a hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is unprecedented. Please don’t delay any longer.

RE: Senator Toomey’s stance on Supreme Court nominations

Senator Toomey,
I received your response detailing why you will not consider the President’s Supreme Court nomination. Your reasons do not make sense to me.

First, you state that “…objective qualifications, character, and adherence to the rule of law matter more than ideology in evaluating judicial nominees.” A paragraph later, you claim that this judicial appointment “…is especially sensitive because it will fundamentally affect the balance of the Supreme Court…” That, however, is an ideological concern. Allowing the ideological balance of the court to influence your decision *before* even considering the qualifications and character of the nominee indicates that ideology is a stronger factor for you.

You claim that “In the final year of a presidency, it is extremely rare for vacancies that arise on the Supreme Court to be filled.” In a recent New York Times article (“Supreme Court Nominees Considered
in Election Years Are Usually Confirmed”), six out of eight election year vacancies in the 20th century were filled. And since you raise an issue with something being “extremely rare,” it is *unprecedented* for the senate to take more than 125 days to vote on a nomination. “Extremely rare,” though dubious, is one thing; UNPRECEDENTED is another. You should not be suggesting that your proposed inaction is in line with historical standards.

You suggest that “…it makes sense to give the American people a more direct say in this critical decision.” More than 65 million American voters re-elected President Obama to perform his duties for another 4 years (2016 fully included in that span). Less than six years ago, you were elected to perform the duties of the Senate for six years (2016 fully included in that span). It makes sense that the American people have used their voice. With three Supreme Court Justices scheduled to surpass US life expectancy before the 2016 election, the public was aware that their elected officials would probably be appointing a replacement. That factored into the vote. For something more recent, please look at the Monmouth University poll in which 69% of those polled want the Senate to consider the nomination. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions to persuade you to consider the nomination. The American people are talking, and they want the government to proceed with its duties.

You say that “[The Constitution] does not require the Senate to provide any particular process or follow any particular timeframe when considering considering[sic] a nominee.” True, the Constitution leaves room for the Senate to decide *how* to do its job. Making the leap to the Senate *refusing* to do its job is a new phenomenon. Though tautology, President Obama is the President. “The next president” is NOT the President. Your job is to advise and consent to the President’s Supreme Court nomination, not the nomination of “the next president.” By refusing to act on the President’s nomination, you are violating the Constitution and your oath of office.

You mentioned Vice President Joe Biden, as if his 1992 remarks support your position. In fact, Mr. Biden proposed a delay of confirmation until after the election; the plan was to consider the President’s nomination eventually. Your plan is fundamentally different, as you declare that you will not consider the current President’s nomination, only nominations “by the next president.” It is a false equivalence.

Though you claim otherwise, your position is unsupported by objective qualifications, precedent, the American people, the Constitution, or Democrats. Please consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.

[This letter was sent to Senator Toomey in March of 2016. I did not receive a response.]

Why the Economy Can Still Take a Backseat to Social Issues

This election season has many voters focusing on job creation and economic recovery. Despite the candidates’ vastly differing stances on social issues, the public seems deaf to any reasoning that doesn’t include the words, “debt,” “jobs,” or “budget.” Here’s why my vote is not being decided by fiscal policy.

Same-Sex Marriage
The US Supreme Court declared in the decision of Loving v. Virginia that marriage is a right. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees that laws must be evenly applied to all citizens. So, given marriage, a man may marry a woman; while, any law preventing a woman from doing the same (marrying a woman) is denying that woman equal protection under the law. A law that prevents a man from marrying a man denies that man the fundamental human right of marriage, protected by the Constitution of the United States. Those who argue that the phrasing “marriage to the opposite sex” is not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause would do well to read up on the unconstitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws decided in the above, Loving v. Virginia.

Coverage of Women’s Preventative Health
While our Constitution has an Equal Protection Clause, health concerns do not. Diseases frequently disproportionally affect individuals based on their ethnicity or sex. An employer who offers a healthcare plan that neglects women’s health is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex (and reproductive health issues), including compensation and terms/privileges of employment.

Social Vs. Fiscal
Above are just two examples of modern civil rights battles that have clear answers entrenched in hundreds of years of constitutional law. I may enjoy debate on the pros and cons of the 2008 bailouts and see truths on both sides, but America can have only one stance on the equality of all humans. Most economic plans have some shred of validity to them, and maybe we’ll be surprised by some positive effects even in the worst plan. Even if a politician’s economic plan is sure to bring the economy to its knees, people will persevere, and our economic landscape will evolve. Civil Rights, however, cannot be compromised, and anyone who claims otherwise is not worth a vote.

Presidential Debate Candidate Selection Criteria

I have very much enjoyed watching the first three debates this year.  I believe debates are essential for the electorate to make an informed decision for the betterment of the nation.  Unfortunately, one specific aspect of the Commission on Presidential Debates Candidate Selection Criteria is presenting a barrier to a fully informed electorate: the requirement of 15% support in the polls.
 
I eagerly watched all the debates in 2008 and made my decision between the two candidates running for president.  Imagine my surprise when I found that my ballot had at least 6 names in the “President” category.  Confidence in my decision plummeted.  How can I just assume that there’s no one better than the nominees from the Democratic and Republican parties?  It’s not right, so I made it a point in 2012 to look into everyone on my ballot.
 
Selecting candidates for national debates can be no easy task, and the CPD nonpartisan criteria start off strong.  Obviously, the only individuals in the debate should be those who are legally able to become president in this election.  It also makes sense to require that candidates have made a sufficient enough effort to have the ballot access necessary to win the electoral college.  So far, four candidates meet the requirements for 2012: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Dr. Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson.  Let’s talk about the third and final qualification that knocked the last two individuals off that list.
 
“INDICATORS OF ELECTORAL SUPPORT”
The CPD looks at polls and only picks the names that it sees.  This is the only criterion that relies on input from private organizations.  This is the only criterion based on an arbitrary metric (15%?  Why not 30? 5?).  This is the only criterion that uses statistics with sampling errors and selection bias.  This is the only criterion that is a partisan requirement.  Effective polling is based on a limited number of closed-ended responses for each question.  When asked, “If the elections were held today, for whom would you vote for President?” the available responses are limited to the two major party candidates.  If a respondent gives any other answer, their preference is determined from just between those two candidates, and anything other than “Undecided” gets counted toward one of those two parties.  So, if it’s impossible for a third party to even show up in the polling results, let alone with 15% of the support, how can these criteria be nonpartisan?  An awful lot of trust is being placed in the polling institutions to determine the political landscape, when their position is only meant to report on opinions.  Only a candidate who is being treated as a candidate will achieve the recognition requisite for public support, but they’re only treated as a candidate if they’ve shown mass public support.  This process results in a vicious circle of third parties being disregarded and discredited, perpetuating the political monopoly of the two major parties.
 
I hope the CPD will think about what it means to be nonpartisan and consider removing any criteria that use opinion polling.  We need fully informed voters, and the current system isn’t accomplishing that.