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Sotomayor issues scathing dissent in Supreme Court order on legal immigration

The justice wrote that granting emergency applications often upends “the normal appellate process” while “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won.” Targeting her conservative colleagues, she said “most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior” has benefited “one litigant over all others.”

Sotomayor’s dissent was in response to the court’s 5-4 order granting the government’s request to allow its controversial “public charge” rule to go into effect in every state. The rule makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status if they use public benefits like food stamps and housing vouchers. Although the three other liberal justices on the bench also dissented, they remained silent and did not join Sotomayor’s decision.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases,” Sotomayor said. “It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she said, pointing to the case at hand, “that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.” She noted that in the case at hand, the lower court order that the Supreme Court lifted was narrow and only impacted one state.

Sotomayor’s comments come as the Supreme Court is in the midst of a blockbuster term considering issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, the Second Amendment, immigration and President Donald Trump’s effort to shield his financial records. The justices are behind schedule in releasing opinions, and court watchers have questioned if the delay is caused in part by Chief Justice John Roberts’ required participation in the impeachment proceedings, or if the justices themselves are fractured over a number of cases. Although Sotomayor wrote alone, her opinion suggests unease behind the scenes.

For its part, the government, supported by at least two conservative justices, has argued in the past that emergency requests have become necessary because lower courts are increasingly issuing broad preliminary injunctions that cover states that weren’t a party to the original lawsuit.

On the one hand, Sotomayor says that the court is lowering its standards when considering emergency requests from the government. On the other hand, the Trump administration counters that such requests are necessary because lower courts are issuing overly broad preliminary opinions, prematurely blocking its policies while the appeals process plays out.

Friday’s order came after the Supreme Court last month, again dividing 5-4, allowed the “public charge” rule to go into effect across the country — except for Illinois — because the state was governed by a separate judicial order.

The Trump administration took the next step of asking the court to lift the Illinois order. That request was granted Friday.

Now the public charge rule, scheduled for implementation Monday — will take effect nationwide while the legal process plays out.

“This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess(e) of United States taxpayers,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.

Addressing more than the case at hand, Sotomayor wrote about what she called a “now-familiar pattern.”

“The government seeks emergency relief from this Court,” asking the justices to step in when lower courts have declined to do so, and then the Court “has been all too quick to grant the government’s reflexive requests.”

“Make no mistake,” Sotomayor said, “this Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process.”

She lamented the fact that the court has at times denied similar emergency requests from death row inmates.

“The Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures to ‘raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner,’ ” she said.

“I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect,” she said.

Professor Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor who has studied the issue of emergency requests, noted in a recent piece for the Harvard Law Review that Solicitor General Noel Francisco has been more aggressive in seeking to “short-circuit” the ordinary course of appellate litigation than his immediate predecessors.

In an interview, Vladeck noted that Francisco has not always prevailed, “but he has done so far more often than his predecessors.”

“This is now the 24th time that the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to put a lower court decision on hold in less than three years compared to a total of eight such requests during the 16 years of the George W. Bush and Obama administration’s combined,” Vladeck said.

“As in this case, the justices have often agreed to these requests even when the lower court ruling, as in the most recent case, had only a local impact,” he added.

But the government has complained there has been an uptick of orders by lower courts blocking Trump policies nationwide. In late January, for example, when the court allowed the public charge rule to go into effect for every state except Illinois, Justice Neil Gorsuch joined by Justice Clarence Thomas voted in the majority and wrote separately to criticize the fact that the lower court had issued such a broad injunction impacting those who weren’t plaintiffs in the case.

Gorsuch criticized the “increasingly common practice” of trial courts issuing broad orders blocking a policy.

“The routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable,” Gorsuch wrote.

Last May, Attorney General William Barr complained at a speech to the American Law Institute, about nationwide injunctions, particularly how they have blocked his administration from terminating DACA, an issue that is currently before the Supreme Court.

He said that nationwide injunctions have “frustrated presidential policy for most of the President’s term with no end in sight.” He said we are “more than halfway through the President’s term, and the administration has not been able to rescind the signature immigration initiative of the last administration, even thought it rests entirely on executive discretion.”

He said such injunctions “have injected the courts into the political process” and inspired “unhealthy litigation tactics.” He noted that after the courts had blocked the travel ban, the Supreme Court ultimately allowed the third version to go into effect.

“Limiting judicial power to resolving concrete disputes between parties, rather than conducting general oversight of the Political Branches, ensures that courts do not usurp their policymaking functions,” Barr said.

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Democratic rivals aim to slow Sanders’ momentum after his big win in Nevada

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contenders fanned out across the United States on Sunday to try to blunt Bernie Sanders’ momentum after his dominant victory in Nevada solidified his front-runner status ahead of 15 key nominating contests in the next 10 days.

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont and self-avowed democratic socialist, rode a wave of support across age, race and ideology to capture 47% of the county convention delegates in Nevada, with 50% of precincts reporting.

His latest victory is sure to stoke more concern among establishment Democrats who see him as too liberal to defeat Republican President Donald Trump in November. Now they have an additional worry that he may soon be unstoppable in his quest to win the nomination.

But the results in Nevada and the outlook for coming contests are doing little to push the rest of the field to drop out, leaving a cluster of more centrist candidates to divide the anti-Sanders vote and unable to build momentum.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who had lackluster finishes in the first two nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, appeared headed to a second-place finish in Nevada. But at 19%, he trailed Sanders by a wide margin.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who won in Iowa and finished second in New Hampshire, was in third place with 15%. If the final results push Buttigieg below 15%, he may fail to win delegates, the key to securing the nomination.

Buttigieg’s campaign sent a letter to the Nevada Democratic Party on Sunday calling for it to release data on early voting results, fix errors that might have arisen when counting absentee ballots and explain discrepancies the campaign found before any final tally is announced.

“Given how close the race is between second and third place, we ask that you take these steps before releasing any final data,” Buttigieg’s senior aide, Michael Gaffney, said in the letter, which was seen by Reuters.

A representative for the state party said the campaigns understood how the reporting process would work before Saturday.

“We are continuing to verify and to report results,” the representative said in a statement. “We never indicated we would release a separate breakdown of early vote and in-person attendees by precinct and will not change our reporting process now.”

Bernie Sanders addresses his first campaign rally after the Nevada Caucus in El Paso, Texas. REUTERS/Mike Segar


Sanders’ triumph on Saturday in the first racially diverse state in the campaign suggested he was reaching a broader coalition of Democratic voters with his unapologetic message of social and economic justice, including his signature pledge to provide universal healthcare for all Americans.

“Together we will defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” Sanders told a cheering throng of supporters in Houston.

Biden was in South Carolina, where he hopes his record on civil rights and as Barack Obama’s vice president will appeal to the state’s many black voters ahead of a primary contest on Saturday.

“I don’t expect anything. I am here to earn your vote,” Biden said at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. “You can own this election. It’s yours to determine.”

U.S. Representative James Clyburn, a top-ranking House of Representatives Democrat and an influential voice in South Carolina’s African-American community, said he would not endorse a candidate until after a Democratic debate on Tuesday night.

Speaking to reporters outside the church, Biden said he had spoken with Clyburn recently about a potential endorsement. “I’m not counting on anything but I’m hopeful.”

Tuesday’s debate will include activist billionaire Tom Steyer, who earned just 4% of the Nevada delegates. Steyer, who has advocated reparations to African Americans over slavery, qualified with a new CBS/YouGov poll showing that 18% of South Carolina voters favored him, placing him third.

Biden led the poll with 28%, but Sanders was close behind at 23%.


In Nevada, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had been looking to jump-start her campaign after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, trailed in a disappointing fourth place, while Senator Amy Klobuchar was fifth.

Warren was scheduled on Sunday to campaign in Colorado, one of the 14 Super Tuesday states where Democratic voters will cast ballots on March 3 to pick more than one-third of the pledged delegates who will help select a Democratic nominee.

Slideshow (15 Images)

Klobuchar was scheduled to be in Super Tuesday states Arkansas and Oklahoma, after visiting North Dakota, which holds a Democratic caucus on March 10. Buttigieg was set to speak in Virginia, yet another state where Democrats vote on March 3.

The Super Tuesday states will be the first nominating contests for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who did not compete in the four early voting states but who has been rising in opinion polls.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Simon Lewis in Las Vegas; Writing by Michael Martina and David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney

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Buttigieg Campaign Says Nevada Caucus Was ‘Plagued With Errors and Inconsistencies’ After He Loses

Buttigieg Campaign Says Nevada Caucus Was ‘Plagued With Errors and Inconsistencies’ After He Loses

The Pete Buttigieg campaign is raising alarms about the Nevada caucuses, saying that it was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies” after he lost.

Buttigieg was far less concerned about the massive irregularities in Iowa, where he claimed victory despite there still not being full results returned.

The Associated Press reports that the campaign sent a letter to the Nevada State Democratic Party on Saturday evening saying that the process of integrating four days of early voting into in-person caucuses held Saturday was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies.”

The letter claims that there was more than 200 reports of problems allocating votes. One of the biggest issues, they claim, is that the people who were running the caucuses did not appear to follow rules that might have allowed candidates to pick up more support during a second round of voting.

Buttigieg’s campaign is now calling for the party to “release more detail of the votes and address concerns before releasing final results,” according to the AP report.

Sanders won the Nevada caucuses by a clear landslide, with Joe Biden coming in second and Buttigieg placing in third.

“Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan says in a statement that the campaign’s own data shows a ‘razor thin’ margin for second place and questioned whether the ‘irregularities and a number of unresolved questions’ could change the final results,” AP reports.

Following his loss, Buttigieg gave a speech warning against the party nominating Senator Sanders.

“Sen. Sanders, on the other hand, is ignoring, dismissing, or even attacking the very Democrats we absolutely must send to Capitol Hill in order to keep Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, in order to support judges who respect privacy and democracy, and in order to send Mitch McConnell into retirement. Let’s listen to what those voices are telling us,” Buttigieg said during his speech.

Buttigieg accused Sanders of promoting pie-in-the-sky ideological purity that would lead the party to lose in 2020.

“That is the choice before us: We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition,” Buttigieg said.

Sanders is now expected to overtake Buttigieg in the delegate count.

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Albany Jewish center cleared after bomb threat

Albany police were notified of the email around 11:05 a.m. and responded with officers and three K-9 units, Albany police spokesman Steve Smith said.

With the help of New York State Police, officers cleared the building and determined there was no device or any threat inside the center or the neighboring day care center, Smith said.

The threat was also sent to several people with JCC emails, though it is not clear whether the additional people are also affiliated with the Albany JCC or other centers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Sunday that “Bomb threats were made by email today against multiple Jewish Community Centers across NY.”

The incident is the latest in a growing number of anti-Semitic threats and attacks in New York and around the country. Cuomo said Sunday there have been about 42 anti-Semitic incidents in the state in the past couple of months, CNN affiliate WTEN reported.
Attorney General William Barr last month said the Justice Department will get more involved in fighting such crimes as their number rises.

The FBI has been notified about the Albany incident, and the investigation is ongoing, according to Smith.

Cuomo was at the Albany JCC on Sunday, according to Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

The New York Police Department is monitoring the situation in Albany, an NYPD spokesman told CNN on Sunday, saying it is not currently aware of any threats made to any JCCs in the city.

