Roundup: An Amendment By Any Other Name Smells Just As Bad

Robin Marty

Congress debates restrictive amendment that effects only women -- wait, haven't we been here before? Also, where do conservatives stand on baby expenses?

Sometimes you just have to wonder if you are stuck in the movie "Groundhog’s Day."  Here we are, five weeks later, with the same amendment pushed by another group of congressmen, this time, senators, over the same objections over it being a sexist amendment that only applies to and harms women, especially poor women.  

But just as Bill Murray gets a chance to make each version of the same day a little better, there are bright sides to what I can only call debate rerun.  One such highlight was democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s bright idea for who should really purchase "abortion riders":

Sen. Mikulski, visibly angry with the amendment, said the very idea of having to purchase a rider for abortion coverage was not only demonizing but insulting to women.  She called the language discriminatory and said no woman ever plans on having an abortion.  "How about letting men buy an abortion rider for the women they get pregnant," Mikulski fumed.  "Maybe we’ll give them a discount," she added.

Much of the attention of the media has been on Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson for pushing the amendment, both while knowing that it likely will never pass in the senate and stating clearly that he has no interest in compromise nor really much interest in passing health care reform as it stands, anyway.  Less focus has been given to Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, who, although considered as solidly pro-life as Nelson, has made it apparent that he is not only looking for a middle ground to the debate, but that his vote on reform will not be held hostage to his pro-life leanings.  

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Mr. Casey has become a central figure in talking to Democratic leadership, the White House and others about how to navigate the potential impasse.

"Sen. Casey from the start has been one of the most constructive players in the health care debate," said Jim Kessler, of the progressive think tank Third Way and a former staffer for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

"He’s one of the few pro-life Democrats who can talk to all sides, and it puts him in a very unique position. I don’t think it’s just someone that provides cover. I think he can search for language that not every side will love, but they will support."

In the end, although the senate debate was stirred up primarily by a pro-life democratic senator, all eyes may end up on a pro-choice republican one to make the final decision:

Another factor arguing against additional abortion amendments is the fact that if Reid cannot count on Nelson to get to 60 votes, he will have to pin his hopes on Olympia Snowe, a strong supporter of abortion rights. Snowe’s main stated concern about health reform is the public option. But stronger abortion restrictions would only make her less likely to sign on to be that crucial last vote to pass reform. Which is why as of Monday night, Democratic leaders were much busier crafting a public option compromise than worrying about abortion negotiations.

The vote on the Stupak…err, pardon me, Nelson-Hatch amendment should occur this morning.

 

Mini roundup: Babies are spendy.  Sadly, conservatives aren’t sure where they should stand on that fact.

 

12/8

The
Stupak Lessons — By: Robert Costa

National Review Online

Letter:
Health bill shouldn’t restrict women’s care
The Saratogian

State
defends ban on
abortion as
women take case to Europe
Irish Independent

The Health
Reform
Abortion
Wars, Part Deux – Swampland
TIME

Reader’s
view:
Pro-life
lawmakers ignore the living who need help
Duluth News Tribune

NIH
backs embryonic stem cells to protect
abortions

The News Journal

COLUMN:
Column twisted abortion facts
Wausau Daily Herald

Catholic
group’s abortion rights ads conflict with church’s stance
Marquette Tribune

 

12/7

Casey
seeks middle ground on
abortion issue
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Abortion
kills
Northwest
Herald

Senate
to confront
abortion in
health care debate
San
Francisco Chronicle

Parallels
between
abortion,
recession unclear
Northwest
Herald

Senators:
Obama Didn’t Mention Public Option or
Abortion – The Note
ABCNews.com

The
Big Issues Bedeviling Harry Reid
NPR

Don’t
Be Fooled, Democrats Want Funding for
Abortion to Be Part of Health Care
FOXNews

Congress:
Debating Nelson’s amendment
msnbc.com

Nelson’s
Abortion
Amendment Expected Today as Health Care Debate Continues
American Spectator

The Abortion Debate:
A Primer – Prescriptions Blog
NYTimes

NY
Woman Charged with ‘Attempted
Abortion‘ After Alleged Bid to Kill Rival’s
Baby
Lifesite

Massachusetts’
would-be senators roil healthcare
abortion debate
Christian Science Monitor

A
New Alternative to the Public Option Emerges
CBS News

Fox
News Anchor: "Low-Income Babies" Will Increase Without Federal
Abortion
Huffington Post

Abortion in
Healthcare Bill Remains a Puzzle for Democrats—and GOP Opponents
U.S. News & World Report

Drew
Joseph: Boxer leads charge on abortion

San Francisco Chronicle

Are Pro-Choice
Democrats Ready to Turn Over Control of Their Bodies
Hot Air

Big
Brother Wants to Manage Low-Income Women’s
Family Planning
Change.org Women’s Rights Blog

Irish
Abortion Challenge Hearing This Week

Ms. Magazine

Africa:
USA/Africa – Aids – Yes, We Can?
AllAfrica.com

Just
one boy, 17, awaits
adoption in Richland County
Mansfield News Journal

Abortion
and the fraud of legislative precedents.
Slate

Denominations’
support of abortion in health care ‘tragic’
Town Hall

House
Omnibus Bill Could Overturn
Pro-Life Laws on Tax-Funded Abortions
LifeNews.com

Parents’
Sex Talk With Kids: Too Little Too Late
TIME

State
feels birth pangs
Las
Vegas Review – Journal

Colorado
maternity bill would require coverage for
birth control

The Colorado Independent

Boys
Miss Out on Sex Education Talks
U.S. News & World Report

The
real inconvenient truth
National Post

News Law and Policy

Louisiana Cops Get Hate Crime Protections as Violence Against Police Plummets

Teddy Wilson

A New Orleans activist said that the "Blue Lives Matter" bill allows law enforcement to hide “behind uniforms and badges” despite having a “long and egregious history” of committing acts of violence against communities of color.

Louisiana legislators this week passed a bill making assault of police officers a hate crime.

Supporters of the measure claim it’s needed because of a growing threat of targeted violence against law enforcement. Data shows that violence against law enforcement has declined to historically low levels, while the killing of civilians by police officers has dramatically risen. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is expected to sign the so-called Blue Lives Matter bill into law. The bill’s name is a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, a collection of grassroots activists around the country who have demanded justice for victims of police violence.

HB 953, sponsored by Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), would amend the state’s hate crime law to include acts of violence against “law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.”

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Under the state’s hate crime law, someone can be charged with a hate crime for an act of violence against a person who was targeted because of their “race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry.”

The “Blue Lives Matter” measure would create the first protected class based on a profession, not an immutable identity. A person convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime could face a prison sentence of up to six months and a $500 fine, and anyone convicted of a felony hate crime could face an additional five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Harris that the bill is necessary to protect law enforcement, reported USA Today.

HB 953 was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled state legislature. The bill was passed by the house with a 92-0 vote. It cleared the state senate with a 33-3 vote.

State Sens. Wesley Bishop (D-New Orleans), Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) were the only lawmakers to vote against the bill.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana is not taking a position on the bill. Executive Director Marjorie Esman told Rewire that “at the end of the day,” the bill does not change the scope of current law as it applies to protected classes of people. 

Allison Goodman, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League’s office in Metairie, Louisiana, told the Advocate that the proposal is “not something we could recommend,” and a departure from the traditional intent of hate crime laws.”

“It’s really focused on immutable characteristics,” Goodman said. “Proving the bias intent for a hate crime for law enforcement or first responders is very different than proving it for someone who is Jewish or gay or black.”

Terrel Kent, a former East Baton Rouge parish attorney, told NBC News that the proposal is unnecessary and redundant.  

“As a former prosecutor I know for a fact that battery of a police officer is already covered by other laws here in Louisiana,” Kent said. “To include essential peace officers, sheriffs, law enforcement officials or first responders is a slap in the face to protected classes.”

Harris said during an interview with CNN that the law was needed to protect law enforcement.

“In the news, you see a lot of people terrorizing and threatening police officers on social media just due to the fact that they are policemen. Now, this (new law) protects police and first responders under the hate-crime law,” Harris said.

Harris cited the death of Texas sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth as one of the reasons he sponsored HB 953. Goforth, a ten-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, was ambushed, shot and killed while in uniform in August 2015.

“It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” Harris said.

Shannon Miles was indicted for capital murder in November 2015, and prosecutors alleged he murdered Goforth for the sole reason that he was a police officer. Miles had reportedly been arrested multiple times and had a long history of mental illness.

As the legal proceedings unfolded, allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officials emerged. It was alleged that officials connected with the investigation had an improper sexual relationship with a witness to the shooting. This led to local activists to call for an apology from law enforcement for connecting the shooting to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Miles was found to be incompetent to stand trial, and will be reevaluated for trial after spending 120 days in a mental health facility.

Harris did not respond to Rewire’s request to comment on this story.

There were 42 police officers killed by firearms nationwide in 2015. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has steadily decreased over the past three decades. Police deaths by gunfire decreased by 14 percent from 2014-2015 and police officer deaths were at a 50-year low in 2013. 

