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November 23, 2022

Biden’s Student Debt Relief Program Is Now in the Hands of the Supreme Court

More than 40 million lower-income people burdened with student loans are still waiting for clarity about how much they will owe and when their next payments will be due, as the Supreme Court decides if it will rule on whether to allow President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program to proceed.

The loan forgiveness program, which Biden announced in August, is under attack from six Republican-controlled states, which sued Biden, his secretary of education and the Department of Education on September 29 in an attempt to block the program. A federal district judge ruled against the GOP-led states, but the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision and issued a nationwide injunction halting the program.

In response, on November 18, the Department of Justice went to the Supreme Court asking it to permit the student debt relief program to take effect while the lower courts consider the legal challenges to it. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote that blocking the program “leaves millions of economically vulnerable borrowers in limbo.”

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November 14, 2022

Inter-American Commission Hears Landmark Case of Torture and Killing by US Border Patrol

For the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to hear an extrajudicial killing case involving violence committed by U.S. law enforcement. The Commission is a body of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States. It considers cases involving torture, massacres, extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the Americas.

On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, a 42-year-old long-time San Diego resident and father of five, was crossing the border from Mexico into the United States when he was apprehended and tortured by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. He died in the hospital a few days later from his injuries. In order to cover up their crimes, the agents attempted to destroy evidence and create a false narrative that portrayed them as the victims and Hernández Rojas as the aggressor.

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November 4, 2022

The Racism of the Supreme Court’s Supermajority Was on Full Display This Week

During more than five hours of oral arguments in two cases that will probably spell the death of affirmative action in colleges and universities, the racism of the six right-wingers on the Supreme Court was on full display. It appears the court will overrule existing precedent that permits limited affirmative action.

The court ruled in the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger that the 14th Amendment allows public universities to consider race as one factor in a “holistic” admissions process in order to assemble a diverse student body. “Numerous studies show that student body diversity promotes learning outcomes, and ‘better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and better prepares them as professionals,’” the court explained.

In 2016, the court reaffirmed the Grutter holding in Fisher v. University of Texas.

Now “Students for Fair Admissions” (SFFA) is asking the court to reverse Grutter. SFFA, a front group for Ed Blum who is not a student but a long-time conservative activist seeking to overturn the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, is suing Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)SFFA says its mission is helping “to help restore colorblind principles to our nation’s schools, colleges and universities.

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October 30, 2022

House Progressives Pushed Negotiations With Russia, Then Buckled Under Pressure

On October 24, 30 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus signed a letter to President Joe Biden calling for “direct talks with Russia” to end the war in Ukraine. But in an alarming about-face, they withdrew the letter the next day.

The letter urged Biden “to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire.” It raised the possibility of “incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief.”

Since Russia illegally invaded Ukraine, 6,374 civilians are estimated to have been killed, including 402 children, and 9,776 people have been reported injured. The war has impacted the global economy and caused inflation, recession, and food and gas shortages.

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October 18, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson Cleverly Turned the Right’s Own Judicial Theory Against It

During the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case that could deal a severe blow to the Voting Rights Act, Ketanji Brown Jackson powerfully rebutted right-wing attacks on voting rights by using her own “originalist” analysis of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to explain why congressional district maps cannot constitutionally be drawn in a “race-neutral” way.

Liberal judges are not generally adherents to originalism – a judicial approach that insists that constitutional provisions must be interpreted based on the popular meaning they had at the time they were drafted, and that has generally been used by conservatives to justify right-wing positions such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But in her defense of voting rights, Jackson brilliantly turned the tables on the right by crafting her own originalist argument to defend taking race into account when drawing district maps.

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October 14, 2022

Israel Authorizes Military to Kill Palestinians With Drones in the West Bank

Commanders of the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) have been authorized to use armed drones to kill Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with the approval of Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi.

Hamas called the order “a dangerous step” and urged Palestinians “to continue resisting the Israeli occupation with all means possible until they regain their legitimate rights.”

The authorization to expand the use of killer drones coincides with “a significant rise in shooting attacks and massive gunfire during arrest raids, specifically in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus,” according to The Jerusalem Post. On September 28, the IOF killed four Palestinians and injured dozens more during protests in Jenin.

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October 5, 2022

The Supreme Court May Well Legalize Election Theft This Term

Donald Trump’s installation of three radical right-wingers on the Supreme Court is already yielding frightening victories for religious zealots and racists. Last term, the court’s conservative majority revoked the constitutional right to abortion from half the population in the United States. This term, it is poised to eviscerate voting rights for people of color and legalize election theft.

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September 22, 2022

States Need Constitutional Amendments to Protect Abortion From Right-Wing Judges

Since the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court held in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to abortion, many states have restricted or outright banned the procedure. But some states, like California, are endeavoring to enshrine the right to abortion in their constitutions. Although the California Supreme Court has declared that the state constitution’s right to privacy protects abortion, that safeguard remains ephemeral.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court established in Roe v. Wade that abortion is a fundamental right and a state could not prohibit it before fetal viability (able to live outside the womb). Just as the U.S. Supreme Court retracted the abortion right when conservatives attained a majority, California’s Supreme Court could likewise rescind the right to abortion if the court’s membership were to shift to the right.

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September 16, 2022

Human Rights Groups Urge UN to Call for Abolition of “Death by Incarceration”

Several human rights organizations submitted a 31-page complaint to United Nations experts on September 15, alleging that the United States is committing torture and violating the prohibition against racial discrimination by condemning people to death by incarceration through extreme sentences including life and life without possibility of parole (LWOP). The groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Drop LWOP Coalition and the Abolitionist Law Center, are urging the UN to call for the abolition of all death by incarceration sentences.

“Death by incarceration is the devastating consequence of a cruel and racially discriminatory criminal legal system that is designed not to address harm, violence, and its root causes, but to satisfy the political pressure to be tough on crime,” the complaint states.

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September 12, 2022

Trump-Appointed Judge Shields Ex-President From Accountability for Taking Docs

Donald Trump’s packing of the federal courts with judges chosen by the right-wing Federalist Society during his presidency is reaping dividends for him.

Two weeks after the FBI lawfully seized 11,000 government documents (more than 100 of them with classification markings) from Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Donald Trump asked a Florida judge to delay the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into three federal felonies. Instead of filing his motion in the District of Columbia where the search warrant was issued, Trump went forum-shopping and chose a judge whom he had appointed to the bench.

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