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On Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination

In the days after the 2016 election, it was common to feel shell-shocked. After so long fighting to avoid the worst-case outcome, it had come anyway, and while no one knew for sure what was going to happen next, we could all guess that it would be catastrophic. That feeling returned on the twenty-seventh of June when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement.

 
Tonight, Donald Trump announced that 53-year old Maryland native Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh would replace Justice Kennedy. J.D. Vance, the author of the “economic anxiety” bible Hillbilly Elegy, said that Kavanaugh “deeply believed in the constitutional separation of powers as a means for ensuring governmental accountability and protecting individual liberty.”

 
It would be a fun mental exercise to argue that surely Kavanaugh would defend a woman’s “individual liberty” to make her own medical decisions, or his belief in “governmental accountability” would lead to him curbing the Trump administration’s authoritarian tendencies. But this is hardly time for fun mental exercises.

 
For years, Kennedy has served as the court’s swing vote on crucial cases. His legacy is mixed– he is well known for his critical vote in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage. He also protected access to abortion in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. However, Kennedy ruled to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, and, was the deciding vote in the now infamous Citizens United case that allowed unlimited campaign spending.

 
The 2018 Supreme Court session saw Kennedy serving as the swing vote on a number of important cases–upholding the Muslim travel ban in Trump v. Hawaii, gutting public sector unions in Janus v. AFSCME, and protecting fake reproductive healthcare centers in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. We will likely be seeing the fallout from these decisions for centuries. And then, in the same day that the Janus decision came down, Kennedy retired, handing another Supreme Court seat to the ultra-conservative Trump administration. This will be his legacy–a man who knew what the right side of history looked like and willingly turned his back on it.

 
It is difficult to overestimate the scope of the danger that social progress in America faces right now. The Supreme Court is the final word on issues ranging from access to abortion to voting rights, and it will now have a firmly Republican majority. I use the word “Republican” deliberately because it is utterly fallacious to pretend that the court is anything resembling nonpartisan. For decades there has been a concentrated and well-funded movement by conservatives to roll back advancements America has made towards equality using the law, ever since courts proved a challenge to the conservative white male order. This was the mission of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan, and we are finally seeing it come to completion now, spearheaded by groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Counsel, and the American Center For Law and Justice.

The tragedy of the Voting Rights Act was a canary in the coal mine. So was Citizens United. And then, in 2016, Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who chose Obama as their president and the rules set out in the Constitution. The knowledge that the Supreme Court hung in balance drove evangelicals out en masse in 2016, even as progressives refused to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

 
Understandably, activists are demanding action from the Democratic Party. While this is not a complete waste of time, the Democrats have limited ways of blocking Kavanaugh. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can’t stop his confirmation because McConnell eliminated the filibuster. To stop Kavanaugh, two Republicans would have to break party lines. On a chance to guarantee a conservative Supreme Court. The chances here are slim to none

Here is what you should think of when you think of Kavanaugh. When Jane Doe, a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant detained by the U.S. government, sought access to an abortion, the Trump administration–the administration responsible for her detention– tried to keep her from getting the procedure, forcing her to have a sonogram and receive religious counseling. When the D.C. Circuit Court ruled in her favor, Kavanaugh disagreed, stating that the ruling created “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain an immediate abortion on demand.”

I don’t have a hopeful note to end this on. What is essential in moments like these is to draw on the past for strength. Our generation is not the first to face seemingly insurmountable threats to social progress–the arc of the moral universe never bends on its own. We stand on the shoulders of people who saw tragedy and didn’t give up, and we can’t give up either.

On the twenty-seventh, Congressman John Lewis tweeted: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” In the coming months and years, when things get difficult, remember his words.

Julia Byrne

Communications Director, College Democrats of Maryland

Larry Hogan Can Be Beat

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Maryland is one of the bluest states in the country, but in 2014 we elected Republican Larry Hogan to the governorship and we are on the verge of re-electing him in 2018. Governor Hogan commands an impressive approval rating at 71% according to the latest Washington Post/ University of Maryland poll. In order for Democrats to take back the Governor’s Mansion in Maryland, we have to showcase how Hogan has failed Marylanders.

After viewing his “Maryland Strong” ad, viewers might be left with the impression that Hogan has singlehandedly brought Maryland forward, but a review of the facts lays credit elsewhere. Hogan’s predecessor, Governor O’Malley, served from 2006-2014 and two years into his term the nation entered the Great Recession. Hogan’s ad cherry picks data from one of the most difficult economic crises in an effort to mislead viewers. His claim that “over 100,000 jobs lost” is actually from 2007-2010, the height of the Great Recession. His claim of over “$1.2 billion in tax relief” includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax relief passed by the Democratic legislature and already existing programs. The Baltimore Sun notes how that claim even includes “$240 million that the Supreme Court ordered the state to return to taxpayers who were overcharged on their income taxes.” Governor Hogan is deliberately trying to mislead voters and in a time of fake news, the facts matter.

