Links to material cited on Friday night's show
Alison Sanford, with advanced achievement in both news dumps and Friday nights, puts her memory of the week's news coverage to the test for a chance to become the off-site curator of the TRMS "Herman Cain is an art project" banner collection.
Hundreds of people gather outside of a mosque in Phoenix for a "Draw Muhammad" rally in support of the First Amendment.
Rachel Maddow reports on a TRMS investigation into the state of Nebraska and other states trying to obtain the execution drug sodium thiopental from a company in India, the importation of which the FDA has made clear is illegal for all states.
Chris Hayes asks his movie critic roundtable, made up of Slate's Dana Stevens, Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan, and Flavorwire's Jason Bailey, why everything old is new again at the multiplex.
Jeffrey Cramer, former federal prosecutor, talks with Rachel Maddow about the legal elements of the Dennis Hastert indictment, including whether an extortion charge or sexual abuse charges should also be expected.
Chris Hayes speaks to Rashida Jones, producer of the new documentary "Hot Girls Wanted" about the changing role of pornography in our society.
The Kentucky Senator has made enemies in his own party over his stance on the Patriot Act -- and he doesn't seem to mind.
Listen to the best one-liners by this week’s hosts and guests on Shift by msnbc.
His libertarian views are a big part of it. Another is his opposition to the warhawks who dominate the thinking of his party. Chris Matthews reveals why he thinks Republican voters will like what Rand Paul has to say.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was back on “The Dana Show” on Thursday, this time accusing the media of twisting what he said while defending mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.But the potential 2016 presidential candidate emphasized again that he thinks the ultrasounds are "pretty cool." Walker told the radio show’s host, Dana Loesch, that the “biased” media had misconstrued the comments he’d made during a May 22 appearance on her show. “What they said is not at all — and then, and then you had so many of these left-wing leaning media outlets repeat the same misquote over and over again,” Walker said. During his May 22 appearance, Walker said ultrasounds were “just a cool thing” while discussing a 2013 law he signed that mandated them for women seeking abortions.On Thursday's show, Walker again said ultrasounds were “pretty cool” and noted that he still had his sons’ ultrasounds before recounting times when friends of his had shown him the ultrasounds of their grandkids. “It’s pretty cool — it’s the wonders of that technology,” he said.Walker went into more details about the 2013 Wisconsin law.“I pointed out before I signed the law, I said, ‘Who’s opposed to an ultrasound?’” Walker said. “They tried to claim that there was certain type — no. Our law says that before someone has that procedure, they have to be given access to an ultrasound.”While the bill Walker signed into law requires an ultrasound, it allows women to choose between a transvaginal or a traditional ultrasound.“It doesn’t designate which type, so most people would just do the traditional one that people think of all the time,” Walker said. “They haven’t seen it themselves, really most people have seen it on TV or in movies. It’s the very natural, normal kind that people find to be a wonderful image of their unborn child.”Listen to the audio below, flagged by Right Wing Watch:
Ever since yesterday's shock revelations, it seemed like news like this would come out as the underlying bad act behind Denny Hastert's public downfall. Because of that, the almost decade old Mark Foley scandal has rushed back into the minds of everyone who covered that story at the time. To review, if you weren't around at the time, in the death throes of the old Republican majority, in September 2006 it emerged that Congressman Mark Foley had had sexual interactions with male members of the Congressional page program, i.e., high school age students. Foley was not out as a gay man; though I think it was widely known or at least assumed that he was gay. The story spun out of control because it quickly came out that the House leadership, with Hastert at the very top, had been at best sluggish in addressing warnings about Foley's conduct.There had been a lot of warnings, some only suggestive, some a matter of other members of the House going to the Speaker's office with their concerns. In the hothouse environment of the impending election in which it seemed more than likely, though by no means certain, that Republicans would lose their majority it became a full-blown media-political circus. Foley eventually resigned and went back to his life in Florida.Hastert, through the entire drama, was awkward and slow to react or be clear or particularly convincing about what was known. We don't have any convictions yet. Indeed, any statute of limitations has almost certainly lapsed. So we can't be certain of anything and we have few details. But it seems clear that Hastert himself had enough of a history of sexual abuse (though we don't know the ages yet) that he was willing to pay $3.5 million to keep it covered up.Adding this fact puts the whole Foley scandal in a dramatically different light - at least at the level of irony and perhaps more.Looking back, it is hard to believe Hastert didn't go through the weeks of the Foley scandal something like petrified that his own history would be kicked up in the storm of the Foley revelations. Indeed, this new information might explain his own awkward and oddly tentative response.Set aside whether this past had any role in Hastert's office's laggard response to warnings about Foley. Hastert was hiding an explosive secret. He must have been terrified of exposure. A thundering denunciation of Foley would seem like the kind of move which almost would have invited a past victim to step forward. Perhaps that explains his reticence. At this point there's no way to know.