It’s a high-stakes gambit that will test whether the Supreme Court actually meant what it said in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), which held that because of SB 8’s unique style of enforcement, it was immune from meaningful judicial review — and thus would take effect despite very strong arguments that the law was unconstitutional at the time.
Shortly after Jackson was decided last December, Newsom announced that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s conclusion that states can dodge judicial review of unconstitutional laws. But Newsom also said that, if the Court’s Republican-appointed majority would give this power to states, then he would use it to limit access to firearms.
If states can shield their laws from review by federal courts, then CA will use that authority to help protect lives.
We will work to create the ability for private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in CA. pic.twitter.com/YPBJ00vN6z
Indeed, California’s new gun law, known as SB 1327, is explicit that the new law’s fate is tied to SB 8’s. SB 1327 provides that its SB 8-like provisions “shall become inoperative” if SB 8 is struck down “in its entirety by a final decision of the United States Supreme Court or Texas Supreme Court.”
The state of California, in other words, appears to be trolling the Supreme Court. SB 1327 should force the justices to either overrule Jackson and admit that they were wrong to let states evade the Constitution, or give California’s new gun ban the same immunity from judicial scrutiny that five justices gave SB 8.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t afraid of y’all. And by “y’all,” I mean the gun manufacturers and Republican culture warriors who have gotten quite used to the defensive crouch of Newsom’s fellow Democrats.
Newsom’s unabashed assertiveness came through when I interviewed him last week at the Del Mar Fairgrounds outside San Diego, where he announced a bill making good on his promise in December to use the model of Texas’s recent antiabortion law — which the Supreme Court declined to block —to go after gunmakers in his own state.
“The Texas abortion law is an abomination. It’s outrageous what the Supreme Court did, but they did it. They opened a door that is going to put women’s lives at risk. And we’re going to go through that same door to save people’s lives,” Newsom said. The California bill would award $10,000 and attorney’s fees to private citizens who turn in people illegally selling, manufacturing or distributing assault weapons or ghost guns.
“We’re going after these guys. We’re putting them on the defensive. I don’t hate gun owners. I don’t hate guns. I hate violence,” Newsom said. “I can’t take it anymore. No one can take it anymore. How many times have I been to a damn press conference where you heard the same words? And the words are no longer ‘thoughts and prayers.’ It’s that ‘I’m sick and tired of saying “thoughts and prayers.”’
Anticipating the inevitable challenges to the legislation, Newsom made clear that he isn’t afraid of the fight to come. “There’s no principled way the U.S. Supreme Court cannot uphold California’s law on assault weapons and ghost guns,” Newsom said. “So we’re calling the question, and we’re moving aggressively … and we’re getting serious about this in a way we haven’t in the past.”
Newsom’s willingness to fight Republicans on their turf is exactly what Democrats need to replicate. Stand strong in your beliefs and fight for them, even if it makes friends nervous and angers the other side. The governor has always operated this way.
That’s why I couldn’t resist asking Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, what he thought about the overwhelming recall last week of three of that city’s school board members who had largely focused on stripping schools of “objectionable” names. He wasn’t the least bit surprised by what happened. Acting on your passions and beliefs must still be in line with why folks put you in office. “If you are focused more on renaming things than focusing on fundamentally getting to the nuts and bolts of the job that you are hired to do, that’s a problem,” Newsom said.
But because this happened in the bluest of cities in the bluest of states, is ita warning sign to Democrats about the excesses of that dreaded term, “wokeness”? Nope, Newsom said: “I don’t know how one defines it. I know how one politicizes it.”
By today’s standards, Newsom could have been accused of “wokeness” in 2004 when, as mayor, he issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of state and federal law. Everyone was angry with him, especially Democrats who were furious he willfully waded into the latest front of the culture war during a presidential election year. But Newsom never wavered then and has no regrets now.
“Is that the definition of wokeness? I thought it was the right thing to do,” Newsom said. The 2015 Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry validated his moral conviction and political courage. And he’s urging his fellow Democrats to be similarly bold about the big issues of today.
“We all just need to … recognize what we’re up against, which is mishegoss, which is full-time propaganda coming from a disciplined far extreme right that will continue to racially prime, continue to promote these cultural wars in any way, shape or form,” Newsom said. “I mean, they’re banning books.”
