California voters oppose the idea of the state offering cash payments to the descendants of enslaved African Americans by a 2-to-1 margin, according to the results of a new poll that foreshadows the political difficulty ahead next year when state lawmakers begin to consider reparations for slavery.
The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times, found that 59% of voters oppose cash payments compared with 28% who support the idea. The lack of support for cash reparations was resounding, with more than 4 in 10 voters “strongly” opposed.
“It has a steep uphill climb, at least from the public’s point of view,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS poll.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers created California’s Reparations Task Force in 2020 with the goal of establishing a path to reparations that could serve as a model for the nation. After two years of deliberations, the task force sent a final report and recommendations this summer to the state Capitol, where Newsom and the Democratic-led Legislature will ultimately decide how the state should atone for slavery.
The group suggested providing cash payments to all descendants based on health disparities, mass incarceration and over-policing and housing discrimination that have adversely affected Black residents compared with white Californians.
The remedies recommended in the report also go far beyond cash payments and include policies to end the death penalty, pay fair market value for jail and prison labor, restore voting rights to all formerly and currently incarcerated people and apply rent caps to historically redlined ZIP Codes that disadvantaged Black residents, among dozens of other suggestions.
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
In the past nine days, state and federal judges threw out two congressional maps — and helped Democrats avoid a worst-case scenario in Ohio — kicking off an unusually busy redistricting calendar heading into the election year.
All told, a dozen or more seats across at least six states could be redrawn, increasing the likelihood Democrats could chip away the five-seat GOP House majority through redistricting alone.
Democrats could pick up an extra seat in each of a handful of states, including Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, and perhaps several more in New York. Republicans could still pick up as many as four seats in North Carolina, but the recent rulings put Democrats in a position to offset those losses — and then some.
Redistricting could not only give Democrats a slight edge in their bid to reclaim the majority they lost in 2022 but also increase the number of Black members in their conference. Prospective Democratic candidates in several key states are already eagerly eyeing a rare chance to run for a federal office, and the party is brimming with hope about growing its footprint in the South.
“It’s an incredible win,” Marina Jenkins, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said of Alabama. “It’s an incredibly important moment.”
The court rulings and new maps coming in the next four months, she said, could determine the 2024 House map.
None of the new maps are final. Higher courts could reverse lower court rulings, especially in Florida. But the recent spate of decisions have swung the momentum toward Democrats, and party operatives have grown far more optimistic about their House map after the recent rulings.
A change in the composition of even just a few districts could have a huge effect. With Republicans’ majority resting on such a narrow margin, the fight to control the House is expected to once again be highly competitive next year, and Democrats are searching for every possible toehold to climb back to the top.
The most notable movement for Democrats has been in a region that’s fallen away from them: the South. Over the past week, courts overturned Republican-drawn maps in Alabama and Florida for weakening the power of Black voters.
Alabama Republicans had thumbed their noses at the federal court’s instructions to redraw a map that it ruled likely violated the Voting Rights Act. They drew a new map this summer with just one majority-Black district — in spite of the court’s instructions to draw a second. The judges threw out the new map last week.
The three-judge panel ruled that the Alabama legislature does not get “a second bite at the apple” and appointed an independent expert to draw new lines by Sept. 25. Alabama Republicans said they will appeal the ruling.
Southern Democrats are thrilled by the prospect of a new majority-Black seat.
The court-appointed expert could draw a new district uniting Montgomery and Mobile — something that has sparked interest from local legislators in both cities. State Rep. Napoleon Bracy Jr., state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures and state Sen. Kirk Hatcher are high on the list of potential contenders.
Another name to watch: Steven Reed, who was just reelected as Montgomery’s first Black mayor. During his mayoral run, he remained pointedly noncommittal on whether he would be interested in running for a new majority-Black district.
Donald Trump is conjuring his most foreboding vision yet of a possible second term, telling supporters in language resonant of the run-up to the January 6 mob attack on the US Capitol that they need to “fight like hell” or they will lose their country.
The rhetorical escalation from the four-times-indicted ex-president came at a rally in South Dakota on Friday night where he accused his possible 2024 opponent, President Joe Biden, of ordering his indictment on 91 charges across four criminal cases as a form of election interference.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a darkness around our nation like there is now,” Trump said, in a dystopian speech in which he accused Democrats of allowing an “invasion” of migrants over the southern border and of trying to restart Covid “hysteria.”
The Republican front-runner’s stark speech raised the prospect of a second presidency that would be even more extreme and challenging to the rule of law than his first. His view that the Oval Office confers unfettered powers suggests Trump would indulge in similar conduct as that for which he is awaiting trial, including intimidating local officials in an alleged bid to overturn his 2020 defeat.
Characteristically, Trump also turned criticism of his behavior against his political foes, implicitly arguing that the true peril for America’s political freedoms did not spring from his attempt to invalidate a free and fair election, but from efforts to make him face legal accountability for doing so. “It’s really a threat to democracy while they trample our rights and liberties every single day of the year,” he said.
“This is a big moment in our country because we’re either going to go one way or the other, and if we go the other, we’re not going to have a country left,” he told supporters in South Dakota. “We will fight together, we will win together and then we will seek justice together,” he added. This followed a March rally in which he billed his 2024 campaign and potential second term as a vessel of “retribution” for supporters who believe they’ve been wronged.
Alarm bells, airhorns, large stacks of guitar amps, all of these need to be going off around the country. This is the language authoritarians use when they promise to annihilate their political enemies. Trump isn't running on anything other than putting Democrats in jail or worse.
Trump isn't seeking justice at all. He's seeking revenge, and he's giving his tens of millions of followers permission to seek that revenge along with him in a blood-soaked pogrom crusade. He's giving them the justification they need to do it, and tens of millions of Trump supporters are looking forward to the carnage.
It'll only get worse as we get closer to the election.
In a filing Monday, they argued that Judge Tanya Chutkan should recuse herself from the case for previous statements they say give the appearance of bias. They did not outright accuse Chutkan of being biased against Trump, but highlighted statements they claimed "create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system."
"Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying," Trump's attorneys wrote in the filing.
Trump has entered a not guilty plea in the case, filed by special counsel Jack Smith, in which he is charged with four felony counts relating to an alleged scheme to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
Trump's filing highlights several instances during hearings related to defendants in Jan. 6 riot cases in which Trump's attorneys say Chutkan appeared critical of the former president.
"This was nothing less than an attempt to violently overthrow the government, the legally, lawfully, peacefully elected government, by individuals who were mad that their guy lost," Chutkan said during one October 2022 hearing, later adding, "it's blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day."
Trump's attorneys called that statement "an apparent prejudgment of guilt."
"The public meaning of this statement is inescapable — President Trump is free, but should not be," they wrote.
The filing also highlights statements Chutkan made to rioter Robert Palmer, who was sentenced to more than five years in prison for using a wooden plank and a fire extinguisher to attack police.
"The people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged," Chutkan said during Palmer's December 2021 sentencing hearing.
Ultimately, it is up to Chutkan to decide if these past statements create a perception of bias. If she does, a new judge would be assigned to the case. If she disagrees with Trump's attorneys, she will continue to preside over the matter. If the recusal is denied, Trump's attorneys could petition an appeals court for a writ of mandamus, essentially an order requiring her to recuse. These efforts are not often successful.