Defending Voters’ Rights in Pennsylvania: The Battle Is Not Over


A visit to a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID may be very difficult for the elderly and the poor, and as a result they may drop from the voters’ rolls.

— By Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

Striking down the voter ID law was an important step in securing voters’ rights in Pennsylvania.

The well reasoned opinion of Judge Herman McGinley overturning the voter identification law takes effect subject to the high likelihood of an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That Court’s 2012 ruling withheld decision on the merits of the law, instead questioning the practical impact on voters. So there is no foretelling the result in the coming appeal.

Meanwhile, the next battle to defeat the wishes of the voting public is Governor Corbett’s proposal to award Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in presidential elections on the basis of the tally by Congressional district.  

More after the jump.
As a result of the very successful gerrymander of those districts, Republicans cast less than half the votes statewide yet elected 13 out of 18 of our state Congressional delegation in 2012. According to analysts, despite the fact that President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points in 2012, he probably would have won only 7 of the state’s 20 electoral votes if this vote rigging plan had been in effect.

The problem with the voter ID law is that many people, particularly the poor and the elderly, have no driver’s license. A visit to a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID may be very difficult for them, and as a result they may drop from the voters’ rolls.

The very detailed and careful opinion of Judge McGinley of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court permanently enjoined the voter identification law that has been challenged in court for almost two years.  

The primary thrust of this law is to require picture identification, such as a driver’s license, for any registered voter to be able to cast a ballot. This voter ID law is one of many adopted across the country, primarily by state legislatures with Republican majorities.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court received the case on motion to enjoin operation of the law temporarily, before any final trial on the merits. Acting just before the 2012 presidential election, the Court enjoined the law and sent the case back to Commonwealth Court to determine whether it places an illegal burden on the right to vote, particularly as regards people who cannot readily visit a PennDOT office to secure a photo ID.

At trial the plaintiffs presented calculations that as many as 400,000 Pennsylvania voters might find it difficult or practically impossible to qualify for the necessary photo ID. The Administration argued, in support of the law, that it is justified to address potential voter fraud. But no significant evidence of voter fraud was presented.  

Judge McGinley sifted through the many problems that would-be voters, are likely to have in trying to secure the necessary photo ID. Various efforts at curative patches put up by the Corbett Administration were rejected either as unsatisfactory to solve the problem, or as unauthorized under the law. The court ruled that the difficulties imposed on many citizens amounted to a deprivation of their right to vote.

Unfortunately, the battle against suppressing voters’ rights in Pennsylvania is not over.

Pennyslvania DOMA Hero Honored: Mark Aronchick’s Journey


Mark Aronchick and Congressman Chaka Fattah.

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

The local attorney and advocate for equality, Mark A. Aronchick, received the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) Social Justice Award, at a reception last month.

Aronchick is the lead counsel, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in the challenge to the Pennsylvania version of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), being brought by a number of same sex couples seeking the right to marry in Pennsylvania.

This challenge is the most important civil rights case in Pennsylvania in years. As the case progresses through the lower courts and perhaps up to the Supreme Court, it could be a very suitable capstone to Aronchick’s long and illustrious public career.

More after the jump.
Through its Church-State Committee, JSPAN takes an active, lively interest in freedom of religion, and other First Amendment cases. This non-profit agency intervenes in key cases, petitions the federal and state executive branches, and educates its members and the public regarding religious and civil rights issues.

DOMA is a statute that the federal government, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states adopted, defining marriage as exclusively a union between a man and a woman.

The United States Supreme Court ruled a key provision of the federal statute unconstitutional earlier this year, reasoning that the law addresses no apparent federal interest, except to express animus against the gay community.


Mark Aronchick and Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach.

The LGBT movement exulted: The federal ruling points the way to attack the Pennsylvania DOMA, but getting a state law overturned is never an easy case.

The DOMA case will turn on constitutional issues, with which Aronchick has extensive experience: Prior important constitutional level cases he handled include litigation concerning voting rights, electronic voting machines, and policies and practices of the Philadelphia Police Department.

