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October 16, 2023 Heather Cox Richardson

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This morning, the Justice Department announced that the United States has reached a settlement with the plaintiffs in the case of Ms. L. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a class action lawsuit filed in 2018 over the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the southwest border to deter migrants. That policy, implemented in 2017 and 2018, resulted in more than 5,500 children being separated from their parents.

In 2018 a judge ordered the families reunited, but it turned out the Trump administration had not kept records of the family members. As soon as he took office, President Joe Biden appointed a task force to accomplish the reunifications, but 85 children are still separated from their families. The task force also found that 290 of the children removed from their parents were U.S. citizens. 

The lawsuit charged that the policy broke a number of U.S. laws—seeking asylum is legal, and taking children away from their parents without cause is not—and the settlement seeks both to heal the victims of the policy and to make sure it never happens again. The affected families will have a different process for applying for asylum than other migrants and will have access to benefits such as work authorization, possible housing assistance, immigration lawyers, and mental health care to address the trauma of the separations, and the government will agree not to turn back to such a policy in the future. 

“The separation of families at our southern border was a betrayal of our nation’s values,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “By providing services to these families and implementing policies to prevent future separations, today’s agreement addresses the impacts of those separations and helps ensure that nothing like this happens again.”

The judge will need to approve the settlement.

MAGA Republicans seem unconcerned with what the law says. Indeed, they have been working hard to discredit the law in order to protect former president Trump, attacking the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After Trump has publicly attacked prosecutors and witnesses in the case over his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Judge Tanya Chutkan today prohibited him from such attacks on the court’s staff, witnesses, testimony, and prosecutors. 

Last week, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) called for shutting down the government in November unless Democrats agree to cutting all spending for processing or releasing into the country any new migrants. He says the demand is “non-negotiable.” But U.S. and international law require the U.S. to process asylum requests, even if a migrant arrives in between legal points of entry. 

Former senior Department of Homeland Security lawyer Tom Jawetz told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post that Jordan’s plan “would be both illegal and a practical impossibility.” Administration officials “are legally obligated to process people for asylum on request,” he said. “It’s not a choice.”

But therein lies the heart of today’s Republican Party: its extremist leaders no longer believe that rules apply to them. Jordan, a staunch ally of Trump, was key to the former president’s efforts to steal the 2020 presidential election. He is now gathering votes for a bid to become the speaker of the House of Representatives after the MAGA extremists threw former House speaker Kevin McCarthy out. 

In 2017, former Republican House speaker John Boehner told journalist Tim Alberta: “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate…. A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.” In 2021, he clarified: “I just never saw a guy who spent more time tearing things apart—never building anything, never putting anything together.” 

After a secret ballot showed that 55 of his colleagues would not support him in a floor vote, Jordan has insisted on a public vote, putting his colleagues under pressure to support him and thus to support Trump. They are caving, one at a time. 

But Representative Don Bacon (R-NE) called out the MAGA group that revolted repeatedly against the Republican conference and now is demanding Republican unity for the unpopular Jordan, forcing the party to fully embrace Trump. “I can’t abide by the fact a small group violated the rules to get what they wanted [and] now I’m supposed to play by the rules,” Bacon said. “I think we’ve got to have consequences, and you’ve got to stand up for this. That’s what Americans do.”

We used to be able to assume that Americans did, in fact, play by the rules, accepting the principle of the rule of law. That principle is now openly challenged here in the U.S.

That principle is also at stake around the world. In a piece in The Atlantic on October 9, foreign policy journalist Anne Applebaum noted the fragility of the rules-based international order, a system of norms and values established after World War II in an attempt to create a system for resolving international disputes, preventing territorial wars, and ending no-holds-barred slaughter. 

A series of agreements, including the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Genocide Convention, and the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war established those rules, and while they have often been flouted, they offered grounds for challenging those nations and military personnel who broke them. 

Applebaum pointed out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians “are both blatant rejections of that rules-based world order, and they herald something new. Both aggressors have deployed a sophisticated, militarized, modern form of terrorism, and they do not feel apologetic or embarrassed about this at all.” They feel justified in ignoring the rules-based international order and sowing terror and chaos among civilians. 

Their “goal is to undo whatever remains of the rules-based world order, and to put anarchy in its place. They did not hide their war crimes. Instead, they filmed them and circulated the videos online.” Applebaum suggests “we might miss the Geneva Conventions when they are gone.” 

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have made no secret of their determination to strengthen the rules-based international order, and tonight the White House announced that Biden will travel on Wednesday to the Middle East, where he will visit Israel before traveling to Jordan, where he will meet with the country’s leader King Abdullah II, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. 

We might miss the idea of the rule of law here at home if we continue to empower MAGA Republicans. Voters in Poland missed it, and yesterday 73% of them turned out to oust from power the nationalist-conservative party that, Anne Applebaum notes in a different Atlantic article, “turned state television into a propaganda tube, used state companies to fund its political campaigns,… politicized state administration[,]… altered electoral laws and even leaked top-secret military documents, manipulating their contents for electoral gain.” 