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Here’s What We Know About Russia’s ‘New Playbook’ for Election Meddling in 2020

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U.S. intelligence officials told a House committee last week that Russia is attempting to meddle in the 2020 presidential election on behalf of President Donald Trump, according to a New York Times report on Thursday. And they’re reportedly using a “new playbook” to do so.

In 2016, the Russian government created troll armies and impersonated Americans and American groups in 2016, but now, it’s cutting out the middleman and just trying to get Americans to repeat blatantly false information themselves, the intelligence officials reportedly told Congress. The government is also allegedly working from U.S.-based servers rather than ones in Russia, the officials reportedly said, an attempt to circumvent monitoring by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The National Security Agency also apparently told House lawmakers that Russian hackers have “infiltrated” Iran’s cyberwarfare unit, “perhaps with the intent of launching attacks” and making it appear that they come from Iran. And lawmakers were also warned that “foreign powers” could use ransomware attacks to incapacitate or pry with voting systems and registration databases. Last year, there were ransomware attacks on at least 140 state and local government and healthcare providers in the U.S., CNN reported in October.

The briefing also included a revelation that Russia intended to interfere with both the 2020 Democratic primaries and the general election, the Times reported. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report released last year found that the Russian government had also tried to influence the 2016 Democratic primary.

One tactic that hasn’t changed, intelligence officials reportedly said, is that the Russian government is looking to exploit existing controversies and close election results to question the integrity of the American political system.

READ: Trump and Putin joked about election interference and killing journalists

“The message was, ‘it appears they’re favoring one candidate over another, and everybody should be cautious,’” a CBS News source who attended the Hill meeting told the network.

The report wasn’t exactly what the GOP wanted to hear. Trump was reportedly “angered” by the disclosure, believing it would be used against him by the Democrats. He reportedly “berated” acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire — whose aide, Shelby Pierson, reportedly delivered the briefing — for allowing it to happen.

Administration officials sought to downplay Pierson’s report, which, according to the Times, was “the conclusion of multiple intelligence agencies.”

“A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker,” a “national security official” told CNN. “But not that they prefer him over (Bernie) Sanders or (Pete) Buttigieg or anyone else. So it may have been mischaracterized by Shelby.”

Trump replaced Maguire with U.S. ambassador to Germany and former Fox News contributor Richard Grenell this week. Administration officials said the timing was coincidental, according to the Times.

READ: The Russian group that hacked the DNC has now breached the company at the center of Trump’s impeachment

Republican lawmakers at the meeting also reportedly defended Trump from the assertion that Russia would intervene on his behalf, including Utah Rep. Chris Stewart. “I’d challenge anyone to give me a real-world argument where Putin would rather have President Trump and not Bernie Sanders,” Stewart told the Times.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff — the House Intelligence Committee chair, whose presence at the meeting particularly irked Trump, according to the Times — said in a Thursday tweet that “We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections.”

“If reports are true and the President is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling,” Schiff continued. “Exactly as we warned he would do.”

Cover: Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses during his meeting in the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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The Populist Pundits

Review of The Populist’s Guide to 2020: A New Right and New Left are Rising, by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti (Strong Arm Press, 2020).

Railing against “the establishment” is routine for Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, hosts of the Hill TV morning show Rising. The populist duo regularly expose the venality and narcissism of the rich and powerful in terms that seem more at home in a religious tent revival than in a slick web show.

In their new book, The Populist’s Guide to 2020, they take on “the elite media . . . the army of pundits . . . milquetoast centrists . . . the god of consumerism” and “the most fraught and oft-used weapons in the neoliberal playbook: identity politics.”

Their guide is broken into sections with headings like “Theories of Change” and “Media.” Each opens with a cowritten introduction and features choice essays written by either Saagar or Krystal. Fans of the show will recognize many as a sort of “greatest hits” of Rising monologues.

Stylistically, the pair have a gift for pulp. The book is filled with florid writing about the ruling class and the mendacity of the media elite. Ball and Enjeti are united in their shared disdain for the professionals, managers, and the political leaders responsible for the “multi-decade long bipartisan failures, systemic breakdowns, and utter betrayal of the working class.” They slug away at McKinsey & Company’s Mayor Pete and even white-collar warrior Elizabeth Warren. But in analyzing the causes and consequences of a country “with a few prosperous super cities and a vast wasteland of hollowed out towns,” it is Ball who shines brightest.

Krystal has a talent for making you mad, or more accurately, resentful. She rages against the contradictions of a society dominated by profit, and the people that personify those contradictions. She makes you want to stuff Pete Buttigieg, “and the other special flowers who get tracked onto the smart-kid path,” into a locker. A Democratic Party loyalist might cringe at some of her jabs: Why does she hate Pelosi so much? Doesn’t she realize that the Republicans are in the White House? But Ball’s venom is not misplaced, even if it is misunderstood. She is a Democratic Party loyalist and hell hath no fury like a voter scorned.

Krystal, like many of her viewers, constantly wrestles with the combination of incompetence and callous class interest that explains the behavior of the Democratic establishment. Hiding behind “anti-Trumpism,” party honchos have done their best to avoid addressing the crisis unfolding under their noses, a crisis largely of their own making.

After all, Republicans aren’t alone responsible for the nearly 80 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, the millions that are under- or uninsured, the tens of thousands of yearly deaths from the opioid epidemic. While the liberal media conglomerates hysterically crow about the singular threat the president poses to the preservation of the republic, Ball warns us to be wary about what happens after Trump is gone “when no one has done anything to address the rot of the system that is rigged for the wealthy and the powerful.”