As the new DOMA case develops, a growing public recognition of its importance and of Aronchick’s key role is expected.

After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1974 with high honors, Aronchick became active in local democratic politics. After Bill Green was elected mayor of Philadelphia, Aronchick became the youngest person to serve as Philadelphia city solicitor.

He has also filled key positions in the organized bar, including president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and treasurer and chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Aronchick served as a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and Chair of the City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, a key advisory board to the state supreme court, for four years.

Regarding this virtually continuous stream of often difficult, very public volunteer positions, Aronchick states that he is not special, and that a number of other lawyers could have filled his roles, but his argument in this instance is not convincing.


Dan and Sheila Segal, and Mark and Judith Aronchick.

Aronchick views the fight to allow same-sex marriage in the DOMA case as incredibly important, and a natural next battle following in the larger Jewish tradition, of supporting greater equality for all people.

He is optimistic about the future of the Jewish community, observing that young people today approach public service differently than earlier generations, but continue to offer strong leadership skills.

Aronchick is married to Dr. Judith Aronchick, a professor of radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Their daughter, Sara Aronchick Solow, graduated from Yale Law School, and currently is clerking for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Mark and Judith’s son Jonathan is a student at Georgetown Law School, having previously served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The Aronchicks’s five month old grandson, Ethan Solow, is reported to constitute a serious distraction from law, but one that Mark is up to handling.  

Bipartisan Pennsylvania Bill: Merit Selection of Appellate Judges

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

A bill to bring merit selection of appellate judges to Pennsylvania has been submitted in the State House of Representatives with a bipartisan sponsorship this week.

Pennsylvania State Representatives Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County) and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) introduced the bill, which received immediate support from Pennsylvania’s current governor Tom Corbett (R) and previous two governors, Ed Rendell (D) and Tom Ridge (R), as well as the League of Women Voters and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.

More after the jump.
The bill by Cutler and Sims would establish merit selection for appeal court judges only, while retaining the present method of judicial elections for all other courts and justices of the peace. Affected would be future judges of the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court and Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

A bipartisan merit selection panel of fifteen citizens, selected by the governor and legislature, would propose a list of judicial candidates for each vacancy. The candidate chosen by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate would serve as a judge for a short term, and then would face a retention election without opponents in order to hold his or her chair. Retention elections at ten-year intervals would continue to apply to all judges.

The bill proposes an amendment to the state Constitution, and so must pass the legislature in two consecutive sessions, and then go before the people in a public referendum before taking effect.

Pennsylvania has been electing its judges only since the state Constitutional Convention of 1968. Those seeking election to our appellate courts typically visit county political committees across the state, seeking endorsement by one party or the other. In order to advertise and travel they have to raise substantial funds, and the usual sources are lawyers and law firms, that are likely to have business before the same courts.  

In the most recent election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, each side was reported to have spent over $2 million. The successful candidate, Joan Orie Melvin, was subsequently convicted of election law violations, and suspended from her position.  

“Judges are different from officials in the legislative and executive branches so it makes sense to select them differently,” the Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts executive director, Lynn Marks, said.

Judges must decide cases solely on the facts and the law, not based on political considerations, platforms or constituencies. It just doesn’t make sense to have a totally partisan process for a nonpartisan job. And the problem with money in judicial races is that most of the money comes from attorneys and special interests that often appear in state courts.

Symposium on Future of U.S. Jewish Community Draws Hundreds

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

The sociological and religious challenges to the continued existence of the American Jewish community as we know it were discussed last week in a symposium called “Creating a Modern Jewish Community,” at Congregation Adath Jeshurun (AJ) in Philadelphia.  

The symposium featured three well known Jewish scholars: Steven M. Cohen, Ph.D., of Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University at Los Angeles, and Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder of IKAR, a progressive egalitarian congregation in Los Angeles that has achieved a following among the youthful demographic that has drifted from the traditional institutions.

