All posts by Enrica Nicoli Aldini

Obama talks bipartisanship and empathy as he presses case for Supreme Court nominee

Text by Anna Boisseau and Enrica Nicoli Aldini
Photo and video by Brendan Hickey

Barack Obama’s homecoming at the University of Chicago on April 7, where he taught for 11 years, was more than just a return to his roots in constitutional law. The president’s remarks echoed early campaign promises to bring together both sides of the aisle, this time through his nomination of a centrist judge, Merrick Garland, to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, reflecting the increased congressional partisanship that has come to define his presidency, Senate Republicans continue to refuse to meet with Obama’s nominee.

“That is unprecedented,” Obama said in a conversation with University of Chicago Law School professor and former colleague David Strauss. “If you start getting into a situation in which the process of appointing judges is so broken, so partisan that an eminently qualified jurist cannot even get a hearing, then we are going to see the kinds of sharp, partisan polarization that has come to characterize our electoral politics seeping entirely into the judicial system.”

The president has acknowledged that party lines have hardened over the past eight years. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said in his last State of the Union address.
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Local communists have no faith in coming elections

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

It is International Women’s Day, and Revolutionary Communist Party supporters are gathered at Revolution Books, a small volunteer-run bookstore in Noble Square, to discuss the “rampant degradation of women” and share the belief that no social change is ever achieved by traditional politics.

As volunteers pass around a basket asking for $2 donations in exchange for pins that read “Stop thinking like Americans! Start thinking about humanity!!!,” dialogues and readings over the emancipation of women swiftly turn into stern condemnation of the traditional structure of politics in America.

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Pro-choice activists take to the streets as Supreme Court hears major abortion case

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

After the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the ensuing warfare in the Senate over his successor, an understaffed Supreme Court met Wednesday to hear a challenge to a Texas law that would shut down all but 10 abortion clinics in the state, with likely reverberations at the national level.

To speak up for abortion rights, activists with Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation, a local group also called FURIE, demonstrated on the Federal Plaza Wednesday at a moment when access to legal and safe abortions is threatened. A likely 4-4 Supreme Court gridlock on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt would in fact automatically reaffirm the lower court’s decision, substantially upholding the restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas.

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Clinton dominates Super Tuesday, gets closer to nomination

By Anna Boisseau (audio)
Brendan Hickey (photos)
Enrica Nicoli Aldini (text)

The atmosphere was upbeat, drinks were pouring and “Hill, yes!” chants filled the dining rooms during a Super Tuesday watch party at Old Crow Smokehouse in River North. As the results rolled in, Hillary Clinton supporters celebrated a large victory for the former secretary of state over the opposing Democratic candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“Tonight’s victory is very important for the way the Democratic primaries are set. They are very front-loaded and you should do well in the first states,” Clinton supporter Stephen Anderson said.

Clinton scored lopsided leads over Sanders in seven of the 11 states that were voting on Tuesday, substantially strengthening her delegate count. While Vermont was a largely-expected overwhelming victory for Sanders, Clinton was able to secure the neighboring state of Massachusetts against predictions that the Vermont senator would fare better there too.

The most sizable support to Clinton came from the Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, areas that are rich in minority voters who have pledged overwhelming allegiance to the former secretary of state.

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Health care organizations push increased access to birth control in Illinois

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

Oregon made birth control available for purchase directly at a pharmacy without obtaining a doctor’s prescription last January. California will do the same in March. And now, health care organizations in Illinois are working with state legislators to increase access to birth control methods without additional costs, possibly making it available over the counter.

“No specific steps have been taken so far to introduce over-the-counter birth control, but the conversation is starting to bubble up,” said Kathy Waligora, director of the Health Reform Initiative at EverThrive Illinois, an organization advocating for the health of women, children and families. “The issue is really being considered by a lot of people.”

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Chicago men stand up for women’s reproductive freedom

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

They will never experience an unintended pregnancy or seek an abortion or confront the hurdles often associated with the choice to do so. However, a group of politically-engaged men in Chicago believe they have a lot to say and do in the fight for women’s rights. They are coming together with the organization Men4Choice to engage, educate and activate men in expanding and protecting women’s reproductive rights.

