Waxman and Pallone Ask “Where’s the Constitutional Authority” on H.R. 358?

Jodi Jacobson

Congressmen Henry Waxman and Frank Pallone ask Joe Pitts to withdraw H.R. 358 unless he can cite "constitutional authority," a requirement imposed by the GOP majority in early January, and supposedly applicable to every piece of legislation in the 112th Congress except, apparently, those that strip women of their rights.

Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ) Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, sent a letter (full text below) to Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcomittee, urging him to withdraw consideration of H.R. 358, a bill which among other things would permit hospitals to deny life-saving treatment to pregnant women. The bill passed in subcommittee yesterday. Waxman and Pallone have called on Upton and Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) not to bring the bill to full committee unless and until it is re-introduced with a proper citation of constitutional authority, in accordance with a rule passed by the House GOP leadership on the first day of the new session.

After last November’s election, and upon taking leadership of the House of Representatives, House GOP leadership including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made a big show of insisting that they would do everything the “Constitutional way,” whatever exactly that means. 

One thing it did mean was a change in the House rules to require that every bill introduced include a statement of the ways in which the proposed law was tied to Constitutional authority.

A December 17, 2010 memo from then Speaker-designate Boehner, Cantor and others to all members of Congress and their staff read as follows:

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The Pledge to America released by House Republicans in September of this year included a commitment to “require every bill to cite its specific Constitutional Authority.” To implement this proposal, the Transition Team and the Elected Republican Leadership are recommending a change to standing Rules of the House to require that each bill or joint resolution introduced in the House be accompanied by a statement citing the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the proposed law.

Well, surprising as I know it may be to many of you, the GOP leadership has apparently decided this rule is a non-negotiable… except when the rule doesn’t suit their interests. The requirement of citing the Constitution for each and every piece of legislation was suddenly less important when it came to profoundly anti-choice legislation rushed through Congress as a “top-priority.”

Waxman and Pallone wrote that H.R. 358 was was introduced:

“without a valid statement of constitutional authority as required under the new House rules adopted in January.  We respectfully urge that the bill not be considered in Committee unless it is re-introduced with a proper citation of constitutional authority.

Chairman Pitts’s bill is an assault on a woman’s access to abortion services, wrote Waxman and Pallone. 

Its apparent objective is to make it impossible for women to choose an abortion by effectively eliminating coverage for the necessary medical services.  It also calls into question the obligation of health care providers to provide the emergency services needed to save the life of a pregnant woman.  Because the bill represents a federal intrusion into the most intimate personal decisions of women and families, it is exactly the type of legislation that most needs a clear statement of Congress’s constitutional authority.

At the markup of the bill in the Health Subcommittee, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) raised a point of order against consideration of H.R. 358.  Mr. Weiner quoted from House Rule XII, clause 7(c)(1), which provides: 

“A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor submits for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” 

Mr. Weiner then read from the statement submitted by Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, the sponsor of the legislation, which stated in full: 

“Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:  The Protect Life Act would overturn an unconstitutional mandate regarding abortion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Mr. Weiner argued that the statement submitted by Pitts fails to identify any specific provision in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to enact his legislation.  “Indeed,” the letter continued, “it is impossible to divine any constitutional basis for Mr. Pitts’s bill from his statement.”

Perhaps caught in an “oops” moment, the GOP got around this by ruling Weiner’s point during markup as “out of order,” and basically replied that “you should have pointed out this problem when the bill was introduced.”

The Waxman-Pallone letter argued that failing to withdraw and reintroduce the bill with the proper constitutional citation “will make a mockery of the rule” created “with great fanfare” by the GOP itself only a month ago. 

According to the Parliamentarians, the chair judges only whether a constitutional statement has been submitted at the time of introduction, not whether the statement is valid.  If members cannot raise a point of order to enforce the constitutional statement rule during committee consideration of the rule, there is no point at which the rule can be enforced.

Perhaps the reason Mr. Pitts and indeed the entire membership of the House GOP caucus from Speaker Boehner on down appear not to be worried about the Constitutional questions regarding this particular piece of legislation is because they simply don’t think women have rights. The bill itself is testament to that.  And maybe they’ve been attending some of those closed-door corporate and Tea Party meetings featuring Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who, in an interview with California Lawyer asserted as much: In the interview Scalia said that the Constitution itself does not protect women and gay men and lesbians from discrimination.

But you didn’t think you had any rights, anyway, did you?

