Secular and Progressive Friends,
Prior to the November 2020 Election, our Political Action webpage listed Democratic incumbents and challengers vying for seats in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Links to their campaign websites were provided, and visitors to this site were encouraged to support their candidacies by contributing to them financially. But the election has now come and gone.
Fortunately, there are a variety of significant ways in which secular progressives can continue to participate in the political process. For example, we can contact our government officials to urge them to vote as we prefer on proposed legislation. Or we can take part in letter writing campaigns, participate in phone banks, canvass door to door, march, or attend street protests.
Below you will find columns in which preeminent advocacy groups will inform us of political matters calling for action. From left to right, the first three such groups are the American Civil Liberties Union (commonly known by its acronym, ACLU), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The fourth column, to the far right, will present postings on a rotating basis from other similar entities. I invite you to express your values and to make your voice heard by making good use of this indispensable information. -- Gary M. Linscott
American Civil Liberties Union
Friends and Colleagues
We want to be clear about this: The election isn't over until each eligible voter's ballot is counted.
With millions of mail-in votes that still need to be processed right now, the lag in results that we're experiencing is not only to be expected – it's a sign that the process is working as it should.
Prematurely announcing a winner or halting a vote count would be inaccurate, undemocratic, and unconstitutional. But the ACLU is prepared for this moment. We've already deployed lawyers, organizers, and advocates across all 50 states to make sure that all votes get counted and that any scheme to undermine our democratic process will be challenged.
We need your help in building collective pressure to ensure the voices – and the votes – of the people are heard and counted in this election.
Over 91.6 million people nationwide requested a mail-in ballot to vote this year. That includes the 53 percent of Pennsylvania voters of color and 57 percent of Wisconsin voters of color who planned to vote by mail. Nationally, 44 percent of the electorate who planned to vote by mail are voters of color.
Discounting these voters' ballots is unacceptable and unconstitutional. Discounting them would disenfranchise communities of color and distort the election outcome. We won't let that happen.
Let's make sure we do everything in our power to protect our democracy right now – beginning by building national support for the complete and accurate count of every vote.
Thank you for taking action,
The ACLU Team
November 18, 2020
Friends and Colleagues,
While the nation's attention has been focused around this year's election, the ACLU has simultaneously been monitoring and defending our rights at the Supreme Court, including for several key cases now on its docket.
Every one of these cases has significant implications for our civil rights and liberties. That's why this email is a bit longer – we wanted to make sure you were fully briefed.
Here are the critical cases SCOTUS is weighing in on:
1. Safeguarding Census Status:
Court date set for November 30
Why it matters: In Trump v. State of New York, the Court will hear the Trump administration's appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked his attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census for the purpose of apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College. The legal mandate is clear – every single person is included in the census, and every single person is represented in Congress. Undocumented immigrants are people – and nothing President Trump does or says changes that fact. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of immigrants' rights groups challenging Trump's order.
2. Defending LGBTQ Rights and more
Status: Awaiting Supreme Court Ruling
Why it matters: Just one day after the election, the Supreme Court heard a case that could undermine civil rights laws and LGBTQ families for generations to come in Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia. The ACLU and our affiliate argued in support of Philadelphia, which is being sued by Catholic Social Services (CSS) – a taxpayer-funded foster care agency that will not accept same-sex couples. A ruling for CSS could impact the more than 400,000 children in our nation's foster care system and allow other taxpayer-funded agencies to discriminate as well.
3. Protecting theAffordable Care Act
Status: Awaiting Supreme Court Ruling
Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act, which made health insurance accessible to millions for the first time, could be in jeopardy in California v. Texas. Any decision from the justices striking down the law would have devastating ramifications for the civil liberties advancements that the ACA has provided – that's why the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief, along with many disability rights groups, in its defense. Dismantling the ACA would exacerbate the systemic disparities in access to health care that Black, Latinx, and disabled people face in this country, which are now approaching epic proportions during the pandemic.
4. Pushing for Police Accountability
Awaiting Supreme Court Ruling
Why it matters: The question before the Court in Torres v. Madrid is whether police are unbound by the Constitution when it comes to the use of force against people who resist or flee from them. If the justices rule in favor, it could create a loophole that would entirely remove certain excessive force cases from scrutiny under the Fourth Amendment. The ACLU and a diverse coalition of partners filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing the dangers of such a decision – especially given the nationwide epidemic of police violence.
