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JULY 2024

The Supreme Court Goes After Core Functionality

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made some critical decisions last week. We have yet to find any silver linings in the various rulings.

Of particular concern is the decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, in which a majority of six justices limited the power of federal agencies to interpret the laws those agencies administer. The decision undermined a 40-year precedent deferring to agency experts when a law was ambiguous and instead handed significant power to the courts. The decision is expected to have wide-ranging effects across the federal government, particularly for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts called the Chevron doctrine “fundamentally misguided.” In contrast, Justice Elena Kagan, in the dissenting opinion, predicted that the ruling “will cause a massive shock to the legal system.”

However, the assault on the administrative function of the federal government did not end with Chevron. 

In another move against federal administrative powers, the court held in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy that the right to a jury trial in civil cases invalidates fines imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in their administrative proceedings. This decision also has implications for the many federal administrative agencies that use similar processes.

The justices also ordered a lower court to take a second look at the indictment of former Pennsylvania police officer Joseph Fischer. Fischer was charged with obstructing an official proceeding when he entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Questioning the obstruction charge used in the case seems to weaken the prosecutions of more than 300 defendants involved in similar behavior. It also challenges two charges brought against former President Trump.

Finally, the court also upheld the Grants Pass “camping ban,” which fines people who use blankets, pillows, or cardboard boxes to protect themselves from the elements while sleeping within the city limits. Critics of the ban say it criminalizes homelessness, but the justices ruled that the law does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The decision is viewed as a significant ruling on homelessness and will likely affect other municipalities.

Summary Coverage

Securities and Exchange Commission:

January 6th:

Grants Pass:


Supreme Court Term Recap and How We Fight Back
Hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women and The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Wednesday, July 10
2:00 p.m. ET • 1:00 p.m. CT • 12:00 p.m. MT  • 11:00 a.m. PT 
RSVP online

The Supreme Court is handing down some of the blockbuster case decisions. Join our interfaith and democracy friends to learn more about the various cases and how you can most effectively work for a Court that will uphold and advance our rights. From reproductive rights to voting rights to gun rights and more, you won’t want to miss our engaging speakers, expert analysis, and actions we can all take to ensure that the highest court of the land prioritizes justice for all. 

Special guest speaker Madiba K. Dennie, author of The Originalism Trap: How Extremists Stole the Constitution and How We the People Can Take it Back. Register today!


John Lewis National Day of Commemoration and Action
Hosted by various organizations

Wednesday, July 17

America is at a crossroads. Three years have passed since the failed attack on our nation and our democracy on January 6th, 2021. Since that day, anti-voter laws have been passed in states all over the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings have made it clear that it will not act to protect the sacred right to vote. 

July 17, 2024, marks the 4th anniversary of the death of the Late Congressman John Lewis! On that day, UUSJ will join others, coming together in events across the country to commemorate his death and, more importantly, his life work to secure voting rights for all people. With the ongoing attack on democracy, the events will highlight the urgency of this moment in our history. We intend to educate, motivate, and activate our community to work towards the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, the Native American Voting Rights Act, and DC Statehood.

In DC, UUSJ will attend:
Black Lives Matter Plaza
5:30 p.m. ET
3-hour action/vigil

Democracy 2024 Monthly Zoom

Wednesday, July 24
7:30 p.m. ET • 6:30 p.m. CT • 5:30 p.m. MT  • 4:30 p.m. PT 

2024 UUA General Assembly: “Love Unites, Stories Ignite”

Adopt the proposed revision to Article II: 2025 (80.2%)

AIW: World on Fire: Humanitarian Work and Climate Change: 2312 (95.6%)
AIW: Centering Love Amidst the Ongoing Impact of COVID-19: 1987 (86.1%)
AIW: Solidarity with Palestinians: 1655 (73.5%)

View UUSJ’s Booth at GA (pdf)


Gratitude for our 2024 Nominating Committee

We thank the committee for reviewing a competitive applicant pool during the 2024 - 2025 trustee search.
Led by current trustees Rev. Latifah Griffin and Jean Pierce, they helped do the critical work of identifying our new cohort.

Rev. Katie Romano Griffin roots her ministry in relationships and the belief that each person is inherently good and worthy of love. She is a passionate activist who believes in centering the voices of historically marginalized communities in justice work and advocates for applying an intersectional lens as we work towards co-creating a just world for all.  

