Tag Archives: civil liberties

North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

Mother Jones

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have filed a bill that could make it more difficult for transgender people to use the bathroom by imposing stiff penalties on anyone convicted of “trespassing” in a restroom.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by state Rep. Brenden Jones, was filed on Tuesday, shortly after the NCAA announced that it was lifting its boycott of North Carolina because the state’s Legislature partially repealed a law that had required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The text of the new bill does not mention transgender people or even refer to a person’s sex. Instead, it states that entering or remaining in a bathroom “without authorization” after being asked to leave by the owner of the facility, a manager, or anyone else in the room will be considered trespassing. “My bill will do two things,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post last Thursday. “First, it will specifically state it is a second degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.” Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Requiring “authorization” to be in a bathroom could be particularly harmful for transgender people, says Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group. By Oakley’s reading of the bill, a trans male college student could be prosecuted for trespass if he uses the men’s room on his campus after being asked to leave by another student in the room.

Last week, the state Legislature replaced House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, with a new law that LGBT groups have described as “HB2.0” because it opens the door for these types of restrictive regulations. The replacement law prevents cities, schools, and localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for trans people in bathrooms, preventing any local guarantees that trans people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity. “There’s no backstop to prevent further anti-LGBTQ legislation from being introduced, debated, and potentially passed,” Oakley says. “The North Carolina General Assembly is not going to stop going after transgender people.”

The latest bill, says Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, appears to be a direct response to the recent replacement of the original bathroom bill. “A faction of the Republican Party here in North Carolina is angry that HB2 was repealed,” she says. “They wanted it, they liked it just the way it was. This is, I am sure, their attempt to thumb their nose at the compromise.” Butler says the new bill will likely be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday and assigned to a committee. “The lunacy persists.” A companion bill has been filed in the state Senate.

Jones voted in favor of the HB2 replacement last week. Jones wrote on Facebook after the vote that “our children will not be forced to share bathrooms with those of the opposite sex…I will never waiver on this vital issue of privacy.” Police officers and other experts note that there is no evidence that sexual predators are taking advantage of legal protections for transgender people in public restrooms.

Update, 10:30 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has come out against the trespassing bill. “The Governor is not supportive of efforts such as these as he believes we ought to be working to expand statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said in a statement.

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

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Trump Just Made Life Harder for Transgender Students

Mother Jones

On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s administration rescinded Obama era guidance directing schools to treat transgender students according to their gender identity.

While the most talked about part of Obama’s rules allowed students to use the bathroom that aligned best with their identity, the guidance also explained teachers should use students’ chosen name and pronoun and recommended steps to limit access to and amend transgender students’ school records. The move, which comes in a joint letter from the departments of justice and education, rescinds all such protections.

“This is the administration saying very clearly to anti-trans bullies…’These students are not worthy of protection….and we are not going to enforce the law,'” says Mara Keisling, the head of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The letter claims rescinding the standing rules “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” and emphasizes that schools are responsible for ensuring all students “are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.” But unlike Obama’s directive, which specified that a hostile environment could, for example, be established by failing to recognize students gender identity, the Trump administration’s letter gives no such guidance. That nod to bullying and harassment was reportedly added at the urging of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who, according to the New York Times, expressed discomfort at rescinding the guidance. When asked Wednesday about infighting between DeVos and Attorney General Sessions, who pushed strongly to rescind the guidance and who has long history of opposing LGBTQ rights, the administration maintained DeVos supports the move “100 percent.”

Without federal policies, transgender students’ rights will be inconsistent state to state and even between school districts and individual schools. In a statement released shortly after the letter, DeVos argued this “is an issue best solved at the state and local level…Schools, communities, and families can find—and in many cases have found—solutions that protect all students.”

“No child in America should have their rights subject to their zip code,” said Eliza Byard Executive Director of GLSEN, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making schools safe for LGBTQ students.

The Obama administration developed the guidance after the Education Department received questions from educators, administrators, parents, and students about how Title IX, a law which bans sex discrimination in educational programs and schools receiving federal assistance, protects transgender students. Bathroom access proved to be controversial, but it was seen as a key step towards compliance with the law by department officials.

“Students in kindergarten, elementary school classes are made to line up by boys and girls to go to the bathroom,” said Catherine Lhamon, a former assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education who helped develop the guidance. “Transgender students had to face a choice everyday about which line to get in and answering questions from their peers about why they’re in one line versus another, and that causes harm and humiliation to a student to have to explain.”

Private bathrooms can also invite questions from other students, be far from classes, or require an adult to unlock them, which can make students late for class.

“There were physical consequences to students of having to go through extra barriers just to be able to relieve themselves at school,” she says. “There were psychological consequences to students from having to explain who they are inside everyday to other students rather than just being able to be who they are.”

The Trump administration’s decision to roll back the protections comes just weeks before the Supreme Court is set to hear its first transgender rights case. Virginia high schooler Gavin Grimm sued his school board after it adopted a policy barring him from the men’s bathroom. At the center of the case: the question of whether Title IX protections apply to transgender students.

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Trump Just Made Life Harder for Transgender Students

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Students With Valid Visas Are Trapped in Limbo Abroad

Mother Jones

On Saturday morning, Niki Mossafer Rahmati got off her flight from Tehran in Doha, Qatar to board a connecting flight to Boston, when she got caught up in the chaos set off by President Trump’s immigration order.

Rahmati, an MIT junior studying mechanical engineering, had been home with her family for winter break when she received word Wednesday morning of the pending executive order. She changed her flight to return to Boston right away, only to find that order had gone into effect in the middle of her connecting flight to Doha. She and some 30 other Iranians with legal visas were blocked from boarding the plane and sent back to Tehran. Among them, Rahmati says, were two women traveling to their pregnant daughters to help them through their last trimester.

“Do any of the people sound like illegal immigrants?” Rahmati asked in a public Facebook post after arriving back home in Tehran. “This will not secure the borders from terrorism and illegal immigrants. It will only increase racism in the American society. The president is trying to make Islamophobia a norm and policy by which he wants to lead the country.”

“My inbox is flooded with messages and emails of love and support,” she also wrote. “But I cannot believe all this love is coming from the same country that banned me from entering its borders just a couple of hours ago.”