Ball succeeds where many left-wing political analysts fail: she puts meat and flesh on the gross structural obstacles that working-class people face and the consequences those obstacles have. She doesn’t trot out many numbers or charts, but she paints a vivid picture of a working class in crisis. Further, she understands — better than most — that it’s not enough that workers are ground down daily by political and economic elites, but that they are then condescended to by those same people. They are expected to swallow ridiculous explanations for their predicament from media hucksters pimping what she calls “the hollow amorality of the meritocratic ideal,” the now common-sense view that whatever situation you find yourself in, you’re probably in that position because you didn’t go to the right school or earn the right credentials.

And it’s the revolt against that condescension that explains why, for so many working-class Democratic voters, the 2020 presidential race was long a battle between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (and not between Warren and Buttigieg). Ball, of course, hates Biden but not in the same way she hates the “wine-track” candidates: “At least he doesn’t come off as a condescending elitist who looks down his nose at Middle America.” The former vice president may be detestable for his middle-class centrism, but Ball rightly recognizes that most Americans prefer that to the professional-class precociousness.

The elitism of the Democrats is a common theme. Amid the House impeachment inquiry, when many in the Democratic tent lamented the lack of grassroots enthusiasm for the trial, Ball sums up the situation nicely:

It’s not because voters are too dumb, or not paying attention, or too racist, or haven’t watched enough Rachael Maddow. It’s not because Nancy Pelosi hasn’t said “bribery” enough or because State Department official George Kent wore a bow tie during his testimony. The reason no one cares what Democrats have to say about corruption is because Democrats have zero moral authority.

She accepts that most real people — with jobs, families, and bills — simply don’t care about the things media people obsess over. Why, we’re implored to ask, has there been deafening silence on the opioid crisis, poverty, or the total capture of our politics and media by the ultrarich?

Ball also gets what many of us on the Left know to be true, but what establishment liberals won’t admit: “Democrats got lucky with Trump. They got lucky that he’s too short-sighted to take an incremental loss to solidify long term gains.” Throughout her essays, she makes fun of the now un-reflexive Democratic pearl-clutching over the president’s tweets. These elite liberal media types need to get a grip: after all, the rest of the country is burning.

It’s this approach to politics that makes the chemistry of the show, and Ball’s unlikely friendship with her cohost, possible.

Saagar Enjeti is a Republican. This isn’t a secret, but it’s not obvious either. On questions of corporate power and inequality, he sometimes sounds like a socialist: “These CEOs know exactly who will be their best friends in government.” On health care, he strikes notes that could be from Bernie Sanders: “Health care is the number one threat to the daily lives of the American worker.” On war, he is a staunch anti-interventionist. On corporate control of the media, he sounds almost like Noam Chomsky: “Nobody is technically paying or influencing you to exactly say or do something. Instead, the system is designed to incentivize promotion, coverage, and advancement of those that truly believe in policies that disproportionately benefit moneyed interests.” On identity politics, like Adolph Reed Jr: “Multinational corporations realized sometime in the mid-2010s that if they began to parrot and sponsor social justice seminars, that these critical race theorists would in turn not criticize them for shipping US jobs overseas and perpetuating the class divide within our society.”

Saagar does feel compelled to defend his political leanings against a skeptical viewership (“One of the funnier comments I get from people who watch Rising is, ‘are you actually conservative?’”). I would bet that most of the show’s fans are on Krystal’s side of the aisle. Even so, in an essay that promises to lay out his rock-ribbed Republican commitments, “Bernie Sanders, Cenk Uygur, and the Eventual Downfall of the American Left,” he doesn’t expound his conservative philosophy at all. Instead, he pleads with progressives to abandon their “woke identitarian” weakness which “spells electoral doom for any progressive candidate in the United States, especially in the swing states that were lost to Donald Trump.”

Repeatedly, he warns us that the “electoral failure of the American left will be economic progressives kowtowing to woke identitarians.” I agree with him — but what’s maybe more important is that I agree because (like Saagar, I suspect) I want the Left to win. Is Enjeti a secret Bernie-bro receiving late-night directives from Jeff Weaver in undisclosed DC parking garages?

Perhaps one way to view Enjeti is as following in the footsteps of Christopher Lasch, the social critic who saw many New Left radicals as hopelessly out of touch with ordinary working people and indifferent to their economic plight. Like Enjeti, Lasch called himself a populist. Lasch, however, considered himself a man of the Left, and not without reason: he favored the major redistribution of power, he valorized the worker and the farmer, and he advocated for radical reforms to the political system. But in many ways, he was a far more forthright conservative than Enjeti.

The author of The Culture of Narcissism feared a centralized democratic state, and saw the family unit as the major site of social reform. He advocated “traditional” gender roles and was openly contemptuous of divorce. He praised the church, duty, responsibility, and even indulged in a little chest-thumping patriotism. Saagar certainly takes some inspiration from the late historian (he has sometimes referred to our contemporary moment as one of “malaise” on the show), but interestingly, Enjeti almost never talks about the role of the family, nor does he seem to yearn for an idealized gendered division of labor. He doesn’t even really wave the flag that much.

When it comes to his positive program, although somewhat vague, Enjeti is consistently in favor of Big Government intervention in economic affairs and reforms of the political system meant to benefit the worker — not the “citizen,” nor “the nation,” nor in the name or glory of God. Yet he insists he is bona fide because of his “tolerance and support for family values and explicit rejection of intersectionality.” Perhaps Enjeti is being coy here, but if “tolerance” for “family values” and a rejection of a silly pseudo-theory is all it takes to be a conservative, there must be quite a few writing for this magazine.

Truth is, I’m not sure what to make of Enjeti’s conservatism. It shouldn’t be surprising that entrepreneurial and ambitious millennial right-wingers are rejecting 1980s Reaganite orthodoxy in the same way that young workers on the other side of the aisle are rejecting 1990s Clintonite orthodoxy. Concerns about inequality and the nature of the class structure are now predominant among that generation.

