The Miller Saturday Review – 1/6/17 Edition

(Collection of news from the week for fellow wonks and concerned citizens by Barb Miller of Indivisible Ventura)

Legislation on our minds this week…

    • S. 2016 –  No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act of 2017  Deeming that there is insufficient protection against global catastrophe, Senator Ed Markey advocated for his bill, which points out that the Constitution forbids presidents from launching wars that have not been declared by Congress, and which includes a ban on using any funds to violate the law by nuking North Korea.  The hearing’s witnesses, and Senators from both major parties, made clear that they did not trust the president to obey laws. In fact, in launching a war, nuclear or otherwise, Trump would violate not only the Constitution but also the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter. The latter also bans threatening war, which Trump does on a regular basis.  Introduced 10/26/2017
    • S. 2047 – Preventing Preemptive War in  North Korea Act of 2017. No funds may be used for kinetic military operations in North Korea absent an imminent threat to the United States without express congressional authorization.
    • S 2148 – Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2017 A bill to authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity and require the Federal Government to take steps to prevent domestic terrorism. 11/16/2017  referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
    • H.R. 3771 —     Special Counsel Integrity Act. Bipartisan legislation which protects the Russia collusion investigation by taking away Donald Trumps ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Civil Liberties

      • Transgender Ban: Background: Trump first tweeted July his proposed ban on transgender persons serving in the military, writing, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”   
      • The proposed ban was formally announced in a presidential memorandum in August, and it was set to go into effect in March.
      • Multiple lawsuits were filed both before and soon after Trump made the formal announcement, including one on behalf of five transgender service members.  A similar lawsuit was filed in late August by the ACLU on behalf of six transgender service members.  In October, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a US District Court judge in Washington, DC, issued an injunction preventing the White House from moving forward with the change. “The court finds that a number of factors—including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the president’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of these reasons by the military itself—strongly suggest the Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.  Less than a month later, a federal judge in Maryland issued a second injunction and ruled that the military must continue funding sex reassignment surgery for transgender soldiers.  
      • Current Status: Transgender people can enlist in the military starting January 1, thanks to a second Kollar-Kotelly ruling instructing the military to accept transgender recruits while the ban is on hold. The Pentagon confirmed in December that it will allow openly transgender people to enlist. On December 21, a federal appeals court denied a request from the administration to stop the January 1 date, meaning the Department of Justice may turn to the Supreme Court in a final effort to stop transgender recruits from enlisting.  Other lawsuits are pending.  A Justice Department official said the administration will not challenge those rulings.Battles over privacy:  California lawmakers focused this last legislative session on keeping personal data collected by state and local agencies away from the federal government. In the coming year, their attention is likely to turn to private companies and how they protect consumers’ information. With federal regulation rollbacks, a rise in data breaches and a growing industry of products connected to the internet, some legislators and tech lobbyists say they want people to have more notice and control over what personal data is collected, without having to pay for privacy or better services. Here are some efforts to watch:
      • Legislation aimed at net neutrality:  After the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality regulations, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) pledged to bring them back to California.  Supporters of net neutrality could go to court in an attempt to halt the FCC order and to challenge language that could prevent state and local governments from adopting their own net neutrality rules. But Wiener says there is room for the state to act now. He is looking into ways to require net neutrality as a condition in state contracts, cable franchise agreements and broadband packages.
      •  Efforts to stop sale of personal data:  Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) is working to reinstate another set of FCC regulations rolled back by Trump and Congress: rules that require internet providers to get permission from customers before using, selling or allowing access to their browser history, as well as prohibiting them from giving customers discounts in exchange for waiving their privacy rights — or from charging them a penalty if they refuse to do so. Chau first introduced the California Privacy Act last legislative session, but it was shelved after heavy lobbying efforts by major internet service providers. He intends to try again in 2018. Privacy advocates are trying to establish similar rules through a proposed ballot measure. But they want the regulations to apply to all businesses that collect and deal data for commercial purposes. Organizers have until May to collect more than 365,000 signatures before the initiative can become official.
      • Lowering the cost of credit freezes  In an area where there are no federal rules, state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has said he plans to introduce legislation to prevent credit agencies from charging as much as $10 to place or lift a credit freeze.  The legislation comes after Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, revealed in September that the personal data and credit information of more than 145 million consumers had been exposed in a breach. Currently under CA law, people can freeze their credit for free if they have been victims of identity theft and have filed a police report. Otherwise, a person can be charged as much as $30 to freeze their credit with all three major credit agencies — Equifax, Trans-Union and Experian — and another $30 to unfreeze it. Residents older than age 65 can get a credit freeze for free but must pay $5 to remove it.
      • Rules for teddy bears and toasters  Privacy advocates also are watching for the comeback of another Senate bill shelved last year that would prevent companies from selling products that can listen in on conversations and collect and sell personal information from unknowing consumers. SB 327, also known as the Teddy Bear and Toaster Act, by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) would require manufacturers to equip their internet-connected devices, including toys, clocks, kitchenware and electronics, with certain security and privacy features such as visual, auditory or other alerts when they are gathering data. Jackson probably will move the bill forward in January.

