Motif asked each candidate to answer a handful of questions. Here are their responses, side by side for easy comparison. These are the candidate’s own words – none of their statements are fact checked or externally verified.
We do this every election cycle. Answers are edited only if absolutely necessary to fix obvious typos. Each candidate is approached by email, using contact info logged with the Secretary of State, then by form through their official website, then through social media, then by phone, then by email. This cycle is repeated until we get a response.
Stephen Casey, Ana Quezada, and Gerry Leonard did not provide responses by press time. We were unable to reach Terri Flynn.
We hope you find the replies from the other candidates helpful. Candidates, on behalf of our readers, thank you for taking the time to respond – we know it’s an extremely busy process, and we appreciate your efforts.
Primaries, which, in Rhode Island are the truly contested part of the race, conclude on September 5. Early voting has already begun. For information on where to vote, check https://vote.sos.ri.gov.
RI-01 includes rural, suburban, and urban constituencies – how will you represent them all effectively?
Gabe Amo: Rhode Islanders are demanding that their next member of Congress go to Washington and deliver for our state. As President Biden’s Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, I worked, as just one example, to make the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law truly bipartisan. I called state and local leaders across the country to encourage them to put pressure on the Republican members of their federal delegation to support these critical pieces of legislation because, as President Biden often says, there is no Democrat bridge or Republican road. There are only bridges and roads.
Without ever compromising our values, we must come together where we can to get things done to improve people’s lives here in Rhode Island.
As Rhode Island’s next congressperson, I will represent Rhode Island the same way that I have run this campaign: by showing up everywhere, listening, and advocating every day for Rhode Islanders. I would encourage voters to read my platform at gabeamo.com/gabes-plan.
Stephanie Beauté: I have a deep understanding of the different zip codes and communities that make up Rhode Island, having lived in various parts of CD1 as an adult, which has allowed me to become intimately familiar with the needs and concerns of the district’s residents. I bring a unique perspective to the table and have a true appreciation for all that this great state has to offer. I am the ideal person to represent CD1 and fight for the issues that matter most to our neighbors.
Walter Berbrick: As a Navy veteran, career civil servant and educator, and Red Cross volunteer, I’ve spent the past two decades bringing people together from all walks of life to deliver real results for all Americans – and that’s what I’ll continue to do in Congress. I’m going to do this the only way I know how: by always listening, staying honest, working hard, and putting the best interests of you – the people – and our country first. If we’re going to create good paying jobs, restore Roe v. Wade, end gun violence in America, tackle climate change, and preserve our democracy, then it’s absolutely critical that we elect leaders who have a record of bringing people together to solve big problems for all Americans. That’s what I’ve done my entire career and that’s what I’m going to do as your representative in Congress.
Sandra Cano: In my professional and elected capacities, I’ve worked throughout the Blackstone Valley and across the state, with all types of communities. My broad coalition of support from local- and state-level elected leaders from across the district and political spectrum speak to my leadership style: building bridges, finding common ground, and establishing consensus across diverse viewpoints. I am fully dedicated to working closely with our local communities, establishing a direct line of communication with their leaders. This will guarantee that the policies that truly matter and the projects that stand to benefit from federal investments take center stage. The relationships I’ve built throughout all 19 communities help inform my deep understanding of the unique needs of each community, and will enable me to advocate effectively on behalf of all my constituents across CD1. At the end of the day, we all want the best outcomes for Rhode Island. We need strong investments in infrastructure, with particular attention to projects that help bolster resiliency for municipalities across the district as we face the multifaceted threat of climate chaos. Sea level rise, flash flooding, extreme heat, deep freezes, storms, and more threaten our communities while bridges and schools crumble. Investing in sustainable infrastructure will create well-paid jobs (especially by employing union workers) and help us transition to a green economy. I am committed to focusing on ensuring that vital federal funding continues to flow back to Rhode Island so that we can achieve our common goals.