5. Challenging the "Return to Mexico" Policy
Status: Review granted; Supreme Court date still undetermined
Why it matters: The Court agreed to review a Ninth Circuit decision in Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf that held illegal a Trump administration policy forcibly returning individuals and families seeking asylum to Mexico. In Mexico, those seeking asylum are often stuck in refugee camps, vulnerable to kidnapping, extortion, assault, and other abuse, indefinitely. The ACLU and partners are challenging the policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which was blocked by a federal court in California last year but remained in effect due to court-ordered stays as the case is litigated. Asylum seekers face horrendous conditions as their claims for protection in the United States are considered and remain in grave danger every day this policy is in effect.
Friends, there's a lot to going on in the news cycle, but what comes out of each of these cases is too important to look past. We'll need you with us in the weeks and months to come.
So please, be on the lookout for more crucial updates – and be ready to take action in the fight for civil liberties ahead.
The ACLU Team
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
As an organization founded on respect for constitutional democracy and our nation’s unfulfilled vision of equality and freedom, we know that limiting the right to vote limits all of our freedoms.
It’s as simple as this: We strengthen our democracy, our Constitution, and our values when every ballot counts.
While we await the official results of this momentous election, AU’s work to protect religious freedom and church-state separation can’t be put on hold.
On the morning after the election, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia, a case involving a taxpayer-funded child-placement agency contracted to provide government foster-care services that claims a “religious freedom” right to discriminate against qualified families who are LGBTQ.
We're proud to report that in oral arguments, Philadelphia’s attorney directly referenced the facts of our Aimee Maddonna case to explain to the Court that the Fulton verdict could expand religious exemptions for discrimination and exclusion.
AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case on behalf of four prospective foster families, each of whom were rejected because they failed to pass the religious litmus tests of the agencies contracted by the government to find homes for foster children in the custody of the government.
No matter what the final election results are, AU will never stop fighting to protect the separation of religion and government and end the misuse of religious freedom to discriminate.
We will stay in touch as events unfold in the days to come. For now, please know how much we value being in community with you.
Rachel K. Laser
President and CEO
November 17, 2020
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic surges to new heights, we continue to see lawsuits demanding religious exemptions from temporary limits on large public gatherings. Now that fight has reached the United States Supreme Court.
Yesterday and this morning, AU – joined by 12 religious and interfaith organizations – filed two friend-of-the-court briefs to explain to the Supreme Court that the Constitution does not prohibit New York from including houses of worship and religious services in temporary restrictions on large, in-person gatherings.
New York’s public health order is based on science and, like the coronavirus, it does not discriminate between religious and secular gatherings. If the Supreme Court strikes down this order, the result could be a domino effect across the country, undercutting efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito already gave a big clue as to where he stands on this issue. In a much-criticized speech to the Federalist Society last week, Alito openly railed against public health orders such as the one in New York.
Friends, by granting religious exemptions to public health orders during this crisis, the government would be saying some Americans get special privileges based on their religious beliefs – even at the cost of risk to other people’s lives.
AU is fighting back. We have filed 38 other briefs in similar cases, and religious exemptions were ordered in only three of the cases in which we filed. Now we’ve taken our work to the Supreme Court with two briefs that explain how religious freedom for all of us is at stake.
Tell your friends, relatives, and associates that you oppose religious exemptions to COVID-19 public health orders.
This coronavirus does not discriminate – it endangers people whether they gather for religious or secular purposes, and it puts entire communities at risk.
Public health orders must not privilege one group of Americans' religious beliefs over the health and lives of others.
To read more about AU’s ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom or to donate to our efforts, go to:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (or AU for short) is a is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the separation of religion and government as the only way to ensure freedom of religion, including the right to believe or not believe, for all.
Thanks for all you do,
AU Senior Adviser
Editor of Church & State magazine
Freedom From Religion Foundation
November 17, 2020
URGENT: Action Alert
Pass the ROE Act in Massachusetts!
The Massachusetts Legislature is currently considering Amendment 759, which would remove medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care and improve access for reproductive health care throughout the state. Please tell the Senate Ways and Means Committee to include Amendment 759 — known as the ROE Act — in the final budget.
