fresh voices from the front lines of change







How Trump Stacks Courts For Conservative Causes

Donald Trump is weaponising the courts for political ends. The Guardian: "It was a startling omission even according to the peculiar moral norms of the Trump era. When Wendy Vitter, one of the US president’s judicial nominees, was asked whether she supported the supreme court’s 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision to end racial segregation in schools – a near sacred pillar of progress for civil rights in the 20th century – she did not say yes. 'I don’t mean to be coy,' Vitter, who is up for a seat on the US district court for the eastern district of Louisiana, told her Senate confirmation hearing. 'But I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on supreme court decisions which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with.' If approved, Vitter, currently general counsel of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans and an opponent of abortion rights, would join a wave of lifetime appointments that threatens to fundamentally tilt the balance of America’s courts – and embolden conservative activists to bring cases that once seemed lost causes."

Virginia Will Expand Medicaid

After years of trying, Virginia finally will expand Medicaid. NYT: "Virginia’s Republican-controlled Senate voted on Wednesday to open Medicaid to an additional 400,000 low-income adults next year, making it all but certain that the state will join 32 others that have already expanded the public health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers in the state had blocked Medicaid expansion for four straight years, but a number of them dropped their opposition after their party almost lost the House of Delegates in elections last fall and voters named health care as a top issue. The vote, on a budget bill that included the Medicaid expansion, came almost three months after the House approved a similar plan. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat also elected last fall, has been a vocal proponent of the expansion and can now claim a victory that his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, desperately wanted but never got."

Trans Woman Dies In ICE Custody

Transgender woman becomes sixth person to die in ICE custody since October. ThinkProgress: "Roxsana Hernandez, a 33-year-old transgender Honduran woman who was part of the Central American migrant caravan in late April, died of pneumonia complications at a hospital in New Mexico on May 25 while in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Hernandez fled Honduras due to the violence and discrimination she received for being transgender. Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the group that organized the caravan, claim Hernandez died due to the horrific conditions of her detainment. When she reached the United States, Hernandez was placed by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) into holding cells colloquially known as “iceboxes” because of their frigid temperature. Hernandez also lacked adequate food and medical care and was held in a cell where the lights were turned on 24 hours a day."

'Zero Tolerance' Cruel To Children At Border

Trump immigration policy veers from abhorrent to evil. NYT: "We as a nation have crossed so many ugly lines recently, yet one new policy of President Trump’s particularly haunts me. I’m speaking of the administration’s tactic of seizing children from desperate refugees at the border... Is this really who we are? As a parent, as the son of a refugee myself, I find that in this case Trump’s policy has veered from merely abhorrent to truly evil. Family separations arise in part because of the new Trump administration policy, announced last month, of 'zero tolerance' for people who cross the border illegally. That means that parents are jailed (which happened rarely before), and their kids are taken away from them. 'That’s no different than what we do every day in every part of the United States when an adult of a family commits a crime,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told NPR this month. 'If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family.' Yet Mirian, a Honduran woman who arrived in the U.S., broke no law. She simply followed the established procedure by presenting herself at an official border crossing point and requesting asylum because her life was in danger in Honduras — nevertheless, her 18-month-old was taken from her."

DHS 'Race Paper'Sanctions Surveillance Of Activists

Racial-Justice and Civil-Liberties Groups Call on DHS to Release Inflammatory 'Race Paper'. Free Press: "Wednesday, more than 40 racial-justice and civil-liberties groups delivered a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release an unredacted version of a memo referred to as the “Race Paper.” According to DHS, the memo allegedly covers efforts by U.S. authorities to monitor domestic terrorism driven by race-related 'extremist' ideologies. The FBI came under heavy criticism in 2017 for creating the designation ”Black Identity Extremist" as a discriminatory measure to target racial-justice advocates for surveillance and prosecution. Similarly, the DHS memo appears to wrongly characterize peaceful, anti-racist groups carrying out protests as worthy of invasive and persistent surveillance. 'We are concerned that biases and inaccuracies reflected in the ‘Race Paper’ could result in unconstitutional law enforcement activities throughout the country that disproportionately impact activists, protesters, and communities of color,' reads the letter. The signers include 18 Million Rising, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Free Press, the Muslim Justice League, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, Project Censored, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center."

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