In the face of this, the governor who successfully crushed a Republican-led recall effort against him last year said that Democrats must “address these things a little bit more head on, a little bit more forcefully.” That means fighting back on the terms set by Republicans.
More Democrats need to speak this way. It tells Republicans they aren’t as feared as they once were. More importantly, it shows the base that Democrats will no longer cower the way to which we’ve become accustomed. They are willing to fight like Republicans for what they believe in.
“That’s what we’re doing on guns,” Newsom said. “We’re leaning in. And, again, I’m not naive to their success. But it’s an old playbook here. And so let’s not all act surprised as Democrats and victims around this.”
State Sen. Bill Dodd’s recent bout with vertigo has nothing to do with the dizzying feeling he gets seeing the number of names — 46 — on the California Gubernatorial Recall Election ballot hitting mailboxes this week.
Not that Dodd, a former Republican, is concerned about potential replacements for Gavin Newsom. It’s the two boxes — “Yes” and “No” — he’s focusing on, backing up his support of the Democrat governor with a $75,000 mailer campaign.
The state’s Department of Finance says the recall election is costing taxpayers roughly $215.2 million — money Dodd believes “would go a long way of funding so many projects like improving Highway 37. There are so many needs. The idea we’re going to spend it on a sham recall effort doesn’t rise to the level of what I call good government.”
Just short of 1.5 million verified signatures were needed to trigger a statewide ballot. The state verified roughly 1.6 million signatures.
Recall organizers claim government overreach has led to dissatisfaction with Newsom’s leadership. They cite his executive order to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and rolling power outages to prevent wildfires, among other issues. They also cite a number of issues surrounding his handling of the coronavirus.
“There are a lot of people out there for some reason or other want to support this recall,” Dodd said by phone. “It’s my firm belief that a lot of things that have gone on — COVID-19, wildfires, utility shut-offs — since he became the chief executive officer of this state would happen no matter who is the governor of the state. He had little or no control over those things happening.”
Of the 22 million registered voters in California about 10 million (or 46%) are Democrat and 5 million (24%) are Republicans. The remaining 6.5 million (30%) are independents or registered to other parties, according to the most recent Report of Registration from the California Secretary of State released in February.
Newsom was elected in 2018, beating Republican challenger John Cox 61.9 % to 38.1%.
The thought of a sitting governor with that overwhelming a victory losing his job to someone with a comparatively minuscule portion of the vote on a crowded ballot doesn’t sit right with Dodd.
“They (recall supporters) are counting on this as their ‘January 6 opportunity’ to overturn the government, but doing it through a recall,” Dodd said, alluding to the failed takeover of the U.S. Capitol.
“This is what happens when either party can go too far,” said Dodd. “These are reactionary times.”
A main figure of that Capitol insurrection, an Arizona man wearing U.S. flag colors face paint, a furry hat and horns, is featured prominently on Dodd’s “Vote No” mailer. Another version of the mailer includes a photograph of the U.S. Capitol building from Jan. 6.
“His point is that the same people who stormed the Capitol are the same people who want to recall Newsom,” said Dodd spokesman Paul Payne.
Dodd is banking on the registered voter party difference to secure Newsom’s remaining term, set to end in January of 2023. Endorsed by Newsom in the 2016 state senate election, Dodd funded the mailout — “Are You Going to Let Them Win?” — as a reminder to vote and vote “No.”
“I think if the people of the state of California turn out and vote on this, I don’t think the chances are very good he will get recalled,” Dodd said. “I think we need to peel back the onion a little bit and stop and think what has been accomplished in terms of policies on climate change, trying to get a handle on the homeless, our budgets and what we’re investing in.”
“I ask that people just vote and let their voices be heard,” Dodd said, believing that “organizers of this recall see this as an opportunity to use COVID-19 and some of these other issues to try and move him out. They have a much better chance of getting someone elected through a recall than with a traditional election.”
Dodd believes recall supporters are counting on the heavy Democratic advantage to be distracted by the pandemic and forgo voting.
“If we don’t vote, we let them potentially win,” he said. “We know that if Democrats and independents vote in large numbers, this recall will fail.”
Dodd declined to speculate how a failed recall could backfire on Republicans.
“I’m not looking for a pound of flesh after this. For me, it’s about having them fail on this issue,” he said. “I’m happy to debate them or work with them on other issues that make sense for everyone who lives in the state or certainly in my district.”
