April 11, 2017

Syria, Gorsuch, Bill O’Reilly, a federal judge’s tribute to a transgendered teen, more ICE raids, MTV, and our own Professor Justin Levitt on the John Oliver Show. Just one week ago, the world learned the Syrian leader Bashar Assad used saran gas on rebel forces, killing over 70 people in the village of Khan Sheikhoun. Many of the victims were children. The following day, United States Ambassador Nikki Haley read a blistering speech at a United Nation’s Security Council meeting, condemning the Assad regime and its use of chemical weaponry. This was not the first time Assad had used such tactics. In 2013, Assad used saran gas to kill 1400 people in the Damascus suburbs. This outraged the world and resulted in Assad vowing to eliminate any such chemicals from its arsenal.

On Thursday, following the most recent attack using saran gas, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the Syrian air base used for deployment of aircraft involved in the attack. This was an apparent change in the Trump Administration’s policy of refraining from interfering in the Syrian conflict.

While all this was going on, Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as our newest Supreme Court Justice, replacing the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia. Yet the confirmation was not without controversy. Because the 60-vote threshold was not reached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the “nuclear option,” which allowed for Gorsuch to be confirmed with a simple majority vote. Gorsuch is anticipated to cast the deciding votes in key cases currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Another story gaining national attention were revelations of numerous sexual harassment suits again Fox News commentator, Bill O’Reilly. Numerous sponsors have since canceled their sponsorship of O’Reilly’s news show.

But there is a ray of sunshine this week in a moving tribute for Gavin Green – the brave youth at the center of G.G. v. Gloucester County – written by Fourth Circuit Justice Andre Davis. Gavin’s case was recently remanded to Fourth Circuit by the Supreme Court after the Trump Administration rescinded guidelines drafted by the Obama Administration.  (See discussion in April 4, 2017 Weekly Roundup.)

And while we’re still seeing open displays of animus against minorities world-wide. we’re also seeing powerful counter-responses, as reflected in the articles below. Similarly, there is support for addressing the aggressive ICE tactics toward undocumented immigrants, which have even included deporting Trump supporters. California took the first legal steps toward being a “Sanctuary State.” Similar legislation has been introduced in Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, and New York.

On a lighter note, Twitter and Trump are no longer at war. Trump dropped his lawsuit aimed at forcing Twitter to identify certain individuals voicing opposition to his presidency. And MTV has dropped gender-specific categories for its annual entertainment awards. You also might find interesting an article below relating to a controversy over Marvel comics and its lack of diverse characters.  

And, as noted above, our own Professor Justin Levitt was featured on the John Oliver Show. John Oliver gives a hilarious – but very informative – explanation of gerrymandering.

By category:


Read Nikki Haley’s Remarks About Syria at the U.N.: http://time.com/4727499/nikki-haley-unsc-transcript-syria/

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, secretary of State Tillerson contradict on assessments of U.S. Syria policy: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sarin-gas-used-in-syria-attack-kerry-says/2013/09/01/4b657cb8-1304-11e3-b18a-e00deecb3b8e_story.html?utm_term=.f4f7cda74b40

Sarin gas used in Syria attack, Kerry says (2013 article): https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sarin-gas-used-in-syria-attack-kerry-says/2013/09/01/4b657cb8-1304-11e3-b18a-e00deecb3b8e_story.html?utm_term=.f4f7cda74b40

Gorsuch Confirmation:

Gorsuch may be decisive vote in divisive Supreme Court cases: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/gorsuch-may-decisive-vote-divisive-supreme-court-cases-073723271--politics.html

Gorsuch confirmation further politicizes the Supreme Court: https://gma.yahoo.com/neil-gorsuch-confirmation-further-politicizes-141900420.html

Bill O’Reilly:

Read what Bill O’Reilly’s sponsors are saying about ‘disturbing allegations’ of harassment / Report on Fox News host spurs advertiser exodus: http://www.channel3000.com/news/money/oreillys-sponsors-on-disturbing-allegations-of-harassment/432726883


It’s Not Every Day That a Federal Judge Pens a Tribute to a Transgender Teen: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/federal-judge-just-made-moving-tribute-gavin-grimm

Link to court opinion: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161733R1.P.pdf

Hate Crimes / Alt-Right:

People are loving this woman’s reaction to far right protestors. (Note ending line: “I don’t like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town.”)