“The 42 firearms-related deaths of police officers in 2015 are 26 percent lower than the average of 57 per year for the decade spanning 2000-2009,” according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

Eighty-three officers have been killed in the line of duty in Louisiana since 2000, according the NLEOMF. There were eight policers killed in the state in 2015. No Louisiana police officers have been killed in 2016, according to NLEOMF data.

Statistics Raise Questions About “Blue Lives Matter” Law

The number of civilians killed by law enforcement in Louisiana far outnumber the number of police who have been killed in the line of duty.  

At least 1,146 people were killed in the United States by police officers in 2015, according to the Guardian database of police shootings. Police officers have shot and killed 28 people in Louisiana since the start of 2015. Of those 28 people, 14 were Black men, two of whom were unarmed.

Police in Louisiana have shot and killed eight people so far in 2016. 

Fatal Encounters, a project to create a comprehensive national database of people who are killed through interactions with police, has collected data on fatal police shootings in Louisiana.

There have been 438 civilians killed by police since 2000, according to data from Fatal Encounters. Of those killed by police, 143 were Black and 96 were white. There were 188 incidents in which a civilian whose race was unspecified was killed by police.

Harris represents House District 25, a rural district in central Louisiana that includes part of the town of Alexandria. There have been five people killed by law enforcement in Alexandria since 2000, with three of those five people killed since 2014. 

Bobby AndersonChristopher LeBlanc, and John Ashley were all killed by police officers in Alexandria.

Anthony Molette was also killed in February 2003 by police officers in Alexandria after allegedly shooting and killing police officers Jeremy Carruth and David Ezernack.

Aaron Rutledge, a combat medic and a recruiter for the Louisiana National Guard, was shot and killed in April 2015 by a Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputy after local law enforcement responded to a call that Rutledge had threatened someone with a firearm and then threatened himself, reported the Town Talk.

Lawmakers in the state legislature introduced a resolution in April to offer “condolences of the Senate of the Legislature of Louisiana to the family of Louisiana Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Aaron Rutledge upon his death in the service of his country.”

Harris was not among the lawmakers who sponsored the resolution.

“Hiding Behind Uniforms and Badges”

Louisiana has the worst racial disparities in the country, based on indicators related to household income, public school segregation, and health insurance, among others, according to a study by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans.

These same racial disparities are manifested in the state’s the criminal justice system, according to local activists who have spoken out against HB 953.

Angela Kinlaw, an activists in New Orleans, said in a statement that the state of Louisiana has ensured that the law is used to “manipulate and control citizens” while being exploited by a systemically unjust system.

“In the face of ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, this “Blue Lives Matter” bill is an intentional slap in the face, designed to control, create fear, and through police discretion penalize citizens for situations that often police create or escalate,” Kinlaw said. “We have seen it time and time again.”

Significant racial disparities have been documented in death penalty sentences in Louisiana. Defendants accused of killing white victims are nearly twice as likely to be sentenced to death and nearly four times as likely to be executed than defendants accused of killing Black victims, according to a study published in the Loyola University of New Orleans Journal of Public Interest Law.

Nia Weeks, policy director of the New Orleans-based Women With a Vision, said in a statement that hate crime laws should protect “vulnerable members of our community” when they are the victims of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

“Structurally there is a power differentiation between police officers and those they encounter. When Black women are immersed in the criminal justice system, they enter a place that imparts racist, sexist, and homophobic ideology on them from the beginning,” Weeks said.

The New Orleans Chapter of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) released a statement opposing the bill. Savannah Shange of BYP100 New Orleans said that the bill allows law enforcement to hide “behind uniforms and badges” despite having a “long and egregious history” of committing acts of violence against communities of color.

“We have to stop this malicious trend before it starts—we cannot allow the gains of the civil rights movement to be squandered away by police officers scrambling to avoid criticism from their constituents,” Shange said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated data about police officer deaths over the past 50 years.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Campaign Says Glitch Led to Selection of White Nationalist Leader As Delegate

Ally Boguhn

The prominent white supremacist has since resigned. And on the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders registered their objections to the Obama administration's immigration raids.

A “database error” this week supposedly led Donald Trump’s campaign to select a white nationalist leader to its California delegate list, and the Democratic presidential candidates are speaking out about the Obama administration’s planned immigration raids.

Trump Campaign: Picking White Nationalist Who Wrote Book Calling For Deportation of All People of Color as Delegate was a “Database Error”

Trump’s campaign added William Johnson, leader of white nationalist group the American Freedom Party, to his California delegate list after a supposed computer glitch.

Johnson applied to the Trump campaign and was chosen from a list of the presumptive Republican nominee’s delegates submitted to the California secretary of state’s office. In California, presidential candidates choose Republican delegatesnot the party.

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Johnson, in an email to Mother Jones on Tuesday, confirmed that he had been chosen by the Trump campaign, expressing excitement about the opportunity. “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” Johnson told the publication. “I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody.”

Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks claimed that the inclusion of Williams was no more than a glitch after the campaign had rejected the white nationalist leader. “Yesterday the Trump campaign submitted its list of California delegates to be certified by the Secretary of State of California,” Hicks said in a statement to the Washington Post. “A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016.”

Johnson on Wednesday told the Associated Press he had resigned from his role as a delegate. “I was naive,” Johnson told AP about his application. “I thought people wouldn’t notice, and if they did notice I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”

He noted that Trump’s policy positions lined up with those he supported.

“[Trump] wants to build the wall [along the border with Mexico]. He wants to cut off illegal immigration, and he wants to cut back on foreign trade, bring jobs back to America,” Johnson said. “We believe Donald Trump will help lead the country in a proper direction.”

Johnson gained notoriety as a self-identified “white nationalist” whose PAC, American National Super PAC, was responsible for robocalls this year in Iowa featuring another white nationalist, Jared Taylor. “I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America,” Taylor said in the robocall according to Talking Points Memo. “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

Johnson wrote a book in 1985, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, calling “to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible” from the the United States:

In 1985, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America. In it, he advocates the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States. He wrote: “We lose our effectiveness as leaders when no one relies on us or can trust us because of our nonwhite and fractionalized nature. … [R]acial diversity has given us strife and conflict and is enormously counterproductive.”

Johnson’s solution to this problem was to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible. Anybody with any “ascertainable trace of Negro blood” or more than one-eighth “Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood” would be deported under the Pace Amendment.

As late as Monday, Trump’s campaign had expressed confidence about their delegate selection before controversy broke out over the addition of Williams. “We believe that our delegation represents the economic and grassroots community diversity of California. We feel very good about it,” Tim Clark, Trump’s California strategist, told the Sacramento Bee that day.

The campaign reportedly corresponded with Johnson on Monday.

Other notable figures selected as delegates for Trump include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal.   

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak Out Against Obama Administration’s Immigration Raids

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), condemned the Obama administration’s coming immigration raids after news broke this week of an upcoming sweep.

U.S. immigration officials will conduct a monthlong series of deportation raids targeting undocumented families from Central America, Reuters reported on Thursday, in what will likely be “the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families” by the Obama administration this year.

“I oppose the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries. Sending these people back into harm’s way is wrong,” Sanders said in a statement posted to his campaign’s website Thursday. “I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”

Clinton said she was “against large scale raids that tear families apart and sow fear in communities” and that “we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night.”

The candidates have spoken out against the Obama administration’s ongoing raids, showing particular concern for the deportation of children. Advocates, however, say that the presidential candidates have not done enough to tackle the issue.

What Else We’re Reading

Priests for Life President Frank Pavone compared the presidential election to a choice between killing ten people and killing 100 people. 

Clinton proposed allowing “people 55 or 50 and up” buy in to Medicare.

Trump supporter Sarah Palin spoke out against Trump’s assertion that he would change the GOP’s abortion platform while speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I don’t want the platform to change,” said Palin, adding that she “respect[s] the “culture of life that will be built upon the pro-life views the majority of Republicans hold.” 

The Nation’s Ari Berman wrote that “voter suppression is the only way Donald Trump can win” the White House.

Leaders from extremist groups such as the Family Research Council, National Right to Life, and the National Organization for Marriage are reportedly still unsure about whether they will back Trump now that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has left the race for the Republican nomination.

The Washington Post examined how the rise of Donald Trump may jeopardize the Congressional seats of other Republicans running down the ballot. One of those legislators could be Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) who notoriously introduced the failed “Blunt Amendment” to exempt any employer with a moral objection from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.

Former KKK leader David Duke tweeted that Donald Trump should ask him to join his ticket as vice president, claiming the move would be good “life insurance.”

Minnesota Republicans endorsed a candidate for the state’s 2nd congressional district seat who once claimed that women are “simply ignorant … of the important issues in life” because they are concerned about their reproductive health.

Don’t miss The Black Belt, a short film from the Intercept. It highlights voting rights in Alabama—which requires a photo ID at the polls—after the state closed 31 DMV locations that were primarily located in communities with large Black populations.