Saturday, June 30, 2018
"Yeni González emerged into the warm evening air in Eloy, Ariz., her hair braided by the other women in the detention center. We’re braiding up all your strength, they had told her in Spanish. You can do it.
Ms. González, who had been released on a bond, was meeting her lawyer on Thursday and would soon join the volunteers who were driving her to New York City to find her three young children — Lester, Jamelin and Deyuin — who had been taken away from her more than a month before at the southern border.
She is one of the rare ones.
With protests being held around the country on Saturday to demand the reunification of parents and children separated at the border, progress on putting families back together has been painfully slow. Despite a federal judge’s order requiring reunification within 30 days, more than 2,000 children remain scattered across 17 states, including some 300 in New York. Their parents too have been sent around the country — to detention centers in Arizona, Colorado and as far away as Washington State.
How will federal authorities reunite them? “There is no answer that I’m aware of about how the reunification will happen to the parents who are in detention,” said Mario Russell, the director of Immigrant & Refugee Services for Catholic Charities, the nonprofit charged with representing the children sent to New York."
Parents and Children Remain Separated by Miles and Bureaucracy - The New York Times
"For those who can’t imagine the Supreme Court without Justice Anthony Kennedy, here’s some faintly good news: you don’t have to.
Though Kennedy’s resignation doesn’t take effect until July 31, the post-Kennedy court first convened on the first Monday in October 2017. The “Justice Kennedy” who sat at the right hand of the Chief Justice for the last nine months was not the Justice Kennedy who defined the court for the past 25 years.
That Elvis left the building sometime last summer.
To understand what I mean, consider some statistics assembled by the wizards at SCOTUSblog. In the past term of the court, the court decided 19 of its decisions by 5-4 votes. SCOTUSblog sorts those one-vote results into three categories—cases decided by the five conservatives voting together, which count as “conservative victories”; cases decided by the four liberals and Justice Kennedy, which count as “liberal victories”; and cases decided by scrambled lineups. The first two categories together are the court’s “ideological” cases.
In the 2016-17 term, conservatives won 33 percent of those ideological casts. Between 2005 and 2016, the highest “conservative victory” percentage was 73 percent.
In 2017-018, the “conservative victory” percentage was 100 percent.
The only times the four liberals picked off a win was in the "mixed cases," in which they won over a justice like Chief Justice Roberts rather than “swing vote” Kennedy. In other words, the tilt to the right has already occurred. And that tilt coincides with a fundamental, historic, and irreversible change in the court itself and its role in American life.
What happened? I have no inside sources, but my own eyes and ears told me during the past term that “Justice Kennedy” was tired. That weariness, I think, accounts for the minimalism of some of his opinions—the fact-bound resolution of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the remands in the two partisan gerrymandering cases, the toothless plea for kindness to President Trump in his separate opinion in the “travel ban” case.
Beyond that, Kennedy, always a conservative, has been moving right since the advent of Barack Obama. That president, and his signature health-care statute, alarmed a lot of old-style conservatives. They regarded Obama as (as Alexander Hamilton described Aaron Burr) an “embryo-Caesar.” America, they sincerely thought, was becoming a collectivist nightmare of big government.
If Kennedy felt that way, it would explain the testy and contemptuous tone that pervaded his bench conduct during Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The case tested the ability of state legislatures to authorize public-sector unions to collect “agency fees” from non-members they are required to represent. At argument in February, this courtliest justice quite uncharacteristically lost his temper with a lawyer defending the state’s “partnership” with unions “It can be a partner with you in advocating for a greater size workforce, against privatization, against merit promotion, against—for teacher tenure, for higher wages, for massive government, for increasing bonded indebtedness, for increasing taxes?” The moment was entirely improper, and revealing.
But Kennedy was not the only changed member of the 2017-18 court. The 2018 model John Roberts may no longer be the imperiously independent John Roberts of former years. Dahlia Lithwick has written persuasively of the systematic campaign from Republican circles on Capitol Hill and the White House to intimidate Roberts. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley warned Roberts not to utter a peep during the Merrick Garland controversy; he complied. Donald Trump (who praised the maverick Kennedy) consistently reviled Roberts for his Obamacare vote. “Congratulations to John Roberts for making Americans hate the Supreme Court because of his BS,” Trump tweeted in 2012; during the campaign, he called the chief justice “an absolute nightmare” and “a disaster.” That campaign of intimidation may have worked. Roberts’s opinion in Trump v. Hawaii was not just deferential in tone, it was servile, almost a plea for mercy.
If by this month Kennedy was no longer Kennedy, and Roberts was perhaps no longer Roberts, the Supreme Court of 2018 is certainly no longer the Supreme Court either justice joined—indeed, it is no longer the Supreme Court it was on February 13, 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died.
After Scalia’s death, Senate Republicans, with the backing of advocacy groups and billionaire donors, changed forever the rules of judicial appointments. Confronted with a highly qualified, popular, centrist, and conciliatory nominee, they simply refused to allow the vacancy to be filled, and they did so explicitly to politicize the court. From a constitutional point of view, this maneuver was not simply cynical but nihilistic—a direct, conscious attack on the powers of both the executive and the judicial branch.
In 1937, remember, Franklin Roosevelt—at that moment the most popular president of all time—asked Congress for six new appointments to the Supreme Court. That court was reactionary and hateful, but critics in both parties rushed to defend the court’s independence. Democrats had a 50-seat advantage in the Senate; FDR’s bill eventually garnered only 20 votes. After that, “court-packing” was became a third rail in American politics—fatal to anyone who touched it.
On April 7, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the Republican Party did what Roosevelt could not. For the first time in modern history, a political party packed the court.
Justice Kennedy’s legacy in some areas—like abortion—may prove fleeting; in others—like the First Amendment—it may endure. But here to stay is the sea-change the Republican party has forced onto a once-proud institution. No longer a “check” or “balance,” it is now—and will henceforth be seen by both sides as—simply another lever of power. And on the day the Democrats hold power to alter the makeup of the court by bare-knuckle means, they will do it. And they should.
These are the new rules.
Whoever sits in Kennedy’s seat, the institution will never recover from the wounds to its legitimacy inflicted by its new party masters in the last two years.
Those wounds are not Kennedy’s fault; but they already disfigure the post-Kennedy court."
The Post-Kennedy Supreme Court Is Already Here - The Atlantic
"An annual State Department report on human trafficking bolstered criticism of the Trump administration’s policy -- since suspended -- of prosecuting all adults entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico and separating them from their children.
The “2018 Trafficking In Persons Report” released Thursday cited the psychological risks of separating children from their families, even though President Donald Trump made that U.S. policy until an outcry prompted him to reverse his approach. A federal judge then ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children who were separated from their families at border crossings and to stop detaining parents without their children.
“Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort,” according to the report. “The physical and psychological effects of staying in residential institutions, combined with societal isolation and often subpar regulatory oversight by governments, place these children in situations of heightened vulnerability to human trafficking.”
The report’s release comes amid continuing controversy over U.S. treatments of migrants seeking asylum or trying to enter the country illegally. First lady Melania Trump visited the border region Thursday for a briefing on the situation. While the president has blamed Democratic policies for forcing the administration to separate families, an effort to pass immigration legislation in the Republican-led House failed in a 121-301 vote on Wednesday.
Read a QuickTake on U.S. policies separating families at the border
Trump had urged lawmakers to support the provision, calling it “STRONG BUT FAIR” in a Twitter post ahead of the vote.
Despite the report’s assessment that these children’s vulnerability to trafficking continues “even when a child leaves or ages out” of the institution “due to the physical and psychological damage many of these children have suffered,” there are more than 11,000 immigrant children being held in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement across 17 states.
A State Department official briefing journalists ahead of the report’s release referred questions about the apparent contradiction between the findings and the administration’s policies at the southern U.S. border to HHS, which has overseen the cases of children separated from their families, as well as children arriving at the border unaccompanied.
The official also responded to questions by noting that trafficking-screening services are in effect at shelters and emphasizing that the report covers a period from April 2017 to March 2018, before Trump’s family separation policy took effect.
The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report is intended to address elements of effective approaches and initiatives around the world to combat human trafficking and aid “victims of modern slavery.” It ranks countries into four categories based on their policies and effectiveness at countering trafficking. Despite rating the U.S. in the highest-possible tier, the report said the country needs to increase equitable access and resources to victim services.
Bahrain attained Tier 1 status in the report, becoming the only other country besides Israel in the Near East to do so. The report commended Bahrain for the identification of more than 30 sex trafficking cases and for recent reforms of the sponsorship system for undocumented migrant workers.
Joining Bahrain in Tier 1 for the first time is Japan. According to the report, Japan’s most significant achievement was the establishment of a task force assigned to combat child sex trafficking in Joshi Kosei businesses, which are traditionally used to connect adult men with teenage girls.
Bangladesh, hosting more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar since August 2017, was placed in the Tier 2 “watch list.” The sheer number of refugees entering the country has fueled human trafficking, with Rohingya women recruited from camps or even “bought”over the internet and subjected to sex work, domestic service and bonded labor, according to the report. Myanmar was demoted from the watch list into Tier 3 status."
State Department Report Cites Psychological Risks of Separating Children From Families - Bloomberg
"The Trump administration shouldn’t get court permission to detain immigrant children because of a crisis of its own making, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco said.
The four cities sought Friday to block a move by the U.S. Justice Department to modify a 1997 settlement on behalf of underage immigrants that prevents the government from locking up children captured crossing the border illegally with their family. The cities joined a coalition of human rights lawyers that is fighting the government’s attempt to alter the so-called Flores settlement in federal court in Los Angeles.
The U.S. bid to get around restrictions on child detention is one of several court fights that broke out after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that a “crisis” had erupted at the nation’s southwest border. He announced then that any adult crossing into the country illegally would be prosecuted. Immigration officials have apprehended and sent more than 2,000 children to shelters across the country while their parents remain in federal detention.
“The precipitating crisis, i.e. forced family separation, was a creation of defendants’ own doing,” the cities said in their request to be heard in the case.
They claim that the U.S.’s request to be exempt from the 1997 agreement threatens the well-being of the children as well as the cities’ interest in seeing the state licensing requirements of the Flores settlement be properly applied and enforced within their jurisdictions.
A federal judge in San Diego this week ordered the U.S. to reunite all separated children with their families within 30 days after he previously called the government’s family separations “brutal.”
Following a national and international outcry over the chaotic splitting up of families that left parents in the dark about what happened to their children, President Donald Trump reversed course. He issued an executive order June 20 calling for families to be detained together pending any criminal or immigration proceedings. Trump directed Sessions to ask the judge overseeing the 1997 Flores settlement to revise it so that the children can be held at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles has been unfriendly in the past to government requests to make it easier to lock up minors. When the Obama administration came to her with a similar request in 2015, during a surge of Central American families crossing the border illegally, she ruled that the government should release a parent together with a child rather than detaining them together. That part of her decision was overturned on appeal.
Justice Department lawyers blamed the judge’s refusal three years ago to allow children to be detained with their families for “creating a powerful incentive for aliens to enter this county with children in violation of our criminal and immigration law,” according to a June 21 court filing.
The Justice Department said in a separate filing Friday in Los Angeles that the injunction by the judge in San Diego requires it to reunite children with their families in detention facilities and should make it exempt from the 1997 settlement requirement that the children are either released to relatives or sent to facilities that are state-licensed to care for dependent children.
The case is Flores v. Sessions, 85-cv-04544, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles)."
Los Angeles, New York Oppose Trump Bid to Detain Children - Bloomberg
Friday, June 29, 2018
"Recent disruptive protests — from diners at Mexican restaurants in the capital calling the White House adviser Stephen Miller a fascist to protesters in Pittsburgh blocking rush-hour traffic after a police shooting of an unarmed teen — have provoked bipartisan alarm. CNN commentator David Gergen, adviser to every president from Nixon through Clinton, compared the anti-Trump resistance unfavorably to 1960s protests, saying, “The antiwar movement in Vietnam, the civil rights movement in the ’60s and early ’70s, both of those were more civil in tone — even the antiwar movement was more civil in tone, but certainly the civil rights movement, among the people who were protesting.”
But those who say that the civil rights movement prevailed because of civil dialogue misunderstand protest and political change.
As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump used his own lack of civility to win the election.Photo by: Damon Winter/The New York TimesThis misunderstanding is widespread. Democratic leaders have lashed out at an epidemic of uncivil behavior in their own ranks. In a tweet, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, denounced both “Trump’s daily lack of civility” and angry liberal responses “that are predictable but unacceptable.” Senator Charles Schumer described the “harassment of political opponents” as “not American.” His alternative: polite debate. “If you disagree with someone or something, stand up, make your voice heard, explain why you think they’re wrong, and why you’re right.” Democrat Cory A. Booker joined the chorus. “We’ve got to get to a point in our country where we can talk to each other, where we are all seeking a more beloved community. And some of those tactics that people are advocating for, to me, don’t reflect that spirit.”
The theme: We need a little more love, a little more King, a dollop of Gandhi. Be polite, be civil, present arguments thoughtfully and reasonably. Appeal to people’s better angels. Take the moral high ground above Trump and his supporters’ low road. Above all, don’t disrupt.
This sugarcoating of protest has a long history. During the last major skirmish in the civility wars two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton held a national conversation about race to dampen tempers about welfare reform, affirmative action, and a controversial crime bill, the Yale law professor Stephen Carter argued that civil rights protesters were “loving” and “civil in their dissent against a system willing and ready to destroy them.” King, argued Carter, “understood that uncivil dialogue serves no democratic function.”
But in fact, civil rights leaders, while they did believe in the power of nonviolence, knew that their success depended on disruption and coercion as much — sometimes more — than on dialogue and persuasion. They knew that the vast majority of whites who were indifferent or openly hostile to the demands of civil rights would not be moved by appeals to the American creed or to bromides about liberty and justice for all. Polite words would not change their behavior.
For King and his allies, the key moment was spring 1963, a contentious season when polite discourse gave way to what many called the “Negro Revolt.” That year, the threat of disruption loomed large. King led a mass demonstration in Birmingham, Ala., deliberately planned to provoke police violence. After the infamous police commissioner Bull Connor sicced police dogs on schoolchildren and arrested hundreds, including King, angry black protesters looted Birmingham’s downtown shopping district. Protesters against workplace discrimination in Philadelphia and New York deployed increasingly disruptive tactics, including blockading construction sites, chaining themselves to cranes, and clashing with law enforcement officials. Police forces around the United States began girding for what they feared was an impending race war.
Whites both North and South, moderate and conservative, continued to denounce advocates of civil rights as “un-American” and destructive throughout the 1960s. Agonized moderates argued that mass protest was counterproductive. It would alienate potential white allies and set the goal of racial equality back years, if not decades. Conservatives more harshly criticized the movement. National Review charged “King and his associates” with “deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagogy, they have been cracking the ‘cake of custom’ that holds us together.” By 1966, more than two-thirds of Americans disapproved of King.
King aimed some of his harshest words toward advocates of civility, whose concerns aligned with the hand-wringing of many of today’s politicians and pundits. From his Birmingham jail cell, King wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’.” King knew that whites’ insistence on civility usually stymied civil rights.
Those methods of direct action — disruptive and threatening — spurred the Kennedy administration to move decisively. On June 11, the president addressed the nation on the “fires of frustration and discord that are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand.” Kennedy, like today’s advocates of civility, was skeptical of “passionate movements.” He criticized “demonstrations, parades and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives,’ and argued, “it is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets.” But he also had to put out those fires. He tasked his staff with drafting what could eventually become the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dialogue was necessary but far from sufficient for passage of civil rights laws. Disruption catalyzed change.
That history is a reminder that civility is in the eye of the beholder. And when the beholder wants to maintain an unequal status quo, it’s easy to accuse picketers, protesters, and preachers alike of incivility, as much because of their message as their methods. For those upset by disruptive protests, the history of civil rights offers an unsettling reminder that the path to change is seldom polite."
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The Supreme Court’s Term Just Ended. Here’s How Civil Liberties and Rights Fared. | American Civil Liberties Union
"The Supreme Court's 2017 term saw a decisive conservative shift on the bench in large part to Justice Kennedy's swing vote.On Wednesday afternoon, the Supreme Court’s 2017 term came to an end along with the tenure of one of the nation’s most consequential jurists — Anthony M. Kennedy. The 2017 term saw a decisive conservative shift on the bench, in large part because Justice Kennedy, often a swing vote, joined the conservatives in all 14 of the Court’s 5-4 decisions. The court decided a range of historic cases that significantly expanded as well as contracted our fundamental freedoms. Of the 72 cases heard by the justices, the American Civil Liberties Union was involved in 17, directly arguing four.
Here are five of the most significant decisions, along with the role we played, the outcomes, and what it means for Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.
Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights CommissionACLU Role: CounselResult: Partial Loss, 7-2
What It Means: Equality may have lost this battle, but it won the war. The court ruled in favor of a bakery that refused to sell Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig a cake for their wedding reception because they are a same-sex couple. But it did so solely because it concluded that the state civil rights commission that adjudicated the case was infected by religious bias. It declined to hand the bakery the First Amendment right to discriminate that he—and the Trump administration—sought. And the Court went out of its way to reaffirm that philosophical and religious objections do not provide a justification for a business to violate a neutral nondiscrimination law.
The bakery, backed by the Trump administration, had claimed that freedom of religion or freedom of speech should give it a blank check to violate Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act and turn away same-sex couples. The court didn’t accept that unprecedented theory. While it expressed concerns about the way one state’s civil rights commission handled this particular case, it reaffirmed that civil rights commissions across the country can continue to enforce our nation’s laws against discrimination, including discrimination against people who are LGBT. And that’s something to celebrate.
Carpenter v. U.S.ACLU Role: CounselResult: Win, 5-4
What It Means: In a groundbreaking expansion of privacy rights in the digital age, the court held that police need a search warrant to obtain a person’s historical cell phone location data from their cellular service provider. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, recognized that the comprehensive record of our locations and movements generated whenever we carry a cell phone is highly sensitive and private. His majority opinion rejected the government’s sweeping argument that a person’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights are eliminated any time their sensitive information is shared with or held by another party, such as the phone company or an internet service provider. Because we necessarily share everything we do online or on a cell phone with some third-party company, the government’s argument — which had consistently prevailed in the lower courts — would have marked the end of privacy in the digital age.
Although the case is most directly about recognizing the serious privacy implications of law enforcement access to people’s location data, it has opened space for future cases to protect many other kinds of highly private digital-age data. These include the contents of our emails and search query histories held by Google or Microsoft, the data about our health or news reading habits generated by apps on our phones, and the information about our bodies and homes created by internet-connected “smart” devices.
Jennings v. RodriguezACLU Role: Counsel Result: Loss in part, 5-3
What It Means: This case involved a challenge to the immigration service’s practice of prolonged mandatory detention without a hearing of many foreign nationals seeking asylum or other relief from deportation. The Supreme Court overturned a ruling that required the federal government to give immigrants an opportunity to ask a judge for release on bond when they had been in immigration detention for more than six months and their deportation cases remained on-going. Two lower courts had interpreted federal immigration detention statutes to require hearings after six months of detention, while four others had interpreted the laws to require hearings after a "reasonable time."
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito found that the immigration statutes prohibited such bond hearings for immigrants. However, the immigrants had also argued that their prolonged detention without bond hearings was unconstitutional. Despite ordering supplemental briefing and a second oral argument on that issue, the court declined to decide it. Instead, it sent the case back for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to address the constitutional issues. The court’s failure to address that question suggests that, with Justice Kagan recused, the Court was equally divided on the question.
The ACLU has already submitted briefing in the Ninth Circuit and other lower courts arguing that the government’s practice of locking up immigrants for more than six months without a hearing violates the Due Process Clause. Through this case and others, we will continue the fight for due process for immigrants.
Hawaii v. TrumpACLU Role: Amicus (but counsel in IRAP v. Trump, a companion case)Result: Loss, 5-4
What It Means: The Supreme Court allowed the third version of President Trump’s Muslim ban to stay in effect, rejecting constitutional and statutory challenges brought by the state of Hawaii. The American Civil Liberties Union and partner organizations had successfully challenged every version of the ban in a separate lawsuit, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. The lower courts held that the ban violates both the Establishment Clause and U.S. immigration law prohibiting national-origin discrimination.
President Trump had repeatedly vowed to ban Muslims, openly admitting his anti-Islam animus. The Establishment Clause absolutely forbids government action targeting a particular religion. Nonetheless, applying extraordinary deference to the president, the court applied only “rational basis” scrutiny and upheld the order because it was “plausibly” related to national security. Despite overwhelming evidence that the ban was targeted at Muslims, the court found that it had “a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility.”
As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion, the majority could reach this conclusion only by “ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals.”
Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph InstituteACLU Role: CounselResult: Loss, 5-4
What It Means: In a setback for voting rights, the court upheld an Ohio voter purge program that targets registered voters who do not vote in a two-year period for removal from the rolls and removes them if they fail to respond to a mailed notice and fail to vote in the next two elections. The program erroneously purged thousands of voters, and as Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in a pointed dissent, “disproportionately affected minority, low-income, disabled and veteran voters.” The court’s decision effectively sanctions similar programs already on the books in six other states and may encourage others to join that group.
The court, however, did not green light wholesale purges of registered voters without first them providing notice and an opportunity to contest their removal. Although the court permitted Ohio’s purge program, it did so because the targeted voters are removed only after they receive a notice and subsequently do not vote or respond to the notice for another four years. As the majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, acknowledged, “the NVRA is clear about the need to send a ‘return card’ (or obtain written confirmation of a move)” before a state may remove a registered voter.
The Erez crossing terminal between Gaza and Israel, which this year has turned down or left unanswered more than half the applications for medical permits from Gaza.
"In 2003, Dena Mekhael discovered that there was something wrong with her left breast. When she traced a finger over it, she could feel a bump—small but distinct. She was twenty-nine, married, with four small children, and living in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. She told her husband, who accompanied her to a nearby hospital. After a biopsy, they received the dreaded news: cancer. Mekhael tried to remain calm. “I knew that I wasn’t the only one this happened to, and I knew it came from God,” she told me last week by phone from Gaza.
After a successful surgery at a hospital in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, Mekhael, like many Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, sought treatment in Israel. In 2004, she underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy in Tel Aviv, crossing at the Erez checkpoint every three weeks. “As a patient, I had priority,” she said, with a note of pride in her voice. Although she had to pay for her care in Israel, and took out a substantial loan to do so, she was certain that it was the right decision. “In Gaza, there are no MRI machines, they don’t have a lot of the medicines, and there is no social support,” she said. “I feel more safety in Israel.”
After completing chemotherapy treatment, Mekhael continued to travel to Tel Aviv every six months for checkups. In 2007, Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza, preventing the passage of even some basic goods. (Salt, sugar, diapers, and toilet paper were prohibited until 2009.) Still, even in the harshest days of the blockade, Israel permitted the vast majority of Palestinian patients to enter the country for treatment, once they passed a series of security checks. In order to cross the border, they have to provide documentation to the Palestinian Health Ministry showing that the treatment they require is not available in Gaza. (Most chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy fall into this category.) The Palestinian Health Ministry then has to submit a request to the Israel Defense Forces, which review the patient’s documents and makes a recommendation to the Shin Bet security service. Finally, the Shin Bet runs a background check on the patient, and decides whether to issue a permit.
In 2012, Israel approved ninety-two per cent of medical permits for Gazans. In 2014, a year of deadly conflict, eighty-two per cent of patients were allowed in. But, since the beginning of 2018, with no announcement of a change in policy, more than half of applications for medical permits from Gaza have been turned down or left unanswered, according to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, or P.H.R.I., a nonprofit organization that represents many of these patients. A 2017 directive from the Defense Ministry gave Israel twenty-three working days to process requests for medical permits, an increase from the previous ten-day processing time. (The extension, according to the ministry, was due to a backlog of some sixteen thousand travel-permit requests, the result of an overwhelming number of applications and the time needed to run proper security checks.) The average case now takes months—if it’s approved at all.
Since Mekhael’s last checkup in Tel Aviv, a year ago, she has found a new lump, this time in her right breast. She applied for a medical permit last December (the permits are only valid for a few weeks) but has not been approved to cross the border. “I never got a refusal, but they keep saying it’s ‘under review,’ ” she told me. Her options in Gaza are dismal: its public hospitals have no MRI machines and only a handful of functioning mammogram machines, so she has no way of receiving a diagnosis, let alone treatment.
Why the sudden change? “We have only theories,” Mor Efrat, who oversees Gaza and the West Bank for P.H.R.I., told me last week. It’s not because treating Palestinian patients places an undue financial burden on Israel. More than ninety per cent of Gazans’ medical bills are covered by the Palestinian Health Ministry, or by the patients themselves. And it’s not because of last month’s violent protests at the border fence: the decline in permit approvals preceded them. Instead, the reason appears to be growing pressure from the family of an Israeli soldier who was killed in Gaza in 2014. Hamas has refused to return his body and that of another slain soldier. (I wrote about the circumstances surrounding his death at the time.)
Last year, the soldier’s family petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, demanding, among other things, that “any humanitarian gesture Israel makes toward Hamas be conditioned on returning the boys home.” The government stated in its response that steps such as ending humanitarian entry to Israel would be “binding” going forward. Early this month, Israel’s hard-line Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was asked if easing restrictions on the people of Gaza would be conditioned on the return of the two soldiers’ bodies to Israel. He replied, “If the Palestinians want a humanitarian gesture, we also need a humanitarian gesture.”
Many Israelis on the right question whether the country has an obligation to care for a Hamas-led population. “On the other side is a vicious enemy that is waiting for signs of naivete and free gifts from us,” Naftali Bennett, who heads the hawkish Jewish Home party, said last month, about providing aid to Gaza. But Israel’s military establishment increasingly believes that making humanitarian gestures toward besieged civilians is not equivalent to making such gestures toward the terrorist organization that controls them—and that, because Israel wants to root out Hamas, it should insist on creating a distinction between Hamas and the Gazan population. As Gadi Eisenkot, the I.D.F. chief of staff, put it earlier this year, “The more the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the more the volatility in Gaza in 2018 will rise.”
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In response to a Haaretz report last year about the stalling of medical permits, the Shin Bet said that it “allows residents of the Gaza Strip to enter Israel for medical treatment in accordance with the policies determining the movement of people between the State of Israel and the Gaza Strip and in the absence of any security impediment.” It added, “Of late, we have witnessed repeated attempts by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which take advantage of Israel’s willingness to grant entry to some patients for humanitarian reasons, to carry out terror attacks in Israel.”
One Gazan woman was recently turned down for treatment because her brother is a member of Hamas, another because her father had once resided in Israel illegally. For years, Efrat told me, Palestinian “women have been made to pay the price for the actions of the men in their families.” A few days ago, Efrat tried to get hold of a Gazan woman whose application for a medical permit to treat her breast cancer had been stalled for four months. When she couldn’t reach the woman, Efrat asked a Gaza-based women’s organization to help find her. The organization finally got back to her with an answer: “They told us she passed away,” Efrat said.
Israel’s largest organization for breast-cancer awareness and advocacy, One in Nine, has taken up the Gazan patients’ cause, as have other women’s groups. They have sent letters to the Health Ministry and to the military, demanding that Gazan women immediately be permitted to enter Israel for treatment. They also urged the Knesset to hold a hearing on the matter, which took place earlier this month, coinciding with the mounting violence over the separation fence. (“Why aren’t we talking about the women living in communities bordering Gaza?” one member of the Knesset, from the centrist Kulanu Party, said, interrupting the hearing. “Aren’t they part of the conflict, too?”) Around the same time, thirty-one Israeli oncologists signed a petition calling on the Health Ministry to end the “worrying and unacceptable phenomenon” of refusing to grant medical permits to Gazan women with cancer. “I have patients who had managed to overcome all the obstacles and start treatment, and all of a sudden they stopped coming in,” Bella Kaufman, who heads the breast-cancer unit at the Sheba Medical Center, in Tel Aviv, and who helped initiate the petition, told me. “Each delay sabotages their chances of recovery.”
Last year, a thirty-four-year-old woman named Amani Abu Taema, who works as a nurse at a United Nations clinic inside a Gaza refugee camp, discovered that she had advanced-stage breast cancer, which had spread to her bones and lungs. In January, she was allowed into Israel for an MRI and radiation therapy, but since then her application for a permit has been declined four times without explanation. (P.H.R.I. had put me in touch with both her and Mekhael.) “Sometimes I want to go to work just so that I can get tired and get some sleep—not to think too hard,” she told me by phone from her home, in Gaza, two miles from the Israeli border.
The hormone medications and radiation that Abu Taema desperately needs are unavailable in Gaza. “I’m still waiting for the permit,” she said. “But the cancer isn’t waiting."
Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment | The New Yorker
"Donald Trump, a lying, bullying, womanizing autocrat-idolizer, is fundamentally transforming America in very real and lasting ways, in ways that have left decent people slack-jawed, enraged and exasperated.
He has overtaken and destroyed the structure of the Republican Party, unleashing its ugliest elements to chant his praise and stroke his ego like drunken apostates dancing around a golden calf.
He has attacked American institutions that seek truth and justice, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the press, because he wants to weaken America’s faith in truth and facts themselves.
He has shunned and denigrated America’s traditional allies and cozied up to America’s traditional enemies, in one of the most bewildering presidential postures the country may ever have seen.
And now, with the retirement of the Supreme Court moderate Anthony Kennedy, Trump will be able to solidify the court’s conservative majority for a generation.
Elections have consequences. Not voting has consequences. Falling for Russian propaganda has consequences. Voter suppression has consequences. Taking the absolutely ridiculous position that there would be little difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has consequences.
The most lasting consequence is in the Supreme Court, which has lifetime appointments.
So now, if you are a woman, a minority, an immigrant, a person who is L.G.B.T., the rights you have acquired could be in jeopardy.
If you are just a decent person who believes in expanding equality, respecting choice and identity and civil rights, your vision of America is in jeopardy.
This is for the long game; this is for all the marbles.
Conservative strategic thinkers are not caught up in the moment’s outrages and absurdities. They are thinking in terms of generations and eras.
They know as well as I know that the demographic tide is moving against them and will soon wash away much of their power.
Therefore, their strategy is to slow that progress as much as possible, if not reverse it.
That is why there is so much energy to restrict immigration, both illegal and legal. That is why there is such a push for voter restrictions, suppression and disenfranchisement. That is why there was so little resistance to mass incarceration.
Conservatives want to arrest America’s development and send our country into regression. This is about the maintenance of their power long after they have lost the dominance of numbers.
The courts are an insurance policy in their strategy of impeding progress.
Conservatives want to reserve the right to use religion as a weapon, to control other people’s bodies and to judge some people as less worthy of full participation in the American experience because of whom they love, how they identify, where they are from or which God they worship.
They want to protect what they call “American culture,” which is more aptly described as white culture. No matter how advantage was gained, no matter how privilege was acquired, it is the province of the deniable, scrubbed clean of blood and tears. Present privilege, power and prestige must be preserved.
That is one reason that the court’s decisions on the Affordable Care Act were closely watched and in some ways controversial. At its core, Obamacare is about the interconnectedness of civil societies. It asked those with more to help support the health and well-being of those with less.
This is precisely why conservatives hate it. They prefer a Darwinian ecosystem of care in which health corresponds directly with wealth.
Obamacare required the shifting of some of that wealth — redistribution, as we call it — for an overall healthier society. But in conservative circles, your well-being isn’t linked to mine. To them, shifting wealth was shifting power, and power in this grand battle over what America was, is and can be is the only thing that matters.
Trump’s imprint on the courts will help the conservatives preserve more of that power for a longer period of time.
This is one of the reasons that Trump’s base will never abandon him. He is their orange life raft in the middle of a blue ocean.
He is reassurance that although progress and enlightenment may feel like an uncontainable, unstoppable human yearning, it can be delayed and occasionally derailed.
Whoever Trump appoints to the Supreme Court will most likely be there for the rest of my life. I will live the rest of my days with Trump’s legacy. That’s a hell of a thought.
Over that time, the court will operate with his undeniable imprint. In this way, a man whose candidacy was a joke, whose election was a fluke tainted by fraud, and whose presidency is a bane will get the chance to remake the American bench.
This is an abomination and this moment of revulsion must burn itself into the psyche of the American electorate. This is how a country’s progress can be crippled. It’s happening right now in large part because too many people thought that it could not."
Opinion | Trump Remakes America - The New York Times
Mitch McConnell’s gambit on Neil Gorsuch reshaped the court, even before Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
"Mitch McConnell has just one goal: to preserve and extend Republicans’ advantage in Washington and beyond. He’ll do anything to achieve that goal, indifferent to everything but the will to power. We see this most clearly in McConnell’s approach to the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, McConnell promptly announced his plan to confirm a replacement in the fall. Political reporters pounced, asking the GOP leader to square this with his argument, two years earlier, that the Senate should not hear a Supreme Court nominee in an election year. “There’s no presidential election this year,” said McConnell, unbound by his own logic.
McConnell may have justified his 2016 blockade of Merrick Garland with an appeal to the public—”the American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice”—but the choice was purely instrumental. If President Obama could get a hearing for his justice, he might be confirmed. And if a left-leaning justice was confirmed, liberals would have a majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in decades, stymieing the Republican Party and its priorities.
By denying the president a Supreme Court pick, McConnell not only precluded liberal decisions on key concerns at the high court, he also gave Republicans a reason to back their presidential nominee. Donald Trump might be crude and racist, but with Mike Pence and other hard-right Republicans to guide him, he would nominate a conservative to the court and help Republicans entrench their power and achieve their ends. For white evangelicals and other social conservatives, it was an irresistible temptation.
And that’s what happened. Within a month of his inauguration, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a hard-right jurist in the mold of Clarence Thomas. And after McConnell upended decades of Senate precedent by ending the judicial filibuster to preclude Democratic opposition, Gorsuch was confirmed.
McConnell will return to this well in the fall, when he holds hearings to replace Kennedy. Trump will choose another right-wing conservative, and the Supreme Court will have a working majority for a whole host of conservative doctrines and legal theories. Indeed, in the court’s last term, which just concluded, Gorsuch himself showed the dramatic impact a single justice can have on American politics—from who can vote and how workers are allowed to organize to who can be admitted into this country.
In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, decided earlier this month, Gorsuch joined with his conservative colleagues to uphold a voting law, pushed by Ohio Republicans, that allowed the state to strike registrations for voters who failed to return an address-confirmation form and then didn’t vote for another four years. Voting-rights activists sued, calling this a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which bars any state from removing a voter from the federal rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But writing for the 5–4 majority—made possible by Gorsuch—Justice Samuel Alito dismissed this argument, describing Ohio’s voter purge as an effort to “keep the State’s voting lists up to date.”
As Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued in her dissent, this simple housecleaning had a disproportionate effect on “minority, low-income, disabled, and veteran” voters. Black voters, a key constituency for Democrats, saw the heaviest burden.
Gorsuch defended a different burden on minority voters in Abbott v. Perez, a challenge to alleged racial gerrymandering—packing black and Latino voters into a handful of districts to dilute their voting power—in Texas’ congressional and state legislative redistricting. Not only did Gorsuch side with Alito and the conservative majority, which applied a “presumption of legislative good faith” to dismiss concrete evidence of bias, but he endorsed the view, pushed by Justice Thomas, that the Voting Rights Act allows lawmakers to dilute minority votes. As with Ohio’s purges, the practical effect of this is to advantage Republicans, especially in states where blacks and Latinos are a sizable—but geographically concentrated—demographic. If the Voting Rights Act were essentially invalidated, which is the direction Gorsuch and Thomas are pushing, those Republican lawmakers would likely push new voting restrictions, as they did in the wake of Shelby County.
On Wednesday, Gorsuch signed onto yet another decision that burdens a Democratic constituency. With Janus v. AFSCME, the Court now prohibits public sector unions from collecting fees from nonmembers, even as they’re required to represent them. In 2016, after Antonin Scalia’s death, the court deadlocked on a similar case. But with his right-wing views on labor, and ties to groups challenging public sector unions, Gorsuch was decisive.
The opinion, authored by Alito, rules that union fees for public sector workers violate First Amendment rights to free speech and association. But there’s no reason to think this doesn’t also apply to private sector unions. As Justice Elena Kagan notes in her dissent, “almost all economic and regulatory policy affects or touches speech.” As such, the conservative majority has opened the door to a full-throated attack on the regulatory state, using a “weaponized First Amendment.”
If nothing else, the court has further hobbled labor’s political power, directly harming Democrats who rely on unions for key support. And while Supreme Court justices are officially nonpartisan, President Trump gave up the pretense when he praised the decision on Twitter. “Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”
On Tuesday, the court issued its ruling upholding the president’s travel ban and creating a path for “colorblind” discrimination against disfavored minorities. In response, McConnell tweeted a photo of himself shaking hands with Gorsuch in a Senate office. It was a declaration of victory and a statement of power. By blocking Garland and installing Gorsuch, McConnell gave Republicans key judicial cover to burden voters, cripple countervailing institutions, and insulate themselves from popular opinion. It almost doesn’t matter whom Trump nominates next; McConnell has already prevailed."
Mitch McConnell’s gambit on Neil Gorsuch reshaped the court, even before Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
It’s hard to predict exactly how damaging this result will be to the wider labor movement. But one quick, useful case study comes to us from the state of Michigan, which implemented its own right-to-work legislation in 2013.
By law, Americans cannot be forced to join or pay full dues to a labor union. But longstanding legal precedent held that, under a collective bargaining agreement, workers could be required to pay a reduced sum known as “agency” or “fair share” fees meant to cover the cost of the union’s basic services. Twenty-nine states have passed misleadingly labeled “right-to-work” legislation barring these arrangements outright. And in Janus, Justice Samuel Alito used his judicial perch to continue the assault by banning agency fees for all public sector workers, citing first amendment concerns."
Supreme Court Janus decision: To see its potential impact, just look at Michigan.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez just did Democrats a big favor - The Washington Post - It's time that Democrats wake up and realize that demographics is destiny. Demographics is the target of Trump's immigrationn policy.
“...My colleagues in the media are shoehorning Crowley’s defeat into the narrative that Bernie Sanders-like insurgents are toppling a Democratic establishment. It isn’t so, because the argument that there is a Democratic establishment resisting the progressive tide is a straw man.
Crowley lost because of the changing demographics in his district, which had been redrawn considerably after 2010 and is now only 18 percent white. Yes, Ocasio-Cortez calls herself a socialist, but Crowley was a down-the-line liberal, particularly in recent years, and a champion of single-payer health care. The issues Ocasio-Cortez used against him were largely nonideological: moving his family to Washington and taking special-interest money. Crowley evidently didn’t realize he was in trouble until too late and never sought colleagues’ help in what was a low-turnout primary..."
"For more than a dozen years, Justice Anthony Kennedy stood at the center of the Supreme Court. He moved the court to the right, but while he often provided a crucial fifth vote to the court’s conservative wing, Justice Kennedy sometimes voted against it. And he picked a few causes that liberals cherish, making him their occasional, if fickle, guardian angel.
Among other things, Justice Kennedy was the bulwark against legal assaults against abortion, perhaps the one issue, more than any other, where the court’s influence and public attention so clearly intersect.
With Justice Kennedy on the bench, the thinking among liberals went, how bad could things get? Now that he’s gone, we’re about to find out.
It’s an odd moment for liberals to mourn Justice Kennedy, who’ll turn 82 next month, and for conservatives to relish his departure. He did nothing important for liberals this term, failing to provide even one crucial fifth vote to swing the outcome of a case in their direction.
Anthony Kennedy with President Ronald Reagan after taking the oath of office in 1988.Doug Mills/Associated PressAfter he had appeared to invite a challenge to partisan gerrymandering way back in 2004, a case finally arrived in the just-concluded term, with the social science measures of partisanship he had asked for. But Justice Kennedy ducked without even writing to explain why as the court decided the case on narrow technical grounds. And though his principal left-leaning legacy is his expansion of gay rights, especially marriage equality, he settled for another narrow resolution this month, writing the majority opinion that favored the religious objections of a Colorado baker over a gay couple’s right to be treated like anyone else when they walk into a store and order a wedding cake.
Justice Kennedy also voted with his conservative allies this week to dilute the power of minority voters in Texas. He helped to expand the reach of private, case-by-case arbitration, making it more difficult for employees to band together to confront their employers about wage theft and other problems. On Wednesday, hours before announcing his retirement, he helped diminish the influence of unions. And let’s not forget Justice Kennedy’s vote in Bush v. Gore and his opinion in Citizens United, with its blindness to the reality of how money corrupts our political process.
And yet, the difference between a court with Justice Kennedy and one with a Trump-chosen replacement for him is likely to be the difference between incremental and drastic change in crucial areas of law, between baby steps and giant ones.
The path of reasoning the court takes from case to case often matters as much as the outcomes. Some justices with a vision (and a majority behind them) are more patient than others. Justice Kennedy was of the slow-cook variety. Before his majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy’s gift of same-sex marriage to the country, there were his majority opinions in United States v. Windsor, which granted some rights to gay couples, and Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the sodomy laws that targeted them.
To a degree, this step-by-step development of law is Chief Justice John Roberts’s approach, too. (The chief justice also disappointed conservatives by twice refusing to strike down Obamacare.) But there’s no question that this new court with Chief Justice Roberts at its center will be a strikingly more conservative institution than the one we’ve lived with since Justice Kennedy took over the swing role from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2005.
Consider, for example, that Justice Neil Gorsuch has already made it clear that he’d like to revisit big and seemingly settled questions. This week, he joined Justice Clarence Thomas in questioning whether the Voting Rights Act applies to electoral redistricting at all. It’s hard to imagine Justice Kennedy going along with that theory. It’s equally hard to imagine any of the other conservatives providing much of an obstacle.
Justice Kennedy wasn’t much of a protector of racial equality. But he prevented the end of affirmative action in university admissions in 2016. That was something.
He also stood up for criminal defendants in ways that counted, voting to strike down the death penalty for people who commit crimes as juveniles or are intellectually disabled, ordering California to address the terrible overcrowding in its prisons, and suggesting that he had serious doubts about the constitutionality of prolonged solitary confinement. “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” he wrote, quoting Dostoyevsky.
If that was Justice Kennedy at his best, showing that he cared about society’s most vulnerable, his brief opinion this week in the travel ban case was him at his worst. He joined the majority opinion in full, upholding President Trump’s travel ban in spite of the prejudice against Muslims that originally drove it and in spite of his own commitment to tolerance and freedom of religion and expression.
Then in a solo concurrence, he faintly and abstractly rebuked “an executive” who strays from the path of adhering to the Constitution. Justice Kennedy would like the president to respect our constitutional values. He even thinks it’s “imperative” for him to do so. But the justice who held the fifth vote contented himself with lecturing that “an anxious world must know that our government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks” without doing a thing, in this instance, to hold accountable the actual executive who rails against any liberty, or right to due process, that checks his power.
Since at least the 1970s, in the wake of Roe v. Wade, conservatives have appreciated the importance of the Supreme Court, and have cast their votes in an effort to shape it, far more so than liberals or moderates. Now access to abortion is squarely on the line. Justice Kennedy joined with Justices O’Connor and David Souter to preserve it in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And he agreed with his four liberal colleagues in 2016 that Texas couldn’t close down clinics by claiming to protect women’s health, since the facts contradicted that claim. None of the conservatives on the court have given the slightest sign of stepping into those shoes. It’s just a matter of how far and fast they tack in the opposite direction.
Republicans will most likely push to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor before the midterm elections. Between now and then, liberals can speak up, hold rallies and tie up the phone lines of Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, the pro-choice Republicans from Maine and Alaska. Whatever happens, the ballot will be the voters’ response. The Supreme Court may already be transformed by then, it’s true. Still, if ever there were a time for more people to reckon with what the court means in American life, it’s now.
"The deplorables apparently know no bounds, and an employee with the Obion County, Tenn., Highway Department—who says that he has regularly been the victim of racism in his workplace—now has solid, written proof in the form of an “owner’s manual.”
Deandre Adams sent over the four-page document, titled “The Nigger Owner’s Manual,” to his attorney Kathy Laughter Laizure, WREG-TV reports.
“I was shaken when I saw that. I think that we who are not of color sometimes sit in our happy places and want to believe that this kind of thing doesn’t go on anymore,” Laughter Laizure said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Adams has worked for the Highway Department for seven years, but this is not the first time he has experienced such outright racism.
“A guy who was a foreman at the place one day fashioned a noose and waved it at Mr. Adams. He had a comment to the effect of, ‘Ain’t this a part of your heritage?’” Laughter Laizure said.
In this particular situation with the manual, Adams said that he discovered it about two weeks ago when he was going through a file cabinet he uses regularly. The manual included instructions on how to install, configure, house and even kill “your nigger.”
The document also had headlines such as, “Will My Nigger Attack Me?” and “My Nigger Keeps Raping White Women.”
Adams complained to his supervisor, who told him not to say anything and promised, “We will take care of it.”
But Adams feels as if nothing has been done ... which is not surprising. It’s always a red flag when someone asks you to keep quiet about such gross behavior.
The department declined to offer WREG comment, but Steve Conley, an attorney for the department, told the news station that he is looking into the allegations and has asked Adams for the original copy, which he has not received.
“It’s horrible what I just read,” Conley told the news station, adding that whoever was behind the document would face discipline.
The attorney said that he intends to get the police involved and hopes to maybe even run fingerprints once he gets the original documents."
Tennessee Man Finds Racist ‘Owner’s Manual’ at His Job
Congressional Black Caucus defend Maxine Waters amid Trump feud - ABC News. Unlike Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Congressional Black Caucus defend Maxine Waters amid Trump feud. We all know why. We know who to vote for and who to withhold our vote from.
This was the decision I was fearing the most, the other shoe of the Citizens United Decision has fallen. Corporate, Gangsta Capitalism can vote with there money in an unfettered manner and unions in the non-right to work states are without the power to require workers, who benefit from a union as part of their contract with management, to be required to pay union dues. This is a crippling blow to organized labor.
Supreme Court Delivers a Sharp Blow to Labor Unions - The New York Times
"On Tuesday morning the five conservative justices of the Supreme Court — including the one who got the job only because Senate Republicans stole a seat and held it open for him — voted to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, which indefinitely bars most people from five majority-Muslim countries, and certain citizens from two other countries, from entering the United States.
The conservatives said the ban, Mr. Trump’s third version after the first two were struck down by lower federal courts, was a lawful exercise of presidential authority. They reached this conclusion despite Mr. Trump’s best efforts to convince them, and the country, that its real purpose was to discriminate on the basis of religion.
Remember his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”? That came in December 2015, when he was still a candidate. But the sentiments didn’t stop when he became president. In June 2017, he called the second version of the ban a “watered-down, politically correct version” of the first one, previously saying he would prefer to “go all the way” with the original, which referred to “violent ideologies” and gave priority to Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries. In September, he said the ban “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” Two months later he retweeted misleading anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British nationalist group. (And don’t forget that the language about a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” remained on his campaign website until months after he took office.)
All this looks a lot like a government official acting on religious animus, which is barred by the First Amendment and which, one would think, would especially offend the conservative justices. It was just a few weeks ago that the same justices ruled in favor of a Christian baker who had refused to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, on the ground that a state civil-rights commissioner had violated the baker’s First Amendment rights by expressing animus toward his religious beliefs.
The conservative justices surely believed then that, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent from the travel ban decision, “Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments.” But the principle failed to carry over into Tuesday’s ruling, even though the government actor was not a state commissioner but the president, and the target of his remarks was not a single shopkeeper but millions of Muslims around the world.
Instead, the justices in the majority upheld the travel ban because, they said, presidents have ample legal authority to make national security judgments in the area of immigration. That’s true, but the ban does nothing to make America safer than do the aggressive laws Congress has already passed to manage threats to the nation’s security. Those laws help explain why no one from any of the countries included in the ban — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea — has been involved in a fatal terrorist attack in the United States in the past two decades. The travel ban may have the effect of making the country less safe, according to many national security experts.
The conservative majority’s endorsement of nearly unchecked presidential power in this context is all the more disturbing given this administration’s policies at America’s southern border, which include separating children from their parents and prosecuting those trying to come here from brutally violent countries in Central America.
It’s no small paradox that the justices chose Tuesday’s ruling to formally overturn, at long last, one of the greatest abominations in the court’s history, Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s order to lock up thousands of Japanese-Americans for years based on nothing but their ancestry — and based on a fabricated claim that our national security demanded it. The Korematsu ruling was “morally repugnant,” the court said, and was “gravely wrong the day it was decided.” That’s surely correct. It’s also easy to say from a distance of 74 years, protected by the warm embrace of history’s consensus. It’s much more important to say it in the moment — as Justice Robert Jackson did in his dissent from the Korematsu decision, which he warned was “a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself.”
So what can be said in this moment? Perhaps this — that Mr. Trump’s travel ban is of a piece with the man himself. We may not be able to look into the president’s soul, but we can look at his words and actions over the last half century:
Mr. Trump and his father settled a lawsuit brought against them by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black people in the 1970s.
He bought a full-page ad in this newspaper and others calling for the death penalty for five young black and Latino men who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989, and refused to admit error even after the men were proved innocent and set free years later.
He demanded the nation’s first black president provide documentary proof he was born in the United States.
He gleefully repeated on the campaign trail, and at rallies after becoming president, a fake story about an American military general slaughtering Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.
He defended a march in Charlottesville, Va., led by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in support of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, saying that the march also included “very fine people.”
White racial fear has always been at the core of Mr. Trump’s worldview. What’s so dangerous about Tuesday’s ruling is that the Supreme Court has now implicitly blessed his use of this strategy as a political organizing tool and as a governing philosophy.
On Jan. 27, 2017, as Mr. Trump signed the first version of the travel ban, he read out its official title, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” then looked up and said, “We all know what that means.”
Indeed we do, even if five Supreme Court justices refuse to admit it."
Opinion | Bigoted and Feckless, the Travel Ban Is Pure Trump - The New York Times
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
John Oliver is erased from Chinese internet following segment on China. Trump wishes he could do this in the USA – TechCrunch
"HBO’s Last Week Tonight has led to some drastic measures in China. After an episode aired on June 17th, the Chinese government is now trying to erase all signs of John Oliver on the internet.
The show had a 20-minute segment on Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. In particular, Oliver mentioned Xi’s abolition of term limits and even compared him to Mao Zedong.
Oliver also mentioned torture of political opponents, the infamous experiment to leverage WeChat data to give you a score and determine if you’re a good citizen, Tiananmen Square protests, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s recent death and, yes, online censorship.
It’s a bit ironic that Oliver’s show itself is now censored in China as a result of this episode. It proves Oliver’s point that China still has a long way to go when it comes to human rights and freedom of the press.
Oliver also made sure to mention that Xi doesn’t like to be compared to Winnie the Pooh. Last year, Chinese authorities have banned all mentions of Winnie the Pooh.
According to the New York Times, many posts on social network platform Weibo mentioned John Oliver after the segment aired. Users didn’t specifically talked about the segment — they focused on the host. But now, if you try to write a post that says “John Oliver”, you’ll get an error message.
GreatFire.org also shows that HBO’s website has been blocked since Saturday or Sunday. Unless you have a working VPN or proxy solution, you won’t find Oliver anywhere on the Chinese internet. It’s impressive to see the pace of Chinese censors."
John Oliver is erased from Chinese internet following segment on China – TechCrunch
"In a 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today upheld the president’s executive order for a “travel ban” aimed at several Muslim-majority countries. This decision in the case of Trump v. Hawaii, which comes in spite of Congress’s law banning nationality-based discrimination, defines how far the Trump administration can go to target religion in the name of national security and presidential power.
This ruling may not have come as a surprise to all observers, but in fact it represents a sharp break with another recent decision on anti-Muslim bias, the 2015 E.E.O.C. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores case.
On the surface, the two cases seem unrelated except that they both include Muslim plaintiffs. But they deal with very similar issues.
In the Abercrombie case, a Muslim woman, Samantha Elauf, filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim when Abercrombie & Fitch refused to hire her because of her religious head covering. The E.E.O.C. contended that Abercrombie’s actions violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits an employer from refusing to hire an applicant because of her religious practice, unless accommodating the practice would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Trump v. Hawaii, on the other hand, challenged the president’s executive order to suspend indefinitely the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to people from five Muslim-majority countries for violating immigration laws and the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
The central issue underlying both cases is the use of intent or motive to infer discrimination. The court’s rare 8-to-1 ruling in favor of the Muslim plaintiff in the Abercrombie case suggests a very different court measuring religious animus than the one today. This was evident in the Trump v. Hawaii oral argument in April.
“This is really easy,” said Justice Antonin Scalia when delivering his pithy opinion for the court in Abercrombie. Though the store tried to argue that its “look policy,” a strict dress code for employees, was neutral, the court suggested that it was a thinly disguised excuse to discriminate against Ms. Elauf. Justice Elena Kagan told the lawyer for Abercrombie, “your neutral policy really doesn’t matter.” The other justices followed suit.
When Abercrombie claimed that the employers did not realize Ms. Elauf’s head scarf was a religious requirement — it could be a fashion statement in violation of the “look policy” — Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. pointed out, “The reason that she was rejected was because you assumed she was going to” wear a head scarf “every day and the only reason she would do it every day is because she had a religious reason.”
The court saw through the smoke screen Abercrombie was trying to set up and exposed the religious discrimination at the heart of the matter.
Three years later, Justice Scalia has been replaced by Justice Neil Gorsuch and the country has what Justice Kagan has described as an “out-of-the-box kind of president.” Over the course of his term, President Trump issued three iterations of the Muslim ban in three executive orders, all of which were thwarted by lower courts.
As Abercrombie did in 2015, Solicitor General Noel Francisco focused on the apparent “neutrality” of the ban during oral arguments, asserting that “the vast majority of the Muslim world was just fine, but there were problems with a small number of countries.” Neal Katyal, representing the state of Hawaii, responded that the government’s religious animus was apparent to a reasonable observer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Alito, who had vehemently questioned Abercrombie about its religious discrimination, instead obscured the government’s motive in concerns about national security.
Justice Alito, who in Abercrombie was highly critical of the store’s anti-religious intent, argued that the president’s executive order “does not look at all like a Muslim ban.” He also said, “If you looked at the 10 countries with the most Muslims, exactly one, Iran, would be on that list,” as if the government needed to ban all Muslim countries for this to be a Muslim ban. Justice Alito’s approach was in direct contravention to his opinion in Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman in which he condemned as an “ominous sign” the disproportionate burden placed on one religious group (“devout Christians”).
Clearly, the Supreme Court’s approach to measuring religious discrimination has shifted. It could be, as Linda Greenhouse has argued in these pages, that the court has one standard for Christians and another for Muslims. The court’s approach is even at odds with its previous protection of Muslims in Abercrombie and Holt v. Hobbs, a 2015 case in which the court ruled unanimously that a Muslim prisoner was legally entitled to grow a beard.
What else might explain this change? Justice Scalia’s passing is a glaring factor. He was a champion of protecting religion from the state, irrespective of the religion. Justice Gorsuch is not. Also since then, as evidenced by recent policies, xenophobia has reached new heights in the United States, particularly against immigrants and refugees. Mr. Trump has pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable.
Religious animus has rarely been so publicly observed: As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” One of his advisers has stated that Mr. Trump asked him to create a commission to legally implement a Muslim ban. And the president has posted anti-Muslim statements and videos while in office. Yet unlike in Abercrombie, the court seems unwilling to look at Mr. Trump’s intent to infer discrimination. Instead, the court is allowing the government’s peripheral arguments to sweep Muslim civil rights under the rug."
Opinion | The Supreme Court Used to Oppose Discrimination. What Happened? - The New York Times
"Last year, the white nationalist Richard Spencer was kicked out of his Virginia gym after another member confronted him and called him a Nazi. This incident did not generate a national round of hand-wringing about the death of tolerance, perhaps because most people tacitly agree that it’s O.K. to shun professional racists.
It’s a little more complicated when the professional racist is the president of the United States. The norms of our political life require a degree of bipartisan forbearance. But treating members of Donald Trump’s administration as ordinary public officials rather than pariahs does more to normalize bigotry than exercising alongside a white separatist.
Over the last week, several Trump administration officials and supporters have been publicly shamed. On Friday night, the Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a farm-to-table restaurant in Lexington, Va. That morning, protesters blasted a recording of sobbing migrant kids outside the home of Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s secretary of homeland security.
A few days before that, Nielsen left an upscale Mexican restaurant near the White House after protesters confronted her, chanting, “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace!” The Trump adviser Stephen Miller was also yelled at in a Mexican restaurant — someone called him a fascist, though he may not regard that as an insult. The same night that Sanders was denied service, Pam Bondi, Florida’s Trump-supporting attorney general, was heckled outside a movie theater where she’d gone to see a documentary about Mister Rogers. Adding to the furor, Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, urged people to keep jeering at members of Trump’s cabinet when they’re out and about, saying, “You tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Naturally, all this has led to lots of pained disapproval from self-appointed guardians of civility. A Washington Post editorial urged the protesters to think about the precedent they are setting. “How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?” it asked.
Of course, this is not hard to imagine at all, since abortion opponents have assassinated abortion providers in their homes and churches, firebombed their clinics and protested at their children’s schools. The Roman Catholic Church has shamed politicians who support abortion rights by denying them communion. The failure to acknowledge this history is a sign of the reflexive false balance that makes it hard for the mainstream media to grapple with the asymmetric extremism of the Republican Party.
I’m somewhat agnostic on the question of whether publicly rebuking Trump collaborators is tactically smart. It stokes their own sense of victimization, which they feed on. It may alienate some persuadable voters, though this is just a guess. (As we saw in the indignant media reaction to Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner routine, some pundits project their own concern with Beltway decorum onto swing voters, who generally pay less attention to the news than partisans.)
On the other hand, there’s a moral and psychic cost to participating in the fiction that people who work for Trump are in any sense public servants. I don’t blame staff members at the Virginia restaurant, the Red Hen, for not wanting to help Sanders unwind after a hard week of lying to the public about mass child abuse. Particularly when Sanders’s own administration is fighting to let private businesses discriminate against gay people, who, unlike mendacious press secretaries, are a protected class under many civil rights laws.
Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. It’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy. Though it’s tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens. Trump installed the right-wing Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat that Republicans stole from Barack Obama. Gorsuch, in turn, has been the fifth vote in decisions on voter roll purges and, on Monday, racial gerrymandering that will further entrench minority rule.
All over the country, Republican members of Congress have consistently refused to so much as meet with many of the scared, furious citizens they ostensibly represent. A great many of these citizens are working tirelessly to take at least one house of Congress in the midterms — which will require substantially more than 50 percent of total votes, given structural Republican advantages — so that the country’s anti-Trump majority will have some voice in the federal government.
But unless and until that happens, millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies. The civility police might point out that many conservatives hated Obama just as much, but that only demonstrates the limits of content-neutral analysis. The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.
Faced with the unceasing cruelty and degradation of the Trump presidency, liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.) Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.
Instead, some progressive celebrities have said some bad words, and some people have treated administration officials with the sort of public opprobrium due members of any other white nationalist organization. Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left, and people have a desperate need to say, and to hear others say, that what is happening in this country is intolerable.
Sometimes, their strategies may be poorly conceived. But there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill."
Opinion | We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners - The New York Times