This week the Supreme Court issued two decisions that will be remembered as low points in our nation’s history. Yesterday by a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, overturning a lower court’s decision. This morning the court ruled against labor unions in Janus vs. AFSCME, again in a 5-4 split.
Yesterday’s ruling goes against our core moral and democratic values. President Trump and members of his administration made their motivations clear - this policy is rooted in Islamophobic and xenophobic ideology and aims to further marginalize and demonize Muslims and immigrants. By arbitrarily targeting people based on religion and nationality, it makes a mockery of our Constitution. By closing our borders to the populations of entire countries, it abandons our moral obligation to welcome the stranger.
Today’s ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME sides with the corporate and dark money interests that for decades have sought to weaken unions. The decision makes it more difficult for public sector workers to unite and bargain collectively. Anti-union actors like the National Right to Work Foundation helped bring the Janus case to the Supreme Court because they believe today’s outcome will divide and disempower workers.
There is no sugar-coating it. Both of these Supreme Court cases will have negative consequences on real people, in New York State and throughout the country and world.
The scope of those consequences, though, is up to us. We will respond to anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-worker forces the same way that movements for justice have always defeated their opponents: solidarity, organizing, and direct action.
On Saturday, hundreds of New Yorkers joined thousands of people from 40 states in Washington D.C. for the concluding rally of 40 Days of Action launching the Poor People’s Campaign. Over the prior 6 weeks, 1500 people participated in direct actions in Albany which brought together an intergenerational, multi-faith, multi-racial, multi-issue coalition committed to ending systemic racism, poverty, militarism and ecological devastation. Thousands more participated in similar actions in dozens of states and Washington D.C.
The Poor People’s Campaign is one expression of an activist spirit that is sweeping our country as people wake up to the systemic injustices that set the stage for events like this week’s rulings. These efforts are building a grassroots power that is our best hope for righting the court’s wrongs.
Now is not a time to be discouraged. It is a time to recommit to our values, show solidarity to our Muslim, immigrant and labor family, and to dig in for the hard work ahead.
Love and solidarity,
Emily and Joe