Hate/Discrimination

      • Arizona Can’t Ban Mexican-American Studies Anymore, Judge Says:  A federal judge on Wednesday stopped an Arizona’s Republican-backed law banning Mexican-American studies in Tucson public schools as examples of classes that were aimed at specific ethnicities, that fostered racial discord or that encouraged the overthrow of the U.S. government. The final judgment issued by  After a two-week bench trial, Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote that conservative lawmakers passed the ethnic studies restrictions “not for a legitimate educational purpose, but for an invidious discriminatory racial purpose and a politically partisan purpose.”
      • Illinois will end ‘gay panic’ defense  When 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was punched, pistol-whipped, tied to a fence and left to die in 1998, his killers’ attorneys said the attackers were triggered by Shepard making sexual advances toward them.  Thus began the “gay panic” defense, used in various iterations in courtrooms all over the country by the assaulters and murderers of LBGTQ victims. Starting Monday, attorneys in Illinois will be barred from using the approach after a state law passed — without a single “no” vote in either the state House or Senate — making it the second state in the country to ban the defense in the courtroom.  This has has boosted efforts in other states, such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to enact similar bans. This year marked the deadliest on record for the transgender community, with at least 28 people shot and killed across the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign. California was the first state to ban the defense, in 2014, and the American Bar Assn. pushed for a ban in 2013.  In Washington state, a bill banning gay and trans panic defenses is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks for the next legislative session.      
      • Trump Terminated All Members Of HIV/AIDS Council Without Explanation   The council, which still had 16 members, was completely dismissed with a letter sent through FedEx on Wednesday, thanking them for their service, the Washington Blade first reported. Six members of the council had earlier resigned in June due to “a president who simply does not care,” according to one member in a Newsweek op-ed entitled “Trump doesn’t care about HIV. We’re outta here.”       

Press/Press Restrictions/Media

      • Trump rips New York Times after giving it exclusive interview    President Donald Trump offered a seemingly back-handed message of congratulations to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, warning the newspaper’s new head on Tuesday to hire reporters “of a much higher standard” and to “treat the president of the United States fairly” or else risk the Times’ reputation. “The Failing New York Times has a new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfill the vision of its Founder, Adolph Ochs, ‘to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved,’” Trump wrote on Twitter in an attack against the newspaper to which he gave an exclusive interview last week.  “Get impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent ‘sources,’ and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done! 

But Stephen Colbert has competition…

trevor.png

      • Trump lawyer seeks to block insider book on White House  Trump’s lawyer sought Thursday to stop the publication of a new behind-the-scenes book about the White House that has already led Trump to angrily decry his former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon as a self-aggrandizing political charlatan who has “lost his mind. The legal notice — addressed to author Michael Wolff and the president of the book’s publisher — said Trump’s lawyers were pursuing possible charges including libel in connection with the forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”  Jimmy Kimmel is buying 20 copies. I’ve bought my Kindle version. Get yours now!