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wouldn't have the backing of the Pope to support his claim that advocating for same-sex marriage will turn into a full-on assault on the Catholic Church's teachings. Pelosi, in an interview with MSNBC on Friday, called Rubio "completely wrong" when the Florida senator and 2016 candidate said Tuesday, "We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech." Rubio went on to say, "If you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater." In response, Pelosi, who is Catholic, didn't hold back. "I think that this statement by Sen. Rubio is most unfortunate. It's a polarizing statement. The fact is that what we were taught is to respect people in our faith," Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. "And to say that this endangers mainstream Christian thinking is so completely wrong." Pelosi added that the comment was divisive. "And again it's polarizing and I would hope that --perhaps he believes what he says and I assume that he does. But I hope that we can persuade him differently," Pelosi continued. "Because the country is going a completely different direction now. It's very, very exciting. I don't even think that Pope Francis would subscribe to what Marco Rubio just said."Issues related to gay rights, particularly gay marriage, have dogged 2016 candidates throughout the early months of the presidential cycle. Rubio recently said he defines marriage as between a man and a woman but also said he would attend a lesbian or gay wedding if it involved someone close to him.
A West Virginia man has decided to sue government officials for teaching evolution in schools, saying it is hampering his daughter's dream to become a veterinarian. Kenneth Smith's lawsuit says that education officials are violating the Constitution and infringing the civil rights of his daughter by "propagating" the "religion" of evolution, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.“Their actions during the 2014-2015 school year affects my child’s future directly through the state grading system to enter college and the ability to earn economic security and a good job in her chosen veterinarian medical field of work, by being taught a faith base (evolutionary ideology) that just doesn’t exist and has no math to back it,” the lawsuit reportedly said.Acting as his own lawyer, Smith filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on May 12, suing everyone from the state Superintendent to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Mail reported.
An anonymous source familiar with the case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said federal prosecutors knew of "prior misdeeds" Hastert committed against potentially several alleged victims that were not included in Thursday's indictment, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. Around the same time and based on the accounts of two anonymous federal law enforcment officials, The Los Angeles Times reported that Hastert allegedly agreed to pay out $3.5 million in hush money to an unidentified man to compensate for sexual abuse that occurred while the former House speaker was working as a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois.BuzzFeed's anonymous source told the outlet that U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon considered additional charges against Hastert in regards to an "Individual B," which ultimately were not pursued. No further charges are expected to be filed, the source told BuzzFeed.
We now have the first indication of the underlying 'misconduct' that led to Denny Hastert's downfall: he paid off a man over sexual abuse in the distant past, seemingly when Hastert was a wrestling coach in Yorkville.
Two anonymous federal law enforcement officials said that indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) allegedly agreed to pay out $3.5 million in hush money to cover up sexual misconduct with another man, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges of structuring bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about those withdrawals. The former speaker allegedly had withdrawn $1.7 million in cash out of $3.5 million he agreed to pay an unidentified individual in compensation for "prior misconduct" on Hastert's part that had occurred years earlier.One anonymous official told The Los Angeles Times that "Individual A," the other person is identified in the indictment, is a man. Later, an anonymous federal law enforcement official told NBC News that the man was also a student at the high school where Hastert taught when the alleged abuse occurred.The official who spoke to the Los Angeles Times added that the misconduct dates back to Hastert's time as a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois, where "Individual A" is from, and that Hastert was making the payments to conceal a past sexual relationship with him. A second anonymous official told the newspaper that the "misconduct" alleged in the indictment was sexual abuse.The Los Angeles Times could not reach Hastert or his attorneys for comment, while Hastert's own lobbying firm declined comment.This post has been updated.
Indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has resigned from the board of advisers of his alma mater Wheaton College's school of economics and government, which had been named in his honor. Hastert had already resigned his positions at Washington, D.C. law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro and on futures exchange company CME Group's board of directors upon his indictment Thursday. Federal prosecutors alleged that from 2010-2014, Hastert made illegal bank withdrawals towards paying out $3.5 million in hush money for "prior misconduct" against an unidentified individual that occurred years earlier.The J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy said in a statement Friday that it had received and accepted Hastert's resignation."The Center was established to pursue goals compatible with the mission of Wheaton College. Specifically, the mission statement of the Center is 'to advance the training of Wheaton College students and the greater community in the understanding of market economies, representative democracies, limited government, and the redeeming effects of the Christian worldview on the practice of business, government and politics,'" the statement read. "The Center will continue to serve these purposes in conformity with the highest ethical and academic standards of excellence and integrity, in conformity with our institution’s identity.""The College respects Mr. Hastert's distinguished public service record and the due process being afforded him pursuant to the charges that have been filed against him," the statement added.
