In a long-awaited decision, the Supreme Court rejected a right-wing challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California v. Texas, preserving health insurance for 21 million people who are predominantly low-income and people of color.
The 7-2 opinion, written by Stephen Breyer, held that the plaintiffs did not have standing to contest the constitutionality of the ACA. Thus, since they could not demonstrate that they had been harmed by the “individual mandate,” the plaintiffs had no right to sue in the first place. Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. They would have thrown out the entire ACA.
Republican attorneys general from 18 states, led by Texas, and two individuals claimed the ACA’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was unconstitutional, even though there is no longer any penalty for failure to buy such insurance. The plaintiffs’ argument didn’t pass the straight face test, even for four of the Court’s conservatives. John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett all agreed with the three liberals on the Court that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place.
The Vietnam War ended in 1975, but Vietnamese people today continue to suffer the effects of Agent Orange, the deadly dioxin-containing chemical weapon that the U.S. sprayed over 12 percent of South Vietnam from 1961-1971, poisoning both the people and the land.
Descendants of the approximately 2 to 4 million Vietnamese people, hundreds of thousands of U.S. Vietnam veterans, and Vietnamese-Americans who were exposed to the toxin continue to record disproportionate rates of congenital disabilities and higher rates of many diseases.
U.S. veterans receive some compensation from the U.S. government, but very little assistance has been given to the Vietnamese people, the intended victims of the defoliant Agent Orange.
Israeli police are now threatening to carry out mass arrests against Palestinian citizens of Israel — arrests intended to punish those who took part in sit-ins and other protests in solidarity with Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Gaza.
This latest attack on Palestinian rights comes just days after Israeli police once again attacked Palestinians at Al Aqsa Mosque, and after the Israeli military viciously bombed Gaza for 11 days, killing 248 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,900, destroying 16,800 Palestinian homes and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians.
Outrage against Israel’s ongoing apartheid system and routine attacks on Palestinian rights and lives is mounting worldwide, setting the stage for a new burst of energy in the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli regime — a nonviolent movement in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality.
As Israel continues to pummel the Palestinian people with bombs and artillery shot into Gaza from troops amassed along its borders in preparation for a ground invasion, the Biden administration has reaffirmed its unwavering support for Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians.
Israel could not commit its crimes without the overwhelming support of the U.S. government. U.S. officials are aiding and abetting Israel’s crimes with massive military aid and scotching any criticism of Israel in the UN Security Council.
President Joe Biden said he didn’t think Israel’s attack on Gaza has been a “significant overreaction.” He expressed his “unwavering support” for Israel’s“right to defend itself” from rocket attacks from Gaza, but he did not condemn Israel’s airstrikes that are killing Palestinian civilians and destroying residential buildings, or the Israeli attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
This week’s news of the Biden-Harris administration’s about-face on U.S. refugee policy was a win for all the progressive forces that have been pressuring Biden to discontinue Trump’s egregiously low cap on the number of refugees accepted each year. But the victory did nothing to change the other massive structural ways in which the Biden-Harris administration is continuing to perpetuate the humanitarian crisis at the border through its embrace of Trump’s other asylum policies.
For example, even as the Biden-Harris administration now says it will increase the refugee cap to 62,500, rather than adopting Trump’s annual cap of 15,000 refugees as it had earlier announced it would do, the Biden-Harris administration is still continuing the Title 42 program that Trump imposed a year before, effectively closing the border to most refugees with no due process, court date or record of an asylum application.
Since Trump implemented the Title 42 program on March 20, 2020, more than 630,000 people have been expelled from the United States, 240,00 of them on Biden’s watch.
On April 27, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States issued its long-awaited report on the U.S.’s police-perpetrated racist violence. The Commissioners concluded that the systematic police killings of Black people in the U.S. constitutes a prima facie case of crimes against humanity and they asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate an investigation of responsible police officials.
These crimes against humanity under the ICC’s Rome Statute include murder, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution of people of African descent, and inhumane acts causing great suffering or serious injury to body or mental or physical health. All of the crimes occurred in the context of a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population of Black people in the United States, as documented by the findings of fact in the 188-page report.
The 12 commissioners are eminent experts and jurists from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean. I am one of four rapporteurs who helped draft the report. After 18 days of hearings and extensive research, the commissioners found that both U.S. law and police practices do not comply with international law.
When veteran Minnesota police officer Kimberly Potter, who is white, stopped Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, for an expired registration tag, she committed an act of racial profiling. As a result, Wright’s blood is on the hands not only of Potter but also of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has legally sanctioned this type of racial profiling.
Like Derek Chauvin, who is on trial for killing George Floyd, Potter is not an exception to the rule. Both are typical representatives of a system of racist, violent law enforcement against Black people. When Potter shot and killed Wright, her act — whether intentional or accidental — was also grounded in the same sort of racism manifested by officers throughout the United States.
As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a “bad apple.” In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing.
At his impeachment trial for inciting insurrection, Donald Trump’s lawyers claimed that Trump’s exhortations to his followers before the attack on the Capitol were protected free speech under the First Amendment. But as 143 other constitutional law scholars from across the political spectrum and I collectively noted, that claim was “legally frivolous.” Moreover, the First Amendment will not protect Trump if he is charged with committing criminal offenses.
The First Amendment does not apply in an impeachment trial because a president (or former president) can be impeached even for lawful conduct if he abused his official power while in office. Impeachment is a political, not a legal, proceeding. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65, high crimes and misdemeanors “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”
George Floyd, who was publicly tortured and lynched by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020, narrated his own death, legendary civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump told the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States at its January 25 hearing. “He narrated his death, like a cinema movie at the time.”
The unarmed Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. As Floyd lay face down on the ground with his arms handcuffed behind him, Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee firmly planted on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, squeezing the life out of him. Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe” 28 times. “I can’t feel my insides,” he uttered. “I can’t feel my legs.” He called out for his mama, who had predeceased him by two years. Floyd said, “Tell my children I love them.” Two other officers kneeled on Floyd’s back and legs as a fourth officer stood guard to keep horrified citizens from intervening to save Floyd’s life, threatening them with mace.