March 1, 2019

While we celebrate the passage of historic gun safety legislation and intently watched the Michael Cohen hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Neomi Rao to the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the seat formerly held by Brett Kavanaugh.

The D.C. Circuit is the second most important court in the nation after the Supreme Court. It has the sole responsibility for deciding cases having to do with the balance of powers of the branches of government and regulatory issues. More U.S. Supreme Court justices have come from the D.C. Circuit than any other court in the country.

Rao currently serves as an administrator at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. She oversees the work of an office that is actively rolling back health and safety regulations, Title IX and climate protections. Trump is nominating her to do the same from the bench.

Her statement on her views on sexual assault is extremely troubling. Rao has blamed sexual assault on survivors. "At the same time, a good way to avoid potential rape is to stay sober," wrote Rao. She has also criticized the Violence Against Women Act, calling it a "grandstanding" statute.

Trump again shows his blindness to the seriousness of sexual assault by appointing someone like Roa, who shares the same insensitivity to this grave problem as Kavanaugh.

Currently there are 121 vacancies on the lower courts with 40 pending nominations. Trump has already appointed more than six dozen new judges who will serve for life. These are vacancies that were actively blocked by the GOP under Obama's administration.

Our federal judges protect the Constitution and help ensure that all Americans are protected equally under the law. These judges rule on women's reproductive rights, health care, environmental protections, national security, religious freedom and many other issues that touch our daily lives. Their decisions have grave consequences for generations to come.

Lower courts hear 50,000 cases a year compared to the Supreme Court which hears around 80 cases yearly.  Lower courts matter.

CALL YOUR SENATORS (202-224-3121). Urge them to vote no on Rao and other nominees who are extreme and unqualified.


Do you know a high school or college student who would like to intern at JAC during the school year or next summer? Call the JAC office at 847.433.5999 about opportunities.

Will Israelis Say Bye-Bye to Bibi?
Israel's attorney general made public Thursday his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a handful of corruption charges, imperiling the Israeli leader's political future at a time when he faces his most formidable election campaign challenge in more than a decade. Avichai Mandelblit, a Netanyahu appointee who previously served as his cabinet secretary, released a 60-page charge sheet with allegations of bribe-taking, fraud, and breach of public trust in three separate cases revolving around the prime minister's dealings with Israeli tycoons.
Continued Reading

Israel's Election Shows How Dead the Two-State Solution Really Is

Deborah Lipstadt Resigns from Synagogue over Defense of Israeli Extremists
Deborah Lipstadt, the prominent Holocaust historian, is resigning her membership in her local synagogue because it belongs to a movement that defended an Israeli political deal with the extremist right wing. Lipstadt belonged to Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta, an Orthodox congregation. The broader Young Israel movement, in a statement Monday to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, defended an agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Power, a far-right political party. Jewish Power is led by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israel.   
Continued Reading

What a Republican Fight over Brett Kavanaugh's Replacement Says About the Abortion Debate

When President Trump nominated Neomi Rao, a White House official, to fill the DC Circuit Court seat left vacant when Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the Supreme Court, progressive groups protested. Anti-sexual assault advocates, in particular, took issue with an op-ed Rao wrote as a Yale undergraduate, in which she argued that in cases of assault, if a woman "drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice." But then opposition to Rao came from a surprising source: conservatives.
Continued Reading

Supreme Court Suggests Memorial Cross Does Not Violate Separation of Church and State
A majority of the Supreme Court suggested Wednesday that a 40-foot cross on public land in Maryland that was built to honor fallen soldiers in World War I does not violate the separation of church and state, but the justices struggled to settle on a rationale that lower courts could apply to other religious symbols on public lands.
Continued Reading

A Guide to the House's First Major Gun Control Vote in Years

The House this week passed the first major gun control legislation in over two decades, with Democratic lawmakers approving two measures strengthening background checks for all firearms sales. The last time the House put high-profile legislation expanding gun control laws to a vote was in 1994, when it passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and made it illegal to manufacture a number of semiautomatic weapons for civilian use. That legislation expired after a decade and was not renewed by a Republican-controlled Congress. 
Continued Reading

The Real Significance of Michael Cohen's Testimony       
It helps to put it in plain terms: Donald Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen offered crucial evidence on Wednesday that the president was kept in the loop on conversations with WikiLeaks about releasing emails related to Hillary Clinton. He also told lawmakers that, as president, Trump reimbursed him for hush-money payments made to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, producing a copy of a check.
What a Bergen-Belsen Prenup Teaches Us About Jewish Resilience
It is jarring to see a Star of David placed between the Hebrew transliteration of the words Bergen-Belsen , the notorious Nazi concentration camp where 37,000 Jews, including Anne Frank,  were murdered - and on a marriage contract, no less. But there it was, a  small bureaucratic form, typed in Rabbinic Hebrew, meant to address the heartbreaking implications of marrying in the aftermath of genocide.  
Introducing JACII, a JAC group for young professionals, advocates, and those young at heart who are looking to get involved. Groups have started in Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Events will feature elected officials and speakers in lively settings. JACII is by and for young people. Now is the perfect time to get involved.

Know someone who would be interested in joining or hosting a meeting? Let us know at [email protected]. We will be happy to help organize a JACII in your city.
The Last Word
"But this is a part of your destiny. And hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better . . . a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart."
- Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform  
Join JAC in Washington, D.C. for our  
Annual Conference
March 13-14
June 3, 2019
JAC's 2019 Power of Women Luncheon
Lincolnwood, IL
(Want to host a JAC event? Contact the office and we will help organize it. 847.433.5999 or [email protected]) 
Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a pro-Israel PAC with a domestic agenda. We support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and advocate for reproductive health and the separation of religion and state and incorporate other issues of importance to the Jewish community, including gun violence prevention and climate change. In addition to providing financial support for U.S. Senate and House campaigns, JACPAC educates our membership with outreach events designed to inform and activate their participation in the political process.
Federal law requires political committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and employer for each individual who contributes over $200 in a calendar year. Maximum contribution per person may not exceed $5,000 per calendar year. According to law, JACPAC cannot accept corporate contributions. Membership, gifts, or other payments to JACPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.