Before being called to All Souls Indy, Rev. Katie served as an associate minister at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in the DC Metro. Before entering professional ministry, she served as a lay campus minister at Florida Gulf Coast University, had a rich career as a nurse, and co-owned a marketing and public relations company. She also has a background in coaching and hypnosis. Crafting our monthly video meditations is a passion of hers.

Rev. Katie hails from a very loving, incredibly boisterous, multiracial family. One of her grandparents came to the US from Argentina. While she identifies culturally as Latina and Italian, she reports that her biological roots trace to the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa, and India.  Her mother’s family spoke Spanish, Italian, and English mostly at the same time. She speaks some Spanish, a tiny bit of Italian, and a lot of English with a New York accent. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband Sean and her dog Dale (which means “go ahead” in Spanish). Her two adult children live in the DC Metro area, and she visits with them often.  Rev. Katie loves to unwind at the gym, on the dance floor, eat at a favorite vegan restaurant, read or write a book, or create a meal or baked treat for loved ones.

Reverend E.N. Hill is an Air Force veteran, social justice activist, spoken word artist, and Unitarian Universalist minister. Formally educated by both a conservative Christian College of Liberty University of Lynchburg, VA, and a ‘Subversive Leadership Academy of Starr King School for the Ministry of Oakland, CA, Rev. E.N. thrives on spreading messages of Radical Love from coast to coast.

Rev. E.N. identifies as Black, queer, trans-masculine, and multi-religious and uses he/they pronouns. E.N. is a native Floridian raised in Miami-Dade County - Carol City Class of 2001. After serving as an Air Force Aviator and Senior leader for over 15 years, E.N. separated honorably from active duty to pursue full-time theological education. In 2020, E.N. graduated from seminary and completed a parish internship in Ottawa, Canada, in 2021. After the parish internship, Rev. E.N. was called to serve as a primary caregiver for his mother, who requires 24-hour home health care. Once E.N.’s mother’s care needs were fully covered, he returned to the workforce as a hospital chaplain. In 2023, E.N. completed an Accredited Clinical Pastoral Education residency program at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. While completing the residency program, Rev. E.N. also served as an Affiliated Community Chaplain at the UU Church of Tallahassee, where he currently serves as a full-time Contract Minister. 

E.N. most enjoys practicing self-care by spending time with wife and family, being in nature with trees and water, listening to music or a sci-fi audiobook, pleasure reading, working out for fun, dancing, singing, praying, and daydreaming

Heather Vickery (she/her) is the Coordinator for Congregational Activism at the UU Service Committee and works with congregations, state action networks, and other groups that want to do their social justice work more effectively and faithfully. She is part of the Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum Seekers (CAPAS) team that matches (and supports) congregations with asylum seekers needing sponsorship and coordinates with UUSC’s frontline trans partners working to get our beloveds free and safe through the Pink Haven Coalition. Outside of her paid work, Heather co-coordinates the Beyond Bond & Legal Defense Fund, which is part of the wider Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network in Massachusetts, and is an active member of her UU church, First Parish Malden, and an aspirant to UU Ministry.


A Warm Farewell

We want to thank outgoing trustees Rev. Peggy Clarke, Chloe Emily Oakey, Rev. Kristin Schmidt, and Mariano Vera for their years of service, which are now ending. Each brought a bounty of talents to bear in favor of UUSJ and an abiding commitment to social justice advocacy in the federal forum. Each contributed favorably to UUSJ’s continued progress into a national footing.

We thank Rev. Peggy for her service as Vice-Chair and then Board Chair. We appreciate Emily’s service as Secretary and previously as Nominations Committee Chair. Rev. Kristin’s humor will be missed, and we thank her for being Vice-Chair. We have deep gratitude for Mariano’s steadfast work as Treasurer. 

Our incoming board members will be announced after their formal investiture as trustees.

July UUSJ Investiture Meeting - Our Trustees will meet on Tuesday, July 23, 2024. For more information, email

Defending Our Democracy
Fred Van Deusen, Democracy Action Team Convener (

Chat People Up About Democracy

Summer is a time for getting out and seeing some folks you haven’t seen recently or meeting new people. These encounters are a chance to discuss the state of our democracy. The election and its consequences are on most people’s minds, even if they are on the back burner.

A democracy elevator pitch will take longer than 30 seconds for an elevator to reach the next floor, but it can be done in less than five minutes while waiting to refill your plate at a picnic.

When you have the opportunity this summer, talk -- briefly -- about democracy. Here’s a rough script:

“I don’t know about you, but I’m really concerned about the long-term decline of our democracy. Regardless of party preference, most people just want a job with fair wages, a safe home, affordable healthcare, and a good education. The problem is, we’re not getting these things. The system just serves the wealthy and powerful.

