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Immigrants

Judge Declares Ken Cuccinelli An Illegal

So when do we deport him?

A federal judge in Washington DC ruled yesterday that Ken Cuccinelli's appointment as (acting) director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was illegal, and that two major policy changes Cuccinelli put in place are also illegal. US District Judge Randolph Moss ruled that Cuccinelli's appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), but Moss graciously didn't impose additional penalties on the administration for making him work on a Sunday.

Donald Trump has a long history of ignoring the Vacancies Reform Act, which requires that when certain top agency positions come open, they have to be filled by the "first assistant" in the chain of command. Trump prefers appointing loyalists who have no qualifications for their jobs, because he is a lawless dipshit.

Judge Moss's decision seems especially apt in Cuccinelli's case, since it underlines some basic points Trump's supporters keep yelling about immigration: If you don't enforce the law, you don't have a country; people who get their jobs illegally can't be trusted; and if Cuccinelli wants to be director of USCIS, he should get in line and be confirmed by Congress like everybody else.

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Trump

Trump Sues New York Times For Called Him Russian Puppet And Made Him Mad, Awwwww

This is just a very good lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Trump 2020 campaign filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Times, whining that an opinion piece about Russia and Donald Trump being BFFs wasn't very nice to the Trump campaign.

And yes, it's just as dumb as it sounds.

Donald Trump and his buddy, lawyer Charles Harder, are big fans of using bullshit lawsuits like this to intimidate journalists and use as press releases. They believe they are entitled to abuse the legal system by suing over news they don't like and using their money to silence people who disagree with them. Lawsuits like this one, styled Donald Trump for President v. New York Times, are no more than attempts to use American courts to frighten dissenters into silence.

The op-ed in question, titled "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo," was written by Max Frankel, former Times executive editor, in March of last year. The first paragraph of the piece sets the tone:

Collusion — or a lack of it — turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump's pursuers. There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration's burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.

I mean ... seems pretty accurate thus far.

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SCOTUS

Supreme Court OKs Border Patrol Murdering Mexican Children

Isn't SCOTUS season just the best?

Oh goodie, the Roberts Court is doing things again.

Tuesday, in an absolutely horrific opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the parents of a Mexican child shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent could not sue over his death.

Because why shouldn't we let federal law enforcement murder children with impunity?

Everything about this, from what happened to what SCOTUS has to say about it, is awful.

The opinion is exactly what it sounds like. Using justifications of vague concepts like "national security" and "border protection," Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion heartlessly describes the fatal shooting and blithely brushes off arguments that will likely affect people's rights for decades to come.

My face basically looked like this the entire time I read it:

Yup, goatee and all.

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Immigrants

Supreme Court Pretty Sure Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses Just A Bunch Of Mooches Anyway

It's not a final ruling, but the Supreme Court has lifted yet another stay letting yet another fascist Trump immigration policy go into effect. USA! USA! USA!

It's a day that ends in "y," so the Trump regime is screwing over immigrants again.

As of Monday, US immigration officers around the world will be using a person's wealth to determine whether they should be granted a visa or green card.

This was yet another fun indication from the Supreme Court that it has no problems with the racist-in-chief's penchant for fascism and destroying the lives of would-be immigrants.

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Healthcare

HHS Sec Tells Senate Trump's Obamacare Replacement Is Not The Plan They're Looking For (Because He's Never Had One, Never Will)

Plan to replace the thing we're killing? Why?

At a Senate hearing today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration won't offer a plan to replace Obamacare until after it's struck down by the Supreme Court. In other words, if the Court does exactly what the administration has been asking for and overturns the Affordable Care Act while Trump's still in office, Americans won't find out until then what Trump has in mind to replace it (not like Trump or Republicans have ever had a real plan, ever). Heck, healthcare is only a sixth of the economy. It's not like it's complicated or anything.

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Trump

Bill Barr, Come Explain Your Trifling Ass To Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren Or (And) GTFO

Yes, it's tiresome but we should hold Trump's 'henchmen' accountable.

It's clear now that Bill Barr is Donald Trump's personal mob boss lawyer — Tom Hagen without style. Kamala Harris, who is a reputable attorney, isn't thrilled with this development. She demanded Tuesday that the Senate Judiciary Committee bring in Barr to account for how the Department of Justice skipped to Donald Trump's lou over Roger Stone's sentencing.

From a letter Harris sent to the chair of the Judiciary Committee:

The Justice Department's decision to overrule its career prosecutors, immediately after President Trump's tweet, calls into question the independence and integrity of our legal system. Failure to meet basic oversight responsibilities in the face of such alarming news would send a signal to this and future administrations that the Senate no longer conducts itself as a co-equal branch of government.

Unfortunately, the Senate Judiciary Chairman is Lindsey Graham, who is both corrupt and shameless. Graham said Wednesday that he had no intention of interrupting Barr's busy schedule of one-sided sentencing reform. Undaunted, Harris tweeted this message detailing in clear, concise legal terms why Bill Barr is an underhanded shady loser.

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Immigrants

DOJ Sues Over Sanctuary Policies, Because F*ck Immigrants Is Why

Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about the other DOJ news.

Welp, Donald Trump and Bill Barr are going after immigrants and the state and local governments that try to help them again.

In a trio of lawsuits filed Monday, the Department of Justice went after New Jersey, California, and King County, Washington, for laws and policies that seek to protect immigrants from the Nazis at the Department of Homeland Security.

Barr bragged about his xenophobic new lawsuits in remarks to the National Sheriffs' Association, making references to "criminal aliens" and claiming detaining immigrant families is "a vital part of how we keep our country safe."

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News

Roger Stone Is Goin' To Prison! BUT FOR HOW LONG?

All of them, Katie?

Roger Stone has already been convicted of multiple felonies. Now, it's time for the court to figure out how long he's going away for.

And really, it couldn't happen to a better person.

In November, Trump buddy Roger Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation, making numerous false statements to Congress, and witness tampering, all related to the congressional investigation of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia to defraud the American people out of a free and fair election. On Monday, federal prosecutors asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison, arguing a sentence of seven to nine years would "accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law."

As the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia so succinctly summarized it,

Roger Stone obstructed Congress's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law.
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Courts

Ramapough Indians Win One ... Make That Three Against Sh*tty New Jersey White People

All's well that ends well!

For years, the Ramapough Lenape Nation Tribe, the Township of Mahwah, New Jersey, and a homeowner's association called the Hunt and Polo Club (yes, that's its real name) have been at odds over the Ramapough's right to use their own land.

The land in question is the Ramapough's ancestral land, which they have been on since well before the United States existed. The Ramapough people are descendants of the Munsee people of Lenapehoking, which includes parts of what's now New York and New Jersey. Now, the Ramapough are clustered mostly in Mahwah, New Jersey, Ringwood, New Jersey, and Hillburn, New York.

They are one of the only tribes that has been able to remain on their ancestral land through the systemic displacement of indigenous people by the US government. So, as you would guess, a bunch of white people tried to screw them out of it.

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SCOTUS

Supreme Court Poised To Funnel Your Tax Money To God-Bothering School

Don't worry, they'll find a reason madrassas aren't eligible.

Once again, everything is fucked.

In a truly insane oral argument last week, a majority of Supreme Court justices seemed ready to destroy public education and force states to fund private religious schools.

The case is Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and the battle is over whether it's constitutional for states to refuse to fund private religious schools. And our rightwing Supreme Court, with five justices who went to Catholic schools at some point in their lives, seemed ready to absolutely obliterate the wall that separates church and state.

On the steps of the Supreme Court, petitioner Karen Espinoza made it clear that was her goal, saying:

We are a Christian family and I want those values taught at school. Our morals as a society come from the Bible.

So that's great.

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Cops Behaving Badly

St. Louis Top Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner Suing EVERYONE For Balls-Out Racism

Yeah, seems like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is pretty on-point!

A prosecutor suing her own police force for perpetuating a racist conspiracy is not something you see every day. But that's what Kimberly Gardner, the chief prosecutor for St. Louis, Missouri, is doing.

Kimberly Gardner is the first African American circuit attorney in the history of St. Louis. She was elected in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. Gardner won her election after running on a platform of rebuilding trust between law enforcement and St. Louis's black community.

Since taking office in 2017, Gardner has sought to reform both her office and the practices of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. And the city's white establishment has fought it, kicking and screaming at every turn, even going as far as to appoint a special prosecutor to criminally investigate her.

Now, Gardner is suing the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association labor union, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate her office, and others for violating her civil and constitutional rights through a "racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities."

The suit argues that the local officials targeting her have violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and makes explosive allegations, like, "On information and belief and based on recent media reports, there are white supremacists on the St. Louis police force."

As the complaint notes,

The stakes are high. This case cries out for federal enforcement.
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SCOTUS

Say Goodbye To Your Little Friends!

We are talking about birth control pills.

Fun news! (Not fun news.) The battle over birth control continues and Supreme Court is going to hear Hobby Lobby Redux this term.

On Friday, the Supreme Court granted cert in Pennsylvania v. Trump and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, a pair of cases about whether employers can refuse to give their employees insurance with birth control coverage.

Yes, this again. Because the third time to the Supreme Court's the charm!

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Vote suppression

Florida Just Seeing If The 24th Amendment Ban On Poll Taxes Is Really Written In Stone

Florida gonna Florida.

It used to be the case that all people with felony convictions were prohibited from voting in Florida — but in 2018, ballot initiative passed by voters changed that, re-enfranchising former offenders throughout the state. This week, the state Supreme Court threw a wrench into that plan.

Since the passage of Amendment 4, Republicans in the state have tried their damndest to stop people from voting. (We're sure that has nothing to do with the fact that people of color are vastly over-represented in our prison system.) One of their tactics was to pass a law saying that former offenders can't register to vote until they have paid all of their court-ordered fines, fees, and restitution -- which many former offenders simply can't afford. The Florida Supreme Court upheld this definition of the new voting rights amendment.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was on-brand, praising the decision and ignorantly calling voting a privilege.

Voting is, of course, a fundamental right and not a privilege. And the Florida Supreme Court can't overrule federal courts, which have ruled that the inability to pay can't be a barrier to exercising the right to vote.

So this is all a mess, but there's still hope.

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News

Sorry, Texas, Judge Says There's No 'Racist Dicks Can Reject Refugees' In 'USA'

Loosely paraphrased.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump's executive order giving state and local officials the power to reject refugee resettlement is "unlawful" and doesn't "appear to serve the overall public interest." The executive order, issued in September when the Stephen Miller administration announced the US would slash refugee admissions to the lowest level in modern history, had required that before any refugees can be resettled, state governors or local officials would have to give their express written consent.

In his ruling, US District Judge Peter J. Messitte wrote that

Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midstflies in the face of clear Congressional intent.

If you're a nerd who enjoys reading court decisions, check it out. It's very clearly argued, and you get the sense Judge Messitte found the government's arguments insultingly bad.

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lawsplainer

Harvard Law Prof's One Weird Trick! Sues NYT For 'Clickbait Defamation'

Imagineering new laws must be why they pay him the big bucks.

Lawrence Lessig has lost his damn mind.

The Harvard Law professor, who absolutely knows better, is suing the New York Times for what he calls "clickbait defamation," arguing in a lawsuit that "The consequences of this clickbaiting have been harmful to Lessig and his work."

Clickbait defamation, while surely a nifty phrase in the mind of Lessig, is most definitely not a thing. And this suit is dangerous, irresponsible, and very, very dumb.

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Healthcare

Donald Trump Is A Preexisting Condition And Should Not Be Covered

And yet here we are.

Oh look, Donald Trump is lying about healthcare again. In tweets posted yesterday, Trump insisted -- falsely, and repeatedly -- that he had "saved preexisting Conditions in your Healthcare," which is of course completely false. His administration is right now supporting a dumb lawsuit that would eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post notes that as of early December, Trump had made almost 70 false assertions that he has protected patients from being punished by insurers for prior medical conditions, when of course his attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act would do the exact opposite. But yesterday's tweets were pretty damned brazen, even for the liar in chief. In the morning, he griped about some ads from Michael Bloomberg, and even made up a very funny name for the billionaire who's trying to buy himself credibility in the Democratic primary.

Apparently Trump was set off by this Bloomberg ad that accurately accuses Trump of repeatedly trying to "undermine coverage for 134 million Americans who have preexisting conditions." Which is what will happen if Trump gets his wish and Obamacare is declared unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit the administration supports. That's what would happen "if Republicans win in court."

To be extremely clear: No, the lawsuit does not say "pretty please throw out every part of the ACA except the protections for people with preexisting conditions."

Mind you, it's not only the lawsuit.

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