Monday, November 27, 2017

To Do This Week: One letter a day to Congress

Does anybody think we no longer have to worry about Donald Trump's unilateral authority to use nuclear weapons?

This week I will be writing letters to representatives and senators in the US Congress to urge their support of  HR669 "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017" (corresponding Senate bill: S200).

Last winter I suggested people call and write Congress on this vital issue. As of today, there are 73 co-sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives and 13 in the Senate. We need more.

Two weeks ago the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on the issue. (You can watch the hearings here.) This is a startling step in a Republican-controlled Congress and a major step forward in moving this bill forward.

Below are the tasks I have set myself for the week.

What would happen if a large number of people picked up their pens and took control of this issue?

For people in California, the consequences of nuclear conflict
seem just a little bit too real, as the publication of this image
on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle suggests.
Monday: Sen. Kamala Harris (CA)

I will urge the second of my two senators, Kamala Harris, to co-sponsor S200. (Senator Feinstein was one of the first co-sponsors.)

Tuesday: Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52)

My district is represented by Barbara Lee, who was the first of the eighteen (18) other California congressmen supporting the House version of the bill (HR669), introduced by her colleague from Los Angeles, Rep. Ted Lieu.

Now I will be writing to Scott Peters, who represents San Diego, to encourage him to join his California colleagues in co-sponsoring the bill.

Wednesday: Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5)

During my years in Chicago, I frequently communicated with Rep. Quigley. (See, for instance, this letter from two years ago.) It's time to write to him again to urge him to join his Chicago-area colleagues in the House, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, and Luis Gutierrez, in co-sponsoring HR669.

Thursday: Sen. Cory Booker (NJ)

Senator Cory Booker sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His support for S200 -- together with committee members Ed Markey (the original sponsor), Jeff Merkley, and Chris Murphy -- is vital.

Friday: Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

Senator Rand Paul also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is an independent voice within the Republican party, and a strong advocate for Congress' war authority under the U.S. Constitution. His support for S200 will all so be vital.

Who will you be writing to?

Related posts

Notes on how to talk to your representatives in Congress

"Nuclear Citizenship" by Elaine Scarry in Harper's

On Nuclear Weapons: We Need Tenacity

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Congress, Experts Question Trump’s Nuke Authority


What: Public forum on constitutionality of presidential first use of nuclear weapons
Where: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (Science Center Hall C)
When: Saturday, November 4, 2017

Contact: Prof. Elaine Scarry, Harvard University --  m 617-519-9735,
   or    Cole Harrison, Mass Peace Action -– m 617-466-9274,
   or    Prof. Jonathan King, MIT -– m 617 803 8683,

Congress, Experts Question Trump’s Nuke Authority
Long-held Doctrine May Be Unconstitutional

As President Donald Trump travels to China and other Asian countries, where his first priority will be negotiations over handling of the confrontation with North Korea over threats of nuclear strikes, a crescendo of voices in the US is questioning the constitutional authority of the US president to conduct a nuclear first strike.

On Saturday, November 4, at Harvard University, Congressman Jim McGovern (co-sponsor of “H.R.669 - Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017”) will join former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former missile launch officer Bruce Blair, constitutional scholar Bruce Ackerman, and other experts for a public forum on “Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?”

“This event is intended to bring together the range of voices that will be required to rein in the nuclear threat – members of Congress, defense experts, legal scholars, philosophers, activists … and the general public,” said Harvard professor Elaine Scarry, conference co-chair and author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom.

The conference takes place Saturday, November 4, 2017 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) at Harvard University, Science Center Hall C, Cambridge, MA, and is co-sponsored by Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center,  Harvard’s Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, and MassPeaceAction Education Fund.


Full conference program at:

H.R.669 - Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017:

S.200 - Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017: