Posts tagged with "Supreme Court decision"

Senator Kamala Harris slams Supremes on transgender ruling

January 23, 2019

Following her announcement on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America on January 21 that she will make a run for the U.S. presidency; early on Tuesday, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) castigated the Supreme Court for allowing the Trump administration to temporarily enforce its restrictions on transgender military personnel.

Transgender military members have the courage to serve our country and deserve to do so. We have to fight back to reverse this,” Harris tweeted at 10:45 a.m.

Her tweet came shortly after the high court said it would allow the White House to briefly enforce a ban on transgender service members—until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California hears a case to determine its legality, The Hill reported.

The case was considered by the Supreme Court after Solicitor General Noel Francisco leapfrogged the usual legal process in November—bypassing the regional court in the belief that the higher court would rule in favor of the White House.

Francisco implored the justices to immediately take the case and issue a ruling this term, according to the political news outlet—arguing that the lower court’s decision blocked a policy that’s “necessary to place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people.”

He said that the Department of Defense review found that continuing to allow transgender people who have transitioned or seek to transition to serve in the military poses a threat to military effectiveness and readiness.

However, in a blow to Francisco and the administration, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments on the case’s legality. The justices prefer the appeals courts to have considered a case before they weigh in, and even then are selective, The Hill said. It takes four justices to agree to hear a case, and often they only agree to step in if the appeals courts are deeply divided on an issue.

It takes five justices to agree to stay a lower court ruling. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, of the court’s liberal wing, said they would have denied the application, according to the news outlet.

Trump announced the ban on transgender service members on March 23, stating that transgender applicants are “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time that the decision was based upon “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans

In her announcement on January 21, Senator Harris stated, “My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. When I look at this moment in time, I know the American people deserve to have someone who is going to fight for them … and put them in front of self-interest.”

Research contact: @jabowden4

Nearly all asylum applicants from the last migrant caravan were allowed U.S. entry

October 29, 2018

More than 90% of the Central Americans who applied for asylum after arriving at the U.S. border in last spring’s caravan passed the first step of the application process and were allowed into the country, according to figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, BuzzFeed reported on October 26.

Of the 401 people whom USCIS considered to be part of the caravan, 374 (or 93%) passed what’s known as a credible fear of torture or persecution interview, during which immigration officials determine whether an asylum applicant has a well-founded suspicion that he or she will be tortured or persecuted back home because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

If they pass the interview with an asylum officer, their case goes before an immigration judge.

The high success rate of asylum seekers in the spring caravan—which arrived at the border in May following a month(s)-long trek across Mexico, may explain why the Trump administration now is considering ways to prevent new arrivals from applying for asylum at the border — something that is allowed under US immigration law. The overall success rate for asylum seekers’ credible fear interview has been 76% in 2018, BuzzFeed said.

Under a proposal that is still being debated inside the Trump administration, the president would issue a proclamation barring residents of certain countries from entering the United States as security risks. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice would then cite that proclamation to bar the asylum applicants.

According to the news outlet, “The move would be a sweeping change by the Trump administration to longstanding immigration practice and would undoubtedly draw a legal challenge. But advocates of the proposal believe a Supreme Court decision that allowed the Trump travel ban to go into effect earlier this year paved the way for such a step.”

Indeed, the president has repeatedly denounced the new caravan—which at one time numbered more than 7,000 people and is now about half that size—saying that it includes criminals, although nearly two-thirds of those fleeing persecution appear to be women and children. The majority of those in the new caravan are from Honduras and Guatemala.

“All of these threats and deterrents aren’t working because there is an actual credible refugee crisis,” Allegra Love, an immigration attorney who helped screen potential asylum-seekers during the last caravan, told BuzzFeed in an interview. “Short of closing the border to migrants and refugees there’s not a lot you can do,”

Love is concerned the Trump administration will close ports of entry to people with lawful asylum claims. “There are children on this caravan, I think we have to always remember we’re going to be closing doors to a child, not that adults don’t deserve the same compassion,” Love said. “We’re creating an international crisis.”

Research contact: adolfo.flores@buzzfeed.com

Workers at AFL-CIO headquarters threaten strike for fair pay

October 12, 2018

The biggest federation of unions in the United States has called on companies this year to raise worker pay amid a flourishing economy. But it seems that the union leaders aren’t protecting those who are closest home—employees at their own headquarters, the Washington Post reported on October 10.

Now, workers at the AFL-CIO say the labor group isn’t practicing what it preaches — and they’re prepared to picket over it. About 50 janitors, drivers, secretaries and accountants at the union’s offices in greater Washington, D.C., all represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), voted on October 9 to authorize a strike if their employer does not meet their demands.

The workers, 66% of whom are older than 50, say the AFL-CIO offered them a new contract in September that included a three-year pay freeze, less reliable hours, cuts to sick leave. and weaker seniority rights.

After they rejected those terms, the AFL-CIO notified them on October 8 that it simply would impose the contract, promising no further negotiations with any employees other than its administrative staff members , the Post reported.

“It’s absolutely hypocritical,” Jessica Maiorca, spokesperson for OPEIU Local 2 in Silver Spring, Maryland, told the newspaper. “How do we expect people to take us seriously when we’re not providing employees the benefits we think our union members need?”

Almost 75% of the AFL-CIO employees considering a walkout have worked there for at least a decade,said Maiorca, while 54% have been at the organization for longer than 15 years.

The union body said it would keep negotiating with its office employees, who make an average salary of $60,000 — higher than typical administrative roles nationwide.

“We are involved in negotiations with our administrative staff and while we hope to avoid any work stoppages, we fully respect their rights through this process,” spokesperson Josh Goldstein said in a statement. “However, we will not negotiate publicly and the critical work of the labor movement continues uninterrupted.”

This isn’t the AFL-CIO’s first tangle with its workers, the Post said. Roughly 300 employees at its headquarters refused to cross a picket line in 1986 after 12 food services workers there went on strike for higher wages.

Analysts say a high-profile walkout could deal a public relations blow to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who recently accused “greedy corporations” of hogging their corporate tax-cut windfalls.

Indeed, working while his own employees are on strike — including the people who drive him and clean his office, according to the OPEIU — would be seen as “taboo,” said Joseph Slater, a labor professor at the University of Toledo College of Law.

“It’s embarrassing for people in leadership to be seen doing that,” he said.

But the AFL-CIO and the labor movement, in general, he added, is navigating rough financial straits.

Union membership nationwide has declined in recent decades, and the Supreme Court decision in June to free public workers from paying mandatory dues to unions that represent them (Janus v. AFSCME) is expected to further strangle funding. About 33% of the AFL-CIO’s members work in the public sector.

“They are going to have a lot less money coming in,” Slater told the news outlet.

An estimated 14.8 million workers belonged to unions in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 17.7 million in 1983. The AFL-CIO is one of the most visible names in the labor movement with more than 55 affiliated unions and 12 million international members, including factory workers, bakers, teachers, roofers, police officers ,and flight attendants.

The workers have not set a date for a strike.

Research contact: danielle.paquette@washpost.com

Supreme Court limits travel from Muslim nations

June 27, 2018

In a win that is sure to please President Trump’s base of anti-immigration voters, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 on June 26 that the POTUS acted lawfully in imposing limits on travel from several predominantly Muslim nations, The New York Times reported.

The ban—which succeeded in the high court after two previous travel interdictions had failed—actually had been effective since December, as legal challenges from lower courts moved forward. It initially restricted travel for the purposes of work, study, or recreation from eight nations—six of them predominantly Muslim: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. Chad was later removed from the list.

The state of Hawaii, as well as several individual plaintiffs and a Muslim group, had challenged the ban—saying it was tainted by religious animus and was not justified by national security concerns. Conversely, none of the plaintiffs had objected to an injunction on travel from North Korea or Venezuela.

Writing for the court in Trump v. Hawaii, Chief Justice Roberts “skillfully demolished the two arguments against the ban—that it was an excess of presidential authority, and that it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.” The Daily Beast reported, adding, “…The reasoning was the same: in a different context, perhaps the Court would look under the hood at what Trump is really doing here. But because this is supposedly about national security, it won’t.”

Quoting an earlier decision, he wrote “the upshot of our cases in this context is clear: ‘Any rule of constitutional law that would inhibit the flexibility” of the President “to respond to changing world conditions should be adopted only with the greatest caution,’ and our inquiry into matters of entry and national security is highly constrained.”

Among those in dissent was Justice Sonia Sotomayer, who wrote, ““Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.”

Earlier efforts

It was just days after his 2017 inauguration that Trump signed off on his first travel ban—creating chaos at the nation’s airports and triggering a tidal wave of lawsuits and appeals. Trump’s executive order banned refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, and  placed an indefinite hold on Syrian refugees. It also blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. However, that first ban, drafted in haste, was blocked by courts nationwide.

At that time, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found that 49% of American adults were either “strongly” or “somewhat” in agreement with Trump’s order, while 41% were “strongly” or “somewhat” in disagreement, and another 10% didn’t know. The responses were split almost entirely along party lines. Some 53% of Democrats said they “strongly disagreed” with Trump’s action, while 51% of Republicans said they “strongly agreed.”

Trump tried again in March 2017. His new executive order continued to impose a 90-day ban on travel, but it removed Iraq—a redaction requested by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who feared it would hamper the military coordination necessary to defeat the Islamic State, according to administration officials.

The SCOTUS allowed part of a second version of the ban to go into effect last June when the judges agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeals arguments. At that time, the court said the ban could not be imposed on anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” However, the case was dismissed when the ban expired in October.

Research contact: @adamliptak