Tag Archives: Republican

GOP nominee warns of ‘judicial dictatorship,’ forced sterilization

By Delia Batdorff

Madison, TN

Anthony Pappas is in his natural environment: in front of a whiteboard with a dry-erase marker in his right hand, his name and title written behind him. Pappas, an economics professor at St. John’s College in Queens, New York, doesn’t allow a valuable second to slip by: He immediately begins his presentation by saying, “We are living under a judicial dictatorship and you’re not aware of it.”

He doesn’t stay on this topic very long or try to explain himself. Instead, he jumps into a hypothetical situation. He tells us a story of people walking through a door and being sterilized; carefully, he goes into detail about sterilization and writes “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the board. He continues his speech, as if he is lecturing to his college students. Before long, he ties his situation into his argument as he explains a case where a teenage girl was forcefully sterilized. The judge was never punished for this. The woman carried around a blanket for the rest of her life to represent the baby she would never have, he said. He walks towards his bag and pulls out a pale pink towel before saying, “I don’t have a blanket, I have a towel.” Gently, he holds the towel in his arms like a mother would hold a baby, as his eyes start to glisten.

Next, he brings up Mary Kennedy, the ex-wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. After a difficult divorce in which she lost custody of her children, she committed suicide. Pappas argues that if even five immigrant mothers killed themselves, it would be a national story, yet women like Mary Kennedy are committing suicide and the judicial system doesn’t care. Pappas hands out an article about Mary Kennedy with his handwriting in the margins. It reads: “Suicides of mothers and fathers going through divorce are not investigated. Why? Judges are the only officials who have immunity.”  It’s part of a pattern, Pappas said. “The parent first despairs and commits suicide.”

Despite his focus on mental health, he fails to mention anything other than suicide, mostly in regard to custody cases. Nor does he explain how he plans to prove that the judges influenced the suicides, or how, as he claims, this would fall under the category of murder or manslaughter. When asked what actions he has taken to prevent suicide, he said, “I have no power to do anything in my power. I’m just a professor.”

Next, the economic professor begins detailing his own divorce case. He offers a copy of one of the court documents to the journalists; he has annotated it himself. In the margins in careful handwriting, he has written “nonsense” and “did not happen” regarding his wife’s loss of income due to time spent in court and her allegations of domestic abuse. The judge presiding over him was “like a dictator” and the domestic abuse claims of his wife were “a total hallucination and it’s totally irrational,” he said. When a journalist asks him another question regarding the abuse, he replies, “You go to the police and tell them to arrest me.”

Pappas said he is unable to access any donations or funds for his campaign because they have been “frozen because of the divorce. People donate, but I can’t access them,” he said. In November, voters from the 14th district of New York will decide whether to send him to Congress. His opponent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is heavily favored to win.

GOP’s Pappas warns that judges see themselves as ‘gods’

By Fatima Rivera Gomez

McFarland, CA

When Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 14th congressional district, appeared at a press conference at Fordham University on Wednesday, journalists initially spoke over him because they did not realize he was the candidate they were waiting for.

Pappas is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is expected to win the election this November in the heavily Democratic district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. Wearing an untucked, button-front short-sleeve shirt and tattered khaki pants, Pappas—an economics professor at St. John’s University—began the press conference by asking the reporters how they would have felt if they had been sterilized. He then wrote a few words on the whiteboard including: “tubal ligation,” “fallopian tubes,” and “testicles.”

In the midst of some confusion in the room, Pappas explained Stump v. Sparkman, a 1978 case in which a woman sued the judge who ordered her to undergo a non-consensual tubal ligation when she was 15 years old. On the verge of tears, he pulled a towel from his bag in reference to a book about the case, The Blanket She Carried. The towel symbolized the baby the woman could not have, he said.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which set an important precedent by ruling that judges are immune from being sued. In a packet handed out during the press conference, Pappas wrote “OVERTURN STUMP V. SPARKMAN, the worst decision in the 20th century by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Pappas’ congressional platform centers on criminal and justice reform and an end to judges being immune from prosecution. “Judges are above the law. They can make decisions that are retaliatory, against the law, against the facts, deliberately false and they cannot be sued,” Pappas said.

