Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Expressing Concern about Justice Kennedy’s Announced Retirement

June 29, 2018
Enewsletters

Dear Friend, 

This week, I felt an increased concern for our country when I learned President Trump would be able to name another Supreme Court Justice. I also expressed disappointment at two major high court rulings, questioned the Republican majority’s rationale for seeking documents in an ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to a Russian effort to interfere in our elections, was thwarted, again, in my effort to prohibit federal spending at Trump-owned businesses, listened to Bill Gates’ philosophy on philanthropy, met with a White Station High School student concerned with Medicaid spending, introduced a bill to honor World War II Army Rangers, and offered condolences on the death of Melvin Burgess Sr. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen.


Expressing Concern about Justice Kennedy’s Announced Retirement
Fearing Repercussions for Women’s Health Following Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling
Expressing Disappointment at Supreme Court’ Muslim Ban Ruling
Questioning the Rationale of Majority Attempt to Gain Records of an Ongoing Criminal Investigation
Attempting to Prevent Federal Defense Spending at Trump-owned Businesses
Listening to Bill Gates Talk About Philanthropy 
Standing with the Nation’s Press after Annapolis Newspaper Killings 
Standing up for the NATO Alliance and Former Soviet Satellite States
Meeting with White Station High School Rising Senior Leeya Alperin 
Introducing Bi-Partisan Bill to Honor World War II Ranger Infantrymen 
Expressing My Condolences on the Passing of Melvin Burgess Sr.
Signing Up for “Congress On Your Corner” and this e-Newsletter
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week

 


Expressing Concern about Justice Kennedy’s Announced Retirement

 


I had a sense of trepidation this week at the unwelcome news that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire in July and give President Trump another vote on the Supreme Court to advance his harmful agenda. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, knows the politics of the situation and I believe he should have waited to make his decision until after this year’s mid-term elections. Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan, the nominee to succeed Kennedy should not be considered before we know the composition of the new Senate in November. Kennedy is responsible for some forward-thinking rulings, but I fear his final act as a justice will harm his legacy. Recent press accounts of the relationship between Trump and Kennedy’s son, a banker whose company became Trump’s biggest lender, and efforts made to assure Kennedy’s resignation came before the mid-terms, are troubling.


Fearing Repercussions for Women’s Health Following Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that required that anti-abortion family clinics inform clients of all their reproductive options. The ruling allows anti-abortion activists to deceive women with inaccurate information. Activists have no business interfering with women’s Constitutionally protected right to make their own reproductive choices, but the court has now opened that door. Justice Kennedy, who has been a crucial fifth vote in favor of protecting women’s reproductive rights in the past, voted with the 5-4 majority, as did Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment after President Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia was never given proper Senate consideration in 2016.


Expressing Disappointment at Supreme Court’ Muslim Ban Ruling

Also Tuesday, the high court let stand Trump’s Muslim travel ban despite the President’s offensive and bigoted rationale for making it both as a candidate and once in office. Whether this President is tearing children from their parents at the Mexican border or banning Muslims from traveling to our country out of racist ignorance, he is making the United States a pariah among nations. The ruling will enable Trump to ban people based on the sectarian character of their nation of origin, showing an open distain for America’s historic role in welcoming religious minorities of all kinds and all the “teeming masses yearning to breathe free.”


Questioning the Rationale of the Majority’s Efforts to Gain Records of an Ongoing Criminal Investigation



The House majority is attempting to review records of the ongoing criminal investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This week, they brought a resolution to the House floor demanding the Department of Justice provide the documents by Friday, July 6. Federal prosecutors don’t turn over documents in ongoing investigations for obvious reasons, among them that the subjects of their investigation will know their evidence before they are prepared to bring criminal charges. I spoke against the resolution on the House floor. See those remarks here. At the same time the House was debating the resolution, the Judiciary Committee on which I serve was questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray about the document request. The sham hearing was a transparent attempt to create a record to accuse Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation, of contempt of Congress, or to impeach him, and give Trump the grounds for firing him. I likened this to Federico Fellini’s Theatre of the Absurd in my floor speech. It is also a direct assault on our democracy and the Mueller probe. See my questioning of Wray and Rosenstein here.