Rahmati is just one among many students from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who have been barred from returning to school. MIT alone has 38 students from Iran, 1 from Iraq, 5 from Syria, 2 from Sudan, and 1 from Somalia; two, including Rahmati, were reportedly unable to board flights back to Boston. According to the New York Times, students from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, among other universities, have also been affected.

Yesterday, after thousands of protesters stormed US airports to fight for the release of people detained upon arrival, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of President Trump’s order by temporarily allowing valid visa holders who had landed in the US to stay. Federal judges in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington quickly followed suit, with the Massachusetts order additionally restraining enforcement of the order for visa holders traveling back to the US in the next seven days.

In response, MIT issued an statement urging students and staff to “fly back to Boston—directly to Logan Airport—as soon as possible, and before February 4.” Whether or not the court order will be respected by Custom and Border Protection officials abroad is unknown.

Rahmati is a member of the sorority Sigma Kappa and counselor for the MIT chapter of Camp Kesem, a national nonprofit that operates free summer camps for children whose parents have had cancer. For weeks before heading home for break, Rahmati had been fundraising for this summer’s camp. After the election, Rahmati encouraged her friends to keep an open mind to Trump supporters, according to her roommate.

As news of her situation has spread, the MIT community sprang into action, calling elected officials and circulating a White House petition. At this writing, her ability to return to MIT to finish her undergraduate remains uncertain.

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Students With Valid Visas Are Trapped in Limbo Abroad

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This Rookie Chicago Politician Is Ready to Resist Donald Trump’s Deportation Fervor

Mother Jones

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference Wednesday to assure anxious residents that Chicago would remain a “sanctuary city”—meaning local law enforcement won’t help federal agents with President Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions of immigrants, a plan that just got a lot more real. In December, Emanuel told Trump to his face that he should rethink his proposed policies—specifically, that he should retain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children (and for all practical purposes are Americans) to stay in the United States.

Yet even as Emanuel gets recognition as a mayor willing to stand up to Trump on immigration, 27-year-old rookie Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has been pushing for stronger legal protections in the city—especially given the White House’s reported intent to engage state and local police in its deportation efforts. “What we really need,” the alderman told local reporters “is less symbolism and more action.”

Ramirez-Rosa is a Chicago native, the son of a Puerto Rican dad and a Mexican-born mom. He grew up in the Lakeview neighborhood on the city’s North Side and went to a magnet high school before attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduating, he become an aide to Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, running his boss’ social-media efforts and working directly with families facing deportation. Just two years later he managed to unseat Rey Colon, the four-term 35th Ward incumbent, to become one of the youngest members of the City Council and its first openly gay Latino.

As an alderman, Ramirez-Rosa has made immigrants’ rights his main focus, and the overwhelming message he hears from affected families is that the city hasn’t done enough to protect them. “I’ve been fighting this mayor since before I took office,” Ramirez-Rosa told me. “I wasn’t elected to cozy up with the rich and powerful. I was elected by my constituents to represent their interests.”

Chicago’s 2012 sanctuary city law, the Welcoming City Ordinance, prevents city police from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal authorities. But the law contains several exceptions: for immigrants who have a criminal warrant out on them, who have been convicted of a serious offense, who are defendants in a criminal case, or who have been identified as part of a gang. Some of these carve-outs mean that people who haven’t been found guilty of a crime could be refused sanctuary. A Chicago Police Department spokesman told me that, to his knowledge, the police have not acted on any of the exceptions, and that they were intended for extreme circumstances. Still, Ramirez-Rosa and his constituents want those carve-outs removed to give legal backup to the city’s commitment to not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ramirez-Rosa wants Chicago, with its 183,000 undocumented immigrants, to be a model for immigrant protections. While Chicago’s law is already stronger than those of many sanctuary cities, it falls short of Philadelphia (which has no exceptions, barring extreme circumstances) and Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco (which have only a couple). He has been busy organizing and educating immigrant communities to be ready for the Trump administration. “The focus right now,” he said, “is preparing the community.”

Back in 2015, Ramirez-Rosa and more than a dozen local immigrants’ rights groups joined forces to create the Chicago Immigration Working Group, which has come up with six key policy goals. Bolstering the Welcoming City ordinance is one of them. They’ve also persuaded the city to launch an ID program that’s open to undocumented immigrants and helps them access city services. Emanuel has committed just over $1 million to a legal defense fund for would-be deportees, although Ramirez-Rosa points out that San Francisco, with a fraction of Chicago’s undocumented population, has just proposed a $5 million legal-defense fund. The alderman also co-sponsored an amendment that makes it illegal for police to threaten people with deportation during a confrontation, or to verbally abuse them. (During a 2013 raid, a Chicago cop famously yelled at a naturalized Chinese American man that he’d “put you in a UPS box and send you back where the expletive you came from!”)

This week, Trump signed orders to begin construction on a Mexican border wall and add detention centers and federal agents to the deportation effort. He also doubled down on his threat to rescind federal funding from sanctuary cities that won’t cooperate with the feds on deportations. If Trump follows through, Chicago stands to lose an estimated $1.3 billion—Congress would need to approve the cut. Trump’s attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is in favor of repealing DACA and opposes a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants. Democrats in the Senate have delayed his confirmation vote, which is now expected to take place in February.

Given all the uncertainly about what will happen, Ramirez-Rosa and his office are making it a priority to educate the immigrant community. Earlier this month, he started a door-to-door outreach effort and “know your rights” trainings to teach undocumented families what they can do to fight deportation attempts. Next up: a “cop-watch” type network in his ward so neighbors can alert one another if federal immigration agents are in their area. In an act of solidarity, Ramirez-Rosa has even declared his office a sanctuary location, a move he hopes other aldermen will copy.

Ramirez-Rosa was in talks with Emanuel’s office last year. The mayor wasn’t always such a full-throated defender of immigrant rights, the alderman notes; as chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Emanuel once called immigration the “third rail of American politics,” and he actually pushed to ramp up deportations while working under President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s. “We know the history of this mayor,” Ramirez-Rosa says. “He just wants the sound bite on TV where he says ‘I’m your champion.'”

