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SCOTUS Shields Police In Shootings

Police shootings stir outrage among some, but not the Supreme Court. NPR: “he U.S. Supreme Court has again stepped into the bitter public turmoil over police shootings of civilians, ruling Monday that an Arizona police officer is shielded from being sued for shooting a woman in her own front yard… Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for herself and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, strenuously dissented. Noting that two of the three officers on the scene thought it ‘unnecessary to use deadly force,’ the dissenters observed that Hughes was ‘nowhere near the officers, had committed no illegal act, was suspected of no crime, and did not raise the knife in the direction of the other woman or anyone else.’ The court’s ‘unwarranted’ overturning of the lower court’s decision in this case, she said, is ‘symptomatic’ of a ‘disturbing’ and ‘one-sided’ approach to excessive force cases, where police are almost always protected, and the victims of excessive force have little to no recourse. In the hands of the current court, she charged, the doctrine of limited immunity for police is being transformed into ‘an absolute shield for law enforcement officers.'”

Teachers Strikes Are Spreading

Teacher strikes are spreading across America with no end in sight. Bloomberg: “One month after a teachers’ ‘wildcat’ strike ended with a deal to hike pay for all West Virginia state employees, teacher strikes are spreading fast across the country, with no clear endgame in sight. In Oklahoma, teachers on Monday made good on their threat to shut down hundreds of schools throughout the state, preventing students from taking tests that are required by the end of the school year to ensure federal funding. In Kentucky, schools are closed as well—many because of spring break, others because teachers have swarmed the state capitol building in Frankfort. And in Arizona, teachers last week gathered at the statehouse in Phoenix with buttons reading ‘I don’t want to strike, but I will.’ In each case, teachers are pushing Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures to hike their pay, saying declining real wages threaten to drive staff out of the public school system. Educators see leverage in tight private sector labor markets and inspiration in West Virginia, where strikers defied union leaders by holding out for a better deal. They’re reviving the tactics of an earlier era: In the five years that followed World War II, as teachers felt left behind amid crowded classrooms and accelerating private sector wage growth, there were around 60 teacher strikes across the U.S.—many without legal protection or official union support.”

WH Wants Direct Control Over CFPB

Trump official wants to put tight leash on consumer watchdog agency. NPR: “The Trump administration will ask Congress to make drastic changes to weaken the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, NPR has learned. Sources familiar with the matter tell NPR that the CFPB’s interim director, Mick Mulvaney, will ask lawmakers to restructure the bureau in his upcoming semi-annual report to Congress. The sources asked not to be named, because they aren’t authorized to speak on the matter. The bureau officially announced the move Monday afternoon, after this story first published. Mulvaney wants to give Congress control over the CFPB’s budget and to require that any major new rules created by the bureau to protect consumers be approved by Congress before they can go into effect.He will also ask Congress to give the president more power over the bureau’s director, according to the sources. These changes would be a major shift for the bureau, which was designed to be independent from political influence — effectively placing the consumer watchdog on a short leash under the direct control of Congress and the White House.”

WH Drafts Hardline Immigration Measures

Trump officials draft hardline immigration bills. AP: “Trump administration officials are working on a new package of legislation aimed at closing what they describe as immigration ‘loopholes.’ Among the measures they want Congress to address: ending special safeguards that prevent the immediate deportation of children traveling alone from countries that don’t border the U.S. They also want Congress to terminate a 1997 court settlement that requires the government to release children from custody to caretakers while their cases are making their way through immigration court. The proposals appear the same as those included on a White House wish list on immigration that was released in October. It’s unclear, however, whether there is any appetite in Congress for such changes, especially now that the president has said he is no longer interested in protecting young “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation.”

Pruitt Uses Safe Water Law To Give Big Raises To EPA Aides

Pruitt bypassed WH to give big raises to favorite aides. The Atlantic: “In early March, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt approached the White House with a request: He wanted substantial pay raises for two of his closest aides… According to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting, held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, staffers from the Presidential Personnel Office dismissed Pruitt’s application. The White House, the source said, declined to approve the raises. So Pruitt found another way. A provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act allows the EPA administrator to hire up to 30 people into the agency, without White House or congressional approval. The provision, meant to help expedite the hiring of experts and allow for more flexible staffing, became law in 1996. In past administrations, it has been used to hire specialists into custom-made roles in especially stressed offices, according to Bob Perciasepe, a former acting EPA administrator. After the White House rejected their request, Pruitt’s team studied the particulars of the Safe Drinking Water provision, according to the source with direct knowledge of these events. By reappointing Greenwalt and Hupp under this authority, they learned, Pruitt could exercise total control over their contracts and grant the raises on his own. Pruitt ordered it done.”

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