The Honorable Fred Upton
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
 
Dear Chairman Upton:
 
            We are writing to urge you to refrain from bringing H.R. 358 before the full Committee.  This bill, which is an attack on a woman’s right to choose, was introduced without a valid statement of constitutional authority as required under the new House rules adopted in January.  We respectfully urge that the bill not be considered in Committee unless it is re-introduced with a proper citation of constitutional authority.
 
            At today’s markup in the Health Subcommittee, Rep. Anthony Weiner raised a point of order against consideration of H.R. 358.  Mr. Weiner quoted from House Rule XII, clause 7(c)(1), which provides:  “A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor submits for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.”  Mr. Weiner then read from the statement submitted by Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, the sponsor of the legislation, which stated in full:  “Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:  The Protect Life Act would overturn an unconstitutional mandate regarding abortion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
 
            As Mr. Weiner argued in support of his point of order, the statement submitted by Mr. Pitts does not identify any specific provision in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to enact his legislation.  Indeed, it is impossible to divine any constitutional basis for Mr. Pitts’s bill from his statement.
 
            Mr. Pitts ruled that Mr. Weiner had not stated a valid point of order, in part based on advice you provided.  You advised Mr. Pitts and the subcommittee that the only point at which an objection can be raised to validity of the constitutional statement is when the bill is introduced, not during a markup of the legislation.
 
            We do not dispute Chairman Pitts’s ruling or the parliamentary advice you gave him.  But we believe that if the Committee adheres to this policy, it will make a mockery of the rule requiring submission of a statement of constitutional authority.  According to the Parliamentarians, the chair judges only whether a constitutional statement has been submitted at the time of introduction, not whether the statement is valid.  If members cannot raise a point of order to enforce the constitutional statement rule during committee consideration of the rule, there is no point at which the rule can be enforced.
 
            Chairman Pitts’s bill is an assault on a woman’s access to abortion services.  Its apparent objective is to make it impossible for women to choose an abortion by effectively eliminating coverage for the necessary medical services.  It also calls into question the obligation of health care providers to provide the emergency services needed to save the life of a pregnant woman.  Because the bill represents a federal intrusion into the most intimate personal decisions of women and families, it is exactly the type of legislation that most needs a clear statement of Congress’s constitutional authority.
 
            While we do not dispute that you have the right to bring H.R. 358 before the full Committee, we respectfully suggest that you use your discretion not to do so.  You should ask Mr. Pitts to introduce a new bill with a valid statement of constitutional authority and use the new bill, not H.R. 358, as the vehicle for any further consideration of this matter in the Committee.  That would send a strong signal that the Committee is serious about the requirement that the constitutional basis of legislation be clearly stated before legislation can be considered in Committee.
 
            The new Republican majority adopted the constitutional statement requirement with great fanfare in January.  As the provision is now part of our rules, we believe it should be appropriately enforced – not rendered meaningless – as we approach our first full Committee markup.
 
Sincerely,
 
Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member
 
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Health
 

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Weighs in on Supreme Court Decision, After Pressure From Anti-Choice Leaders

Ally Boguhn

The presumptive Republican nominee’s confirmation that he opposed the decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt came after several days of silence from Trump on the matter—much to the lamentation of anti-choice advocates.

Donald Trump commented on the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion decision this week—but only after days of pressure from anti-choice advocates—and Hillary Clinton wrote an op-ed explaining how one state’s then-pending decision on whether to fund Planned Parenthood illustrates the high stakes of the election for reproductive rights and health.

Following Anti-Choice Pressure, Trump Weighs in on Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision

Trump finally broke his silence Thursday about the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week, which struck down two provisions of Texas’ HB 2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

“Now if we had Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that,” Trump claimed of the Court’s decision, evidently not realizing that the Monday ruling was 5 to 3 and one vote would not have made a numerical difference, during an appearance on conservative radio program The Mike Gallagher Show. “It would have been the opposite.” 

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“So just to confirm, under a President Donald Trump-appointed Supreme Court, you wouldn’t see a majority ruling like the one we had with the Texas abortion law this week?” asked host Mike Gallagher.

“No…you wouldn’t see that,” replied Trump, who also noted that the case demonstrated the important role the next president will play in steering the direction of the Court through judicial nominations.

The presumptive Republican nominee’s confirmation that he opposed the decision in Whole Woman’s Health came after several days of silence from Trump on the matter—prompting much lamentation from anti-choice advocates. Despite having promised to nominate anti-choice Supreme Court justices and pass anti-abortion restrictions if elected during a meeting with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders in New York City last week, Trump made waves among those who oppose abortion when he did not immediately comment on the Court’s Monday decision.

