Screenshot of AOC's virtual town hall on June 29.

3 Takeaways From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s June Virtual Town Hall

During a virtual town hall on June 29, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an update on the January 6 Committee Hearing, the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade and landmark gun safety legislation that was passed by the house. 

Here are a few takeaways from the conversation

1. January 6 Committee Hearing Update

When speaking of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony during the hearing on June 28, Ocasio-Cortez said it was explosive. Hutchinson was a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

Ocasio-Cortez said Hutchinson’s testimony was not pre-planned and was scheduled “immediately due to developing information.”

“She presented the clearest evidence to date that not only did January 6 happen, but contrary to the testimony and the statements of many members of Congress and President Trump himself, they knew that the events of January 6 were happening and they knew it would be violent,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There’s a large amount of evidence that they had planned and encouraged that violence to happen in an attempt to overturn the election and seize the Presidency.”

Hutchinson detailed that Trump had plans to go down to the White House with his supporters on January 6 and asked Secret Service to allow his supporters to carry AR-15s into the rally. He then sent them out to the capitol that day, Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Ivanka Trump and other top Trump officials also testified that there was no evidence that Trump won the 2020 Presidential election, meaning Trump lied when he said the election was stolen, Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Ocasio-Cortez said five members of Congress also asked for pardons from the Trump administration, which she said is an admission of guilt. She’s called for the expulsion of these representatives: Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Scott Perry (Pa.). 

She said the January 6 Committee is “starting to lay down the details of criminal charges.” She said no one has been arrested yet because the hearings are investigatory. The Committee is collecting the information and conducting the trials. It is then up to the Department of Justice to do something. 

“The Department of Justice should do something about it. I very much hope and believe that they should, not because I am a Democrat, but because attempting a coup is illegal,” she said. “It’s illegal and there are consequences for such behavior. We don’t say this as Republicans or Democrats but as people of the country and that this behavior is illegal.”

2. The Supreme Court’s Decision on Roe v. Wade

Ocasio-Cortez said the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade is “a very scary moment in our democracy” and that Roe v. Wade needs to be codified into law and reinstated because it protects a person’s right to choose and their right to privacy. 

“What Roe v. Wade established was not just the right to choose, but the right to privacy. And that has implications, as Clarence Thomas mentioned in his opinion. It has implications for marriage equality, it has implications for the right to contraceptives and it has implications for interracial marriage as well,” she said. “What we see here is a very, very scary moment in our democracy. What I have come out in favor of is really exploring every single tool in our arsenal to check the gross overreach and abuse of authority by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

In a Tweet on Thursday, President Biden agreed with this sentiment to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

One way to stop the overreach of the Supreme Court is by expanding the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court hasn’t been expanded since the 1800s when there were nine circuit courts and nine supreme court justices. There are now 13 circuit courts, meaning four more Justices could be added. 

“I think the President of the United States should expand the courts and come out in favor of that [and] strongly in favor of amending or abolishing the Senate’s filibuster,” she said. 

There are also three members of the Supreme Court who were appointed by Trump when he was president, and who lied in their nominations when they said that Roe v. Wade was an established precedent that’s accepted as law. Then in their opinion for overturning Roe v. Wade, they said that it was illegitimate from the date of its ruling, Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Other ways in which the Supreme Court has overreached recently are in its expansion of gun rights in New York and its ruling to allow Christian teachers to lead students in prayer, referring to a case where the Supreme Court ruled a football coach had the right to pray at the 50-yard line after games. 

Ocasio-Cortez said the court allowed Christian prayer in this ruling. 

“I will say Christian prayer because I don’t believe if this case arose with a Jewish teacher or Muslim teacher or teacher of any other faith [that the] the Supreme Court would reach the same conclusion. I believe there’s a religious bias in the court that’s very obvious for those who see,” she said, adding that this is a “core violation of separation of church and state.”

3. Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

While the news might have been overshadowed by the Supreme Court’s decision to expand gun rights in New York, Ocasio-Cortez said the Senate did pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which she referred to as “landmark legislation.”

Here are a few things the legislation will do:

  • Fund state crisis intervention orders
  • Close the boyfriend loophole
  • Crack down on gun trafficking
  • Expand background checks for ages 18-21

She said closing the boyfriend loophole is a huge legislative accomplishment and “perhaps the flagship item” in the act. 

“Many laws and state and federal laws only prevent a domestic abuser from getting a gun or meaningfully blocking a person from getting a gun if they are married,” she said. “There are all these loopholes. If you’re in a relationship, if you are dating someone and that person began to abuse you, you had much fewer protections. That person could more easily get a gun because they weren’t married to you. This was the boyfriend loophole, which finally closed after years and years last Friday.”

She said this is an important part of the legislation because 73-75% of mass shootings have had domestic violence issues leading up to the shooting. 

“With mass shootings, we’re talking about men and boys. A lot of times people say specifically this is about white men because of what we’ve seen in schools and theaters. But we’re seeing is men and boys of all races and backgrounds. When a mass shooting happens with many people in a movie theater, it gets a lot of attention. But if it’s 12 people dying in the Bronx or 30 in 30 hours, instead of 12 people dying in 1-2 hours, it’s treated differently,” she said. 

Ocasio-Cortez added that “this is an issue of men and boys. There’s an overwhelming correlation between mass shootings and incidents of domestic violence, particularly against women and LGBTQ people.”

She said there are also things that didn’t make it into the bill that need to be addressed, such as reinstating the ban on assault weapons. When there was a ban on AR-15s, the number of mass shootings was very low. When it was lifted, that number increased, Ocasio-Cortez said. 

“We can still protect the second amendment in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That doesn’t mean we can allow what’s happening now to continue.”

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