Things That Matter

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Breaks New Two-Minute Rule By Interrupting Lawyer During Immigration Case

There’s no denying Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a passionate person. Some may have the false presumption that the Puerto Rican, Bronx-born judge would be biased toward liberal-leaning causes. However, one of the main reasons she stands in the most elite courtroom in the country is because former President George W. Bush nominated her as a judge on the United States District Court in 1991.

She moved up the ranks with each administration, and in 2009 was nominated for Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama. As the first person of Latino descent to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor has brought a new perspective to the court. In this new term, Justice Sotomayor hit the ground running, even if she stepped in too soon. Turns out there is a new guideline for questions that the justice is still getting used to.

Lawyers who are arguing cases before Supreme Court judges were given a new guideline: they could argue cases without any interruptions for at least two minutes. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, however, forgot, apparently.

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The high profile case that was being argued last week concerned a man named Ramos Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, who was convicted in Kansas for using a fraudulent social security number in order to obtain a job at a restaurant. The matter in question is whether the law that was broken was a federal crime or a state crime.

Garcia’s lawyer argued that he could not be convicted by the state of Kansas because all crimes committed by undocumented immigrants fall under federal law, not individual states. Officials in Kansas said they wanted to charge Garcia for stealing a social security ID number with their state identity theft law. A local court ruled in Garcia’s favor, so the state appealed the matter, which is why the matter is now in the Supreme Court. 

Justice Sotomayor interrupted a prosecutor during his argument to ask a question about when a state has the jurisdiction to prosecute an undocumented immigrant, breaking the new two-minute room.

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According to Fox News, the prosecutor posed the argument “whether states can prosecute immigrants using information obtained on employee verification forms.” 

Justice Sotomayor jumped in and asked, “Even if they were applying to a college?” Chief Justice John Roberts interrupted the exchange by saying, “I’m sorry. You can answer that question after your time has …” Then Justice Sotomayor apologized, according to Fox News. 

She apparently interrupted prosecutors for a second time, but some experts are blaming this mishap on the newness of the rule and the fact that the justices have to adapt to the change.

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The new 2-minute rule was introduced in order to give lawyers a chance to make their first arguments before answering questions posed by the justices. According to NBC News, Justice Sotomayor is known to ask a lot of questions. 

Here’s how the new 2-minute rule works, as NBC News reports: “The Court generally will not question lead counsel for petitioners (or appellants) and respondents (or appellees) during the first two minutes of argument. The white light on the lectern will illuminate briefly at the end of this period to signal the start of questioning. Where argument is divided and counsel represents an amicus or an additional party, the white light will illuminate after one minute.”

While the light is used to help the justices know when they can speak, Justice Sotomayor was eager to ask a question, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

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A public interest litigator tweeted, “Seeing a lot of media reports that Justice Sotomayor ‘violated a rule’ in oral arguments today. But there is no ‘Rule.’ The Guide for Counsel explicitly states it is not a source of Rules and says ‘The Court *generally* will not question…during the first two minutes.’ ‘Generally.'” That means, she’s not really breaking a rule, but going against a new guideline. So why is there all of this fuss about this interruption? She’s only getting accustomed to this new guideline. She’s not trying to be a troublemaker. All of this is to note that Justice Sotomayor is just doing her job.

Fox News noted that perhaps Justice Sotomayor should take pointers from her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas who, in 2016, asked his first question in ten years.

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New Jersey’s Governor Says He’ll Sign Bill Allowing Undocumented Residents Access To Drivers Licenses

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New Jersey’s Governor Says He’ll Sign Bill Allowing Undocumented Residents Access To Drivers Licenses

Unsplash

Undocumented migrants in the United States and other Global North countries make a significant contribution to the economy but they often are left out of key economic areas and industries. Among the most basic things that a worker needs to perform certain jobs is a drivers license. Without it job prospects in most industries are pretty limited. Distances in the United States, particularly in the middle of the country and states such as New Jersey tend to be vast and commuting by public transport is not always the best option, or even feasible. Working parents and other people caring for a family member (such as an ageing mother or father, or someone with a disability) often need to pack a lot of activities in a day, and using a car is the only possible way for them to be able to make ends meet. 

So a very possible change in New Jersey law would make a world of difference for undocumented migrants and their families. 

So yes, New Jersey might start providing drivers licenses to undocumented migrants, and this is great and a welcome development towards economic assimilation.

Credit: New Jersey Advanced Media

The New Jersey State Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing Monday at the Statehouse in Trenton to discuss the possibility of pro providing undocumented migrants with drivers licenses. As you can imagine, the issue has been quickly politicized and the Latino community has been lobbying for a positive outcome.

This is of course a highly contentious issue in a state that has swung from blue to red and blue again, and where factory workers, many of which are reticent to migration, are an important segment of the electorate. As explained by Assemblywoman Anette Quijano, D-Union” “We know this legislation will change thousands of lives in the Garden State, a state with both urban, suburban and rural communities that require residents to drive a car to get from point A to point B.”