But the alderman is feeling more hopeful of late. The talks with the mayor have gone well, he says, and Emanuel even asked for a memo outlining the working group’s proposals. Emanuel’s office wouldn’t comment on plans to alter the carve-outs. But it pointed out in a statement that the mayor started a task force (“Chicago Is With You”) with Rep. Gutierrez and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) late last year to provide legal and mental-health services to immigrants and others in need, and he’s involved in other efforts to help immigrants.

But Chicago leaders have to do much more, Ramirez-Rosa insists. The measure of progress, he says, “is in the actual ordinances and resources that the city is bringing to bear. And we’re nowhere near the other cities that are actually national leaders on this.”

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This Rookie Chicago Politician Is Ready to Resist Donald Trump’s Deportation Fervor

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Here Is the Worst Anti-Science BS of 2016

Mother Jones

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2016 was a year of remarkable scientific breakthroughs. A century after Albert Einstein proposed his general theory of relativity, researchers proved him right when, for the first time ever, they were able to observe gravitational waves produced by two black holes that collided 1.3 billion years ago. Astronomers discovered a potentially habitable planet just 4.3 light-years from Earth. And scientists even came up with a good reason to put a bunch of adorable dogs in an MRI machine.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of anti-science nonsense this year, too—much of it from our political leaders. On issues ranging from climate change to criminal justice, our president-elect was a notable offender. But some of his rivals joined in as well. So did his nominees. And Congress. And members of the media. Here, in no particular order, are some of the most appalling examples. You can let us know in the comments which one you think is the worst.

Hurricane Matthew Truthers

In early October, as Hurricane Matthew approached the southeastern United States and officials ordered mass evacuations, a group of right-wing commentators alleged that the Obama administration was conspiring to exaggerate hurricane forecasts in order to scare the public about climate change. On October 5, Rush Limbaugh said hurricane forecasting often involved “politics” because “the National Hurricane Center is part of the National Weather Service, which is part of the Commerce Department, which is part of the Obama administration, which by definition has been tainted.” He added, however, that Matthew itself was “a serious bad storm” and hadn’t been politicized.

The next day, Matt Drudge took the theory a step further, tweeting, “The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate.” He added, “Hurricane center has monopoly on data. No way of verifying claims.” Drudge’s tweets were widely condemned as dangerous and irresponsible. They also caught the attention of conspiracy kingpin Alex Jones:

A day later, Limbaugh also went full Matthew Truther, declaring it “inarguable” that the government is “hyping Hurricane Matthew to sell climate change.” Matthew would ultimately kill more than 40 people in the United States and hundreds in Haiti. It caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Congress Won’t Lift the Gun Research Ban

Gun violence is a public health crisis that kills 33,000 people in the United States each year, injures another 80,000, and, according to an award-winning Mother Jones investigation, costs $229 billion annually. But as the Annals of Internal Medicine explained in a 2015 editorial, Congress—under pressure from the National Rifle Association—has for years essentially banned federal dollars from being used to study the causes of, and possible solutions to, this epidemic:

Two years ago, we called on physicians to focus on the public health threat of guns. The profession’s relative silence was disturbing but in part explicable by our inability to study the problem. Political forces had effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies from funding research on gun-related injury and death. The ban worked: A recent systematic review of studies evaluating access to guns and its association with suicide and homicide identified no relevant studies published since 2005.

Following the June 12 terrorist shootings that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Democrats tried once again to lift the research ban. But as the Hill reported, “Republicans blocked two amendments that would have allowed the CDC to study gun-related deaths. Neither had a recorded vote.”

Officials Face Charges in Flint Water Crisis

Perhaps the biggest scientific scandal in recent memory was the revelation that residents of Flint, Michigan—an impoverished, majority-black city—were exposed to dangerous levels of lead after government officials switched their drinking water source. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems, along with a variety of other serious health issues. Officials ignored—and then publicly disputed—repeated warnings that Flint’s water was unsafe to drink. According to one study, the percentage of Flint children with elevated lead levels doubled following the switchover. The water crisis may also be to blame for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Since April 2016, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed charges against 13 current and former government officials for their alleged role in the crisis. On December 19, Schuette accused two former emergency managers—officials who had been appointed by the governor to oversee Flint’s finances with minimal input from local elected officials—of moving forward with the switchover despite knowing the situation was unsafe. According to the charging document, Darnell Earley conspired with Gerald Ambrose and others to “enter into a contract based upon false pretenses that required Flint to utilize the Flint River as its drinking water source knowing that the Flint Water Treatment Plant…was unable to produce safe water.” The document says that Earley and Ambrose were “advised to switch back to treated water” from Detroit’s water department (which had previously supplied Flint’s water) but that they failed to do so, “which caused the Flint citizens’ prolonged exposure to lead and Legionella bacteria.” The attorney general also alleged that Ambrose “breached his duties by obstructing and hindering” a health department investigation into the Legionnaires’ outbreak. Earley and Ambrose have pleaded not guilty.

Trump’s Budget Director Isn’t Sure the Government Should Fund Zika Research

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Donald Trump’s choice to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, isn’t just a global warming denier. As Mother Jones reported, he recently questioned whether the government should even fund scientific research. In September, Mulvaney took to Facebook to discuss the congressional showdown over urgently needed funding for the Zika epidemic—money that would pay for mosquito control, vaccine studies, and research into the effects of the virus. (Among other disputes, Republicans sought to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving Zika funds.)

“Do we need government-funded research at all?” wrote Mulvaney in his since-deleted post. Even more remarkably, he went on to raise doubts about whether Zika really causes microcephaly in babies. As Slate’s Phil Plait noted, “There is wide scientific consensus that zika and microcephaly are linked, and had been for some time before Mulvaney wrote that.”

The House “Science” Committee

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is quickly becoming one of the most inaccurately named entities in Washington. For the past several years, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has used his position as chairman of the committee to harass scientists through congressional investigations. He’s even accused researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of having “altered historic climate data to get politically correct results” about global warming. As we explained in February, “Smith is determined to get to the bottom of what he sees as an insidious plot by NOAA to falsify research. His original subpoena for internal communications, issued last October, has been followed by a series of letters to Obama administration officials in NOAA and other agencies demanding information and expressing frustration that NOAA has not been sufficiently forthcoming.”

Fast-forward to December 2016, when someone working for Smith decided to use the committee Twitter account to promote an article from Breitbart News titled “Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists.” (Breitbart is the far-right website that was formerly run by chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon. In addition to climate denial, Bannon has said the site is “the platform for the alt-right,” a movement that is closely tied to white nationalism.)

Unsurprisingly, actual scientists weren’t pleased.

GOP Platform Declares Coal Is “Clean”

Republicans’ devotion to coal was one of the defining environmental issues of the 2016 campaign. Trump promised to revive the struggling industry and put miners back to work by repealing “all the job-destroying Obama executive actions.” Those commitments were reflected in an early version of the GOP platform, which listed coal’s many wonderful qualities and said that Republicans would dismantle Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which limits emissions from coal-fired power plants. That didn’t go far enough for GOP activist David Barton, who convinced delegates at the party’s convention to add one additional word to the text. “I would insert the adjective ‘clean,'” said Barton. “So: ‘The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.'” Barton’s wording change was approved unanimously. As Grist noted at the time, “For years the coal industry—and at one point, even President Obama—promoted the idea of ‘clean coal,’ that expensive and imperfect carbon-capture-and-storage technology could someday make coal less terrible. But there’s no way it is clean.”

Global Warming Deniers in the GOP Primaries

As 2016 kicked off, there were still 12 candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination. Nearly all of them rejected the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are the main cause of global warming. (The GOP contenders who spoke most forcefully in favor of the science—Lindsey Graham and George Pataki—both dropped out of the race in late 2015.)

As recently as December 2015, Trump declared that “a lot of” the global warming issue is “a hoax.” His chief rival, Ted Cruz, said in February that climate change is “the perfect pseudoscientific theory” to justify liberal politicians’ efforts to expand “government power over the American citizenry.” In a debate in March, Marco Rubio drew loud applause when he said, “Well, sure, the climate is changing, and one of the reasons why the climate is changing is the climate has always been changing…But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather: There’s no such thing.” Moments later, John Kasich said, “I do believe we contribute to climate change.” But he added, “We don’t know how much humans actually contribute.”

In 2015, Ben Carson told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.” A few months earlier, Jeb Bush said, “The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural…For the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.” In one 2014 interview, Rand Paul seemed to accept that carbon pollution is warming the planet; in a different interview, he said he’s “not sure anybody exactly knows why” the climate changes. Mike Huckabee claimed in 2015 that “a volcano in one blast will contribute more to climate change than a hundred years of human activity.” (That’s completely wrong.) In 2011, Rick Santorum called climate change “junk science.” In 2008, Jim Gilmore said, “We know the climate is changing, but we do not know for sure how much is caused by man and how much is part of a natural cycle change.”

Two other GOP candidates, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, seemed to largely accept the science behind climate change, but neither of them had much of a plan to deal with the problem.

Trump’s (Other) Wars on Science

Trump’s rejection of science goes well beyond basic climate research. Here are some of his more outlandish claims from the past year:

Despite DNA evidence, Trump still thinks the Central Park Five are guilty. In 1989, five black and Hispanic teenagers were charged with the brutal rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park. Trump proceeded to pay for inflammatory ads in the city’s newspapers decrying the “permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman.” He called on lawmakers to “bring back the death penalty and bring back our police!” The defendants, most of whom had confessed to involvement in the rape, were convicted. They were eventually exonerated by DNA evidence and a confession from the actual rapist. But Trump still isn’t persuaded by the scientific evidence. “They admitted they were guilty,” he told CNN in October. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.” As Sarah Burns, who made a documentary about the case, noted in the New York Times, “False confessions are surprisingly common in criminal cases. In the hundreds of post-conviction DNA exonerations that the Innocence Project has studied, at least one in four of the wrongly convicted had given a confession.”

Trump mocks football players for worrying about brain damage from concussions. In October, Trump praised a woman who returned to his Florida rally shortly after she had fainted from the heat. “That woman was out cold, and now she’s coming back,” he said. Trump, who once owned a USFL football team, added, “See, we don’t go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussions—’Uh oh, got a little ding on the head? No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season’—our people are tough.” As the Washington Post pointed out, “Recent MRI scans of 40 NFL players found that 30 percent had signs of nerve cell damage. Florida State University College of Medicine’s Francis X. Conidi, a physician and author of the study, said in a statement that the rates of brain trauma were ‘significantly higher in the players’ than in the general population. In the spring, the NFL acknowledged a link between football and degenerative brain diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is associated with symptoms such as depression and memory loss.”

Trump meets with anti-vaxxers. Trump has long been a proponent of the discredited—and dangerous—theory that vaccines cause autism. “I’m not against vaccinations for your children, I’m against them in 1 massive dose,” Trump tweeted in 2014. “Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!” He made the same argument at a 2015 GOP debate, causing a spike in Google searches for information about the supposed vaccine-autism connection. Since then, Trump hasn’t said much more about the issue in public. But according to Science magazine, he met privately with a group of leading anti-vaccine activists at a fundraiser in August. The group reportedly included Andrew Wakefield, the lead researcher behind the seminal study (since retracted) of the vaccine-autism connection. Science reported that “Trump chatted with a group of donors that included four antivaccine activists for 45 minutes, according to accounts of the meeting, and promised to watch Vaxxed, an antivaccine documentary produced by Wakefield…Trump also expressed an interest in holding future meetings with the activists, according to participants.”

Trump says there is no drought. During a May campaign stop in Fresno, California, Trump offered a bizarre take on the state’s “insane” water problems, implying that there wasn’t actually a drought. (There was and still is.) He suggested that the state had “plenty of water” but that “they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea” in order to “protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.” As FactCheck.org explained, “California is in its fifth year of a severe ‘hot’ drought,” and “officials release fresh water from reservoirs primarily to prevent salt water from contaminating agricultural and urban water supplies.” (A much smaller proportion of water is released from reservoirs to preserve habitat for Chinook salmon, the “three-inch” delta smelt, and other fish.)

Trump wants to use hairspray. Trump has repeatedly complained that efforts to protect the ozone layer are interfering with his hair routine. “You’re not allowed to use hairspray anymore because it affects the ozone,” he said in May, arguing that more environmentally friendly hair products are only “good for 12 minutes.” He added, “So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?…I say no way, folks. No way. No way.” FactCheck.org actually went through the trouble of asking scientists whether Trump’s strategy of using hairspray indoors would help contain the ozone-destroying chemicals. “It makes absolutely no difference!” said Steve Montzka, a NOAA chemist. “It will eventually make it outside.”

Jill Stein (Yep, She Deserves Her Very Own Category)

Vaccines. Of course, science denial isn’t confined to the political right. During the 2008 presidential campaign, both Obama and Hillary Clinton flirted with the notion that vaccines could be causing autism and that more research was needed on the issue—long after that theory had been discredited. Obama and Clinton have abandoned these misguided views, but Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is apparently still concerned. In July, she told the Washington Post that vaccines are “invaluable” medications but that the pharmaceutical industry has too much influence over safety determinations from the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC. “As a medical doctor, there was a time when I looked very closely at those issues, and not all those issues were completely resolved,” she said. “There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.”

GMOs. There are plenty of reasonable debates surrounding the use of genetically modified crops. But when it comes to their impact on human health, scientists are pretty much in agreement: GMOs are safe to eat. Once again, Stein isn’t convinced. During the 2016 campaign, Stein called for a moratorium on the introduction of new genetically modified organisms and a “phaseout” of current genetically modified crops “unless independent research shows decisively that GMOs are not harmful to human health or ecosystems.” Stein’s website promised that her administration would “mandate GMO food labeling so you can be sure that what you’re choosing at the store is healthy and GMO-free! YOU CAN FINALLY FEEL SECURE THAT YOUR FAMILY IS EATING SAFELY WITH NO GMO FOODS ON YOUR TABLE!” That page also featured a 2013 video of Stein saying, “This is about what we are eating. This is about whether we are going to have a food system at all. This is about whether our food system is built out of poison and frankenfood.”

The Climate-Denying Cabinet

Trump has loaded up his incoming administration with officials who, to varying extents, share his views on climate change. Vice President-elect Mike Pence once called global warming a “myth,” though he now acknowledges that humans have “some impact on climate.” Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote in May that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry once alleged that “a substantial number” of climate scientists had “manipulated data.” Trump’s interior secretary nominee, Ryan Zinke, believes that climate change is “not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either.” Ben Carson (see above) is slated to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency facing serious challenges from global warming. Mulvaney, the incoming White House budget director, has said we shouldn’t abandon domestic fossil fuels “because of baseless claims regarding global warming.” Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions claimed in 2015 that predictions of warming “aren’t coming true.”

Interfering with government scientists?

Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet, but already there are troubling signs that his administration may attempt to interfere with the work of government scientists and experts.

Energy Department questionnaire. The president-elect’s transition team submitted a questionnaire to the Department of Energy asking for a list of employees and contractors who had worked on the Obama administration’s efforts to calculate the “social cost of carbon”—that is, the dollar value of the health and environmental damage caused by burning fossil fuels. The transition team also asked for a list of staffers who attended UN climate negotiations. As the Washington Post explained, the questionnaire “has raised concern that the Trump transition team is trying to figure out how to target the people, including civil servants, who have helped implement policies under Obama.” (The department didn’t comply with the request, and the Trump team ultimately disavowed the questionnaire after facing criticism.)
Earth science at NASA. One of Trump’s space advisers, Bob Walker, has repeatedly floated the idea that the administration should begin to remove Earth science from NASA’s portfolio. NASA’s Earth science program is well known for producing some of the world’s most important climate change research, and Walker’s proposal has sparked an outcry among many in the scientific community. (Walker has suggested shifting the work to NOAA, but the incoming administration hasn’t proposed giving NOAA additional funding, and Walker’s critics have called the plan unworkable.) Trump hasn’t actually adopted Walker’s idea, and scientists such as David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist who receives NASA funding, are optimistic that he won’t. But if Trump does attempt to gut NASA’s research efforts, the backlash could be intense. “We’re not going to stand for that,” said Grinspoon on our Inquiring Minds podcast. “We’re going to keep doing Earth science and make the case for it. We’ll get scientists to march on Washington if we have to. There’s going to be a lot of resistance.”

Abortion and Breast Cancer

For years, abortion rights opponents have insisted that abortion can cause breast cancer. That claim was based on a handful of flawed studies and has since been repeatedly debunked by the scientific community. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.” Influential anti-abortion groups have frequently emphasized a more nuanced but still misleading version of the breast cancer claim: that having an abortion deprives women of the health benefits they would otherwise receive by giving birth. That argument has found its way into an official booklet that the state of Texas provides to women seeking abortions. According to the latest version of the booklet, released in early December:

Your pregnancy history affects your chances of getting breast cancer. If you give birth to your baby, you are less likely to develop breast cancer in the future. Research indicates that having an abortion will not provide you this increased protection against breast cancer.

“The wording in the Texas booklet gets very cute,” said Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, in an interview with the Washington Post. “It’s technically correct, but it is deceiving.” Here’s the problem, as explained by the Post:

Women who deliver their first baby to full-term at 30 years or younger face a decreased long-term risk of breast cancer than women who have their first baby at older than 30 or 35, or who never deliver a baby at all…Having a baby does provide increased protection against breast cancer, but it doesn’t mean that having an abortion affects your risk one way or another. For example, women who deliver a child before 30, but then have an abortion after their first child, still have a decreased risk of breast cancer, said Brawley, who described himself as “pro-life and pro-truth.”

Pence Denies the Existence of Implicit Bias in Police Shootings

During her first debate with Trump, Clinton supported efforts to retrain police officers to counter so-called “implicit bias.” She noted that people in general—not just police officers—tend to engage in subconscious racism. But she added that in the case of law enforcement, these biases “can have literally fatal consequences.” During the vice presidential debate a few days later, Pence blasted Clinton and other advocates of police reform for “bad-mouthing” cops. He criticized people who “seize upon tragedy in the wake of police action shootings…â&#128;&#138;to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism.” That, he said, “really has got to stop.”