Opponents of the ruling party, which took power in 2015, came together in a coalition that rejected angry nationalism in favor of civic patriotism, met in demonstrations around the country, featured women prominently in their campaigns, promised to end Poland’s strong abortion restrictions, and offered closer cooperation with Europe. 

Rebuilding democracy will be neither fast nor easy, Applebaum notes, but “Poland shows that autocracy is not inevitable.” 

Notes:

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/01/17/Audit-finds-thousands-more-migrant-kids-were-separated-from-families/5671547743793

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-government-reaches-settlement-class-action-family-separation-case-seeking-injunctive

https://time.com/5678313/trump-administration-family-separation-lawsuits/

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/26/politics/federal-court-order-family-separations/index.html

https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6316323/1/ms-l-v-us-immigration-and-customs-enforcement/

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/close-1000-migrant-children-separated-by-trump-yet-be-reunited-with-parents-2023-02-02/

https://www.justice.gov/media/1319516/dl?inline

https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-announces-major-settlement-in-family-separation-lawsuit

https://apnews.com/article/separated-children-trump-biden-border-immigration-f9a73685d0ddbcda86e5b69997f5f7dd

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/10/16/judge-imposes-gag-order-on-donald-trump-in-d-c-trial-00121743

Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance
Twice Gagged
Today, Monday, Judge Chutkan entered a limited restraining order that will apply to all parties in the special counsel’s election interference case, but mostly, to Donald Trump. There is no written order yet, but she ruled from the bench, so we know the broad contours of her order. Judge Chutkan adopted the government’s view that the First Amendment can…
Read more

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/10/10/jim-jordan-house-gop-government-shutdown/

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/10/israel-war-hamas-terrorism-ukraine-russia/675590/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/10/16/statement-from-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-on-president-bidens-travel-to-israel-and-jordan/

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/10/poland-parliamentary-election lo-autocracy-tusk/675656/

https://apnews.com/article/poland-election-vote-720f7b81838c33ccb2865fb3bc6e0414

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/29/john-boehner-trump-house-republican-party-retirement-profile-feature-215741/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/former-house-speaker-john-boehner-accuses-some-in-congress-of-being-political-terrorists/

The Bulwark
Jim Jordan: An Absurd and Dangerous Choice for House Speaker
TWO YEARS AGO, I called for Congress to punish and even expel lawmakers who betrayed America by trying to overturn the 2020 election. Now a majority of House Republicans have chosen Jim Jordan, one of Donald Trump’s …
Read more

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Join Me at 6:00p.m. ET Tomorrow For a Q&A on Palestine Chris Hedges

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Join me tomorrow, Friday 6:00pm ET for a live Q&A on Palestine. We will be streaming on my Twitter account and on my YouTube channel.

We will be taking questions both live and from this post on Substack. To comment here, you must be a paid subscriber. Hope to see you there!

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June 19, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson

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This Company Believes in “Protecting Women’s Sports.” TikTok Banned Its Ad. Julia Steinberg

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Jennifer Sey started an apparel company that believes in “protecting women’s sports and spaces.” Its ad was just banned on TikTok. (XX-XY Athletics)

This piece was first published in our news digest, The Front Page. To get our latest scoops, investigations, and columns in your inbox every morning, Monday through Thursday, become a Free Press subscriber today:

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In March, our friend Jennifer Sey, the former Levi’s exec and Covid-19 lockdown critic, told us she was starting an apparel company for women athletes, and since then she’s done exactly that. Her company XX-XY Athletics has put leggings, t-shirts, tank tops, and hats on the market, with both women’s (XX) and men’s (XY) collections. XX-XY Athletics counts its mission, according to Sey, as “protecting women’s sports and spaces and encouraging others to do the same.” 

“If you want your daughters to have the same opportunities you had, stand up,” a recent XX-XY ad says, adding, “If you don’t think it’s fair or safe to allow men to play women’s sports, stand up.”

It turns out that this is not the sort of thing one is allowed to say on TikTok. The Chinese-owned social media platform quickly banned the ad on the grounds that it “may violate TikTok’s advertising policies by featuring offensive content.” Sey posted on X, “When you run an ad standing up for women and girls’ sports, you get banned for life from @tiktok_us.” 

Sey, who was a champion gymnast herself, told me that the ads were on TikTok for less than a week before they were taken down—and that XX-XY’s account has been suspended from posting any ads on the platform. “They offered no reason for how we violated their policies,” Sey said. “Despite the fact that I find the ad quite uplifting, it’s anodyne.” (Watch it for yourself here.) 

Sey’s team will likely appeal TikTok’s decision, which has become a critically important platform for reaching young people. “Fifty percent of people under 30 are on TikTok,” she said. “You gotta fish where the fish are.” At the very least, Sey wants an explanation of what policy she violated.

Julia Steinberg is an intern at The Free Press. Read her piece on the college dropout who unlocked the secrets of ancient Rome using AI. And follow her on X @Juliaonatroika.

 

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