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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
August 23, 2023

Trump Judges Have a New Strategy for Gutting Minority Rights


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Can a state prohibit gay people from adopting children or stop immigrants from purchasing property? Under modern Supreme Court precedent, the answer to these questions is an emphatic no. Over the past week, however, federal judges appointed by Donald Trump have answered both questions yes, and without a hint of doubt or discomfort. To greenlight this wave of hate, Trump judges are ignoring more enlightened contemporary precedent, relying instead on old, repudiated decisions that upheld bigotry and oppression. By invoking these zombie precedents, Trump’s judges are attempting to roll back decades of constitutional progress to create space for the Republican Party’s ongoing pursuit of nativist and anti-LGBTQ state-level legislation. Only the Supreme Court can send these discredited pseudo-precedents back to their tomb—and it is unclear if they will bother to do so.

The award for most shocking and gratuitous revival of zombie precedent must go to Judge Barbara Lagoa, whose opinion in Monday’s Eknes-Tucker v. Alabama constitutes a venomous ambush of the South’s LGBTQ+ community. Writing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, Lagoa upheld Alabama’s criminalization of gender-affirming care for transgender minors, joined in full by fellow Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher and District Judge J.P. Boulee, who’s sitting on the case. (All three are Trump appointees.)

There are several constitutional infirmities in Alabama’s law, most of which Lagoa tried to circumvent by mechanically citing Dobbs to support the notion that trans health care can’t be a fundamental right because it didn’t exist in 1868. But that approach did not resolve a different problem: The Supreme Court has long held that parents do have a fundamental right “to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” As the lower court ruled in this case, Alabama infringed on that right by revoking parents’ ability to “direct the medical care” of their kids in accordance with “medically accepted standards.” This intrusion into parental authority is subject to strict scrutiny, which the law cannot survive because it is far broader than necessary to achieve its stated purpose of protecting children.

To avoid Supreme Court precedent supporting parents’ rights, Lagoa turned to one of the most bigoted appellate decisions of the century so far: 2004’s Lofton v. Secretary of Department of Children and Families. In Lofton, the 11th Circuit upheld a Florida law barring gay people—whom the court dubbed “practicing homosexuals”—from adopting children. The Lofton court held that this ban, which has since been overturned, served the state’s “overriding interest” in placing children “with a secure family environment,” which gay people were less likely to provide. “Homosexuals,” the court continued, are unable to provide the “stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialization” of children that heterosexuals can. So Florida had legitimate cause to prevent gay people from “shaping” adoptive children’s “psychology, character, and personality.” The state also had rational reasons to conclude that gay parents could inhibit their children’s “sexual development throughout pubescence and adolescence.”

August 16, 2023

A Public Service: Translating the President's many crimes for the Fox News watchers


Hey everyone. This will be a short public service announcement for consumers of right wing media, who I think we should call “patriots” in deference to their own narratives about themselves.

If you aren’t one of these, please feel free to use it yourself when explaining recent news to the patriots in your life.

As you’re probably aware, the former white christian president and aspiring fascist dictator Donny D-town Trump got hit with a fourth set of indictments this week, which means that his next one is free and will include a complimentary muffin.

The charges against the white supremacist demagogue are many, and damning in both their scope and their severity, and also by the fact that we actually watched him do many of them right on television, or heard tape of him doing them over the phone some weeks after he did them, and in some cases also heard him brag about doing them while denying he did them, and so forth.

In a court of law, he’s innocent until proven guilty. In a court of our own eyes and ears, however, he is—to quote young 60s college radio personality “Marvelous” Mark Slackmeyer—“Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!” And as somebody who still hopes—after watching one institution after another crumble in the face of horrible people who are simply shameless enough to ignore rules that were apparently built not on a system of checks and balances but on tissue paper and a wan handshake—that some center might hold, I have to say that it is heartening to see that a lifetime of open crime eventually can lead, after decades of self-enrichment and untold damage done, to some criminal charges, if not actual convictions.


August 1, 2023

Judd Legum: Meet the "scholars" who created Florida's new Black history curriculum


To comply with the Stop WOKE Act, a 2022 law championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), the state needed to create a new curriculum for Black history. The law required the curriculum to "celebrate the inspirational stories of African Americans who prospered, even in the most difficult circumstances" and banned instruction that would make students "feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race."

The new Black history curriculum was approved by the State Board of Education on July 19. The response has been scathing. "Today's actions by the Florida state government are an attempt to bring our country back to a 19th century America where Black life was not valued, nor our rights protected," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement.

Much of the criticism has centered around a provision of the new curriculum that requires instruction about "how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit." That provision was blasted by Black Republicans. “There is no silver lining in slavery,” Senator and presidential candidate Tim Scott (R-SC) said. “Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.” Congressmen Byron Donalds (R-FL) and John James (R-MI) also spoke out against the curriculum. DeSantis responded by attacking the three Black Republicans, claiming they accepted Democrats' "false narratives" and "lies."

DeSantis also defended the notion that enslaved people benefited from slavery. "Some of the folks…eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life," DeSantis told a reporter while campaigning in Iowa.


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