Supreme Court Won’t Hear Major Case on Transgender Rights
The justices vacated an appeal’s court decision in favor of a transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, and sent the case back for further consideration.
By Adam Liptak

What this is: Disappointing, infuriating, and a direct result of President Trump’s decision to withdraw President Obama’s previously issued guidance on transgender youth.  

What this isn’t: The end of the road. The past few months have seen a historic growth in support for transgender protections at the highest level. Thousands of individuals and organizations have signed on to the amicus briefs—major medical associations, unions representing millions of teachers, national religious leaders, elected officials at the local, state, and federal level, and ordinary citizens concerned about the rights and dignity of their fellow human beings.

This decision does not void any existing Title IX legal protections for transgender students, and similar cases regarding the fundamental rights of transgender students in schools are pending throughout the circuit courts.

The momentum on this issue is clear, and it isn’t going to be readily reversed—at least not if we all continue to work for what’s right. We remain committed to standing with Gavin, to supporting the ACLU, and ultimately toward the passage of explicit, comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans. It’s more important now than ever before.

Here’s how you can keep up the fight:

And I just won five bucks.

Sen. Ben Sasse responded after Judge Neil Gorsuch made an inadvertent slip of the tongue, using one of Trump’s favorite campaign phrases — “bigly” (or “big league,” as Trump has clarified one of his oft-used adverbs). 

Gorsuch tried to correct himself by saying “big and boldly,” but Sasse wasn’t about to let it pass, as the room burst into laughter.
Department of Justice sides with anti-gay bakers in religious discrimination case
The Justice Department said artists can’t be compelled to create against their religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court will soon hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery that was penalized for discrimination when it refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

Because we are living in the upside down, Trump’s Department of Justice has submitted an amicus brief for the case… siding with the bakers. The DoJ says that abiding by the public accommodations law and baking a wedding cake for the gay couple would be a violation of the bakery owner’s religious freedom. 

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” the Justice Department wrote in an amicus brief filed ahead of oral argument in the case. “In the view of the United States, a … First Amendment intrusion occurs where a public accommodations law compels someone to create expression for a particular person or entity and to participate, literally or figuratively, in a ceremony or other expressive event.”

Businesses and other places that are considered “public accommodations” are barred by law from discriminating against people on the basis of factors like race and religion. The DOJ brief suggests that such laws should not be able to compel artists to create “inherently communicative” goods, like wedding cakes. […]

“A custom wedding cake can be sufficiently artistic to qualify as pure speech, akin to a sculptural centerpiece,” the Justice Department wrote. “In short, a custom wedding cake is not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian.”

Every day brings another sign that they are not rooting for us, and they never have been. Sigh. 

Today in Politics: March 6, 2017
  • President Trump has a new, revised executive order which bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from getting new visas. It won’t affect current visa holders and unlike the previous ban, it excludes citizens of Iraq. The executive order will be phased in over the next two weeks. (NYT)(WP)(ATL)(Raw Executive Order- White House)
  • The Supreme Court decided to not hear the case regarding transgender bathroom rights after the White House’s reversal of position, even though they agreed in October to hear the case. (NYT)(CNN)(WP)
  • House Republicans released the Affordable Care Act replacement bill called the American Health Care Act. The bill replaces federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and grants to help states shape their own policies. The bill would also allow insurers a charge on people if they have had a gap in their health coverage. The GOP bill also includes a provision to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. (view bill)(WP)(CNN)(FOX)(NYT)
  • Today Ben Carson made some of his first remarks to Housing and Urban Development. “That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,“. This comment, which compares slaves to immigrants, has been criticized by numerous members of the Black community as well as the NAACP. (WP)(HILL)(FOX)
  • Four Atlanta mosques receive death threats. They received a note that said, “Death is waiting for you and your kind” and included a hand-drawn picture of someone being beheaded. (CNN)(AJC)

anonymous asked:

supreme court just voted to uphold the travel ban. can u post about it? ty

What Is This Ruling About?

This latest Supreme Court decision is about how Trump’s travel ban affects refugees.

Basically, the Supreme Court directive over the summer stated that Trump could impose a limited travel ban, but not on people who have a “bona fide” connection to the United States, such as having family members, a job offer, or a place in a US university.

The government then interpreted this to mean that grandparents and members of extended family, as well as refugees with formal assurances that they will be allowed to resettle in the US, do not have a “bona fide” connection, and therefore can be excluded and barred from entry or travel to the US.