An audience of several hundreds attended the lecture, that was followed by a panel discussion.

Continued after the jump.
Taking apart the recent Pew study of Jewish population trends line by line, Cohen built a convincing picture of a community in three parts:

  • a healthy growing Orthodox segment;
  • a growing entirely unaffiliated group of people who may accept classification as Jews but have no specific relationship to Jewish religion, institutions or practices; and
  • those in the middle, within the range of Jewish existence that has been our norm: Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated but identified and committed Jews.

This middle part, according to Cohen, has a 71% rate of intermarriage, and the resulting families most often do not consider themselves Jewish.

There are five million identified Jews in America, but Cohen noted that there are additional two million children of a Jewish parent who say they are not Jewish. Further contributing to the shrinkage, the central segment of Jewish society is marrying later and having fewer children than required to maintain its numbers.      

The response proposed by Cohen is a community effort to reach out to the 16-35 year old demographic with more and better funded opportunities to meet and socialize with Jews.  This includes Jewish camps, youth organizations and Israel travel.

Jewish day schools are fine, but efforts to get more children into them “hit a wall,” and so other techniques are needed, according to Cohen. He noted wryly that parents have a limited influence on their children in this age group, but suggested that grandparents can play a strong role in developing a Jewish identity among the young.    

Rabbi Artson attacked the difficulties in presenting organized religious teaching and practice to a generation inured in scientific thought. Bringing his own experiences with family into the discussion, he built a concept of personal religious practice without the heavy hand of the traditional 613 mitzvot.

Individual prayer is a form of connection to a society that prays, and by doing praying, establishes connection with a higher committed relationship, he said. This relationship focuses on the attributes we attach to our maker: goodness, forgiveness and response to prayer, and through that focus, creates a meaningful religious experience and congregation.

Rabbi Brous expanded the discussion to the new religious communities based on connection. Noting that our community has created large, beautiful synagogues and temples, buildings that stand empty for most of the year, she urged that we find adherents wherever they are located, in living rooms or coffee shops or bars.

Brous concluded her talk with a brief prayer service in her own unique style, asking each person to think of a need or desire, and after a period of contemplation, to join her in a wordless song.    

This Symposium is the first of several programs dedicated to Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, who has announced that he will be retiring from AJ next year, after 36 years as its spiritual leader. In brief remarks, he noted that AJ has had just three rabbis during the past 100 years, but has repeatedly changed and reinvented itself as needed. And it will do so again under a new rabbi, he said.  

PA Supreme Court Accepts Second Legislative Redistricting Plan


Current PA congressional districts by party

— by Kenneth Myers, Esq.

Pennsylvania has become a state with a significant majority of voters registered as Democratic. Yet, our Congressional delegation, state Senate and state House of Representatives are all at least 60% Republican. A substantial part of the explanation to this is an adroit political redistricting: “packing” (squeezing the opposition’s votes into a few districts) and “cracking” (splitting pockets of opposition voters into separate districts where they cannot form a majority) to preserve the dominant party.

More after the jump.
The federal Constitution requires legislative districts to be rebalanced at least every 10 years in order to achieve population equality (“one man, one vote”). The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that legislative districts be compact and contiguous, and avoid splitting county and municipal boundaries to the extent possible. But in actual fact, our legislative districts split hundreds of counties and municipalities. “Problem” counties, such as the recently-turned-Democratic Montgomery County, are split many times in all directions to dilute their voting power.

In 2011, during the legislative redistricting process, concerned citizen Amanda Holt prepared a redistricting plan with minimum splits on her computer and submitted it to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC). The LRC largely ignored Holt, coming up with its own highly political redistricting maps. Holt and others took the matter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, pointing out that her plan split seven fewer counties, 81 fewer municipalities, and 184 fewer wards than the LRC plan. Although the six sitting members of the court were divided equally between Republicans and Democrats, Chief Justice Castille voted with the Democrats to reject the LRC plan.

