Tag Archives: Politics

Kipnis preaches moderation

By Ryan Morillo

Miami, FL

Daryl Kipnis, the Republican candidate for New Jersey’s 12th district congressional seat, has a surprising level of moderation for a Republican running in the age of Trump. At a recent press conference with student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal, Kipnis called for reason and compromise on issues like immigration, abortion, and NFL players’ activism against racial injustice in America.

In a discussion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal program started during the Obama administration to delay deportation of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Kipnis said it made no sense to remove immigrants who have been raised and educated in the United States. He said that DACA opponents are simply “pushing politics over people.” As an immigration lawyer, Kipnis stressed the importance of increasing the number of immigration judges to help facilitate due process for undocumented immigrants. If elected, Kipnis promised to make the process of citizenship more affordable and accessible. However, he also said it is important to distinguish immigrants associated with gangs and drugs from those who are seeking a better life.

With regard to abortion, Kipnis took a pro-choice stance. “As a champion of individual liberty it is not my place to tell people what to do,” he said, putting him at odds with the majority pro-life view among Republicans. While he would personally not endorse abortion, he said: “I don’t think Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned.”

Kipnis saw the recent protests against police brutality and institutional racism by NFL players like Colin Kaepernick as reflective of the misleading debate “about patriotism vs. non-patriotism.” The true debate, he said, should be about discrimination against the African-American community by police officers. To solve this issue, Kipnis proposed the creation of mediation sites between the two groups. While it might not be a complete solution to the ongoing issues, he said, it is a step in the right direction.

Pappas blasts judicial system in first press conference

By Annie Phun

Los Angeles, CA

Anthony Pappas, a candidate for Congress, began a press conference on Wednesday with a hypothetical. All the journalists in the room, he said, had been sterilized the second they walked through the door. As he explained sterilization, he wrote a few key terms on the whiteboard behind him: “tubal ligation,” “fallopian tubes,” and “testicles.”

It only got stranger from there.

Pappas is a Republican running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist who advocates for free college and other socialist ideas, gained massive attention when she beat out 10-term Representative Joe Crowley in July’s Democratic primary. Her chances of winning are high, with the ratio of the 14th district being six-to-one Democrats to Republicans.

Meanwhile, her opponent, a 70-year-old economics professor at St. John’s University, is basically unknown. Local newspapers such as the New York Post have attempted to question the Republican party on Pappas’ campaign, but the GOP has refused to issue a comment.

Pappas, dressed in a button up, sneakers, and khaki pants with holes in them, didn’t focus on Ocasio-Cortez during his press conference, which lasted more than an hour. Instead he discussed the controversial Supreme Court case of Stump v. Sparkman, which expanded the principle of judicial immunity.

“We are being ruled by a judicial dictatorship,” Pappas said.

He spoke at length about the Supreme Court case, which centered on a district judge’s role in approving an involuntary sterilization for a minor. Growing emotional, he described the woman’s inability to have a child and pulled a pink towel from his bag to mourn the loss of the woman’s metaphorical baby.

The candidate said that he too had been a “victim of the judicial court system.” During his divorce proceedings, his ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse, which he said resulted in the freezing of his accounts. When asked about the alleged domestic abuse, he grew defensive, stating that the judge “hallucinated that [he] committed a major crime.” He claimed that there is a trend of judges “taking advantage of their power,” ruling in favor of the wrong party simply because they can.

“When politicians tell you no one is above the law, they are lying. Information is being suppressed,” Pappas said. “There are good people in each profession, and there are bad people. We should have a system to hold the bad people accountable.”

Pappas also answered questions about policy and his opponent, but he was most eager to discuss his divorce and his proposed reforms to the judiciary.

At one point, Pappas was asked how many press conferences he had done before this one.

“None,” he said.

Nominee seen as threat to abortion rights

By Myrna Moreno

Phoenix, AZ

After Anthony Kennedy announced in June that he was retiring from the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump made good on his promise to appoint a justice who would uphold conservative values, nominating D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Republicans are thrilled with the opportunity to appoint another conservative justice to the highest court; Democrats, meanwhile, are fearful that Kennedy’s replacement would lean further to the right. But Princeton University politics professors Charles Cameron and Keith Whittington say they do not expect much to change with Kavanaugh on the court.

“The shift in the median is very tiny,” Cameron said. Like four other justices on the court, Kavanaugh is a conservative, originalist judge. Whittington agreed: Observers should not expect huge changes, he said, because the court is exchanging a conservative for another conservative.

Although Kennedy was appointed by a Republican president, he sometimes diverged from the court’s conservative wing, becoming a crucial swing vote. He voted with liberal justices on cases about gay rights, abortion, the death penalty and affirmative action.

Kavanaugh, 53, is more reliably conservative, which means that there will likely be more conservative court decisions. Liberals fear his confirmation could change the balance of the court—tilting it even further to the right—for a generation.

But Whittington said things won’t change too much. Kavanaugh, he said, is very careful with cases that are very controversial, taking “small steps rather than big steps.”

