By Robert A. Vella
People might think that yesterday’s order by the U.S. Supreme Court – that overturned an appellate court injunction against President Trump’s ban on Central American migrant asylum applications – finally represents some assertiveness by the nation’s highest judicial body which, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has tended to avoid in recent years for fear of being seen as blatantly partisan. In reality, however, this order was anything but bold. Rather, it was yet another cowardly move by the conservative court to allow illegal practices by a Republican president while evading the responsibility to rule on the legal merits of said practices. Consequently, the issue of allowing asylum applications on U.S. soil regardless of how the applicants arrive here – which is clearly affirmed in U.S. law – won’t be decided until next year at the very least either in the middle of a presidential election campaign or afterwards. In other words, SCOTUS simply punted the ball in order to protect Trump from further embarrassment.
Thomas Piketty has a new intriguing book out now on economic inequality in which he ascribes the rapidly worsening problem to modern politics and ideology and not just exclusively to western style capitalism. He cites several current examples, particularly India and China, where inequality is rising among the fastest rates. Piketty also discusses reforms to capitalism such as limiting individual stock ownership in corporations to prevent monopolization by large shareholders, and re-implementing progressive taxation to prevent excessive wealth consolidation.
If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, California will be the first state to enact a groundbreaking change to the economics of major college sports which is widely seen as exploitive and unfair to amateur athletes who not only perform as unpaid workers but who also are precluded from commercializing their fame by organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
SCOTUS order on asylum
The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.
The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.
It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.
“Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution,” wrote Sotomayor, who was joined in her dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher — the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law.”
“By granting a stay, the Court simultaneously lags behind and jumps ahead of the courts below,” she wrote. “And in doing so, the Court sidesteps the ordinary judicial process to allow the Government to implement a rule that bypassed the ordinary rulemaking process.
“Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal. Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively.”
Mexico’s government has consistently argued that migratory pressures should be alleviated by helping to develop the countries that send the bulk of migrants north, the Central American trio of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Ebrard said he expected the number of U.S.-bound migrants, which has fallen in the last three months, to drop further, and that it was in his country’s interest to avoid tensions with Washington on migration in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been at pains to avoid antagonizing Trump over trade and migration, mindful of the fact that Mexico sends around 80% of its exports to the United States.
Piketty’s new book on inequality
The French edition of “Capital and Ideology,’’ weighing in at 1,232 pages, comes out on Thursday (English speakers will have to wait till next year for a translation). It’s a sequel to “Capital in the 21st Century,’’ which has sold more than 2.5 million copies in 40 languages since 2013, according to its publisher.
… he says his new book addresses two shortcomings of the last one, which was too focused on Western economies, and didn’t give enough space to the political ideologies that lie behind inequality.
“Capital and Ideology’’ ranges across time and geography, with analysis of colonial, slave-owning and communist economies, and references to India, China and Brazil.
Piketty says his conclusion is that it’s a mistake to see inequality as rooted in nature, or driven by changes in technology. Its real causes are to be found in politics and ideology — and that makes it easier to challenge.
Groundbreaking law on college sports
California’s state Senate voted Wednesday to pass the Fair Pay to Play Act with a tally of 39-0. The California State Assembly approved the bill by a 73-0 vote earlier this week. The bill now moves to Newsom, who will have 30 days to decide whether he will sign it into law.
The proposed legislation, which would not go into effect until 2023, would make it illegal for California schools to take away an athlete’s scholarship or eligibility as punishment for accepting endorsement money.
The NCAA opposes the bill because it would make it illegal for California schools to follow the NCAA’s rules on a player’s ability to make money by selling the rights to his or her own name, image or likeness. The association is open to updating its rules to better fit the 21st century, according to NCAA board of governors chair Michael Drake, but wants those changes to be made on a national scale rather than state by state.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says there’s no confusion about what his committee is doing: It’s an impeachment investigation, no matter how you want to phrase it.
Nadler tried to clear up any misconceptions Thursday as the committee approved guidelines for impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump . Some of Nadler’s fellow Democrats — including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — have stumbled over how to explain what they’re doing.
“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said as he opened the meeting. “But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”
In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.
“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.
The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.