A small but dedicated cadre of right-wingers recognize this and are adjusting their rhetoric accordingly. From Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, to Missouri state senator Josh Hawley, to dilettantes like Julius Krein and Michael Lind, these “populists” mimic the language of the Old Left but offer a cheap imitation. Despite their crocodile tears for the hollowed out heartland, they seem perfectly content with crushing the only institution that has ever enabled workers to speak for themselves and to organize for their own interests: the labor movement.

It’s striking, for instance, that for all his ginned-up flattering of the American worker, Saagar never once mentions the word “union” in his manifesto.

The paradox for Enjeti — and others playing prep-school populist — is that the only thing making populism “right-wing” is the scapegoating necessary to displace the class narrative. So, instead of villainizing billionaires or bosses, the right-wing populist demonizes immigrants (or women or racial minorities or Jews). Conversely, the things making conservatism traditionalist are fundamentally anti-populist: bans on vices, state-sponsored religion, the preservation of elite hierarchies, and the reassertion of arcane customs.

Now it is possible that Enjeti quietly holds reactionary views on marriage, or of the “role of women,” or that he is a genuine xenophobe, or maybe he nurses some odious ethnic prejudice; and any of these attitudes would qualify him as a real-deal conservative. But frankly, I doubt it. It seems more likely that Saagar Enjeti is a conservative because he’s paid to be one on TV.

Putting aside the question of Enjeti’s conservatism, we’re still left puzzling over the populism part of the equation. The word refers to a rhetorical style more than any stable programmatic or ideological position. The populist creates a narrative built around “the people” and their fight against powerful political-economic elites and insidious institutions that stand above them.

So far, so good. However, populists construct a “people” as a substitute for the “working class.” For theorists like Chantal Mouffe, and for parties as varied as the Five Star Movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain, populism is painted as a successor to the stale politics of workers and bosses, and to socialism in the wake of the latter’s failure.

Yet Ball and Enjeti’s populism doesn’t represent a departure from class politics at all. In fact, it is defined by its commitment to the absolute primacy of the working class:

We’ve called this book “The Populist’s Guide to 2020” because that’s how we both identify — as populists. We both believe in putting the massive working class at the center of politics and advocate for candidates and policies which we believe will help accomplish that goal.

It would be easier to find this sentiment among Marx and Engels than in the programs of any contemporary European populist party. The Populist’s Guide to 2020 celebrates the working class in glowing heroic terms, and refers to the professional class elite with either contempt or pity. And unlike the Reaganite “populism” of the 1980s which was designed to let the elite off the hook by pitting the “makers” — blue-collar workers and their employers against the “takers,” welfare recipients, and high-income liberals — Ball and Enjeti have no qualms about taking on the ruling class and in surprisingly orthodox terms. They complain about “woke corporatists,” remind us about the power of the alliance of the “media elite and accumulated capital” and warn of the “grinding down of the multiracial working class and continued fattening of the ruling class.” But all this talk raises a question: Why do these class warriors find so much good in “populism” and not socialism?

This is especially important for Krystal. She supports a self-described democratic socialist candidate, she believes in the power of the government to curtail the power of the ruling class — I would guess that a healthy chunk of her viewers are, like me, card-carrying DSA members. In fact, she would be the perfect spokesperson for today’s energetic democratic-socialist movement — dynamic, telegenic, and charismatic — yet she seems reluctant to embrace the label.

I don’t think she’s afraid of appearing too “radical”; after all she has called for the complete decriminalization of drugs. Nor do I think this is just a case of mistaken identity. Ball’s arms-length relationship with “socialism” might have something to do with one area where she and Saagar agree most — not on markets nor the role of government, but on the invidiousness of identity politics.

Unlike many millennial left-wingers, Ball is completely uninterested in identitarian pandering. She loathes it. And part of Rising’s successful formula is that the hosts reject the “woke” culture-war approach to politics that so many on the young, hip Brooklyn-by-Oakland left mistake for politics. The authors harbor “nothing but disgust for those who would use identity as a wedge.” But it takes particular courage for a woman of the Left to declare that “an embrace of woke virtue signaling” is designed to do nothing more than “keep working-class minorities in the tent while providing nothing of substance in terms of their economic well-being.”

You would be hard-pressed to find any such statements by DSA, and only rarely in this magazine. And that is to their detriment and to Krystal’s benefit. Her rapid rise as the Left’s voice of reason in the 2020 election cycle mimics the 2016 rise of the “Dirtbag Left and the podcast Chapo Trap House. While stylistically very different — the former was infamous for its low-production value while the latter looks so good you sometimes can’t believe what you’re hearing — what they have in common is, as Enjeti is fond of saying, they both “said the quiet part out loud.”

Bashing the hypocrisy of establishment liberals who bemoaned the lack of diversity when Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro dropped out of the race, even as most couldn’t name a single thing the candidates stood for. Krystal wonders: “If you’re an immigrant getting deported, does it matter to you that the deporter-in-chief is the first African-American president? If you’re in jail for marijuana possession, does it make a difference that it’s Kamala Harris who gleefully prosecuted you?” After all, “in an oppression Olympics, everyone loses.”

Krystal’s populism isn’t a rejection of class politics, or even a rejection of a radical program. Instead, it represents a recognition that the contemporary left is, unfortunately, not much different from establishment liberals in their embrace of identity at the expense of the working class.

What makes The Populist’s Guide so enjoyable, and so dangerous, is that it is fundamentally geared toward appealing to a popular audience (the book has already broken the Amazon top-ten bestseller list). Ball and Enjeti aren’t unique in their ability to air the ruling class’s dirty laundry — left-wing newspapers and their online equivalents have been doing this for decades — but what’s special about these two is their knack for doing it in the vernacular. They have tapped into a sense of impending revolt without all the corny phrasemongering that the sectarian left has long used as a crutch.