Don Carlson: Many Congressional districts have a similar mix of constituencies. In RI-01, we’re lucky that our rural folks don’t tend to fall for the MAGA propaganda so there is far less dissonance in political views. On a day-to-day basis I will focus on the items that unite people across the district, principally revitalizing our business community and creating high-quality, great paying jobs that give working families fairness and security.
Spencer Dickinson: A fast car, a skilled staff, and a cell phone that’s better than the one I have now.
John Goncalves: I believe the #1 important attribute of any elected official must be their willingness to listen, engage, and learn from their constituents. We need to be open, find common ground that unites us, and celebrate our differences.
As a Providence City Councilman, I led the Council on responding to constituent requests, because I believe no problem is too small if it’s important to someone. Rural and suburban committees often feel that their concerns are ignored, but I will make sure that everyone has a seat at the table and is heard.
Sabina Matos: I have represented every corner of the district as their Lieutenant Governor. The diverse communities throughout Rhode Island are part of what makes it such a special place to live. From the Blackstone to Aquidnick Island, I am committed to continuing to engage with Rhode Islanders and fight for things that are important to them. That has been my approach throughout my career and it’s the approach that I will bring to Washington.
Aaron Regunberg: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling across our district, it’s that there’s a lot more that connects us than divides us. Whether you’re in Smithfield or Providence or Tiverton or anywhere in between, most people have the same basic concerns. Everyone wants safe and healthy communities, everyone wants opportunities for their kids, everyone wants clean air and water for their families. The issues I’m running on – Medicare For All, ambitious climate action, housing for all, a fair economy that works for everyone – are fights that will benefit Rhode Islanders in every community in the district.
Allen Waters: As a 4th generation resident and native of Providence, RI, for many years as I have had natural leaning to my direct environment, but I have lived in other nearby places, such as raising my first family in East Providence, and I have also lived over a decade on Cape Cod. One advantage of political inclusivity in Rhode Island is that it is so small in geographical size, and all the constituencies are in a district that even from Providence to the southernmost point of Little Compton can be reached in less than an hour by car. So, from inner city to countryside and ocean beaches, I will visit all regularly and listen to all equally.
If elected, what are, in order, your top three priorities or issues?
Amo: Protecting Rhode Island’s seniors by securing the future and health of Social Security and Medicare, preventing gun violence, and protecting reproductive freedom and codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.
1. Cut the cost of prescription drug costs for Seniors – As your next representative, I have submitted my first bill to address the rising cost of prescription drugs for seniors. Despite asking for endorsements from candidates, in support of this none have signed on yet. The bill would mandate the US government to renegotiate the cost of prescription drugs with Big Pharma, a necessary step in easing the financial burden on our seniors.
2. Additionally, housing instability remains a severe issue in Rhode Island, with slow progress due to a combination of market factors and rising costs of essential goods such as food and drugs. It is crucial that we address these issues with urgency and work towards finding solutions that benefit our constituents.
Housing – Housing instability is severe, and extremely slow in progress. It’s a combination of things which include the market as well as the cost increasing on everything from food, to drugs, to rent. The prices have increased astronomically and it has caused issues with housing on a massive scale. I want to ensure that this is adequately addressed.
3. Cyber Risk & Cyber Security – We are facing a critical national security threat that requires immediate attention. Both internally and externally, we are at risk of instability caused by the misuse of social media and the information it provides. We need individuals who are ready to step up and take action to protect our country and its citizens.
We need individuals who are committed to ensuring that sensitive information is kept secure and that the misuse of social media is prevented. This is a crucial moment for our nation, and we need the best and brightest minds to address this challenge.
1. Build a strong middle class and lower costs for hardworking families. I am going to use every tool at my disposal to lower costs for hardworking families and small businesses. From the cost of products and services to housing and healthcare to college and child care, Rhode Islanders are getting hammered by high costs. I will fight to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, increase access to capital, remove red tape for small businesses, and make historical investments in housing, education, and workforce development.
