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Judge Blocks 9 Government Lawyers From Quitting Census Fight

The Justice Department can’t replace nine lawyers so late in the dispute over whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census without explaining why it’s doing so, a judge says.

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who earlier this year ruled against adding the citizenship question, put the brakes on the government’s plan on Tuesday, a day after he was given a three-paragraph notification by the Justice Department along with a prediction that the replacement of lawyers wouldn’t “cause any disruption in this matter.”
 
“Defendants provide no reasons, let alone `satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel,” Furman wrote, noting that the most immediate deadline for government lawyers to submit written arguments in the case is only three days away.
 
The judge said local rules for federal courts in New York City require that any attorney requesting to leave a case provide satisfactory reasons for withdrawing. The judge must then decide what impact a lawyer’s withdrawal will have on the timing of court proceedings.
 
He called the Justice Department’s request “patently deficient,” except for two lawyers who have left the department or the civil division which is handling the case.
 
President Donald Trump tweeted about the judge’s decision Tuesday night, questioning whether the attorney change denial was unprecedented.
 
“So now the Obama appointed judge on the Census case (Are you a Citizen of the United States?) won’t let the Justice Department use the lawyers that it wants to use. Could this be a first?” Trump tweeted.
 
The new team came about after a top Justice Department civil attorney who was leading the litigation effort told Attorney General William Barr that multiple people on the team preferred not to continue, Barr told The Associated Press on Monday.
 
The attorney who was leading the team, James Burnham, “indicated it was a logical breaking point since a new decision would be made and the issue going forward would hopefully be separate from the historical debates,” Barr said.
 
Furman’s refusal came in a case that has proceeded on an unusual legal path since numerous states and municipalities across the country challenged the government’s announcement early last year that it intended to add the citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950.
 
Opponents of the question say it will depress participation by immigrants, lowering the population count in states that tend to vote Democratic and decreasing government funds to those areas because funding levels are based on population counts.
 
At one point, the Justice Department succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to block plans to depose Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Nearly two weeks ago, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the plans to add the census question, saying the administration’s justification for adding the question “seems to have been contrived.”
 
Afterward, the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau began printing census questionnaires without the question and the Department of Justice signaled it would not attempt to continue the legal fight.
 
It reversed itself after Trump promised to keep trying to add the question.
 
The Justice Department then notified judges in three similar legal challenges that it planned to find a new legal path to adding the question to the census.
 
Furman said the urgency to resolve legal claims and the need for efficient judicial proceedings was an important consideration in rejecting a replacement of lawyers.
 
He said the Justice Department had insisted that the speedy resolution of lawsuits against adding the question was “a matter of great private and public importance.”
 
“If anything, that urgency — and the need for efficient judicial proceedings — has only grown since that time,” Furman said.
 
Furman said the government could re-submit its request to replace attorneys only with a sworn statement by each lawyer explaining satisfactory reasons to withdraw so late. He said he’ll require new attorneys to promise personnel changes will not slow the case.
       

Ivory Coast Passes Legislation Encouraged by Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is applauding the recent passage of legislation in Ivory Coast related to changes she pushed during her April trip to Africa.

The country is in the process of updating its family code to make it more equitable to women — a move President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter and senior adviser praised as “a great step forward.”

“We are pleased to recognize and applaud the Ivorian government’s recent passage of the marriage law, which supports women’s equal management of household assets,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press.

While the legislation proposing the changes had already been in the pipeline at the time of Ivanka Trump’s visit, her team is pointing to it as a sign of the potential impact of the global women’s initiative she championed. It aims to empower 50 million women in developing countries around the world by 2025 by providing job training and financial support and supporting legal and regulatory changes. The White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative was launched in February and received an initial investment of $50 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In her conversations with Ivory Coast Vice President Daniel Duncan during her visit, Ivanka Trump said, she and her team encouraged the passage of legislation to advance women’s rights and legal status, including doing away with laws that restricted women from owning or inheriting property.

White House Advisor Ivanka Trump gestures as she speaks during the first Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) at the Sofitel hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 17, 2019.

Under the revised code, husbands and wives will have more equal say in managing household assets and making financial decisions. That’s in addition to other changes, such as new measures to ensure that widows are entitled to inheritances, additional protections against domestic violence, and setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 for both women and men.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s governing coalition dissolved in 2012 after some members resigned in protest of a proposed marriage law that would have made wives the joint heads of households. This time, however, the measures have drawn little protest.