The amendment would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to make their own reproductive health decisions without court intervention. Furthermore, Amendment 759 provides care for later pregnancies in cases of lethal fetal diagnosis.
As a secular nation, our laws related to health care, including reproductive health care, should reflect science. Amendment 759 is a bold and important step toward providing medically accurate and science-based reproductive health care for the women of Massachusetts.
Please contact Michael Rodrigues, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, and urge him to ensure that Amendment 759 remains in the final budget.
A horrifying Supreme Court Justice
There’s been undeniably enough taking place to scare us all recently. The Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and we strongly condemned it.
“With your support, the Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue to champion the First Amendment in the courts and fight Christian Nationalism and the union of state and church in the court of public opinion,” we vowed. “Our fight has never been easy and it just got a lot harder. We are up to the challenge, but we need your help.”
In her blog this week, FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez chronicles the ongoing deterioration of women’s rights both in Poland and the United States.
“Since the U.S. Supreme Court has significantly changed in the last few years, most recently with Amy Coney Barrett replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a champion of abortion rights), the future of Roe v. Wade is in greater danger than ever before,” Alvarez writes. “Barrett has laid bare her willingness to impose her religious convictions into courtroom decisions.”
A decision affirming our secular public education system.
There was better judicial news later in the week to offset the Barrett nightmare. An appellate court judgment upheld the secular nature of the Maine public education system in a case in which we filed an amicus brief.
“The 1st Circuit has engaged in a sound defense of our Constitution,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We hope other courts and jurisdictions will sit up and take notice.”
From Bernie Sanders
Dear Progressive Voters -
As you know, Mitch McConnell, the "grim reaper," will do everything in his power to sabotage progressive initiatives coming from the Biden administration or from Congress. That's what he does.
Well, we now have the opportunity of getting rid of Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader in the Senate, and we are very close to doing that.
On January 5, there will be two runoff elections in Georgia which will determine which party controls the Senate. And, with your help, we can win those races, gain Democratic control over that body, and replace McConnell.
We are writing today to ask you to make a contribution to Rev. Raphael Warnock's campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Rev. Warnock, a strong progressive, is running against incumbent right-wing Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Trump supporter.
In the real world, what will Democratic control of the U.S. Senate mean for the American people? It means that we can raise the minimum wage to a living wage, expand health care, create millions of good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, tackle the existential threat of climate change, forcefully address systemic racism and finally bring about comprehensive immigration reform — among many other things.
That's what the runoff elections in Georgia are about.
Winning back the Senate also means that Bernie is in line to become Chair of the Budget Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Health. That is no small thing, and will be a huge step forward in our struggle to create national priorities that work for working people, not just the one percent.
So we're looking for a lot of donations to Rev. Warnock's campaign today to help win back the Senate and fund the voter turnout efforts required to win this race. That is why we need to ask:
Can you split a contribution between Rev. Raphael Warnock's campaign and our campaign today? Every contribution will help win a Democratic majority in the Senate and advance our progressive agenda. This is important.
If you've saved payment info with ActBlue Express, your contribution will automatically be evenly split between Raphael Warnock and Bernie Sanders:
Rev. Warnock is a pastor in Atlanta, Georgia who is running on a progressive platform of guaranteeing universal health care, protecting our planet for future generations, and defending workers' rights. He understands that we need to reform our broken criminal justice system and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure while creating good-paying jobs.
While Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Republican Senate candidates in this runoff election, play into the false claims of voter fraud and other misinformation promoted by Donald Trump, Rev. Warnock has spent his entire life fighting against bigotry and hatred. He grew up in public housing in Savannah and was the first person in his family to graduate from college. Sending Rev. Warnock to the Senate would be a significant victory for our movement.
Can Bernie count on you to chip in?
Winning this runoff election in Georgia won't be easy. But we can do it if we do all we can to support Rev. Warnock and the critical organizing work taking place across the state.
Thanks for contributing today to win this runoff, regain a Democratic majority in the Senate, and advance the most progressive agenda this country has seen since the 1930s.
Dear Progressive Voters,
Thank you and congratulations.
Because of your efforts, we have won the most important election in the modern history of our country.