Because conservatives will continue to dominate the Supreme Court, abortion-rights supporters are concerned that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that cemented a woman’s right to get an abortion, might be overturned. Both Cameron and Whittington predict the court will never completely overturn Roe v. Wade, but they both concede the conservative justices could chip away at abortion rights in other ways. Cameron believes that the court might allow greater restrictions on abortion, while Whittington said the justices could undermine the ruling by “nibbling away on the margins.”

Ultimately, Cameron said he doesn’t “think Trump gives a damn about the Supreme Court,” crediting the Federalist Society, which grooms reliably conservative judges and pushes for their installation on the court, with his selection.

Cameron said Kavanaugh is thoughtful, humorous, and articulate. But politically, his appointment fulfills a major conservative priority.

“Kavanaugh,” he said, “is the perfect candidate for Republicans.”

Trump picks Kavanaugh, conservative favorite

By Evelyn Moradian

Glendale, CA

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump looks like another major victory for the right. If confirmed, Kavanaugh could dramatically affect how the court rules on contentious issues such as abortion, religious liberty, and separation of powers.

During his campaign, Trump promised to nominate conservative judges, and he delivered last year with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. After swing vote Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June, Trump again narrowed his list of possible nominees to several strong conservatives before choosing Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Charles Cameron, a Princeton University professor of politics and public affairs, said he doesn’t “think Trump gives a damn about the Supreme Court,” but he believes Kavanaugh is the “perfect” Republican candidate, fulfilling everything the party desires. From abortion to labor unions, Kavanaugh’s views are in line with mainstream conservatism. Cameron chalks up Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers, judges, and scholars that has helped Republicans staff the judiciary.   

Cameron believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate barring a scandal—a “smoking gun” that discredits the judge. Likewise, Princeton professor Keith  Whittington said he’d be “shocked” if Kavanaugh is not confirmed. Whittington, a conservative who opposed Trump in 2016, found Kavanaugh’s nomination to be a “pleasant surprise,” though he doesn’t believe Kavanaugh will significantly change the direction of the Supreme Court. Despite Whittington’s skepticism of Trump’s commitment to conservatism during the campaign, the professor supports Trump’s handling of judicial nominations.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats fear that the Supreme Court will reverse several important decisions—notably Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion. But both professors argued that the Supreme Court will not overturn that decision outright. Rather, Whittington believes that the court will instead limit abortion by “nibbling away on the margins,” while Cameron said the court will let “the exceptions to the rule destroy the rule.” In other words, although the case may not be overturned, it can be stripped to the point of nothingness.

Roe isn’t the only precedent at risk. Kavanaugh’s nomination could also change how the court approaches presidential power, voting rights, labor, and a host of other issues. But while the nomination fight over Kavanaugh will be heated, Cameron believes it’s only part of a larger picture of polarization.

Trump finds few fans in Princeton

By Ikra Islam

Brooklyn, NY

President Trump’s name is so intertwined with controversy that even in largely liberal Princeton, few are willing to attach their names to a statement about him. But on a recent Friday evening, several residents felt the need to vocalize their frustration with the president and his policies.

Cynthia Parker, a Princeton local, said Trump’s choice to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year pushed her to become more vocal and politically active. Before the election, she rarely paid attention to local politics—but that changed when the reality of Trump’s victory set in.

At first, it was hard for Parker to accept Trump as her president. Parker recalled she would exercise during the 2016 election to distract herself from the news. She continued to exercise to distract herself after Trump took office, swimming an extra hour every day, but she also started channeling her energy into activism.

Parker and a group of friends wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, like them a graduate of Hanover College. The group voiced their concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and accused him of failing to empathize with the concerns of Americans. They also criticized the selection of Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. After sending the letter, she began attending rallies and protests, demonstrating against the administration’s policies and championing local politicians she hopes will help bring change.

Unlike Parker, Rajesh Shah, an IT engineer from Mumbai, India, sees some positive in Trump. “He’s bringing back jobs by lowering taxes, which is not a solution, but it definitely seems to be helping,” he said.

But Shah is also critical of the administration. Shah disagrees with Trump’s emphasis on coal, arguing that trying to revive the coal industry doesn’t make sense. He believes America needs to become more fuel efficient, though he also said the government should take care of coal miners who might lose work as the American economy continues to evolve.

Jennifer Robinson, a librarian at Princeton Library, is particularly distraught by President Trump’s immigration policies. She’s concerned that the legacy of his administration—the damage, in her view—will long outlive his presidency.

“I know it’s temporary,” she said. “But it breaks my heart because it’s going to be years before his influence is gone.”

Meet Andrew Zwicker, a progressive in a swing district

By Libbing Barrera
Spring Valley, NY

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker made clear at a press conference on Saturday that he’s not willing to abandon his progressive beliefs despite running for reelection in a swing district.

Zwicker, a physicist at Princeton, is running to continue representing the 16th district against former Assemblywoman Donna Simon and former Montgomery mayor Mark Caliguire, both Republicans.

Continue reading