A friend used to lament that the Left didn’t need any more pamphlets and broadsheets with words like “vanguard” and “proletariat” plastered across them in bold sans serifs but instead a populist version of The View, that working moms in DelCo could tune in before their morning Wawa run. Krystal and Saagar have clearly heeded the call.

The success of their project, both the book and the broadcast, is kind of shocking. Just think, in four short years the Left has managed to build an audience of millions reading magazines like this one, listening to podcasts like Chapo Trap House, and now watching morning talk shows like Rising. It is now, oddly, normal to talk about politics in terms of bosses and workers, the rich and the rest, the millionaires and billionaires . . . the working class. It’s routine for members of either party to openly ridicule dynastic families like the Clintons and the Bushes. And the observation that Washington is a cesspool infested by wealthy war hawks, politically connected pedophiles, and dystopian tech titans is largely met with quiet head-nodding recognition.

The rot has been here long enough, “the only question is how long before a new order is born.”

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One Guaranteed Winner in the Democratic Primary: Plans to Tax the Rich

WASHINGTON — The Democratic primary race remains highly unpredictable, but there is one thing we already know for sure about the party’s next presidential nominee: She or he has big plans to tax the very rich.

Every leading candidate in the party’s 2020 field — from relative moderates like Joseph R. Biden Jr., Michael R. Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to liberals like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — has proposed trillions of dollars in new taxes on businesses and wealthy Americans. In each case, and to wildly varying degrees, the money would fund new government spending in areas like health care, education, housing and climate change, and a range of other programs meant to help the poor and the middle class.

Democratic candidates have long campaigned on higher taxes for the rich, but this year’s set of plans represents a striking escalation from past party nominees. They are a product of what longtime Democratic policy hands describe as a confluence of inequality trends, grass-roots pressure, the severing of some candidates’ ties with the wealthy liberal donor class and a Democratic voter backlash against the 2017 tax cuts signed by President Trump, which delivered their largest benefits to corporations and high earners.

In a campaign where the leading candidates have sparred over electability and progressivity, the Democrats’ tax and spending plans provide one of the most vivid illustrations of how widely their ambitions for the size of government diverge — and how far their party has moved in the last four years toward taxing the small slice of Americans who reap the economy’s largest rewards.

The most modest of the leading Democrats’ proposals, Mr. Biden’s, would raise taxes by more than twice as much as Hillary Clinton proposed in 2016. Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar would raise them by twice as much as Mr. Biden. Ms. Warren would raise taxes by three times as much as Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar. Mr. Sanders has not yet detailed all his proposed tax increases, but to cover his full spending ambitions, he would need to raise even more revenue than Ms. Warren.

Even Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire himself, would raise taxes on the rich and corporations by an estimated $5 trillion, which is about 50 percent more than Mr. Biden would.

“The ground has shifted for everybody,” said Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington and a former top aide to Mrs. Clinton, the last Democratic presidential nominee. “People believe the taxes are too low on the very wealthy. That’s become a cornerstone belief.”

It is also, polls suggest, a popular belief for a populist era. Surveys find large majorities of voters, including a majority of Republicans, favor plans like the so-called wealth taxes proposed by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, which would tax the very wealthy on the assets they hold, not just the income they earn. As a candidate, Mr. Trump tapped into those sentiments by sometimes promising to raise taxes on the rich, though his signature 2017 law cut them instead.

The Democrats’ plans this time leave little question that, if they were enacted, taxes would rise for millionaires and billionaires. Even some other high-earning taxpayers — those earning more than $250,000 a year in many cases, though the thresholds vary by candidate — would see significant tax increases. Most of the candidates would make those households pay additional payroll taxes, in order to fund an expansion of Social Security benefits. In some cases those households would see their income taxes rise, too.

In the 2020 race, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have made a point of not courting millionaires and billionaires to help finance their campaigns. Instead of holding private fund-raisers with wealthy donors, both candidates are relying on small-dollar donations raised from a vast group of supporters. Some Democrats say that decision has emboldened those candidates to propose taxing the rich more heavily than past party nominees would have.

“We are in a very different place, where the kind of fund-raisers that every politician is used to doing are now flash points for criticism,” said Heather McGhee, a distinguished senior fellow at the liberal group Demos Action, who advised Mrs. Clinton in 2016 and has endorsed Ms. Warren this cycle. “And that’s a great thing. But it’s a huge change. And I think it has shifted the policy conversation.”

The Democratic candidates have put forward their plans to spend trillions of dollars on new social programs at a time when the federal budget deficit is expected to exceed $1 trillion this year — having risen sharply under Mr. Trump, in large part because of his tax cuts.

Studies by the Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania have found that the tax proposals from Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren would most likely fall hundreds of billions — or even upward of $1 trillion — short of what the campaigns claim they will raise over the course of a decade.

Some economists question whether it is possible for Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, in particular, to raise the tens of trillions of dollars their spending programs would require largely through taxing corporations and the very rich. Those economists say it will be easier for the wealthy to avoid taxes, and harder for the government to assess and collect those taxes, than the candidates’ estimates suggest.

“We are living in a world where basically everything is unknown” about how much money it is possible to raise from the very wealthy, said Natasha Sarin, an economist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school, who has critiqued Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders’s plans as being overly optimistic. “We don’t know how much wealth the top has. We have some guess about what kind of avoidance we’re going to see.”

“I just think it’s important to be somewhat humble in the face of all these unknowns,” she said.