2. Protect our freedoms from extremism. I believe the greatest threat to democracy isn’t from abroad, it’s from within. Today, right-wing Republican extremists are ripping away the very values, freedom, and democracy that I’ve spent the last two decades defending. That’s why I won’t stop fighting in Congress until we restore Roe v. Wade, end gun violence in America, and make voting simpler and more accessible for all Amercians.
3. Tackle our Climate Crises: Climate change is an existential threat to our planet and our children’s future. I’ve spent the last 15 years bringing together leaders from the local level and to the global level to tackle our climate crises. In Congress, I will continue to call for a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse emissions, fight for investments in green infrastructure and clean-energy research and development; and, protect our water, air, and public lands.
1. Education: Ever since I was first elected to the Pawtucket School Committee, education has been a top priority for me – every level, from early childhood education to technical and university-level education – because it’s a great equalizer that opens up opportunities for the next generation.
2. Cost of living: Inflation and skyrocketing utilities, unaffordable healthcare, exorbitant higher education fees and more are squeezing working families like mine. The federal minimum wage is long overdue for a raise, and must be linked to inflation to keep pace with the cost of living.
3. Protected rights and justice for all: This looks like many things: protecting our democracy and voting rights; reproductive justice (protecting access to safe, legal abortion); gun safety to ensure that all people are able to live a life safe and free from the scourge of gun violence; protecting LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms; working towards policies that will ensure pay equity and economic justice; and more.
Carlson: I always go with four:
1. Gun safety. It is past time to end the scourge of gun violence.
2. Climate change. The existential challenge of our time is rapid transition to a renewable energy economy. RI can be the hub of renewable energy in the Northeast if we seize the leadership of the offshore wind industry and build a broad ecosystem of sustainable businesses around that core economic engine to drive our economic future. We have the talent and the skilled workforce to accomplish that goal.
3. Education. We need a major reinvestment in public education to help every child run as far and as fast as she can. The federal government can play a critical role in equalizing spending across zip codes and helping schools by funding mandates for special education needs. We will never regret a single dollar we invest in education. It pays dividends in better livelihoods, richer, more fulfilling lives, more capable and committed citizens, and stronger communities.
4. Reproductive freedom. Women should have autonomy over their own bodies and medical choices. Period. And we need to reinforce the Constitutional right to privacy that protects our individual liberties in so many important ways, like whom we love and marry, whether we can access birth control, and whether people can freely express their own identities. These are the liberties that make us a free people and can never be compromised.
1. We can’t provide a quality education to kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods (or any neighborhood) because the new generation of excellent teachers won’t apply for the job. One reason for that is that this state broke its promise to retired teachers and state employees. We illegally broke our side of the contract and tookaway COLA’s intended to protect pensions from inflation. Would you make a life decision to work for an employer you couldn’t trust? I wouldn’t. (For details on the problem, and what I would do, see the my ad in the Providence Journal, 08/16/2023 page 3A.)
2. The Rhode Island economy, and the New England economy, will surge ahead when we build the last unbuilt link of the Interstate Highway System – the highway from Hartford to Providence. Details coming soon. My job as your congressman will be to bring back funding for design and get this project moving.
3. Global warming and sea-level rise have been a personal concern of mine since before I built the first solar-heated house (with guidance from William Smith, III) many years ago. But nothing could be more serious than the destruction of our civilization in nuclear war. There are important economic and strategic reasons that this issue must be addressed now. There will be no better time to negotiate a resolution to this complex problem. The political handbook says that it is certain political defeat to even bring it up. Voters will zone out and turn off. But I see no choice. I will press this issue in the corridors of the Capitol, whatever its cost to me. And I won’t lie to you.
Goncalves: Cost of living, education, and climate change are at the top of the list.
First and foremost, we need to address the rising cost of living. Everyone in Rhode Island is feeling the squeeze. We need to find ways to grow our economy that doesn’t leave working families behind, including raising the minimum wage to $17/hr, expanding affordable housing, and cutting healthcare costs.
