Enforcement of Church Law: A Good Thing For Once?

Fuck the witch hunts, and the inquisition, and the condemnation of scientific heresies, and the support for inherited, monarchic rule, and, well, just about everything. But maybe, just maybe there’s something good that might come out of Christian church law after 1700 years?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, [faces charges under Methodist church law] over a zero tolerance U.S. immigration policy …

Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of The United Methodist Church.

All are categories listed in 2702.3 as chargeable offenses for a professing member of a local church.

Interesting. I wonder how this might affect the national conversation, given that so many US citizens are Christian.

 

 

 

These Are The Children: A Child Raped By Law Enforcement

This is intended to be a a first look at how undocumented immigrants with children come to the attention of ICE. This new series is not limited to documenting only children and parents who are separated from each other, and cannot guarantee that separation occurred for all the families mentioned. Instead, this series seeks only to illustrate how many families come to the attention of ICE and what a child-isolation policy might mean in those contexts.


I was struck by a particularly horrifying story today. It’s not unique. They’re never unique. But it’s one human example of how a woman and her child came to the attention of ICE.

A 47-year-old deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Sunday on allegations he repeatedly raped the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented immigrant, threatening to deport her if she dared report him to the authorities.

It is not clear how long the mother was aware of the rapes, ….

Investigators say the deputy may have been raping the girl for months, if not years.

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I Couldn’t Be More Disappointed In SCOTUS

This morning a decision was released in Gill v Whitford (and a parallel case out of Maryland, Benisek v. Lamone). It is, to my mind, among the worst possible decisions. Rather than taking up the case and deciding it wrongly, they have remanded the case back to a lower court with orders to consider the question of whether or not the plaintiffs have suffered an individual injury to their voting rights.

Gill v Whitford is a case arising out of Wisconsin, where egregious gerrymandering occurred after the 2010 census. The census, for those who don’t know, is primarily done – or at least was primarily intended by the framers – to determine the number of representatives in the House and the number of presidential electors awarded to each state. Since these numbers can change, and because even when they don’t the distribution of population within a state can change, every decade after the census each state redraws their electoral districts to keep the total population in each district similar.

In Wisconsin redistricting is a legislative function (in some states it is performed by an independent, non-partisan commission), and in 2010 Republicans held a majority in the state’s Assembly and Senate. They used this majority to redraw electoral maps not merely to keep populations similar, but to put as many democrats as possible in as few districts as possible so that the remaining democrats spread throughout the majority of districts would be unable to successfully contest most republican nominees.

Now, if the Republicans had done this based explicitly on race, it would have been profoundly illegal and SCOTUS would never have gotten involved. Precedent here is sufficient that lower courts would have slapped down the Wisconsin republicans and there would be no sufficient legal question to interest SCOTUS. However, the Republicans went out of their way to say that they were disadvantaging Democrats as a party, not any voter on the basis of race.

Of course, Democrats as a party are much more non-white than Wisconsin voters as a whole. So there is a racial asymmetry here, and Republicans were acutely aware of that asymmetry, but the cover story of ratfucking Democrats while really, deeply not giving a shit about hurting people of color is every bit as believable as actively wanting to hurt people with darker skin for the sin of being born non-caucasian. So the courts have generally accepted that this is political discrimination and not racial discrimination (along the way throwing out a hard-won understanding of disparate impact developed in areas of law other than voting rights and in voting rights law itself).

So what did the court do here? Well, it ignored past precedent that held that an injury to an individual occurs when districts are racially gerrymandered to the detriment of the value of that individual’s vote. On the presumption that no injury to individual voters had occurred, the court vacated the previous judgement that a new electoral map was needed and instead remanded the case to the lower court to ask the plaintiffs how they’ve actually been injured. Only if the plaintiffs have been actually injured should the lower court then take up the legal questions about whether the actions causing the injury were illegal and if so whether any remedy is justified.

It’s difficult to see how to resolve this infirmity of standing, at least to me, since in deciding that the plaintiffs had given no evidence of individual injury SCOTUS necessarily decided that statewide gerrymandering does not injure individual voters.

To be clear, SCOTUS distinguished statewide gerrymandering from living in a gerrymandered district. The idea, from SCOTUS’ point of view, is that a state could gerrymander some districts without gerrymandering others. However, the mathematical analysis of the Wisconsin gerrymander actually provided evidence that the packing of large numbers of democrats into a few districts and the cracking of the rest into isolated remnants insufficient to contest (most of) the remaining districts was actually a systemic strategy. Though I haven’t looked at each of the plaintiff’s district of residence, a good many districts were called out as specific examples in the analysis. The idea that none of the plaintiffs lived in one of the districts seems a bit of a stretch to me, though I suppose it’s possible.

The danger here is that if any democrat lived in any district that was specifically discussed, then a careful reader of the trial court record will find that and be able to argue quite reasonably that SCOTUS believes that evidence of political gerrymanders is not evidence of an individual voter’s injury. In a decision ordering remand for lack of standing without ensuring that they examined every voter’s district of residence and the trial court record for indications that none of the voters lived in a district specifically discussed, SCOTUS has come dangerously close to asserting that no voter is injured when legislators gerrymander electoral districts on the basis of anything other than race.

If SCOTUS had accepted the standing of the plaintiffs and ruled against them, it would hardly approach the danger of SCOTUS asserting that there is no injury to voting rights at all.

This is an unmitigated disaster, and quite likely caused by sheer cowardice.

American Academy of Pediatrics is Not Down

The AAP is not down with what’s been happening to immigrant children of immigrants (both those who seek to cross within the law and those who seek to evade it). In addition to putting out a statement,

Dr Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter for children under the age of 12 that runs along the Texas border with Mexico.

And what did Kraft find?

The shelter in question held 60 beds and had a little playground for children. Rooms are equipped with toys, books and crayons. …

But the child who caught the paediatrician’s attention during a recent visit was anything but happy. This little girl – no older than two – was screaming and pounding her fists on a mat. Yet staff members could not comfort the infant because of the rules prohibiting physical contact.

That’s right: no hugs for toddlers is the law, because Democrats and their awful, no good, very bad refusal to capitulate to everything the Orange Tyrant wants, forever.

Or at least, I guess that what the Rs are saying today.

Ishtar fucking Inanna with the Strap-On of Birth Control, there are no words.

Guns Have Nothing To Do With Art-All-Night Shootings

Another week, another mass shooting, this time in New Jersey at a festival called Art All Night.

I can already here the mating calls of the 2nd Amendment Republicans:

Too many doors!

Why do they let people were baggy clothes on a summer night?

This is what happens when liberals get together at festivals that value lefty things, like art!

We’ll propose a ban on doors, baggy clothes, and art to save the people just as soon as we find a way to stop all this criticism that keeps happening to us despite the fact we’re only exercising our 1st Amendment rights!

Call your representatives and senators and insist that they vote for the ban on doors, baggy clothes & art! Don’t let them take away your guns! Freedom first!

Fuck.

Would you believe that the CNN story on this this morning included the line:

Authorities have heard that as many as 1,000 people were in the area at the time of the shooting, Onofri said. The festival entrances had no metal detectors, he said.

Yes. Yes of course you would.

As for the people, there’s still one victim in “extremely critical” condition – probably still in surgery. Twenty people were injured. It appears that “one killed” is in reference to a suspect that was killed, probably by police. Unusually for situations like this, there was actually another suspect as well, that one taken into custody alive.

I hope the final death toll doesn’t get any higher.

Don’t Be This Wrong: Salon Spreads Serious Misinformation

In an article criticizing trump as a Sadist, Salon writer Chauncey DeVega writes a supposedly-factual introduction to what is later a very opinionated piece in such a way as to screw up a very, very important basic fact:

The United States Constitution grants President Donald Trump many powers. They include being the Chief Executive, Chief Legislator and Commander-in-Chief of the military. Not to be content with such powers, Donald Trump has also taken on other roles as well. Donald Trump is the Sadist-in-Chief of the United States of America. Cruelty and meanness are his modus operandi.

Did you catch it? DeVega would have you believe that Trump is constitutionally empowered to be the United States’ “Chief Legislator”.

No. That’s just wrong. It’s so very, very wrong it’s hard to communicate. If you’re from the US or went to grade school here (or even if you just know how to read between the lines of subtle slogans like “No More Kings”), you know that placing primary legislative powers in the hands of the chief executive is exactly what the constitutional framers did not want.

The President cannot set the congressional schedule or call a committee to order. The President cannot introduce a bill before congress or propose language revisions for an existing bill. The President cannot vote in either the House or the Senate. The President cannot amend or authoritatively interpret legislation. The president cannot employ a veto to reject parts of a bill while retaining the effectiveness of other parts: the president must accept all of a legislative act or none of it.

The President is not a legislator and Congress is not a parliament.

We are sufficiently Freuded already without giving Trump even more power. Don’t for a moment concede that the constitution gives Trump any kind of legislative power.

It has happened

I’ve been analyzing and critiquing conceptions of free expression since the 1990s when anti-domestic violence shelters started asking me about how it might be possible to construct policies that support trans* participants in shelter programs without punishing non-trans* participants for the everyday anti-trans hostility that most weren’t equipped to recognize. I’ve done it from multiple perspectives – activist, ethicist, and law student – and from a US focus to a Canadian focus to an international comparative frame. So I’ve seen this one coming for a while now. We’ve been close before, but now we’re there. Not just an enemy of the state, but the biggest, most threatening enemy of the state is freedom of expression, especially expression that is distributed through the power of the press.

Donald John Trump tweeted this this morning:

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

Expect the US based Peterson and Harris fanboys and other general Freeze Peaches to celebrate or ignore this statement. For people that care about our rights and freedoms, however, this is the second worst statement the president could issue. For now, he identifies “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for mockery. The step from there to identifying “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for punishment is so dangerously small, I think few will recognize it when it happens.

 

Venezuela: Fucked by Capitalism, Fucked by Socialism

I don’t know much about Venezuela, but I do know that the late Hugo Chavez has been pilloried as a source of instability, particularly for his socialist reforms. This is true despite the fact that Chavez’ power has always been acquired through elections as free and fair as any in recent Venezuelan history, while his opponents launched a coup to end his first stint as head-of-state.

So why is that? Could it be that he came to power fairly but implemented such bad, harmful, and/or tyrannical policies that a coup was justified?

Even granting that Hugo Chavez had participated in an unsuccessful 1992 coup intended to instal Rafael Caldera as Venezuelan head-of-state (and the fear of violence that might generate among his opposition after he was elected), Al Jazeera doesn’t think so. While they do blame Chavez for certain decisions, they do not find general blame in a socialist approach to economic policy … nor do they find it in any capitalist approach. What they find instead is both interesting and, for those with a good understanding of economics, fairly predictable.

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