NAACP Town Hall:
A Call to Action
The NAACP recognizes that this issue is front and center now and throughout the mid-term election. On June 28, 2018, over 1,000
individuals participated in a National Town Hall by phone and online to discuss the impact of Justice Kennedy’s retirement and present action
steps to delay the confirmation. NAACP President Derrick Johnson and senior leadership led the discussion which focused on NAACP units
contacting U.S. Senators by phone and/or letter explaining the NAACP’s position and that this position is non-negotiable — No vote on a
replacement for Justice Kennedy until after a new Congress is seated. Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy and director of the
By Greg Jones
With Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s pending retirement and the likely replacement by President
Trump, the Supreme Court may shift sharply and decidedly away from the promise of civil rights and civil
liberties. This high-stakes vacancy is critical to communities of color. Recent Supreme Court decisions
already demonstrate declining protections for the right to strong unions that bargain collectively, one person
one vote principles, redistricting, and the right of women to make their own health care decisions.
This vacancy is a tipping point in the quest for justice and the fight for equality. A coalition of civil rights
groups including the NAACP, National Urban League, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Action
Network, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation have issued a collective demand, “The only
just and responsible option for the U.S. Senate at this moment is to delay any vote on confirming a
replacement for Justice Kennedy until after a new Congress is seated.” Justice Kennedy was a moderating
force on the Court and played a vital role, sometimes the deciding vote involving civil rights cases.
Washington Bureau, discussed the Action Alert process to be used in
communicating with elected officials; providing relevant information to be relayed
to the Senators; and suggesting that the Senate’s role to advise and consent in the
nomination process requires the utmost scrutiny of all nominees and must be
lengthy and complete. This cannot be done before November of this year and
before the next Senate is seated.
On June 29, 2018, Hilary Shelton sent the first Action Alert to engage all units in
this fight for Democracy.
President Johnson reminded the audience of the standard set by Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell when he broke a 40-year Senate tradition by delaying
the Merrick Garland confirmation put forth by President Obama. He stressed that
this is not the time for justice-minded people to be silent: “The next Supreme
Court justice will decide the future of voting rights, affirmative action policies for
universities, marriage equality, and many other social policy areas.” The clear
message of the Town Hall is the NAACP has already begun mobilizing and
organizing around the theme that it is non-negotiable to vote on a Supreme Court
justice before a new Senate is seated in 2019.
Local Branches and partners of the NAACP are expected to play a pivotal role in
this campaign by distributing the message, participating in national advocacy
initiatives and Action Alerts intended to provide information to elected officials
and the community.
We will again rely on our membership and community partners to mobilize for
justice and carry out the mission of this campaign.
Greg Jones is president of the NAACP Dane County Branch.