As a teacher, education is very important to me. Our schools are under attack by MAGA Republicans. Politicians should not be dictating what books our kids read, or what they learn. I will fight to expand public school funding and keep our children safe by pushing for universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
Finally, I’ll fight to end climate change and preserve our planet. It is not a secret that Rhode Island is especially susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, intensifying storms, and so much more threaten our Ocean State way of life. Investing in green energy will create good paying jobs, reduce energy costs for working families, and reduce the harmful effects of climate change on our most vulnerable, frontline communities.
Matos: I am concerned about the environment in Washington, where our rights are under attack. In Congress, I will fight to ensure that our reproductive rights are protected. I will push for common sense gun-safety measures, including an assault weapons ban. Finally, I will make sure that we protect our democracy from those who would see it destroyed.
1. Securing a livable future with ambitious climate action
2. Tackling the cost of living crisis by banning corporate price gouging
3. Creating a national mobilization of federal resources to develop high-quality, stable, affordable homes for all
1. Public Education, and relatedly parental rights. I support universal public school choice in Rhode Island.
2. Low income and affordable housing. I support cooperative housing where tenants own corporate shares of the company that owns the building(s).
3. Global Warming. I support the development of hydrogen energy and infrastructure. The key component of electrolysis is water, and we have plenty of sea water. My vision is to use to reduce carbon emitted in producing electricity is to dedicate wind turbines to the manufacture of hydrogen from H2O.
What do you feel is the biggest single challenge facing RI right now, and how can you help address it from DC?
Amo: Without a doubt, there is a crisis amongst our seniors, both here in Rhode Island and around the country. My “Protecting Rhode Island’s Seniors” plan focuses on five key components:
Securing the long-term health of Social Security by passing the Social Security 2100 Act
Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 years old, while leading long-term advocacy efforts for a robust public option
Investing in the care economy and the expansion of home care and long-term care options for those on Medicare and Medicaid, including investments in workforce opportunities for diverse populations to become a part of these vitally important professions
Investing in HUD programs, like Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, to help seniors of very low income access housing.
Advocating for a Permanent House Select Committee on Aging
Beauté: The biggest single challenge facing Rhode Island is the pipeline blockage in the housing and jobs sector. As a solution to this, I plan to make federal investments in HUD and affordable housing. Additionally, I aim to reinvest in small businesses to help them grow and scale, which in turn will create more job opportunities.
We cannot ignore the climate crisis that is affecting the world, and Rhode Island is no exception. We recently had a tornado, excessive rain, and the hottest summer on record. I strongly support the New Green Deal and will push for its passage to address this issue. With these steps, I am confident that we can work towards a better future for Rhode Island.
Berbrick: My number one priority is growing a strong middle class and lowering costs for hardworking Rhode Islanders. As a working family and third-generation small business family, I know how hard it is to start and grow a small business. That’s why I will work hard to legalize marijuana at the federal level, tackle inflation, improve wage standards, and cut red tape for Rhode Island’s small businesses. To create good paying sustainable jobs for all Americans, I will direct critical federal funding back to the state to quickly build more affordable homes and invest in workforce development, and rebuild our aging physical infrastructure.
Cano: Across the nation, our democracy is under attack at the same time that we face the existential threat of the climate crisis. The fabric of our democracy is the foundation upon which all issues rest, because without it we cannot take meaningful action on anything – including climate. We need to stand strong in defense of our democracy in order to be able to address the many challenges ahead of us. Many of the most profound challenges that Rhode Island faces are interwoven and can’t be easily isolated. We’re confronting an acute affordable housing crisis as well as the looming threat of the climate emergency; crumbling infrastructure in need of sustainable, union-built updating; the erosion of our rights and freedoms; skyrocketing cost of living; and so much more. In Congress, I will fight hard for the integrity of our democracy and elections by building coalitions rather than feeding the hyper-partisan rhetoric and posturing. I’ll focus on building relationships so that we can get Congress back to work for the people.
Carlson: We do not have a business welcoming environment in RI. A large part of that problem is that our government leaders lack the business acumen and experience to understand the needs of businesses – both large and small – and to put in place policies that stimulate growth and investment. That is the key to creating high-quality, great paying jobs of the future. My career in law, business, government, and education has given me the perfect set of skills to ignite a business renaissance in Rhode Island that will benefit every family and community.
Dickinson: A Legislature that can’t solve problems is a drag on our economy. And corruption is the enemy of business growth. The answer is a Dan Burton style commission, set up in Providence, with real subpoena power and investigators, to smoke out the crimes. Issues would include 38Studios, pension theft, and what many view as a system where elections can be rigged. Resolve those problems and the Rhode Island economy will take off.
Goncalves: Income inequality is the single biggest challenge facing not just Rhode Island, but our nation. I grew up in poverty as the son of a single, immigrant mother, but through hard work and opportunity I was able to graduate from Brown University. My story shouldn’t be the exception, but corporations and billionaires have gamed the system and closed off the path to the middle class that once existed.
In Congress, I’ll take on income inequality by fighting rent subsidies, a $17/hr minimum wage, student debt forgiveness, expanding Social Security, increased economic investment in our communities, and other critically needed policies. And I’ll fight to end unfair tax breaks and pass a wealth tax so that corporations and billionaires finally pay their fair share.
Matos: The housing crisis is something that I have been working to address for many years. As Lt. Governor, I advocated for a historic $250 million investment in housing in 2022. In Washington, I believe that we can do even more, including changing the federal definition of homelessness to help make funds available to people and families before they are forced to sleep on the street, not after.
Regunberg: Climate change is an existential threat, and one that we are particularly vulnerable to here in the Ocean State. And we don’t have much time to change course. The choices we make in the next five and ten years will decide the course of human civilization. The good news is we have everything we need to transition to a clean energy economy. It’s not a question of technical possibility. We have or will soon have everything we need to power our world from the sun, from the wind, from the earth, from the tides – sources we don’t have to burn and breathe into our lungs.
The problems are political. The problem is that the fossil fuel industry – the most powerful and profitable industry in the history of humanity – is making obscene profits from the burning of fossil fuels, and they are going to do everything they possibly can to keep that money spigot flowing. They are going to deny, distract, and delay real decarbonization efforts as long as they possibly can, no matter how many millions and even billions of lives they condemn.
And that is one of the key reasons I’m running for Congress. I have spent my life fighting this industry – organizing to block fossil fuel infrastructure, taking on our for-profit utility to pass new clean energy programs, supporting the court cases seeking to hold Big Oil accountable for their climate crimes. And that’s the work we need to be doing in Congress.
Waters: The urban public education of diverse students in our cities is the biggest single challenge, and one of my greatest personal concerns. As testing has measured, only a small minority (as in %) of students have been receiving a grade level education in our cities, and this has been going on now for decades. As a Black man, I view public education in Rhode Island as the most racist institution, because as Malcolm X, who I am inspired by, is quoted, “Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world,” ”An educated man is a dangerous man,” and “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” The failure of public education is directly linked to reduced potential of human capital (economic value of experience and skills). In Congress, I believe we have to reset and revise the teachers union federal charter, as well as defund the U.S. Department of Education created during the President Carter Administration.
The RI Cannabis Act was landmark legislation passed in 2022. How do you feel about legalization on the federal level?
Amo: I support the steps that the Biden Administration has taken in that direction. We also need to ensure that no one is spending time in prison for marijuana-related crimes when there is a massive industry that has emerged around recreational marijuana. We need to be cautious around the potential effects of marijuana on young people, and I would look to public health experts to guide policy in that area.
Beauté: We have a three-point plan for cannabis reform. First and foremost, we believe in the importance of decriminalization. We believe that no one should be punished for using cannabis, and that the criminalization of cannabis has caused far more harm than good.
Secondly, it is essential for dispensaries to have the communities who were targeted the most be the stakeholders in any of its marketing. This will help to promote responsible use of cannabis, while also ensuring that those who have been most impacted by the war on drugs have a voice in the industry.
