blog

July 9, 2019

Kamala Harris Has a Distinguished Career of Serving Injustice

Kamala Harris is rising in the polls after dramatically confronting Joe Biden during the Democratic primary debate about his opposition to federally mandated busing for desegregation. The following week, however, Harris backed away from saying that busing should always be federally mandated, calling it just one “tool that is in the toolbox” for school districts to use. When asked to clarify whether she would support federal mandates for busing, she said: “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.” But Biden’s poll numbers are falling as a result of Harris’s theatrical attack.

Harris, who served as San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California Attorney General from 2011 to 2017, describes herself as a “progressive prosecutor­­­­.” Harris’s prosecutorial record, however, is far from progressive. Through her apologia for egregious prosecutorial misconduct, her refusal to allow DNA testing for a probably innocent death row inmate, her opposition to legislation requiring the attorney general’s office to independently investigate police shootings and more, she has made a significant contribution to the sordid history of injustice she decries.

Read more
July 2, 2019

After Supreme Court Refusal, It’s Up to the People to End Gerrymandering

The Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility to strike down partisan gerrymandering. This occurs when one party intentionally manipulates district boundaries to skew its voting power, notwithstanding the will of the voters. Although both parties engage in partisan gerrymandering, Republicans benefit from it far more than Democrats.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the conservative 5-4 majority inRucho v. Common Cause, admitted that excessive partisan gerrymandering is “incompatible with democratic principles” and “leads to results that reasonably seem unjust.” But, the Court held, challenges to the practice “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”

In her passionate dissent, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan noted that extreme partisan gerrymanders “deprive citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights” — the rights of equal participation in the political process, “to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives.” Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”

Read more
June 29, 2019

Calling Trump’s Rationale “Contrived,” Supreme Court Halts Citizenship Question

In a surprise decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the four liberal members of the Supreme Court — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — halted the Trump administration’s plans, at least temporarily, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The Court thought the stated motive for adding the question seemed “contrived,” and sent the case, Department of Commerce v. New York, back to the federal district court to review whether the government can come up with a legally acceptable rationale for adding the citizenship question.

After oral arguments in April, it appeared the justices were poised to allow the Trump administration to add this question to the census: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” That question would deter households with undocumented residents from responding to the census.

Read more
June 22, 2019

Iran Had the Legal Right to Shoot Down US Spy Drone

The New York Times is reporting that on June 20, President Trump ordered military strikes against Iran to retaliate for its shootdown of a U.S. drone, but then pulled back and didn’t launch them. Officials told the Times that Trump had approved attacks on Iranian radar and missile batteries.

Trump tweeted, “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Nevertheless, shortly after midnight on June 21, Newsweek reported that regional U.S. military assets have been put on 72-hour standby.

On June 19, an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. The White House claimed that its drone was at least 20 miles from Iran, in international airspace, while Iran maintains the drone was in Iranian airspace. Iran presented GPS coordinates showing the drone eight miles from Iran’s coast, which is inside the area of 12 nautical miles that is considered Iran’s territorial waters under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Read more
June 16, 2019

Supreme Court Ruling on Census Could Deal Grave Blow to Democracy

The Supreme Court is poised to decide two cases that could prove devastating to the right to vote — the very foundation of a democracy. One case will review the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The other will consider whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. They are related because the citizenship question would “allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats,” the New York Times reported.

“It’s hard to overstate the significance of the census and partisan gerrymandering cases,” according to Professor Leah Litman of UC Irvine School of Law, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times. “Upholding the addition of the citizenship question and foregoing any judicial oversight of partisan gerrymandering would allow Republican minorities to entrench their political power for decades.”

Moreover, Thomas Hofeller, a GOP strategist and architect of the citizenship question plan, was known as the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering.” Hofeller’s expertise in drawing partisan political maps “cemented the [Republican] party’s dominance across the country,” Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times.

Read more
June 15, 2019

Bernie Sanders Proposes New Economic Bill of Rights

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.

“Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”

Read more
May 26, 2019

An Attack on Iran Would Violate US and International Law

As President Donald Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rattle their sabers, there is no evidence that Iran poses a threat to the United States. It was Trump who threatened genocide, tweeting, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” The Pentagon is now considering sending 10,000 additional troops to the Gulf region for “defensive” purposes and not in response to a new threat by Iran. Threats to use military force — like the use of force itself — violate U.S. and international law.

Last week, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence had determined that Iranian-sponsored attacks on U.S. forces “were imminent.” The Trump administration asserted, “without evidence,” according to The New York Times, that new intelligence revealed Iran was sponsoring proxy groups to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon announced its intention to deploy a Patriot antimissile battery to the Middle East. Three days later, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the United States would send up to 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or speeds up work on nuclear weapons.

But on May 14, Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior British military official and deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, told reporters at the Pentagon that “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

Read more
May 17, 2019

US Illegally Evicts Protectors From Venezuelan Embassy

On May 16, law enforcement agents broke into the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., and arrested the four remaining members of the Embassy Protection Collective. “We denounce these arrests, as the people inside were there with our permission, and we consider it a violation of the Vienna Conventions,” Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Ron said.

For 36 days, the protectors had lived in the embassy to shield it from a raid by U.S. authorities working in concert with opponents of Venezuela’slawfully elected president, Nicolás Maduro. Since U.S. officers had refused to allow food into the embassy, only four of the some 50 members of the collective had stayed in order to conserve supplies.

The Trump administration has been trying to engineer an unlawful coupand regime change in Venezuela. After U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela on January 23, high Trump officials quickly ratified his declaration. The U.S. government seeks to illegally install Guaidó and a new ambassador in the D.C. embassy as part of its coup attempt.

Read more
May 11, 2019

Trump Has Defied Nearly All Subpoenas. What Can the House Do?

After the redacted Mueller report was made public, Donald Trumptweeted, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.” But when the House Judiciary Committee asked to see Mueller’s full report, Trump said no way.

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to check and balance the executive branch. That includes the power to issue and enforce subpoenas. In the 1927 Teapot Dome scandal case about government corruption, the Supreme Court held that Congress’s “power of inquiry — with process to enforce it — is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.” Justice Willis Van Devanter wrote for the unanimous Court that when the Constitution was adopted, “the power of inquiry, with enforcing process, was regarded and employed as a necessary and appropriate attribute of the power to legislate — indeed, was treated as inhering in it.”

Yet Trump has defied nearly all of the nine subpoenas and requests for testimony and/or documents that House committees have issued.

Read more