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Feb. 24, 2016

At April Convergence on Nation’s Capital, Activists to Call on the U.S. Senate to Do Its Job and Fill the Supreme Court Vacancy

At Unprecedented, Three-Day ‘Democracy Awakening,’ Voters Call for a Democracy That Works for People, Not the Powerful

WASHINGTON, D.C – Thousands of people will flood Washington, D.C., for a large-scale mobilization demanding that the U.S. Senate allow a fair process and up-or-down vote to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has created a constitutional crisis-in-the-making with his unprecedented demand that President Barack Obama not appoint a replacement for Justice Scalia and his assertion that Senate Republicans will block approval of a new justice until a new president takes office,” said Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP. “We are taking to the streets to demand the Senate do its job and give proper consideration to a Supreme Court nominee, with an up-or-down vote.”

The landmark mobilization presses for reforms focused on building a stronger democracy that works for all Americans – fighting Senate obstruction over Obama’s constitutional obligation to nominate the next Supreme Court justice, restoring and expanding voting rights protections, and curbing the influence of wealthy interests and corporations on elections. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly agrees on the need for reforms in these arenas, but this will mark the first mass demonstration calling for change on all fronts.

The Democracy Awakening actions consist of a “Rally for Democracy” protest and march, a “Congress of Conscience” sit-in, advocacy at the U.S. Capitol and teach-ins over three days, April 16-18.

“The nation needs a Supreme Court that defends – not upends – our democracy,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “But with the Shelby County and Citizens United decisions in recent years, the Supreme Court has eviscerated crucial voting rights protections and enabled a narrow group of the superrich and giant corporations to dominate our elections.”

Added Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way, “Obstructionism has virtually shut down the legislative branch of our government. It shouldn’t shut down our judicial branch too.”

The Democracy Awakening is designed to highlight the need for a democracy that works for all Americans, one in which everyone has an equal voice and elected officials are accountable to the people, not the wealthy.

More than 170 groups (up from 100 at the end of January) representing a diverse array of issues are organizing Democracy Awakening. Lead organizations include the American Postal Workers Union, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Initiative, Every Voice Center, Food & Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace, NAACP, National Nurses United, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Student Debt Crisis and U.S. PIRG.

Attendees are coming from more than a dozen states, from New York and Illinois to Georgia and Florida. In addition to calling for the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled, they will call for voting rights protections, including legislation to prevent deceptive practices that keep people from the ballot box and restore the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County. They also will call for measures to curb the influence of money in politics, including public financing of elections and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.


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