W-GDP and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency, said in a joint statement that the laws’ passage “signals a new direction in Cote d’Ivoire that recognizes the critical role women play in advancing economic prosperity in their family, community, and for their country.”

Ivanka Trump has made women’s economic empowerment a centerpiece of her White House portfolio and has made a number of international trips to highlight the issue.

The president’s 2020 budget proposal requests an additional $100 million for the initiative, even as he has proposed cuts to other foreign aid.

Trump: Will Look ‘Very Carefully’ at Labor Secretary’s Role in Prosecuting Child Sex-Trafficking Case

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will be looking “very carefully” at how his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, agreed to a light sentence in a child sex trafficking case against billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago when he was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

As demands from lawmakers for Acosta’s resignation grow in Washington, Trump defended him, saying he has been “an excellent secretary of labor” for the last 2 1/2 years. The U.S. leader said that “many people” were involved in the Epstein case, but that in hindsight “what happened 12, 15 years ago…I would think maybe they wish they’d done it a different way.”

“We’ll be looking at it very carefully,” the U.S. leader said.

Trump spoke a day after federal prosecutors in New York brought new sex trafficking charges against the 66-year-old Epstein that could, if he is convicted, send him to prison for 45 years. Acosta, when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami, agreed in 2008 to an Epstein guilty plea agreement under which he served 13 months in a local stockade, but was freed half of most days to go to work at his office.

Two decades ago, Trump, years before he entered politics, posed for pictures with Epstein at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump in 2002 called Epstein a “terrific guy.” “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” 

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, July 8, 2019, announcing sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.

But on Tuesday, sitting alongside the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, at a White House meeting, Trump said of Epstein, “I was not a fan of his.” Trump said he had not spoken with Epstein in 15 years and had a “falling out” with him, but did not offer details of any dispute.

Acosta has defended his deal with Epstein, but said he is pleased that federal prosecutors in New York have brought new charges against him.

“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Acosta said on Twitter. “With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator. Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

Several lawmakers, including both leading congressional Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, have called for Acosta’s resignation for his handling of the Epstein case in Florida, but so has a staunch Republican supporter of Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The White House has resisted.

Schumer said Epstein would have been behind bars for years were it not for the “sweetheart” deal agreed to by Acosta. Pelosi accused Acosta of engaging “in an unconscionable agreement” with Epstein “kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice.” A judge has ruled that prosecutors wrongly failed to tell Epstein’s victims about their intention to resolve the case with a light sentence.

FILE – U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta speaks at JLS Automation, in York, Pennsylavania, June 6, 2019.

Pelosi said Acosta’s role in the Epstein case was known by Trump “when he appointed him to the cabinet.”

Cruz said he agreed Acosta should quit, calling Epstein’s conduct “despicable” and that “everyone who participated should be vigorously prosecuted.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway pushed back on Pelosi’ call for Acosta’s resignation, saying, “It’s classic her and her Democratic Party to not focus on the perpetrator in hand, instead of focus on a member of the Trump administration. They’re so obsessed with this president that they immediately go to Alex Acosta rather than Jeffrey Epstein. As far as I can see, Jeffrey Epstein is the one who allegedly … sure looks a strong evidence to me is touching, if not raping young girls.”

In Monday’s indictment, Geoffrey Berman, a federal prosecutor in New York, accused Epstein of allegedly paying the girls hundreds of dollars for nude or partially nude massages from 2002 to 2005 that “increasingly were sexual in nature” at his mansion on New York’s Upper East Side and at his estate in Palm Beach.

The prosecutor said Epstein often paid some of the victims, some as young as 14, to recruit other underage girls that he then also abused.

Despite the fact that the allegations against Epstein stem from incidents that occurred more than a decade ago, Berman said, “We want to make sure (the accusers) have their day in court by bringing these charges.” In a court appearance, Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Epstein is a well-connected financier whose friends also included former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew, and numerous other celebrities.

US Court Rules Trump Cannot Silence Critics on Twitter

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled President Donald Trump cannot silence critics on his Twitter account, maintaining that blocking them violates the Constitution’s right to free speech.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in a 3-0 decision Tuesday the First Amendment prohibits Trump from blocking critics from his account, a public platform.

On behalf of the three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote “The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

Trump has used his Twitter account, which has more than 60-million followers, to promote his agenda and to attack critics.

The court ruled on a lawsuit filed by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute on behalf of seven people who were blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.

Institute director Jameel Jaffer said the ruling “will ensure that people aren’t excluded from these forums simply because of their viewpoints” and added “It will help ensure the integrity and vitality of digital spaces that are increasingly important to our democracy.”

Justice Department spokesman Kelly Laco said the agency is “disappointed with the ruling and is “exploring possible next steps.” He reiterated the administrations’ argument that “Trump’s decision to block users from his personal Twitter account does not violate the First Amendment.”

The decision upheld a May 2018 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The U.S. Justice Department said the ruling was “fundamentally misconceived,” arguing Trump used the account in a personal capacity to express his views, and not as a forum for public discussion.

Twitter did not immediately comment on the ruling.

Among those who were blocked from Trump’s account were author Stephen King and model Chrissy Teigen.

 

Voting Group Founded by Georgia’s Abrams Raises $3.9 Million

The political action committee for a group founded by former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has reported raising $3.9 million in the past six months.

Abrams founded Fair Fight to support voting rights after narrowly losing to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in November. She accused Kemp of using his previous position as Georgia’s chief election officer to suppress votes in their race, which Kemp has vehemently denied.

The report filed Monday with the state ethics commission shows Fair Fight PAC has raised $4.1 million since its inception and made $3 million in expenditures, leaving $1.1 million in cash on hand. Expenditures include more than $1.2 million given to the group’s nonprofit arm and $100,000 given to abortion rights groups after Georgia’s passage of a restrictive abortion ban.

They also include political contributions to various candidates, payments to consultants, staff salaries and travel expenses.

Many of the contributions came from small donors around the country. The group says that it has had more than 15,000 individual contributions from all 50 states.

The largest contribution was over $1 million from Silicon Valley-based physician and philanthropist Karla Jurvetson. The group banked another $250,000 from the Service Employees International Union, a labor union with 2 million members in service occupations including within the health care industry. 
 
“Fair Fight PAC is grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from across Georgia and around the country,” Fair Fight CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement. “Fair Fight is advocating for voting rights, supporting progressive organizing and advocacy, and keeping the heat on those who suppress the vote.”

She said the group would soon share details for nationwide voter protection programs to mitigate “attempts to suppress the vote of people of color in this critical election cycle.”

Seeking Unity, Pelosi Calls for Bill to Protect Migrant Kids

Lawmakers must pass legislation easing “abhorrent conditions” facing children held at the southern border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday as she tried taking the offensive on an issue that badly split Democrats and has raised questions about their unity on other issues.
 
Pelosi, D-Calif., tried rallying Democrats against a common foe — Republicans led by President Donald Trump — less than two weeks after a $4.6 billion border bill drove a bitter rift into her party. Although the measure passed Congress easily and became law, many House progressives and Hispanics voted “no” because they said the measure lacked real controls on how the government must handle children, while the party’s moderates and senators said the measure was the best compromise they could craft with the GOP-run Senate.
 
In a letter to colleagues returning from an 11-day Fourth of July recess, Pelosi said Democrats must lead “a Battle Cry across America to protect the children.”  Citing another fight over blocking a citizenship question Trump wants added to the 2020 census, Pelosi said, “In both the case of the Census and the abhorrent conditions for children and families at the border, we must hold the Trump Administration and the GOP accountable.”
 
Although divisions within both parties are common, seldom are things as openly nasty as when the House approved the border legislation. Progressives accused moderates and their own party leaders of blindsiding them and caving to demands by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while Senate Democrats and centrists said liberals had implausible expectations for what could be produced by divided government.
 
“I think people are going to be walking on eggshells,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., said Monday about the mood he expected when lawmakers return Tuesday. He also said he’d spoken to an ideological range of colleagues over the break, and they’d expressed a “need to come together and get things done.”
 
Gottheimer and other centrist Democrats had rebelled and prevented Pelosi from holding a vote to add care requirements for children to the $4.6 billion package, enraging progressives.
 
The bitter feelings suggest that it might be hard for Democrats to band together on upcoming bills, including an annual defense policy bill that liberals are often reluctant to support.
 