He also believes that he is a victim of the court system himself, after a divorce in which his wife accused him of domestic abuse—an accusation he denies. A court decision Pappas distributed showed he had spent more than $592,000 on his divorce.

At one point, Pappas described himself as a Theodore Roosevelt figure for Republicans. When asked about his opponent, Pappas said that Ocasio-Cortez is an energetic and sincere person, adding that he expects that she will win the election.

Underdog congressional candidate demands reform of judiciary

By Emiliano Davalos

Chicago, IL

Republican Congressional candidate Anthony Pappas—who is running against Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district—showed up to his very first press conference with documents of his divorce along with a towel in his bag.

To start the press conference, he quietly lectured 40 student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal about a case in which a young person was sterilized, scribbling the words “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the chalkboard behind him. He then argued that judges were allowing such tragedies to happen. He held out his towel to depict how a mother might hold up a child, and explained a court case in which a woman, at the age of 15, had been unknowingly sterilized—while being falsely told that the surgery was to remove her appendix. “Judges are above the law,” he said, explaining that he was fixated on reforming the judicial system.

In a district where Democrats hold a 6-to-1 majority, Pappas is running without much support from the local or national Republican party. He devoted the majority of his press conference to discussing his 2009 divorce and arguing that the judiciary system is corrupt. At one point in the press conference, Pappas asked someone in the room to validate the legitimacy of documents from his divorce proceeding. These documents alleged that he had committed domestic violence, resulting in the need for reconstructive surgery for his wife.

Although Pappas believes that not all judges are corrupt, he sees his divorce as part of a systemic problem. “We are gods, you can’t question us,” he said, characterizing the attitude of judges. He alleged that the judge on the case had “threatened retaliation on me” and “hallucinated that I committed a major crime.”

Not all people who win elections are experienced politicians, so why, you might ask, can’t an eccentric-seeming candidate who has just held his first press conference manage to become a congressman? Then again, in a heavily Democratic district, Pappas faces long odds, and his opponent’s campaign appears confident. Ocasio-Cortez’s senior advisor, Saikat Chakrabarti—who held a press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal following Pappas’s appearance—put it this way: “I think she is going to win.”

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.

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.

President draws mixed reviews

By Oswaldo Vazquez and Matea Toolie

Los Angeles, CA and Savoonga, AK

A crowded night in Princeton served as the perfect setting to gather diverse perspectives on one of the most talked-about Americans today: President Donald Trump. On August 3, reporters from The Princeton Summer Journal asked Princeton residents to name one positive and one negative thing about the president. Some were enthusiastic to give their thoughts, others were uninterested—and their opinions varied.

“Trump is ruining the country. He is an embarrassment,” said Chris Michie when asked his views about the president. Michie, a middle-aged Democrat, thinks that the president’s current policies are “destroying decades of hard work from his predecessors. … He has no respect for the people and is a liar.” When asked if he could identify a positive aspect of Trump, he answered with an emphatic, “no!”

Cornelia O’Grady, a former Republican who no longer supports any party, said she did not quite like Trump, but she appreciated his ability to unite people. She said that Trump “is bringing people together—the people who would not normally be together. He unifies the middle.” She is concerned, however, about the president’s financial conflicts and the corruption in his administration. “He is making money off this country,” she said. “There is evidence that he is selling us out to the Russians. An example of that would be the cyber attacks” on Democrats.

It wasn’t just Americans who had opinions about the president. “He is brave for being a 70-year-old man. Probably one thing I like,” said Cici Zhan, who was visiting from China.     

Perplexed, indifferent, or annoyed by the journalists’ questions—or perhaps a combination of all three—a man named Rene Saiguro said frankly: “I don’t know about the politics today. I don’t think anything of it.” As soon as the interview was done, Saiguro was on his way.

Rob and Kristen Holly, two registered Republicans, had positive things to say about Trump. Both commented on the “brave and fearless speeches” the president has given to the public since the start of his political campaign. The couple still had some concerns. “I wish he was not socially awkward. I would like to see a more eloquent president,” said Rob Holly.

The Hollys ultimately agreed that Trump still has a long way to go to become the “ideal president,” further criticizing his colleagues in the White House who don’t have the political experience to run the country properly.

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.”