Net Neutrality

      •  What Net Neutrality Really Means For You (and for us -Huffington Post):  The repeal of net neutrality isn’t great news for consumers. Giant internet service providers that control their own media empires will be able to push you toward their content while serving up their rivals’ content at molasses-slow speeds. Consumers could be driven into walled content gardens where what you read and watch will be partly determined by which company provides your internet service.  That’s probably bad for you. But it would be good for Huffington Post and others like us because we’re owned by Oath, which is owned by Verizon, one of the three largest internet service providers in the U.S., which is now in position to favor our content while discriminating against the competition’s. 
      • Senate vote on net neutrality?   Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) says he’s one co-sponsor away from the 30 required to discharge his Congressional Review Act resolution to undo the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, forcing a floor vote. “We’re up to 29! @SenKamalaHarris just signed on to my effort to reverse the repeal of #NetNeutrality rules!” Markey tweeted Tuesday night. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had pledged such a vote last month. However, lawmakers can’t act until 20 calendar days after the Dec. 14 net neutrality repeal is sent to Congress and published in the Federal Register. (Indivisible Ventura – Call Senator Feinstein. She’s not one of the 30 yet.)
      • Since the GOP broadly backed the FCC repeal, net neutrality votes may influence  the 2018 midterms. Likely targets in garnering support for a Congressional Review Act resolution that would undo the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality are Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, a swing vote who has said she does not support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s moves, Dean Heller, of Nevada; John McCain, of Arizona; and Bob Corker, of Tennessee.  Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who surprisingly has been a tech advocate, will be retiring.

Social Media

      • Facebook’s hate speech enforcement strategy still misses offensive content: Facebook’s strategy for removing hate speech on its platform suffers from inconsistencies that often allows for offensive content to remain on the social media site, according to a new ProPublica report.  In one instance, the company declined to take down a picture of a bloody corpse with the text “the only good Muslim is a f—ing dead one,” written across it.  The company told the woman who reported the image that it did not find it to be in violation of its terms of service. However another, similar post, which read “Death to the Muslims,” was taken down, though the post did not have an accompanying photo like the other post.  The first post was only removed after ProPublica contacted Facebook about it.  According to ProPublica’s report, such inconsistencies are not isolated. The group looked at the findings of 900 posts it reviewed and came to similar conclusions.  
      • Messages Are Projected On Twitter HQ After Trump’s North Korea Tweets:  A group of activists called Resistance SF began broadcasting messages on Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters Tuesday evening, calling on the site to ban President Donald Trump just hours after he threatened North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the size of his “nuclear button.”twitter dogwhistle
      • Pope Francis to denounce ‘fake news’:  Pope Francis plans to emphasize the importance of truth and the fight against the “polarization” of public opinion in a message to be released Jan. 24, the day of the patron of journalists, St. Francis de Sales, the Catholic News Service reports.  A spokesman for the Vatican told the news service that Francis will speak out against false information .   Francis will praise journalists who try to “promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people.”  
      • Proposed Legislation…
      • H.R. 4077 – Honest Ads Act.  To enhance transparency and accountability for online political advertisements by requiring those who purchase and publish such ads to disclose information about the advertisements to the public, and for other purposes. – 10/19/2017 Referred to the House Committee on House Administration.
      • S. 1989 – Honest Ads Act  The Honest Ads Act would mandate that internet companies reveal the identities and content of advertisements related to elections or campaigns. Introduced Oct 19, 2017 referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration
      • H.R.3989 – UDA Liberty Act.  To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to clarify and improve the procedures and accountability for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, to extend title VII of such Act, to ensure that the barriers to sharing critical foreign intelligence among the intelligence community that existed before September 11, 2001, are not reimposed, and for other purposes. 10/06/2017  referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. 10/20/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. 11/08/2017 Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 27 – 8.
      • HR 4124 – USA Rights Act.  Amends foreign intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to protect privacy  10/25/2017  Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Intelligence (Permanent Select), Oversight and Government Reform, and Homeland Security, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of. 11/01/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. 11/14/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

