Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 25, 2020
Enewsletters

 

Dear Friend,  

This week, I mourned the loss to our country of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights and fairness on the Supreme Court whose views will be studied and celebrated for generations. I also presided at a hearing on the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, calling attention to its failures to protect voting rights and its efforts to undermine them. I also commended John P. Freeman Optional School second grade teacher Melissa Collins, who was inducted last week into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. I also wrote the House Leaders about including priorities in the next coronavirus relief bill; announced two huge Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants to Memphis International Airport; wrote to the IRS Commissioner asking for the deadline for economic impact payments for non-filers of federal tax returns to be extended; clarified the rules for participating in the upcoming national election; reminded constituents of the looming deadline for filling out 2020 Census forms; questioned experts at a hearing on threats to the independence of our federal courts; announced significant grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; co-sponsored the Protecting Our Democracy Act to protect our elections; offered 2021 Congressional calendars; and offered a coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.  

Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 
Presiding at a Judiciary Hearing on the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice 
Commending John P. Freeman Optional School Teacher Melissa Collins for Another National Recognition 
Writing to Leadership about Priorities for Next Coronavirus Relief Bill
Announcing FAA Grants Totaling More Than $31 Million to Memphis International Airport 
Writing IRS Commissioner about Economic Impact Payments for Non-Filers 
Clarifying Rules for Voting in Upcoming National Election 
Reminding Constituents of September 30 Deadline to Fill Out 2020 Census 
Questioning Witnesses About Threats to the Independence of Our Courts 
Announcing Significant Grants to St. Jude 
Co-Sponsoring the Protecting Our Democracy Act 
Offering 2021 Congressional Calendars 
Weekly Health Tip 
Quote of the Week 


Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday night. Justice Ginsburg was a champion of women’s rights and stood up for the rights of all as a pioneering civil rights lawyer, judge and justice. As Speaker Pelosi said this morning at a memorial service in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: petite in size, monumental in impact. Justice Ginsburg embodied justice, brilliance and goodness. Her passing is an incalculable loss for our democracy and for all who strive to build a better future for our children.” I am mindful that her passing throws this already tumultuous year into a potentially dangerous Constitutional crisis. It is my hope that the Senate will follow Justice Ginsburg’s wishes and postpone any decision on her successor until after we know who our next president will be. In the meanwhile, let’s make the memory of this champion of the High Court a blessing. 

Presiding at a Judiciary Hearing on the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice 

On Thursday, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I presided over a hearing on Oversight of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. The Division, which was established in 1957 to protect the voting rights of minorities, has not brought a single case enforcing the rights of Black or Hispanic voters under the Trump Administration. On top of this appalling abdication of its responsibilities, the Department of Justice refused to send the head of the Division to testify before our subcommittee, continuing the Trump Administration’s pattern of obstruction. It is clear that the righteous mission of the division has been diminished by the Trump Justice Department under both its Attorneys General.  In this Administration, the Division has failed to defend, and in some instances actively undermined, our precious voting rights. See my release on the hearing here

Commending John P. Freeman Optional School Teacher Melissa Collins for Another National Recognition 

John P. Freeman Optional School second grade teacher Melissa Collins is nothing short of phenomenal. Last week, she added membership in the National Teacher Hall of Fame to her long list of awards and accolades. Ten years ago, President Obama asked her to tutor his daughters as he presented her the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching at the White House. See the statement I entered into The Congressional Record about this astonishing educator here, and join me in congratulating Dr. Collins and the whole Freeman School community. 

Writing to Leadership about Priorities for Next Coronavirus Relief Bill  

Earlier today, I wrote to House Democratic leaders, asking them to include three bills I have cosponsored -- supporting the restaurant, hospitality and entertainment industries -- in the next coronavirus relief package. I believe it is important Congress acts to preserve the future of these important and beloved industries. See my release and the letter here.  

