Just another week in the living nightmare that is the Trump presidency.
If you use Twitter for government business, you can't block your constituents. Says who? Well, the First Amendment and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On Tuesday, a unanimous panel of the Second Circuit ruled that Donald Trump can't block people on Twitter just because he doesn't like what they're saying. Yes, this is a real lawsuit that the free speech watchdogs at the Knight Institute had to bring. Because the president is a fragile, petty little man.
What could possibly go wrong?
In the latest development of the ongoing shitshow that is the lead-up to the 2020 Census, Attorney General William Barr says he has a plan to add a citizenship question to the Census. But he can't tell us what it is, because it's a secret. Let's just do it and be legends, man.
Texas. It's always Texas.
The GOP is back in court this week trying to screw millions of Americans out of healthcare. Are you not surprised? Today, a group of Republican attorneys general from 18 states will argue to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that the ACA is unconstitutional and the law should be invalidated in its entirety. If they're successful, 21 million Americans could lose their health insurance.
Haven't we done this already?
If you're having a sense of deja vu, you aren't alone. Republicans have been trying to stop the ACA since before it went into effect. In 2012, a case challenging the ACA's individual mandate went up to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court's traditionally liberal wing, SCOTUS upheld the healthcare law -- mostly. And that, it seemed, was that.
So how is this a thing?
Never underestimate the will of Republicans to hurt people and screw over their constituents.
We watch the Sunday shows so you don't have to!
After Mother Nature pissed all over Trump's wannabe-dictator attempted hijacking of the Fourth of July, the Sunday shows got back to discussing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Not the influx of asylum seekers fleeing from horrible conditions in Central America (made worse by Trump cutting off aid to them), but the way our country has decided to cage them in
concentration camps internment camps ... um ..."happy fun time summer camps"? After a visit by a congressional delegation and the Trump Administration's own DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report provided video/photographic/written evidence of the deplorable conditions occurring in our name, it was time for Trump officials to deal with the real culprits: Democrats!
The BEST gifts!
Yesterday afternoon, two Justice Department lawyers had to go before a federal judge in Maryland and admit that everything they'd agreed to just hours before had been rendered inoperative by a presidential tweet. As US District Court Judge George Hazel put it on an emergency conference call, "I don't know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them, and I follow the President, and so I saw a tweet that directly contradicted the position that Mr. Gardner had shared with me yesterday."
To which Joshua Gardner, a lawyer in the Civil Division replied, "The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor. I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what's going on."
In a bid to avoid a hearing on the newly emerged evidence that the decision to add the question of citizenship to the Census was motivated entirely by racism, the Justice and Commerce departments explicitly promised that the 2020 Census forms would be printed without the citizenship question. But then Ol' Assmouth got on his Obamaphone and told the world that the lamestream media was lying, so now multiple federal agencies are desperately attempting to contort reality to conform with Trump's mania.
Does anybody REALLY know what time it is?
Yesterday, to the delight of civil rights activists, the Department of Justice formally notified the parties in the ongoing Census litigation that the government would not be including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Then Trump called the information from his own Justice Department and Commerce Secretary "FAKE" on Twitter.
So … yeah, I got nothin'.
Since the Trump regime announced last year that the 2020 Census would include a question about citizenship status, it has been embroiled in litigation about its legality. One of the cases went up to the Supreme Court. After the Supreme Court heard arguments but before it could rule, new evidence came to light, showing the guy who had designed the citizenship question had come up with it to help "Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites." Last week, the Supreme Court shot down the administration's main, laughable justification for the question — that it was totally not racist, and actually to help them with their vigorous enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
Would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those kids with their 'human rights' and 'rules of engagement'!
The trial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher wrapped up and went to the jury Monday. Prosecutors argued Gallagher's own actions and testimony from those under his command proved his guilt on charges of murder and attempted murder, but defense attorneys claimed the whole prosecution was a mutinous conspiracy by cowardly "millennial" SEALs who hated Gallagher for being too much of a hardass for their wimpy unworthy asses, snowflake safe space trigger warning, you know the drill.
Yup, when we think of Navy SEALs, we worry about the ones in their 20s and 30s, because what are young people even doing in the military, huh? As anyone who's read John Scalzi's Old Man's War knows, that's just a recipe for trouble.
And all of Saturday Night Live while they're at it.
Back in February, when Roger Stone posted a photo to Instagram of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with a crosshairs next to her head, his lawyers appeared chastened. How could their client, a hapless naif, know that such a thing would offend the court? Yes, her Honor had previously ordered Stone to quit making comments that would "pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case." But that's, like, so confusing!
If Your Honor is asking me to craft an order, then that is what the order should say: This Court should not be criticized by Mr. Stone. The government should not be impugned by Mr. Stone. The integrity of this case should not be impugned by Mr. Stone. We will defend this case at the trial. That's the time to defend this case. And that is the kind of nature of an order that I would suggest the Court should craft that would address the specific needs that we're talking about.
And so she did, ordering Stone to quit making "statements to the media or in public settings about the Special Counsel's investigation or this case or any of the participants in the investigation or the case." Stone was able to keep it in his pants for an entire four months before winding up back in front of Judge Jackson accused of violating the gag order with his dumbass Instagram posts.
So that's as niceish a time as we'll get, and we'll take it!
In a surprisingly decent opinion, today the Supreme Court issued a blow to President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's attempts to use the Census as a weapon against our democratic system.
Throughout litigation over the 2020 Census, the government has maintained that the reason it wants to ask people about their citizenship on the Census is because it just cares SO MUCH about protecting minority communities and asking about citizenship will help the government enforce the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court's more liberal justices to shoot that argument down. (We can only assume he was trying to make up for helping to destroy our democracy with the gerrymandering decision that also came out today.)
Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision. In the Secretary's telling, Commerce was simply acting on a routine data request from another agency. Yet the materials before us indicate that Commerce went to great lengths to elicit the request from DOJ (or any other willing agency). And unlike a typical case in which an agency may have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision, here the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived.
Contrived! Well they never! Despite giving a lot of deference to the Commerce Department, the Court found that it could not "ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given." (That's legalese for, "We can tell you're full of shit.")
One day, God willing, my grandchildren will click open their history textbooks and read about the Central American migrant internment camps. They'll learn about sick kids, locked in cages, kept hungry and dirty and cold for weeks on end, and they'll be horrified.
"Bubbie," they'll say, "how could this happen in America? How could there be toddlers sleeping on the ground without blankets, without soap or toothbrushes to clean themselves?"
"I don't know. I wish I had done more. I'm ashamed," I'll say. We will all have to answer for this atrocity. But some of us will have to answer more than others. Not just the archvillains like Stephen Miller and John Kelly, but the people who kept right on doing their jobs, even as those jobs morphed into defending concentration camps.
Government argues 'safe and sanitary' conditions for immigrant kids ... well, it's the Trump administration.
Yesterday, the Trump regime argued in court that they don't have to give kids in their child concentration camps things like soap, toothbrushes, or places to sleep.
No, it wasn't Alex Jones. Like we just said.
A judge in Wisconsin ruled Monday that a Sandy Hook truther's bullshit conspiracy-theory book-shaped object defamed Leonard Pozner, the father of the youngest child to die in the mass shooting, and set a trial date later this year to determine damages. The 2016 book, with the elegant title Nobody Died At Sandy Hook: It was a FEMA Drill to Promote Gun Control, insisted, among other keen insights, that in reality the Sandy Hook school had been abandoned for years before the 2012 massacre, and that Pozner, father of six-year-old murder victim Noah Pozner, had faked his son's death certificate as part of an elaborate conspiracy to take America's guns away -- and besides, maybe the child never existed at all.
In an interview, Mr. Pozner told the New York Times,
This is a victory for myself and my family [...] It is also a victory for the survivors and victims' families of all mass casualty events who have been targeted by these people.
The case focused primarily on the contention that Pozner had fabricated his son's death certificate, a claim laid out in a chapter by the book's co-editor, James Fetzer, who himself lives in the geographically dishonest village of "Oregon, Wisconsin," and if that isn't a conspiracy we don't know what is. Fetzer, a philosophy professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, had claimed that a copy of a copy of god knows how many copies of the death certificate was clearly fake, because very stupid reasons involving seals and file numbers and the sort of dumb shit we all heard about Barack Obama's birth certificate.
Pozner's attorney, Jacob Zimmerman, demonstrated to the court's satisfaction that Fetzer's arguments were nonsense:
Happy Pride! Trump Got You This Federal Judge Nom Who Hates Gay People, Birth Control, Non-Christians, Joy
The Senate's set to put Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has one HELL of a paper trail, on the federal bench.
Rightwing extremist Matthew Kacsmaryk is set to be confirmed to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.
Kacsmaryk is a Trump nominee to the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The Northern District covers a large part of the state, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and is home to nearly eight million people.
Kacsmaryk's current job is deputy general counsel to First Liberty Institute, an organization that promotes the belief that Christians in America are just constantly being persecuted. His nomination is opposed by a myriad of civil rights and public health groups and basically every LGBTQ rights organization.
As noted by Texas Observer writer Michael Barajas,
Matthew Kacsmaryk [has] worked to erode the firewall between church and state as lawyer for the First Liberty Institute, a Christian legal advocacy group that protects pastors who mobilize their flock to overturn local non-discrimination ordinances, county clerks who refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and anti-abortion centers that trick women into thinking they're walking into actual medical clinics.
Initially, Trump nominated former First Liberty Institute lawyer Jeff Mateer for a federal judgeship in Texas, along with Kacsmaryk. Mateer's nomination failed after a 2015 speech surfaced in which he called transgender kids "Satan's spawn" and part of "Satan's plan."
Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that advocates for the separation of church and state, called Kacsmaryk's and Mateer's nominations "a clear signal that President Trump intends to make our federal courts the place where civil rights go to die."
Only the best people.
You know you do!
Look, it is your afternoon Nice Times at the Supreme Court! It is also your WUT and HUH Times, with Justices Thomas, Sotomayor, Kagan and Gorsuch joining in an opinion by RBG tossing a challenge to Virginia's new, fair districts. Go know!
After the 2010 Census, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates did what they do best -- they stole more elections, redrawing the electoral map to ensure themselves a supermajority for all eternity. Why let the voters choose their representatives when the representatives can pick their own voters as the founders intended, right? Voters in 12 of the affected districts sued the Virginia State Board of Elections in 2014 to invalidate the districts as illegal racial gerrymanders, and the House of Delegates intervened in Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections to support the Board and defend its own power.
After extensive litigation including a trip up to the Supreme Court in 2017, the District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia tossed 11 of the districts as illegal racial gerrymanders and ordered the maps redrawn in 2018. At which point, the Commonwealth of Virginia noped out and quit defending the old, craptastic districts, which should have been the end of it.
BUT NO. The Virginia House of Delegates, which is still held by the GOP despite their party netting nine percent fewer votes than Democrats in the 2017 election, vowed to fight on.
Okay, they're still locked up. So half-Nice Time.
For the last few years, the Trump regime has been trying to force undocumented children to act as baby incubators. On Friday, a federal court found once again that this incredibly fucked up policy is unconstitutional.
In 2017, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was an anti-abortion nutjob named Scott Lloyd. Lloyd is a right-wing lawyer with no background whatsoever in resettling or even working with refugees, so sure, let's have him head the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Lloyd hates abortion because he's still bitter he wasn't able to force an old girlfriend into carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. As director at ORR, he instituted a policy of forced pregnancy for teenagers in ORR's care.
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