“We are very conscious of the fact that men have a role to play,” said Oren Jacobson, Men4Choice co-founder and executive director. “There’s a lot more at stake in reproductive choice that men tend to believe. This is an issue that affects the women in our lives. If we’re not willing to stand up for them, shame on us.”

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“I’m with her”: pro-choice organizations say they are pro-Clinton

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DES MOINES, Iowa – As the Democratic primary race has tightened between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some pro-choice organizations nationally have announced their endorsement of the former secretary of state based on her “excellent record” in support of women’s rights, and the likelihood that she would expand on that were she to be elected to the White House.

“Hillary Clinton has a track record as a champion of issues that affect women, families and reproductive freedom,” said Anne Bailey, deputy field director for National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice America, and a volunteer with the Clinton campaign in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “NARAL endorsed her because she talks to people about issues that matter to our members, like access to paid parental leave, gender discrimination in the workplace, birth control and abortion.”

Planned Parenthood also announced in January that it would endorse Clinton. It is the health organization’s first presidential primary endorsement in the 100 years since its foundation. According to Brigid Leahy, director of government relations at Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, the nonprofit’s political arm in the state, not only is Clinton framing her policies on women’s health in continuity with President Barack Obama’s, but she also promises to move forward and do more.
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Writer discusses social justice aspects of abortion rights

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

Nearly one in three American women has had an abortion. Of these, 45 percent have had more than one. Thus, chances are that more often than not, whether in an elevator, a diner or a bar, anyone might be in the presence of at least one woman who has had an abortion.

This is one of the chief arguments Katha Pollitt, feminist poet and columnist at The Nation, uses to suggest that “abortion is a normal experience. It’s all around us.”

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Can Ted Cruz, political professional, outwit Donald Trump?

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DES MOINES, Iowa – Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa last week not only showed that the Texas senator’s evangelical base in Iowa is sizable, supportive and strong. It also positioned him as a staunchly conservative professional politician in a race against as real estate tycoon with  uncertain political leanings.

In the months leading up to Feb. 1 caucuses, pundits thrived on speculation about Trump’s ability to attract large numbers in the electorate with what sometimes seems a grab-bad of policies and pronouncements. His signature pursuit of a restoration of America’s greatness is all but devoid of policy specifics.

The Republican caucus-goers of Iowa spoke their mind on the conundrum. By 28 percent to 24 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio narrowly third at 23 percent, it is the true politicians who do it for them – and that’s not Trump.

The irony is rich, for Cruz spends enormous amounts of rhetorical energy blasting professional politicians. Yet, as a real politician, Cruz had a clearer sense than Trump of how to go about Iowa: it all boils down to the people. With that in mind, Cruz visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties, a mission he completed just hours before Iowans headed to the precincts.

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Contending with gender: pondering President Hillary Clinton

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

DES MOINES, Iowa – It easy to find Iowa women who believe gender should not be the deciding factor in choosing a presidential candidate. Harder to find are women who doubt that electing the country’s first female president would shape the future of the country.

“Personally, I feel like gender is important,” said Anne Bailey, deputy field director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, who volunteered at a Hillary Clinton rally in Cedar Rapids. “Representation is important. When women are making policies, they’re putting issues that affect women at the top of the agenda.”

Heading into Monday night’s caucuses, Clinton enjoyed a slight lead  over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders here. Not only is she given a better chance at being the Democratic nominee, a win in Iowa would also make history – eight years after Iowa Democrats chose Barack Obama and pushed her into third place.

According to the final Des Moines Register poll released Saturday, Clinton was outpolling Sanders among women by 10 points.  The newspaper noted that women make up the majority of the caucus electorate in Iowa.

Writing recently in the Register, University of Iowa political science professor Sara Mitchell argued that gender matters: “My basic argument in the editorial is that democratic women in legislatures are more likely to vote to help women’s issues.”

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