Announcing FAA Grants Totaling More Than $31 Million to Memphis International Airport 

This week, Memphis International Airport received grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue work on its de-icing pads that will improve the safety and convenience of air travel through Memphis, particularly in the winter months. See my release here

Writing IRS Commissioner about Economic Impact Payments for Non-Filers 

Nine million eligible Americans are set to never receive their $1,200 economic impact payment because the IRS has failed in its outreach efforts to these individuals. While many Americans who file taxes received their payment automatically, non-filers – most of whom are very low-income – must submit information to the IRS by October 15th. The IRS’s efforts to alert non-filers of this deadline are inadequate and inexcusable. The IRS must make every possible effort to ensure that each eligible American receives the payment. I led a letter with my Congressional colleagues urging the IRS to extend its deadline and broaden its outreach to these individuals. Please see my release and the letter here

Clarifying Rules for Voting in Upcoming National Election 

Voter registration: Voters must be registered by October 5. New voters have three options to register to vote in Tennessee. You can apply online here; print and hand-deliver your completed application to the Shelby County Election Commission office (located at 980 Nixon Drive, Memphis, TN 38134); or register in person at any of the following agencies: County Clerk’s Office, County Election Commission Office, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Safety (DMV), Department of Veterans Affairs, a public library or the Register of Deeds Office.   
 
Voting in person: Early Voting begins on Wednesday, October 14 and ends Thursday, October 29.  See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on upcoming elections for election dates, offices to be elected, Early Voting schedules (locations, dates, hours), Election Day polling locations, sample ballots and an absentee application.   
 
Voting by mail: Currently, Tennessee is not allowing all residents to request absentee ballots due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, those with underlying conditions, as well as their caretakers, may request absentee ballots. See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on voting absentee for a full list of circumstances that qualify you to vote absentee by mail.   

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27. Due to mail delivery delays at the Postal Service, it is strongly recommended that you request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Request your ballot here. Once you’ve received it and cast your votes, immediately send it back to the Election Commission.  

Mail-in ballots must be received at your county election commission by Election Day to count. Mail-in ballots CANNOT be hand delivered to election offices. The only acceptable way to submit an absentee mail-in ballot in Tennessee is by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, et cetera). If you do not receive your ballot in the mail, please contact the Shelby County Board of Elections Absentee Department at (901) 222-6800 or absenteevoting@shelbycountytn.gov.   
 
If you request an absentee ballot but do not receive or return your ballot in time, you may still be able to cast a provisional ballot, either during early voting or on election day. However, provisional ballots require additional verification. To make sure your ballot is counted, it is best to apply for your absentee ballot as early as possible and return it by mail as early as possible.    
 
Reminding Constituents of September 30 Deadline to Fill Out 2020 Census

Unless the courts intervene, there are now just five days before the current deadline to fill out the every-ten-year head count mandated by the Constitution, which provides an accurate measure of the population for federal benefits and political representation. I urge you to find and fill out the U.S. Census form as soon as possible. Your community is counting on you. If you need help filling out your Census questionnaire, call the help line at (844) 330-2020.  

Questioning Witnesses About Threats to the Independence of Our Courts 

On Tuesday, I questioned expert witnesses at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet hearing on “Maintaining Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Examining the Causes and Consequences of Court Capture.” See my release on the hearing here

Announcing Significant Grants to St. Jude 

On Monday and Wednesday, I announced significant National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. See those releases here and here

Co-Sponsoring the Protecting Our Democracy Act  

On Wednesday, I joined several of my Congressional colleagues in co-sponsoring the Protecting Our Democracy Act, a landmark reforms package that will prevent future presidential abuses, restore our system of checks and balances, strengthen accountability and transparency, and protect our elections.  

Offering 2021 Congressional Calendars 

My office will have a limited number of 2021 U.S. Capitol Historical Society calendars available. If you would like to receive a calendar, please complete this form on my website. Due to the rules of the House, I am only able to mail calendars to residents of Tennessee’s Ninth District. Please feel free to share this email with other residents of the Ninth District who may be interested in receiving one but who do not receive my e-Newsletter.  

Weekly Health Tip 

Again this week, I want to call attention to the high number of coronavirus cases, in Tennessee and across the country, that are likely the result of reopening prematurely without implementing basic precautionary measures such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands with soap frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. When you’re indoors, six feet might not be far enough, according to recent studies; 14 feet might be better. It is best to wear a mask, particularly when indoors in close quarters. We must work together to get through this.      

Quote of the Week

“I…try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.” -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

As always, I remain.
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress