SWFL reps on Roe v. Wade leak; all have long-time anti-choice stances–Updated

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court last night. (Photo: Reuters)

May 3, 2022 by David Silverberg

Updated 3:30 pm with statements from Rep. Byron Donalds, Cindy Banyai.

This story will be updated as more information and comment becomes available.

Southwest Florida’s elected representatives were slow to respond or comment on a draft Supreme Court opinion striking down the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The draft opinion for the majority by Associate Justice Samuel Alito was made public by the news organization Politico at 8:32 pm last night. Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts confirmed its authenticity and announced an investigation to find the leaker.

In the opinion Alito argued that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” He calls for its complete overturn.

Of the region’s congressional delegation Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) was the first to comment on Twitter with three tweets starting at 7:41 am today.

“It is unfortunate that the news of the greatest victory for the Pro Life movement comes on the heels of one of the most profound breaches of trust the Court has ever seen,” he tweeted. “If the report is true, I am grateful that all of God’s children will now have a voice, and I am committed to ensuring that the leaker and their complicit partners in the media will be held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent,” he continued.

At 12:41 pm today Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), released a tweet and statement condemning the leak.

“Those liable for prematurely and irresponsibly unveiling this draft opinion have engaged in a historically dangerous political maneuver intended to intimidate Lady Justice and the Constitution that guides our Republic,” he tweeted.

In his formal statement he maintained that the leak was a crime and stated that America had fallen victim to “culture wars and clickbait journalism.”

In no statement, however, did he address the substance of overturning Roe v. Wade or a woman’s right to choose.

Cindy Banyai, a declared Democratic candidate for the 19th Congressional District, issued a statement saying “Conservative activist justices inappropriately appointed to the Supreme Court are about to send the United States back 50 years. The overturning of the right to medical privacy and abortion care should alarm all Americans.”

She continued: “I stand firmly in opposition to overturning the super precedent of Roe v. Wade. I believe people have the right to choose when and where to start a family. I believe people have a right to medical privacy and decisions about medical care should be made by a person and their medical practitioner, not pre-emptively made by the government.”

As of this writing Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) had not yet commented on any platform.

All of Southwest Florida’s Republican elected representatives ran on anti-choice platforms.

In his 2020 election bid, Donalds’ campaign tag line was: “I’m everything the fake news media says doesn’t exist: a Donald Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment black man.”

All of Southwest Florida’s state elected officials voted in favor of Florida’s “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” bill (House Bill 5), which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on April 15. The law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. It is slated to go into effect in July and will likely stand if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade before then.

Of Southwest Florida’s state senators, Kathleen Passidomo (R-28-Naples) has consistently held an anti-choice position, telling Florida Politics in September 2021 that while she opposed abortion she was also uncomfortable with provisions of Texas’ anti-abortion law encouraging civil litigation against those providing or seeking abortions.

“I am pro-life but I am not pro-telling on your neighbors,” she said in a speech to the Argus Foundation in Sarasota at that time.

State Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-27-Fort Myers) reaffirmed his anti-abortion position to the Fort Myers Beach Observer in February.

Asked about Florida’s then-pending anti-abortion bill, Rodrigues told the Observer, “I hope it passes”—as indeed it did.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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UPDATED: Supreme Court rules against Trump, preserves DACA; SWFL politicos react

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA protest in favor of DACA in New York, Sept. 9, 2017.     (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

June 18, 2020 by David Silverberg

Updated 5:30 pm with reactions and statements.

The US Supreme Court today ruled against the Trump administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, protecting the legal residency of immigrants who came to the United States under the age of 16.

The 5 to 4 decision, whose majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, brings to an end the administration’s two-year effort to end the program initiated under President Barack Obama in 2012.

Numbers for DACA recipients in Lee and Collier counties are unavailable. However, there are an estimated 800,000 DACA “dreamers” nationwide and 32,795 in Florida.

Local dreamers have been profiled in the past by WINK News and NBC2.

In his opinion Roberts wrote that the administration did not follow proper legal procedures in attempting to end DACA.

Roberts made clear that the decision did not deal with the substance of the DACA program. “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” he wrote. “We address only whether the [Department of Homeland Security] complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner.”

Southwest Florida representatives and candidates reacted with relative predictability to the Supreme Court decision.

The two Democratic candidates for Congress in the 19th Congressional District hailed the decision.

“DREAMERs have always been Americans,” stated David Holden. “This is their home and I’m glad the Supreme Court saw through this administration’s cruelty and made a decision to uphold justice. Many families in SWFL have DACA, DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents], or fall somewhere in the grey scale of our current, practically impossible immigration system.”

He continued: “With this win, we must generate the momentum necessary to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and their families; find permanent solutions for those who fall under TPS [Temporary Protected Status]; and realize an immigration system that is empathetic, efficient, and unbiased. The Senate now has no excuse and must pass the overwhelmingly popular Dream and Promise Act, or H.R. 6. SWFL owes much of its economy, culture, and community to immigrants, and I’m thrilled they can sleep a little easier tonight.”

Cindy Banyai expressed support for the decision: “The Supreme Court ruling blocking Trump’s cancellation of DACA is a major step in checking administrative overreach,” she stated. “As Justice Sotomayor noted in her opinion, cancelling DACA on the back of hateful rhetoric towards the same group of people needs to be called out. There is no room for racism and xenophobia in our country and this decision helps restore balance and accountability in that regard.”

Of the sitting members of Congress for Southwest Florida, only Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) issued a statement: “I am pleased that the individuals who benefit from DACA are still protected, but as I’ve repeatedly said, both sides have been playing politics for far too long on this issue, and it’s time to come up with a permanent solution for those who are here at no fault of their own. I reiterate my willingness to work with anyone and everyone on a bipartisan, bicameral solution that provides a path toward permanence, while also adhering to the rule of law. DREAMERS, who are here at no fault of their own, and have not violated US laws, deserve to be here legally, freely, and with certainty.”

Of the nine Republicans running, only Darren Aquino responded to The Paradise Progressive‘s request for comment and issued a tweet on the subject: “I 100% disagree with the recent #DACADecision. You’re looking at a politicized justice system that works to stop Trump at all costs. Illegal immigration hurts us in so many ways. I am going to propose national E-verify legislation to combat illegal immigration” [sic].

Trump issued four rapid-fire tweets on the subject immediately after the Supreme Court decision was announced. He stated that he needed new Supreme Court justices and a new legal solution to end DACA. “The Supreme Court is not willing to give us one, so now we have to start this process all over again,” he stated in one tweet. “The DACA decision, while a highly political one, and seemingly not based on the law, gives the President of the United States far more power than EVER anticipated. Nevertheless, I will only act in the best interests of the United States of America!” he wrote in another.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) hailed the decision: “Today is a joyous and proud day for our country, as the Supreme Court has rejected the Trump Administration’s illegal, immoral assault on young immigrants who make America more American, which the Court rightfully found to be ‘arbitrary and capricious,’” she stated.  “The Court’s decision upholds our values, the law and the will of the American people.  Dreamers have the overwhelming support of the public, with more than three out of four voters saying Dreamers should be allowed to stay – including more than two-thirds of Republicans.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg