NBA SUPERSTAR STEPH CURRY JOINS LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’S PRO IMMIGRATION CAMPAIGN!

http://www.vibe.com/2017/06/steph-ayesha-curry-lin-manuel-ham4all/

VIBE reports:

Lin-Manuel Miranda early this morning announced his latest and most important contest yet: the #Ham4All challenge in support of Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition.

“Hamilton has crisscrossed the country—New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Next stop…Los Angeles!” wrote the playwright in an open letter. “I’m thrilled to be back again with another great Hamilton experience, this time benefiting a cause that’s not only at the heart of Hamilton but particularly close to me—immigration. I’m raising money for the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, which is comprised of 12 amazing organizations.”

READ: Lin-Manuel Miranda To Be Inducted In The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Shortly after making the announcement, Golden State Warrior and NBA champion Stephen Curry and his wifey-in-crime Ayesha Curry entered the challenge, making a donation of their own—performing their favorite Hamilton track and throwing down the gauntlet to the next celebrity, in one fell swoop.

“We all feel strongly about supporting these important organizations fighting to protect immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who want to make a better life for themselves and their families,” the couple captioned on Instagram, urging Olivia Munn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to join the fight. “The grand prize winner will join us and Lin-Manuel at the LA opening on August 16th. We think that this will be the biggest Hamilton sweepstakes yet, but we need your help…”

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Read the complete story and get links to more information about the “Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition” at the above link. Compare Miranda’s positive, upbeat message about immigration with the steady stream of fear-mongering, xenophobia, implicit racism, and, let’s face it, outright lies about migrants coming from the Trump Administration.

PWS

06-28-17

Immigrants Bridge The Gap With Local Communities — “The Haters Are Always Wrong, And The Haters Will Eventually Lose.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/working-to-build-bridges-between-immigrants-and-their-new-communities/2017/06/23/03c1bb1a-4d2a-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.2bcde1762b2f

Steven V. Roberts writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“These are all good examples that will, hopefully, ease the “cultural anxiety” Noorani writes about. But he shies away from discussing a key dimension of Trump’s appeal: racism. “A significant portion of the American electorate felt their country had been taken away,” he writes, but he doesn’t complete the thought. Taken away by whom? Let’s be honest. Many of those voters believe that their country has been overrun by dark-skinned, foreign-language-speaking aliens.

While it is wildly unfair to call all Trump supporters racists, it is equally inaccurate to ignore that the president deliberately inflamed racist impulses to win the election.

 

Moreover, Noorani lacks a larger perspective. Trump is a very American figure. Anti-immigrant fears didn’t start with globalization and weren’t “triggered” by the election of Barack Obama. Throughout our history, spasms of nativist hostility have erupted against each new group arriving on our shores: Germans and Jews, Irish and Italians, Japanese and Chinese.

Hispanics and Muslims are now the objects of this animosity, and the language directed against them is the same that’s been used to demonize newcomers for more than two centuries: This group will degrade our culture and alter our identity. But today’s targets can take comfort from the clear lessons of history.

Immigrants do change our culture — for the better. They reenergize and revitalize our civic spirit. The haters are always wrong, and the haters will eventually lose. Tiwana and Noorani himself prove that truth.

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Trump and his supporters might be on the right side of the political equation at this point in time, but they are squarely on the wrong side of history. Before joining up with the Trump Team, folks ought to think about being remembered by their grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that we think about such notorious racists as Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Governor Lester “Pickax” Maddox, and Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubis, or those who engineered and championed such abominations as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Even iconic American historical figures like President Woodrow Wilson and Gen. Robert E. Lee have recently had their racism and support for racist causes eventually catch up with them and tarnish their reputations. In the long run, the cause of intolerance, fear, and bias promoted by Trump, Pence, and today’s GOP will look pretty bad. Yeah, we’ll all be gone by then. But, our descendants and history will remember where we stood.

PWS

06-25-17

RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17

Welcome To Jeff Sessions’s America — In 1957 Sessions Was 10 Years Old And His White Christian Fellow Alabamans Were Busy Perverting The “Rule Of Law” To Deny Their African American Fellow Citizens Constitutional Rights, Fundamental Justice, & Human Dignity!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-white-cop-dies-and-a-young-black-man-spends-years-in-jail-for-a-crime-he-didnt-do/2017/06/16/d771059e-4706-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-arts%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.a94b2ba61075

Colbert I. king writes in the Washington Post:

“How is it possible in a country that prides itself on having a Bill of Rights, expresses reverence for due process and touts equal protection that a 17-year-old can be arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death, and then spend 13 years being shuttled among death row cellblocks in disgusting jails and prisons with his case under appeal, all for a crime he didn’t commit?

The answer contains some simple prerequisites: He had to be black, live in the Jim Crow South and be accused of committing, as one deputy sheriff put it, a “supreme offense, on the same level of a white woman being raped by a black man” — that is, the murder of a white police officer.

Teenager Caliph Washington, a native of Bessemer, Ala., was on the receiving end of all three conditions. And as such, Washington became a sure-fire candidate to suffer the kind of tyrannical law enforcement and rotten jurisprudence that Southern justice reserved for blacks of any age.

In “He Calls Me by Lightning,” S. Jonathan Bass, a professor at Alabama’s Samford University and a son of Bessemer parents, resurrects the life of Washington, who died in 2001 finally out of prison — but with charges still hanging over his head.

 

Bass, however, does more than tell Washington’s tale, as Washington’s widow, Christine, had asked him to do in a phone call. Bass dives deeply into the Bessemer society of 1957 where Washington was accused of shooting white police officer James “Cowboy” Clark on an empty dead-end street near a row of run-down houses on unpaved Exeter Alley.

Bessemer-style justice cannot be known, let alone understood, however, without learning about that neo-hardscrabble town 13 miles southwest of Birmingham.

Bessemer served as home to a sizable black majority, an entrenched white power structure and an all-white police department, consisting at the time of a “ragtag crew of poorly paid, ill-trained, and hot-tempered individuals” who earned less than Bessemer’s street and sanitation workers.

Bessemer was a town with its own quaint racial customs, such as forcing black men to “walk in the middle of the downtown streets, not on the sidewalks, after dark — presumably to keep them from any close contact with white women.”

 

Bessemer was a town where in 1944 the police forced black prisoners to participate in an Independence Day watermelon run. White citizens reportedly cheered as firefighters blasted the inmates with high-pressure hoses to make the race more challenging. Winners, it is said, received reduced sentences and the watermelons.

It was in that town that Caliph Washington was born in 1939, the same year of my birth in Washington, D.C.

Bessemer’s racial climate was no different the year Washington was accused of killing Cowboy Clark. The town’s prevailing attitude on race was captured at the time in a pamphlet distributed by a segregationist group, the Bessemer Citizens’ Council. Black Christians, the white citizens’ council said, should remain content with being “our brothers in Christ without also wanting to become our brothers-in-law.”

If ever there was a place to not get caught “driving while black” — which is what Washington was doing on that fateful night in July 1957 — it was Bessemer. And that night’s hazard appeared in the form of Clark and his partner, Thurman Avery, who were cruising the streets in their patrol car looking for whiskey bootleggers.”

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Read the rest of King’s op-ed at the link.

So, when you hear Sessions and his White Nationalist buddies like Bannon, Miller, Kobach, and Pence extolling the virtues of a small Federal Government (except for the migrant-bashing mechanisms) state control of voting, civil rights, police conduct, gender fairness, environmental regulations, labor relations, filling the prisons with maximum sentences, a new war on drugs, etc., it’s just clever code for “let’s make sure that white-dominated state and local governments can keep blacks, hispanics, immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities from achieving power, equality, and a fair share of the pie.” After all, if you believe, as these guys do, that true democracy can be a bad thing if it means diversity and power sharing, then you’re going to abuse the legal and political systems any way you can to maintain your hold on power.

And, of course, right-wing pontificating about the “rule of law” means  nothing other than selective application of some laws to the disadvantage of minorities, immigrants, and often women. You can see how selective Sessions’s commitment to the rule of law is when he withdraws DOJ participation in voting rights cases in the face of strong evidence of racial gerrymandering, withdraws support from protections for LGBT individuals, supports imprisonment in substandard prisons, targets legal marijuana, and “green lights” troubled police departments to prioritize aggressive law enforcement over the protection of minority citizens’ rights. Ethics laws, in particular, seems to be far removed from the Sessions/Trump concept of “Rule of Law.” And, sadly, this is only the beginning of the Trump Administration’s assault on our Constitution, our fundamental values, and the “real” “Rule of Law.”

PWS

06-18-17

MARJORIE COHN IN HUFFPOST: Destroying American Justice From The Inside — The “Gonzo-Apocalypto Era” Takes Hold At The USDOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-department-of-injustice_us_590dd80ee4b0f711807244f1

Cohn writes:

“Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons.

Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in “Shelby County v. Holder” that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.”

Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration scaremongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low: 50 percent less than they were at their peak in 1991.

Trump’s campaign mantra was “law and order,” a euphemism for tolerating excessive force by police officers, often against people of color. Trump speaks of “American carnage” in the cities and a “war” on the police. His bogus rhetoric is aimed at Black Lives Matter, which arose in response to increasing numbers of police shootings, particularly of nonwhites.

The president depicts police reform measures as “anti-law enforcement” and Sessions is fully on board with this framing. In 2015, when he was a senator, Sessions said that police reform movements endanger public safety and hinder police work.

Sessions opposes consent decrees, which are court-enforced agreements aimed at eliminating racial profiling and excessive force by police in agencies that demonstrate “a pattern or practice” of violating civil rights. Sessions says the federal government should not be “dictating to local police how to do their jobs” (except when it comes to immigration enforcement, that is).

Amnesty International warns that Trump and Sessions’ “law and order” rhetoric could lead to higher levels of mass incarceration, long sentences and prolonged solitary confinement.

. . . .

Trump and Sessions are not disappointing the white nationalists who favor using immigration policy as a wedge to further their “alt-right” program.

Kevin de León, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, noted, “It has become abundantly clear” that Sessions and Trump “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy ― not American values.”

From January to mid-March of this year, immigration arrests have increased by 33 percent. Since Trump’s inauguration, the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal records has doubled. Roughly half of the 675 arrested in early February raids had either driving convictions or no criminal record at all, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Sessions drastically increased penalties for illegal reentry into the United States and ordered immigration officials to charge undocumented immigrants with higher-penalty crimes.

Although Sessions’ heavy-handed actions are based on Trump’s spurious claim that immigrants disproportionately murder and rape US citizens, studies have shown that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than citizens.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are arresting immigrants who come to the courthouse. This egregious practice motivated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to complain in a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that ICE agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

Terrorizing immigrants with frightful measures discourages immigrant witnesses from reporting crimes, and discourages victims from seeking legal measures and services that are meant to protect their own safety and well-being.

By March, the Los Angeles Police Department had seen a 25 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and a 10 percent decrease in Latinos’ reports of domestic violence. By early April, there was a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos who reported rapes to the Houston Police Department. And a health care center in Los Angeles reported a 20 percent decrease in food stamp enrollments and a 54 percent drop in enrollments for Medicaid.

The Trump administration has been arresting ― even deporting ― “Dreamers” who relied on Barack Obama’s assurances they would be protected if they came out of the shadows and provided their personal information to ICE. Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez is a registrant in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and was the first DACA recipient to be deported. Bojorquez, who is now in Mexico, is suing the US federal government.

On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order to halt federal funding to municipal governments that don’t facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s order is aimed at “sanctuary cities” that protect immigrants from deportation.

In March, Sessions threatened officials in nine jurisdictions with losing their 2016 grants if they failed to certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with a law that forbids local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information about immigration status from federal authorities.

But the majority of sanctuary policies do not cover information sharing. Most address how to handle “detainers,” where federal immigration officials request that state or local authorities continue to detain people who are eligible for release. Courts have said jurisdictions cannot be forced to honor those detainers.

Trump’s January 25 order is blocked, for now. US District Judge William H. Orrick III issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that forbids the federal government from withholding funds from municipal governments that don’t fully cooperate with immigration agents.

Orrick also ruled the federal government can’t legally force counties to hold undocumented people beyond their release dates. The judge concluded Trump’s order likely violates due process, the separation of powers doctrine, and the 10th Amendment, which prevents federal interference with state and local self-government. Only Congress can limit spending, Orrick wrote.

This is Trump’s third executive order halted by federal courts. His first and second Muslim bans are now pending in the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

. . . .

After Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) stated, “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Indeed, no one is worse equipped to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions’ racism is prominently on display in every action he has taken during his short tenure in Trump’s cabinet.

It is critical that “we the people” continue to resist, in every way we can, the Trump-Sessions pattern and practice of injustice.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Follow her on Twitter. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.”

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Read the entire article over on HuffPost.

So much damage in so little time. And, I’m sure the worst is yet to come. Most impressive in a depressingly negative way! Senators Liz Warren, Cory Booker, and others were right!

PWS

05-07-17

“GONZO-APOCALYPTO:” The Ominous Cloud Hanging Over American Justice — In Good Friday Editorials, Both NYT & WashPost Blast Sessions’s Dark, Distorted, “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Vision Of America!

First, the Washington Post ripped Sessions’s “embarrassing” withdrawal of support from African Americans and other minorities challenging the State of Texas’s scheme to disenfranchise them. A Federal Judge has twice found in favor of the plaintiffs — once with the DOJ’s support and once without!

“BLASTING “A PATTERN of conduct unexplainable on nonracial grounds, to suppress minority voting,” U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Monday repudiated Texas’s voter-ID law, the strictest in the country. Asked by appeals court judges to reconsider her expansive 2014 ruling against the law using slightly different evidence, Ms. Ramos reaffirmed her previous determination that “the law places a substantial burden on the right to vote, which is hardly offset by Texas’s claimed benefits to voting integrity.” She found that racial discrimination was at least a partial motivation for the law, a step toward reestablishing federal supervision over Texas’s voting procedures, per the Voting Rights Act.

Given the ruling and the mountain of evidence, it is embarrassing that the Trump Justice Department dropped its support for the contention that the Texas voter law is purposely discriminatory.

The legal question is not close. “There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combating voter fraud,” Ms. Ramos wrote in 2014. The only type of fraud the law could combat — voter impersonation — hardly ever happens. Meanwhile, the law’s backers knew it would disproportionately impact minority voters; in fact, they designed it so. “The Texas Legislature accepted amendments that would broaden Anglo voting and rejected amendments that would broaden minority voting,” Ms. Ramos found in her 2014 examination. Texas accepts relatively few forms of identification at the polls, and those it does accept, such as gun licenses, are those white Texans tend to hold. Unlike many voter-ID states, Texas does not relax ID rules much for the elderly or the indigent, though obtaining an accepted ID can be surprisingly time-consuming and expensive.”

Read the complete editorial here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-time-for-the-justice-department-to-disown-texass-discriminatory-voting-law/2017/04/13/ee63a0e0-1ef7-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html

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Meanwhile, A NY Times editorial slammed Session’s disingenuous plan to make immigrants the “#1 target” of law enforcement in the “Trump era.” The emphasis is mine.

Here’s the full editorial:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to the border in Arizona on Tuesday and declared it a hellscape, a “ground zero” of death and violence where Americans must “take our stand” against a tide of evil flooding up from Mexico.

It was familiar Sessions-speak, about drug cartels and “transnational gangs” poisoning and raping and chopping off heads, things he said for years on the Senate floor as the gentleman from Alabama. But with a big difference:  Now he controls the machinery of federal law enforcement, and his gonzo-apocalypto vision of immigration suddenly has force and weight behind it, from the officers and prosecutors and judges who answer to him.

When Mr. Sessions got to the part about the “criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document forgers” overthrowing our immigration system, the American flag behind him had clearly heard enough — it leaned back and fell over as if in a stupor. An agent rushed to rescue it, and stood there for the rest of the speech: a human flag stand and metaphor. A guy with a uniform and gun, wrapped in Old Glory, helping to give the Trump administration’s nativist policies a patriotic sheen.

It was in the details of Mr. Sessions’s oratory that his game was exposed. He talked of cities and suburbs as immigrant-afflicted “war zones,” but the crackdown he seeks focuses overwhelmingly on nonviolent offenses, the document fraud and unauthorized entry and other misdeeds that implicate many people who fit no sane definition of brutal criminal or threat to the homeland.

The problem with Mr. Sessions’s turbocharging of the Justice Department’s efforts against what he paints as machete-wielding “depravity” is how grossly it distorts the bigger picture. It reflects his long fixation — shared by his boss, President Trump — on immigration not as an often unruly, essentially salutary force in American history, but as a dire threat. It denies the existence of millions of people who are a force for good, economic mainstays and community assets, less prone to crime than the native-born — workers, parents, children, neighbors and, above all, human beings deserving of dignity and fair treatment under the law.

Mr. Sessions is ordering his prosecutors to make immigration a priority, to consider prosecution in any case involving “transportation and harboring of aliens” and to consider felony charges for an extended menu of offenses, like trying to re-enter after deportation, “aggravated identity theft” and fraudulent marriage.

He said the government was now detaining every adult stopped at the border, and vowed to “surge” the supply of immigration judges, to increase the flow of unauthorized immigrants through the courts and out of the country. He has ordered all 94 United States attorney’s offices to designate “border security coordinators,” no matter how far from “ground zero” they are.

Mr. Sessions and the administration are being led by their bleak vision to the dark side of the law. The pieces are falling into place for the indiscriminate “deportation force” that the president promised. Mr. Sessions and the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, have attacked cities and states that decline to participate in the crackdown. Mr. Sessions has threatened these “sanctuary” locales with loss of criminal-justice funding, on the false assertion that they are defying the law. (In fact, “sanctuary” cities are upholding law and order. They recognize that enlisting state and local law enforcement for deportation undermines community trust, local policing and public safety.)

Mr. Kelly recently told a Senate committee that all unauthorized immigrants are now potential targets for arrest and deportation. And so an administration that talks about machete-waving narco killers is also busily trying to deport people like Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, of Fairfield, Ohio, the mother of four citizen children, who has no criminal record.

“Be forewarned,” Mr. Sessions said in Arizona. “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

Let’s talk about this era. It’s an era when the illegal border flow, particularly from Mexico, has been falling for 20 years. When many of those arriving from Central America immediately surrender to border agents — having fled to the United States to find safety, not to do it harm. When American border cities enjoy safety and vitality, thanks to immigrants. When a large portion of the unauthorized population has lived here for years, if not decades, with clean records and strong roots. When polls show that Americans back reasonable and humane immigration policies giving millions a chance to get right with the law.

President Trump has shown his mind to be a place where ideas and principles can morph without warning or explanation. It is a vacuum that allows ideologues like Mr. Sessions — who know their minds — to do their worst. On immigration, that is a frightening thing to contemplate.

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“Gonzo-Apocalypto” has to be the “word of the day.” What a perfect term to describe Jeff Sessions.

In a grotesque display of disingenuous hypocrisy, Sessions referred to “drug cartels and ‘transnational gangs’ poisoning and raping and chopping off heads.” These are exactly the things causing scared, defenseless women and children to flee for their lives from the Northern Triangle and seek refuge in the U.S. But, instead of refuge they find: well, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Gen. John Kelly and others anxious to stomp out their humanity in the false name of “law enforcement.”

Turning to civil rights, I watched on the TV news last night two clips of brutal beatings and stompings of African Americans by white police officers. One victim was accused of “jaywalking”  — that’s right, “jaywalking.” The other was “driving without a license plate.” I was wondering how, after all the recent publicity, those officers could have engaged in such conduct, “on camera” no less.

Unfortunately, the answer is pretty simple “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” an attitude that obviously has just become instinctive for too many U.S. police officers. I couldn’t imagine a white pedestrian or a white motorist being treated that way in our multi-racial but predominantly white neighborhood.

Yes, the officers involved were disciplined. I believe that most or all of them were either fired, prosecuted, or both. But, that’s not the point!

The object is to prevent misuse of force by police, not to fire, prosecute, or otherwise discipline more policemen. And, prevention without compromising effectiveness of policing is exactly what the carefully crafted “consent decrees” with some problematic cities developed by the Civil Rights Division under AGs Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder achieved.

Those are the very decrees that Sessions immediately announced an intent to “review” with an obvious eye toward withdrawing or undermining them. Look at the childish behavior in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, MD, when DOJ attorneys, acting on Sessions’s behalf, withdrew their support from the consent decree and basically refused to participate in a long-scheduled public hearing. Fortunately, the judge has the good sense to go ahead and approve and finalize the consent decree without any participation by DOJ, leading to even more childish whining from Sessions about the horrors of infringing on local law enforcement in the name of African American citizen’s constitutional rights.

The very public “green light” that Sessions has given to law enforcement to run over citizen’s rights as they please, without any fear of DOJ intervention, so long as they are “enforcing the law” — like busting jaywalkers, license plate violators, and presumably undocumented aliens — no doubt plays a role in the continuing anti-minority policing being conducted by some law enforcement agencies.

Sessions “bristles” when anyone uses the term “racist” to describe him. Sessions was given a chance to make good on his (obviously false) promise during his confirmation hearings to turn over a new leaf and look at the responsibilities of being Attorney General for all Americans differently from representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately,  his actions have proved that all of the charges his detractors made against him are as true now as they were when he was, quite properly, denied a U.S. judgeship many decades ago. If the shoe fits, wear it. And, sadly, this “shoe” fits Sessions “like a glove.” Liz was “right on.”

Finally, DHS Secretary John Kelly will see his distinguished career in public service end in ignomany if he continues “toadying up” to the ethno-nationalist views of the Sessions-Bannon-Miller crowd on immigration enforcement. Most of the arrests, deportations, detentions, denials of asylum, and removals Sessions is touting in his haste to become the new “Immigration Czar,” actually are within the jurisdiction of DHS. But, these days, you’d hardly know that Sessions isn’t in charge of DHS enforcement as well as Justice. If Kelly isn’t careful, he’s going to develop a neck injury from constantly nodding his head to every absurd “gonzo-apocalypto” immigration enforcement initiative announced by Sessions.

PWS

04-14-17

HUFFPOST POLITICS: Despite Bannon’s Apparently Waning Influence, “Turbocharged” Sessions Will Keep “Ethno-Nationalist Agenda” Rolling At Full Speed At DOJ! Bad News For Immigrants, African-Americans, Refugees, Muslims, LBGT Individuals, Forensic Science, Innocent Defendants, Minor Offenders, Taxpayers, The U.S. Constitution, Many Women, & Social Justice In America!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-steve-bannon_us_58efb376e4b0bb9638e23542

Paul Blumenthal writes:

“No matter what Bannon’s fate, however, his strand of ethno-nationalism will live on in the Trump Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The 70-year-old former Alabama senator has already set the Justice Department on a new path by targeting immigrants, reining in police department reform efforts and curtailing efforts to protect voting rights.

“While many are focused on how Bannon is losing influence in the White House, those concerned with immigrant justice ― and I suspect those concerned with racial justice, police reform and voting rights, too ― are focused on the rise of a turbocharged Sessions,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice, said in an email to HuffPost.

Bannon and Sessions share a long history of mutual support and policy agreement. They spent months together with Stephen Miller, a former Sessions aide who now works in the White House, plotting strategy on how to enact their shared agenda of limiting immigration to the U.S. in order to maintain a European and Christian identity. In 2016, Bannon declared Sessions “one of the intellectual, moral leaders of this populist, nationalist movement in this country.” After both moved to Trump’s administration, Bannon called Sessions the White House “clearinghouse for policy and philosophy.” Like Bannon, Sessions declares his policy objective as defeating “soulless globalism.”

. . . .

In another appearance on Bannon’s radio show, Sessions endorsed the Immigration Act of 1924, which specifically limited immigration based on race and religion, in the context of current immigration trends. “In seven years, we’ll have the highest percentage of Americans, non-native born, since the founding of the Republic,” Sessions said, while praising the 1924 law that was used to prevent Jewish immigration before and during the Holocaust.

Like Bannon, Sessions believes immigration from Middle Eastern countries poses a national security risk. He agrees that Western leaders have failed to protect their Judeo-Christian heritage by opening the door to refugees.

In one radio interview, after Bannon compared the migration of Syrian refugees to an infamous racist French book, he asked Sessions.: “Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?”

“I’m worried about that,” Sessions replied.

The two nationalist Trump supporters share more than immigration policy preferences. The reversal of police reform efforts and reinvigoration of the War on Drugs pushed by Sessions as attorney general fits with Bannon’s efforts at Breitbart to label Black Lives Matter protesters as racists, while perpetuating racist stereotypes of African Americans through the site’s Black Crime section.”

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For those who hoped that President Trump’s sudden shift to more “centrist” positions on trade and foreign policy might carry over into immigration policy, dream on! Bannon might be “on the ropes,” but Sessions and Stephen Miller still have the President’s ear on their restrictionist, nationalist positions on immigration.

While badly needed, reasonable bipartisan immigration reform would be within Trump’s reach, that’s not going to happen. Buoyed by the immediate decrease in Southern Border apprehensions, Trump, Sessions, and MIller (Gen. Kelly appears to gone AWOL on immigration policy — he just parrots what Sessions and the nationalist restrictionists tell him — his stature as former General with integrity shrinks every day) intend to arrest, detain, deport, and threaten unless and until the Article III Courts stop them. And whether that will happen is still an open question.

Liz was right!

PWS

04-13-17

 

RELIGION/POLITICS/REFUGEES: Pope Francis Puts Migrants’ Lives First — World’s Top Catholic Stands Tall Against Those Who Would Shun Most Vulnerable — Pence’s Values Might Bar Meeting With Women, But Haven’t Stopped Him From Supporting Policies That Hurt Refugees, Migrants, Transgender Children, Gays, The Sick, The Poor, The Starving, Many Women & Almost All Other Vulnerable People! Big Time Disconnect!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/how-pope-francis-is-leading-the-catholic-church-against-anti-migrant-populism/2017/04/10/d3ca5832-1966-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.1dbd72f3d9a0

Anthony Faiola and Sarah Pulliam Bailey report in the Washington Post:

“VATICAN CITY — As politicians around the world including President Trump take an increasingly hard line on immigration, a powerful force is rallying to the side of migrants: the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.

Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests are emerging as some of the most influential opponents of immigration crackdowns backed by right-wing populists in the United States and Europe. The moves come as Francis, who has put migrants at the top of his agenda, appears to be leading by example, emphasizing his support for their rights in sermons, speeches and deeds.

The pro-migrant drive risks dividing Catholics — many of whom in the United States voted for Trump. Some observers say it is also inserting the church into politics in a manner recalling the heady days of Pope John Paul II, who stared down communism and declared his opposition to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Vatican is standing in open opposition to politicians like Trump not just on immigration but also on other issues, including climate-change policy.

But the focal point is clearly migrant rights.
In the United States, individual bishops, especially those appointed by Francis, have sharply criticized Trump’s migrant policies since his election. They include Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who last month co-led a rally in support of a Mexican man fighting deportation. Tobin has decried Trump’s executive orders on immigration, calling them the “opposite of what it means to be an American.”

In Los Angeles, Archbishop José H. Gomez, the first Mexican American vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which leads the U.S. church, described migrant rights as the bishops’ most important issue. He has delivered blistering critiques of Trump’s policies, and instructed his clerics to distribute cards in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese informing migrants of their rights in 300 parishes .
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, one of Francis’s closest allies in the U.S. church, has issued orders that if federal immigration authorities should attempt to enter churches without a warrant in search of migrants, priests should turn them away and call the archdiocese’s lawyers. Catholic school principals were given the same instructions by the archdiocese, which Cupich said was an attempt to respond in a way that was firm “but not extreme.”

He said Francis has helped bishops shape their response.

“The pope makes it a lot easier for me to be a bishop because he’s very clear in his teaching, and [on] this one in particular, he’s trying to awaken the conscience of the citizens of the world,” Cupich said.

Francis has long been an advocate of migrants — kicking off his papacy in 2013 with a trip to an Italian island used as a waypoint for migrants desperate to enter Europe. In a highly public spat early last year, Francis and Trump exchanged barbs — with Francis declaring that anyone who wants to build walls “is not Christian.”

. . . .

Those who have the pope’s ear say Francis is seeking to counter anti-migrant policies by appealing directly to voters.

“I don’t think the pope is challenging [the politicians]. I think he is challenging their supporters, both those who actively support them and those who passively allow their policies to happen,” said the Rev. Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Vatican’s new Section for Refugees and Migrants, which opened in January, just before Trump took office. Czerny reports directly to the pope — a sign of the importance of the new office.

“Mr. Trump or Ms. Le Pen are not the root of the problem,” Czerny continued. “The root of the problem is the fear, selfishness and shortsightedness that motivate people to support them.”

. . . .

He [William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore] added that previous popes have taken similar positions as Francis on immigration. But, Lori added, Francis is “perhaps more dramatic.” His trips, such as his 2016 visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, also connected his stance on migrants to politics.
“The poor is the hallmark of his papacy,” Lori said. “It will affect our priorities and it should.”

*******************************************

Meanwhile, Carla Gardina Pestana writes about “Arrogant Christians in the White House” in HuffPost:

“Mike Pence, the fundamentalist Christian whose views are so extreme that he cannot be alone with a woman other than his wife, and Donald Trump, who brags about sexually assaulting women and famously stumbled over an attempt to quote a biblical passage while on the campaign trail, seem to hold wildly divergent religious views. Yet both adhere to variations of Christianity inflected with arrogance. Together they represent two troubling trends in American Christianity, trends which appear to prove all the complaints secular liberals ever leveled against Christians.

Pence adheres to biblical literalism. Put simply, this view asserts that the Bible is a transparent document, one that prescribes specific behavioral guidelines. Glossing over the fact that the Bible is a complex text built of ancient fragments brought together by human hands, that it does not speak directly to many modern issues, and that even on its own terms it encompasses numerous contradictions, these Christians confidently declare that the Bible provides clear guidance for every Christian. Literalists arrived at this position only relatively late in Christian history, in response to various challenges from many quarters, including biblical scholarship, advances in science, and a rise in unbelief. Cutting through the complexities and the need to make choices, literalists declared all choice to be false and all discussion to be error. It was a comforting if simplistic and authoritarian solution to the problem of uncertainty.

Its arrogance lies in the hubris of those who believe that only their chosen answers are correct. Its potential to harm others comes when adherents gain political power and force their mandates on nonbelievers. One of the many dangers emanating out of the Trump White House is the power of Pence to impose not his religion but the behaviors his religion dictates onto the rest of us. Women’s rights and gender equality are on Pence’s hit list.

Trump’s religion, although very different, is similarly alarming. Unsurprisingly Trump accepts a religious viewpoint that tells him he is uniquely awesome. Whatever he has—however he acquired it—God wants him to enjoy to the fullest. Although traditional Christian social practice mandates that believers exercise humility, charity and other virtues that put others before self, Trump’s faith rejects all curbs on self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement. This religious position, known as Prosperity Theology, is newer than Pence’s literalism. It preaches that God wants the rich to be not only rich but selfish. Its attraction to a man like Trump—born to wealth, selfishly guided by his own desires, endlessly demanding that others adore him but never judge him—is transparent.

. . . .

Pence’s arrogance leads him to believe that he knows exactly what God wants us all to do and that he ought to force that on us if he has the power to do so. Trump’s faith simply endorses his own self-regard, elevating his personal whims to God’s desires. The political marriage of the two men is obviously one of expedience, given the great disparities in their beliefs and goals. Yet between them, they can do a great deal of damage. Arrogant self-righteousness and egotistical self-regard together wield power over the rest of us.

Little wonder that the pope has been modeling Christian humility and singing the praises of Christian charity, or that the supporters of these two find his lessons in what it means to be a Christian so infuriating.”

Read the complete article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arrogant-christians-in-the-white-house_us_58e94a6fe4b06f8c18beec89?

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Also, Allen Clifton writing in Forward Progressives quotes the views of Pastor John Pavlovitz taking Trump and the GOP to task for hypocricy on Syrian refugees, a point that has been noted several times previously in this blog: 

“There are many things concerning Donald Trump that completely baffle me, but the fact that he’s strongly and enthusiastically supported by a party that comically portrays itself as representatives for “the Christian moral majority” is right near the top of my list. Of all the major candidates who ran for president from either party, Trump was, without a doubt, the least Christian of any of them. I haven’t viewed Republicans as actual Christians for years, but Trump’s rise to the top of the GOP cemented the fact that there’s nothing Christian about the Republican Party.
A great example of what I’m talking about is Trump and the GOP’s take on refusing to accept Syrian refugees. Innocent, desperate people, many of whom are women and children, fleeing a war-torn country hoping to escape a brutal dictator who, once again, just used chemical weapons against his own people. Not only have Trump and his fellow Republicans blatantly vilified these poor people as a means of pandering to the bigotry that fuels their party, but they continually lied about the process refugees must endure before ever stepping foot on U.S. soil.
If you listen to Trump talk about the vetting process, he essentially said we never had one — which is an outright lie. Every refugee allowed into the United States endures a rigorous process that usually takes between 18-24 months to complete and these refugees never know where they’re actually going to end up. So it’s not as if some “undercover terrorist” can pose as a refugee, say they want to go to America, and they’re here in two weeks.
Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that Trump and the GOP have gone out of their way to demonize these poor people for political purposes.

That made it rather nauseating to watch Trump claim that the images of the victims of the most recent chemical weapons attack launched by Assad are what “moved” him to take action by ordering last week’s airstrike. Nothing like selling yourself as the party of “Christian values,” while vilifying and rejecting refugees, then claiming that the images of victims of a horrific chemical attack “moved you” — not to do everything you can to help people who need it — but to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase that was up-and-running within a few hours of the attack.

I’m sorry, but you can’t claim you’re “moved” by the sickening images of what’s going on in Syria when your administration’s policy is to reject helping thousands of refugees desperately trying to flee the carnage that’s plagued that nation for over six years now.

That’s also along the lines of what North Carolina Pastor John Pavlovitz said in a recent blog post:
‘This is the human collateral damage of what Donald Trump’s been selling for 16 months now. It is the cost in actual vibrant, beautiful lives, of the kind of incendiary rhetoric and alternative facts and Fox News truths that you’ve been fine with up until now. This is what you bought and paid for. Maybe not something this sadistic or explicitly grotesque, but the heart is the same: contempt for life that looks different and a desire to rid yourself of it.
I want to believe that you’re truly outraged, but honestly your resume is less than convincing.
Honestly, you didn’t seem all that broken up when Muslim families were handcuffed in airports a couple of months ago, or when mosques were being defaced, or when many of us were pleading the case for families fleeing exactlythe kind of monstrous atrocities you were apparently so moved by this week—and getting told to eat our bleeding hearts out by MAGA hat-wearing trolls. You weren’t all that concerned when your President told terrified, exhausted refugees to leave and go home—twice.'”

*****************************************

Matthew 25:

44And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ 46And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”…

PWS

04-11-17

 

4th Cir. Judges File Separate Opinion Praising Bravery Of Transgender Teen — Take Shot At Those On The “Wrong Side Of History!”

Senior Judge Davis, joined by Judge Floyd said this in a published separate opinion:

“Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals—Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few—who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them. It is unsurprising, of course, that the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed. These individuals looked to the federal courts to vindicate their claims to human dignity, but as the names listed above make clear, the judiciary’s response has been decidedly mixed. Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King reminded us, however, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” G.G.’s journey is delayed but not finished.

G.G.’s case is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins. It’s about governmental validation of the existence and experiences of transgender people, as well as the simple recognition of their humanity. His case is part of a larger movement that is redefining and broadening the scope of civil and human rights so that they extend to a vulnerable group that has traditionally been unrecognized, unrepresented, and unprotected.

. . . .

 

G.G.’s lawsuit also has demonstrated that some entities will not protect the rights of others unless compelled to do so. Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted — but by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives.”

The full opinion is well worth a read. Here’s a link: 161733R1.P-4th Circuit GG

Judge Davis incorporates this poem,

Famous by N.S. Nye:

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth, more famous than the dress shoe, which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.

Here’s an article from yesterday’s Washington Post explaining the context of the 4th Circuit’s procedural decision and why the published, signed separate opinion is unusual.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/judges-hail-transgender-teen-gavin-grimm-as-human-rights-leader/2017/04/07/ade47f12-1bc8-11e7-bcc2-7d1a0973e7b2_story.html?utm_term=.11ce2b2d3a58

The case is G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board.

*************************************

The Trump Administration’s attacks on vulnerable individuals such as Muslims, migrants, and now transgender students have given rise to an interesting new phenomenon in the U.S. Courts of Appeals: separate published opinions vigorously commenting on or dissenting from what normally would be routine, unsigned, unpublished, barely noticed, procedural orders.

Another good example was the recent spate of published opinions dissenting and concurring with the granting of an uncontested motion by the Government to dismiss the appeal from the TRO in State of Washington v. Trump (“Travel Ban 1.0”) which I discussed in an earlier blog: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-vM

In the 9th Circuit case, several judges used separate opinions to lash out at their colleagues and show their support for the Trump Administration’s “Travel Ban 1.0.” This drew a reaction from some of their colleagues who accused the dissenters of using the forum and device of the separate opinions to deliver a message to politicians, other courts, and the parties for use in future litigation that was not yet before the court. In other words, to influence matters that were not part of the the actual “case or controversy” before the court, which was being dismissed without objection by either party.

In any event, in just a short time in office, the Trump Administration has “gotten the attention” of normally aloof and “ivory towerish” Federal Appellate Judges who seem to be energized and eager to engage in the fray with the Administration, its detractors, and each other.

PWS

04-09-17

 

7th Cir. Finds Gays Protected By 1964 Civil Rights Act

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/04/04/court-discrimination-against-gays-is-prohibited-by-federal-law/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c296389bf33a

Sandhya Somashekhar reports in the Washington Post:

“A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that workers may not be fired for their sexual orientation, becoming the highest court in the country to find that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gays from workplace discrimination and setting up a possible Supreme Court battle.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, found that instructor Kimberly Hively was improperly passed over for a full-time job at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Ind., because she was a lesbian. While the Civil Rights Act does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it bars sex discrimination; the court concluded that the college engaged in sex discrimination by stereotyping Hively based on her gender.

“Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype … she is not heterosexual,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote in Tuesday’s opinion. “Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing.”

The ruling echoes those of a number of lower courts, which have also concluded that discrimination against gays is a prohibited form of sex stereotyping. It conflicts, however, with others, including a ruling last month by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act more narrowly and found that sexual orientation is not a protected class under that law.

A split in the circuits could set up a clash before the Supreme Court.”

**********************************

Wonder how Jeff Sessions and his pals are going to react to this one? But, no matter how much some social conservatives and “alt righters” would like to “turn back the clock” to a time when people were “free” to act on their biases and prejudices against others, the cause of LGBT rights is not going to go away.

PWS

04-02-17

 

A.G. Sessions To Citizens Who Suffered Police Brutality: Go Pound Sand! — Busting Criminals, Deporting Migrants, Policing Tech Employers Takes Precedence Over Civil Rights Protections For African Americans — Baltimore Police Reformers Forced To “Stand Alone” After DOJ Pulls The Rug Out From Underneath Them!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/baltimore-police-commissioner-pledges-reform-despite-justice-dept-action/2017/04/04/5b745ce8-b88b-4b5e-a14b-4f9f84376168_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-moreheds_baltimore-130pm:homepage/story&utm_term=.3d445d2028e7

Lynh Bui and Peter Hermann report in the Washington Post:

“BALTIMORE — After the federal government released a searing 163-page report in August condemning police practices in Baltimore, the police commissioner and mayor stood with Justice Department leaders to promise sweeping reform.

Change was necessary, they all said, not only to prevent riots like those that flared after the fatal injury of Freddie Gray in police custody, but also to repair the long-standing, deep rift between the city’s crime-weary residents and its police.

Nine months later, Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner again appeared before television cameras committing to overhaul the department.

But this time they stood by themselves.

“I’m asking the citizens of Baltimore to have faith that we will continue this work,” Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) said Tuesday. “It’s hard to deny that these kinds of reforms don’t need to take place in the city of Baltimore.”
On January 12, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Justice Dept. reached a deal for sweeping reforms to the Baltimore Police Dept. after a federal review found officers routinely violated residents’ civil rights. (Reuters)
The pledge to move ahead came hours after the Justice Department had asked a federal judge Monday night to postpone the department’s tentative police reform agreement with the city — part of a wider review of pacts nationwide ordered by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Baltimore consent agreement was announced days before President Trump took office and awaits a federal judge’s approval.

The request for a delay, which a judge has yet to rule on, left some Baltimore leaders and residents worried that momentum will wane and leave the city stuck in a familiar loop of unfulfilled promises.

Interim city solicitor David Ralph would not comment Tuesday on whether the city would file a response to the requested delay.

“It seemed clear that Justice was going ahead with these reforms, and now all of a sudden they don’t want to do it,” said Rebecca Nagle, co-director of the No Boundaries Coalition, a ­resident-led advocacy group.

The coalition helped organize residents to relay their experiences with city police to the Justice Department team that produced the August report, which concluded that the police department engaged in unconstitutional policing that discriminated against black residents in poor communities through illegal searches, arrests and stops for minor offenses.
“Residents invested two years doing this, and not going forward will destroy the trust that has built up,” Nagle said.

In Sessions’s two-page memo ordering the review of open and pending consent decrees, he said the department wants to guarantee the pacts are in line with Trump administration goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

“The Federal government alone cannot successfully address rising crime rates, secure public safety, protect and respect the civil rights of all members of the public, or implement best practices in policing,” the memo stated. “These are, first and foremost, tasks for state, local and tribal law enforcement.”

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Now, I might only be a retired Immigration Judge, not a civil rights expert. But, even I can tell that if “state and local law enforcement” could solve this problem, it would have been solved long ago.

In fact, until former Attorney General Lynch and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division intervened, state and local authorities had done their best to cover up the problems and avoid solving them. (And, I’m by no means a fan of Lynch. She was appropriately very interested in vindicating the civil rights of African Americans. But, she wasn’t interested in the human rights of mostly Hispanic women and children fleeing Central America. She aided and abetted a system of detention of such asylum applicants under deplorable conditions and hustling their cases through the U.S. Immigration Courts, in too many cases without full due process or even an opportunity for a fair hearing.)

No, what Sessions really means is that he has no interest whatsoever in helping the African American community vindicate their civil rights if it means clamping down on police abuses. After all, look at the “bang up” job that Session’s home state, Alabama, did on protecting its African American citizens from police abuses for most of the 20th Century. Who could ask for more? Or, perhaps we should get a “second opinion” from Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) who had his head split open by one of Sessions’s “police heroes,” an Alabama State Trooper.

That’s what often happens when the Feds rely on states and localities to vindicate citizen’s constitutional rights against the state’s own abuses. Classic “fox guarding the chicken coop.” Sort of like having Jeff Sessions protecting the rights of minorities and migrants. Yeah, the Birmingham Bridge incident was in 1965. But, Sessions and his gang have every intention of turning the clock back to those “glory days” of state’s rights.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was “silenced” on the Senate floor for “disparaging” a colleague, Senator Sessions, by putting the truth about his tone-deaf record on civil and human rights “in the record.” But, silenced or not, Warren spoke truth about Session’s unsuitability to serve as Attorney General. Sadly, African Americans, Hispanics, members of the LGBT community, and migrants are likely to find out first hand that “he’s still the same ol’ Jeff.”

PWS

04-04-17

9th Cir. En Banc — After 80 Pages, 9-2 Majority Finds Mexican Gov. “Unwilling Or Unable To Prevent” Persecution Of Gays — Dissent Bemoans “Usurpation” Of BIA’s Fact-Finding Authority — BRINGAS-RODRIGUEZ V. SESSIONS

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/03/08/13-72682.pdf

Judge Wardlaw for the majority:

“In Castro-Martinez, we also failed to consider the difference between a country’s enactment of remedial laws and the eradication of persecutory practices, often long ingrained in a country’s culture. Rejecting Castro’s claim that, in Mexico, a systematic pattern or practice of persecution against homosexuals remained, we found Castro’s evidence unpersuasive “in light of recent country reports,” which showed that the “Mexican government’s efforts to prevent violence and discrimination against homosexuals . . . ha[d] increased in recent years.” Castro- Martinez, 674 F.3d at 1082.

Mexico is to be lauded for its efforts. But it is well recognized that a country’s laws are not always reflective of actual country conditions. It is not unusual that a country’s “de jure commitments to LGBTI protection do not align with the de facto reality of whether the State is able and willing to provide protection.” Brief for UNHCR as Amicus Curiae at 4. And we have recently recognized that Mexico has experienced “an increase in violence against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals during the years in which greater legal protections have been extended to these communities.” Avendano-Hernandez v. Lynch, 800 F.3d 1072, 1081 (9th Cir. 2015) (emphasis in original).

Moreover, the anti-discrimination efforts discussed in Castro-Martinez seem to have been made by the national government, and thus do not necessarily reveal anything about the practices within state or municipal jurisdictions. See Madrigal v. Holder, 716 F.3d 499, 507 (9th Cir. 2013) (noting that while Mexico’s national government was willing to control the drug cartel that attacked the petitioner, it was not necessarily able to do so, in part because state and local officials were involved with drug traffickers).”

Writing for the dissent, Judge Bea (who claims to be the only U.S. Circuit Judge to actually have been the subject of deportation proceedings), joined by Judge O’Scannlain:

“I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion because it usurps the power of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to determine facts. It does this by reciting, but ultimately departing, from the “substantial evidence” standard which states that agency “findings of fact are conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary.” 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B) (emphasis added).”

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The Administration apparently believes that cases like this are going to be resolved on an “assembly line” operation with U.S. Immigration Judges sitting in “shifts” in detention centers from 6 AM until 10 PM.

While notable for its potential precedential effect, this case is not particularly unusual in terms of the difficult factual and legal issues that arise daily in U.S. Immigration Court in asylum cases coming from countries “south of our border.” This happened to be Mexico, but LGBT cases involving individuals from the Northern Triangle are quite common, even in jurisdictions like the Arlington Immigration Court.

I note that the amicus views of the UNHCR fare much better in the majority’s decision than they typically do these days at the BIA. For example, in Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227, 248 (BIA 2014), the BIA summarily “blew off” the views of the UNHCR on the issue of “particular social group.”

It’s also interesting that notwithstanding the dissent, the BIA actually lacks de novo fact finding authority of its own. Following a regulation change during the “Ashcroft era,” that authority belongs to the Immigration Judge with review by the BIA for “clear error.”

PWS

03/14/17

BREAKING: Sessions Recuses Himself From Russian Investigation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/top-gop-lawmaker-calls-on-sessions-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/2017/03/02/148c07ac-ff46-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_gopreax-840a:homepage/story&utm_term=.2d513bee7715

From the WashPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process.

Speaking at a hastily-called press conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he had met with department ethics officials soon after being sworn in last month to evaluate the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict.

“They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said. He added that he concurred with their assessment, and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving Trump’s campaign.

The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose that fact to Congress during his confirmation hearing.”

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The good news for Sessions is that most experts think that he will not face criminal prosecution for any arguable “inaccuracies” in his sworn testimony to Congress during his confirmation hearings.

But, folks are missing what Sessions really lied about under oath: that he could leave his partisan positions as an “outlier Senator” from a state known for its historic bigotry and poor race relations behind and represent all of the people of the United States as Attorney General.  In the short time since he became Attorney General, Sessions has proved that he was at least being disingenuous if not outright lying. He has: 1) withdrawn Federal protections for transgender students, 2) changed the Government’s position in a key voting rights case thus giving the green light to states that seek to disenfranchise African American and other minority voters, and 3) announced that local police will have a free hand to enforce laws even if they have been shown to have a tendency to do so in ways that violate the basic civil rights of minority suspects.

And, Sessions was apparently behind the xenophobic, poorly conceived and executed, and fear-mongering Executive Orders on immigration. In other words, Sessions has squarely aligned himself with the white-power-oriented, nationalistic, xenophobic forces in the White House represented by Steve Bannon and Sessions’s former aide Stephen Miller.

Another article in the WashPost points out Session’s hypocrisy on the issues of “perjury, access, and recusal” when the situation involved the Clintons. What goes around comes around. Here’s a link to the complete article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/02/six-times-jeff-sessions-talked-about-perjury-access-and-special-prosecutors-when-it-involved-the-clintons/?utm_term=.84d5a9024cb4

And here’s an article by Ari Berman in The Nation pointing out the real truth about our Attorney General: “Jeff Sessions Is a Disgrace to the Justice Department
He didn’t just lie about Russia—he’s put the Trump administration on the wrong side of every major issue.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/jeff-sessions-is-a-disgrace-to-the-justice-department/

 

PWS

03/02/17

SLATE: Bannon, Sessions, Miller Plan To Use Justice Department To Implement Far Right Agenda!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/magazine/jeff-sessions-stephen-bannon-justice-department.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Emily Bazelon reports:

“One night in September 2014, when he was chief executive of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon hosted cocktails and dinner at the Washington townhouse where he lived, a mansion near the Supreme Court that he liked to call the Breitbart Embassy. Beneath elaborate chandeliers and flanked by gold drapes and stately oil paintings, Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, sat next to the guest of honor: Nigel Farage, the insurgent British politician, who first met Sessions two years earlier when Bannon introduced them. Farage was building support for his right-wing party by complaining in the British press about “uncontrolled mass immigration.” Sessions, like other attendees, was celebrating the recent collapse in Congress of bipartisan immigration reform, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some undocumented people. At the dinner, Sessions told a writer for Vice, Reid Cherlin, that Bannon’s site was instrumental in defeating the measure. Sessions read Breitbart almost every day, he explained, because it was “putting out cutting-edge information.”

Bannon’s role in blocking the reform had gone beyond sympathetic coverage on his site. Over the previous year, he, Sessions and one of Sessions’s top aides, Stephen Miller, spent “an enormous amount of time” meeting in person, “developing plans and messaging and strategy,” as Miller later explained to Rosie Gray in The Atlantic. Breitbart writers also reportedly met with Sessions’s staff for a weekly happy hour at the Union Pub. For most Republicans in Washington, immigration was an issue they wished would go away, a persistent source of conflict between the party’s elites, who saw it as a straightforward economic good, and its middle-class voting base, who mistrusted the effects of immigration on employment. But for Bannon, Sessions and Miller, immigration was a galvanizing issue, lying at the center of their apparent vision for reshaping the United States by tethering it to its European and Christian origins. (None of them would comment for this article.) That September evening, as they celebrated the collapse of the reform effort — and the rise of Farage, whose own anti-immigration party in Britain represented the new brand of nativism — it felt like the beginning of something new. “I was privileged enough to be at it,” Miller said about the gathering last June, while a guest on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show. “It’s going to sound like a motivational speech, but it’s true. To all the voters out there: The only limits to what we can achieve is what we believe we can achieve.”

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Talk about “the fox guarding the chicken coop!” And, I don’t share Bazelon’s view that DOJ career attorneys will be a significant moderating influence.

They all work for Jeff Sessions. Resisting Administration policies or positions could be considered insubordination — a ground for firing. Short of that, those who don’t “get with the program” could find themselves demoted, denied pay increases, transferred to obscure offices (perhaps in different locations), or given meaningless “busywork” assignments as punishment. In  DOJ lingo the disfavored and exiled are known as “hall walkers.”

Yes, it’s true that in many past Administrations those with opposing views were tolerated and often even had their differing perspectives considered and occasionally adopted. That often had a moderating effect. But, that assumes an Administration acting in good faith. Sounds like Sessions and his colleagues have already decided to dismantle those parts of the U.S. justice system that don’t fit their ultra nationalist, restrictionist, white-power-Christian-oriented agenda. It could be a long four years at the DOJ for career lawyers (those who survive). Sad!

PWS

02/28/17

 

HuffPost: With Sessions Leading The Charge, Administration Abandons Transgender Children — Cites “States’ Rights” — Traditional Argument For Retrograde Government, Injustice, And Picking On Minorities!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-transgender_us_58ac4fe8e4b0a855d1d9d278?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Amanda Terkel reports:

“President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration.

“The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

In May, under President Barack Obama, the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance mandating that any school that receives federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. Schools, for example, would therefore have to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth.

The federal government said at the time that transgender students were covered under Title IX, the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This interpretation had been on hold, however, after more than a dozen states sued the Obama administration and a judge issued an injunction in August.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was reportedly against rescinding the order and initially resisted signing off on it, but Sessions pushed her to do so because both departments had to agree in order to move forward.

In a statement Wednesday, DeVos said she considered protecting all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, “not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find ― and in many cases have found ― solutions that protect all students,” she added.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued during his press briefing earlier Wednesday that Title IX does not apply to transgender issues because there was no discussion of gender identity when the statute was passed in 1972. Judges and justices, however, often interpret laws and the Constitution to apply to new issues that arise.”

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Sure didn’t take Jeff Sessions long to prove his critics correct — that he is totally unqualified to hold the job of the nation ‘s chief lawyer and protector of “equal justice for all.” And, as someone from Alabama, with its sordid history of misuse of the rule of law against African Americans, Sessions knows exactly what the code term “States’ Rights” means. At least he made Betsy DeVos look almost, but not quite, good by comparison.

PWS

02/23/17