Things That Matter

The Supreme Court’s Term Is Starting Off With Major Cases That Will Impact The Lives Of Many Americans

The nine justices of the Supreme Court will return to the chambers to an explosive docket. The court is set to hear cases covering an array of social issues from abortion to DACA to LGBTQ+ discrimination to the Second Amendment. It is shaping up to be a major term for the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court is getting ready to hear a series of cases that could impact some of the biggest social issues in American culture.

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All eyes are on the Supreme Court as major cases are being presented. Some of the cases included in the docket for this term of the Supreme Court are the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the definition of “sex” as it pertains to Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act and the LGBTQ community’s right to work without discrimination, an abortion case from Louisiana seeking to limit abortion rights, and a gun regulation from New York City.

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments about discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

In almost half of the country, there are no laws protecting people in the LGBTQ+ community from being discriminated against in the workplace. The Supreme Court heard arguments from two gay men and one trans woman claiming that they were fired from their places of work because of their identity.

During oral arguments, when the employers being sued in the case argued that sex is different than same-sex attraction, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that the law does favor the employees.

“If he were a woman, he wouldn’t have been fired,” Justice Kagan told General Solicitor Noel Francisco, who is representing the employers. “This is the usual kind of way in which we interpret statutes now. We look to laws. We don’t look to predictions. We don’t look to desires. We don’t look to wishes. We look to laws.”

The Trump administration is aiming to get rid of DACA protections from almost 700,000 young people.

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DACA is a program that was first created by President Obama. It gave almost 700,000 young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children the chance to go to college, get work permits, and protected them from deportation. The Trump administration ended the program in 2017 and immediately threw the lives of all DACA recipients in limbo.

United We Dream, a DACA-led media company filed its own brief with the Supreme Court. The brief is a first-of-its-kind video brief with DACA recipients arguing their case for preserving DACA. The organization also included an official written brief.

“DACA has accomplished far more than affording deferred prosecutorial action. It has created lifechanging opportunities for hundreds of thousands of promising young people. DACA has allowed them to lead fuller and more vibrant lives, including by seizing opportunities to advance their education, furthering their careers, providing critical help to their families, and giving back to their communities,” reads the United We Dream brief. “Able to make use of the basic building blocks of a productive life—a Social Security number, work authorization, or driver’s license, for example—DACA recipients have thrived. They are students, teachers, health care workers, first responders, community leaders, and small business owners. They are also spouses, neighbors, classmates, friends, and coworkers. Collectively, they are parents of over a quarter-million U.S. citizens, and 70% of DACA recipients have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen. They pay taxes, contribute to their local economies in myriad ways, and spur a virtuous cycle of further opportunity for many Americans.”

Another case people are watching is an abortion case coming out of Louisiana.

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The case, June Medical Services v. Gee, isn’t aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade but it is hoping to limit the abortion rights of women starting in Louisiana. The law being challenged requires all abortion providers to get privileges are a hospital 30 miles from where the abortions take place.

The case is very similar to a Texas case that the Supreme Court rejected three terms ago. As such, the Louisiana case is asking the Supreme Court to distinguish between the two cases and to determine that the restriction is legitimate if a legislator vouches that the restriction is valid rather than it being valid in practice. As it stands, the law would leave just one doctor in the state of Louisiana allowed to perform abortions.

Another case getting some attention as it sits on the Supreme Court docket deals with the Second Amendment.

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New York City’s original rule made it so handguns could only be transported to seven gun ranges throughout the city. While the case was originally contested because of the rule. New York City changed the rule and asked the court to dismiss the case as moot, but the court rejected the motion. This will be the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case about the Second Amendment’s reach in over a decade and is being hailed as a victory for gun rights advocates.

READ: DACA Advocates Shut Down Joe Biden At Last Night’s Democratic Debate, Here’s The Message They Delivered Loud And Clear

Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

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Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

Bryan Bedder / Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES

CNN and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a historic town hall last night focusing on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. The moderators and presidential candidates tackled topics and hard-hitting issues that have severely impacted the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. The town hall happened as the Supreme Court is deciding if LGBTQ+ people are deserving of the same discrimination protections as all Americans. Here’s what happened last night.

Texas politician Julián Castro made it clear that religion will not be an excuse for LGBTQ+ discrimination in his administration.

There have numerous attempts by local and state governments to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The bills, often labeled as Religious Freedom bills, have been proposed in North Carolina and Indiana and failed. North Carolina wanted to legislate what bathroom people had to use and Indiana wanted to give religious organizations and business owners the license to outright discriminate against people based on their faith.

“If I’m elected president, the first order of business on January 20, 2021, will be to have a catalog with all of the different executive actions that this president, this administration, has taken, including exemptions that they’ve created or rolled back that has allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQ, using as the reason their religion, their excuse their religion,” Castro told an audience member who asked how he will stop religious organizations from using their faith to dictate discriminatory laws. “I will go back to what we did in the Obama administration and then take it to the next level to protect the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that anybody should be bale to discriminate against you because you are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that folks should be getting funding if they’re doing that. I don’t believe that in the healthcare context, the housing context, the employment context that people should be able to do that. I support the Equality Act and will work to pass that. When I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we did the transgender rule, which as I mentioned, expanded the equal access rule so that transgender individuals can find shelter in a manner that they are comfortable with and in accordance to their preference and that’s what I would do as president.”

Castro’s performance during the LGBTQ+ town hall has received praise from LGBTQ+ people.

Credit: @cmclymer / Twitter

Castro was able to speak about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community with an understanding that proves he isn’t going off talking points.

His conversation about faith and the license to discriminate showed his understanding of religion and LGBTQ+ people of faith.

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Castro wants to keep religion from attacking the very LGBTQ+ people of faith who depend on it. For many religious LGBTQ+ people, seeing religious leaders claim that their faith doesn’t accept them is a harsh reality.

Trans women of color let their voices be heard in a town hall that largely ignored them.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was interrupted when he started his time on the stage. Trans activist Bamby Salcedo and other trans women of color stormed the venue holding trans flag that read “We Are Dying.” The women chanted “We are dying” and “Do something.” Some audience members joined the women in their protest however others jumped up to take the flag away and end the protest.

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating for Buttigieg, spoke up for the women as they were escorted out telling the audience, “Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest.”

Cooper continued saying, “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, of the lives of transgender [people].”

Another trans activist, Blossom C Brown, also took on the moderators about the lack of Black trans voices during the town hall.

A lot of the conversation during the town hall focused on issues impacting gay men, trans women, and bisexual people. Many are calling out the town hall for ignoring trans people of color, lesbians, and non-binary people when it comes to health, housing, identity expression, and other issues impacting these communities specifically.

Ashlee Marie Preston, the only trans Black woman in the program, was taken out of the program by CNN so she publicly boycotted the event.

Credit: @AshleeMPreston / Twitter

There was a pretty glaring lack of trans women and men of color during the hours of discussion about LGBTQ+ issues. It is a common complaint within the community as trans women of color have long been ignored and silenced within the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

READ: After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Hundreds Of Universities, Cities, And Businesses File Amicus Briefs Urging The Supreme Court To Defend DACA

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Hundreds Of Universities, Cities, And Businesses File Amicus Briefs Urging The Supreme Court To Defend DACA

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This week the Supreme Court went back into session, kicking off what’s expected to be one of the most divisive and controversial terms in recent history. Everything from LGBTQ and abortion rights, to yes, DACA, is on the docket, and America will get to see the impact of the addition of Trump-appointee Brett Kavanaugh.

Although judges are expected to be politically impartial, Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearing after being accused of sexual assault, left him charging Democrats with unfairly going after his character.

Now, some experts are bracing for a possible “conservative revolution,” after the court overturned two precedents (a highly unusual move) last term, and President Donald Trump has successfully appointed 150 judges to lifetime seats on the bench (whoever told said your vote didn’t matter, lied.)

In its newly started session, the Supreme Court isn’t shying away from hot topic issues – including a decision that will decide the outcome of DACA once and for all.

President Donald Trump’s signature issue is immigration, and in November the court will consider his administration’s decision to phase out DACA, an Obama-era initiative that protects nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation. The eventual ruling will have a major impact on way or another in the presidential race.

At issue before the justices is not the legality of the program, but how the administration decided to phase it out.

Plaintiffs, including the University of California, a handful of states and DACA recipients argue that the phase out violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs how agencies can establish regulations. Lower courts agreed and issued nationwide injunctions that allowed renewals in the program to continue. The Trump administration appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and at the time, the President predicted success: “We want to be in the Supreme Court on DACA,” he said.

Groups of all kinds are filing so-called Amicus briefs to the Suprme Court urging them to protect DACA.

More than 100 different cities from across the country, dozens of major colleges and universities, and some of the country’s largest companies all joined together to defend DACA.

The brief filed by some 165 educational institutions said: “These extraordinary young people should be cherished and celebrated, so that they can achieve their dreams and contribute to the fullest for our country. Banishing them once more to immigration limbo — a predicament they had no part in creating — is not merely cruel, but irrational.”

Even the Mexican government filed a brief with the court.

Mexico has had little legal recourse in it’s fight against Trump’s cruel and (as many consider) illegal policies targeting the migrant community. And a large part of the migrant community (including those attacked at the El Paso Massacre) are Mexican nationals. So the government has been eager to take a stand.

And with the upcoming legal battle regarding DACA, Mexico has staked its position in support of DREAMers by filing an Amicus brief with the court. The brief points out the commitment to human rights and the principles of dignity that should be afforded to all humans – regardless of their migration status.

Meanwhile, children advocates point out that eliminating the program would also harm more than a quarter million US-born children.

More than three dozen child advocacy organizations say White House officials failed to account for a quarter of a million children born in the U.S. whose parents are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when they repealed it in 2017.

“These children are endangered not only by the actual detention and deportation of their parents, but also the looming fear of deportation,” the groups wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court last week. “The imminent threat of losing DACA protection places children at risk of losing parental nurturance, as well as losing income, food security, housing, access to health care, educational opportunities, and the sense of safety and security that is the foundation of healthy child development.”

Children’s health experts have been sounding the alarm on the impact of toxic stress inflicted on children impacted by the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. Studies have linked toxic stress to developmental issues with children’s brains and bodies and an increase in their risk of disorders ranging from diabetes to depression, heart disease, cancer, addiction and premature death.

DACA was created by an Obama executive order in 2012, and the Trump Administration announced in September 2017 it was officially ending the program.

When the Trump administration officially announced the end of the DACA program in September 2017, there were nearly 800,000 young immigrants around the country who benefited from it.

Three lawsuits challenging the termination of DACA filed in California, the District of Columbia and New York eventually led to courts prohibiting the government from phasing out the immigration program. Those lawsuits argued that ending the DACA program violated the rights of those covered by its benefits and ran counter to a federal law governing administrative agencies, according to SCOTUSblog. The Supreme Court consolidated those three lawsuits and will hear arguments on the DACA case on Nov. 12.

The justices will consider whether the court even has the authority to review the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA and, if so, whether the decision to end DACA is legal.

Predictably, President Trump has urged the court to strike down DACA.

As recently as Wednesday, President Trump said his predecessor had no authority to initiate the DACA program in the first place, and that if the Supreme Court overturns it, as it should, Congress would likely find a legislative solution to allowing DACA recipients to remain in the U.S.

“The Republicans and Democrats will have a DEAL to let them stay in our Country, in very short order,” he tweeted Wednesday. “It would actually benefit DACA, and be done the right way!”