The revised plan proposed by the LRC in June 2012 reduced the number of splits, but not to the level of the Holt plan: The LRC plan had 221 splits of municipalities in state House of Representatives districts, compared to 86 in the Holt plan. The LRC plan has 37 splits of municipalities in state Senate districts, compared to 17 in the Holt plan. Holt and a number of other citizens appealed again to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Last week, that court unanimously upheld the revised LRC plan. In a lengthy opinion, the court stated its continued support for the goals of the state constitution, that voting districts be compact, contiguous and conformal to municipal boundaries, but concluded that other considerations such as population equality, historical district lines and even political gain, could be considered by the LRC as well in reaching its conclusion.

Jeff Albert Esq., who litigated against the LRC’s 2001 redistricting plan on behalf of Upper Dublin Township, commented:

In the last four pages of its fifty-eight page decision, the court basically concluded that the constitutional requirement, of avoiding division of political subdivisions to the maximum extent possible, could be modified by political considerations, such as retaining incumbents, so long as the scheme conformed with looser standards of ‘one-man, one-vote’ than had previously been accepted in Pennsylvania, and its divisions of political subdivisions gave better heed to subdivision boundaries than schemes approved in prior years.

Welcoming The Stranger

The Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) has issued its 4th Haggadah Supplement entitled Welcoming the Stranger to the Land. According to JSPAN Vice-President and Philadelphia Jewish Voice board member Kenneth Meyers:

We were immigrants in Egypt.  And we have been immigrants many times since then, until we achieved citizenship on American soil. The Seder is a time to reflect on our experience and the plight of others who have not yet achieved their freedoms here.  Millions of undocumented immigrants have no path to citizenship or the full freedoms we take for granted.  Consider what their status forever does to their lives, and how we can help them and America fulfill our common aspirations.

Links to JSPAN’s previous issue oriented Haggadah supplements follow the jump.
Each year, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network develops issue oriented material each year you can use to enrich your seder. Supplements to the traditional Haggadah relate the biblical story of the Exodus to current events and issues.

  • The 2012 Freedom Supplement, comprised of 16 pages with illustrations, is now available without charge. The Freedom Seder Supplement celebrates emerging freedom movements around the world with poems, texts and prayers. Editors Stephen C. Sussman Esq. and Kenneth R. Myers Esq. have drawn from far-ranging sources, from Lord Byron to Tibet. Each of the readings includes suggestions keying it into the traditional Seder service.
  • In 2010 JSPAN released its first Supplement, entitled We were strangers, on the theme of immigration in history and in the United States.
  • In 2011 the JSPAN Supplement, This is the bread of poverty, brought the focus to hunger here and around the world. The 2012 “Freedom Seder” takes up the human longing for freedom that is spreading around the globe, and concludes with four resolutions that we as American Jews can meaningfully adopt.

National Sabbath To Stop The Gun Violence


— Susan Myers

The shootings in Newtown, CT, have horrified our senses with the tragedy of loss, and highlighted for us the ongoing toll that gun violence takes daily on our American cities. This Shabbat in Adath Jeshurun (7763 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA) is dedicated to understanding the current situation, considering how guns can be kept “out of the wrong hands while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” and considering how we can work together to reduce the toll of gun violence in our society.

Rabbi Rosenbloom has invited as our Guest Speaker Shira Goodman. A lifelong member of Adath Jeshurun, Goodman is the Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, a coalition of citizens, mayors, police chiefs, faith leaders and community organizations taking a stand against gun violence in Pennsylvania. Shira has had a long career as a lawyer and public policy advocate, including ten years as Deputy Director of a statewide court reform organization and five years as a labor lawyer. CeaseFirePA focuses on common sense regulations to keep legal guns from becoming illegal guns that ultimately are used in crimes and empowering Pennsylvanians to take a stand against gun violence in their communities, in the courtroom, in the legislature and at the ballot box.

The event is sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. Join the conversation about how to make our society safer, and prevent gun violence from plaguing our society. Services begin at 9:30 AM (Parashat Sh’mot).

