In it, but not of it. TPM DC

As federal courts across the United States wrestle with the constitutionality of President Trump’s mass-separation of immigrant parents and children, some immigrant advocacy groups are turning to international legal bodies to force the Trump administration to disclose its plans for reuniting the families, carry them out as soon as possible, and cease from separating any more families going forward.

Several legal and civil rights groups have filed an Emergency Request for Precautionary Measures at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — part of the Organization of American States (OAS) — on behalf of a group of immigrant parents whose children were taken from them. On June 22, the commission demanded the U.S. government disclose the location and physical and emotional status of the parents and the children, updates on the reunification process, and the justification for separating the children from their parents in the first place.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement will let President Trump drastically reshape the Supreme Court, and the absence of his crucial swing vote may usher in major changes in the legal landscape on a number of key issues.

Trump has already made it clear that he will pick a Kennedy replacement from a list of 25 potential nominees released by the White House last year. It’s highly unlikely that Kennedy’s successor will be in his tradition of a more moderate, center-right influence on the court’s conservative wing. Rather, it seems more probable that Trump — who will only need Republican votes to get his nominee confirmed in the Senate — will pick a judge in the mold of Neil Gorsuch, his first Supreme Court pick who has emerged as far-right voice on the court.

What does this shift mean for the major questions that make their way to the Supreme Court’s doorstep? A look at the issues where Kennedy wielded major influence:

Abortion Rights

This is the area of law that could be most dramatically remade due to Kennedy’s departure. Kennedy signed on to a number of decisions upholding Roe v. Wade, which said abortion was a constitutional right. Most recently, he voted with the court’s liberals to block states from imposing onerous and unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics which seemed geared at shutting those clinics down.

If Roe v. Wade is not overturned outright, expect it to become much easier for states to impose extreme restrictions on access to abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, then it’s only matter of time that a large swath of states ban the practice.

Remaking this area of jurisprudence is a top priority for conservative activists, many of whom have the ear of the President has he selects his nominee. Trump himself promised on the campaign trail that he would appoint “pro-life” justices.

LGBT Rights

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was perhaps his best known opinion, and he joined the liberals in previous key decisions that advanced LGBT equality.

Even if a post-Kennedy court doesn’t overturn Obergefell, there are other ways it can turn back the clock on LGBT rights. Though Kennedy declined to reject this term outright a baker’s argument that he can discriminate against gay wedding cake seekers, the decision he and six other justices joined was only narrowly in the baker’s favor and did not make a sweeping judgment on whether business are allowed to deny LGBT people services.

The strategy to roll back gay rights has already began to look like the tactics of the anti-abortion movement, with social conservatives employed a “death by a 1,000 cuts” approach of passing state laws allowing certain forms of discrimination against LGBT people. Kennedy’s successor is less likely than him to get in their way.

Separation of Church and State

Kennedy has swung between the liberals and the conservatives when it’s come to cases dealing with the government and religion. He’s provided key votes in decisions limiting school prayer, while siding with religious institutions in other cases involving their relationship with the government.

His replacement may be even less likely to rule in favor of keeping church and state separate, giving religious conservatives a more reliable vote on the court. And they might get their first post-Kennedy victory very soon, as there is a major case that court is considering taking up having to do with legislative prayer.

Prisoner Rights And Criminal Justice

Kennedy had become a voice-to-listen-for on prisoners’ rights, even if he had not be willing to join the liberals who most recently sought to re-examine how states implemented the death penalty. Kennedy wrote an 2008 opinion declaring unconstitutional the use of the death penalty for child rapists not also convicted of murder, and also wrote a 2005 opinion outlawing the use of the death penalty on juveniles.

Additionally, he wrote a 2015 concurrence denouncing solitary confinement, and also provided the pivotal votes in cases having do to with California’s overcrowded prison system that released thousands of prisoners.

It’s not a given that his successor will be opposed to reforms, however incremental, to the criminal justice system; the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for instance, sided at times with criminal defendants in major cases.

But it’s just as likely that Trump nominates someone more aligned with the other conservatives on criminal justice issues.

Partisan Gerrymandering

Voting rights advocates’ hopes that they could, in the near-future, secure a fifth vote to rein in extreme partisan gerrymandering died on Wednesday with Kennedy’s retirement announcement. For years, anti-gerrymandering advocates have sought to bring Kennedy a case that could convince him to join the liberals, after he wrote a 2004 concurrence hinting that, under specific circumstances, he could be comfortable imposing some limits on the practice.

While their attempt this term fell short, when the case was punted on a technicality, a concurrence from Justice Elena Kagan may have provided a path to attracting Kennedy’s vote. Kennedy, on Wednesday, decided not to stick around to let them try.

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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, the day the court’s term wrapped up.

His retirement was announced in a statement that was made available to Supreme Court reporters.

Kennedy, a Reagan-appointee, had the reputation of being a crucial swing vote on the court. While in the most recent term he sided with the conservatives on the court’s most polarizing cases, in the past he’s provided the liberal wing a decisive fifth vote on cases concerning abortion rights and LGBT rights.

With the Senate in Republican control, President Trump will now have the opportunity to fill Kennedy’s seat with a far more reliable conservative who could potentially serve on the court for decades.

His move to retire stands to drastically reshape the court and take it in a far-right direction, which could have implications lasting for a generation — if not longer.