Dodd believes there needs to be “some narrow criteria, whether a governor, legislator or local elected official” can be recalled. He cited Placerville, which is trying to recall four of its five council members because they want to “change the look of Main Street,” according to a recall organizer.
“That’s what elections are for,” Dodd said. “That’s direct democracy put in for a reason.”
Dodd, D-Napa, represents District 3, including all of Napa and Solano counties and parts of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sonoma counties.
California businesses will be able to require vaccine verification
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Emily Deruy & Solomon Moore, June 18, 2021
Don’t call it a “vaccine passport,” Gov. Gavin Newsom insists. But California is poised to roll out some sort of electronic vaccine verification system to help residents show businesses and others that they are inoculated against the coronavirus.
Promising more details in the coming days, Newsom earlier this week touted that the state is working on a digital version of the official paper immunization cards that people received when they got their shots. How the system will work, who will have access to it, and when it will launch are among the critical questions that the governor’s office did not respond to Wednesday.
But the growing anticipation comes as dozens of competing efforts for everything from personalized apps to unique registries are stirring up confusion and privacy concerns as California sheds its pandemic restrictions and fully reopens this week.
While details remain scarce about how the state’s vaccine verification system will fit in, a couple of things are clear.
For one, people won’t be required to use the system, Newsom said. But if you want to, say, attend a concert or book a flight, businesses will be able to require verification in the same way they can continue to require masks even though the state, with a few exceptions, no longer mandates them.
“Businesses have freedom of choice across the spectrum,” Newsom said Monday.
California would not be the first to unveil a statewide verification system. In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the Excelsior Pass, a digital pass developed with the help of IBM that lets residents share their vaccination status or COVID-19 test results. Businesses can verify the information but don’t have access to personal health data.
Advocates of vaccine passports and verification systems say they can help residents and businesses get back to normal safely. They could ease access to concerts, baseball games, university campuses and other places where vaccination status matters.
“I think it makes sense on every level,” said John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, who has been consulting with businesses.
“They would very much like to use a vaccine passport, but they don’t want to make the decision to do it,” Swartzberg said, acknowledging that the issue “is a political hot potato for them.”
Opponents of vaccine passports and verification systems have raised privacy and discrimination concerns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order banning the use of vaccine passports, and Texas has also banned state agencies and organizations that receive public money from requiring people to prove they’ve been jabbed.
The federal government has said it will not create a nationwide system or passport, leaving states, local governments and the private sector to choose whether to tackle vaccine verification, with a number of options emerging.
ID2020, a San Francisco-based collaborative of international civil society organizations and multinational travel, financial and technology companies, has been seeking to link digital identities with vaccine distribution since its founding in September 2019, before the coronavirus hit. Earlier this month, the group published a white paper called the Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint that is intended to standardize the cacophony of vaccine credentialing systems being built across the planet.
The collaborative, whose supporters include Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, the Rockefeller Foundation, Deloitte and others, are advocating for systems that are digital, interoperable across platforms and jurisdictions, and secure. Other principles at the core of the effort include a commitment to making health passes consensual and flexible enough to accommodate a range of solutions, including mobile and secure physical documentation of vaccinations.
“We’ve seen more than 70 systems that have been proposed, globally,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, an Oregon-based research organization. “I don’t know which system will win, but I do think that the International Air Transport Association system — which is the system that airlines are going to use — may win.”
But Dixon said she is concerned that the speed with which vaccine credential systems are being developed has precluded any transparent process for public involvement in their designs. Dixon also said she is concerned that any digital platforms for vaccine credentialing would put individuals’ privacy at risk because identities will be linked to health data or behaviors that could be exploited by unscrupulous companies and governments.
It’s unclear exactly which verification systems will be put to use where. But for now, in the current absence of a California-wide system, some residents have been showing their physical vaccination cards, photos of the cards or vaccine records on apps such as the CVS Pharmacy app to enter places such as the fully vaccinated sections at San Francisco Giants games at Oracle Park, nursing homes for visits and more. The cards are easy to damage or lose, though, and proponents of a vaccine verification system say the current situation needs to be improved.
“I think it’s unfortunate we don’t have more political leadership doing this,” Swartzberg said. “Ideally it’s an activity the state should take on.”