It’s tragic and unacceptable. But there are possible solutions. We need to restore democracy in America, and we need a movement of people to do it -- a powerful, non-partisan coalition to demand change. 

This is why I’m working with engaged citizens to help build the growing democracy movement. If you want to learn about the democracy movement and how you can support it, you can go to this website:  Democracy in 2024 – Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (,

What do you think?”

And then listen quietly for an answer. Having your speech rehearsed and ready is important because you never know when you'll have an opportunity to use it!

A note of caution: If someone is wearing an oppositional candidate that hat or t-shirt, leave them be. A five-minute conversation isn’t going to upend deeply held misguided beliefs. It is better to focus your engagement where prospects for change are more apparent.

Environmental and Climate Justice
To connect with UUSJ about our activities (

Climate Justice Coalition

During the 2024 General Assembly, the UU Climate Justice Coalition hosted two cohorts for UUs to share about the climate crisis. UUSJ is an active member of the Coalition.

The cohorts described the Coalition, how we work together to advance climate justice grounded in UU values, and how UUs can engage with our work. Our two content threads were:

As a next step, join the Climate Justice Revival to tie it all together.  Register your congregation:

Young People are Demanding Action: Our Children’s Trust

Environmental justice is a significant concern for young people today. They are keenly aware that environmental issues do not affect everyone equally and that marginalized communities often bear the brunt of environmental degradation. For them, environmental justice means ensuring that everyone, regardless of their race, income, or location, has the right to a clean and healthy environment. Believing those most affected by environmental problems should have a voice in creating solutions. 

Young people are not just demanding immediate action; they are also advocating for long-term change through education. They are pushing for comprehensive environmental education in schools, believing that understanding the science behind environmental issues and their social impacts is crucial for informed citizenship. By participating in climate strikes and other forms of protest, they raise awareness and demand a fundamental shift in how we approach and understand the environment.

Our Children’s Trust represents and supports young people in many active legal actions in numerous U.S. states and five countries globally.

Immigration Justice
Steve Eckstrand & Terry Grogan, Immigration Action Team Conveners (

A Disappointing Step Backward on Asylum

On June 4, President Biden issued an executive order that would significantly change how the United States handles claims for asylum at the southern border. The entry of migrants would be suspended when an average of more than 2,500 migrants a day crossed the border in a one-week period. See our Press Release.

UUSJ also added a quote to a press release from Welcome With Dignity declaring in part: “President Biden’s executive order is another disappointing step back from our decades-long tradition of providing asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries,…Instead, Unitarian Universalists call on the Biden administration to expand the capability of the U.S. to welcome people truly in need of asylum.” 


DACA: 12-years of Temporary Protection for Dreamers … Still No Pathway to Citizenship

UUSJ marked the 12th anniversary of DACA on June 15 with a Press Release statement on how DACA has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and the grave threats that DACA currently faces. DACA’s future is more uncertain than ever, and only Congress can provide permanent protection for Dreamers.

The statement email also summarized the work that UUSJ's Immigration Action Team has done to promote pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and provided links to further actions that UUs can take to support Dreamers.


President Biden’s Executive Action for Immigrant Spouses and Children of U.S. Citizens

On June 18, UUSJ commended with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, on President Biden's announcement of two policy changes that will relieve hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the United States and help keep families together. Our full Press Release.

  • The first program would permit undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses who have also lived in the United States for at least ten years to apply for “parole in place,” allowing them to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the country.
  • The second measure would make it easier for DACA beneficiaries and, perhaps, other Dreamers to access high-skilled employment visas.

These changes may be the most significant relief programs for undocumented immigrants since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced 12 years ago.


Economic Justice
To connect with UUSJ about our activities (

The 2025 Tax Fight Looms

In preparation for the 2025 Tax Debate, which will probably ramp up in the 2024 lame-duck session after the election, the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) shares some excellent materials and a fun interactive tool you might appreciate.

Tax Policy Articles:

US Department of Agriculture Summer Nutrition Program for Kids

Many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the US Department of Agriculture during the school year. When schools let out, many children are at risk of going hungry. The Summer Nutrition Program (SUN) is designed to fill that nutrition gap and provide children with the nutritious meals they need and deserve. It is a federally funded program that provides free meals to school-aged children, 18 years old or younger, living in an area-eligible location.  

Find distribution in your community HERE.

UUSJ is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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