Lastly, we would mandate that records would be automatically expunged for non-violent offenses related to cannabis on a federal level. This is essential to addressing the harms caused by the war on drugs, and to providing a path forward for those who have been unfairly punished for cannabis use.
At our core, Stephanie believes that cannabis reform is about justice, equity, and freedom. She is committed to fighting for these values, and to building a better, more just future for all.
Berbrick: As a veteran, I’ve seen the positive impacts medicinal marijuana has on fellow veterans and Rhode Islanders dealing with post traumatic stress, chronic pain, and depression. A safe, well regulated marijuana market creates new tax revenues, jobs, and investment opportunities in housing, education, and infrastructure. Legalizing cannabis can undermine the financial incentive for drug trafficking, reducing crime and violence associated with the illegal drug trade. That’s why we should remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge marijuana-related convictions, and bar federal funds to states that enforce cannabis laws in a discriminatory way.
Cano: It’s high time that we legalize marijuana at the federal level; but, most importantly, this needs to be done with an emphasis on equity. Historically it’s been BIPOC communities and lower income people who have borne the brunt of harsh drug laws. As we did in Rhode Island, we must ensure that the path to legalization emphasizes record expungement, justice for those currently and previously incarcerated on marijuana-related offenses, and equity with respect to business licensing.
Carlson: We are on a path to legalization right now because many decades of criminalization have failed us – and have resulted in the mass incarceration of millions of black and brown Americans. The guiding principle of this process should be “legalize to regulate effectively.” New forms of cannabis products are emerging every day with much higher THC concentrations. As the old adage goes, “The dose makes the poison.” There is growing evidence that high concentrations of THC have serious negative effects on adolescent brains. And we have seen a surge in cannabis and other drugs adulterated with lethal doses of fentanyl and other harmful chemicals. As long as cannabis is unregulated we will see these trends continue. Corporate marketing dollars are accelerating that trend and pushing potentially dangerous products in a desperate search for big profits to justify their massive investments in cannabis. This is a familiar story: exactly the pattern we have seen with the tobacco, alcohol, and opioid industries in the past. I am strongly in favor of a comprehensive federal regulatory regime that regulates THC concentration, availability to minors, and product safety.
Dickinson: I know some tragic cases of lost focus and lost ambition. Next comes highway issues. We need to slow this whole thing down. (Okay, I admit it’s the second-best way of dealing with the nuclear threat.)
Goncalves: I fully support legalizing and regulating cannabis at the federal level. It has been proven over and over again to be safe and medically beneficial to use. Any legalization efforts need to be paired with criminal justice reform, including pardoning and expunging the records of anyone who was incarcerated for marijuana possession. Congress should also follow the lead of Illinois by prioritizing giving licenses to Black and Brown-owned dispensaries to reduce the barriers to entry for communities that have been unfairly targeted by anti-drug laws.
Instead of clinging to an outdated, failed war on drugs model, we should be focusing our resources on combating the exploding opioid crisis – especially funding social workers, mental health services, and drug rehabilitation centers.
Matos: I support the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults at the federal level.
Regunberg: I am so grateful for the incredible organizers and leaders who passed the most progressive marijuana legalization legislation in the country, with policies like automatic expungement for folks with marijuana convictions. I strongly support legalization at the federal level, and believe that – like in Rhode Island – such legislation needs to make up for the disproportionate harm that the War on Drugs has had on communities of color.