Beside abortion rights and LGBT rights, Kennedy also showed interest in curbing partisan gerrymandering (though he signed onto a decision punting the issue this term.)

Trump’s first appointee to the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, has emerged as one of its most far-right members. His administration has prioritized pushing judicial nominees, many of them extremely conservative.

The White House last year released a list of 25 people from which Trump would choose his next Supreme Court nominee. The President told the White House pool on Wednesday that he plans to select his Kennedy replacement from that list and that the process will “begin immediately.”

Kennedy’s retirement, effective July 31, sets the stage for Trump to make a legacy-defining move, and Senate Democrats will have no way of stopping his nominee from being confirmed. Senate Republicans blew up the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees last year, when confirming Gorsuch.

Gorsuch filled the seat left open by the 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The GOP Senate blocked President Obama from putting his own nominee on the court.

“We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said from the Senate floor Wednesday.



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A series of embarrassing delays has ended in a humiliating defeat for Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) so-called compromise immigration bill, which the House rejected 301 to 121 Wednesday afternoon. More than 100 Republicans joined Democrats in voting down the legislation, despite a last-minute, all-caps plea on Twitter from President Trump to approve it.

The bill would have offered a path to citizenship to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, allocated $25 billion dollars for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, made it more difficult for immigrants to seek asylum, and eliminated several avenues of legal immigration, among other provisions.

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Justice Elena Kagan issued a blistering dissent Wednesday that argued that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority — in a union fees case, as well as other recent decisions — was “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

“Today is not the first time the Court has wielded the First Amendment in such an aggressive way. And it threatens not to be the last,” Kagan warned in the dissent, where she was joined by the three other liberal justices.

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“There may be some litigation,” President Trump said off-the-cuff as he signed an executive order purporting to suspend his administration’s policy of taking migrant children away from their parents.

It was an understatement.

In the subsequent chaos, with Congress increasingly unable to pass legislation to address the situation, an army of lawyers mobilized, filing cases aimed at permanently ending the Trump administration’s family separation policy and reuniting the thousands of parents and children still held in separate detention facilities in different states.

Late Tuesday night, the first of these cases struck home. A federal judge in San Diego blocked any future family separations and ordered the government to reunite all separated families within 30 days, adding that children under five years old who have been torn from their parents must be returned within 14 days, and all parents must be put in phone contact with their children within 10 days.

The decision is likely just the opening salvo in a long legal battle that will be waged in federal courts across the country. Here are the cases most likely to force the administration’s hand.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney handily won the Democratic primary Tuesday in the New York City congressional district she’s represented for 25 years, fending off a challenge from unconventional progressive opponent Suraj Patel.

The New York Times and Associated Press called it for Maloney at around 10: 20 PM ET. She earned 58 percent of the vote with 87 percent of the votes counted.

NY-12, which covers much the East Side of Manhattan plus upscale neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, is the wealthiest congressional district by per capita income, known for its dismal primary turnout.

Those circumstances gave an advantage to incumbent Maloney, who campaigned on her years of experience on Capitol Hill and focused on New York-specific issues like securing funds for the 9/11 Health Compensation Act and Second Avenue Subway.

Patel—a hotel executive, former Obama campaign staffer, and NYU business ethics professor—argued that it was time for a change of leadership and for New York City’s leaders to move left to meet their voters. One notable policy position was a call for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to be defunded.

But despite raising over $1 million, Patel’s quirky campaign never got much traction. It was hampered by questions over his voter registration, which he has switched multiple times over the past few years, and his self-consciously hip get-out-the vote methods. Those included handing out campaign-branded condoms and courting voters through bogus profiles created on dating apps like Bumble and Grindr.

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In a stunning defeat, New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth-most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives, lost a Tuesday primary to Democratic Socialists of America-backed challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Washington Post and Associated Press called the race for Ocasio-Cortez at 10:00 PM. The 28-year-old Bronx-born community organizer earned 57 percent of the vote compared to 42 for her veteran lawmaker opponent, with 91 percent of the vote counted.

“I want nothing but the best for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. I want her to be victorious,” Crowley said in conceding the race, according to the AP.

Ocasio-Cortez was the first primary challenger in 14 years for Crowley, who until Tuesday was seen as a possible successor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Her victory marks a dramatic end to to a feisty primary campaign that drew national attention thanks to Ocasio-Cortez’s boldly progressive platform. She campaigned on abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and on Medicare for All.

The NY-14 congressional seat covers the east Bronx and several neighborhoods in north-central Queens. It is seen as safely Democratic, and Crowley was viewed as the clear favorite. He pulled in $3 million this year, has served in Congress since 1999, and was backed by New York’s Democratic establishment.

Ocasio-Cortez made a convincing case that this didn’t—and shouldn’t—matter, proclaiming, in a campaign ad that went viral, “This race is about people versus money. We’ve got people. They’ve got money.”

The young former organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign won acclaim on the left for her unflinching advocacy for a new vision for the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez rejected corporate donations and was one of the first to call for doing away with ICE—a position that has since gained popularity among a small but growing number of other Democratic candidates, as well as some lawmakers already in Congress.

Another Democratic New York incumbent facing a more progressive challenger on Tuesday was also in a tight race. Rep. Yvette Clarke had pulled in 51 percent of the vote with 93 percent of votes counted in her central Brooklyn district as of 10: 43 PM, compared to 48.8 for opponent Adem Bunkeddeko.

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