May 06, 2022


WASHINGTON, DC – In case you missed it, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the recent Supreme Court assault on women's freedom to make their own health care decisions as well as the New York Court of Appeals' decision making it nearly impossible for downstate New Yorkers to have their voices heard in the redistricting process.

GEIST: [...] I just want to get your reaction to what we've seen all week. This leak first reported by Politico that Roe v. Wade likely, not for certain yet, but likely will be overturned come June by the Supreme Court. What is the fallout in your district, for example, in the Eighth District of New York? What do you expect to see? 

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: People are incredibly alarmed. This is a radical right wing, runaway, Republican-sanctioned assault by this Supreme Court on our freedom, on our Constitution, on really what we stand for as an inclusive, democratic society. And so, the battle lines have been drawn and the stakes are very crystallized. You either stand on the side of freedom or you stand on the side of tyranny. You stand on the side of a woman's freedom to make her own health care decisions, or you stand on the side of government-mandated pregnancies, even in the case of rape or incest. You stand on the side of the Constitution, or you stand on the side of the cult which wants to impose its values on the rest of us. 

GEIST: So, what are you telling, Mr. Chairman, people in your district, but also just Democrats and by the way, not just Democrats as Mika points out—women and their families across the country are deeply concerned about what may be coming here—what are you telling them in terms of recourse? What can you do as a political leader? What can citizens be doing right now if the Supreme Court is in fact going to overturn Roe v. Wade, there's nothing they can do about that. But what's next? What recourse do they have? 

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: It's important to get active, get engaged and get into some good trouble. And I think from my standpoint, that means exercise your right to protest in the First Amendment, to petition your government, to demand that the government act in ways that are consistent with our values. I think an initial step means making sure that state legislative bodies across the country are actually not rolling back the woman's right to choose and her freedom to make her own health care decisions, that we can strengthen those rights, as we've done here in New York State. But it's also going to be important not just to protest, not just to petition your government, but to vote. Vote like your life depends on it because your quality of life clearly depends on it. 

BRZEZINSKI: Congressman, let me ask you to look into the future six months from now when the fall elections occur. What do you think will drive more people to the polls? What we're talking about right now, the soon to be issued opinion overturning Roe v. Wade looks like that will occur or the cost of gasoline, groceries, cost of living and probably the fact that we'll be in a recession at that point. What do you think will be paramount in voters minds? 

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Well, it's going to be an all of the above approach, I believe, because everything is at stake. This is an extraordinary constellation of issues. I certainly hope that we're not in a recession and don't believe that we will be, although, of course, these are uncertain economic times. In many ways, I think led by President Biden, we're in a strong position economically. 8 million good-paying jobs created over his first 15 months. That's a record in American history in terms of a similar point in time, 3.6% unemployment, fastest rate of economic growth we've seen in 40 years, wages have increased and the deficit has been reduced. 

But of course, we're dealing with inflationary prices and pressures. Food prices high, gas prices high. Legislatively, we are going to act decisively, led by Speaker Pelosi, to deal with these challenges and hopefully we'll see improvement in the fall. But we're going to continue to work hard on these kitchen table pocketbook issues affecting the lives of everyday Americans, while at the same time making it clear that the stakes are incredibly high in terms of the Republican right wing radical, reckless attack on our freedom. This is just the beginning. I agree with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 


GEIST: Before I let you go, Mr. Chairman, I want to ask you about the redistricting fight that's going on in the state of New York right now, if you can explain for our viewers what exactly has been going on as the Times reports national Democrats are making a last ditch attempt to get the maps which favor, in this case anyway, Democrats reinstated. What does that fight look like and why is it such an important issue for you?  

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Redistricting is incredibly important because it basically determines how the voice of the people will be able to be expressed, both for state legislative lines and congressional lines for a 10-year period of time. And so, the most important principle for me is making sure that everyone has an opportunity to weigh in. The highest court here in New York State has thrown out the lines, both congressional and state legislative, claiming that they were in violation of the Constitution. 

Two things have now happened that are extraordinary. One, instead of giving the legislature the people's elected representatives an opportunity to cure the defects that the court may see which happened in every other part of the country, it has thrown this case to a judge in Steuben County, in the Village of Bath, which is closer to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Toronto than it is to the people of the City of New York and downstate, where the majority of people are located. And there is a single hearing today, a single hearing, that almost no one from downstate New York can get to, to have their voices heard. So we've got to open up this process, because if there's a fair process, not a flawed process, we'll get fair lines. 


Watch the full interview here.