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Feminist Majority "Supreme Court in Peril" Chat Series of 2003

fmstaffDiane Greenhalgh, Million4Roe;
Jessica Terlikowski, Never Go Back;
Katherine Minarik, FMF Campus Programs

The Feminist Majority, a national non-profit organization, works through research, education, and advocacy for the political, economic, and social equality of women. Currently, there is a narrow 5-4 split in support of Roe v. Wade on the US Supreme Court. Just one more anti-abortion justice could mean the overturning of Roe. The Feminist Majority Million4Roe Campaign and Feminist Majority Foundation Never Go Back campaign are aimed at educating on the importance of the filibuster strategy in stopping the appointment of any Supreme Court nominee who does not support Roe. Bush is already busy packing the lower courts with anti-choice, anti-women nominees, which Million4Roe is also working to counteract. It is expected that Bush will now have the chance to change to makeup of the Supreme Court with 1 or even 2 retirements possible at the end of this month. Now is the time to get involved in the fight to keep abortion legal! SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT The Feminist Majority, National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced today that there will be a massive March for Freedom of Choice in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2004! We want you all to be there, so please feel free to ask questions about the March.

Moderator: Welcome.
Jessica Terlikowski: Hi! Im Jessica Terlikowski, FMF Never Go Back
Campaign Coordinator (www.NeverGoBack.org). Never Go Back is a public education campaign aimed at raising awareness in local communities around the country about the threat to legal abortion on the Supreme Court and the need for a filibuster strategy. NGB made tour stops in a variety of cities across the nation this past spring to get pro-choice activists involved in the fight to keep abortion legal. NGB activists work to raise public awareness in their local community and encourage their Senators to filibuster any anti-choice Supreme Court nominees.
posted:6/10/2003 1:54:00 PM CST

Moderator: Welcome. Here to answer your questions today from the Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation are Diane Greenhalgh, FM Million4Roe Coordinator, Jessica Terlikowski, FMF Never Go Back Coordinator, Katherine Minarik, FMF Campus Program Director, and Rosalyn Lemieux, FM Web Director (and/or Alice Cohan, FM Director of National Programs). They will be talking about the threat to legal abortion due to the narrow 5-4 split in favor of Roe v. Wade on the Supreme Court and the need to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee who does not affirmatively support keeping abortion legal.
Diane Greenhalgh: Hey! I’m Diane Greenhalgh, the coordinator for the Feminist Majority’s Million4Roe Campaign (www.Million4Roe.com). Million4Roe activists through various actions pressure pro-choice Senate leaders to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee who does not affirmatively say they support Roe v. Wade. We are also working on blocking Bush’s efforts to pack the lower courts with far right nominees by urging Senators to oppose certain anti-choice, anti-women US Circuit Courts of Appeals nominees. M4R activists collect petition signatures, raise awareness, and send letters to Senators about specific nominees.
posted:6/10/2003 1:59:00 PM CST

Moderator: Welcome.
Katherine Minarik: Hi! I’m Katherine Minarik, Director of FMF Campus Programs (www.FeministCampus.org). Our campus groups have been busy working on the Never Go Back Campaign. Our student activists raise awareness among students, faculty and the local community about the threat to legal abortion.
posted:6/10/2003 2:00:00 PM CST

Aimee: I live in Virginia -- my Senators are Allen and Warner -- and I know they wont filibuster an anti-abortion nominee. What can I do in my community to keep Roe from being overturned?
Jessica Terlikowski: Hi Aimee. Thanks for your question. Your senators need to hear from you no matter what their past voting record on reproductive rights is. Write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails informing them that their pro-choice constiuents will not accept a return to back alley abortions. You can educate and activate your community to contact your senators too. Organize a viewing a FMFs video Never Go Back: The Threat to Legal Abortion and follow it up with a letter writing campaign to your senators. Visit www.NeverGoBack.org to request a copy of the video.
posted:6/10/2003 2:01:00 PM CST

Trish: While I appreciate the time needed to organize an event well, WHY are we waiting until 2004? By that time Supreme Court retirements and replacements could be a done deal.
Diane Greenhalgh: The March is being held in 2004 because we want to have enough time to organize a MASSIVE event that will demonstrate the power of the pro-choice majority in this country. 2004 is an important year to get the message across to Washington that pro-choice America will not stand idly by while our reproductive rights are attacked. In the meantime, you are right - we cannot wait for the March in order to act to protect the courts and stop anti-choice legislation. Million4Roe, NeverGoBack, and many other pro-choice and progressive orgs/campaigns are working vigilantly to make sure that no Supreme Court justice is appointed who will not uphold Roe v. Wade (and the right to legal abortion).
posted:6/10/2003 2:05:00 PM CST

Marge: Hi Jessica,
What is the difference between the Feminist Majority Foundations Never Go Back program and Millions for Roe program?
Thanks,
Marge
Jessica Terlikowski: Both the Million4Roe and Never Go Back campaigns are working on the threat to Roe v. Wade on the Supreme Court due to the razor-thin 5-4 split on abortion. Both campaigns are working in support of a filibuster strategy asking pro-choice Senate leaders to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee who does not affirmatively say they support Roe. The difference between the campaigns is their focus. Never Go Back is working on raising awareness and education of the problem. Million4Roe is working to block specific federal court nominees who are anti-choice, and anti-women.
posted:6/10/2003 2:05:00 PM CST

Lee: Do you think it is possible that there are strongholds of Republican women who would also back our efforts to keep abortion safe and legal? They could potentially be powerful in persuading the power brokers. Is any effort being made to reach out to them, subtly and under the radar? Also, is there any way of showing that our numbers, as voters, make retrenchment from Roe politically unwise?Thanks.
Diane Greenhalgh: The pro-choice community is a majority in this country. We span both political parties. We are working with both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, who support the right to abortion. Although a majority of Americans support Roe, the majority in the Senate do not. This is why we are advocating a filibuster strategy. Instead of a simple majority, to end debate anti-choice forces would need 60 votes to vote on confirmation of a nominee. Pro-choice Senators, who are a minority in the Senate, must stand firm to protect the right to abortion, which the majority in America supports. It is up to you to make sure supporting the overturning of Roe, or a Supreme Court nominee who is anti-choice, will be politically unwise. In other words, that they will be voted out of office.
posted:6/10/2003 2:12:00 PM CST

Katherine: How do you expect the march to catch on with colleges being that it is around some finals weeks?
Katherine Minarik: Its certainly difficult to schedule a major public event around the individual schedules of the thousands of college campuses across the country. When selecting the date, the FMF Campus Team did significant research into the spring break and final exam schedules of hundreds of schools. We also talked to professors and students in dozens of communities. We ultimately recommended a date that had a minimum number of campus conflicts so that hundreds of thousands of students can participate in this event to save womens lives!
posted:6/10/2003 2:12:00 PM CST

lucy: What is the main goal of the upcoming March in 2004?
Diane Greenhalgh: The goal of the March is to demonstrate overwhelming majority support for a womans right to choose safe, legal abortion and birth control. If you would like some more detailed info on the march, please visit www.marchforchoice.org. While youre there, you can sign up for the March and tell your friends.
posted:6/10/2003 2:17:00 PM CST

Nikki: I attend a small, relatively conservative college in the northeast. How can I motivate students on my campus when I return in the Fall?
Katherine Minarik: The first step of organizing for any event - large or small - is education... and that can begin in a number of ways. First, talk to the students, groups, and/or communities on your campus that you know are supporters - the Womens studies Department or Womens Center, womens organizations, civil rights groups, human rights groups, environmental groups, and others. Talk to them about how and why reproductive rights connects to their issues and their lives. Once youve built a small network, you can tackle the larger student body. You may not reach the majority on your campus, but your minority is part of the 70% of young Americans who agree that a womans right to choose should remain safe and legal. It all begins with education. One student at a time, let them know that all of our lives are at stake. Reproductive freedom is about privacy, respect, and trust that women can and will make the right decisions for their own lives.
posted:6/10/2003 2:17:00 PM CST

Julie: I just received an email about the upcoming march for reproductive freedom this Spring! How does the march relate to your campaigns? What can I do to help organize?
Jessica Terlikowski: Its great to hear youre excited about the March! The March relates to our other campaigns mainly in that it is a visible presence demonstrating support for freedom of choice - which is an issue that many of our other campaigns address. The March is being organized by a coalition of 4 organizations: the Feminist Majority, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and National Organization for Women. You can help organize the march by going to the March website - www.MarchForChoice.org - and clicking on Sign Up, then checking volunteer on the sign up form. March volunteer organizers will be in touch with you over the summer with more detail on how you can get involved.
posted:6/10/2003 2:21:00 PM CST

Jane: What can I do to get involved to keep abortion legal?
Diane Greenhalgh: The threat to legal abortion is very real. With a Supreme Court retirement expected at the end of the month now is the time to get invovled in your local community, on your campus, and online. Visit Million4Roe.com. Sign the petition, donate to the campaign, and send the latest messages to your Senators about anti-choice, anti-women judicial nominees. Then spread the word! Tell your friends, family and co-workers about the threat to legal abortion and encourage them to get involved, take action, and also spread the word.
posted:6/10/2003 2:25:00 PM CST

Katherine: Are there a lot of sponsors? And is there a place online that has a full list of them so that we are aware of who exactly supports this mission?
Diane Greenhalgh: If you are talking about the March...
There are 4 organizers of the March (please see previous post). There will also be hundreds of March cosponsors by the time the March happens next spring. The March was just publicly announced today (and the website was also launched today) so there are only a handful of cosponsors at this time. Please visit www.MarchForChoice.org during the coming months to see a list of cosponsors as more organizations sign on to this incredible event!
posted:6/10/2003 2:27:00 PM CST