California Woman Strikes Back at Racist, Trump-Supporting Airbnb Host (Note this involves a California law student who was refused a rental because she was Asian):



California Moves to Become ‘Sanctuary State,’ and Others Look to Follow: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/california-moves-to-become-%E2%80%98sanctuary-state%E2%80%99-and-others-look-to-follow/ar-BBzDszq?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Donald Trump supporter’s shock as husband is deported to Mexico in immigration clampdown: http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/donald-trump-supporters-shock-as-husband-is-deported-to-mexico-in-immigration-clampdown/ar-BBztHpm?li=BBoPRmx

First Amendment:

Twitter Is No Longer Suing Trump Because Trump Backed Down: https://www.yahoo.com/news/twitter-suing-trump-administration-165657832.html

MTV – Gender-Neutral Awards:

MTV gets rid of gender specific categories for awards: https://gma.yahoo.com/mtv-gets-rid-gender-specific-categories-awards-142604126--abc-news-movies.html

Marvel Comics / Diversity:

The outrage over Marvel’s alleged diversity blaming, explained – Vox: http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/4/15169572/marvel-diversity-outrage-gabriel?yptr=yahoo

Justin Levitt / John Oliver Show:

Video Link: https://www.haystack.tv/v/gerrymandering-week-tonight-john-oliver-hbo

Check back next week!

April 4, 2017

National and local news below, but wanted to start with some very important LLS news. Gabe Estrada, one of the two IT folks at LLS that got this site started, just welcomed a new baby girl, Myla, to his family.  Congratulations, Gabe!!! 

Locally, last week marked our annual King-Chavez event: “Answering the Call Today: A Celebration of the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar-Chavez,” which was hosted by Professors Sam Pillsbury and Gary Williams. Dean Waterstone kicked off the event with opening remarks and touching speeches were given by Professor Pillsbury as well as students and alums.  At the end of the event, we were pleased to hear the announcement of another victory by our Project for the Innocent, which secured the release of Marcus Contreras, who had been in prison for 32 years for a murder he did not commit.  Mr. Contreras spoke briefly with us just hours after his release.  For more info regarding Mr. Contreras and the Project for the Innocent, click here. (^http://www.lls.edu/marco-contreras/ and http://www.lls.edu/academics/clinicsexperientiallearning/socialcriminaljusticeclinics/projectfortheinnocent/)

The big national news this week is the launch of the year-long commemoration leading up to next year’s 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. death.  But that’s not all that’s going on.  HB2 -- North Carolina’s controversial bathroom bill targeting transgendered individuals -- was partially repealed, yet it still retained restrictions detrimentally affecting the LGBTQ community.

And while that “travel ban” has been temporarily halted by a federal judge in Hawaii, oral arguments are set for Wednesday (April 5), as to whether the temporary order should be kept in place. Notably, another article reports analysis that the United States is set to lose 18 billion dollars in lost revenue from international tourism over the course of the next two years because of the ban.  (See below.)   

We’ve also posted a link to an article pertaining to how LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck noted a “strong correlation” between deportation fears and crime-reporting in the Los Angeles Hispanic Community. In other words, crimes against undocumented individuals or that otherwise involve an undocumented individual, e.g., a witness, appear underreported. Beck suggested this is directly related to Trump’s aggressive immigration policies. Along this line, California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s demand that ICE stop making arrests at California court houses was rejected by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

There also was an interesting article we saw about gender roles / breaking stereotypes. 

By category:

Martin Luther King Commemoration:

Year-long commemoration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s death begins April 4: http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/34935029/year-long-commemoration-for-dr-martin-luther-king-juniors-death

See also our mention of a documentary about Dr. King entitled “I Am Not Your Negro” in both our “Other Resources” section and in the “Petition for Peace” by Lorraine Hall.

Repeal of HB2:

Cooper signs HB2 “repeal” bill but anti-gay restrictions still intact:


Travel Ban:

US judge to hear arguments on longer block to travel ban: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/us-judge-to-hear-arguments-on-longer-block-to-travel-ban/ar-BByZvKK?li=BBnbcA1

Trump’s travel ban could cost $18B in U.S. tourism, analysis shows:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/29/trumps-travel-ban-could-cost-18b-us-tourism-travel-analysts-say/99708758/


Federal officials defend immigration arrests in courthouses: https://www.yahoo.com/news/federal-officials-defend-immigration-arrests-courthouses-193934061.html

LAPD: Deportation fears possibly affecting Hispanic crime reporting: http://abcnews.go.com/US/lapd-deportation-fears-possibly-impacting-hispanic-crime-reporting/story?id=46292513

Gender Roles / Breaking Stereotypes

Boy band from China is not what it appears: https://www.yahoo.com/style/hot-boyband-china-made-entirely-094426777.html

Okay, that’s it for right now.  Check back for next week’s Weekly Roundup.  Do also be on the lookout for the occasional “Daily Special.”