Pence’s comments were a gross misrepresentation of a key scientific issue in the national debate over police killings of African Americans. Implicit bias does not, as he implied, refer to intentional, overt bigotry or to systematic efforts by law enforcement to target minorities (though there are plenty of examples of those, too). Rather, implicit bias refers to subconscious prejudices that affect people’s split-second decisions—for example, whether or not a cop shoots an unarmed civilian. As Chris Mooney explained in a 2014 Mother Jones story:

This phenomenon has been directly studied in the lab, particularly through first-person shooter tests, where subjects must rapidly decide whether to shoot individuals holding either guns or harmless objects like wallets and soda cans. Research suggests that police officers (those studied were mostly white) are much more accurate at the general task (not shooting unarmed people) than civilians, thanks to their training. But like civilians, police are considerably slower to press the “don’t shoot” button for an unarmed black man than they are for an unarmed white man—and faster to shoot an armed black man than an armed white man.

And as Mooney noted, acknowledging that implicit biases are common—something Pence refused to do—allows scientists and law enforcement to devise trainings that seek to counter the problem.

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A St. Louis Suburb Jailed Nearly 2,000 People for Not Paying Fines

Mother Jones

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On Wednesday, a federal judge approved a $4.7 million settlement with nearly 2,000 people who were thrown in jail illegally in a St. Louis suburb, a practice legal advocates had likened to a “modern debtors’ prison.”

The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit alleged that the city of Jennings, Missouri, had jailed people who were unable to pay municipal fines and fees, keeping them in overcrowded, unsanitary cells where they were routinely taunted by jail guards and staff. The settlement, preliminarily approved in July, comes more than a year after the Jennings municipal court signed a separate agreement to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenses, dismiss “failure to appear” charges and forgive fees in cases before March 12, 2011, and establish a way to assess a person’s ability to pay. It also agreed to use civil debt collectors to obtain payments from fines instead of issuing warrants and immediately release people on first arrest on bond.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs claimed that Jennings “built a municipal scheme designed to brutalize, to punish, and to profit.” According to the complaint, the city issued more than 2.1 arrest warrants per household in 2014 and nearly 1.4 for every adult, adding that if the rest of the St. Louis area generated revenue at the same rate as Jennings, cities would have made more than $670 million in five years.

In recent years, civil rights groups have taken cities to court to compel changes to their operation of so-called debtors’ prisons, where those who cannot afford to pay fines are jailed until their debts are paid off. The practice was first barred under federal law in 1833. In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled that the act of imprisoning someone unable to settle their debt unconstitutional. Yet lawsuits and a federal investigation into policing and court practices in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown shed light on how municipal courts locked up poor residents who couldn’t pay off their debts as a way to generate revenue. Beyond Jennings, federal lawsuits are under way against Ferguson and 13 other cities in the St. Louis area over the alleged operation of modern-day debtors’ prisons.

“One thing that has been revealed over and over again in the Ferguson investigation and these lawsuits is that the worst practices tend to arise when courts and other officials perceive a financial necessity in funding their operation through fees and fines,” says Larry Schwartztol, executive director of Harvard University’s Criminal Justice Policy Program. “That creates conflicts of interest and distorts the justice system.” William Maurer, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, told Mother Jones in July that small towns around urban areas “have municipal infrastructure that can’t be supported by the tax base, and so they ticket everything in sight to keep the town functioning.”

Here’s a look at some similar recent cases across the country:

Biloxi, Mississippi: In a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in last October, attorneys alleged that poor residents in Biloxi who couldn’t take care of their debt were “routinely” arrested and tossed in jail without receiving a court hearing to determine whether they would be able to pay such penalties. The lawsuit alleged that the city relied on the fines and fees for a substantial portion of its budget and enlisted the help of for-profit probation companies to collect the money. In March, the two sides agreed on a settlement and adjusted it in September. The city agreed to stop using private probation companies to collect payments, to adopt a “bench card” for judges as a reminder of how to not send people to jail who are unable to pay, and to provide alternatives to debt repayment, such as payment plans, job training programs, mental-health counseling, and community service. The city, its police chief, and a district judge named in the complaint also admitted no wrongdoing as part of the resolution.

Colorado Springs, Colorado: Hundreds of impoverished people in Colorado Springs who were fined for a minor infringement of the city’s ordinance had a choice: Pay the debt in full, or settle it for time in jail at $50 a day. Last October, the ACLU of Colorado sent a letter to the city’s attorney and a municipal court judge, alleging that the court had ordered the “pay or serve” sentence in more than 800 cases since January 2014. In May, the city agreed to pay $103,000 to 66 impoverished residents, or $125 for each day they were behind bars. Municipal judges and city-contracted attorneys also underwent training on the rights of indigent citizens.

Jackson, Mississippi: For impoverished Jackson residents, the Colorado Springs case sounds familiar. Those arrested for misdemeanor cases were forced to navigate Jackson’s “pay or stay” system, according to complaint filed last October. If someone failed to pay all or a large portion of their debt at the time of their hearing, they were sent to jail in Hinds County. Once behind bars, they “were told they could ‘work off’ their fines at the rate of $58 per day,” according to the complaint. Those who couldn’t work were left to “sit out” their fines at $25 a day. In June, the city of Jackson settled and created an alternative monthly payment of $25 or an hourly credit for community service. The city also eliminated a requirement for people to post a money bail when arrested for a misdemeanor and to instead be released on the condition they appear for a future court appearance.

Benton County, Washington: A woman named Jayne Fuentes was sent to county jail for more than three months to work off $3,229 in “legal financial obligations” from 2010 and 2011. A complaint filed last October by the ACLU alleged that people like Fuentes who couldn’t pay off their debt were either sent to jail or forced to work on the county’s work crew as part of “partial confinement.” In June, the county and ACLU reached a resolution. The county agreed to stop issuing warrants to arrest those who didn’t pay off their debts. Beyond that, district court judges were also required to ask about a person’s ability to pay at hearings, and county public defenders and prosecutors would receive training on the assessment and collection of court-imposed fines.

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"Prevent Tragedy Before It’s Too Late": Read the Statement 1,200 Scholars Just Released About Trump

Mother Jones

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Concerned by the hateful rhetoric that has accompanied President-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House, a group of 1,200 historians and other scholars have put out a powerful statement urging Americans to stand guard against civil rights abuses.

“Looking back to history provides copious lessons on what is at stake when we allow hysteria and untruths to trample people’s rights,” the scholars wrote. “We know the consequences, and it is possible, with vigilance and a clear eye on history, to prevent tragedy before it is too late.”

The statement was first created by three associate professors at Northwestern University, Oberlin College, and the University of Kansas who were alarmed about parallels between the current political climate and instances throughout history when Americans’ rights have been suspended, like during World War II. They originally planned to collect signatures from a small group of scholars and then publish a letter or an op-ed, says Shana Bernstein of Northwestern, one of the organizers, but interest spread quickly as they reached out to their networks.

Historians from a range of institutions signed on, including those from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and many other elite universities, as well as independent scholars. Among the signatories were six Pulitzer Prize winners, a MacArthur “Genius” award recipient, five Bancroft Prize winners, and at least 12 Guggenheim Fellows. “I continue to receive inquiries about signing the letter, from people both inside and outside academia,” Bernstein says, noting that they only included scholars of US history and related fields.

Their statement raises concerns about an increase in harassment of minorities since the election, as well as Trump’s proposal to create a registry that tracks Muslims in the United States. “While we find ourselves in a distinct moment compared to World War II and the Cold War, we are seeing the return of familiar calls against perceived enemies. Alarmingly, justifications for a Muslim registry have cited Japanese American imprisonment during World War II as a credible precedent, and the Professor Watchlist—which speciously identifies ‘un-patriotic professors’—is eerily similar to the communist registry of the McCarthy era,” they wrote, referring to a new website that accuses college professors of pushing “leftist propaganda.”

“All of us are deeply concerned about the talk of registering Muslims, breaking up immigrant families by deporting and interning undocumented parents, limiting speech on campuses and by cracking down on peaceful protest, and the damaging effects of rolling back civil rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans,” Annelise Orleck, a history professor at Dartmouth College who signed the statement, tells Mother Jones. “We are the people who know well the times in American history when there have been wholesale violations of civil and human rights, when our intelligence agencies have exceeded their constitutional mandate and conducted secret surveillance of American citizens who are simply exercising their rights. We are saying that it is naive to assume that ‘it can’t happen here.'”

Check out the full statement below.

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Final Collective Statement, December 13, 2016 (PDF)

Final Collective Statement, December 13, 2016 (Text)

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"Prevent Tragedy Before It’s Too Late": Read the Statement 1,200 Scholars Just Released About Trump

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How Did Police From All Over the Country End Up at Standing Rock?

Mother Jones

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When protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation began in April, there were only a handful of activists camping out in defiance of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. As their numbers have grown into the thousands, so too has the police presence confronting them. Police departments from 24 counties and 16 cities in 10 different states (including North Dakota) have poured into Standing Rock, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the local law enforcement agency.

It’s rare for police forces to cross state lines to handle problems in neighboring places, much less travel more than 1,500 miles to respond to protests, as the St. Charles Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Department has. So why is Standing Rock teeming with cops from across the country? The answer lies in an obscure federal law that’s usually deployed to help states deal with environmental disasters.

In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton signed the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The statute was created in response to Hurricane Andrew, which wrought an estimated $25 billion in damages when it hit Louisiana and Florida in 1992, necessitating large-scale, interstate relief coordination. EMAC, an agreement eventually entered into by all 50 states, allows for states to share resources and coordinate emergency personnel in case of a crisis. The good-neighbor style law was invoked for disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and, more recently, Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Governors have almost always employed EMAC in the wake of natural disasters, but the bill contains a stipulation that makes it applicable during other types of emergencies including “community disorders, insurgency, or enemy attack.” On August 19, when North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency at Standing Rock, he relied on this language to issue an EMAC request.

Standing Rock is one of the few times that EMAC has been called upon to respond to social activism. In April 2015, during Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and sent out an EMAC request. About three hundred state troopers from Pennsylvania and another 150 from New Jersey responded. The city racked up an estimated $20 million in extra policing costs.

Since the state issuing the EMAC request is on hook for the tab, that means North Dakota taxpayers will pay for the out-of-state officers at Standing Rock. This will include wages, overtime costs, meals, lodging, and mileage reimbursement. On November 2, North Dakota officials agreed to borrow $4 million to cover escalating policing costs and extend the state’s line of credit for emergency law enforcement to $10 million. (The state was already staring down a $1 billion revenue shortfall in 2016.) Governor Jack Dalrymple said state officials have asked for contributions from the federal government, the pipeline company, “and any entity we can think of,” though the federal government has thus far declined to pitch in. North Dakota Emergency Services spokesperson Cecily Fong told the Associated Press that total state law enforcement costs for the protests had reached $10.9 million as of November 22, while Morton County had spent an additional $8 million. Meanwhile, local courts and jails have struggled to process around 575 arrests.

The increased law enforcement presence at Standing Rock has coincided with mounting concerns over police brutality. The deployment of military-grade equipment, including landmine-resistant trucks and armored personnel carriers, as well as the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, and alleged strip searches led Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II to ask the Justice Department to investigate civil rights abuses. “Local and state law enforcement have increasingly taken steps to militarize their presence, to intimidate participants who are lawfully expressing their views, and to escalate tensions and promote fear,” Archambault wrote in his letter.

Some of the police details that have arrived in Standing Rock are among the largest recipients of military transfers from the federal government, according to an In These Times investigation. The South Dakota Highway Patrol has received $2 million worth of military equipment since 2006. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Northwest Indiana obtained $1.5 million worth of military equipment over the same time period. The Pennington County Sheriff’s office in South Dakota, the Anoka County Sheriff’s office in Minnesota, and the Griffith Indiana Police Department have all received assault rifles through military equipment transfer programs as well.