“I think [Trump’s silence] gives all pro-life leaders pause,” said the president of the anti-choice conservative organization The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, prior to Trump’s comments Thursday, according to the Daily Beast. Vander Plaats, who attended last week’s meeting with Trump, went on suggest that Trump’s hesitation to weigh in on the matter “gives all people that are looking for life as their issue, who are looking to support a presidential candidate—it gives them an unnecessary pause. There shouldn’t have to be a pause here.”

“This is the biggest abortion decision that has come down in years and Hillary Clinton was quick to comment—was all over Twitter—and yet we heard crickets from Donald Trump,” Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a Tuesday statement to the Daily Beast.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, expressed similar dismay on Wednesday that Trump hadn’t addressed the Court’s ruling. “So where was Mr. Trump, the candidate the pro-life movement is depending upon, when this blow hit?” wrote Hawkins, in an opinion piece for the Washington Post. “He was on Twitter, making fun of Elizabeth Warren and lamenting how CNN has gone negative on him. That’s it. Nothing else.”

“Right now in the pro-life movement people are wondering if Mr. Trump’s staff is uninformed or frankly, if he just doesn’t care about the topic of life,” added Hawkins. “Was that meeting last week just a farce, just another one of his shows?”

Anti-choice leaders, however, were not the only ones to criticize Trump’s response to the ruling. After Trump broke his silence, reproductive rights leaders were quick to condemn the Republican’s comments.

“Donald Trump has been clear from the beginning—he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and said he believes a woman should be ‘punished’ if she has an abortion,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which has already endorsed Clinton for the presidency, in a statement on Trump’s comments. 

“Trump’s remarks today should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes women should have access to safe, legal abortion. Electing Trump means he will fight to take away the very rights the Supreme Court just ruled this week are constitutional and necessary health care,” continued Laguens.

In contrast to Trump’s delayed reaction, presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton tweeted within minutes of the landmark abortion rights decision, “This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”

Clinton Pens Op-Ed Defending Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire

Clinton penned an op-ed for the Concord Monitor Wednesday explaining that New Hampshire’s pending vote on Planned Parenthood funding highlighted “what’s at stake this election.”

“For half a century, Planned Parenthood has been there for people in New Hampshire, no matter what. Every year, it provides care to almost 13,000 people who need access to services like counseling, contraception, and family planning,” wrote Clinton. “Many of these patients cannot afford to go anywhere else. Others choose the organization because it’s the provider they know and trust.”

The former secretary of state went on to contend that New Hampshire’s Executive Council’s discussion of denying funds to the organization was more than “just playing politics—they’re playing with their constituents’ health and well-being.” The council voted later that day to restore Planned Parenthood’s contract.

Praising the Supreme Court’s Monday decision in Whole Woman’s Health, Clinton cautioned in the piece that although it was a “critical victory,” there is still “work to do as long as obstacles” remained to reproductive health-care access.

Vowing to “make sure that a woman’s right to make her own health decisions remains as permanent as all of the other values we hold dear” if elected, Clinton promised to work to protect Planned Parenthood, safeguard legal abortion, and support comprehensive and inclusive sexual education programs.

Reiterating her opposition to the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal funding for abortion care, Clinton wrote that she would “fight laws on the books” like it that “make it harder for low-income women to get the care they deserve.”

Clinton’s campaign noted the candidate’s support for repealing Hyde while answering a 2008 questionnaire provided by Rewire. During the 2016 election season, the federal ban on abortion funding became a more visible issue, and Clinton noted in a January forum that the ban “is just hard to justify” given that restrictions such as Hyde inhibit many low-income and rural women from accessing care.

What Else We’re Reading

Politico Magazine’s Bill Scher highlighted some of the potential problems Clinton could face should she choose former Virginia governor Tim Kaine as her vice presidential pickincluding his beliefs about abortion.

Foster Friess, a GOP mega-donor who once notoriously said that contraception is “inexpensive … you know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly,” is throwing his support behind Trump, comparing the presumptive Republican nominee to biblical figures.

Clinton dropped by the Toast on the publication’s last day, urging readers to follow the site’s example and “look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you.”

Irin Carmon joined the New Republic’s “Primary Concerns” podcast this week to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt on the election.

According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal, the popularity of the Libertarian Party in this year’s election could affect the presidential race, and the most likely outcome is “upsetting a close race—most likely Florida, where the margin of victory is traditionally narrow.”

The Center for Responsive Politics’ Alec Goodwin gave an autopsy of Jeb Bush’s massive Right to Rise super PAC.

Katie McGinty (D), who is running against incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in Pennsylvania, wrote an op-ed this week for the Philly Voice calling to “fight efforts in Pa. to restrict women’s access to health care.”

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against an attempt to restore voting rights to more than 20,000 residents affected by the state’s law disenfranchising those who previously served time for felonies, ThinkProgress reports.

An organization in Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of the almost 70,000 people there who have previously served time for felonies and are now on probation or parole, alleging that they are being “wrongfully excluded from registering to vote and voting.”

Analysis Politics

Conservative Attacks on Voting and Abortion Rights Share Tactics, Goals

Ally Boguhn

The pushes for voting and abortion restrictions use similar tactics, slowly eroding the rights of women, people of color, and those with low incomes in particular.

During a May interview with the Texas Observer‘s Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards didn’t skip a beat when pointing to the likely effect of voting restrictions.

“One of the greatest challenges, absolutely, in the state of Texas is the enormous hurdles that people have to go through to vote, and the fact that in the last election, we were 50th in voter turnout of 50 states,” said Richards. “That’s appalling. When 28 percent of the voters go to the polls, the democratic process isn’t working, it’s completely broken. I believe we have to completely address voting rights in this country, and in Texas.”

Texas is one of 17 states to implement new voting restrictions, such as voter identification laws and reduced early voting, for the first time during the 2016 presidential election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at New York University’s School of Law. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Voting and Abortion Restrictions

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“This is part of a broader movement to curtail voting rights, which began after the 2010 election, when state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote,” explains the Brennan Center’s website. “Overall, 22 states have new restrictions in effect since the 2010 midterm election.”

The Republican-led charge to roll back voting rights has been fairly transparent in its goal of suppressing Democratic votes, specifically targeting voters of color and those living in poverty—a goal only made easier after the Supreme Court gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that safeguarded against these strategies in a 2013 decision.

In April, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) told a local news network that his state’s new voter ID law would make “a difference” in electing members of his party in November. And he is hardly the first Republican to admit that the party is utilizing this strategy in order to gain power.

Efforts to enact voting restrictions have begun to gain steam, increasingly in many of the same places where abortion restrictions are also being passed. And reproductive rights and justice advocates are taking notice. NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2012 noted that efforts to chip away at voting rights effectively silence the ability of many to weigh in on decisions regarding their bodies.

“Americans defend the right to choose by lobbying their elected officials, taking action in their communities, and participating in the public debate, but no single deed is as central to the civic process as the simple act of casting a vote,” Nancy Keenan, then president of NARAL, said in a statement announcing the decision. “That is why recent efforts to restrict citizens’ access to the ballot box are so dangerous. These measures threaten to deny millions of Americans the right to vote, silencing their voices as the nation debates our most cherished freedoms, including the right of every woman to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices.”

Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s current president, reaffirmed this commitment after the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision on the VRA, explaining in a statement that year that the organization believes “that participation in the political process is a constitutional right that empowers Americans to elect leaders who represent their interests in important areas such as reproductive rights.”

When thousands joined the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina in February 2014 to protest conservative policies such as the state’s restrictive voter suppression laws, Planned Parenthood was among the event’s 150 coalition partners. In a piece for the Huffington Post, Richards explained why it was imperative for her organization to get involved.

“For Planned Parenthood, the ideology behind these measures is all too familiar. They were put in place by politicians who would rather transport us through a time warp where only the privileged few have access to fundamental American rights,” wrote Richards. “Many of those states [passing voting restrictions] are the same ones passing restriction after restriction on women’s access to health care.”

“The history of our country shows that we are better off when everyone has a voice in our political process. We continue to stand with our partners in calling for laws that make it easier—not harder—to vote,” Richards continued.

As the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections brought a wave of voting restrictions, a crush of anti-choice laws similarly swept the country. Since those elections, an unprecedented 288 state-level abortion restrictions have been enacted.

“To put that number in context, states adopted nearly as many abortion restrictions during the last five years (288 enacted 2011-2015) as during the entire previous 15 years (292 enacted 1995-2010),” Guttmacher researchers explained in a recent report outlining the state of reproductive rights in the country.

The pushes for voting and abortion restrictions use similar tactics, slowly eroding the rights of women, people of color, and those with low incomes. “It’s a ‘death by 1000 cuts’ strategy,” Heather Gerken, a professor at Yale Law School, told MSNBC of the two issues in 2014. “For both of these rights, you’re not allowed to ban it. So in each instance you’re just making it harder than it would be otherwise.”

