Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Alito’s order on Texas’ gerrymandered maps sends a warning about what could come next

A small but ominous victory for gerrymandered maps.

AUG 29, 2017, 10:15 AM

Earlier this month, a panel of three federal judges held that two Texas congressional districts are illegal gerrymanders — one because it was intentionally drawn to dilute Hispanic votes and the other because it was drawn with too much reliance on race. That decision, which followed many years of litigation, will soon run headlong into a Supreme Court that has very little love for voting rights.

In a warning about what could very easily happen next, Justice Samuel Alito issued a one-page order Monday night temporarily suspending the panel’s decision. (Justices ordinarily refer matters like this to the full Court before taking action — but Alito supervises decisions arising out of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, and Circuit Justices do have the power to issue such orders on their own initiative.)

It’s easy to read too much into Alito’s order, which can be contexualized by several factors. For one, the panel’s decision imposed tight deadlines on the state of Texas that the state stridently objected to in an emergency application. For another, it’s August, when the justices typically disperse all across the globe during the Court’s summer vacation. Alito likely acted on his own to preserve the status quo until the other members of his Court have enough time to consider Texas’ request.

But while Alito’s order isn’t itself a terribly big deal, the Texas gerrymandering case’s arrival on the Supreme Court’s docket is.

In a clear sign that powerful conservative interests care a great deal about preserving Texas’ existing congressional map, Texas’ application for a stay is signed by Paul Clement — the conservative superlawyer and de facto Solicitor General of the Republican Party. There is a good chance that these interests will receive a sympathetic hearing from the Republican-controlled Supreme Court.


Good Samaritans ‘Cajun Navy’ dodges gunfire while trying to rescue Hurricane Harvey refugees

Noor Al-Sibai
28 AUG 2017 AT 17:06 ET                  

A famous group that organized during Hurricane Katrina came to Houston to help with Harvey rescues — but not everyone is happy to see them.

In an interview with Headline News, Clyde Cain of the Louisana Cajun Navy told host Carol Costello that some of their freshly-arrived boats have “been shot at” by panicked Houstonians.

“People that want to be rescued are trying to steal the boat,” Cain said, to the surprise of host Costello.

“Are these bad people or people who wanna be rescued?” she asked him.

“Bad people, people that wanna be rescued and people that are just panicking,” Cain said.

The boats have incurred damage, he continued, because some people have shot at them.

“We have boats being shot at if we’re not picking everybody up,” he said.

Due to damage to the boats, Cain said the group is having to replace boats while also trying to rescue people.

“We’re kind of under attack,” he concluded.


Two Top State Department Officials Resign

Caitlin Macneal · Monday, August 28, 2017, 8:40 am

Two top officials in the State Department announced they would be leaving their posts last week, according to a Sunday Foreign Policy report.

Tracey Ann Jacobson, a career diplomat currently serving as Bureau for International Organization Affairs, told her staff on Friday that she would be retiring early in October, according to Foreign Policy. William Rivington Brownfield, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs also said Friday that he would leave his post by the end of September, per Foreign Policy. A spokesperson for the State Department told Foreign Policy that Brownfield had not announced his retirement, however.

The departures of top State Department officials comes amid signs that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s position in the State Department could be in trouble. Axios reported Sunday that Trump is increasingly frustrated with Tillerson.

And Tillerson on Sunday distanced himself from Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. The secretary of state said that the President “speaks for himself” when asked about Trump’s values and his failure to condemn white nationalists.


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