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Supreme Court will not consider police immunity

The United Nations’s top human rights body agreed to a request from African countries to urgently debate racism and police brutality on Wednesday following unrest in the US and beyond over George Floyd’s death. The killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police on June 13 reignited a push for protest in the city. Atlanta initially saw heavy…

Supreme Court will not consider police immunity

The United Nations’s top human rights body agreed to a request from African countries to urgently debate racism and police brutality on Wednesday following unrest in the US and beyond over George Floyd’s death.

The killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police on June 13 reignited a push for protest in the city. Atlanta initially saw heavy protests after the death of George Floyd, prompting calls from public officials and celebrities for peaceful demonstrations. 

Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked calls across the US for policing reforms and triggered global protests.

Here are the latest updates:
Monday, June 15
20:00 GMT – Atlanta mayor announces series of police reforms
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she is signing a series of administrative orders calling on police to implement reforms concerning use-of-force policies.
“It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste,” she said during a news conference.
19:39 GMT  – New Jersey police ordered to release names of disciplined officers
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S Grewal issued an order requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to begin publicly listing officers who commit serious disciplinary violations. 
The order mandates “every state, county, and local law enforcement agency in New Jersey” to annually publish a list of officers “who were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days due to a disciplinary violation, with the first list to be published no later than December 31, 2020”, according to a release issued the attorney general’s office. 

Protests after Black man killed by police in Atlanta, Georgia

“Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement”, Grewal said in the release.
The order is meant to build public trust, according to Colonel Patrick J Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. 
“By releasing the names of State Troopers who committed serious disciplinary violations, we are continuing the long, hard work of earning and maintaining the trust of the communities we serve”, Callahan said. 
17:28 GMT – Demonstration reaches Atlanta capital building, mayor says use of force needs review
The “March on Georgia”, organised by the state’s NAACP, reached the capital building in Atlanta on Monday. Demonstrators delivered a list of demands to the state legislature. 
These demands included ending Citizen’s Arrest and Stand Your Ground laws, among other measures regarding voter disenfrachisement, which are”necessary to end systemic racism in the criminal justice system and voter suppression in Georgia”, the organisation said in a release. 

VIDEO: The #MarchOnGeorgia has arrived at the Georgia State Capitol Building. #Atlanta #BlackLivesMatter #ATL #AtlantaProtest #Protests #gapol @FOX5Atlanta @Georgia_NAACP pic.twitter.com/FrR06GupMn
— Billy Heath III (@BillyHeathFOX5) June 15, 2020

The march came as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms she would issue a series of administrative orders to accelerate a review of policing in the wake of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms, speaking at a city council meeting, said it was “abundantly clear” there was a “comprehensive need” to take a look at the police department’s use of force and the training of police officers.
16:08 GMT – Black Lives Matter banner in Seoul removed after Trump complaints 
A large “Black Lives Matter” banner draped on the outside of the US embassy in Seoul was removed on Monday after President Donald Trump expressed his displeasure about it, two people familiar with the matter told the Reuters News Agency.
The banner was hung on the front of the mission building on Saturday as the embassy tweeted a message in support of the anti-racism campaign across the US and worldwide in response to the killing last month of Floyd.
The banner was seen as a rare show of open support for the Black Lives Matter movement by a Trump appointee, Ambassador Harry Harris.
Embassy spokesman William Coleman reiterated that Harris’s reason for putting it up was “to communicate a message of solidarity with Americans concerned with racism”.
Bloomberg News reported earlier that both Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were displeased about the banner.

The U.S. Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change. Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive & just society. pic.twitter.com/Y4Thr2MRdw
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) June 13, 2020

15:48 GMT – Family of Rayshard Brooks calls for reforms, ‘justice’ 
During a news conference on the killing of Rayshard Brooks, his family called for “drastic change” in the Atlanta Police Department. 
“The trust that we have with the police force is broken,” Tiara Brooks, Rayshard’s cousin, said at the news conference. 
“True justice will never prevail” because Rayshard will not come back, Tiara said, calling for demonstrations to continue in order to make sure another case like his will not occur. 
Lawyer L Chris Stewart, who is representing the Brooks family, questioned whether there was an acceptable definition of justice. He presented what he said were photos of vehicles that had been shot by police during the fatal incident. “It should never have happened,” Stewart said.

A man and two children mourn at the site of a Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot and killed by police in a struggle following a field sobriety test [Dustin Chambers/Getty Images/AFP]

Rayshard’s widow, Tomika Miller, said she wanted to thank everyone for their protests and support. 
Miller called on protests to remain peaceful, as the family wants to “keep his name positive and great”. 
The news conference ended suddenly as one of Brooks’s cousins broke down at the mention of his funeral. The man departed in tears, saying: “I want y’all to know, you took my cousin from me … you took the wrong person,” presumably speaking to the Atlanta police.
14:03 GMT – Supreme Court will not consider ‘qualified immunity’ case 
The US Supreme Court declined to hear a number of cases involving a legal defence called qualified immunity that can be used to shield government officials from lawsuits including police officers accused of excessive force.
The justices rejecting appeals in cases that had been pending before the court for months involving qualified immunity including a dispute over whether officers in Tennessee can be sued for using a dog on a man who says he had surrendered.
The decision to reject the cases comes as a national spotlight is once again trained on the police’s use of force after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been pulling together their own versions of police reform legislation.
12:45 – Alabama to place removed Confederate statue in a museum 
A Confederate statue removed from Alabama’s port city earlier this month has been relocated to a museum, the city’s mayor said.
The History Museum of Mobile has received the bronze likeness of Admiral Raphael Semmes, which stood in the middle of a downtown street near the Mobile waterfront for 120 years until June 5, and “will develop a plan to protect, preserve and display” the statue and “place it into the appropriate historic context”, the city’s mayor, Sandy Stimpson, said on Sunday in multiple Twitter posts.
The decision involved input from city council members and “involved conversations with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office”, Stimpson said on Twitter.

Another Confederate monument has been taken down: Mobile, Alabama removed the statue of a Confederate admiral from its pedestal last night. https://t.co/Au0eaIEu8W pic.twitter.com/NgDaoMNb84
— John Bowles (@JPBowles) June 5, 2020

Attorney General Steve Marshall had sent a letter to the mayor after the statue’s removal saying the city could be subject to a $25,000 fine for permanently moving the statue, an action that would violate a state law protecting monuments more than 40 years old, AL.com reported.
The statue was dedicated in 1900, the year before Alabama ratified a Constitution that established white supremacy in the state by essentially disenfranchising Black people and poor white people.
12:35 GMT – British PM praises Black Lives Matter demonstrator who carried suspected far-right protester from danger
The instincts of the Black Lives Matter protester who emerged from chaotic scenes in London carrying an injured white man, suspected of being a far-right demonstrator, during scuffles with counterprotesters on Saturday represented the best of us, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
Patrick Hutchinson has been hailed a hero for carrying the injured man over his shoulder, an image that has gone viral on social media after it was taken by a Reuters photographer.
“Patrick Hutchinson’s instincts at that moment represent the best of us,” the spokesman told reporters.

10:40 GMT – Black Americans disproportionately die in police Taser confrontations: Reuters 
As police confront protesters across the US, they are turning to rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and other weapons meant to minimise deaths.
But some are using a weapon that has the potential to kill: The Taser. When those encounters have turned fatal, Black people make up a disproportionate share of those who die, according to a Reuters analysis.

‘RIP Rayshard’ is spray-painted on a sign as flames engulf a Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police on Friday evening following a struggle in the restaurant’s drive-through line [Brynn Anderson/AP Photo]

Reuters documented 1,081 cases through the end of 2018 in which people died after being shocked by police with a Taser. At least 32 percent of those who died were Black, and at least 29 percent were white. African Americans make up 14 percent of the US population, and non-Hispanic whites 60 percent
09:22 GMT – UN rights council agrees to debate on racism, police violence
The United Nations’s top human rights body will hold an urgent debate on allegations of “systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests” in the US on Wednesday, a statement said.
The decision by the UN Human Rights Co un cil followed a request last week by Burkina Faso on behalf of African countries, it said in a statement on Monday. 
“The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident,” the letter said. 

#HRC43 has opened & starts w/ GD on item 5. It was decided that an urgent debate on the current racially inspired #HumanRights violations, systematic #racism, #PoliceBrutality & violence against peaceful protests to take place Wednesday, 17 June at 3 p.m. https://t.co/wUEEG9n2Bg pic.twitter.com/8SYNTgRThD
— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) June 15, 2020

Catch up on previous updates here.
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Supreme Court with Amy Coney Barrett would strengthen a broken Congress

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Congress is a broken, fading, branch of government. Fortunately, if she is confirmed, federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett will help fix that and strengthen Congress. In the last 50 years, as members of Congress have become distracted by raising money and getting on television, they have produced less actual product — legislation…

Supreme Court with Amy Coney Barrett would strengthen a broken Congress

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Congress is a broken, fading, branch of government. Fortunately, if she is confirmed, federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett will help fix that and strengthen Congress.

In the last 50 years, as members of Congress have become distracted by raising money and getting on television, they have produced less actual product — legislation — and what they have produced has lacked precision and specificity. In most cases, Congress has simply left the details of legislation both small and large to the discretion of the executive branch agencies.

Agencies, run primarily by career bureaucrats, have been all too happy to take the power Congress has ceded to them. The courts, left to try to make sense of complicated issues, have deferred to agency “expertise.” More specifically, federal courts have formalized this deference in two particular dimensions.

First, courts now give deference to agencies in interpreting the laws under which the agencies operate. As you might imagine, the agencies tend to interpret those laws in ways that expand their power and jurisdiction. The agencies also tend to make the laws as elastic as possible, stretching them to address all kinds of things that the original legislative text didn’t even imagine. Going back to Congress to get more authority is never the first option.

Second, the courts defer to the agencies’ interpretation of their own regulations. This is an obvious pathology. It creates a system in which agencies, having already created much of their jurisdiction from whole cloth, are given deference in determining the precise contours of that jurisdiction.

The good news is that a Supreme Court including Judge Barrett would scrap both deferences at the earliest possible opportunity. As a practical matter, that would require Congress to update statutes and to provide granular legislative text and direction to agencies. Lawmakers would have to make decisions that they now pass off to unelected bureaucrats.

It also would require Congress to return to a semblance of regular order. If legislative text actually means something, rather than simply be a prompt for agency rulemaking, it would need to go through a meaningful deliberative process — subcommittees, committees and amendments on the chamber floor. When lawmakers are responsible for actual policy outcomes — rather than being able to shift responsibility to someone else — congressional leadership will be unable to simply throw a 1,000-page bill on the floor unread and unexamined.

In short, by getting rid of misguided judicial deference to executive branch decisions, the Supreme Court can re-energize and restore the legislative branch. That would go a long way to reestablishing the idea that voters have an important say in the decisions of government. 

There are, unfortunately, people who want the status quo to remain the status quo. Over the next few weeks, some in the Senate will try to get Judge Barrett to commit to this or that or recuse herself from various issues.

Before she joins the court (assuming she is confirmed), Judge Barrett will take two oaths. One is a judicial oath that she will administer justice impartially. The other is the same one all federal officials take — to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. She will take no pledge to preserve precedent, bend to fashion, or respond to the loudest barking dog.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

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Supreme Court nomination battles get nastier

President Trump hadn’t even announced his Supreme Court pick this weekend yet a whisper campaign had already developed against Judge Amy Coney Barrett questioning whether her adoption of two Haitian children was on the up-and-up. Tactics formerly reserved for only the nastiest of political campaigns have in recent years bled over into battles for the…

Supreme Court nomination battles get nastier

President Trump hadn’t even announced his Supreme Court pick this weekend yet a whisper campaign had already developed against Judge Amy Coney Barrett questioning whether her adoption of two Haitian children was on the up-and-up.

Tactics formerly reserved for only the nastiest of political campaigns have in recent years bled over into battles for the judiciary, breaking down one of the last walls of decency in a town not known for it.

It used to be quite different.

One of President Kennedy’s nominees was announced in late March 1962, and about two weeks later was sitting on the high court.

Even as late as the Clinton administration, a former ACLU lawyer — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — could win confirmation to the Supreme Court on a 96-3 vote in the Senate, just 42 days after her nomination was submitted.

Republicans, who control the chamber now, have vowed to try to match that pace, though they have no hope of coming close to that near-unanimous vote of support for Judge Barrett.

The Congressional Research Service says things have gotten worse since the late 1960s, when a series of fights over the nominees of President Richard Nixon ushered in a new era.

Over nearly 200 years before that, it took about a week for the Senate to receive a nominee, sometimes hold hearings, then vote. Since 1967, that time has soared to an average of 68 days.

And it’s not just because of big-time showdowns. While blowups over Judge Robert Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas are well-remembered, there were also legislative knife fights over picks like Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a nominee of President George W. Bush, who waited 82 days for confirmation and had to survive an attempted filibuster.

Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, said as the court has inserted itself deeper into social issues, Americans — and the politicians they elect — have grown more combative over picking who’s making those decisions.

“There’s a lot more at stake,” he said.

The battle over Justice Ginsburg’s seat was raging even before Judge Barrett was announced Saturday as the nominee to fill it.

Republicans are speeding to get her approved, with a timeline of acting before the Nov. 3 election. Democrats say that timetable’s a thing of the past, and it should take months to approve a nominee.

And in this case they say any action at all is hypocritical after Senate Republicans just four years ago refused to act on President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, citing the looming election in blocking him for almost a year.

The treatment of Judge Garland is still very fresh in the minds of Democrats.

“Garland was simply an extension of how politicized the court has become. It was a naked abuse of the process to deny a good man even a hearing,” said Jim Manley, a veteran Democratic operative who worked for Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Harry Reid when they were involved in fights over judges.

Mr. Manley said after what the GOP did to Judge Garland, if they now speed Judge Barrett through, Democrats must “strongly consider” expanding the high court, should they take control of the White House and Senate in November’s elections.

Republicans say they won’t be lectured on treatment of judges.

Indeed, analysts looking for a start to the nastiness often point to how Democrats approached Bork’s nomination in 1987.

A high-powered legal mind and appeals court judge, Bork was deemed “well-qualified” for the high court by the American Bar Association.

But Kennedy delivered a withering repudiation of his judicial philosophy in a famous floor speech, challenging Democrats, who controlled the chamber, to reject him. Everything from his legal writings to his personal video-rental history became fodder.

Bork’s nomination was defeated on a 58-42 vote, and “to bork” joined the lexicon as a term for unfair treatment of a nominee.

Four years after the first borking, Justice Thomas’s nomination arose and then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden led the Senate in a set of hearings over allegations of sexual harassment. Justice Thomas survived the process and was confirmed on a 52-48 vote.

“Compare the treatment of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh to that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, and it’s clear that there already is one set of rules for a Republican president and one set of rules for a Democrat president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

Mr. Graham, who as Judiciary Committee chairman will oversee Judge Barrett’s confirmation process, said four years ago that he would never move forward with a nominee in a presidential election year.

The treatment of Justice Kavanaugh changed his mind, he says.

Mr. Trump’s previous high court pick was forced to go through a second round of hearings after a woman came forward saying he’d sexually assaulted her in high school. Other women followed.

None of the major accusations was substantiated, and the first woman’s own account was disputed by those she said were present. Justice Kavanaugh squeaked by on a 50-48 vote.

Judging by the numbers, GOP picks have indeed had a rougher go than Democratic nominees.

Since 1980, Republican presidents have submitted 11 high court nominations to the Senate. They’ve lingered an average of 73 days, and earned an average of 71 votes in support.

Democrats over that time have submitted four high court nominees. All of them have been confirmed, they were pending for an average of 67 days, and they were approved with an average of 79 votes in support.

And no Democratic president’s picks have ever faced an attempted filibuster. Six Republican picks have.

Mr. Manley said Republican presidents make more controversial picks.

“For better or worse, Democratic presidents have usually tried to thread the needle by nominating relatively moderate candidates for the court. Republicans on the other hand oftentimes have picked very controversial nominees with very conservative views,” he said.

Mr. Levey saw a different explanation: “The Democrats are just better at, or more prone to, I’m not sure which, the politics of personal destruction.”

He said Republicans have been more deferential to Democratic presidents in the past, but he said that may have been undone by the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh.

“We may look at the days between Bork and Thomas and Gorsuch as the good old days, because a lot of people are angry about Kavanaugh on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “We maybe in for a period that makes 1987 through a few years ago look tame.”

Mr. Levey said there have been some windows of intense court battles before.

The years before the Civil War saw a number of presidential picks defeated or forced to withdraw. And during the New Deal era the court was also a battleground. Then, as now, Democrats talked of stacking the panel with more justices in order to change the playing field.

Today’s nastiness can be broken into two categories: the norm-breaking, and the rule-rewriting.

An example of norm-breaking began in 2003, when Democrats launched filibusters of President George W. Bush’s appeals court nominees. The first target was Miguel Estrada, a young superstar lawyer whom Democrats called “dangerous” because he was on track to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

After waiting more than two years, Mr. Estrada withdrew his nomination. During the confirmation fight, his wife suffered a miscarriage.

Democrats would go on to filibuster nine other Bush picks for appeals court seats, then attempt to filibuster Justice Alito.

A decade later, the GOP used the same tactic on some of President Obama’s nominees. Then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, engaged in rule-rewriting, using the “nuclear option” to defang the filibuster for all presidential nominees save Supreme Court picks.

When Mr. Trump took office and Democrats launched the first-ever successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, the GOP followed Mr. Reid’s lead and used the nuclear option to complete the rules change for high court picks, too.

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Court rules Congress can sue over Donald Trump’s border wall funding switch

The House of Representatives can sue President Trump over his move to siphon funding from Pentagon accounts toward his border wall plans, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, delivering a major statement on where the power of the purse lies in American government. The ruling does not halt construction of the wall. But it does…

Court rules Congress can sue over Donald Trump’s border wall funding switch

The House of Representatives can sue President Trump over his move to siphon funding from Pentagon accounts toward his border wall plans, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, delivering a major statement on where the power of the purse lies in American government.

The ruling does not halt construction of the wall.

But it does give Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats a new chance to argue in court that Mr. Trump illegally shifted funds to build the wall, which could curtail future construction, should they prevail.

The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous three-judge ruling, said money spent without the House’s agreement is a specific injury to the House, and as an institution it has the right to sue.

“Failure to recognize that injury in fact would fundamentally alter the separation of powers by allowing the Executive Branch to spend any funds the Senate is on board with, even if the House withheld its authorizations,” wrote Judge David B. Sentelle, a Reagan appointee.

He was joined by two Obama appointees.

Their decision overturns a lower court decision that said the House didn’t have standing.

Mr. Trump had asked for at least $5 billion in border wall money for fiscal year 2019, and sent the government into a partial shutdown to try to get his way, but eventually caved and signed a bill allocating only $1.375 billion

But he then issued directives to shift more than $6 billion in money from Pentagon accounts toward wall-building.

He repeated that same maneuver for fiscal year 2020 as well.

Challenges have been filed in courts across the country and Mr. Trump has lost in most of them, though the Supreme Court has ruled construction can continue while the cases make their way through the process.

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