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The Sunrise Movement aims to reach more than one million young voters in swing states (Image: Sunrise Movement)

With Planet and the Future on the Line, Sunrise Movement Doubles Down on 2020 After RBG's Death

"This moment is a critical opportunity—not only to activate every young voter in swing states but also to catapult emergent Green New Deal champions running for Senate into the spotlight and secure upsets in red states."

Julia Conley

The Sunrise Movement on Monday launched a new swing state mobilization campaign, aiming to lead the way as Democrats fight to get out the vote among young Americans, pressure Republican senators to delay a vote on a new U.S. Supreme Court justice, and flip the Senate and the White House on November 3. 

The climate action advocacy group began its new effort before the sun rose on Monday morning, with more than 100 organizers assembling outside the homes of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Both senators face tight re-election races and pressure to live up to their earlier statements in which they said a Supreme Court justice should not be nominated close to a presidential election. 

The Sunrise Movement rebuked Tillis on social media for calling the police on the peaceful protesters and fleeing his home as the organizers chanted, "Shame!"

Young voters like the ones who took part in the early morning protest, Sunrise says, are the key to removing Republicans like Tillis, Graham, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and others from office in November. The group says strategic grassroots pressure will also be critical to ensure the winner of the presidential election is able to nominate a new Supreme Court justice following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday. 

"Our generation's demands for a more just and equitable future will be upheld or struck down by sitting justices—everything from abortion to segregation, transgender rights to climate change, big money in politics to same-sex marriage."
—Aracely Jimenez, Sunrise Movement

"We have one mission right now: to delay, delay, delay," wrote the Sunrise Movement on Friday as it launched a call-in tool for young voters to pressure their senators to oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to hold a confirmation vote before November. "McConnell has made his move. He already put out a statement saying that he'll bring a Trump nominee to vote in the Senate."

"But his colleagues are already starting to break from him, and if we can pressure each senator to uphold the precedent that McConnell himself set—to not appoint a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year—we have a good chance at delaying this vote until we elect Joe Biden and keep Trump from appointing another nominee," the group said.

Following Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) statements opposing a pre-election vote—but not ruling out a confirmation in a potential lame-duck session—the Sunrise Movement aims to pressure at least two more Republicans from backing McConnell's plan. 

The group will target Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Tuesday and Gardner as well as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) on Wednesday. Sunrise will also hold a direct action on Wednesday targeting federal judge Barbara Lagoa, who is believed to be at the top of President Donald Trump's short list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

The appointment of another conservative Supreme Court justice by Trump, Mark Joseph Stern wrote at Slate on Saturday, "would be a catastrophe for the climate."

Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, another judge believed to be a top contender for Ginsburg's seat, "may well overrule the landmark 5–4 decision, long despised by conservatives, that compels the federal government to regulate carbon emissions," Stern wrote. "Even if Congress passes new legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the court's conservative supermajority may strike it down, much as the Republican-appointed justices blocked the Clean Power Plan in 2016."

The Sunrise Movement said Monday it is committed to doing "everything in our power to hold vulnerable Republicans and also Senate Democrats accountable in order to prevent an appointment to the bench before Biden is sworn in."

"Our generation's demands for a more just and equitable future will be upheld or struck down by sitting justices—everything from abortion to segregation, transgender rights to climate change, big money in politics to same-sex marriage," said Aracely Jimenez, deputy communications director at Sunrise. "We only need four Republicans to do the right thing and stick to the McConnell precedent." 

Over the next 43 days, the group plans to reach millions of young voters in swing states including Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. 

An earlier goal to send 100,000 postcards to young voters urging them to vote was shattered within one day; the Sunrise Movement now plans to send one million postcards to key voters. The group will also send more than a million texts, call 500,000 voters through phone banking campaigns, and reach 100,000 people through targeted ads.

On social media, following progressive leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and U.S. House candidate Cori Bush, the group urged young voters to develop a plan to vote before ballots are counted on November 3. 

"This moment is a critical opportunity—not only to activate every young voter in swing states but also to catapult emergent Green New Deal champions running for Senate into the spotlight and secure upsets in red states," Michelle Weindling, Sunrise's electoral campaigns coordinator said.

"Over the next seven weeks, we're going all in for underdog champions like Marquita Bradshaw in Tennessee, Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia, and tight races like Mark Kelly's in Arizona," she added. 'With the Supreme Court in freefall, there's no telling what kind of wins we can get in states that were once deemed untouchable." 


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