Human Rights

Critics are horrified as Biden restarts 'even worse' version of Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy

After the U.S. government announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with Mexico to restart the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" program, immigrant rights advocates criticized the Biden administration for "hiding behind a flawed court order to justify" reviving a policy that forces asylum seekers to wait in makeshift camps along the southern border pending legal review of their cases.

Re-implementation of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program will begin as soon as Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement, adding that "once fully operational, MPP enrollments will take place across the Southwest border, and returns to Mexico will take place at seven ports of entry in San Diego, Calexico, Nogales, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo, and Brownsville."

Mexico's "decision to accept the return of individuals enrolled in the program [is] subject to certain humanitarian improvements," DHS noted. According to the agency, which worked with the U.S. Departments of State and Justice, key changes to MPP include:

A commitment that proceedings will generally be concluded within six months of an individual's initial return to Mexico; opportunities for enrollees to secure access to, and communicate with, counsel before and during non-refoulement interviews and immigration court hearings; improved non-refoulement procedures; and an increase in the amount and quality of information enrolled individuals receive about MPP.
DHS will exclude particularly vulnerable individuals from being enrolled in MPP. In addition, DHS will provide Covid-19 vaccinations for all persons enrolled in MPP.

Immigrant rights advocates, however, stressed that MPP is an irredeemable violation of human rights regardless of the minor revisions proposed by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

"The Biden administration's shameful regression in restarting this unlawful Trump policy flies in the face of its own determination that no number of changes could render this deadly policy more humane or provide the access to the asylum system that the law requires," Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), said in a statement.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a former immigration attorney who is now policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, concurred. In a detailed Twitter thread, he said that "allowing the tiny handful of people who manage to get lawyers (5-7%, compared to 60% inside the U.S.) to have more meeting opportunities before hearings... is not much of a help."

In her statement, Hincapié said that "since its creation, the Remain in Mexico policy has subjected tens of thousands of people to grave danger and violated their fundamental right to asylum in the United States."

The Washington Post reported that "officials in the United States are planning to initially use the MPP program primarily for single adult asylum seekers," who account for the majority of unauthorized border crossings, according to an unnamed Biden administration official.

"Mexico is willing to accept asylum seekers from Spanish-speaking countries, as with the previous version of the program, but migrants from 'all Western Hemisphere nations' will be eligible for return," the newspaper reported, citing an administration official.

In response, Reichlin-Melnick argued that "the Biden administration's choice to expand Remain in Mexico to everyone from the Western Hemisphere—including Haitians—makes the program even broader than it ever was under the Trump administration."

"[President Joe] Biden didn't just bring back Remain in Mexico," Reichlin-Melnick added. "He's made it even worse."

The Biden administration—praised in June for ending its predecessor's xenophobic policy—insists that restarting MPP is required because of a federal court order. Legal experts, however, argue that the Biden administration has far more leeway than it claims and is certainly not required to expand the program.

In response to a lawsuit filed by Republican officials in Texas and Missouri, a federal judge in August ordered the Biden administration to reinstate Remain in Mexico. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit—which former President Donald Trump pushed in an even more conservative direction by appointing numerous far-right judges—"refused the administration's request to put the ruling on hold" and "ordered expedited consideration of the administration's appeal," the Associated Press reported.

On August 24, AP noted, the U.S. Supreme Court's six right-wing justices argued that "the Biden administration likely violated federal law in trying to end" Remain in Mexico and refused to block the lower court's ruling.

Nevertheless, as Reichlin-Melnick pointed out, "the lower court said Biden doesn't need to do the exact same implementation as Trump."

Moreover, said No More Deaths, an organization that provides humanitarian aid to migrants in the Sonoran borderlands, officials in the Biden administration "were considering reinstating MPP well before the court gave them a convenient excuse to do so. Their hands aren't tied, this is a choice."

No More Deaths cited reporting by VICE—published almost a week before the Supreme Court handed down its decision—which said:

Senior U.S. officials have privately discussed reviving the Trump-era policy Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), colloquially known as "Remain in Mexico," in order to manage the number of migrants arriving at the border, according to three sources with knowledge of the discussions. Under the policy, the U.S. sent more than 70,000 asylum seekers from 2019-2021 to some of Mexico's most dangerous border cities to wait while their immigration cases were decided.
Biden heavily criticized the policy as a candidate and suspended it on his first day in office. But as border apprehensions jumped, high-ranking officials in the White House floated the idea of bringing the program back, and it's been bandied about for weeks among a small circle of government officials. Discussions have centered around whether there could be a gentler version of the policy—a notion immigration advocates decry as ludicrous.

The NILC's Hincapié on Thursday stressed that "the Biden administration must stop hiding behind a flawed court order to justify restarting Remain in Mexico."

"Instead," she continued, "it should do what we've been saying for months—abandon its indefensible embrace of failed deterrence strategies like Remain in Mexico and the unlawful Title 42 expulsion policy and restore full access to asylum for those seeking safety and freedom."

"Now is the time," added Hincapié, "for the Biden administration to discard misguided political calculus and instead lead with courage and humanity to do everything in its power to relegate Remain in Mexico to the past."

Ohio pastor who bragged about hunting people is charged in shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr.

The now-retired Ohio sheriff’s deputy/pastor who shot and killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4, 2020 after earlier bragging to a congregation about being able to “hunt people” is finally facing charges, according to ABC News. Jason Meade shot Goodson in the back five times, netting him charges including two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide Thursday. He has also faced continued criticism from protesters who have called into question the absence of footage from police body cameras or dash cameras in the shooting.

Activist Lance Cooper compared Meade to Derek Chauvin, the former cop convicted of murdering George Floyd when he kneeled on the Black father’s neck for more than nine minutes. “There are many Derek Chauvins in America,” Cooper tweeted back in April. “Casey Goodson Jr. was murdered by Deputy Jason Meade in Ohio. Casey was shot in the back six times while entering his home. He was returning from the dentist with Subway for his family. His keys were in the door when he was executed.”

The Franklin County coroner has confirmed that Goodson was actually shot five times, ABC News reported.

Mark Collins, Meade's attorney, alleged in a statement ABC News obtained that his client began pursuing Goodson after seeing him aim a gun at another driver then at Meade. Collins cited the story of a deputy who said Goodson was "waving the firearm erratically." According to the attorney's statement, Meade followed Goodson first in his car then on foot as Goodson approached a home relatives say belonged to Goodson's grandmother. Collins said Meade identified himself as a police officer and ordered Goodson to show his hands, one of which was carrying a plastic bag. The other held a gun, Collins claimed. Meade "commanded Mr. Goodson to once again 'drop the gun,' and when that command was ignored, and while the gun was pointing at Mr. Meade, he, in fear for his life as well as those inside the house, fired his weapon at Mr. Goodson," the attorney said in the statement.

Goodson's mother, Tamala Payne, said she was “overwhelmed with joy” to hear Meade had been indicted. “It’s been a year of sadness, it’s been a year of grief, it’s been a year of pain," she said at a news conference. "But I know that every day of this year, that my family and I wake up and just fight for what’s right.”

Ohio officer charged with murder in shooting

In stories earlier reported by the Columbus Free Press and The Washington Post, Meade made his policing goals clear two years before the encounter with Goodson. “I work for the sheriff’s office ... I hunt people—it’s a great job, I love it,” he told attendees at a 2018 convention of the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists. “I worked this job 14 years, you know I ain’t never been hit clean in the face one time? It’s a fact. It ain’t ’cause I’m so good ... You know why? I learned long ago I gotta throw the first punch. And I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like, ‘Oh, police brutality.’ People I hit you wish you could hit, trust me.”

Goodson was not a suspect nor the focus of an investigation, but Meade shot him reportedly for waving a gun from his car, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office alleged in a statement.

Meade, an Iraq War veteran who started his work with the sheriff's office in 2003, is a pastor at Rosedale Free Will Baptist Church, which is about 30 miles west of Columbus. Before launching into the confession of his true belief system, Meade earlier confessed to another Baptist congregation: “I’m not politically correct. Do I need to throw that out? Full disclosure: if you’re looking for PC you got the wrong one.”

Listen to Meade’s complete remarks.

Meade went on to paint police as David and victims of police brutality as Goliath in a twisted interpretation of the popular biblical story in which a young man, David, slays the great warrior Goliath with a slingshot and a rock. The story is often used to demonstrate how faith can make the seemingly impossible possible, but Meade’s takeaway seemed to be that David won because he took the first shot.

New report urges Biden to stop arms sales fueling Saudi 'devastation' of Yemen

As the ongoing Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen's civil war continues to kill, maim, and displace civilians—over 300,000 of whom have died during more than seven years of fighting—a report published Thursday urges the Biden administration to end critical U.S. support for the atrocity-laden campaign by blocking pending arms sales and stopping future weapons transfers.

"During the Trump administration, the United States doubled down on its support of the regime in Saudi Arabia, regardless of how harshly the kingdom cracked down on human rights or how much devastation it caused through its war in Yemen," the Center for International Policy (CIP) report states.

Its author, CIP Arms and Security Program director William D. Hartung, writes he was initially hopeful that President Joe Biden would eschew the "cynical, transactional approach to U.S.-Saudi relations," but instead "the Biden administration's record so far has been mixed at best."

"The administration has halted two bomb sales to the Saudi regime, but it has offered $500 million in crucial maintenance and support for Saudi aircraft and continued the flow of U.S. arms offers already in the pipeline," he notes. "The administration has also made a $650 million offer of air-to-air missiles to the Saudi Royal Air Force."

"Most importantly," the report adds, "the Biden administration has refused to use U.S. leverage—in the form of a threat to cut off crucial U.S. spare parts and sustainment for the Saudi military—to force Riyadh to end its devastating blockade on Yemen and move towards an inclusive peace agreement to end the war."