A veteran teacher in Windsor, Connecticut found himself out in the cold this month after reading a poem by the American literary icon Allen Ginsberg. South Windsor School District pushed David Olio into resigning after he read Ginsberg's homoerotic poem, "Please, Master" in an AP English course full of 17- and 18-year-olds, the Daily Beast reported on Friday."One day after the class, Olio was placed on indefinite, unpaid leave by the district. Seventy-two hours later, the district began termination proceedings against him. Three weeks after that, he agreed to resign," the Beast reported.An excerpt from the disciplinary letter sent to Olio, who had reportedly been teaching for 19 years: You violated the trust placed by the Board of Education in you as a teacher, you brought discredit upon the South Windsor Public Schools, you undermined public confidence and parent trust in you as a teacher, and you put the emotional health of some students at risk.The Ginsberg incident didn't make much of a splash until one student tried to bail on a test the next day, citing the previous reading of the poem as a harmful distraction. At that point, the story went viral and the school took action against Olio, according to the Beast.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down an Idaho law banning abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy Friday on the basis that the law unconstitutionally prohibits abortions before the point of fetal viability outside of the womb. It also declared unconstitutional Idaho's requirement that women undergo second trimester abortions in hospitals, calling it "an undue burden" on women seeking abortions. The challenger in the suit, Jennie McCormack, was initially prosecuted for self-inducing a abortion using medication, which was not authorized by state law. A state court dismissed the criminal case against her, and McCormack subsequently filed a class action federal lawsuit against Idaho challenging a number of the state's abortion provisions. She was joined by a physician representing himself and his patients. In 2013, a federal district court declared the challenged laws unconstitutional. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit upheld that ruling Friday.The appeals court panel -- made up of two Democratic-appointees and one Republican-appointee -- found that by prohibiting abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, Idaho violated the Supreme Court's decision in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which said women have the right to "choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State."The appeals court also noted that the Supreme Court has twice struck down laws requiring second-trimester abortions to be performed in hospitals, dismissing as "irrelevant" the state's argument that very few abortions in Idaho are performed after 14 weeks.Finally, it found Idaho's requirement that first-trimester abortions take place in clinics or hospitals meeting certain standards to be unconstitutionally vague for using terminology like "consideration," "respect," "dignity," "individuality," "properly staffed" and "satisfactory arrangements." The appeals court said that language was "subjective and open to multiple interpretations," especially given violators of the law were subject to criminal, not just civil, prosecution.Friday's decision comes as momentum behind anti-abortion legislation, particularly 20-week abortion bans, grows. Similar prohibitions have been passed in 14 states in the past five years. Supporters of the measures say 20 weeks is when fetuses begin to feel pain, a claim most of the medical community considers to be without scientific basis. Opponents say the ban abortions prior to the point of viability, commonly held to be around 24 weeks.Last year, the Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to review the decision of an appeals court that struck down a Arizona law banning abortions 18 weeks post-fertilization. Georgia's law has also been blocked by courts. Nevertheless, 20-week abortion ban bills were introduced in 11 other states this year. West Virginia enacted its version this week, while South Carolina's and Wisconsin's bills also gained steam. The U.S. House of Representatives this month also approved of a federal 20-week ban, which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he will soon introduce in the Senate.Read the full decision below:
Beaches in southern California remained closed on Friday despite attempts by crews to clean up the globs of oil that washed ashore, the Associated Press reported. The balls of oil varied in size, with some as big as footballs, and were first noticed Wednesday by lifeguards at Manhattan Beach, according to the AP. Cleanup crews responded and reportedly worked into Thursday night.The origin of the substance was unknown, according to the AP. Officials reportedly speculated that the balls could have originated from a close-by oil refinery, an offshore tanker, or from last week’s major oil spill in Santa Barbara.The AP reported that the Coast Guard found no evidence that the balls came from the offshore oil tanker. And, according to the AP, tar balls can happen naturally. Although locals told KNBC that the substance had been seen before, they said the number of globs was unusual.The California Department of Fish and Wildlife told the AP that no wildlife was harmed by the balls. However, nearly seven miles of coastline were closed because of them.h/t Think Progress
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has never struggled to raise grassroots cash, but a month or so into his presidential campaign, questions are surfacing about his ability to secure big donors like his fellow GOP contenders. Politico raised the issue in an article published on Friday, asking if the self-styled libertarian populist is running out of time to find a sugar daddy.Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has the clearest backing of the business community and several large donors within it; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has hedge fund manager Robert Mercer; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has a Miami auto dealer and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has Foster Friess.Meanwhile, the most visible thing Paul has done so far is reportedly receive assurances from pro-Israel casino magnate Sheldon Adelson that he had no intention of trying to torpedo his campaign. The Politico piece raised several possible reasons for Paul's failure to secure a megadonor so far, from his "anti-establishment posture" to the perception that he is "insufficiently pro-Israel."Others contend that Paul’s unpolished style might be working against him as he seeks out the support of wealthy Republican benefactors, While attending a California donor conference sponsored by Charles and David Koch, two of the nation’s most powerful Republican donors, Paul was criticized for dressing casually in jeans, slouching in his chair and giving rambling answers to questions. One person briefed on the Kochs’ thinking said Paul’s star has faded in their eyes, and that it’s now hard to see them providing substantial financial support to the Kentucky senator.Read the full article at Politico.
The school district that once employed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) as a teacher and coach said Friday that no one had ever reported him for "misconduct." Hastert was indicted Thursday for allegedly lying to the FBI about withdrawing $1.7 million in cash since 2010 as hush money for an unidentified individual from Yorkville, Illinois. Hastert allegedly agreed to pay out $3.5 million total to compensate for his "misconduct" against the individual that had occurred years earlier.The indictment did not specify what that prior misconduct was, nor did it explain the relationship between Hastert and the person he allegedly wronged, identified only as "Individual A." The indictment did state that "Individual A" knew Hastert for most of his or her life, and Hastert's high school teaching and coaching career in Yorkville was mentioned as material to the indictment.The Yorkville school district said in its statement that it employed Hastert from 1965 to 1981. The district said no one had ever reported Hastert for misconduct and it had "no knowledge" of the allegations made in the indictment."The District was first made aware of any concerns regarding Mr. Hastert when the federal indictment was released on May 28, 2015," the statement said. "Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert’s alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct. If requested to do so, the District plans to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into this matter."
Ann Coulter, conservative columnist, said Friday in an email to Breitbart News that if she ran the immigration system, she wouldn’t “admit overweight girls” into the US. Coulter’s comments were reportedly made in response to a question about an incident that occurred on Tuesday when Coulter refused to hug an undocumented immigrant during an audience Q&A on the cable network Fusion. “When I’m in charge of immigration (after our 10 year moratorium), I will not admit overweight girls,” Coulter told Breitbart.During her appearance on Fusion, Coulter was asked by undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant Gaby Pacheco whether she could give Coulter a hug as “as a sign of my humanity and yours.”Coulter rejected the request, saying she had a cold and coughing loudly before saying: “Let’s get on with the question.”Coulter was on the network to promote her book “Adios America.”
The super PAC endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered an explosive preview of an upcoming showdown between Paul and proponents of the national intelligence community's metadata collection program. The ad, produced by America's Liberty PAC, has the feel of a professional wrestling commercial with heavy metal music and a deep voice chanting "Sunday. Sunday. Sunday." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a week earlier, called on members of the Senate to come back on Sunday to vote on whether to renew the data collection program before it fully expires. Paul has been a strong opponent of the program. About a week ago he waged a filibuster over renewal of the Patriot Act. "Get ready America for the biggest brawl for liberty of the century," the voiceover in the ad said. "When the biggest rivals will go head to head."The ad then depicts an image of Paul's head atop a very muscular, shirtless body as the narrator said, "Defender of freedom Senator Rand Paul versus the head of the Washington spy machine, Barack Obama and his so-called conservative accomplices, the capitulating Canadian Ted Cruz." The ad ends with the Capitol dome exploding before an eagle flies out. "Watch them battle it out under the dome on the floor of the United States Senate. This Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" the narrator said.The ad is being backed with a "a small five-figure digital ad buy over the weekend" according to Jesse Benton, the lead consultant for the super PAC. You'll have to watch the full, bizarre ad to believe it:(H/t: National Journal's Lauren Fox)(Photo credit: Youtube)
Yesterday, when the Hastert news first broke, I went in thinking that the timeline made sense because Denny Hastert, like so many other politicians, got an extremely lucrative job as a lobbyist after leaving Congress. When Individual A approached Hastert in 2010 asking for money, that made sense because it was only then that he had the kind of wealth that would make it even remotely conceivable for him to pay out $3.5 million.I'd assumed that he'd started making money in 2007 from a cold start. But I'd forgotten that Hastert, who entered public life in the middle class, left public office a very wealth man. In the main, Hastert did it with real estate speculation. And there were always claims that he'd leveraged his government role to do so - buying property in proximity to where the government either was or could start doing business of its own. We looked at the time and the details didn't line up quite as tightly as his critics suggested. But at a minimum Hastert had gotten access to the kinds of lucrative deals, often from major donors or other politically connected people, that allowed him to become a very wealthy man. In 2006, his last year as Speaker, his average net worth was an estimated $4.6 million. This chart from OpenSecrets.org shows that 2004 to 2006, the heyday of Hastert's Speakership were very, very good years financially. It's important to understand what these numbers mean. Congressional financial disclosures provide ranges of the value for different assets. (You can find his actual financial disclosure reports here.) These numbers are the maximum value of assets minus debts. So his net worth could have been and almost certainly was less than the near $8 million shown here. And the precipitous drop from 2004 to 2006 could also be in part an artifact in shifts in these ranges. That said, a lot of luck came Hastert's way from 2004 to 2005.One of the big focuses of interest around that time was a land investment a few miles away from a future highway, which Hastert had a key role securing federal dollars for. Here's some of our discussion of it at the time. At the time it was reported that this transaction netted Hastert bewteen $1.5 and $2 million. The land was purchase in 2002 and 2004 and sold at the end of 2005. So a significant amount of the ramp up in 2005 was based on that deal. Hastert was never accused of a crime. And, needless to say, this is the least of his worries today.But it still leaves me curious. Why did the person come calling on Hastert in 2010, apparently thirty years or more after the misconduct. There are plenty of possible reasons. It could be as simple as for Individual A, it was time. But Hastert was vulnerable - in the sense of being a pretty wealthy man - some years before that.
An Alabama minister was sentenced to six months' probation on Monday after she attempted to perform a gay marriage inside an Alabama probate judge's office, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.In February, Anne Susan Diprizio offered to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple who has just received their marriage license in the Autauga County probate judge's office. The probate judge's office had stopped allowing ceremonies in the office. When Diprizio repeatedly refused to leave, Probate Judge Al Booth called the police, who arrested her for disorderly conduct."I'm glad this is over and we can put this behind us," Diprizio said after she was sentenced and fined $250, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.A federal judge struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban in February, prompting probate judges to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. In March, Alabama Supreme Court justices halted gay marriage licenses in the state, defying the federal court order. In May, a federal judge ruled that gay couples in Alabama can marry, but she put the ruling on hold until the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage.H/t ThinkProgress
Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton said Friday on CNN that he wished a “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest wasn’t being held in Phoenix but that, as mayor, he had to protect the interests of all involved. The cartoon contest, being held on Friday outside a Phoenix mosque, has been promoted on Facebook as a response to a similar event in Garland, Texas that was disrupted when two gunmen attempted to attack the event and were killed by a security officer. The Phoenix event’s Facebook page encouraged attendees to exercise their “second amendment right at this event just incase (sic) our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”During his appearance on CNN, Stanton was asked by host Carol Costello about the reference to the Second Amendment.“Of course I wish that any reference to Second Amendment rights had not been posted,” Stanton said. “We’re gonna protect everyone’s First Amendment rights. We’re gonna make sure we balance those interests. But again, just because they have a First Amendment right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.” Stanton said the city was interested in protecting the rights of both those attending the protest and those attending the mosque to pray. “I believe that this is being done in a purposefully provocative way so I don’t believe that it’s a good idea, but people do have a First Amendment right to protest and we will make sure that their First Amendment rights are protected,” Stanton said. “It is equally as important that the members of this Islamic Community Center in the heart of Phoenix, that they have an opportunity to go to evening prayers as peacefully, in a setting that doesn’t have intimidation,” Stanton continued. “So we’re gonna protect their First Amendment rights of freedom of religion equally. Tonight is gonna be about a balancing of those interests.” Ultimately, Stanton lamented that the event was being held.“But, as I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Stanton said. “I wish it wasn’t happening at this location in my city.”
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) resigned his positions with a national lobbying firm and a corporate board after he was indicted Thursday for allegedly agreeing to pay $3.5 million to compensate for "prior misconduct" against an unidentified individual. A spokesperson for the Washington, D.C.-based law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro on Thursday told the Associated Press that Hastert had resigned. Hastert had joined the firm shortly after leaving Congress in 2007.CME Group, a futures exchange company, also said Thursday that Hastert had resigned from its board of directors, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was supposed to start accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents program, otherwise known as DAPA. Instead, the DAPA program, along with an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, remains blocked since February by a forum-shopped judge, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. This week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the emergency stay request filed by the U.S. Department of Justice to lift the injunction currently blocking the implementation of deferred action programs DACA and DAPA. Together, the DACA expansion and DAPA programs would have allowed more than five million parents of citizen and permanent resident children, and DREAMers—young unauthorized immigrants—to seek a discretionary reprieve from deportation and a temporary work permit. Instead of getting the peace of mind and stability these programs would offer to people without legal status, millions of American families are now stuck in legal limbo as the case Texas v. U.S. winds its way through the courts. This political agenda is affecting millions of American families while choking our nation’s economic growth. Texas v. U.S. is only the latest evidence of a sustained attempt by some conservative interests to leverage the courts to hamper public policy and achieve policy outcomes they were unable to attain legislatively. In this instance, even some Senate Republicans once supported comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, only to later back away from their support after seeing conservatives in the House fail to call it up for a vote.This same dynamic has played out elsewhere—most notably with regard to Obamacare and climate change: Where courts are starved of the necessary resources to hear cases due to unfilled judicial vacancies, plaintiffs find ideologically-aligned judges to hear their cases. In other words: Federal courts matter, and conservatives know it.Conservatives have long recognized the importance of the federal courts. For example, the 30-year-old Federalist Society, the leading conservative lawyers group, has played a prominent role in promoting legal attacks on progressive causes. Indeed, the federal judiciary still bears the marks of President George W. Bush’s greatest judicial legacy, appointing many of the conservative legal movement’s brightest young minds to the federal bench. Ten years into the Roberts Court, the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted the important protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, undermined our campaign finance system, and upheld gender-based pay discrimination, among other significant decisions.One of the biggest cases before the Supreme Court this year, King v. Burwell, showcases the true impacts of this legacy. More than five years since its passage, the Affordable Care Act is still under attack. Even after the law was previously upheld by the Supreme Court, there is still an effort, as columnist George Will describes, to “blow Obamacare to smithereens.” King is a lawsuit that seeks to strip premium tax credits from people who live in states with a federal insurance marketplace under the ACA. Doing so could cause health care premiums to spike, causing a so-called death spiral of higher premiums for fewer, sicker customers. For Brian Beutler of the New Republic, the fictitious wall “separating political and legal arguments is breaking down in King, because the challenge itself is such a farce.” The impact of a poor decision, however, will be that millions of Americans lose their health insurance, spiking premiums and gutting protections for millions of others.There is a similar legal attack on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This challenge follows a similarly aggressive legal strategy—in two separate lawsuits, coal companies and conservative state attorneys general have sued the EPA over the proposed plan, one that is not expected to be finalized until this summer. To challenge the president’s climate change agenda, conservatives have turned to the courts as a first resort to block the final rule from going into effect, as they know their legislative prospects are dim. As with health care and climate change, some conservatives have used the federal court to undercut the DHS immigration directives announced by President Obama in November. In bringing their lawsuit, Texas and 25 other state Attorneys General and Governors “forum shopped,” choosing to bring their case in the Southern District of Texas, and hand-picked Judge Hanen.In previous opinions, Judge Hanen—a George W. Bush appointee—has shown animus both toward immigrants and toward the Department of Homeland Security. Hanen has routinely used his opinions to rail against immigration policy, even when the decisions themselves had little to do with immigration. In one case, he went out of his way to criticize a decision not to bring immigration charges against an undocumented mother who was reunited with her daughter, stating that nothing would prohibit bringing criminal charges against the mother after reuniting her with her daughter.And it is not only the district court that is so heavily stacked against the DACA and DAPA programs, but the Fifth Circuit court of appeals, in which the Southern District of Texas falls, as well. According to the American Bar Association Journal, the Fifth Circuit is “one of the most controversial, rancorous, dysfunctional, staunchly conservative and important appellate courts in the country.”The Department of Justice appealed to this Fifth Circuit to seek an emergency stay of Judge Hanen’s injunction stopping the DACA expansion and DAPA programs from going into effect. The three-judge panel picked to hear the review includes Judge Jerry E. Smith, who once described himself, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as a former “rightwing activist,” and Judge Jennifer Elrod, an appointee of President George W. Bush, who is well-known for reinstating Texas’ restrictive abortion law last year. Judges Smith and Elroy were two of the five judges who dissented from a 2013 ruling striking down an anti-immigrant local ordinance passed by the City of Farmer’s Branch, TX.The plaintiffs in this case knew, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that by filing their suit in the Brownsville-based district court they would appear before their ideal judges. How could they be so sure? The Brownsville-based district court has only two federal district court judges, with Judge Hanen as the only “active status” judge.Texas has the most judicial vacancies in the country, and like so many other places across the nation, is facing a dire judicial vacancy crisis. Texas currently has seven federal district court and two circuit court vacancies. One seat in the Southern District of Texas, the same district court as Judge Hanen, has been vacant for nearly 1,800 days. Seven of these vacancies have been classified as “judicial emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, including both circuit court vacancies. Unsurprisingly, Texas has the most judicial emergencies in the country. These judicial emergencies are the judicial districts where “judges are overworked and where justice is being significantly delayed for the American public.” For the 10 vacancies, Texas Senators Cruz and Coryn have only nominated one candidate, Jose Olvera, who was only confirmed last week. Failing to fill these pressing vacancies has also allowed conservative lawyers to pick and choose where to bring their newest case. The federal courts should be beyond partisanship. The real-world consequences, as in Texas v. U.S., are clear: Delaying the DACA expansion and DAPA programs not only harms millions of American families, but fails to capture the sizeable economic benefits of granting deferred action. Failing to nominate and confirm judges to federal vacancies, including judicial emergencies, also denies aggrieved parties their day in court, imposes unnecessary financial burdens, and denies access to justice to all.Instead of promoting justice and fairness for all, conservative activists are turning to overworked and understaffed federal courts as a first resort to promote policy outcomes they could have failed to achieve through Congress. Ultimately, it is justice that suffers and Americans families who are hurt.Michele L. Jawando is the Vice President for Legal Progress at American Progress.
A year after a Walmart trucker nearly killed Tracy Morgan and ended his friend's life, the comic actor is accepting an out-of-court settlement from the retailer -- and the people who make rules governing highway safety are readying some frightening changes. The post Tracy Morgan Settles In Fatal Tractor-Trailer Crash As House Works To Make Highways More Dangerous appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) continues to sue the Obama administration over Common Core implementation, even though he supported it in 2012. The post Bobby Jindal’s Lawsuit Against Common Core Law He Signed Moves Forward appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The organization refused to hire anyone who was pregnant and fired all workers after if they became pregnant. The post Nonprofit Ordered To Pay $75,000 Over ‘No Pregnancy In The Workplace’ Policy appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Chris Christie's statement on Common Core standards Thursday is a big departure from his support only two years ago. The post Chris Christie Turns On Common Core Standards After Calling Opposition A ‘Knee-Jerk Reaction’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The Michigan legislature has passed a bill that would tie children's school attendance to welfare benefits. The post Michigan May Add Another Hurdle To Getting Welfare appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Eighty-three percent of New Jersey residents support a paid sick day law but Gov. Chris Christie (R) continues to oppose the legislation. The post New Jersey Workers Are Making Paid Sick Leave A Big Question For Christie On The Campaign Trail appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Summer vacation means that many low-income children will also go without the free and reduced-price lunches schools provide. The post Summer Vacation Means Millions Of Low-Income Kids Could Go Hungry appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Bernie Sanders is the first person to call for guaranteed vacation while seeking the presidency. The post This Presidential Candidate Wants Everyone To Be Able To Take A Vacation appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The horror stories are the same, but the treatment McDonald's workers are getting in Brazil is very different from the system they confront in the United States. The post This Country Could Make Sure McDonald’s Actually Follows The Law appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The first-ever campaign to change how powerful companies pick their boards has already seen a wave of victories. The post The Surprisingly Successful Push To Make Corporate America More Democratic appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The United States is the only developed country that doesn't guarantee workers the ability to take paid holiday or vacation time. The post If You Get Memorial Day Off, You’re Lucky appeared first on ThinkProgress.
In more than 50 major U.S. cities, housing construction is only serving the wealthy. The post America’s Housing Developers Are Almost Exclusively Building Luxury Units appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Schools are trying to "unteach racism" to third graders, but can they "unteach racism" to teachers? The post Students Should Learn More About Their Perceptions of Race, But Don’t Leave Out Teachers appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Kansas imposed harsh restrictions on welfare recipients, but many states have been trying to find ways to crack down on the poor. The post How States Are Trying To Make Life Harder For The Poor appeared first on ThinkProgress.
A McDonald's supporter makes a strange new argument against higher pay for frycooks. The post The Bizarre, Shania Twain-Based Argument For Keeping McDonald’s Wages Low appeared first on ThinkProgress.