Rob: How can DC residents participate in the confirmation process without having a representative in the United States Senate?
Katherine Minarik: Supporting and participating in the march next spring - and all the activism leading up to the march - is an important way for all Americans to remind policymakers with a united voice that reproductive rights for American women are non-negotiable. More immediately (beyond supporting the good work of DC residents currently fighting for fair representation in the US Senate), with several Senators running for President and claiming to be the best person to represent ALL Americans, DC residents can be regularly making their voices heard to these candidates... and be vocal if their voices are ignored or overlooked.
posted:6/10/2003 2:28:00 PM CST

Joe: What kind of nominee do you expect Bush to appoint if a Supreme Court justice retires?
Diane Greenhalgh: We know what kind of nominee Bush will appoint by the things he has said and his record so far on appointing judges to the lower courts. Bush has said that he will appoint nominees along the lines of Justices Anton Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the most ardent anti-choice justices on the court. He has blatantly stated in the past that he will do everything in my power to restrict abortion. Bush is already busy packing the lower federal courts with far right nominees who are anti-choice and anti-civil rights. So far, only two nominees have successfully been blocked. There has been a little over 100 nominees already confirmed for lifetime appointments on the federal bench.
posted:6/10/2003 2:31:00 PM CST

sam: How will the coalition reach out to minorities so they are represented at the march?
Katherine Minarik: The coalition of organizations supporting the march already includes several organizations dedicated to the issues and rights of many different communities. Leaders such as Dolores Huerta, Rev. Timothy McDonald, Donna Brazile, and organizations including unions, civil rights groups, and minority rights groups are already an integral part of the growing coalition supporting, planning and participating in the march. Specific to FMF campus outreach, our campus team is always made up of a diverse group of young women from a wide range of backgrounds. Each of these women is committed to ensuring that the abortion rights march includes and represents all Americans, because restrictions on reproductive rights hurt all of us.
posted:6/10/2003 2:34:00 PM CST

Bethany: Can the Republicans really eliminate the filibuster as a way to stop far right judicial nominees? If they do that, what will happen with the Supreme Court? Will Bush be able to appoint an anti-abortion justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade?
Diane Greenhalgh: Republicans have introduced a change to Senate rules which essentially eliminates the power to filibuster presidential appointees. (see www.feminist.org news today for more info) It is unclear whether or not they have the votes to pass such a rule, but there are other procedural methods they could use and have threatened to do so. Democrats have said that they will bring
Senate action to a halt if they take such an action. The end of a filibuster for appointees very likely would mean the confirmation by this Republican-controlled Senate of an anti-choice Supreme Court nominee who could be the key vote in overturning Roe.
posted:6/10/2003 2:37:00 PM CST

Susie: Does it really matter if Justice Rehnquist resigns--after all, he doesnt support us anyway, right?
Jessica Terlikowski: It is true that Rehnquist does not support Roe, but if he resigns, President Bush will have the opportunity to nominate a justice almost 30 years his junior to this lifetime position. The new justice will have the chance to determine the reproductive lives for an entire generation to come.
posted:6/10/2003 2:44:00 PM CST

Ryan: Do you really think the Supreme Court would overturn Roe considering the majority of Americans support legal abortion?
Diane Greenhalgh: The Supreme Court has shown in recent years their willingness to make decisions on important and controversial cases with only a 5-4 margin. They decided the 2000 election case, Bush v. Gore, by 5-4, they decided to allow the Boy Scouts to discriminate against homosexuals by 5-4, and on abortion they decided in Stenberg v. Carhart to overturn a law banning abortion procedures by only a 5-4 decision. Only one more anti-choice justice and we could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Current Justices have said Roe was decided wrongly, and more importantly current judicial nominees have argued for the overturning of Roe. They will vote to overturn Roe and make no mistake about it, they are working hard to make sure they are in a position to do so.
posted:6/10/2003 2:46:00 PM CST

Simon: Why are all the pro-choice organizations pushing for the Democrats to filibuster circuit court nominees? Isnt it better to focus on the real fight - the Supreme Court?
Katherine Minarik: The Supreme Court only hears a small number of cases every year. Many cases do not go beyond the federal district or appelate levels, and the decisions made by the justices of those courts can have just as significant an impact on reproductive rights, womens rights, civil rights, and other issues as Supreme Court decisions. Not all bad decisions by lower courts are overturned, some are left alone. In addition, these appointments are lifetime appointments. These nominees could sit on these courts for up to 40 years. In order to protect our rights now and for generations to come, we must oppose extreme right wing nominees.
posted:6/10/2003 2:48:00 PM CST

Moderator: Thanks for participating.
Diane Greenhalgh: Thank you for joining us today. Please get involved in the fight to keep abortion legal and encourage your friends, family and co-workers to join you. Visit the Million4Roe website today at http://www.Million4Roe.com! To sign up or get more information about the “Save Women’s Lives: March for Reproductive Choice” in April 2004 visit http://www.MarchForChoice.org. We hope you will join us again for the Feminist Majority’s continuing June chat series, “Supreme Court in Peril.”
posted:6/10/2003 2:54:00 PM CST

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