Caroline Fredrickson

  • January 23, 2017

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    On Jan. 23 – President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed day one, it is worth remembering the first words of the Constitution

    We, the people, are the "historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen." Pictures of Women's Marches all over the world prove it. 

    The majority of Americans did not vote for Trump. Historically low approval ratings and small inaugural crowds show Trump does not have a mandate for his agenda.

    So now we must get to work. Movements need consistent, sustained people power. Here are five ways to fuel the movement:

    -Join many groups - start with ACS

    -Run for office or support champions of your favorite issues in statehouses and Congress

    -Call your members of Congress and tell them what you think about Trump's cabinet picks - start with the attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

    -Fight fake news by forming a rapid response group with your family, friends and colleagues

    -Volunteer for ACS projects

    -Research

    -Pro bono work

    -Constitution in the Classroom

    -Mentor

    -Write

    If you are interested in volunteering for ACS projects, email us at lcemails@acslaw.org.

    Like anything worthwhile, our movement is an everyday commitment. We have so much at stake.

  • December 20, 2016

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    Chuck Jones deserved better, especially from the president-elect who tweeted:

    “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”

    Roughly 75 minutes later, the soon-to-be head of state posted another tweet:

    “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues.”

    For 30 years, Jones has represented workers in Indianapolis, including employees at plants owned by air conditioner manufacturer Carrier and Rexnord, a maker of values and ball bearings for heavy equipment. 

    On Dec. 15, Jones and other workers received notice that Rexnord would close the plant and move the roughly 300 jobs to Mexico despite a “no more” tweet from Trump. This notice from Rexnord followed similar news about layoffs from Carrier.

    2016 was a tough year for Jones. He spent the year in negotiations with manufacturers who in one instance expect to save $65 million by sending jobs in the U.S. to Mexico. In a Dec. 8 article about Carrier, Jones explained that “We couldn’t match that unless we were willing to cut wages to $5/hour and cut all benefits.”

  • November 30, 2016

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    President-elect Trump posted one outlandish tweet after another all the way to the White House. But his latest tweet on flag-burning topped most of the others.

    On Nov. 29, Trump tweeted:

    Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

    The tone and text of the post read like something that a ruler from a bygone era without the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution would say.  Most alarming is the sweeping and ominous part about “consequences.” Fortunately, a chorus of critics checked Trump.

    The very next day, both The New York Times and The Washington Post editorialized against Trump’s tweet.  The headline in the Post’s View summed up the problem, “In one tweet, Trump trashes two constitutional amendments.”

    In 140 characters, the next president knocked the First and 14th Amendments. The Supreme Court ruled almost three decades ago that burning a flag is protected speech under the First Amendment. Ironically, Trump’s model of the ideal Supreme Court Justice, the late Antonin Scalia, joined the majority decision in the 1989 case, Texas v. Johnson.

    Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) chimed in right after the tweet to educate the public and president-elect about the First Amendment protection. Both members of Congress felt compelled to voice their support for this protected speech. McCarthy tried to shut down the debate by stating the unlikelihood of congressional action.

  • November 3, 2016

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    Let’s project past the partisan noise and hand-wringing of the Nov. 8 election. It is never too early to take stock of judicial nominations in the post-election lame duck session of Congress. 

    Since Senators left the Capitol in September, vacant seats on the federal bench quietly keep growing. On Oct. 31, Judge Donovan Frank of the District of Minnesota retired from a full-time caseload, creating the second vacancy in one of the busiest courthouses in the nation. This seat has been designated a judicial emergency by the Administrative Office for U.S. Courts and is the second one for this District alone. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) promptly announced their process for filling these vacancies.

    Now Minnesota has only five full-time federal district court judges. When fully staffed, it has seven. This smaller bench translates into larger caseloads for remaining judges and longer wait times for anyone seeking justice. 

    For a second year in a row, this court will operate with a minimum of one vacancy. The court last year had a vacancy for six months. In a bit of good news, the Senate confirmed Judge Wilhelmina Wright, the first female African American federal judge in Minnesota, to fill the vacancy this past January.

  • October 26, 2016

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    Suddenly, in the span of just a few days, three senators broke rank with the 54-member majority who has denied any action on judicial nominations. It is too early to tell if this shift is a sideshow producing headlines in the Salt Lake Tribune and Politico or the beginning of the end of gridlock in the post-election lame duck session of Congress.

    Whatever the outcome in the coming weeks, #DoYourJob is not a strong enough hashtag to chronicle the constitutional crisis created by the senate blockade against President Obama’s 110 judicial nominations.  More than 10 percent of the federal bench is vacant. 

    To put this number in perspective, compare Obama’s vacancy rate of 10.8 percent with President George W. Bush’s 3.7 percent at this same point in his eighth year.  This is a virtual shutdown of the third branch of government as the second branch denies its constitutional duty to give “advice and consent” on nominees by the first branch. 

    Chatter about a constitutional crisis sounds overblown until you recall statements made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) regarding Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

    Remember in February, barely an hour after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stunned many with an historic announcement that the next president should fill the vacancy on the Court. McConnell reasoned that with a possible shift in the ideological bent of the Supreme Court the people should have a voice in the selection of the ninth justice.  This logic ignores the fact that voters do not elect Supreme Court justices.