Waters: To my recollection, the last social (I was never a long term and frequent at home smoker) cannabis that I smoked with friends, be it by bong or joint, was in 1982, when I was 26 years old. I was a responsible, young father of two young sons, and started a job as a consultant with a Providence Wall Street firm, and because marijuana was an illegal substance, I chose to stop for that reason, and, personally, I got bored with the associated sloth waiting to come down off the high (“Man, I got things to do!”). So, for your main readership of people decades younger than me, this is my truth. I will not support the decriminalization of cannabis on the federal level because like other vegetation that we burn and inhale the smoke, cannabis has its own range of negative health issues associated with it, whether the active chemicals associated with intoxication can be ingested instead of inhaled. What I am most concerned about is the effects on the brains of teenage users, especially as more data from studies on brain health are being revealed. I do not hate cannabis, and have no moral judgment to its use, but I believe public health safety is also related to our liberty, and yes, alcohol consumption is far more damaging to the American people.
RI proved prescient in passing abortion rights protections well before the Supreme Court reversed its position on Roe v. Wade. What other policies do you think might be reconsidered by the current Supreme Court, and are there measures you think should be taken on a federal level in anticipation?
Beauté: Rhode Island needs to take a bold step towards ensuring equitable representation in its workplaces by codifying Affirmative Action laws and including metrics to hold companies accountable. With this move, companies in Rhode Island are now required to actively recruit and promote individuals from underrepresented groups, including people of color, women, and individuals with disabilities. The metrics will measure progress towards achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and will be used to hold companies accountable for meeting those goals. This decision would take a major step towards creating a more just and equitable society in Rhode Island, and have a positive impact on the state’s economy and social fabric.
Berbrick: The recent Dobbs decision is an attack on the rights of every woman in America. It is crucial to recognize the concurring opinion within the court’s decision, as it jeopardizes additional rights and freedoms, including access to contraception and marriage equality. These are policies that could very well be reconsidered by the Supreme Court in the future. That’s why, on the federal level, we need to push for the Equality Act to protect Americans against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure equal treatment under the law for people of all genders.
Cano: The United States Supreme Court has become egregiously partisan, corrupted by special interests and dark money. What has come to light particularly in recent months underscores the need for SCOTUS reform – beginning with the implementation of a code of ethics to which they must be held to the highest standard. Once confirmed, Justices enjoy a lifetime appointment to the bench of the highest authority with significant influence and no code of ethics. The general reluctance to hold Justices to account has resulted in the types of corrupt behavior that’s recently been uncovered by ProPublica reporting, and others. With SCOTUS expected to rule on some gun safety laws in the next year, Congress must proactively pass a ban on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and ghost guns – as well as work to close loopholes and strengthen background checks. These steps are vital to keep Americans safe from the scourge of mass shootings and gun violence. Congress must also pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect our democracy.
Carlson: As a practitioner and teacher of the law (currently on leave from Yale Law School), I understand that Roe v. Wade rests on the Constitutional right to privacy originally recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut. The Dobbs decision by this rogue Supreme Court undercut that fundamental right to privacy that is the legal underpinning for so many other crucial freedoms, like the right to marry across racial lines, access to birth control, same sex marriage, and many other rights we all take for granted in our democracy. We should codify current protections of our individual liberty in federal law before this Supreme Court does any more damage to our most fundamental freedoms. The same logic applies to many provisions of environmental law. When Democrats take back the majority, we should use that opportunity to update and modernize our entire corpus of environmental statutes (Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, NEPA, etc.) to reflect modern science and the emerging realities of climate change.
Dickinson: Next job of the Supreme Court is to re-think the “Citizens United” decision and get privately-purchased outcomes out of our government process. It is the soul of corruption and it will drag down our economy and threaten our security. For now, special attention should go to my opponents with big PAC funding or other big budget items. When they shamelessly announce a huge sum they are about to spend on a “media buy,” I feel like I’m listening to a little kid who’s about to run out on the playground and pull his pants down. If they can’t run an economical campaign, how the hell can they watch over a non-inflationary national budget? They can’t. They won’t. And for even more bad news, check into the groups that have refused to let me on their forums or podcasts. Reason given: I’m not spending enough money. I’m sensing some different reasons. Who are they taking orders from? Maybe there’s something they don’t want you to hear me say. (See PJ ad noted above for a start.) So much for their commitment to the Constitution and the First Amendment.