Hartung notes that "the bulk of the weapons transferred to Saudi Arabia since 2009" are the result of deals made during the administration of Barack Obama, one of a long line of U.S. presidents who have courted the repressive Saudi monarchy since the discovery of oil in the desert kingdom in the 1930s.

"Arms sales offers to the kingdom totaled over $118 billion during the eight years of the Obama administration," he writes, "compared with $25 billion during the four years of the Trump administration and $1.1 billion so far in the first year of the Biden term."

While the losers of the war are clear—the United Nations Development Program says that 377,000 Yemeni civilians will have died by the end of this year—the report argues that the winners are "major contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics."

"All of the largest sales since 2009, including a $29 billion deal for Boeing F-15 aircraft, a $25 billion deal for Boeing Apache helicopters, a $15 billion deal for a Lockheed Martin THAAD missile defense system, [a] $10 billion deal for Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, a $5.4 billion deal for Raytheon PAC-3 missile defense interceptors, and a $1.57 billion deal for Raytheon Paveway bombs involved one of the four firms mentioned above as the primary supplier," notes Hartung.

The report calls on the Biden administration to "suspend all U.S. arms sales and military support to the Saudi regime—both new offers and systems still in the pipeline and yet to be delivered—as leverage to get Riyadh to end its blockade on humanitarian aid and commercial goods into Yemen, open Sana'a airport, and engage in good faith efforts to end the war."

Hartung says Congress should:

  • Force an end to all U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia by passing a War Powers Resolution in both houses;
  • Pass legislation to end all U.S. arms, maintenance, and spare parts [transfers] to the Saudi regime; and
  • Make it easier to block future sales to Saudi Arabia and other human rights abusers by requiring affirmative congressional approval of key arms sales, as opposed to the current approach which calls for veto-proof, joint resolutions of disapproval in both houses.

The new report comes after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced resolutions to block the Saudi arms sale. A vote on the Senate measure is expected within days.

"Without U.S. arms, maintenance, and spare parts, the Saudi military would not be able to prosecute its brutal war in Yemen. It's hard to overstate the degree to which the Saudi military relies on U.S. support," Hartung said in a statement. "It's time for the Biden administration to cut off this support as a way to change Saudi conduct and relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people caused by Saudi actions."

Right-wing groups are already laying the groundwork for a post-Roe world

With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear opening arguments Wednesday in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade and threaten abortion rights for millions of people across the country, right-wing anti-choice groups are preparing to ensure that anyone who becomes pregnant in the U.S. is forced to continue the pregnancy.

The consideration of Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban represents a moment the anti-choice movement has been waiting for since 1973, when Roe v. Wade affirmed that pregnant people have the right to obtain abortion care until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

After a number of extreme forced-pregnancy laws passed by right-wing state legislatures were overturned by federal courts in recent years, Mississippi officials are asking the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade in addition to allowing their law—which includes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest—to stand.

Former Vice President Mike Pence called on the Supreme Court Tuesday to "make history" by overturning the ruling—a move that would swiftly put in place abortion bans in 12 states that have "trigger bans," including Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and in 14 other states that have severely restricted access to care.

Pence claimed in his remarks that "Americans are ready for an end to the judicial tyranny of Roe v. Wade"—despite the fact that only 27% of Americans back overturning the decision and 60% support upholding it, according to recent polling by ABC News/The Washington Post—and that the right to obtain abortion care should be left up to state legislatures.

Anti-choice groups including Students for Life of America and Americans United for Life are lobbying state-level lawmakers to pass new abortion restrictions and bans in the event that Roe is overturned.

"We've had a post-Roe strategy for the last 15 years," Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told Politico Tuesday.

The strategy includes launching a $5 million anti-choice ad campaign that will run in 20 U.S. cities and working with federal Republican lawmakers to ban online sales of pills used for medication abortions, which reproductive rights advocates say more and more people facing unwanted pregnancies may rely on if Roe is overturned.

With red states passing extreme forced-pregnancy bills in recent years, states including Louisiana and Mississippi have seen skyrocketing demand for abortion pills that can be accessed by mail, according to international nonprofit group Aid Access.

"This is a window into what the world will look like if the Mississippi and Texas bans are allowed to go into effect," Abigail Aiken, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of Aid Access's study, told Politico in May. "The people who are looking for abortions will not just suddenly say: 'Oh, I guess it's illegal now, so I won't get one.' They will look for whatever options they can find, including those outside the law."

Pregnant people in states that have passed bans—including Texas, where a six-week ban was allowed by the Supreme Court to stand in September—have increasingly traveled across state lines in recent months to access care, overwhelming clinics in states including Oklahoma and Kansas. According to the Guttmacher Institute, patients seeking care in Louisiana would have to drive an average of 666 miles, one way, to see a provider if americ is overturned.

With right-wing groups rallying to strip Americans of their right to obtain abortion care should Roe be overturned, pro-choice advocacy groups prepared to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, demanding not only that the law be upheld but also that the Senate pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would keep abortion access free from medically unnecessary restrictions and create a statutory right for providers to provide abortion care.

"Abortion is healthcare, and the majority of Americans agree: We need to defend Roe v. Wade," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) earlier this week. "Congress can do that by passing the Women's Health Protection Act to protect access to abortion for everyone—regardless of their zip code. Let's get it done."

Growing number of Americans  support 'racial equality' and 'liberal' ideas — even as they reject 'language of wokeness'

A growing number of Americans are big on 'racial equality' and 'liberal' ideas — even if they reject the 'language of wokeness': report

MAGA Republicans at Fox News aren't the only ones bashing "woke" terminology. "Real Time" host Bill Maher, a liberal with a libertarian streak and a major disdain for political correctness, has often argued that "wokeness" hurts the liberal/progressive cause — a view shared by veteran Democratic strategist James Carville, who has warned that Democratic candidates put themselves at a disadvantage when they use terms like "Latinx." And some Latino progressives absolutely detest the term "Latinx," as it is typically used by non-Latinos who don't speak Spanish, Portuguese or Italian and have no idea how those languages work.

But the Atlantic/Ledger survey, according to Khazan, finds that many college graduates and non-college-educated Americans like the ideas of liberalism even if they can't stand terms like "Latinx."

"Overeducated people are ruining political discourse by embracing 'woke' language — if you pay attention to modern fights about language and social justice, you've probably heard some version of this complaint," Khazan explains. "The Democratic patriarch James Carville has bemoaned the idea of 'people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges' coming up with 'a word like Latinx that no one else uses.' John McWhorter, the linguist, Atlantic contributor, and author of 'Woke Racism,' has asserted that 'everybody is afraid of being called a racist on Twitter by articulate, over-educated people.'"

READ: Jan. 6 rally organizers used anonymous 'burner phones' to communicate with top Trump officials: report

Khazan continues, "The Economist recently defined wokeness as 'a loose constellation of ideas that is changing the way that mostly white, educated, left-leaning Americans view the world.' The thinking, or at least the impression, is that normal people who care about bread-and-butter economic issues go to college and pop out not caring about bread or butter, but instead, worrying about gender pronouns and cultural appropriation. According to these sorts of arguments, people who never go to college stay reasonable, normal, or — depending on how you look at it — asleep."

Khazan goes on to explain how the Atlantic/Leger poll was set up.

"For the poll, Leger surveyed a representative sample of 1002 American adults from October 22 to October 24," Khazan notes. "We asked for respondents' agreements with various statements…. that are often invoked by conservatives and moderates as being associated with people who are 'woke.' The results showed that there was no significant difference between people with college degrees and those without them on the question of whether America is becoming too politically correct; slight majorities of both groups agreed somewhat or strongly. The same was true for believing 'cancel culture is a big problem in society' — 51% of degree holders agreed, as did 45% of those without degrees."

Bill Maher Says "Woke" Language Hurt Democrats At Polls | The View

The survey asked participants whether they agreed or disagreed that "Latinx, rather than Latino or Hispanic, is the best way to address Americans whose family origin is Latin America." Only 14% agreed.

READ: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist slams Ron DeSantis for 'lying' about COVID-19 vaccines

But regardless of how one feels about "woke" language, Khazan finds that there is a growing appetite for liberal and progressive ideas in the United States. According to Khazan, "Though the flashiest elements of 'wokeness' might not seem very popular, the good news is that Americans are embracing racial justice more and more."

John Sides, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, told Khazan, "Americans' broader views of race, racism, immigration and other topics have become more liberal. Relative to ten years ago, more Americans think that immigration is good. More Americans think that racial inequality stems from structural factors like discrimination, not from Black Americans' lack of effort.'"

Khazan, in response, writes, "That suggests many Americans generally endorse the idea of racial equality, even if they don't always like the language used to describe it."

Noam Chomsky warns of 'very dangerous' US antagonism toward China

Linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky this week condemned the Biden administration's aggressive anti-China foreign policy, while dismissing the imperialist notion that Beijing poses a threat to the United States and urging a departure from the "provocation" that for decades has characterized the U.S. stance toward the rising giant.

Appearing on Democracy Now! earlier this week, Chomsky—a renowned critic of American militarism—accused President Joe Biden of continuing a perilous policy of confrontation with China.

While acknowledging that Biden "has eliminated some of the more gratuitously savage elements" of former President Donald Trump's policies—including suspending U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)—Chomsky contended that "the trajectory is not optimistic."

"Biden has pretty much picked up Trump's foreign policy," he asserted. "The worst case is the increasing provocative actions towards China. That is very dangerous."

Chomsky continued:

By now there is constant talk about what is called the China threat. You can read it in sober, reasonable, usually reasonable journals, about the terrible China threat, and that we have to move expeditiously to contain and limit the China threat.
What exactly is the China threat? Actually that question is rarely raised here. It is discussed in Australia, the country that is right in the claws of the dragon. Recently the distinguished statesman, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, did have an essay in the Australian press about the China threat. He finally concluded realistically that the China threat is China's existence.

Speaking at the National Press Club of Australia earlier this month, Keating—who served as prime minister representing the center-left Labour Party from 1991 to 1996—accused his country's right-wing government of acting against its own interests by supporting the United States as it engages in what anti-imperialists have called "saber-rattling" over Taiwan.

"Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest," Keating insisted in his controversial speech. "We have no alliance with Taipei."

"We are committed to ANZUS for an attack on U.S. forces, but... not an attack by U.S. forces, which means Australia should not be drawn, in my view, into a military engagement over Taiwan," he added, referring to the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty.

That Cold War-era pact is now 60 years old. More recently, the U.S. and some of its close allies have antagonized Beijing by signing the anti-China Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) military agreement. The U.S., Australia, India, and Japan have also launched the Quadrilateral Security Dialog to address concerns about China.

"One U.S. submarine can destroy almost 200 cities anywhere in the world with its nuclear weapons."

Chomsky said U.S. antagonism toward China is motivated by the fact that the burgeoning superpower cannot be controlled by Washington.

"The U.S. will not tolerate the existence of a state that cannot be intimidated the way Europe can be, that does not follow U.S. orders the way Europe does but pursues its own course," he said. "That is the threat."

While acknowledging the "terrible things" the Chinese government does within its own borders, Chomsky insisted that "they are not a threat."

Turning the rhetorical tables, he asked: "Is the U.S. support for Israel's terrorist war against two million people in Gaza where children are being poisoned—a million children are facing poisoning because there's no drinkable water, is that a threat to China?"

"It is a horrible crime," he said, "but it is not a threat to China."

Critics of U.S. foreign policy have noted that while China has not started a war in over a generation, the United States has invaded, bombed, or occupied over a dozen nations since the 1980s.

Chomsky called the imbalance in military power between the United States—which has thousands of nuclear weapons and spends more money on its war machine than the next 10 nations combined—and China "laughable."

"One U.S. submarine can destroy almost 200 cities anywhere in the world with its nuclear weapons," he noted. "China in the South China Sea has four old noisy submarines which can't even get out because they're contained by superior U.S. and allied force."

The right is using the Wisconsin parade tragedy to attack bail reform — but they need a fact-check

After an SUV plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin on November 21, killing five people and injuring 48, including many children, hard-right pundits treated the subsequent arrest of Darrell Brooks like a gift.

Jennifer Van Laar, the editor of popular conservative blog Red State, tweeted, "FIFTY PAGES in Darrell Brooks' criminal record. Drugs, violence, crimes of moral turpitude, sexual offenses. But hey, let's allow him to bond out on $1000 even though he's charged with jumping bail."

Alt-right troll Jack Posobiec and COVID-19 disinformation spreader Chuck Callesto echoed this idea. Turning Point USA's Benny Johnson went a step further, blaming Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm for the incident. So did Mike Cernovich, who ripped into Chisholm as a "Soros DA," despite Chisholm never receiving money from George Soros or his affiliated PACs.

DA Chisholm, as a writer at Red State put it, is allegedly a "radical leftist who has sought to institute 'criminal justice reform' via 'bail reform.'" It is insinuated that Chisholm quietly ushered Brooks out on a serious and recent domestic violence charge on $1,000 bail, then rolled it back in the media after the tragedy, claiming that his deputy prosecutor made a mistake (Chisholm has now launched an investigation into the Brooks bail decision).

Such commentators are in desperate need of a fact-check.

Wisconsin is not like California or New Jersey, which saw bail reform legislation pass in the last few years. It has not had a substantial amendment to its bail law in at least 10 years, according to the Wisconsin state legislature's website.

However, the current law does state that a judge can hold a person charged with a crime in jail pretrial "only upon a finding by the court that there is a reasonable basis to believe that bail is necessary to assure appearance in court."

Meanwhile, both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature have been dominated by Republicans every year in the last decade.

Besides which, if we look at bail reform on a statistical, rather than anecdotal, level, it does not reduce public safety. The vast majority of people facing charges return to court regardless of money bail. In addition, detaining people pretrial, effectively punishing poverty, is "criminogenic," because people lose their jobs and community ties are weakened.

"Money bail compromises public safety," according to analysis from the Prison Policy Initiative.

As Cernovich points out to support his cause, Chisholm has delivered criminal justice reform talking points. But Chisholm has rarely delivered anything on decarceration but talking points. The Democrat, first elected in 2006, has spent much of his career carefully avoiding policies that would make right-wing opponents angry.

In 2017, for example, Chisholm explained how he refuses to categorically drop marijuana possession cases, despite many of his peers elsewhere doing just that.

Chisholm is also the orchestrator of a national strategy to increase the use of drug-induced homicide prosecutions to people who sell drugs as murderers, despite people who have overdosed often not wanting this response. He has sent Assistant District Attorney Patricia Daughtery to national conferences to evangelize these prosecutions. Daughtery has gone so far as to advise officials to build cases using tactics that are disrespectful to the same people she is supposedly trying to protect, such as using the cell phones of people who overdosed.

Additionally, during Chisholm's tenure, Wisconsin had the highest rate of Black incarceration in the nation, with about 65 percent of Black Wisconsinites living in Milwaukee County. University of Wisconsin law professor Ion Meyn has raised concerns that part of this is due to higher prosecution rates and lower plea bargain rates for Black suspects.

Amid Chisholm's middle-of-the-road approach to his office, Milwaukee has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, with 1,332 incidents for every 100,000 residents. His attempt to please everyone and incense no one has achieved little, and there are numerous progressive steps he should be taking. Chances are, the politicization of the Brooks case will increase the DA's timidity and push him in the opposite direction.

This article was originally published by Filter, a magazine covering drug use, drug policy and human rights. Follow Filter on Facebook or Twitter.

Supreme Court could redefine when a fetus becomes a person — here's what that means

by Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Since the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to abortion almost 50 years ago, a powerful legal movement has sought to overturn the ruling, while abortion rights advocates have fought to protect it.

On Dec. 1, 2021, the court will hear a case many believe will force the conservative justices — who now command a majority of the court — to decide if they will strike down Roe v. Wade or uphold the long-standing precedent.

There is a third path the justices could take. The court may focus its ruling on a more neglected aspect of the ruling in Roe — the court's understanding of the facts of fetal personhood.

Roe not a monolith

There are two separate rulings in Roe:

1) The Constitution protects a right to privacy, which encompasses the abortion decision.

2) A fetus is not a person in the early stages of pregnancy. Personhood emerges around the time of viability at approximately 6 months, which justifies a compelling state interest at that point.

This is why individual states are forbidden under current rulings from outlawing abortions in the first or second trimester of pregnancy, but can make the procedure illegal during the third trimester after the viability of the fetus.

The upcoming debate at the Supreme Court is less about the existence of the abortion right and more about the second ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973 — that the right is limited by the emerging personhood of a fetus.

The State of Mississippi has redefined the emergence of personhood to be at 15 weeks, not 24, and outlawed abortions prior to this point.

Everything hinges on the judgment of personhood.

Determining the facts

When the Supreme Court considers how constitutional rights apply to the facts of our society, they are often forced to rule on what those broad prevailing facts are. The justices could cite experts, employ their own perceptions or a third option: allow diverse democratic decisions through state legislatures, what could be called the federalism of facts.

In Roe, the core factual question was whether a fetus is a person—a human who holds rights and hence cannot be killed lawfully by another person.

The court, ruling in 1973, recognized the problem that, “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."

But the justices were nonetheless compelled to do so. The court ruled that “the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense." Therefore, “the word 'person,' as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn."

However, the court saw the personhood of a fetus as developing during the course of a pregnancy. Therefore, “it is reasonable and appropriate for a State to decide that at some point in time another interest, that of health of the mother or that of potential human life, becomes significantly involved."

The court concluded that “with respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in potential life, the 'compelling' point is at viability."

This means that in the early stages of pregnancy, abortion cannot be outlawed, but “if the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother."

Why viability?

There is a long-standing myth that the author of Roe – Justice Harry Blackmun, who had served for many years as chief counsel for the Mayo Clinic – had done copious medical research and come to the conclusion of viability as the emergence of personhood.

Linda Greenhouse, a longtime Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times, wrote the definitive biography of Blackmun, which clearly demonstrates that this was not the case. Blackmun preferred the point of quickening – when the fetus first begins to move, at around the end of the first trimester – as the emergence of personhood.

In a memo to the justices in November 1972, he wrote that the end of the first trimester “is arbitrary, but perhaps any other selected point, such as quickening or viability, is equally arbitrary."

He later wrote, “I could go along with viability if it could command a court," but would “like to leave the states free to draw their own medical conclusions with respect to the period after three months and until viability." In Greenhouse's telling, it was Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall who urged viability as the court's standard, to which Blackmun eventually agreed.

The court's options

As a close observer of the court, I believe the justices have three options rather than two:

• Maintain Roe fully, solidifying abortion rights.

• Overturn Roe entirely, ending all abortion rights.

• Focus only on the specific factual question of the Mississippi law – when does personhood emerge? – allowing individual states to determine that line for themselves.

I believe this last approach may be the likely result for several reasons. The Roberts Court tends to move incrementally rather than in bold strokes. The ruling on social fact alone upholds the Mississippi law but does not strike down the core right recognized in Roe. Finally, this approach allows the justices to reinforce a constitutional principle favored by conservatives – federalism, which is the freedom of states to exercise their own judgment on questions the Constitution does not assign to the national government.

The court will decide whether the justices will affirm a national standard for this disputed social fact, or whether individual states may decide their own definition, allowing diversity in the boundaries of personhood, and the regulation of abortion, throughout the country.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]The Conversation

Morgan Marietta, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

'Outrageous': Wisconsin Republicans seek full control of state's elections in 'partisan power grab'

The term "voter suppression law" is generally used to describe the many ways in which MAGA Republicans are making it harder to vote, from restricting voting by mail, early voting and ballot drop boxes to reducing the number of polling places (often in areas that lean Democratic). But much more dangerous than those things are GOP efforts to take over the administration of elections, paving the way for Republicans to simply throw out any election results they don't like. And in Wisconsin, according to New York Times reporter Reid J. Epstein, MAGA Republicans are "engaged in an all-out assault on the state's election system, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state."

"The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year's election," Epstein reports. "The firestorm picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the GOP-led (Wisconsin State) Legislature, turbocharging Republican demands for more control of elections."

This authoritarian power grab in Wisconsin is being championed by far-right U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

READ: Evangelical warns Christians have 'erected a graven image' of Trump and let it corrupt the faith

Epstein reports that Johnson "said that GOP state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control of federal elections, claiming that they had the authority to do so even if Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, stood in their way — an extraordinary legal argument debunked by a 1932 Supreme Court decision and a 1964 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court."

"Some top Republican officials in Wisconsin privately acknowledge that their colleagues are playing to the party's base by calling for state election officials to be charged with felonies or for their authority to be usurped by lawmakers," Epstein notes. "Adding to the uncertainty, Mr. Johnson's proposal has not yet been written into legislation in Madison. Mr. Evers has vowed to stop it."

Epstein notes that Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, who is seeking the GOP nomination in Wisconsin's 2022 gubernatorial race and hopes to run against Evers, has been campaigning on abolishing the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission — which is presently comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans.

On November 18, Evers called out Wisconsin Republicans for their "partisan power grab," saying, "The outrageous statements and ideas Wisconsin Republicans have embraced aren't about making our elections stronger; they're about making it more difficult for people to participate in the democratic process."

READ: Trump used mass death as a political weapon — and it's the country's reaction that is truly shocking

The end of Roe v. Wade could be just the beginning of the GOP's attack on legal abortion

This story was first published at The Progressive.

For supporters of abortion rights, the stakes could not be higher than they are this term at U.S. Supreme Court. With conservatives holding a 6-3 advantage on the bench, Roe v. Wade is on the chopping block.

Should Roe fall, abortion will lose its status as a federally protected Constitutional right. Even worse, abortion could become a crime, as it was in nearly every state before Roe was decided in 1973.

It's even possible—if Republicans capture the House, the Senate, and the presidency in 2024—that abortion could become a federal felony. Pregnant people, doctors, nurses, and other "aiders and abettors" could be prosecuted and go to jail for conduct that has been perfectly legal for the last four decades.

This is not hyperbolic.

The Supreme Court is considering three high-profile abortion cases this session that pose existential threats to Roe. Two of the cases—United States v. Texas and Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson—are from Texas and were argued on November 1. The other, Mississippi's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, is slated for oral arguments on December 1.

The Texas cases deal with a draconian abortion statute that took effect in September. The new law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually six weeks after fertilization. In a cynical twist designed to evade federal court review, the law empowers private individuals rather than the state to bring civil actions to enforce the ban.

After initially declining to hear the Texas cases, the Supreme Court agreed to review them on a limited procedural basis to determine whether federal judges have the legal authority to stop state court judges and private parties from enforcing the law. Though the Supreme Court is not expected to directly address the continued constitutionality of Roe, a victory for the state would leave the law in place and effectively overturn Roe in Texas. A victory for Texas would also encourage copycat legislation elsewhere.

Dobbs, by contrast, involves a direct substantive challenge to Roe. The case will test the Constitutionality of a Mississippi law enacted in 2018 that bans abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormalities. No exceptions are made for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.

In a brief filed in July, Mississippi asked the court to jettison Roe. The state has been joined in that request by a slew of groups from the ultra-right that have filed amicus curiae ("friends of the court") briefs.

With Roe out of the way, anti-abortion laws will proliferate. According to the Guttmacher Institute, twenty-six states are likely to ban abortion if Roe is overruled. These include laws enacted before Roe that have never been removed from the books in Alabama, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and other states; so-called "trigger" laws that will take effect automatically in Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota, and elsewhere if Roe is invalidated; and state constitutional bans that will be activated and enforced in Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The abortion bans will also likely spark criminal prosecutions under intense pressure from influential elements of the right-to-life movement. As Heather Lawless, co-founder of the Idaho-based Reliance Center, told National Public Radio last October following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court: "I don't think abortion should be legal, period. Because abortion at any stage is willfully taking a human life, and I don't think that should be legal—at all."

Though Lawless said she wouldn't want to see abortion patients prosecuted, she advocates holding doctors who perform abortions fully liable. Some anti-abortion hardliners are prepared to go even further.