As I've said many times, this election was not just about Biden vs. Trump and what their views on the issues were. It went much deeper than that. This was an election about whether we end pathological lying in the White House and retain democracy and the rule of law in our country, and we have done that.
In the days and weeks to come I'm sure that everyone in the world is going to be taking credit for Biden's victory, and the media and the pundits will have their views. But let me just say this. In my view, multi-racial, multi-generational progressive grassroots organizations all across this country played an extraordinary role in helping to make this victory possible. We made phone calls, we texted, we registered voters, we did virtual rallies, we distributed literature and we knocked on doors when possible. Knowing the importance of this election we did everything that we could, and more.
Together, we built widespread support for Biden among young people, people of color and the working class. In my view, Biden's success would not have been possible without those extraordinary efforts. And I just want to thank you all for what you did.
One of the areas where the progressive movement had real success was getting more and more young people into the voting booth and into the political process. The latest estimates that I have seen show that over 53% of young people ages 18 to 29 voted, which not only eclipses 2016's turnout rate, but would be the highest youth turnout rate in American history. And those young people voted overwhelmingly for Biden and other Democrats.
In battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia young voters very strongly supported Biden and other Democrats. In Georgia, for example, 90% of young black voters and 62% of young white voters chose Biden over Trump. And that made all the difference not only in winning that state for Biden, but forcing two Republican senators into runoff elections that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. One of the candidates in that runoff election is Reverend Raphael Warnock, whom we strongly supported.
Further, the strong economic agenda that the progressive movement fought for helped bring out low-income working people to vote for Biden. National exit polls show that voters with an annual family income under $50,000 voted against Trump by a 15-point margin.
Needless to say, my campaign staff and I were deeply involved in this campaign. Over the last few months we hosted more than 20 virtual rallies, viewed by millions of people, in battleground states as well as special events with young people, rural voters, the Latino community and the Muslim community.
Starting in October, we re-launched some of our very effective organizing work to reach out directly to voters in key battleground states. A dedicated group of staff and volunteers had one-on-one conversations with voters to get them the information they needed to cast their votes in this election. Further, we ended up sending 4.6 million texts across 14 states thanks to the efforts of more than 800 texting volunteers who helped mobilize our movement in support of 75 down-ballot candidates and propositions.
We also played an active role in supporting down-ballot progressive candidates, because we understand that real change comes from the bottom on up. In total, we endorsed more than 200 candidates running for local and state positions. Of those races that have been called, two-thirds of our endorsed candidates won.
It is also worth mentioning that many progressive ballot initiatives passed across the country. In Florida, voters chose to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. Colorado voters passed an initiative to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave. The people of Arizona voted to increase taxes on those making over $250,000 to increase funding for public education.
But now, as we celebrate our victories, we understand that our struggle is not over. It has just begun. We have accomplished step one by defeating Trump. Much more needs to be done.
Not only do we have to win the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia coming up in January so that we can have Democratic control over the U.S. Senate, but we're going to have to do everything possible to make sure that Congress and the new president move rapidly and aggressively to address the enormous crises facing our country.
In the next several months I will present to the Senate an agenda that I would like to see passed in the first 100 days of the new Congress. This is an agenda that, among many other proposals, will include a strong COVID-19 relief package that protects the unemployed and small businesses.
It is an agenda that will end starvation wages in America, make it easier for workers to join unions and provide equal pay for equal work.
It is an agenda that will create millions of good-paying jobs as we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
It is an agenda that makes health care a human right as we move toward a Medicare for All single-payer system, and an agenda that substantially lowers the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs in this country.
It is an agenda that will make it possible for all working class young people to gain a college education without going into debt, and will radically improve our dysfunctional childcare system.
It is an agenda that will create millions of good-paying jobs as we lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel.
It is an agenda that demands that the wealthy and powerful start paying their fair share of taxes.
It is an agenda that will take on the systemic racism that prevails throughout our country and our broken and racist criminal justice system.
It is an agenda that will lead to comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for the undocumented.
Sisters and brothers, we have come a long way in the last five years. But the truth is that we still have an incredible amount of work ahead of us, and the path forward will not be easy.
Let us continue going forward together. Let us continue our struggle to transform this country and create a government based on the principles of justice.
Thank you for all you've done, and will do, for our movement.