Conservatives have been able to do this by leveraging misinformation about the two issues. Abortion and voting restrictions “both address manufactured problems,” Sondra Goldschein, director of advocacy and policy at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Rewire. “They have thinly veiled excuses for introducing them. Whether it’s unproven voter fraud or concerns about women, the legislation is clearly about taking away rights, particularly in marginalized communities.”

For example, many voting restrictions are implemented based on false claims about the prevalence of voting fraud. In Wisconsin, where as many as 300,000 registered voters stand to be disenfranchised by the state’s restrictive voter ID law, Republican Gov. Scott Walker justified suppressing the vote by citing instances of fraudulent voting. When challenged in court, the state was unable to come up with a single case of voter impersonation.

That is likely because in Wisconsin, like in the rest of the country, voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. Study after study has found little to no evidence to support the claim. An analysis conducted by the Washington Post‘s Justin Levitt in 2014 found just 31 instances of voter fraud in the more than one billion ballots cast between the years 2000 and 2014.

Many abortion restrictions are similarly based on the perpetuation of misinformation, which are often based on conservatives feigning concern for women’s health. Wisconsin provides yet another prime example of this with its 2013 targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law, which required all doctors performing abortions in the state to obtain admitting privileges to hospitals within a 30-mile range, justified by claims of safeguarding women’s health. But when the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional in 2015, Judge Richard Posner, writing for the majority, noted that the medical necessity for such laws is “nonexistent” and the regulations were instead meant to impede abortion access.

“They may do this in the name of protecting the health of women who have abortions, yet as in this case the specific measures they support may do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,” wrote Posner.

Though it’s often clear that legislation to restrict access to the polls and abortion share similar goals and tactics—employing misinformation, attempting to dissuade people from access by making doing so too expensive or burdensome, and so on—in some cases, states are borrowing from the exact same playbooks to make laws to get their way. In Texas, where there is already a strict voter ID law, the state passed another law in 2015 requiring abortion providers to ask for “valid government record of identification” from patients to prove they are 18 before providing care. The process of obtaining a valid form of ID is often difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, especially for those in marginalized communities.

Much like the case for voting restrictions, abortion restrictions help white men maintain the status quo of power across the country. Drawing connections between between voting restrictions and TRAP laws in Texas, then-Rewire reporter Andrea Grimes, who now works for the Texas Observer, noted on the RJ Court Watch podcast that both conservative restrictions help ensure those in power maintain their positions.

“We [in Texas] have some of the strictest TRAP (targeted restrictions on abortion providers) legislation in the country. At the same time we have what one federal judge straight up called racist and unconstitutional voter ID requirements that prevent people from being able to get out to the polls and cast their votes,” said Grimes. “And these two things together kind of ensure that power stays with the powerful. That’s what we’re seeing right now here.”

“[B]oth voting rights and abortion access involve fundamental rights,” added Jessica Mason Pieklo, Rewire‘s vice president of law and the courts. “In theory, fundamental rights are fundamental. They are things that we all hold but really what we’re talking about is access to power. So when we place restrictions on those rights, we make it harder to exercise them—which makes it harder to effectively engage our civic power.”

When framed as a desperate attempt by the GOP to maintain a hold on their power dynamics, it comes as no surprise that many of the very same states pushing through voting restrictions are also moving to restrict abortion access. During 2015 alone, 57 abortion restrictions were enacted across the country. Of the massive push to restrict abortion since 2010, ten states enacted more than ten restrictions: Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Alabama, and North Carolina.

These lists have remarkable crossover with the states that have enacted new voting restrictions in that same period of time: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The end result for both kinds of restrictions is the same: a massive sweep of nationwide changes chipping away at the fundamental rights of Americans and disproportionately affecting women, communities of color, and those living in poverty.
Those pushing through these laws “are not just focusing on one state, but they are looking at creating change across the whole country, through each individual state-by-state attack on these fundamental freedoms,” explained Goldschein.

Goldschein went on to note that conservatives’ success in pushing these restrictions demonstrates the importance of voting, especially for down-ballot seats in the state legislature where many of these decisions are made. “State legislatures are ground zero in the fight for civil liberties, and they do not always attract as much attention as the debates in Congress or arguments in the Supreme Court, but in fact they are really the source of unprecedented assaults on our most fundamental rights,” she explained.

“This year … 80 percent of our state legislature seats are up for re-election, and we need voters to be paying attention to what is happening in those state legislatures and then to hold politicians accountable and vote as if their liberties depend on it—because they do—because this is where these fights are taking place.”