Catherine Davis, the founder of the Restoration Project in Georgia, told NPR that she wouldn't rule out punishing patients for self-induced abortions. "If she decides to self-abort herself, then she's subjected to the same penalty as the doctor," Davis said, in an apparent reference to techniques such as the "morning-after pill."

Abortions, in her view, should be treated as murder and punished the same way, "up to and including capital punishment."

While Davis's position may be extreme even in right-to-life circles, the prospect of a cascade of post-Roe prosecutions has the criminal defense bar on high alert. Earlier this year, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) released a comprehensive report warning that if Roe is rejected, state laws defining "personhood" to include the unborn "will expand the reach of criminal liability for serious offenses such as homicide, feticide, aggravated assault, and many other crimes."

Such laws, according to the report, already exist in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina.

The report similarly cautions, in a reference to anyone who provides material assistance with abortions, that state and federal conspiracy laws could be used to subject "a wide range of individuals, beyond women seeking abortions and the doctors performing them, to criminal penalties."

Although most post-Roe abortion prosecutions would take place at the state level, some cases could be initiated by the U.S. Justice Department should Republicans regain the levers of federal power in 2024.

In 2003, with largely Republican sponsorship and support, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, making it a federal felony for doctors to perform certain late-term abortions. The Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional in 2007 in Gonzales v. Carhart by a vote of 5-4.

With Republicans back in control of government, it would only take a party-line vote to carve out an abortion exception to the filibuster rule in the Senate for the enactment of a federal statute criminalizing abortion nationwide.

The fallout from any of these developments would be devastating for all pregnant people, but particularly for people of color and the poor.

The first step in unleashing these dire consequences could be taken by the Supreme Court, which is now dominated by staunch anti-abortion conservatives. We'll know whether Roe will survive when the court releases the final decisions of its current term at the end of June 2022.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly described the Guttmacher Institute.

The FDA's lax oversight of research in developing countries can do harm to vulnerable participants

by C. Michael White, University of Connecticut

The Food and Drug Administration provides less stringent oversight of overseas research trials used in deciding whether to approve a drug than those conducted domestically. That was the finding of my recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

My study highlighted loopholes in the agency's oversight processes that exploited vulnerable people and led to faulty data for drug approval decisions. Until the early 2000s, participants in FDA-reviewed research trials came almost entirely from the U.S. But a 2010 report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 78% of research participants were enrolled overseas. Faster research subject recruitment and lower expenses – paired with these regulatory loopholes – seem to be driving this shift.

It isn't clear how often these gaps allow problematic trials to slip through the system, because trials that go wrong can simply not be disclosed, and there are virtually no on-site inspections.

In one example, a 2001 trial based in India allowed the use of placebo control in patients with severe mental illness when there were effective alternative therapies available. In another Indian trial, patients were untruthfully told that their medication to treat mania was no longer available and that they could receive only an experimental drug or placebo. Some patients did not even know they were in a trial.

In a study I published in 2020, I cited a trial performed in India in which electrocardiograms filed for multiple people were later discovered to be fraudulent copies from a single person. I also came across an example of large-scale data manipulation from Chinese study sites to make an experimental drug seem more effective than it really was.

The number of drugs that are approved but later had to be withdrawn or have new serious warnings for adverse events has increased from 21 per 100 drugs before 2012 to 27 per 100 drugs thereafter. This coincides with the dramatic shift to overseas clinical trials intended for FDA drug approval.

Why it matters

Before researchers can begin human testing of experimental drugs in research subjects on U.S. soil, companies must submit “Investigational New Drug" applications to the FDA. These applications describe the lab-based testing they conducted and all the trials they plan to carry out on U.S. citizens. The FDA can prevent unethical trials from beginning in the U.S. given its authority under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 but only because the experimental drug crosses state lines.

But a loophole exists for overseas research, since the experimental drug does not need to cross U.S. state lines. This means companies can begin overseas research trials before the FDA assesses the drug application, and they do not have to disclose all the research they intend to perform.

To get an experimental drug approved by the FDA, the companies must submit a New Drug Application to the agency. For research trials that were previously proposed to the FDA, the companies are required to include all trial data. However, when trials are conducted overseas unbeknownst to the FDA, companies can cherry-pick supportive trials and leave out those with negative findings. Thus, the FDA may not have a complete picture of the drugs' potential benefits and adverse events when deciding if it should be approved.

What's next

Since the 1990s, the FDA has been increasingly funded by user fees from the companies it regulates. These fees cover the costs of many FDA functions, including product approvals and manufacturing facility inspections. They are paid by pharmaceutical, biotechnology and device companies as well as generic drug manufacturers. User fees were initially introduced to speed up the drug approval process for HIV medications early in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

These user fees are negotiated between the FDA and the companies and then approved by Congress. In 2022, the newly negotiated fees are set to go into effect for five years. During the last negotiation in 2017, the FDA proposed a fee to fund trial site inspections in developing countries, but the companies refused. As a result, foreign clinical trial sites are 27 times less likely to be inspected by the FDA than those in the U.S.The Conversation

C. Michael White, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Happy Holidays!