Immigration

      • Non-Sanctuary States Could Learn A Great Deal From New York City In 2018  Over the past year, local government officials in New York City worked to strengthen the Big Apple’s status as an immigrant sanctuary city. New York state has made similar moves--following California’s example. Opponents of santuaries say that these people cause high violent crime rates. New York City, most diverse and immigrant-rich city in the nation, would seem to offer proof that the opposite is true as their 2017 homicide rate is looking like it will be the lowest since the 1950′s,according to reporting from The New York Times. (Stay tuned – Trump may take credit for this…) Meanwhile, Louisiana, which had the nation’s highest homicide rate in 2016, partnered up with eleven other states – each with murder rates higher than New York state,  head down the wrong road, according to a  report from Bloomberg.   
      • ICE set to increase presence in state:  President Trump’s top immigration chief Thomas Homan said he was preparing to “significantly increase” his agency’s enforcement presence in California because of last year’s passage of SB54 – a landmark “sanctuary state” law. It prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from using personnel or funds to hold or question people, or share information about them with federal immigration agents, unless they have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes. “California better hold on tight,” Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Fox News. “They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.”  
      • Thomas Homan also wants to Prosecute Local Politicians. Good Luck With That!: On Tuesday, the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director said the government should bring criminal charges against politicians in sanctuary cities, referring to a statute that is typically used to target human smugglers. According to Bill Hing, a law professor at the University of San Francisco who runs the school’s Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, there’s no precedent, or even a strong legal case, for using it against politicians.   The federal statute in question— 8 U.S.C. 1324—makes it a crime for a person to harbor or shield unauthorized immigrants in “knowing” or “reckless disregard” of the law.    

Travel Ban

      • History: In January, just a week after taking office, Trump issued an executive order temporarily blocking travel from seven majority-Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. Chaos at airports and protests across the country ensued. The ban was met with several lawsuits, including one from the ACLU argued that the ban, which the administration denied was targeted at any specific religious group, was a poorly disguised version of the Muslim ban Trump had promised during his campaign. The ban was soon blocked by a federal judge.  
      • Round 2: Trump announced a second version of the ban in March which was also blocked. In June, the Supreme Court permitted a limited 90-day version of that ban to take effect, and it expired in September.  
      • Round 3: Travel Ban 3.0 was announced in September, as the second version of the policy was set to expire. The ACLU challenged the ban in a Maryland federal court, seeking to amend its existing lawsuit against the second ban, which became a moot point after the third version was announced. The new ban was, once again, blocked by federal judges.   The question at the center of the ACLU lawsuit and others is whether the travel ban discriminates against Muslims. The ACLU argues that the ban fulfills Trump’s discriminatory campaign promise for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” while the Trump administration says the list of banned countries was decided based on security, not religion.  
      • Status: On December 4, the Supreme Court allowed the third iteration of the ban, which indefinitely bars entry for most or all nationals of seven countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, and North Korea—to temporarily go into effect while the ACLU’s lawsuit against the ban is pending. The current version also prohibits certain Venezuelan officials from entering the United States.  Oral arguments in the ACLU’s case against the ban were heard December 8 in front of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. And on December 22, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the ban violates the law, but put their decision on hold until the Supreme Court can weigh in  During the December hearing, the judges drilled in on Trump’s recent retweets of several anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British activist. “Do we just ignore reality and look at the legality to determine how to handle this case?” said Judge James A. Wynn Jr.    

Wall

      • Trump tells GOP senators that 2,200-mile border wall not needed in immigration deal. President Trump on Thursday laid out his demands for an immigration deal to Republican senators, making clear he doesn’t expect Congress to build a physical 2,200-mile concrete wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, in return for increased security along the border and the end of “chain migration” (family member reunification) and lotteries. However, he also said Saturday that Mexico will pay for his proposed wall  because he’s a good friend of theirs, one day after it was reported that he will ask Congress for $18 billion to fund the wall.