AI students say they were sold a degree that employers wouldn't buy. The post Why Students Say Their Degrees From The Art Institute Are ‘Worthless’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
As Jesus once said, “Blessed are rich pastors, for they deserve a private jet.” Wait, no he didn’t. The post ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Pastor Is Asking His Church To Buy Him A $65 Million Jet appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Even billions of dollars in fines and a wave of felony confessions won't hurt these five giant banks. The same government that imposed those penalties is making sure of it. The post Megabanks Fined $2 Billion For Criminal Activity, Will Be Able To Continue Business As Usual appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Full-time H&M employees get $12 an hour on average and three weeks of paid vacation. The post H&M’s Employee Benefits Look Pretty Different From Most Retail Stores appeared first on ThinkProgress.
More than 1,600 families, including 2,700 children, will lose their benefits. The post Arizona Will Boot Thousands From Welfare To Address $1 Billion Budget Hole appeared first on ThinkProgress.
About 354,000 New Mexicans live within the areas that Border Patrol agents have exercised “incredible authority to stop, question and search individuals within a 'reasonable distance' of our international borders." The post Hispanics In New Mexico Report Run-Ins With Border Patrol In ‘Sensitive Community Locations’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
In addition to raping and sodomizing them, personnel withheld basic necessities from women if they refused to perform sexual favors. Some women were watched as they showered and dressed, and others were called derogatory names. The post DOJ Cracks Down On Prison That Turned Blind Eye To Heinous Sex Crimes appeared first on ThinkProgress.
A small tweak in the state's voter registration law could yield hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters. The post Illinois Bill Could Bring An Additional 100,000 Voters To The Polls appeared first on ThinkProgress.
“My boyfriend threatened to kill himself twice now. What do I do and who do I call?” The post Woman Asked Police To Help Her Suicidal Boyfriend, They Wound Up Shooting Him Instead appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The decision comes just two days after a request to run subway ads that would depict the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The post This Is How DC Metro Reacted When They Received A Request To Display An Ad That Shows Muhammad appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The cop also told the young man that he was being arrested "because I feel like arresting you," The post Cop Caught On Video Telling Black Teen ‘If You Fuck With Me, I’m Going To Break Your Legs’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
House Democrats are calling for an end to family detention because "detaining mothers and children in jail-like settings is not the answer.” The post The Movement To End Immigrant Family Detention Is Picking Up Steam. Here’s Why. appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"Local stakeholders know that there is a serious issue." The post Just $150,000 Could Drastically Overhaul The Largest Jail In The Country appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"Just because i’m undocumented doesn’t mean I can’t be somebody,” a DREAMer said. The post Nebraska Becomes The Last State In The Country To Pass A Law Allowing DREAMers To Drive appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Religious liberty, Alabama-style. The post Alabama Minister Fined And Sentenced To Probation After She Tries To Marry A Same-Sex Couple appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"By putting these restrictions on the current transfer programs, we can eliminate the wasteful spending these programs have created and stop the militarization of our police forces." The post Rand Paul Wants To Start Demilitarizing Police Forces Around The Country appeared first on ThinkProgress.
A new case on the docket threatens to dilute Latino representation. The post Congress Is Probably About To Get A Whole Lot Whiter Thanks To The Supreme Court appeared first on ThinkProgress.
He's just the latest 2016 presidential rival to make this suggestion. The post Scott Walker Fearmongers About Terrorists Coming Through The Border appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Director Alex Winter's latest documentary depicts the "maddeningly contradictory" facts and circumstances surrounding the government's case against Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht. The post The Other Side Of The Infamous Silk Road Case appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The Brelo verdict is part of a much bigger problem. The post Forget Criminal Charges. Disciplining Officers In Cleveland Is Hard Enough. appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The Fifth Circuit is among the most conservative appeals courts in the country, and this panel included two of its most conservative judges. The post BREAKING: Republican Appellate Judges Refuse To Reinstate Obama’s Immigration Policy appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The prosecution literally created meticulous documentation of its efforts to exclude black jurors. The post The Supreme Court Will Hear An Almost Comically Egregious Case Of Race Discrimination appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Last April, when Jeb Bush was asked what he liked to read, he replied “I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.” The post Jeb Bush’s Favorite Author Rejects Democracy, Says The Hyper-Rich Should Seize Power appeared first on ThinkProgress.
At least nine people were dead after a spat of gun violence beginning Friday. The post More Than 40 People Shot In Chicago Over Memorial Day Weekend, Including A 4-Year-Old Girl appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"I do not have the personal wealth or the wherewithal to keep up with the costly demands of paying for attorneys to defend me,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. The post Sheriff Joe Arpaio Is Racking Up Legal Bills. He Wants You To Help Pay Them. appeared first on ThinkProgress.
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