JSPAN Supports Assault Weapons Ban


— by the staff of The Jewish Social Policy Action Network

We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. This horror reinforces the urgent need to ensure that common-sense gun control laws are in place to help reduce these kinds of incidents.

More after the jump.
As a first step, JSPAN supports legislation to get the weapons of war off our streets by reinstituting the ban on assault weapons that Congress wrongly allowed to expire in 2004. Congress and state legislative bodies should also immediately act to eliminate the gun show loophole and to ban the sale, transfer, transportation and possession of large clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.

Because we recognize that these immediate actions will not solve the larger issue of gun violence in our society, JSPAN is resolved to continue to work in coalition with other organizations such as CeaseFirePA and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. We demand that sensible changes in public policy take place to promote an America where everyone is safe at home, at school, at work and in our communities.

We urge you to share this resolution with your Facebook friends and colleagues. We also urge everyone to phone the White House Switchboard – 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111 and tell the comment operator that you want the President to push legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

Abington Memorial Hospital Should Not Kneel to Church Dogma

— by Ken Myers, Esq.

On its Facebook page, the Abington Memorial Hospital identifies itself as a not for profit institution, as follows:

Abington Health is a not-for-profit, regional healthcare provider serving residents of Montgomery, Bucks & parts of Philadelphia counties, comprised of Abington Memorial Hospital, Lansdale Hospital, two outpatient campuses & Abington Health Physicians.

Mission: Abington Health is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all by fostering healing, easing suffering, and promoting wellness in a culture of safety, learning and respect.

Abington Health will be the most trusted health care partner, consistently exceeding expectations for care, comfort and communication.”


Presumably because “Abington Health” is regulated by the state as a hospital, it is not listed in the Pennsylvania Department of State charitable registration system. But it has received any number of public benefits typical of non-profits:

  • Property tax exemption — Abington and Lower Moreland, to name just two of the townships in which it operates, have allowed the hospital to remove large parcels of land from the tax base to enlarge its operations.
  • Municipal services beyond those extended to others, such as vacating streets and changing traffic patterns to accommodate the hospital.
  • Volunteer workers without pay — community people provide untold hours of volunteer services to the hospital, greeting and helping to move and handle patients.
  • Abington Day — a fund raising event supported by the community every year.

Over the ninety years that this modest local hospital transformed — with these public benefits — into a large institution, the public has bestowed its gifts on the assumption that this is a non-sectarian institution.

The strength of Abington Memorial Hospital contrasts with the smaller nearby Catholic hospital, Holy Redeemer, that it now seeks to attach to its health system. Certainly no small part of the development of Abington Memorial is attributable to its appeal as a non-sectarian institution rendering community service based on medical and ethical principles, not religious dogma.

By accepting religious dogma as a limit on its medical service, Abington Health breaks a covenant with all  those donors and public officials who have supported it and its non-sectarian mission.

By imposing its religious dogma on Abington health as a condition of a commercial transaction, the Church violates a key principle of American law and practice. Religions are free here to promote their beliefs and practices by virtually every means but not by coercion.

Governments — federal, state and local — are barred by the Constitution from coercing religious practice. Non-governmental enterprises including charities are barred by statute from coercing their employees to follow religious dogma. Non-governmental enterprises that accommodate the public — including hospitals — are barred by statute from discriminating against people on the basis of their religion. This includes refusal or unwillingness to participate in abortion or sterilization procedures, consistent with competent medical care.

In this case, the Catholic Church is coercing Abington Health to discriminate against all women who do not share the church dogma regarding their reproductive rights.

Seeking to add more “catchment area” to its substantial geographic influence, Abington Health is agreeing to impose this coercion on those who are caught!
Ken Myers is a member of the board of JSPAN.

