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GOP paranoia delays confirmation of first Indian-American federal personnel director

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Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founder of critical race theory, defined it in an interview with CNN as “an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.” If it sounds like the kind of logical conclusion any person who’s familiar with the fact that slavery lasted about 400 years should be able to come to, that’s because it is. 

Far be it from Hawley to embrace logic. Remember, this is the guy who floated hope that former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud could lead to overturning his election loss. Hawley pushed against logic intensely in questioning Ahuja at her confirmation hearing in April. He asked her about training sessions employees in the executive branch were required to attend last September, during which attendees were told “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and were required to say “they benefit from racism.” Hawley said that and other ideas are “deeply divisive, amount to left-wing indoctrination, and really are attempts to divide the American people, in this case federal employees along the lines of race. He asked Ahuja, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, if she was involved in creating or organizing the trainings, and Ahuja said “no” but she’s seen diversity and inclusion trainings being used more broadly in the country. 

“The last administration ceased diversity training that contained any elements of what is sometimes called critical race theory. Do you agree with that decision by the prior administration or no?” Hawley asked. I suppose she couldn’t say no, the last administration’s devotion to white supremacy far outranked its grip on the reality of racism in this country. So she instead explained that she doesn’t know about the specific trainings cited but she’s familiar with diversity and inclusion trainings that “have really encouraged understanding people from all walks of life.”

Hawley, apparently not getting the endorsement of critical race theory he was hoping for, switched lines of questioning to Ahuja’s work with anti-racist activist Dr. Ibram Kendi. The senator asked if she supported Kendi’s claim in an article that the 2016 election “was an example of racist progress.” Ahuja again said she doesn’t recall the article Hawley quoted and called Kendi “a thought leader” when it pertains to how to achieve greater equity in communities of color. When Hawley pushed her again on whether she thinks the 2016 election “was an example of racist progress,” Ahuja told the senator she hasn’t made any statement like that and wouldn’t. “And so no I can’t speak to that particular opinion that Dr. Kendi has made,” she said.

Hawley refused to drop his quest to reveal a critical race theorist in Ahuja during the hearing and after it, the senator continuing to ride a wave of GOP opposition to the race theory. Hawley and other Republicans objected to a speedy vote for Ahuja’s confirmation, which will ultimately force Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use a lengthier process that is abnormal for low-profile positions, The Washington Post reported. Ahuja will likely be confirmed in a split vote along party lines, but Republican stalling could mean that doesn’t happen before the Senate recess at the end of June. “Democrats sought to fast-track a vote, but Senator Hawley believes adequate debate time and full Senate consideration is needed for this nominee,” Ford wrote in a statement to the Post. 

Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, told The Washington Post the vacancy in what would be Ahuja’s position is already “slowing things down” and compounding already problematically slow hiring processes to recruit a diverse workforce. “You have four years,” Stier said, “and we’re losing a big chunk of time.”

RELATED: Republicans rush to ban ‘critical race theory,’ but they keep dropping hints about the real goal

RELATED: Republicans scramble to ban ‘certain messages’ and ‘unsanctioned narratives’ from schools

RELATED: Harris chops down GOP delusion in mere seconds. Misquoting Constitution takes Hawley whole interview


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Live coverage: August 3, 2021 Ohio special election primaries

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Polls close at 7:30 PM ET in the Buckeye State, where voters will select candidates for the Nov. 2 general election in the 11th and 15th Congressional Districts. The Democratic primary in the 11th District and the Republican primary in the 15th District are the main events, and we’ll be live-blogging the results. You can check out a preview of those contests here.

Washington will also be holding top-two primary contests for mayor of Seattle and King County executive; the polls close at 11 PM ET/ 8 PM local time.

Results: OH-11 | OH-15 | Washington

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021 · 11:37:46 PM +00:00 · David Beard

Welcome to tonight’s liveblog! Polls have closed in the Ohio 11th and 15th special Congressional primaries. Turnout for the OH-11 primary has already surpassed 78,000 votes, which is more than the 2020 primary vote total for this seat.

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021 · 11:50:27 PM +00:00 · David Beard

With just over 20k votes tallied in the 11th district Democratic primary, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown is leading former state Sen. Nina Turner by 56%-36%.

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021 · 11:56:05 PM +00:00 · David Beard

Over in the 15th district Republican primary, Tump-backed coal company lobbyist Mike Carey has an early lead with 36% of the vote, followed by State Rep. Jeff LaRe with 18% and State Sen. Bob Peterson with 15%. Only about 5,000 votes have been tallied there, though, so it’s still very early.


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Biden sets record for judges and more diversity on federal bench, thanks to filibuster reform

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“We’re so pleased with both the pace and high quality of the Biden nominees, particularly that so many come from all corners of the legal profession,” Nan Aaron, outgoing president of the Alliance for Justice, told the Associated Press. “It’s a wonderful departure from previous Democratic administrations.” It really is, reflecting a prioritization of the judiciary that previously only Republicans seemed to hold.

That means that rock stars like Ketanji Brown Jackson, a potential Supreme Court nominee, are advancing. She was the first of Biden’s picks to be seated, and is the first Black woman confirmed for an appeals court seat in a decade. Other recent appointees are Tiffany Cunningham, the first Black judge in U.S. history for the Federal Circuit (the court that hears appeals from every jurisdiction primarily on patents), and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, only the second Black woman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Myrna Pérez spent 15 years as a voting rights advocate at the Brennan Center for Justice. Her confirmation hearing was in mid-July. Her fierce advocacy for voting rights makes her the most controversial among appeals court nominees—she would become the only Latina on the Second Circuit, filling a role previously held by now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “The right to vote keeps us free. It protects us from tyranny. It is preservative of all other rights,” she said at the hearing. “And as an advocate, I have been duty bound to ensure that the promises this Constitution makes about being able to participate in your own self governance are actualized.”

Certainly with a deep belief in our democratic system like that, she’s not going to get Republican votes. But she doesn’t need to because there isn’t a filibuster for judicial nominees any more, thanks to Harry Reid and his decision in 2013 to change the filibuster rule. That’s the one thing that got Obama those nominees he did get seated—it broke McConnell’s blockade on lower court judges—and meant that many fewer vacancies for the former guy to fill.

Which means fantastic people like these are getting onto the courts to help dilute the effect of the Trump/McConnell judges. That’s a fantastic thing, once again demonstrating that getting rid of the filibuster can make good things happen.

We need more of them on the courts, all the way up to the very top: the Supreme Court. Because McConnell has packed the courts with an unprecedented number of unqualified and extremist jurists, many of whom are young and will be there for decades. Extremists who are far out of the political and cultural mainstream of America. They have to be countered. Fighting for justice demands it. These fantastic new judges need backup.

Neither filibuster reform nor expanding the courts needs to be scary for Democrats right now. Both could very well be necessary if democracy as we know it survives.


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Biden admin is allowing Stephen Miller to continue dictating immigration policy

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Legislators, advocates, and medical experts alike have been calling on the Biden administration since Day One to end the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, which was revealed by the Associated Press last October to have been implemented under political pressure from the previous administration. CDC experts at first refused to endorse it, saying there was no public health reason to do so. “That was a Stephen Miller special. He was all over that,” a former Pence aide said in that report. “There was a lot of pressure on DHS and CDC to push this forward.” 

These political officials were salivating over it for a reason. It’s proven more effective than any physical wall, advocates have said, quickly deporting hundreds of thousands of people. 

But months into the new administration, officials refused to end the policy, instead agreeing during negotiations with the ACLU to ease restrictions and process a small number of vulnerable asylum-seekers at at time. But advocates also continued pressure on the administration to end it outright, noting the harm it has inflicted on Black migrants in particular. Under the policy, more Haitians have been deported in the first months of the Biden administration than the previous administration carried out in a whole year.

“We must be decisive and unapologetic in our efforts to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies. Title 42 is no exception,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said. In a clear indication of that, the previous president’s unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, cheered the Biden administration’s decision to keep Title 42 in place.

The New York Times reports that the Biden administration had considered phasing out the policy by the end of summer. Roughly one month later, that plan was scrapped, supposedly out of concerns over the delta variant. “Delaying those plans, possibly through the end of the year, is sure to be welcomed by Republicans who have proposed legislation to maintain the rule for as long as necessary,” the report continued. 

Groups including the ACLU, Texas Civil Rights Project, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, ACLU of Texas, and ACLU of the District of Columbia say the policy violates “longstanding immigration statutes requiring that asylum seekers receive a full and fair proceeding to determine their right to protection in the United States.” While unaccompanied children and some families are being allowed to enter the U.S., many are still being quickly expelled back to danger. Now groups are returning to court to attempt to restore the asylum system.

“We took the government to court over Title 42 because the lives of children, entire families, and extremely vulnerable people are on the line,” said Texas Civil Rights Project senior attorney Karla Marisol Vargas. “It’s beyond cruel to use an obscure public health rule to turn away families seeking safety without due process and functionally shut down our asylum system—it’s illegal. People have a legal right to seek safety in America and our government has the resources to safely process them into the country to have their cases heard. Initial promises on the part of the Biden administration to phase out Title 42 for only family units will not do enough. It is time to double down on the push to end Title 42 and force the government to follow the law.”

“It’s racist, it’s illegal, and it has no valid basis in public health, as medical experts have attested for over a year now,” said Center for Gender & Refugee Studies managing attorney Neela Chakravartula. “That the administration has chosen to continue this Trump-era policy, which violates our domestic and international legal obligations to refugees, is a moral failure and an abdication of leadership.”


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