DACA/Dreamers

      • Background: In September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama administration policy that protected hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The decision was swiftly met with a handful of lawsuits, including one filed by six Dreamers (a term for DACA recipients) that argued the decision “was motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos.” Fifteen states and the District of Columbia also filed similar suits.
      • Trump tweeted that Dreamers do not need to worry about being deported for another six months, leaving it up to Congress to decide the fate of the Dreamers. Shortly after the tweet, Trump met with Democratic congressional leaders and announced they would reach a compromise on immigration.
      • In October, Democrats threatened to force a government shutdown by refusing to vote on a spending bill if it doesn’t include protections for Dreamers. By mid-December, however, Democrats had backed away from that pledge. 
      • The legal cases over the end of DACA quickly devolved into a battle over whether the administration must turn over internal documents revealing why it nixed the program. A US District Court Judge in San Francisco had ordered the White House to release all its records related to the decision, which Department of Justice lawyers said would require a review of more than 1.6 million potentially relevant documents. The administration took the fight to the Supreme Court in early December. The court ruled in Trump’s favor, allowing the administration to temporarily shield documents regarding the DACA shutdown.  
      • Status: Five of the lawsuits filed over the DACA repeal, including the case filed by six Dreamers, faced a hearing in federal court in San Francisco on December 20. Judge William Alsup defended the program during the hearing, saying Dreamers faced a “palpable” hardship from its end, but Alsup has yet to make a decision on the issue. Congress has until March 5 to pass a replacement bill.  As for the Dreamers, those with permits set to expire before March 5 were allowed to submit an application for a final two-year permit by October 5. (Under Obama, the program allowed unlimited renewals.)
      • Trump admitted that he is using Dreamers as hostages as part of a scheme to get Democrats to pay for his wall. Although he still may think he’s campaigning, as he’s brought up Mexico paying for the wall again.
      • Time for this great video again… 
      • Legislation
      • HR 3003 – No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (Passed House) H.R. 3003 is a proposed counterproductive law that targets sanctuary policies that supposedly shield “unlawful and criminal” immigrants from federal immigration enforcement. The bill clarifies ICE’s detainer authority – the tool used to pick up aliens from local jails and withholds certain federal grants from jurisdictions that prohibit their officers from cooperating with ICE. Jurisdictions that comply with detainers are protected from being sued and victims of certain crimes are allowed to sue jurisdictions that refuse to comply and subsequently release “criminal aliens” onto the streets.  Passed house 6/29  motion to reconsider tabled, 7/10/2017 Received in Senate, 8/1/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Labor Standards.
      • HR 361 – Kate’s Law  (Passed House) One of a number of fear-mongering bills from the GOP,  the bill requires that an alien who has been excluded, deported, removed, or denied admission, or who has departed the United States while under an outstanding order of exclusion, deportation, or removal, and who subsequently crosses or attempts to cross the border into the United States, shall be fined, imprisoned not more than two years, or both. Passed house 6/29 Motion to reconsider tabled, 7/10/2017 received in the Senate, 1/22/1992 Unfavorable Executive Comment Received from Treasury.
      • S.87 – Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. Another GOP fear-mongering anti-immigrant bill to ensure that State and local law enforcement cooperate with Federal officials to “protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are illegally present in the United States” . 12/10/2017 referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
      • H.R.400 – Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. Another GOP fear-mongering anti-immigrant bill to ensure that State and local law enforcement cooperate with Federal officials to “protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are illegally present in the United States.
      • We will be fighing for this…
      • S.1615Dream Act of 2017  A bill to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain individuals who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.  7/20/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. 10/31/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.
      • S. 2145  – No Ban on Refugees Act. A bill to prohibit the United States Government from barring refugees from entering the United States based on their country of origin   Murphy 12/1 2% to hold the Trump administration accountable for its un-American attempts to ban refugees base 11/16/2017  referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