JSPAN Visits Occupy Philadelphia: Interview with Nathan Kleinman

JSPAN Board Member Nathan Kleinman has participated in Occupy Philadelphia, the experiment in pure democracy happening on Dilworth Square alongside the Philadelphia City Hall, since its earliest days. Newsletter Editor Ken Myers visited OP and interviewed Kleinman on October 22. Ed.

Ken Myers: We are together to discuss Occupy Philadelphia which is happening right here. Is this a political event with a capital P, or is it something else?

Nate Kleinman: I would say at this stage it is the beginning of a social and possibly political movement. It is impossible to predict where it is going to go. Nobody has the power to decide where it is going to go on their own. The group makes decisions through, as much as possible, consensus. When we vote on things if we cannot come to consensus we decide with a supermajority. And so it really requires a long process of consensus building.

Myers: You mentioned that in the evening, typically at seven 0′ clock you have what you call the General Assembly. So everybody gets out and shares ideas?

More after the jump.
Kleinman: Everybody who lives here and people from elsewhere all come together. We make announcements about things that are coming up. Various working groups, of which at this point there are probably 20 or 25, report back to the full Assembly. They talk about what they are doing, what ideas they are having, what they are planning, they say when they meet and reiterate that everyone is invited. Every working group is open to all, and anyone can start one.

The General Assembly and that whole process was started on Occupied Wall Street and this is modeled after it. There are General Assemblies happening all over the country. There is one meeting today in York, Pennsylvania. There is going to be one in Stroudsburg, there is one in Norristown today, not to mention of course the bigger cities in every state across the country.

Myers: Do you see a tendency within this group to try to create a fourth political party (I say that because I give the Tea Party credit for being one)?

Kleinman: I am not sure. I think how this movement exercises its power in the political arena is still very much up in the air. But I have heard a lot of ideas, there was a lot of talk about it, and I think eventually we will come to consensus on a way forward . It seems likely to me that it will attempt to influence the political process. Some people want to run candidates for Congress next year in every single district in the country. That would certainly be something I would support because I think it’s not just Republicans that need to be asked, there are plenty of Democrats who could use a good challenge.

Myers: The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a comment today, talked about the potential for anti- Semitism in this movement. Do you see that as a serious problem?

Kleinman: No. No, I have not seen that at all. There is a huge number of Jews participating in this, and, to the extent that there may be anti-Israel or anti-Semitic comments they are from individuals. I have not seen it and it is not representative of the whole group if it does exist.

Myers: You are chairing a human rights program in a few minutes. What is your hope for this effort?

Kleinman: This is just another working group that we announced yesterday to talk about human rights, broadly defined to encompass poverty, racism, discrimination, oppression, violence, and hopefully come to some statement of principles that we in the working group can agree upon and bring to the General Assembly for their agreement. If it passes then maybe it can be sent to other General Assemblies around the country and around the world for their consideration, debate, discussion and possibly agreement. That is the only way we can come to consensus on a national and international level and be united moving forward together

Myers: A few days ago the Philadelphia Inquirer, writing up Occupy Philadelphia, seemed to summarize this movement under the flag “99 and one”. Is that a good solid summarization of the movement?

Kleinman: It is a characterization that came from some individuals in New York, and a lot of people like it because they think it dramatizes well what we are up to, that we do stand for: that we are representative of the 99% of the people who do not have 40% of the wealth

Myers: One more question. For our readers and members, if they want to follow what is happening, what is the best way for them to do that?

Kleinman: There are a lot of different places they can look. They should get on Facebook and check out our Facebook page. There is a page called Occupied Together that is bringing a lot of information from all the movements around here. But here in Philly I would say our Facebook page is the best one, with over 20,000 people following it. Look under Occupied Philly. Our media task force is doing a great job 24-7 to get the message out, and to make sure that we tell our story and the media do not have a monopoly on that.

Myers: Thanks very much for your comments.

Reprinted courtesy of JSPAN.

Nathan Kleinman is a graduate of Abington Friends School and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is a human rights activist, a community organizer, and a veteran of several political campaigns in Pennsylvania.