Attempting to Prevent Federal Defense Spending at Trump-owned Businesses 

The House majority blocked my latest amendments to a spending bill prohibiting spending at businesses owned by President Trump. It refused to allow the amendment a floor vote. This was the fourth time the majority has prevented me from offering this kind of an amendment to a spending bill during Trump’s tenure. I’ve vowed to keep attempting to amend spending bills with this language because I contend the President is violating the Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions by taking money from foreign governments without Congress’ consent and by accepting funding from the federal government beyond his legal salary.


Listening to Bill Gates Talk About Philanthropy

 

On Wednesday night, I participated in a discussion at The Library of Congress about saving lives and philanthropy with Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates said he finds all life worthwhile and wants to stamp out disease in Third World countries and reach as many people as he can. It was an inspiring evening.


Standing with the Nation’s Press after Annapolis Newspaper Killings

 


I want to express my profound respect for The Fourth Estate and journalists who work hard every day to find the truth and report it. I was deeply saddened to hear of the killing of five Capital Gazette newspaper journalists in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday and I join many others in calling on those who use offensive rhetoric to intimidate, threaten and incite attacks on reporters to arouse their partisan followers to pause and reflect on the harm they are doing to democracy, freedom of the press and the fate of the country, and to knock it off. One of the editors killed Thursday, Rob Hiassen, was a former colleague of a member of my communications team.


Standing up for the NATO Alliance and Former Soviet Satellite States

This week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed my resolution affirming support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance and the countries of Eastern Europe. The bipartisan resolution recognizes the United States’ strong commitment to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic development of the countries that have emerged from the former Soviet Union, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Georgia, the Ukraine, and Moldova. During the past three decades, many of these countries have undertaken considerable political and economic reforms necessary to achieve aspirations for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The resolution also recognizes that NATO remains the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe. The incorporation of Eastern European countries into NATO has contributed towards a vision of a stable and united Europe. Additionally, NATO allies and partners in both Central and Eastern Europe have stood alongside the United States in joint peace operations in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. As a member of the Helsinki Commission, it is gratifying to see the Foreign Affairs Committee take this strong and principled stand.


Meeting with White Station High School Rising Senior Leeya Alperin

  


On Wednesday, I met with Leeya Alperin, a rising senior at White Station High School. We talked about the need to maintain the Medicaid program to ensure the access to health care for all children who need it. 


Introducing Bi-Partisan Bill to Honor World War II Ranger Infantrymen

On Thursday, I introduced a bipartisan bill with Representative Diane Black to award the U.S. Army Rangers of World War II the Congressional Gold Medal (H.R. 6263). I’m proud to pay tribute to the service of the battalions of Ranger light infantry commandos, many trained in Tennessee, that helped liberate North Africa, Europe and the Philippines in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. As the World War II generation grows smaller each day, it is right to acknowledge its sacrifices and give those remaining the thanks of a grateful nation.


Expressing My Condolences on the Passing of Melvin Burgess Sr.

 


I was saddened to hear on Thursday of the passing of my friend, the former Memphis Police Director Melvin Burgess Sr. Mr. Burgess was a man of character with whom I worked closely when I was the Police Department’s legal advisor. He always did the right thing. His was a life well lived.


Signing Up for “Congress On Your Corner” and this e-Newsletter

 

I enjoy meeting regularly with constituents in the district and helping get answers for them to questions about dealing with federal agencies. If you are interested in attending one of my “Congress on Your Corner” events, you can sign up here to receive notification as soon as the next event is scheduled.

For those who haven’t participated in a telephone town hall, it’s easy to sign up for them by using this form.  

If you would like to receive this weekly e-Newsletter, or share it with others, you can do that with this form.


Weekly Health Tip

Each week, I share a health tip in the hope of promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the 9th Congressional District. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle.

It’s now officially summer and the bright sunshine sometimes prompts me to wear a hat while outdoors. Sunburn can be a serious health concern and lead to skin cancer so I’d like to offer some tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for avoiding or dealing with the effects ultraviolet (UV) rays.


Quotes of the Week

 

“Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, Hirabayashi v. United States (1943).

“If one man can be allowed to determine for himself what is law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny. Legal process is an essential part of the democratic process.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, United States v. United Mine Workers (1946).
 

As always, I remain,

Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress