Kavanaugh’s support for surveilling Americans raises concern
By DAN SEWELL
Tuesday, August 28
CINCINNATI (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has frequently supported giving the U.S. government wide latitude in the name of national security, including the secret collection of personal data from Americans.
It’s a subject Democrats plan to grill Kavanaugh about during his confirmation hearings scheduled to begin next Tuesday. Beyond his writings as an appeals court judge, some senators suspect Kavanaugh was more involved in crafting counterterrorism policies during the George W. Bush administration than he has let on.
Kavanaugh stated in past congressional testimony that he wasn’t involved in such provocative matters as warrantless surveillance and the treatment of enemy combatants in the years immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
But legal experts say he could shift the court on national security issues, if he is confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor whose expertise includes national security and counterterrorism, cites opinions he says show Kavanaugh “is a lot less willing (than Kennedy) to look at international law as a relevant source of authority and constraint.” He said on matters such as Guantanamo detention, Kavanaugh is “much more deferential to the executive branch in this context than Kennedy would have been.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, calls Kavanaugh “incredibly well-qualified.” The former U.S. trade representative and White House budget director knows Kavanaugh from their time together in the Bush administration. He said Kavanaugh “believes strongly in the Constitution” and the Bill of Rights.
“I think he’s in the mainstream with regard to these issues, and frankly, I don’t think it’s a difference with any meaning between where he is and where the court is currently,” Portman said.
Democrats facing an uphill battle in blocking Kavanaugh’s nomination have focused less on his judicial counterterrorism record than whether he misled senators about his role in Bush policies while testifying in 2006 confirmation hearings.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy are among Democrats who want to see more records from Kavanaugh’s White House days, saying news media accounts after he was seated on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia raised new questions.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said Durbin has been doing the misleading by taking Kavanaugh’s answers out of context.
“As several colleagues have stated, and Judge Kavanaugh accurately said in his 2006 testimony, he was not involved in crafting legal policies that formed the rules governing detention of combatants,” Shah said in an emailed statement.
After meeting recently with Kavanaugh, Durbin said the judge “acknowledged that he was involved in conversations involving enemy combatants.”
Shah responded with a tweet saying Kavanaugh was truthful, and that the conversations Durbin referred to “were about public litigation, not the legal framework or policies that formed the rules governing detention of combatants.”
Kavanaugh’s confirmation got past a potential obstacle when libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., endorsed him last month.
Paul had cited Kavanaugh’s 2015 defense of the National Security Agency’s widescale secret collection of telephone metadata — records of callers and recipients’ phone numbers and times and durations of the calls. But after meeting with Kavanaugh, Paul said he’s confident Kavanaugh will “carefully adhere to the Constitution and will take his job to protect individual liberty seriously.”
The NSA program didn’t include capturing conversations themselves, and Kavanaugh wrote that it served “a critically important special need — preventing terrorist attacks on the United States … In my view, that critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this program.”
Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch and lead plaintiff in the NSA case, said Kavanaugh approved what a U.S. district court judge had called government use of “almost Orwellian technology.”
Kavanaugh defended the NSA program in an opinion attached to a procedural ruling in which he and his colleagues agreed not to rehear the case, so there was no pressing need for him to weigh in .
University of Louisville law professor Justin Walker, a former Kavanaugh clerk, said that’s not unusual for the judge. For example, Kavanaugh added his opinion to a procedural ruling in a case that led to a Supreme Court decision for a drug suspect who had a police-placed GPS tracker on his car.
The high court found in USA vs. Antoine Jones that Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated, with a majority opinion that incorporated Kavanaugh’s observation that police intruded on the defendant’s personal property: his car.
“I’ve been surprised that his one short opinion (in Klayman) has not been seen in a broader context with more perspective,” Walker said, adding that when senators study Kavanaugh’s complete record on civil liberties, “they’re going to like what they see.”
But Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization dedicated to digital privacy rights, worries that “he has a very broad view of the government’s ability to do mass surveillance and specifically in the context where the government is claiming national security.”
Cohn has pursued a lawsuit alleging illegal NSA surveillance of “millions of ordinary Americans,” among cases she said could eventually reach the Supreme Court. She questions whether Kavanaugh supports “real checks and balances on the power of the executive branch” on privacy issues.
Kavanaugh discussed judicial restraint on national security in an 87-page 2010 opinion. That one went against a Yemeni citizen U.S. forces captured in Afghanistan.
“Put simply, Congress knows how to limit the executive’s authority in national security and foreign policy; there is no reason or basis for courts to strain to do so absent such congressional direction,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Vladeck pointed to such cases as Kavanaugh’s 2011 ruling for turning over a U.S. citizen linked to al-Qaida terrorism in Iraq to Iraqi authorities the man said were likely to torture him, and in 2009 joining in a 2-1 vote against plaintiffs who wanted to sue private contractors they accused of beatings, dog attacks and other abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
There are still 40 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. naval base, with the possibility of more .
In a 2013 lecture , Kavanaugh talked about his appeals court’s rulings in cases involving Guantanamo detainees and counterterrorism, saying he disagreed with people who believed “the courts should be creating new rules to constrain the executive — that this new kind of war requires new rules created by the courts.”
“He’s incredibly smart; he’s a thoughtful and thorough judge,” said Vladeck. “He just has pretty exceptionally conservative views about the role of the federal courts in the kinds of cases that I work on.”
Find AP’s reporting on the Kavanaugh nomination at https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination
Follow Dan Sewell on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell
Interim Report on Kinship Care Pilot Program
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
August 29, 2018
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today released the 30 Days to Family Interim Report, tracking the progress the program has made since the first pilot counties were identified in December 2017.
Now with nine participating counties hit hard by the opioid epidemic, 30 Days to Family is a family finding and foster family recruitment program funded as part of a $1 million Victims of Crime Act grant from the Attorney General’s office.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and stable home. There has been a growing chasm in Ohio between the number of foster families and the increasing number of children who enter the child welfare system in recent years because one or both of their parents have substance use disorder,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Programs like 30 Days to Family can help fill that void by connecting children to appropriate relatives who are willing to help support members of their family. Kinship care and the resources that 30 Days to Family helps provide can increase stability and support for children when they are struggling the most.”
“I believe that the 30 Days to Family Ohio program will act as one of many important child welfare puzzle pieces that when put together ensure that all children achieve safety, permanency, and wellbeing throughout the state of Ohio,” said Maria Roehrkasse, 30 Days to Family Project Director. “Given the extent of work program implementation requires, I am humbled that pilot counties have mobilized so quickly to serve their communities. Now that all nine pilot counties are actively serving children and families through this model we are optimistic about the reach the program will have in Ohio.”
Highlights of startup and implementation of 30 Days to Family include:
• 84 children served
• 528 hours of staff training completed
• 729 stakeholder training participants including, foster parents, community partners, and staff members
Counties served by 30 Days to Family include Allen, Clark, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Hamilton, Highland, Montgomery, Stark, and Summit.
The entire interim report, including 30 Days to Family success stories, can be found on the Attorney General’s website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. More information about 30 Days to Family can be found on the program administrator’s website KinnectOhio.org.
This School Year, Let’s Keep Kids in Classrooms
There are better ways to help students learn from their behavior than suspension and expulsion.
By Daniela Aspiazu |August 29, 2018
It’s no secret that our country incarcerates people of color at much higher rates than white people. What might be less well known is that this can begin in the classroom.
Across the country, schools routinely punish, suspend, and expel students of color at higher rates than white students — setbacks that can follow students for years. Those were the findings of a new Institute for Policy Studies report called Students Under Siege.
I saw this firsthand going to school in Indiana. A report by the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that Indiana “ranks second in the country in its rate of black male out-of-school suspensions” and “ranks fourth in the rate of black female out-of-school suspensions.”
It’s not an issue of one group “misbehaving” more than another. An Indiana University study found that black and Latino students are suspended for much more subjective reasons than their white peers. For instance, a white student might be suspended for smoking, while a black, Latino, or Latina student might be suspended for the much murkier offense of being “disruptive.”
I watched the same pattern play out at William Henry Harrison, the West Lafayette, Indiana high school I graduated from in 2015. Despite students of color making up less than a quarter of its student body, they’re over-represented in suspension rates.
In 2015, 20 percent of black students, 12.3 percent of Latino and Latina students, and 10.5 percent of students identifying with two or more races received in-school suspensions. Numbers were similar for out-of-school suspensions, and rose considerably for students who were expelled: Half were Latino and a quarter were black.
What can schools do to combat these suspensions rates? Portage High School in Northwest Indiana offers an example of the positive effects restorative justice can have on students.
Restorative justice, a government report from neighboring Illinois explains, is “a philosophy based on a set of principles that guide the response to conflict and harm,” influenced by indigenous and religious practices. Instead of punishing students, restorative justice hopes to empower students to fully understand why they act the way they do, and take steps to heal any harms they cause.
Jackson, a Portage student whose story was reported in the Northwest Indiana Times, was deemed a “troublemaker” in middle school. He was written up almost 200 times when he was a seventh grader and expelled the following year. He acted this way, he later said, because he’d just moved from Chicago and didn’t feel like the other students respected him.
At Portage, Jackson was introduced to restorative justice by Sandra Porter-Philips, a social and emotional learning specialist who also manages the school’s Teen Court. He’s participated in the school’s restorative justice circle for the past two years.
The circle has given him an “outlet to relieve my anger” in a healthy way, he said. He’s now passing all his classes and participating in multiple school sports.
Fortunately, interest in restorative justice seems to be growing. The Indiana House recently passed a bill that aims to decrease suspension rates. If the bill passes the state Senate, Indiana’s Department of Education would create an “evidence-based plan” that focuses on “positive discipline strategies and restorative practices.” The plan would go into effect sometime in the next two years.
Restorative justice is moving forward in districts all over the country — from Washington, DC to Oakland, California. And I hope the idea keeps spreading here in Indiana — and maybe even to my old school, Harrison.
Daniela Aspiazu is a Next Leader at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Iraq Should Be a Much Bigger Part of McCain’s Legacy Than His ‘Civility’
The “straight talk” people praise McCain for is actually what most of them can’t stand about politicians: They say noble words but cast ignoble votes.
By Peter Certo |August 28, 2018
In the last days of his life, an old video of John McCain surfaced on the internet.
It’s 2008. He’s running for president and fielding questions from voters in Minnesota. A middle-aged woman takes the microphone.
“I can’t trust Obama,” she complains of McCain’s Democratic opponent. “He’s an Arab.”
The Arizona Republican shakes his head. Obama is “a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with,” McCain retorts. And adds: “He’s not [an Arab].”
Standing up for a rival was classic McCain, many believed, and his handling of the incident got praise at the time. No wonder it’s circulating again now, after a later presidential candidate made that woman’s slanderous race-baiting look tame.
Still, too few people asked: Do real Arabs not make “decent family men” or citizens? Can one not have principled “disagreements” with them?
More concretely: McCain was then campaigning on a pledge to expand the Iraq war, which he’d championed from the beginning. That war had killed perhaps a million Arabs. It would lead later to a devastating occupation by ISIS, and yet more U.S. military intervention.
Throwing an entire ethnic group under the bus may not have been McCain’s intent, though he’d had his brushes with bigotry before. For years he referred to East Asians by a Vietnam-era slur, opposed making MLK Day a holiday, and reportedly had a habit of calling women, even his wife, the c-word.
But it’s not really about McCain or what’s in his heart. It’s more about how the D.C.-based media reported him, and how admiring Americans interpreted his behavior.
Sporadically, the late Republican senator did take some principled stands. As a POW who suffered torture himself, he took on multiple Republican presidents to keep the U.S. from resuming it (though he steadfastly supported the wars in which that torture took place). And last year he cast a surprise, decisive vote against the GOP’s effort to kill Obamacare (though he’d voted against Obamacare earlier).
Mostly, though, McCain was a reliable vote for his party’s worst ideas, and contributed many of his own (like putting Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the presidency). And despite his well-known feud with President Trump, he voted in support of the president’s agenda 83 percent of the time.
McCain supported the $2 trillion corporate tax giveaway that could tear our safety net to shreds. His unrelenting passion for military conflict was a thing of caricature (“bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” he famously sang). And his support for empire-crumbling military budgets was so renowned that his colleagues named this year’s $717 billion atrocity after him.
Trump never thanked McCain when he signed it, but sign it he did. Some feud!
The point isn’t that McCain’s odes to honor or civility were somehow dishonest. To him, I’m sure they were genuine.
But in emphasizing McCain’s personal style over his actual politics, his eulogizers imply there’s some “honorable” way to implement an agenda like Trump’s (or 83 percent of it, anyway), as long as you don’t talk like Trump himself.
Personally, I disagree. Whether they realize it or not, I think the “straight talk” people praise McCain for is actually what most of them can’t stand about politicians: They say noble words but cast ignoble votes.
I don’t mean to suggest that Trump’s personal style is a welcome change from McCain’s. It’s not. But politics can’t just be a theater for elites, where standing up for one rival outweighs supporting a war that killed a million people.
Actions matter more than words, and that’s the straightest talk I can think of.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of OtherWords.org.