Watch This Meet the lawyer taking on life sentences
More of This Meet the lawyers fighting for reproductive justice at the Supreme Court
It was January 2017 and Meagan Burrows’ first week on the job as a lawyer with the ACLU and the Reproductive Freedom Project (RFP). Along with her colleagues, she was scrambling to file a preliminary injunction on a mandatory ultrasound law that had passed in Kentucky. Without it, abortion providers would be legally forced to show and describe ultrasound images to their patients and play the fetal heart tones prior to performing an abortion, regardless of the patient’s wishes. A heavy workload wasn’t anything new for Burrows — she had spent two years at a corporate law firm to pay back student loans — but fighting this hard for continued access to abortion care wasn’t what she thought she’d be doing when she interviewed for the job.
“I applied to and was interviewing for this job the summer leading up to the election, when many of us anticipated a Clinton presidency,” Burrows, 30, tells InStyle. “We were discussing all of our plans for proactive work, what we were going to do to expand abortion access, and our vision for a Supreme Court with a seat filled by a Democratic president.”
The nature of Burrow’s potential workload shifted dramatically when Donald Trump was elected, but that didn’t scare her off from joining the ACLU.
“It’s not as though the White House flipped and suddenly abortion rights were at stake — it’s a battle that the reproductive rights movement has been waging at the state level for a long time,” Burrows says. “So when they said, ‘We’d still love to have you if you are still interested in coming’… well, the refrain that many of us have said in the movement since Trump was elected is: Yes. More than ever.”
After taking office, Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to appoint Supreme Court justices who’d overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that solidified abortion as a Constitutional right. Then, conservative lawmakers passed a record number of abortion bans.
In 2017, 19 states passed 63 laws restricting access to abortion. In 2019, 58 abortion restrictions passed, and 12 states passed some kind of ban. Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio moved to ban abortion at six weeks, before most people even know they’re pregnant, and Alabama passed a total abortion ban. And while none of these have gone into effect — abortion is still legal in all 50 states — these laws represent a shift in the anti-abortion movement’s gameplan. Instead of chipping away at access with restrictions, the GOP is putting forward blatantly unconstitutional bills knowing they’ll trigger a legal challenge, which they hope will reach the Supreme Court (which is now lopsided enough to overturn Roe v Wade).
So far, all is going according to their plan. This March, the Supreme Court will hear June Medical Services LLC v Gee, the first abortion case since Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the bench. The case is being argued by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), and if the court rules in favor of the Louisina abortion law that requires providers to acquire hospital admitting privileges — which mimics a 2015 Texas law that shut down more than half of the state’s 42 clinics before being struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 — Roe v Wade will essentially be gutted. And on Jan. 2, 2020, more than 200 members of Congress urged the Supreme Court to instead overturn the decision entirely.
“Their goal has always been to prevent people from getting abortions, but they had been using this sort of incremental approach,” Jen Dalven, 48, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, tells InStyle. “But when they saw the new Supreme Court Justices they decided to just go for broke.”
Read the story on InStyle
Say It Louder Court ruling reveals the cruelty of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy
President Trump loves to boast about his efforts to make it as hard as possible for desperate migrants to seek refuge in the United States. In his State of the Union speech, he cited many of them, including his policy of making asylum seekers wait in Mexico, while crowing that “border crossings” are going down “very rapidly.”
But now that policy has suffered a major setback in court. And the ruling is particularly notable for its harsh depiction of this program in all its naked cruelty.
The ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction on the policy, which is known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. The underlying merits of the lawsuit, which was brought by asylum seekers who had returned to Mexico and groups representing them, still have to be litigated, but in blocking it, the court ruled that the plaintiffs would likely succeed on the merits.
Yet the court found that this is a violation of the law.
What’s particularly interesting is what the ruling did next. The court also found that MPP violates our obligations, codified in U.S. law, to international human rights treaties — specifically a value known as “non-refoulement,” or the prohibition against sending people back to countries where their lives or liberties will be threatened on account of political, racial, or other forms of persecution.
Read the story on Washington Post
Less of This America’s immigration judges are being gagged
For more than two years, immigration judges have been subject to a policy that more or less prevents them from performing an essential part of their civic duties: speaking publicly about their work.
Since September 2017, immigration judges and all other employees at the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review have been required to adhere to an onerous pre-approval process whenever they desire or are invited to speak publicly on any issue, immigration-related or not. I learned of the policy through a Freedom of Information Act request my colleagues made to the department, as part of an investigation I’ve been conducting on the intersection of free speech and U.S. border enforcement.
It is not uncommon for government agencies to set rules on employee conduct and outside activities. But the perspective of immigration judges is particularly valuable to the public, especially one grappling with complicated questions about America’s immigration laws. In his 2019 year-end report on the federal judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts commended American judges who, “without fanfare or acclaim,” take time to reach out to their communities in all sorts of public-education initiatives. As Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Congress in 2018, immigration judges “help the community better understand our immigration courts and their function in the community, helping to demystify the system and bring transparency about our operations to the public.”
Although immigration judges are employees of the executive branch, they’re judges in the truest sense of the term, presiding over cases that have enormous consequences for asylum seekers or people facing removal from the U.S. The Trump administration appears determined to remove from the public’s view the very people the chief justice and Tabaddor believe play an essential role in promoting public confidence in the administration of justice. The Justice Department should heed their call—rescind its misguided policy and let judges speak.
Read the story on The Atlantic
Speaking of… Judge resigns, calls immigration court “a Politburo-like rubber stamp”
An immigration judge in Philadelphia has stepped down from the bench early citing pressure from the Trump administration, which he says is turning the Immigration Court into a “politburo rubber stamp”.
Speaking to the Philadephia Inquirer, Judge Charles Honeyman described how he left the bench earlier than he had planned after the government began taking a harder line on immigration and deportation cases.
“At some point I was just not comfortable,” he told the paper.
Judge Honeyman is now joining the immigration law firm of Solow, Isbell, & Palladino, which specialises in immigration cases. There, he will provide litigation advice to clients facing deportation.
Immigrants subject to removal cases often struggle to gain legal representation in the court system, with up to two thirds going into their cases without counsel — radically reducing their chances of remaining in the US.
Read the story on the Independent
Say if Louder Xenophobia could cause a public health crisis
On Monday, after years of speculation, court injunctions, and false starts, the Trump administration will finally put into effect its so-called public charge rule. The new program, which was greenlit by the Supreme Court last month even as it remains tied up in litigation, generally expands the criteria for rejecting visa and green card applicants based on past, present, or expected use of certain government benefits such as Section 8 housing vouchers and Medicaid, among other socioeconomic factors. Like so many other policies to come out of this administration, it is a perfect marriage of antipathy toward the poor and malice toward immigrants.
And because of its unusually long public run-up, we have already been given a small taste of what to expect, which has illuminated both one of the policy’s primary dangers and a key obstacle to assessing its impact: Some people will stop using vital services; others will be deterred before even trying. Immigrant-heavy localities, even without the rule in effect, have already seen widespread disenrollments from a variety of benefits, including those—such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC—that won’t even be impacted by the rule.
To some extent, though, it’s irrelevant who and what kinds of benefits are or aren’t being directly targeted in the rule—that sense of ambiguity is precisely the point. Public charge determinations in the immigration context have existed for over a century and have long been understood to apply to those who were or could become primarily dependent on the government. The new definition is a 200-page blunt-force instrument intended to dissuade millions of people from using basic assistance and health insurance.
“You almost feel like you need a Ph.D. to understand what’s going in and what isn’t, and it’s better to just say, ‘Oh, don’t go there, don’t get a service because they’re going to track you down,’” said Dr. José Pagán, who serves as chairman of the board of New York City’s public Health and Hospitals Corporation in addition to chairing the Department of Public Health Policy and Management at NYU’s School of Global Public Health.
Read the story on New Republic
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How to handle microaggressions
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