In many areas, the leading candidates’ tax plans overlap or even mirror one another. They all would raise income taxes on high earners, raise taxes on capital income like the sale of stocks and bonds and raise the corporate income tax rate. Where they disagree is on which specific new taxes to pursue — and just how much money to attempt to raise.

Mr. Sanders’s policy agenda is by far the most expensive of the leading candidates, though estimates vary. The cost of his policy plans on just a handful of topics — health care, higher education, housing and climate change — could exceed $50 trillion over 10 years. By contrast, the federal government is currently projected to spend roughly $60 trillion over the next decade.

A huge chunk of that spending would go toward “Medicare for all,” the single-payer health insurance system he has championed. A single-payer system would require $34 trillion in additional federal spending over a decade, according to the Urban Institute.

Mr. Sanders has declined to specify how he would pay for it, though he released a list of financing options last year, including a 4 percent “income-based premium” that employees would pay.

He has also proposed an annual tax on household wealth that would apply to married couples worth over $32 million, a proposal that would raise an estimated $4.35 trillion over a decade.

Mr. Sanders has made clear he would significantly increase income taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In his 2016 presidential campaign, he called for a 52 percent top marginal income tax rate. He would also expand the estate tax and increase Social Security taxes on high earners.

Ms. Warren’s signature “two cents” wealth tax proposal would kick in on net worth over $50 million and would raise an estimated $3.5 trillion over a decade. The tax would increase to six cents on the dollar for net worth over $1 billion.

Ms. Warren would raise taxes on wealthy people in several other ways. She wants to reverse Mr. Trump’s tax cuts for high earners, which lowered the top personal income tax rate to 37 percent, from 39.6 percent. She would also revamp the estate tax, and she would increase taxes on capital gains for the top 1 percent of households. In addition, she would increase Social Security payroll taxes on high earners and create a new Social Security tax on their investment income.

In addition to a Medicare for all program that would require an estimated $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over 10 years, Ms. Warren’s proposals include a sweeping set of new programs addressing areas like Social Security, climate change, higher education, K-12 schools and housing. Taken together, those proposals and her Medicare for all plan have an estimated 10-year price tag of more than $30 trillion.

Several other leading Democratic candidates have smaller aspirations for taxing the rich. But they still want to do so.

Mr. Bloomberg offered plans this month to raise taxes on the rich and corporations by what his campaign estimated would be $5 trillion over 10 years. He would do so by raising taxes on capital gains, labor income, inherited wealth and other income streams, all limited to high-earning Americans. Under Mr. Bloomberg’s plan, the top income tax rate would be 39.6 percent, with an additional 5 percent surcharge for incomes above $5 million.

Mr. Buttigieg would also set the top income tax rate at 39.6 percent. He would increase Social Security taxes and capital gains taxation for high earners, and he would expand the estate tax.

The Buttigieg campaign says the new spending it has proposed — on areas like health care, climate change and child care — adds up to more than $7 trillion over a decade. His health care plan, which would create a public health insurance plan that people could buy into, would cost $1.5 trillion, according to his campaign.

Mr. Biden would also raise the top income tax rate to 39.6 percent. He would tax capital gains as ordinary income for taxpayers with over $1 million in income, and he would cap the value of tax breaks for high earners.

Three of Mr. Biden’s major plans — on climate, health care and higher education — add up to $3.2 trillion. By itself, his health care plan, which like Mr. Buttigieg’s would offer a government plan that consumers could buy into, has a price tag of $750 billion, according to the Biden team.

Ms. Klobuchar would also raise income taxes on high earners, and she would impose a top rate of 44.6 percent for those earning above $500,000. She would also increase Social Security taxes and capital gains taxes for high earners, and expand the estate tax.

Over all, she has proposed about $7 trillion in new taxes, with roughly $5 trillion coming from the rich and corporations, and the rest from a plan to tax carbon emissions.

Jim Tankersley reported from Washington, and Thomas Kaplan from Reno, Nev.

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Buttigieg used his Nevada concession speech to make the case against Bernie Sanders

After Bernie Sanders decisively won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday night, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his concession speech to make a pointed case against the senator from Vermont — arguing that Sanders is too divisive and therefore cannot defeat President Donald Trump.

“Before we rush to nominate Sen. Sanders in our one shot to take on this president, let us take a sober look at what is at stake, for our party, for our values, and for those with the most to lose,” he said.

“I believe the best way to defeat Donald Trump and deliver for the American people is to broaden and galvanize the majority that supports us on critical issues,” Buttigieg said. “Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.”

The pointed attacks are a reminder of how close the race remains ahead of South Carolina’s primary and Super Tuesday’s contests, particularly with respect to Sanders and Buttigieg. The two men were neck and neck in the race’s first primary contests: They essentially tied in Iowa and emerged from New Hampshire with the same number of delegates, although Sanders received more votes. Following the Nevada caucuses, the two candidates are first and second in the national delegate count, with Sanders currently at 34 and Buttigieg at 23.

Buttigieg has made the critique that Sanders’s campaign is not powered by a broad coalition before. But at least in Nevada, that claim is not proving true.

For instance, in Nevada, the primary’s first racially diverse state, Sanders won decisively, with 46 percent of the vote. Buttigieg finished third, after former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders also finished first among men and women, all voters below the age of 65 (those above favored Biden), and both Democrats and independents, according to entrance polls.

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns in San Antonio, Texas, after decisively winning the Nevada caucuses.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Broadly, Buttigieg’s relationship with nonwhite voters has consistently been among his campaign’s weakest points, and in Nevada, this proved the sharpest contrast between him and Sanders. Sanders won 27 percent of the black vote and 51 percent of Latinx voters while Buttigieg won just 2 percent of black voters and 10 percent of Latinx voters, according to the Washington Post.