A federal district judge later decided that this interpretation by the government is too broad, and stopped this as well. The Supreme Court upheld one part of the ruling made by the federal district judge in July, but hadn’t yet made a decision on whether or not refugees with formal assurances would count as having a “bona fide” connection to the US.

The 9th Circuit panel last week interpreted the “bona fide” portion of this ruling to include both grandparents and refugees with assurances. The Justice Department, in response, asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the refugees part of the decision, but not the part where grandparents and other family members would qualify as having a “bona fide” connection to the US. Their argument is that even refugees with formal assurances from a resettlement agency lack the sort of connection that should exempt them from the ban.

The Supreme Court has basically agreed with this argument, and decided that even refugees with formal assurances from agencies that they can be resettled in the US will continue to be banned from entry to the US.

What does this mean?

It means that refugees, even those with assurances from resettlement agencies that they can and will be able to move to the US, are banned from entry for the forseeable future because they don’t have a “bona fide connection” to the United States, and their assurances from resettlement agencies do not count as such.

Why is this bullshit?

As one challenger to the entry ban put it, “Refugees with formal assurances are the category of foreign nationals least likely to implicate the national security rationales the government has pointed to in the past,”

So basically, the government is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a ban on a group of people who have been thoroughly and comprehensively vetted by the Department of Homeland Security. It goes without saying that there is no way to enter the US as a refugee if your background does not check out in every possible way. The fact that the government explicitly wants to bar refugees, especially refugees who have been submitted to whatever requirements are necessary for entry in the first place, comes entirely from a place of racism and xenophobia, and not out of any vested interest in “national security.”

What next?

Luckily, this is just one part of the revised travel ban that is being upheld. The Supreme Court is due to hear arguments about the travel ban on Oct 10. There has been a complicated and on-going legal case against the travel ban from the first instance it was instituted in January, and it’s likely that the fight against it is going to continue from here on out.

There are several issues, especially relating to various deadlines as put in place by the “revised travel ban” that need to be considered as well. The measure as put in place by Trump was initially temporary (90 days for citizens of the six affected countries, and 120 days for refugees). So what this means is that even with the Supreme Court’s current statement, and even if we consider the refugee ban as having gone into effect after their statement was made, it will only hold true for 120 days. Right now, there is still no clear indication if the government will seek to renew the ban for the future, or if its stipulations will run out before the SC hearing on October 10th.


  1. Supreme Court agrees with Trump administration, says some refugees can be barred for now (Washington Post)
  2. Justices Allow Refugee Ban While Case Proceeds (New York Times)
  3. Supreme court sides with Trump on refugee policy in travel ban case (The Guardian)

You need to know about Ohio’s new abortion bill that would ban abortion at six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant

North Dakota and Arkansas passed similar bills that were later struck down as incompatible with Roe v. Wade; the Supreme Court declined to hear any appeals, sending the signal that an Ohio law would meet the same fate. But Ohio’s conservative lawmakers see an opening after Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election last month. 

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Major Case on Transgender Rights -

“The justices said Monday they have opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives high school senior Gavin Grimm the right to use the boys’ bathroom in his Virginia school.”

Lee says:

This isn’t too great for those of us who had hopes for this case…
Supreme Court sends Gavin Grimm's civil rights case back to lower court
The Supreme Court on Monday sent a case involving a transgender high school student back to a lower court, a temporary setback for the student.
By Ariane de Vogue, Steve Vladeck and Theodore Schleifer, CNN

Gavin Grimm’s legal case for trans-affirming bathrooms hit a road bump yesterday; the Supreme Court announced that it would be sending the case back to a lower court. His case will likely now go before a court of appeals.

Last year, an appeals court ruled in favor of Gavin using the men’s bathrooms. His school board further appealed the case, seeking to take away Gavin’s right to use a gender-affirming bathroom. 

The lower court will now have to answer the bigger – and far more important – question of whether federal law and not just Executive Branch interpretations of it treat discrimination on the basis of gender identity as tantamount to sex discrimination. The Supreme Court’s announcement has the effect of letting a lower court answer that question first.

“While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored,” said Joshua Block, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing Grimm. “This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

This is not over. And Gavin has more support than ever. 

Protect Trans Kids

Yesterday the Departments of Education and Justice withdrew the protections that former President Obama had instated to protect transgender students. Under Title IX, these protections allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, therefore protecting them from discrimination based upon sex. 

What you need to know as a trans person: Most importantly, even though the guidance has been withdrawn, that doesn’t change the fact that under Title IX, transgender students have a right to be treated according to their gender identity, including when it comes to restroom access. But taking the guidance away will likely make school harder for many students. It might make changing policies at unsupportive school districts an uphill battle for many students. Read this helpful FAQ page from the National Center for Transgender Equality on what this withdrawal means and how to address issues of discrimination here.  

How you can stand up and support trans people: It is more important than ever that cisgender people come forward as outspoken allies of transgender people. Advocate in your schools for gender neutral or all gender bathrooms where trans and gender non-conforming students will feel safe. Speak out if you see a transgender student being harassed or made to feel unwelcome in a restroom or locker room. If a trans student feels as though they are being discriminated against, stand by them and help them file a complaint. Lastly, read up on 10 tips for being a trans ally.

This all comes at a crucial time for trans rights, as the Supreme Court will be hearing the case of Gavin Grimm next month, which will likely inform how public schools will accommodate transgender students across the nation.
Supreme Court Hears ‘Good Evidence’ Voting Maps Entrenched a Party in Power, Justice Says
By Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a case that could reshape American democracy by considering whether extreme partisan gerrymandering — the drawing of voting districts to give lopsided advantages to the party in power — violates the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has never struck down an election map on the ground that it was drawn to make sure one political party wins an outsize number of seats. The court has, however, left open the possibility that some kinds of political gamesmanship in redistricting may be too extreme…

Justice Elena Kagan said there is “good evidence” that the maps drawn by the Republicans in Wisconsin were designed to have “a certain kind of an effect, which was to entrench a party in power.”

Justice Kagan also pressed the state’s lawyers to explain their criticism of the social scientists who have concluded that the maps are overly partisan. She noted that lawmakers use the same technology and social science to draw the maps in the first place.

“So, too, those same technologies can be used to evaluate what they are doing,” Justice Kagan said.

The case, Gill v. Whitford, No. 16-1161, started when Republicans gained complete control of Wisconsin’s government in 2010 for the first time in more than 40 years. It was a redistricting year, and lawmakers promptly drew a map for the State Assembly that helped Republicans convert very close statewide vote totals into lopsided legislative majorities…

The case is part of a larger debate over politics in redistricting, one that has taken on new urgency with the advent of sophisticated software. Both parties have engaged in partisan gerrymandering, but these days, Republicans have an advantage following a wave of victories in state legislatures that allowed lawmakers to draw election maps favoring their party.
Supreme Court to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering
The justices accepted a Wisconsin case where a federal court has ruled that the state’s Republican leadership pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution.

The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted.

The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.

But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. If it does, it would have a revolutionary impact on the reapportionment that comes after the 2020 election and could come at the expense of Republicans, who control the process in the majority of states.

The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled last year that the state’s Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment and equal rights protections.
Unions Representing A Million Teachers Are Standing Up For This Transgender Student
They told the Supreme Court in a brief Thursday, “Educators are, above all, advocates and protectors of their students.”
By Dominic Holden

This is great news.

The brief makes a strong argument for why trans inclusion is vital for trans students and how it generally benefits school communities. That’s especially important coming from this wide ranging group of educators. But honestly I think the case for why trans students deserve these rights and protections is pretty strong. The bigger question is whether that protection can and should come through Title IX. That’s a harder argument (and the reason why this case is sitting before the Supreme Court). And what I think may be the most important part of this brief in making that determination is this section:

Should the Court conclude that transgender discrimination is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX, the teacher’s duty is clear: address and report the harassment. But if the Court were to adopt the view of a minority of the lower courts—that Title IX may prohibit some but not all forms of discrimination against transgender students—then teachers are left in the lurch. What are their duties to transgender students and when are they triggered? Must teachers parse the harasser’s motivation to determine whether the harassment is motivated by sex stereotypes or transgender animus? This is complicated by Petitioner’s assertion that non-discrimination against transgender students “would perpetuate discrimination in a different form” against other students. If that were true, how would educators prevent and remedy sex stereotyping discrimination or harassment against transgender students while avoiding discrimination against others?

Making the case for clarity might just be significant nudge for a few (*cough* Kennedy *cough*) justices. And like with the Obergefell same-sex marriage ruling I’m hopeful that concerns raised over harm to students will win out over the case for letting this continue to play itself out across the country at the national, state, and local level. We’ll see how the Supreme Court views this soon. Hearing start on the 28th.

