Category Archives: Religion

School ‘vouchers for all’ bills scheduled to be heard beginning Thursday

Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature intends to fast-track the unconstitutional “vouchers for all” bills today in committee hearings. Tea-Publican legislators routinely disregard the advice of legal counsel. Rules attorneys warn bills are unconstitutional — to no avail.

The Arizona Republic reports, Republicans fast-track school-voucher bill in Arizona Legislature:

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

Beginning Thursday, the Legislature will train its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria (above), and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

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Money changes everything: GOP Senate approves unqualified Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary

For the first time in American history, a vice president had to vote in the Senate to break a tie on a Cabinet nominee, and Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Donald Trump’s education secretary. With historic tiebreaker from Pence, DeVos confirmed as education secretary:

The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Pence casting a historic tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked over her fitness for the job.

The entire Democratic caucus of 48 senators voted against DeVos, as did two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who said they did not think that DeVos was qualified for the job. The remaining 50 Republicans voted for her, setting up a 50-50 tie that could be broken only with Pence’s vote.

It marked the first time that a vice president’s tiebreaker was needed to confirm a Cabinet secretary, according to Daniel Holt, an assistant historian in the Senate Historical Office. And it was the first time a vice president cast any tiebreaker in the Senate since Richard B. Cheney did so nine years ago.

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Some legal analysis of Trump’s Muslim travel ban executive order

I read this woefully inadequate AP report this morning in the Arizona Daily Star which included this passage at the very end of the article without any explanation or analysis that could leave the false impression to readers uninformed in the law that this is a definitive statement of the law. White House predicts courts will reinstate travel ban:

The government had told the appeals court that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, an assertion that appeared to invoke the wider battle to come over illegal immigration.

Congress “vests complete discretion” in the president to impose conditions on entry of foreigners to the United States, and that power is “largely immune from judicial control,” according to the court filing.

So let’s begin with some basics. Deborah Pearlstein explains at the Balkinization Blogspot:

[Let’s] start with the basic legal question where the President gets the power to issue an order like this. It turns out to have a straightforward answer: Congress gave him the power in a law passed well before this administration, broadly authorizing the President to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants” whenever he finds their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” (8 U.S.C. § 1182(f)) It is true that another law provides that no person may be discriminated against in the issuance of a visa on the basis of their “nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” (8 U.S.C.§ 1152) There is a compelling argument that a court should read this anti-discrimination rule to limit the scope of the President’s power to suspend entries. But there are also arguments government lawyers will try to leverage against such a reading – like the argument that there is a difference between awarding visas and suspending entrance. And different judges read statutes differently.

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Federal court issues nationwide injunction against Trump Muslim travel ban executive order (updated)

Editor’s Note: There are two events today in Tucson that you may want to attend:

Saturday, February 4, 10:00 a.m.: Open Forum on Trump’s recent immigration and refugee executive orders, at the Muslim Community Center of Tucson, 5100 N. Kevy Place, Tucson. Come hear lawyers who specialize in these areas discuss this executive orders and what legal changes Americans could expect to see within the next four years. Isabel Garcia will make the opening remarks and moderate the discussion, Tarik Sultan will be leading the conversation on “immigration law in the Trump era,” Thabet Khalidi in “Civil Rights and Wrongs,” and Jose Vasquez in the “Use and misuse of criminal law against targeted minorities.”

Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m.: Grassroots Citizens Rally Supporting Refugee Resttlement, at El Presidio Plaza Park, 175 W. Alameda Street, Tucson. This free event is sponsored by We The People, Tucson. Is this the new “Great America”? It infringes on Tucson’s “Immigrant Friendly” status. It stops/reduces refugee resettlement in America. It blocks refugees from Syria. It bans visitors from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen. It it is a penstroke away from becoming an executive order. Come help organize a greater voice against unAmerican injustices being instituted without representation. Join in raising voices against human injustice.

The Washington Post reports, today, Federal judge temporarily blocks Trump’s entry order nationwide:

A federal judge in Washington state on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump’s controversial ban on entry to the United States nationwide, and airlines planned to begin allowing passengers from banned countries to board, according to a person familiar with the matter.

[It is not unusual for district courts to issue nationwide injunctions blocking executive actions, and the federal government must obey such injunctions even when other district courts have declined to issue injunctions in similar cases.]

Following the ruling, government authorities immediately began communicating with airlines and taking steps that would allow travel by those previously barred from doing so, according to a U.S. official. At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would “at the earliest possible time” file for an emergency stay of the “outrageous” ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement omitting the word “outrageous.”

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Get to know the ‘de facto president’ Stephen K. Bannon

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.57.21 AMThe other day I posited the possibility that “Stephen K. Bannon may be more than just ‘Trump’s Brain.’ It is becoming increasingly evident that he is the ‘power behind the throne’ so to speak, a ‘shadow president’ who is pulling the strings of his puppet. And that should deeply concern all Americans.”  ‘Trump’s brain’, Stephen K. Bannon, elevated to National Security Council.

Shortly thereafter the New York Times in an editorial asked, President Bannon?

Plenty of presidents have had prominent political advisers, and some of those advisers have been suspected of quietly setting policy behind the scenes (recall Karl Rove or, if your memory stretches back far enough, Dick Morris). But we’ve never witnessed a political aide move as brazenly to consolidate power as Stephen Bannon — nor have we seen one do quite so much damage so quickly to his putative boss’s popular standing or pretenses of competence.

Mr. Bannon supercharged Breitbart News as a platform for inciting the alt-right, did the same with the Trump campaign and is now repeating the act with the Trump White House itself. That was perhaps to be expected, though the speed with which President Trump has moved to alienate Mexicans (by declaring they would pay for a border wall), Jews (by disregarding their unique experience of the Holocaust) and Muslims (the ban) has been impressive. Mr. Trump never showed much inclination to reach beyond the minority base of voters that delivered his Electoral College victory, and Mr. Bannon, whose fingerprints were on each of those initiatives, is helping make sure he doesn’t.

But a new executive order, politicizing the process for national security decisions, suggests Mr. Bannon is positioning himself not merely as a Svengali but as the de facto president.

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Trump fires a consummate public servant for defying his unconstitutional and unlawful executive order

The Attorney General is supposed to maintain arms-length independence from the political influence of the White House in “the pursuit of justice.”  The last time a president fired someone in the attorney general’s office, it was Richard Nixon executing the infamous Saturday Night Massacre at the height of the Watergate scandal.

Last night, Donald Trump fired acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates for defying him by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend  his executive order for a Muslim travel ban and a religious test for entry into the United States against legal challenges. Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Who Defied Him.

Nancy LeTourneau at the Political Animal blog tells us What You Should Know About the Public Servant Trump Just Fired, Sally Yates:

Sally Yates, who served as Deputy Attorney General since 2015, was asked by the Trump administration to be the Acting Attorney General until their nominee—Jeff Sessions—was confirmed. Yesterday she issued a memo to the top lawyers in the Justice Department directing them to not defend Trump’s executive order on immigrants and refugees as long as she was in that position. You can read her memo here.

By the end of the day, Trump fired Yates for taking that action, accusing her of “betraying the Justice Department” and suggesting that she is “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” While some have compared this to Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” it might not rise to that level—but it certainly sends a chilling message to anyone in the federal bureaucracy who might contemplate resisting the administration.

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