Police departments answer EMAC requests on a voluntary basis. Some forces, like Minnesota’s Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, have been deployed to North Dakota amid objections from their local communities. Others are withdrawing from the action. A phone-banking and email-writing effort led Montana’s Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin to turn his detail around before they even arrived at Standing Rock. Gootkin told Yes Magazine that people who contacted his department expressed concern that EMAC was meant to address natural disasters and catastrophic events, not for protecting a corporation’s pipeline construction. Sheriff Dave Mahoney from Wisconsin’s Dane County, who withdrew his force after one week, said he did so after talking with “a wide cross-section of the community who all share the opinion that our deputies should not be involved in this situation,” he said. “We have enough priorities here in our community to address.”

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How Did Police From All Over the Country End Up at Standing Rock?

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A Federal Appeals Court Just Sided With the Ohio GOP in a Voting Rights Case

Mother Jones

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A divided panel of judges on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a lower court erred by reinstating Ohio’s “Golden Week,” a period when Ohio voters could register to vote and cast absentee ballots at the same time.

“This case presents yet another appeal (there are several pending in the Sixth Circuit alone) asking the federal courts to become entangled, as overseers and micromanagers, in the minutiae of state election processes,” reads the majority opinion written by Judge David McKeague. He added that Ohio is a “leader” compared with other states when it comes to early voting opportunities, and that the “undisputed factual record shows that it’s easy to vote in Ohio. Very easy, actually.”

The case, Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted, was filed after Republican state lawmakers introduced a host of voting restrictions in 2013, including the elimination of Golden Week and same-day voter registration. The Ohio Democratic Party, among others, sued in May 2015, arguing that the reductions violated the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices or procedures. A district court judge in Ohio agreed, ruling in May 2016 that the cuts impose “a modest, as well as a disproportionate, burden on African Americans’ right to vote.”

Judge Jane Stranch, the one dissenting vote on the ruling, wrote that the majority opinion overturned a decision that was based on a 10-day bench trial that included more than 20 witnesses (8 of whom were experts) and produced a 120-page opinion that dismissed many of the claims by voting-rights advocates. But this decision acknowledged that the elimination of both Golden Week and same-day voter registration went too far, even as the lower court disagreed with other challenges to voting restrictions originally brought in the case. Judge Stranch noted that the trial included evidence that African Americans in Ohio used early in-person voting and Golden Week at higher rates than whites in 2008 and 2012, and that it demonstrated the importance of early voting for black voters because of factors including more limited overall access to transportation and less flexible work schedules than their white counterparts.

“A great deal of work underlies the district court’s conclusion on this important subject,” Stranch wrote. “Both that work and the substantial support found in the record stand in opposition to the majority opinion’s blithe assertion ‘that it’s easy to vote in Ohio. Very easy, actually.'”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, celebrated Tuesday’s ruling:

Marc Elias, one of the main Democratic lawyers working the case (and the attorney for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was not a party to this case), tweeted:

The Constitutional Accountability Center, a judiciary advocacy group, which had filed an amicus brief in support of keeping Golden Week on the books, slammed Tuesday’s decision. David Gans, the center’s director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program, wrote in a statement, “Today’s 2-1 decision…rubber-stamps Ohio’s decision to cut back on early voting and same-day registration, failing to ensure that the state respected the voting rights of all Ohioans. The court’s decision will make it harder for racial minorities and others to cast a ballot this coming Election day.”

Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California-Irvine, wrote on Tuesday that Ohio’s 29-day early voting period was already “exceedingly generous.” He acknowledged that while he “might support Golden Week as good policy, I worry when courts are used in this way to prevent every cutback in voting, especially after voting rights proponents had settled a suit with Ohio on favorable terms.”

Unless the Ohio Democratic Party appeals to the full 6th Circuit or the US Supreme Court, Golden Week and same-day registration will not be in place for the election in November.

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A Federal Appeals Court Just Sided With the Ohio GOP in a Voting Rights Case

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Wisconsin’s Strict Voter ID Law Is Back on the Books

Mother Jones

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Wisconsin voters will likely vote this November under the state’s strict voter ID law after a federal appeals court struck down a trial court’s ruling that would have allowed voters to cast ballots without identification.

In Wednesday’s ruling, a three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court’s decision would likely be reversed on appeal. The lower court ruled on July 19 that election officials had to let people vote without ID if they signed a form saying they had problems getting proper documents.

The trial court’s ruling, in turn, came in response to an appeals court ruling in April finding that the state’s 2011 voter ID law would likely prevent people from voting who had legitimate difficulties obtaining documentation to get IDs, and it tasked the trial court with coming up with a method to help those people. That method was the affidavit, which the appeals court ruled Wednesday wasn’t targeted enough, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Instead of attempting to identify these voters, or to identify the kinds of situations in which the state’s procedures fall short, the district court issued an injunction that permits any registered voter to declare by affidavit that reasonable effort would not produce a photo ID—even if the voter has never tried to secure one, and even if by objective standards the effort needed would be reasonable (and would succeed),” the appeals court judges wrote, adding that the trial court judge did not attempt to distinguish between genuine difficulties voters might have in obtaining the proper documents and “any given voter’s unwillingness to make the effort that the Supreme Court has held that a state can require.”

Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California-Irvine, wrote Wednesday that the ACLU, which originally brought this case, might appeal the case to the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the practical effect of the ruling, he noted, is that the strict voter ID law will be in place for November. The ACLU could also appeal Wednesday’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, says he is disappointed that the judges “removed a safety net for voters after earlier this year holding that such a safety net would be appropriate. Their decision will guarantee disenfranchisement of many Wisconsonites in this fall’s election.”

Ho says the ACLU is evaluating its options, but that an appeal to either the full 7th Circuit or the Supreme Court will happen soon.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, said in a statement that Wednesday’s ruling was “a step in the right direction” and that his administration would “continue to work to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

A separate case challenged the 2011 voter ID law and other voter restrictions put in place by Wisconsin Republicans, including limits on early voting and on college students’ ability to register to vote. A federal district judge struck down those provisions on July 29, but its ruling on voter ID affected the ways in which voters can obtain a voter ID. The case is still awaiting appeal. Wednesday’s ruling, for its part, addressed what happens when voters get to the polls without an ID.

This story has been updated with comments from Dale Ho.

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Wisconsin’s Strict Voter ID Law Is Back on the Books

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