Thanks to the educators and school staff represented by the National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the School Social Work Association of America.
The First White President
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

As late as July 2016, a majority of Republican voters doubted that Barack Obama had been born in the United States, which is to say they did not view him as a legitimate president. Republican politicians acted accordingly, infamously denying his final Supreme Court nominee a hearing and then, fatefully, refusing to work with the administration to defend the country against the Russian attack. Before the election, Obama found no takers among Republicans for a bipartisan response, and Obama himself, underestimating Trump and thus underestimating the power of whiteness, believed the Republican nominee too objectionable to actually win. In this Obama was, tragically, wrong. And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.” And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled.

The American tragedy now being wrought is larger than most imagine and will not end with Trump. In recent times, whiteness as an overt political tactic has been restrained by a kind of cordiality that held that its overt invocation would scare off “moderate” whites. This has proved to be only half true at best. Trump’s legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagogue can get away with. It does not take much to imagine another politician, wiser in the ways of Washington and better schooled in the methodology of governance—and now liberated from the pretense of antiracist civility—doing a much more effective job than Trump.

Ta-Nehisi Coates went in!!
Trump weighs replacement to travel ban
U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday was considering a replacement to his controversial executive order barring travel to the United States from several majority Muslim countries.

SOMERSET, N.J. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday was considering a replacement to his controversial executive order barring travel to the United States from several majority Muslim countries.

The current ban, enacted in March and set to expire on Sunday evening, extended to travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The new order could fall short of a complete ban, instead tailoring travel restrictions on a country-by-country basis.

Trump received a set of policy recommendations on Friday from acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and was briefed on the matter by other administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a White House aide said.

As of Friday, the president had not made a final decision as the contents of the new order and which nations would be affected, leaving open the possibility that the list could be expanded. He was spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Rather than a total ban on entry to the United States, the proposed restrictions would differ by nation, based on cooperation with American security mandates, the threat the United States believes each country presents and other variables, Miles Taylor, an aide to Duke, said on Friday.

After the Sept. 15 bombing attack on a London train, Trump wrote on Twitter that the new ban “should be far larger, tougher and more specific - but stupidly, that would not be politically correct.”

The expiring ban blocked entry into the United States by people from the six countries for 90 days and locked out most aspiring refugees for 120 days to give Trump’s administration time to conduct a worldwide review of U.S. vetting procedures for foreign visitors.

Critics have accused the Republican president of discriminating against Muslims in violation of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection under the law, breaking existing U.S. immigration law and stoking religious hatred.

Some federal courts blocked the ban, but the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to take effect in June with some restrictions.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Oct. 10 on whether the current ban discriminates against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution, as lower courts previously ruled.


In the Fall of 1969, students of Southwest Texas State University (TXST) protested for the immediate end of the Vietnam War. They were met with opposition, not just from other students, but from school administrators who made it incredibly difficult for them to assemble. Before one of their peaceful, quiet sit-in’s they were told they could only assemble when classes were not in session, meaning only from noon to 1 PM or after 4 PM. The students found this to be unfair and protested anyways. An estimated 70 students took part in the protest, and at one point had as many as 1,000 students halt to observe them. The University called the police and gave activists 3 minutes to all leave. All but 10 did. Those ten, known as the San Marcos 10, were then expelled from the university for one year, and went on to sue the school. They lost the case and the Supreme Court refused to hear it, but their demonstration will always be a huge part of TXST history.

You’ve heard the stories of the coat hanger and the back alley, those bloody days before Roe v. Wade. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy told one recently at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch. As a Vermont prosecutor in 1968, three years before the court struck down state abortion bans, cops woke Leahy up in the middle of the night, because “a young co-ed nearly died from bleeding from a botched abortion.” The senator’s drift was clear: If confirmed, Gorsuch could cast a vote, or several, to bring back those horrors (if not the archaic phrase “co-ed”). 

This is by now a rehearsed conflict. Mention dying women to antiabortion activists, and they insist that women weren’t prosecuted for having unlawful abortions before Roe v. Wade and won’t be if abortion is banned. Women, in this formulation, are victims of cruel abortionists. Indeed, Leahy wound up prosecuting the seedy go-between in that case, not the woman.

It is a curious but long-standing proposition by the antiabortion movement: Abortion is murder, but women shouldn’t be held accountable. Conservative groups were publicly aghast when candidate Donald Trump blurted out last year that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions if they’re banned. Eventually, Trump’s third and final statement that day declared: “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”

Read more here: If abortions become illegal, here’s how the government will prosecute women who have them