With the understanding that Republicans are outnumbered 2-1 in voter registration, the Hogan Administration has avoided risk and controversy whenever possible. Countless bills have come across his desk and become law without his signature. Marylanders need a governor who will be an active leader in our state.

Governor Hogan sided with Trump in 2016 when he declared he would not be allowing Syrian refugees into our state. This decision was based on factual inaccuracies and fearmongering. Hogan tries to distance himself from President Trump, but has no problem stumping for Trump approved candidates, such as Ed Gillespie of Virginia. Maryland needs a governor who will stand up to President Trump.

On education, Governor Hogan has proposed tens of millions of dollars in cuts to education spending. Cuts that hurt teacher salaries and increase class sizes. While proposing budget cuts for public schools, Hogan has ensured that he will continue the policies of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by diverting funds away from public schools and into private charter schools. Governor Hogan is not a friend to teachers. He has called teachers “union thugs” and opposed having public school teachers on the Maryland Board of Education.

Governor Hogan also enjoys an A- rating from the NRA and accepted thousands of dollars from the NRA in campaign contributions. Governor Hogan opposed legislation banning guns on college campuses and even common-sense legislation that would ban bump-stocks in Maryland. We need a governor who will support legislation that protects Marylanders from gun violence, especially when Congress remains inactive in this crucial area.

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Ben Jealous is the Governor Maryland needs. Mr. Jealous brings the necessary experience for the job as the former President and CEO of the NAACP and his successful campaigns to abolish the death penalty, expand voting rights, and pass marriage equality. Mr. Jealous will work to promote public education by investing in our teachers and students.  He will fight for every Marylander to have access to healthcare, work towards ending the student debt crisis, and promote strong economic growth in Maryland. I look forward to working with my fellow College Democrats as we talk with voters about issues they care about most and retake the Governor’s Mansion this Novemeber.

Ryan Kirby

President, College Democrats of Maryland

Official Statement on School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

Baltimore, Maryland – On February 14th, 2018, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced one of the most horrific incidents possible at their school. Our hearts are with the victims of the shooting and all residents of Florida. We proudly stand with the Florida College Democrats and Sunshine State as they recover from this traumatizing event.

While today we take the time to grieve and  mourn the loss of loved ones, tomorrow must lead to action. Offering thoughts and prayers is not enough. Action must be taken to prevent these horrific events from continuing  in the future.

Our generation cannot and will not be defined by the violence that plagues our country. No parent, sibling, or loved one should have to worry if their child will come off the bus that afternoon. Our government, and our legislators, have failed all of us by choosing not to address our nation’s  gun laws.


Extending condolences cannot be the limit to our action. Words are just words and we must not allow legislators at the local, state, and federal level to remain inactive in addressing much needed reform. We must act now, to prevent the violence of tomorrow.

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For more information or inquiries, please contact our Director of Communications, Mai Do, at CollegeDemocratsofMaryland@gmail.com

Official Statement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

Baltimore, Maryland – On January 30th, 2018, the College Democrats of Maryland sent a letter to Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen demanding their immediate action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Dream Act of 2017.

Within the state of Maryland, eight thousand DACA recipients are a vibrant part of our community. They are students, taxpayers, educators, servicemembers, business owners, and, above all, Americans. Dreamers have displayed time and again their perseverance and dedication to this country. As Democrats, we owe it to them to be their voice in Congress and fight for their protection by passing the Dream Act, regardless of the political costs. Democrats have long fought for the expansion of civil rights and human rights. For Democrats to retreat on DACA is a betrayal to the very values we claim to champion.

Currently, roughly 120 Dreamers lose their DACA status each day, and thousands more are living in fear of detainment and deportation. While this issue continues to grow, Republican leadership has displayed a flagrant pattern of inaction and broken promises on immigration reform.

The College Democrats of Maryland urge Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to continue to stand up for Maryland Dreamers and vote against a Continuing Resolution on February 8th until the Senate holds a vote on DACA. We also urge Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to continue supporting a clean Dream Act with a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. We cannot wait any longer because Dreamers cannot wait any longer. The Dream Act and DACA recipients deserve a vote now.

We thank Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for continuing to be a strong voice for all Marylanders in the United States Senate, and we look forward to their continued work on this important issue.

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For more information on the College Democrats of Maryland, please contact our Director of Communications, Mai Do, at collegedemocratsofmaryland@gmail.com.