The struggle against discrimination and injustice scored a major win today with a Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. government may not require anyone to share the government’s prejudice, no matter how ancient or widespread that prejudice.
In a 6-2 decision, the high court struck down the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO), which since 2003 has required U.S. non-governmental organizations to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution” as a condition of receiving U.S. funds for work against HIV/AIDS around the world. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in his majority opinion that the requirement violated the First Amendment because it forced grant recipients “to pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution," whether or not they agreed with that policy.
Americans would be surprised to learn that thousands of the prisoners in our massive system are immigration detainees, wasting away in jail while awaiting their deportation hearings.
In many cases, immigrants in detention cannot be deported from the U.S because we lack diplomatic relations with their home country (as with Cuba) or because of long delays in travel document processing. With immigration reform a real possibility, one would think that everyone would be on board with decreasing, not maintaining or even increasing, the number of such detainees in federal immigration custody, especially those with no violent criminal record.
Guess again. A pending amendment to the immigration reform bill, Amendment 1203, proposed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), would radically expand our immigration prison system.
President Obama sometimes takes the opportunity on Father’s Day to draw attention to the problem of absent fathers. The president’s recently proposed FY’14 budget includes a new Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative. The initiative would require states to seek child custody and visitation orders in court for fathers who must pay child support to the state. The initiative’s goals are admirable. If fathers pay child support more regularly, childhood poverty may be reduced. If fathers participate more actively in their children’s lives, children may less often suffer poor educational performance, incarceration, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and other problems more often experienced by children raised by single parents. But the initiative’s proposed solution poses serious problems.
The message of the charred remains of a parallelogram might be misunderstood. Not so the remains of a burned cross.
Hate crimes are, in essence, message crimes. They warrant special attention, and special punishment, because of the particularly devastating impact they have on communities.
The NLRB is facing an unprecedented crisis. Last Thursday, the Senate
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on
the president’s nominees – three Democrats, two Republicans – to the
National Labor Relations Board. Yesterday, the committee voted to
approve nominees, but Republicans refused to support the nominees as a
package and most opposed two of the three Democratic nominees. At any
other time in the board’s 78-year history, the Senate would have
confirmed the well-qualified nominees without controversy. But not this
time. The full Senate will likely not vote on the nominees until July,
but it seems certain that Republicans will try to block the package of
nominees, even though the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.) recommended the two Republicans.
Legislative efforts to shield the media from disclosing sources of classified information often follow perceived incidents of prosecutorial overreach. Following the Valerie Plame investigation, media shield legislation received consideration in both houses. The Free Flow of Information Act curtailed investigate authority to compel disclosure of media sources who disclose national security and other law enforcement sensitive information.