Goncalves: The conservative majority on the Court has made it clear that their goal is roll back centuries of progress and take as many rights as they can away from vulnerable Americans – that includes gay marriage, interracial marriage, LGBQTAI+ rights, the right to contraception, the right to organize and collective bargain, and the right to vote and have your vote counted.
This is a crisis in our politics. Republicans have tried for years to make their extremist policies a reality, but have been thwarted at the ballot box – thanks largely to the power of grassroots organizers. Now, Republicans are getting an unelected, corrupt Court to push their extremist agenda.
If elected, I will fight like hell to bring accountability and integrity back to the Court through ethics reform and term limits for justices. And I will urge my fellow Democrats to support adding four new justices, which is the only way we can restore balance to the Court and repair voters’ trust in this institution.
Matos: I will fight for federal legislation to restore the rights that were protected in Roe v. Wade, including ensuring access to abortion medication in the mail no matter where you live in the United States. I also believe we need legislation to ensure that healthcare decisions are between a woman and her doctor, not lawyers and politicians.
Regunberg: This far-right Supreme Court is out of control. The conservative majority is clearly gunning to further restrict LGBTQ+ rights, limit contraception access, overturn environmental protections, and undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to name just a few likely future targets.
That is why court reform is needed. Our judiciary – the branch of government that is the least constrained by democratic safeguards – has become far too unrestrained and unaccountable in its wielding of power. In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln warned that “if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court … the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”
The founders did not expect the judiciary to be above the system of checks and balances built into our government – they intended the executive and legislative branches to be active participants in restraining the courts when they got out of hand. And it’s time for our elected leaders to begin engaging in this constitutional rebalancing. To protect the rule of law in this country, members of Congress should bind the Supreme Court by the same code of ethics that applies to other federal judges. They should establish term limits for Supreme Court Justices. They should require a supermajority of the Court to strike down federal legislation. And we should be pushing for court expansion. These reforms won’t be easy to achieve. But our democracy is worth the fight.
Waters: As a Democrat, I belong to the “Party of Science,” and scientifically speaking, life begins at conception, a fact that politics may try to ignore, but politics cannot hide. So, therefore, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy which always involves two lives, the host female, we call “mother”, and the fetus inside of her, a preborn living and growing child (cell division is life). It is a legal choice in Rhode Island for a woman to end her pregnancy which terminates the life of the second developing person. There are Rhode Islanders who believe it is a federal constitutional right to terminate uterine life, and there are those who do not. I believe that the Supreme Court of the United States, no matter who Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is chasing down these days, made the correct decision in moving abortion rights from the federal level to the state level where representation of the citizens through their state legislatures are closer to the people. Although, personally, I am pro-life, and “all life matters to me” when it comes to childbirth, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” abortion is legal in Rhode Island, and I am taking no political position against it statewide, but federally, I will not support it as a constitutional item.
Favorite RI snack: Del’s, NY System, or Awful Awful?
Beauté: Neither. Clam Cake’s from Flo’s Clam Shack.
Berbrick: Oreo Awful Awful, all day!
Cano: Why do we have to choose!? Del’s – no spoon, no straw… straight from the cup – the Rhode Island way. (But my daughter Ari loves an Awful Awful with french fries!)
Carlson: With all due respect to my former employer at Newport Creamery, I’m going with Del’s! It’s not summer in RI until you’ve had your first Del’s.
Dickinson: Jim Beam (but in very small quantities).
Matos: I love them all, but I was an Olneyville girl for many years, so I have to go with New York System.
Regunberg: Nothing better than a large Del’s on a hot Rhode Island summer day!
Waters: One of my first jobs as a high school teenager was working at Newport Creamery on Broad Street in the Washington Park Neighborhood of Providence, so I made my share of Awful Awfuls. But, since lactose is sometimes not always my food friend, I must write with conviction that Del’s lemonade is my favorite RI snack, and when the East Providence Del’s location opens in April, another Rhode Island climate change is near: Spring is here and summer is coming.