Elections and Voting

      • Kobach: Election integrity commission has been ‘bogged down in litigation’   Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a new interview that President Trump‘s election integrity panel has been unable to meet for months due to several lawsuits against the panel. The Government Accountability Office announced in October it would investigate the commission’s activities.  A Democratic member of the panel sued the commission in November, saying he was unable to access documents necessary to do his job.   Advocacy groups have filed a number of other lawsuits arguing the commission has itself violated the law, or violates voters’ rights to privacy.    
      • Trump continues to push, without evidence, that ‘many people are voting illegally’  Hours after shuttering his controversial voter fraud commission, President Donald Trump called Thursday morning for voter identification laws and pushed once again his baseless assertion that “many people are voting illegally.”  As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!” he continued in a second post moments later.  Democrats, who mostly oppose such laws, have argued they disenfranchise minority voters, who are generally less likely to possess the type of identification the laws require.  Trump said his voter fraud commissionwas unable to be effective because leaders in Democrat-controlled states were unwilling to participate. The president said Wednesday that he has instead asked the Department of Homeland Security to examine the issue.     
      • He Hasn’t Given up on Voter Suppression. He’s bringing in ICE!.: Although he shut down his commission on election integrity on Wednesday evening, he is continuing its hunt for voter fraud, based on his false claim that “millions of people” voted illegally in 2016. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chair of the now defunct “Integrity Committee”, describes handing the issue to Homeland Security as a “tactical shift.” He said officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would compare state voter rolls with federal immigration databases to search for non-citizens who are registered to vote.
      • Separate point because this is really important: “The report that this effort will now be moved over to the Department of Homeland Security is baffling,” says Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which sent a Freedom of Information Act request to DHS in October requesting its dealings with Trump’s commission. “This was an agency that was set up to protect Americans from terrorism. Moving this commission over to DHS would be an abuse of the agency’s power.”  ICE has scant experience in this area and the federal databases Kobach wants DHS to use, such as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, are not designed for that purpose and do not automatically reveal the status of immigrants who become US citizens, which means thousands of noncitizens who are subsequently naturalized could mistakenly be tagged as illegal voters. Indeed, during the Obama administration DHS warned states about using the SAVE database to remove voters from the rolls.  The DHS probe will also be largely conducted out of the public eye, making it immune from the type of public scrutiny and oversight that doomed Trump’s commission. “To the extent that they are now hoping to conduct their activities shrouded in secrecy, that’s deeply troubling,” says Clarke.      
      • The Supreme Court Is About to Hear a Case That Could Unleash a New Wave of Voter Purges:  Since becoming secretary of state in 2011, Republican Jon Husted has excised more than 2 million voters from the state’s registration lists. On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in a high-stakes case over whether one of Husted’s controversial methods for removing voters violates federal law. And if the court sides with Husted, it will open the door for states across the country to use what amounts to a legal loophole to cancel the registrations of millions more Americans.   Though less well known than other historic forms of voter suppression—such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and all-white primaries – Ohio’s “use it or lose it” voter purges have long been used to limit the influence of ethnic and racial minorities, requiring voters to respond to a notice if they haven’t voted in the last two years. According to a Reuters analysis of voter rolls in Ohio’s three largest counties, people in Democratic neighborhoods were struck from the rolls at twice the rate of people in Republican areas. Moreover, Reuters notes, “neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit hardest.” Five other states use similar processes to purge their voter rolls, but Ohio’s program is the most aggressive.
      • Legislation to support:
      • S 1419  – Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2017 – 6/22/017 referred to  the committee on Judiciary
      • S 2035  – The Securing America’s Voting Equipment, or SAVE – A bill to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes. – 10/31/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.
      • S. 1585 –  DISCLOSE Act of 2017 A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities.

Census Issues

    • Trump Justice Department Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census, Alarming Experts:  The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. That, in turn, could effect how how congressional seats are distributed around the country and where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.   Arthur Gary to the top official at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. The letter from the Census’ top official, Arthur Gary argues that the DOJ needs better citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act “and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting.”   
    • Trump’s Pick to Run 2020 Census Has Defended Racial Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression Laws:  The deputy director of the Census Bureau has historically been a nonpartisan career civil servant. Thomas Brunell, however, a registered Republican, has no prior government experience and a deeply partisan background. He has testified or produced expert reports for Republicans in more than a dozen redistricting cases and has defended new voting restrictions passed by Republicans. His 2008 book, Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America,  His maps for two of North Carolina’s congressional districts and 28 state legislative districts,  were struck down by federal courts, calling the state maps “among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court.” A unanimous three-judge court in North Carolina said Brunell’s “generalized conclusions regarding racially polarized voting” demonstrated a “misunderstanding” of the Voting Rights Act and “fail to demonstrate a strong basis in evidence justifying the challenged districts as drawn.”

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