Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones raise their fists, Credit, Cheney Orr, Reuters


Wednesday April 12, 2023

04.12.23Carlos Aguilar

I will walk back into the state house, and continue to fight

Say It Louder

Rep Pearson at TN State House credit, Cheney Orr, Reuters

Justin J. Pearson is a community organizer in Memphis and was a Tennessee state representative before his expulsion on Thursday.

In January, my former high school classmate Larry Thorn was shot dead. Larry was sweet and beloved and a coach and secretary at a Shelby County, Tenn., middle school when he was killed on Jan. 10, just a month before I took my seat in the State House. In February, in only 10 days, 20 people were shot in mass shootings in Memphis, the community I represented. And on Monday, five people were shot dead at the Old National Bank in Louisville, Ky.

In the wake of the March 27 Covenant School mass shooting in Nashville that took six precious lives, including that of the 9-year-olds Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, our people are traumatized. They want action.

Following the school massacre, I walked into work in the State House each day seeing hundreds of young protesters, many with signs that asked, “Am I next?”

Read the story on NY Times

The racist Tennessee power grab is coming to a state near you

Speaking Of…

Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones raise their fists, Credit, Cheney Orr, Reuters

The following is a podcast interview with Sherrilyn Ifill.

On this week’s Amicus Dahlia Lithwick is first joined by Sherrilyn Ifill, former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to talk about Tennessee and the mounting evidence of Republican state houses and governors finding novel (but also depressingly old) ways to disenfranchise voters and subvert democracy.

Listen to the podcast on Slate

Judge Protasiewicz was honest with voters about what it means to be a judge

More of This

On Tuesday, Wisconsin voters went to the polls for the most consequential U.S. election of 2023: the race for an open seat on the state’s highest court. They did not find the choice to be especially difficult: People turned out in record numbers to elect Milwaukee County circuit judge Janet Protasiewicz, who beat her conservative opponent, former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Daniel Kelly, by a comfortable 11-point margin. Protasiewicz’s victory means that control of the court will soon be in the hands of a liberal majority for the first time since 2008.

Like most states in which voters elect judges, the election was technically nonpartisan, but the result is a lot easier to follow if you think of Protasiewicz as the Democrat and Kelly as the Republican. Protasiewicz touted her support for a “woman’s freedom to make her own decision on abortion,” and criticized the state’s legislative maps—among the most egregious pro-Republican gerrymanders in the nation—as “rigged.” (For reference, Democratic Governor Tony Evers was re-elected by three points in 2022, but the Republicans who drew the legislative maps enjoy a supermajority in one chamber and close to it in the other.)

Read the story on Balls & Strikes

A judicial system out of control

Less of This

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, left, has routinely received luxury travel and other gifts from Harlan Crow, a real estate developer and Republican benefactor in Texas, credit Associated Press

Michael Waldman, author of the forthcoming book “The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America,” is president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

On Thursday, ProPublica revealed that a right-wing billionaire has secretly funded a lavish lifestyle for Justice Clarence Thomas. Then on Friday, a federal judge in Texas tried to block the use around the country of mifepristone, the medication used in half of all abortions. These two dramatic twists are part of the same story. They show a judicial system out of control, in thrall to right-wing activists and swimming in cash.

It seems that Thomas routinely received luxury travel, gifts and accommodations from Harlan Crow, a real estate developer and Republican benefactor. The Los Angeles Times first reported on the flow of gifts from Crow to Thomas in 2004. Then Thomas simply stopped disclosing them, for nearly two decades.

Read the story on LA Times