Category Archives: Civil Rights

#MeToo Movement revisits Clarence Thomas: a case for impeachment

The #MeToo movement has begun to hold powerful men who have abused women accountable for their actions. Many of these men have engaged in such behavior for decades, as the Harvey Weinstein case illustrates.

This has led Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The New York Times and the co-author of Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, a 1994 book about his controversial confirmation hearing, to revisit the issue in the current cover story of New York Magazine. Do You Believe Her Now?: With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it’s time to talk seriously about impeachment:

On the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.

“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.

Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Smith, who has since resumed her life as a lawyer and isn’t doing any further interviews about Thomas, was on the early edge of #MeToo. Too early, perhaps: In the crescendo of recent sexual-harassment revelations, Thomas’s name has been surprisingly muted.

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Breaking: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules Trump Muslim travel ban is unconstitutional

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, ruled on Thursday in a 9-4 decision that the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional, citing that it unlawfully discriminates against Muslims. Opinion (.pdf).

The Hill reports, Appeals court rules latest Trump travel ban is unconstitutional:

A Virginia-based federal court of appeals on Thursday ruled the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban unconstitutional, citing that it unlawfully discriminates against Muslims.

In a 9-4 decision, a majority of the judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it examined official statements from Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, and found it “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.”

The court is the second federal appeals court to rule against the travel ban.

The most recent iteration of the ban bars people from eight countries — six of which are predominantly Muslim — from coming to the U.S.

The Supreme Court had decided in December that it would allow the latest travel ban to take effect while litigation ran its course [in this case].

It has now run its course. You can rest assured that Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will file an appeal back to the U.S. Supreme Court from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

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Congress is broken: Debate over DACA fix devolves into Kabuki theater

I’m not surprised, but disappointed, that the Senate debate on immigration and a DACA fix has devolved into Kabuki theater. They are simply going through the motions of “stylized movements, dances, and songs in order to enact” a tragedy — a Senate bill that is DOA in Paul Ryan’s House, and under a veto threat from the white nationalist in the White House. It is a futile effort.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos sums it up succinctly. Democrats need to make Republicans walk their talk and vote on a clean DREAM Act:

The so-called “Common Sense” bipartisan group of senators finally, decided on their plan late Wednesday, ignoring veto threats from both the White House and the House Freedom Caucus, intent on making a deal for the sake of a deal regardless of lasting harm it could do to immigrant families. See, the New York Times Senators Strike Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Despite Veto Threat, and this from the Washington Post, Bipartisan group reaches deal on immigration, fulfilling some Trump demands:

The self-dubbed “Common Sense Caucus” of senators late Wednesday circulated legislation that would fulfill Trump’s calls to grant legal status to 1.8 million young immigrants and would appropriate $25 billion for southern border security construction projects over the next decade—not immediately, as Trump wants. The bill also would curb family-based immigration programs, but not to the extent Trump is seeking, and would not end a diversity visa lottery program that he wants eliminated.Word of an agreement came as formal debate on immigration policy is set to intensify Thursday. The new bipartisan plan is slated for a vote, as is the GOP proposal sought by Trump, another Republican bill that would punish “sanctuary” cities and a bipartisan idea that would significantly water down Trump’s demands. […]

In an interview late Wednesday, a senior administration official denounced the bipartisan bill, calling it a “giant amnesty” that did nothing to secure the border, and vowed the White House would strongly lobby against it Thursday.

They’re conceding family reunification, a concession that Dreamers themselves have rejected. Meanwhile, Trump is not really denouncing the effort in a tweet, saying “Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working hard to come up with a solution to DACA,” but mostly bragging about his economy[.]

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Tea-Publicans in Arizona House vote to protect their ‘dark money’ campaign financing lifeline

The Republican National Committee and Arizona Republican Party have largely been supplanted by what amounts to a private political party of billionaire donors and corporations and their nonprofit PACs who supply the GOP’s “dark money” campaign financing lifeline. For example, see the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org) Who are the top Dark Money Donors?

Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature have consistently defeated measures requiring greater transparency and disclosure of sources of campaign financing, and have advanced measures making opaque “dark money” campaign financing easier and more wide-spread out of pure self-interest — the GOP is entirely dependent on “dark money.”

In response, local governments have tried to step in to fill the void created by our GOP-controlled state legislature, and have enacted “clean election” disclosure requirements for campaign contributions. Our authoritarian GOP legislature won’t stand for this, and is acting to quash local government “clean election” disclosure requirements for campaign contributions.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, House passes measure to keep cities from banning ‘dark money’:

State lawmakers voted Tuesday to block any efforts by Arizona cities and counties to find out – and inform the public – who is funneling money into local elections through nonprofit groups.

On a 33-25 margin the Republican-controlled House voted to prohibit local government from requiring organizations declared to be tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service from registering as political action committees, even if they are putting money into races.

More to the point, it would preclude any requirement that these so-called “dark money” groups identify donors. And it would bar local governments from auditing the books of these groups or requiring them to respond to subpoenas, even if there were allegations that they were violating campaign finance laws.

HB 2153 (.pdf) now goes to the Senate, which also is dominated by Tea-Publicans.

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Evil GOP bastards are trying to negate the AIRC so the legislature does redistricting maps again

SCR 1034 (.pdf), sponsored by Senator Yarbrough, would alter sections of the citizens initiative that established the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Among the changes are an increase in the number of Commissioners to eight, selected directly by legislative leaders rather than the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which would lead to partisan gridlock because it also requires a supermajority vote of the AIRC to adopt a map (unlikely), which would then allow the legislature to refer its own alternate maps to the ballot (by simple majority vote), and if approved by the voters, would supersede the maps drawn by the Commission. Thus the legislature is back in the redistricting business again! Bwahahaha!

The Senate Government Committee approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote on Wednesday. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, GOP proposal would restructure Arizona redistricting:

Critics warn that a plan to alter the membership of a commission responsible for drawing Arizona’s congressional and legislative district maps is designed to fail.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough conceded that by increasing the number of members on the Independent Redistricting Commission from five to eight, it’s likely that the commission would face gridlock.

“That is indeed going to create a probable 4-4 (vote) by my own estimation, but that is by design,” the Chandler Republican told the Senate Government Committee, which approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote Wednesday.

Requiring a supermajority to approve maps during redistricting, a highly-contentious process that creates district maps that will be used for the next decade, will require commissioners to find true bipartisan consensus, Yarbrough said.

“I want the most bipartisan and fair process that we can design,” he said.

This is a bald-faced lie. Keep reading for the true reason.

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Mitch McConnell reneges on DACA debate deal (Updated)

Well that didn’t take long …

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has one again demonstrated that he is a manipulative liar whose word is worthless and who should not be trusted to honor any promise or agreement he makes. Only one day into the open-ended debate on immigration and DACA that the Turtle Man promised, he has reneged on the deal he made with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

I have said before that history will not be kind to Mitch McConnell, he will be remembered as one of the worst senators in the history of the U.S. Senate in the pantheon of worst senators.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos reports:

The Senate debate on immigration has begun and it’s not good. Despite the promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that they would have as much as two weeks of free-wheeling, open amendment debate, he’s already stated his desired outcome: Trump’s complete white supremacist wish list in return for the Dreamers’ path to citizenship. He’s also creating a false threshold for legislation—something that will get 30 Republican votes.

And as for the two weeks of consideration? He sent out his number two guy, the odious Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), to renege on that, giving the Senate essentially two days.

“This is Sen. (Dick) Durbin and Democrats’ opportunity and so far they kind of seem to be a little confused about what they’re planning on doing — but they better get it done quick because it’s this week or not at all,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.”We need to get it wrapped up by Thursday,” Cornyn said.

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