An Uproarious Week, with More to Come

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June 26, 2013

It’s been an uproarious week for progressive Jews – with game-changing Supreme Court decisions (voting rights, marriage equality), a Texas-style filibuster to protect women’s reproductive rights (take that, SB5), and even a presidential climate change announcement. And it’s only Wednesday – with immigration reform on this week’s congressional calendar, too.

Back in March, Roberta Kaplan – the lawyer who argued Edith Windsor’s challenge to DOMA – told a NY Jewish Women’s Foundation gathering (Zeek was proud to attend) about her bat mitzvah portion (justice, justice ye shall pursue). She said she never imagined her passion for justice would take her before the Supreme Court. But we’re sure glad it did. And we were fairly touched today by this dispatch from The New Yorker:

Everyone at the apartment of Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued Edith Windsor’s successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, exploded in screams and sobs when the ruling came down. Kaplan called her mother and said, “Total victory, Mom: it couldn’t be better.”

At Zeek, we’re looking forward to pushing forward the Jewish conversation around the next pushes for justice, and helping forge common ground, wherever it comes from: innovation or tradition, synagogue, secular or spiritual, pop culture or Torah. In the meantime, a shortlist of highlights.

Bend the Arc

According to HIAS, the Senate could vote as early as tomorrow on the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. They’re asking folks to weigh in. It’s “not perfect,” they say, but it

offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, modernizes the immigration system, strengthens our economy, protects families, treats American and immigrant workers fairly, and begins to address the broken refugee and asylum systems.

Unsurprisingly, given the outspoken Jewish support for civil rights back when the Voting Rights Act became law, Jewish groups are blasting the “top court over decision.” As Nathan Gutman writes in the Forward:

The minority opinion was signed by all three Jewish justices on the bench: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. Writing for her fellow liberals on the bench, Bader Ginsburg argued that Congress’ renewal of the Voting Rights Act was an “altogether rational means” for achieving “the equal citizenship stature of all in our polity, a voice to every voter in our democracy undiluted by race.”

Looking for choice quotes for your celebration tonight? Mother Jones has a great list of [top lines from Ginsburg’s dissent] (

And there will be more choice words to come, judging by the voter suppression we’re already seeing as a direct output of the Supremes ruling. Here’s how Aviva Sheen describes it in ThinkProgress:

Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities.

And speaking of Texas, state Senator Wendy Davis had a huge amount of support from the Jewish community last night during her sneaker-wearing, filibustering marathon, including from Gloria Garcia Litt, who shared her experiences over at Jewesses with Attitude, the blog of the Jewish Women’s Archive:

I am a Jewish-Texan who is supportive of women’s reproductive freedom. That’s quite a description and it’s not easy to be all three in this state. In a state where both the Senate and the House of Representatives are led by the conservative majority, being a Jewish-Texan supporter of women’s reproductive rights is like being an endangered species living on a blue island in an ocean of red. …

Tonight we showed the senators of Texas that we are here and our children are watching. I pray that when our time has passed, our children will take up the path of righteousness, pursuing justice not just for the women of this state, but for all people.

Let’s celebrate, then get ready for tomorrow.

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