As Vox’s Li Zhou has pointed out, Buttigieg’s lack of support from voters of color could prove an ongoing problem as the contest moves into more diverse states, such as next week’s South Carolina primary. Nationally, black voters make up 20 percent of Democratic voters.

But in an election in which so many Democrats are fixated on exactly one agenda item — removing Trump from the White House — Buttigieg also hammered home the message that, because Sanders is not a unity figure, he would weaken the party as a whole if he became the nominee.

Specifically, the former mayor argued that Sanders would undermine the candidacies of down-ballot Democrats and threaten the party’s House of Representatives majority, using terms that painted Sanders as selfish and uninterested in supporting the Democratic Party.

”I believe the only way to truly deliver any of the progressive changes we care about is to be a nominee who actually gives a damn about the effect you are having, from the top of the ticket, on those crucial, front-line House and Senate Democrats running to win, who we need to win, to make sure our agenda is more than just words on a page,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg went on to accuse Sanders of “ignoring, dismissing, or even attacking the very Democrats we absolutely must send to Capitol Hill in order to keep Nancy Pelosi as speaker, in order to support judges who respect privacy and democracy, and in order to send Mitch McConnell into retirement.”

It is true that Sanders — while certainly not lacking support among progressives in Congress — does not have the support of many of the more prominent moderate members who helped bring the House back under Democratic control in 2018. Many of those members, like Reps. Conor Lamb and Abby Finkenauer, have endorsed Biden; others, like Mikie Sherrill and Lucy McBath, have endorsed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But it is also true that Sanders won Nevada with a diverse base of support and may be open to moderating his message, as his campaign surrogate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has signaled recently with statements about seeking a compromise on Medicare-for-all.

And should Sanders be able to build coalitions similar to his in Nevada in the states to come, it would undermine Buttigieg’s argument that he cannot form a broad coalition.

Until that time, however, Buttigieg will likely continue to give voice to, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias put it, an “alarm, clearly visible in a range of mainstream Democratic circles over the past several weeks, [that is] now going to kick into overdrive.”

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2020 Campaigns Need to Challenge Trump on Civil Rights

Arguing to center LGBTQ people in contemporary discussions about, and activism for, civil rights, certainly risks igniting an inflammatory comparative oppressions debate about which groups are most marginalized and under assault in U.S. society.

Racism is alive and well in America. Voter suppression efforts, particularly against African Americans, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to disenfranchising African Americans.  White nationalism and more pervasive and often less dramatic and thoroughgoing institutionalized white supremacy, endorsed and encouraged by the highest office in the land, validate a reign of terror and more general de-valuing of the lives of people of color, particularly African Americans, in the U.S.  Immigrants of color are being caged and criminalized. And one could go on—unfortunately, on and on.

When it comes to equal rights, and hence civil rights, for women, well, Virginia just recently became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and the ERA still faces substantial obstacles—and heated defiance—in making its way into the Constitution.

Our nation still trembles, indeed inflames, when it comes to validating this simple statement statement in the ERA :

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

And, of course, the all-out assault on abortion rights underscores the ongoing assault on women’s civil rights.

And yet, while it is indisputable that women and people of color have been denied civil rights, their personhood has nonetheless been acknowledged in civil rights legislation. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This language does not include, apparently, LGBTQ people.  The Supreme Court is currently deliberating a case brought heard last October arguing that the word “sex” should include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the verdict is not in, a good portion of the justices’ discussion and questions seemed less than promising for the case’s success. For example, Justice Samuel Alito at one point responded to attorney Pamela Karlan, representing two of the plaintiffs, “You’re trying to change the meaning of what Congress understood sex to mean in 1964.”

But beyond the question of whether or not LGBTQ people will find their collective personhood recognized and protected in U.S. law, active efforts are alive and well across the nation and in the Trump administration to exclude LGBTQ from already existing legal protections, rolling back rights already granted.

The Iowa GOP, for example, recently filed a bill to remove transgender people from the state’s civil rights protections. These rights were written into law for LGBTQ people in 2007 when the state added sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination law. According to Alex Bollinger, reporting for LGBTQ Nation, passage of the bill would “make it the first state to give civil rights protections to transgender people – or any class at all – and then take them away.”

Passage of the bill would mean one could be fired, denied housing, and more, simply for being transgender, for being who you are.

In fact, transgender people in America are already enduring—and have persistently endured– the consequences of this lack of protection.

Last December Lola Fadulu, in The New York Times, wrote an extensive piece chronicling the Trump administration’s myriad rollbacks of Obama-era executive orders. The piece begins with the story of Nicolas Talbott, a transgender graduate student at Kent State University who is also enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps program.  Because of Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, Talbott was informed that he could stay in the program but would not be eligible to actually become an officer and would also no longer be eligible for the health insurance and student loan forgiveness he had been promised and which others in the program received.

Fadulu provides a laundry list of such rollbacks and consequences individuals have suffered.

The onslaught on LBGTQ people, and transgender people in particular, is intensifying and widespread, and they are being written out of the law.

Or else negatively written into it.  The Governor of Tennessee recently signed legislation enabling foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents.

Back in 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender students, denying them equal protection in their schools.

And, of course, the nation’s Attorney General William Barr freely denounces LGBTQ people in the name of religious liberty.

Here’s Barr, enumerating in a recent speech at Notre dame law School what he sees as the secular assault on “religious liberty”:

“The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families.

Thus, for example, New Jersey recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Hatred of LGBTQ people is being legalized, actually written into law, such that they have no legal grounds to challenge discrimination or to seek protection.

Law and language don’t always materialize into reality. Historically, when it comes to marginalizing women and people of color nd denying them the rights of liberty, life and equal protection, the law and language haven’t served. But they are there and not unimportant.

Getting Civil Rights language and law for LGBTQ people matters.