The Supreme Court's a pretty big deal, and with President Trump's second nominee about to enter the confirmation process, some are a little freaked out.

Adding members to the Supreme Court is one of the longest-lasting legacies a president can have. For decades to come, the Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) will shape the country and its laws in powerful ways.

That's enough to make anyone feel a little anxious, regardless of their political views. It's especially worrisome for anyone who has anything less than complete trust in Trump's judgment or worries about any of the specific issues (abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights generally) likely to come before the court in the near future.


In the wake of Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a lot of people are asking themselves what can be done to stop his confirmation. From the outside, it looks like a pretty hopeless endeavor. Even if every single Democrat votes against Kavanaugh, as long as Republicans stick together, he'll be put on the court.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to protesters in front of the SCOTUS on July 9 in Washington, DC. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images.

Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible Project and former Congressional staffer, used his Twitter account to share some advice for people opposing Kavanaugh.

After the announcement, there were a lot of ideas thrown out into the world to stop Kavanaugh's confirmation. Most of them were pretty bad, so Levin, also the former deputy policy director for Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), stepped in to give people an insider's look into how members of Congress make decisions and what influences them.

His list starts out with six things that aren't helpful.

After all, if you're going to engage in some activism, you want to be as efficient as possible. Levin urged people not to waste time trying to pressure senators outside of their states or members of the House, generally.

Petitions and "antagonistic" social media campaigns aimed at senators are usually just dismissed as "noise," and aren't likely to move any votes, either.

The last two items on his list are some of the most frustrating.

For one, there are no tricks the Democrats could pull on their own to stop Kavanaugh's confirmation like Republicans did with Merrick Garland. The Republican party was only able to do that because they had control of the Senate (which they still do).

And finally, as hard as it is, he urged people not to give in to apathy.

Enough with what won't work, though. Let's look at the three things Levin recommends people actually do.

Simply put, the only people members of Congress care about are their own constituents. Contacting your senators and letting them know that you want them to vote "no" on Kavanaugh's confirmation is a great place to start.

Levin also noted that there's definitely a hierarchy of effectiveness for getting messages to Congress: in-person messages and protests are at the top.

Beyond that, he recommended that people do things that will get local media attention. Protests are a great example of this. He then linked to a page on the Indivisible website where people can learn about events happening near them.

Levin understands that none of this is likely to actually stop Kavanaugh's confirmation. But he thinks it's a battle worth fighting anyway.

In an interview, he describes Indivisible's plan as a two-step strategy: First, Democrats need to try to defeat Kavanaugh's nomination; second, they need to take back control of the Senate. "If we defeat this nominee but fail to take the Senate, Trump will simply use the GOP senate majority to appoint a different extremist to the court," he says.

That means Democrats need to present a united front both in opposing Kavanaugh and at the midterms. "This is a big test of his leadership," says Levin of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)'s ability to get all Democratic senators on board. "He wants to be majority leader next year, so he needs to prove he can lead now."

Beyond that, Levin sees opportunities for Democrats to pick up Senate seats in Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona, and Texas. If Democrats don't lose any seats they currently hold, and they're able to pick up at least two of the four "vulnerable" Republican-held seats, they'll retake control.

Levin thinks that's doable, so Indivisible is lending its resources to the fight.

[rebelmouse-image 19398094 dam="1" original_size="750x475" caption="Ezra Levin speaks at a March 2017 rally outside the U.S. Capitol to urge Republicans to vote "No" on the "Trumpcare" bill. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org." expand=1]Ezra Levin speaks at a March 2017 rally outside the U.S. Capitol to urge Republicans to vote "No" on the "Trumpcare" bill. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org.

"Unlikely" doesn't mean "impossible," as history is quick to remind us.

A lot of extremely unlikely things have happened the past few years. Trump's election was considered extremely unlikely, until it wasn't. The Democrats' defeat of Trumpcare was considered extremely likely, until it wasn't. Picking up a Senate seat in Alabama was considered extremely unlikely, until it wasn't. Passing Medicaid expansion in Virginia was considered extremely unlikely, until it wasn't.

Stopping Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court is considered extremely unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

"Political life over the past two years has been defined by surprises — defeating Kavanaugh and retaking the Senate would just be two more surprises added to the list," says Levin. "Success isn't guaranteed, but if we give up, we will certainly lose."

Learn more about Indivisible Project here. For information on how to contact your senator, click here.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

Keep Reading Show less