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3 reasons the GOP should be open to swiping right on Obama's SCOTUS nominee.

Let's not waste time arguing about politics on this one, OK?

3 reasons the GOP should be open to swiping right on Obama's SCOTUS nominee.

President Barack Obama's list of traits he wants from a new Supreme Court justice reads a bit like a dating profile, and maybe that's not the worst thing in the world.

Over at SCOTUSblog, the president wrote a guest editorial about the current Supreme Court vacancy, outlining what he's looking for in a nominee. Among the qualifications listed, he writes that he's looking for somebody with "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity."


Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Also making the list: somebody with "a mastery of the law" who "recognizes the limits of the judiciary's role" and "judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to facts at hand."

Whether you'd swipe right on the president or not, we can all agree that this is a pretty solid-looking profile for a potential addition to the Supreme Court.

Sadly, news out of the Senate Judiciary Committee seems to suggest it has deleted this particular match-making app from their phones.

Here are three reasons the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to stop all the posturing and work with Obama instead of dragging out this nomination.

1. If we're interested in a truly independent thinker, the best time to have the debate about a new candidate is when the president comes from a different party than the one that controls Congress.

We can all agree that Supreme Court justices shouldn't be blatantly partisan, right? The best way to ensure a truly independent mind on the court? We need to find a candidate that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, with both sides making a few ideological concessions here and there.

That's how we wound up with Justice Anthony Kennedy, and while you'll find a good number of liberal-minded people willing to say he's too conservative and vice versa, he's the de facto "swing vote."

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

If Democrats controlled both the Senate and White House, Republicans would be unhappy with the nominee. If Republicans controlled both the Senate and White House, Democrats would be unhappy with the nominee. Maybe that means now is the perfect time to have this debate.

For the good of the country, it's time we used the c-word — no, not that one: I'm talking about compromise!

Will any person who makes it through the confirmation hearings be the next Antonin Scalia? No, probably not. But they might be the next Kennedy, and honestly, that's probably better for the country. If we can find somebody who both Democrats and Republicans can agree on (they exist), even if neither side comes away perfectly happy, that's the person we want deciding our most important questions.

If we wait until after the election, there's the possibility that both the Senate and White House will be controlled by a single party, and we will again wind up in an awkward position.

2. "We, the people" know that, at the end of the day, politicians will say what they need to say to help their parties whether or not we agree with them.

Through the years, politicians have made a number of statements both for and against filling judicial vacancies. Unsurprisingly, it always seems to work that the party with the most to gain from filling the vacancy tends to find itself on the side of supporting just that while the party that doesn't, well, doesn't.

Check it out. Here's Republican President Ronald Reagan making the case that the Senate (which was controlled by Democrats at the time) should "join together in a bipartisan effort to fulfill our Constitutional obligation":

And here's Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) arguing in favor of confirming this nominee (Kennedy) during an election year:


Then there's Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), who in 2005 urged Democrats to stop obstructing President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

And on the other hand, here's then-Democratic Sen. Joe Biden in 1992 threatening to do exactly what he, as vice president, asked Republicans in the Judiciary Committee not to do in 2016:

So maybe it's not the politicians we should listen to? Here's what Scalia himself had to say about leaving the court with only eight justices:

Basically, "Fill that spot. It's your job." Which brings us to the last point...

3. Senate Judiciary Committee, you have one job. This is it.

Nobody says you need to like Obama's nominee. Nobody says you need to confirm the nominee. But you should at least hold hearings and go on record saying why you don't like the nominee. The argument that you just don't replace Supreme Court justices during election years is simply false.

This is politicizing the whole process, and that's something even the man you're charged with replacing was against.

Everybody involved in appointing our next Supreme Court justice is coming from a position of good faith and really does want the best for the country.

That's why it's so important that we come together, have this debate in public, and yes, compromise. To go back to the dating site analogy, you might not match with the very first person you're shown, but if you don't even bother to set up a profile, you never will.

So go on, Senate Judiciary Committee, be open to the idea of a match. You've got an important role to play in this process, and I believe you can do it.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."