Justice Updates from the UCC Washington, D.C. Office

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Congress still needs to consider in the lame-duck session: 

  • Appropriations legislation: The current CR expires on December 16 during which there is the potential for a DACA fix.
  • National Defense Authorization Act: To which Sen. Manchin’s dangerous permitting “dirty deal” might be added along with other harmful asylum and policing amendments.
  • Same-sex marriage legislation: Will be voted on the 17th; this bill would federally recognize same-sex marriage licenses and requires states that won’t issue same-sex marriage licenses to recognize them in states where it is legal.  Meaning if Obergefell falls a state where same-sex marriage is legal must be recognized in a state where it isn’t.  This bill is milquetoast- and was crafted to get bipartisan support as a bulwark against the potential of the Supreme Court to undermine Obergefell.
  • Electoral College Reform Legislation: The Senate Rules Committee advanced S.4573, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transaction Improvement Act, in September. There is bipartisan support for the legislation.
  • Debt Ceiling legislation

Title 42:

A DC Judge struck down the Trump-era policy used by U.S. border officials to quickly expel migrants because of the covid pandemic, saying the ban had little proven benefit to public health even as it shunted migrants to dangerous places.

Indian Child Welfare Act

The Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case that will decide the fate of the Indian Child Welfare Act (P.L. 95-608). ICWA was enacted in 1978 to help keep Native children in Native homes. The court’s decision could significantly impact Native communities and tribal sovereignty.

Nuclear Talks with Russia

For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, the United States and Russia have agreed to engage in talks on the New START treaty—the only existing nuclear agreement between the two countries. In addition to capping both countries’ arsenals, the treaty builds transparency through mutual on-site inspections and information exchanges, significantly reducing the risk of nuclear war.


On Monday, President Biden met with Xi Jinping the leader of the Chinese Communist Party for the first time.  It was their first 1-1 meeting and took place during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Given global tensions and hopes that both nations take leadership on climate change and other challenges, such a meeting carries global significance. Although President Biden said there was no “kumbaya” moment, he did note hopeful tones including suggesting “There need not be a new Cold War” with China, and received assurance China is not planning an imminent attack on Taiwan (although according to Chinese papers, Xi outlined several red lines).


An Iranian court on Monday sentenced a protester to death for allegedly setting a government building on fire, and was charged with violating national security and “war against God” and “corruption on earth.”  Five others were sentenced to serve over ten years in prison on Monday, and over twenty still face charges punishable by death.  Protests since September over the death of Mahsa Amini (a 22-year-old woman who died in custody after allegedly breaking hijab rules) have spread to over 140 cities and resulted in the deaths of 326 protesters, according to Human Rights organizations.


President Zelensky visited the city of Kherson on Monday following the withdrawal of Russian troops last week. Many see the recapturing of this city as a turning point in the war and Zelensky himself called it the “beginning of the end of the war” in his speech in Kherson. In the U.S., some of President Biden’s advisors are pressing him to urge Ukraine to seek a diplomatic end to the war.

Prepared by Katie Adams (she/her/hers*)
Policy Advocate for Domestic Issues
Justice and Witness Ministries | United Church of Christ
Washington D.C. Office