Another key benefit of this bill is that it will make roads safer, as currently there are people driving without a license and without having passed a test that ensures that rules and sings are understood by everyone on the road. More than 30 people gave their testimony, and as reported by NJ.COM they “shared stories of the fear they face when seeing a cop in the rearview mirror, whether they are completing a mundane task like grocery shopping or attending a crucial doctors appointment. And how their paychecks go to fighting traffic tickets and court fees”. 

Chants of “Si, se puede!” and “Licensias si, promesas no!” were heard as the hearing was being held.

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Advocates for the bill were as young as 9-years-old. David Cuautle, a young boy whose parents cannot drive him, spoke truth in his testimony: “I’m sick and tired of you guys making these promises for at least 18 years. Are you going to wait until I am 18 ? It’s been a long time. And you think this is rough? This is rough for everybody.”

The exclusion of migrants from key activities has a huge effect on their daily lives and also limits the prospects of their families for assimilation and for socioeconomic advancement. And David got a response that gives hope to those hoping that the bill will be passed: “David, you are absolutely right. And David, I’m sick and tired as well of promises not being kept.” These words were said by state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, a co-sponsor of the measure.

Opponents to the bill fear that having a license will allow undocumented migrants to vote (which fuels Trump’s conspiracy theory of “millions” of votes having been cast by undocumented migrants). They also claim that this measure could increase human trafficking, which also resonates with racial stereotypes pushed by conservatives. 

The measure is supported by the New Jersey governor, Democrat Phil Murphy.

Credit: MADD.org

The bill needs to go through three hurdles before coming into effect: the State Assembly, the State Senate and finally get signed by the governor, who has said that he will definitely sign it if it comes to him and he has the last word. But just how many people would be affected positively by the bill? About half a million, a huge number by all standards.

As NJ.COM reports: “There are more than 466,000 undocumented immigrants of driving age in New Jersey, according to a 2018 study by left-leaning think tank NJ Policy Perspective”. That is whole lot of people. The bill would also generate jobs and revenue for the roads and transport authorities. The bill has been on the cards for years, but hasn’t advanced this far before. There is hope but in policy everything can change in a minute. 

People Are Torn On A California Church’s Political Nativity Scene Calling Attention To Immigration Crisis

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People Are Torn On A California Church’s Political Nativity Scene Calling Attention To Immigration Crisis

Claremont United Methodist Church

It is the holiday season so you know people and churches are getting their nativity scenes together. Most are just run-of-the-mill nativity scenes with the animals, wise men, baby Jesus, and his parents Mary and Joseph. However, one church in California used its nativity scene to call attention to the humanitarian crisis on the southern border with children in cages. Here’s how they did it and how people on social media are reacting.

Claremont United Methodist Church is using its nativity scene this year to highlight the immigration crisis on the southern border.

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The Methodist church has a statement on their website directly address the crisis of asylum-seeking children at the southern border. For months, we have seen images of children taken away from their parents at the border and put into cages.

Claremont United Methodist Church wants people to know that the asylum crisis is devastating innocent families.

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“We at Claremont United Methodist Church (CUMC) responded swiftly to the need of over 2,700 children of immigrants seeking asylum at the US/Mexican border. These children were forcibly taken from their parents and scattered throughout the United States in April and May of 2018,” reads a statement by Rose Schneeberger on the Claremont United Methodist Church website. “Our church raised over $10,000 to assist with the legal representation of separated children through Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON). The plight continues as more families have been detained in the last couple of months and the number of children separated from their family continues to grow.”

The church’s nativity scene is showing people what the fate of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have had to endure if they were migrants to the U.S. today.

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“In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our border and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family,” reads a plaque in front of the nativity scene. “Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.”

“What if this family sought refuge in our country today?”

“Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus, no older than two, taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.”

“Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.”

“He said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’ – Matthew 25:35”

“In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our border.”

“Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a nativity that joins the angels in singing.”

“‘Glory to God in the highest on earth, peace and good will to all.’ – Luske 2:14.

People on social media are moved by the powerful image of the church’s nativity.

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It truly is a striking image to see the classic nativity scene turned into a powerful political statement about our immigration policy. Seeing baby Jesus in a manger separated from his parents into cages is something many people never thought they’d see.

People immediately saw the comparison of the nativity and our current immigration system.

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“In addition to the remaining separated children, there are over 15,000 youth and children at detention facilities throughout the United States,” reads a statement by Rose Schneeberger on the Claremont United Methodist Church website. “The CUMC Creative Peacemaking Committee has decided to keep our congregation aware of this urgent need and to encourage church members to continue to support the efforts of JFON by donating funds for the legal representation of separated children and asylum-seeking families currently in detention centers.”

Some people tried to argue with the church’s message to fit their political agendas.

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Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, according to the Bible, were forced to leave Nazareth and go to Egypt in order to avoid persecution. The family’s story of fleeing to a new country in search of safety and protection from a tyrant king seeking to persecute them is reminiscent of the families seeking asylum and peace in the U.S.

Others are showing the true conditions of the U.S. detention centers.

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The conditions along the southern border have been in the news for years. Reports of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and multiple deaths have highlighted the dangers of those in detention centers. Many of the facilities are housing more people than physically possible after the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration.

Basically, people are upset that a church would use a nativity scene to get people talking about the immigration crisis because it worked.

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What do you think about the nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church?

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