“I think this is going to extend into other debates as well,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a progressive leader. He said the defense bill “is not going to be a picnic” and noted that many progressives routinely oppose the defense legislation.
 
The rift seems certain to be discussed when House Democrats hold a weekly closed-door meeting on Wednesday.
 
“At the end of the day, it’s the red team or the blue team, and we’ll have to figure out how to get along,” said Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., a leading moderate and member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
 
While Pelosi’s letter didn’t promise action on any particular bill, she highlighted several measures that liberal and Hispanic Democrats have pushed. These included proposals barring the separation of families unless it is to protect children, requiring specific standards of care like thorough medical screenings, and limiting how long unaccompanied children may be kept at temporary holding facilities, many of which are overcrowded.

FILE – Migrants, mainly from Central America, guide their children through the entrance of a World War II-era bomber hanger in Deming, N.M., May 22, 2019.

Congress approved the legislation at a time when the number of migrants entering the U.S. across the southwest border with Mexico surged above 100,000 monthly, the highest levels in years. Federal agencies’ facilities, designed for much smaller influxes, have been overwhelmed as the government detains them and the Trump administration enforces strict policies aimed at discouraging others from coming.
 
The sharp elbows also echoed over the weekend.
 
Pelosi told The New York Times that four freshmen who were the only Democrats to oppose an earlier version of the border bill “have their public whatever and their Twitter world” but “didn’t have any following.”
 
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the four rebels, tweeted in response, “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment.”

Trump Speech on Environment Doesn’t Pass Smell Test with Activists

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara and Elizabeth Cherneff contributed to this report.

WHITE HOUSE — In remarks widely panned by environmental organizations, U.S. President Donald Trump defended his record on the environment in a White House speech Monday.

“A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment,” Trump said.

Radical environmental plans would not make the world cleaner, according to Trump — who pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord — but rather, he claimed, would put many Americans out of work.

Trump took another shot of the Green New Deal environmental plan, backed by a number of Democratic Party lawmakers, saying it would “cost our economy $100 trillion.”

The president added that “I will not stand for it.”

Trump did claim some environmental progress for his administration, predicting carbon emissions in the United States would drop this year and in 2020 and stating the government is now strengthening standards of lead and copper in drinking water for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The U.S. ranking for “access to clean drinking water” is now No. 1 globally, he noted.

Trump called several members of his Cabinet to the lectern in the East Room to praise his administration’s policies on the environment.

“Today we have the cleanest air on record,” said Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former lobbyist for the country’s largest privately-owned coal company. “When other nations need help cleaning up their land, water and air they turn to us — not China, not Russia.”

Trump received credit from his interior secretary, David Bernhardt, who is a former oil industry lobbyist, for repairing frayed federal-state relations on wildlife conservation.

Technological breakthroughs on clean energy are “literally cascading” across the country and around the world, according to Energy Secretary Rick Perry. 

“That’s your record, President Trump,” said Perry, a 2016 presidential primary rival of his boss.

Among others called to the podium by Trump was the owner of a bait-and-tackle shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

U.S. President Donald Trump applauds Bruce Hrobak, owner of Billy Bones Bait & Tackle, as he expresses his support for the president during an event in the East Room of the White House, July 8, 2019.

Bruce Hrobak praised the president for authorizing the repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee and for policies that have led to reducing destructive marine algae.

“You bring my heart to warmth for everything you’re doing,” Hrobak said.

“That’s better than any speechwriter I could get,” the president replied. 

Environmentalists’ criticism

Leading environmentalists not invited to the White House event were not impressed.

“President Trump has a political problem, one that he created and certainly didn’t solve by today’s surreal press event,” ,” according to Joe Bonfiglio, the president of EDF Action, which is the lobbying arm of the Environmental Defense Fund. “The Trump administration’s record on the environment is beyond dismal and voters know it. It is one of the reasons suburban voters across the country elected politicians that would challenge the administration on climate change and a whole host of environmental policies.”

Samantha Gross, a fellow with the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate, is bothered by Trump’s assertion that previous administrations had to choose between protecting the environment and growing the economy.

“I just find this completely untrue,” Gross, a former director of the Energy Department’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy, told VOA. “Environmental improvement and economic growth has gone hand in hand for decades.”

The executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, accuses the president of resorting to “greenhouse gaslighting the public to try and cover up the fact that he is the worst president in history for the environment, climate and public health.”

Trump, according to Brune, has been relentlessly attacking the country’s air, water, climate and public lands, “posing a threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans, and no speech he gives can ever change the reality of his actions.”

White House statistics

EPA Administrator Wheeler disagrees.

“The Sierra Club is ignoring all the environmental progress this country has made,” Wheeler responded when VOA asked him about the 127-year-old organization’s criticism.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks during an event touting the Trump administration’s environmental policy in the East Room of the White House, July 8, 2019.

For example, Wheeler points out, the United States has “doubled our natural gas productions since 2000 but at the same time reduced our methane emissions by 16%.”

Mary Neumayr, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality at the White House, defends what she calls a “practical, balanced approach” on environmental issues by Trump, that allows for supporting business growth nationwide.

Both Wheeler and Neumayr, on a conference call with reporters prior to the president’s speech, were repeatedly questioned as to why they were citing statistics showing improvements since 1970, the year the EPA was established by then-President Richard Nixon.

Asked to cite more recent improvements, Wheeler pointed to “double-digit decreases in lead and sulfur dioxide” in the air in the United States during the Trump administration.

“We continue to clean up the air. We continue to clean up the water,” Wheeler said.

But these assertions ring hollow to many environmentalists.

“It’s not like the president or the administration has been subtle about their environmental agenda,” said EDF Action’s Bonfiglio. “President Trump has repeatedly and often gleefully taken to Twitter or appeared at rallies, railing against big things like the Paris climate agreement and little ones like energy-efficient light bulbs.”

First Democratic Candidate for 2020 Nomination Drops Out of Race

The race for the Democratic nomination for president has only recently begun, yet the first candidate has already dropped out of the contest.
 
Eric Swalwell, a U.S. congressman representing a district in California, announced Monday that he will not continue to seek the presidential nomination but will instead run for a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
 
“Today ends our presidential campaign, but it is the beginning of an opportunity in Congress,” he said during a news conference in his East Bay congressional district.
 
Swalwell was a long-shot candidate in a crowded field of more than 20 vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and he had languished near the bottom of the polls since he entered the race in April.
 
The congressman tried to raise his profile at the June debate in Miami by forcefully calling on front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden to “pass the torch” to a younger generation. While the moment received media coverage following the debate, it failed to improve Swalwell’s poll numbers.
 
Swalwell, 38, was one of the younger candidates in the race, along with Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, both of whom are 37.
 
Swalwell has represented northern California in the U.S. Congress since 2012 and has used his seat on the House Intelligence Committee to become frequent cable-news guest talking about the investigation between the Trump campaign and Russia.
 
The congressman said tackling gun violence and fixing the student debt crisis were two of the issues that compelled him to run for the presidential nomination.

Biden-Harris Clash Renews Controversy Over US School Busing

The first Democratic presidential debate for the 2020 elections brought a decades-old civil rights issue back into the public spotlight: whether to bus children to racially integrate schools.

One of the most defining moments of the debate came when U.S. Senator Kamala Harris challenged former Vice President Joe Biden’s record for not supporting the type of busing that she experienced as a black schoolgirl in California.

The exchange garnered headlines and brought the topic of busing, which had been a national issue in the 1970s but had largely fallen out of the public conversation, back into the spotlight.

Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator for California Kamala Harris speaks to the press in the Spin Room after the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

What is busing?

Busing was a tool that many U.S. communities used to overcome racial segregation in public schools.

Following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, legal racial segregation in schools was outlawed across the United States. However, because of demographic trends and housing policies, many U.S. neighborhoods remained segregated, and as a result schools were effectively segregated because students attended schools in neighborhoods where they lived. 

In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, courts ruled that local jurisdictions were not doing enough to promote desegregation in schools and began mandating busing to address the problem. Federal agencies oversaw and enforced busing efforts, including collecting data about the race of students and withholding money from noncompliant schools.

Who was bused?

Both black students took buses to majority-white schools and white students to majority-black schools in court-ordered busing.

However, Brett Gadsden, the author of a book about desegregation efforts in Delaware, “Between North and South: Delaware, Desegregation, and the Myth of American Sectionalism,” said, “African American students disproportionally shouldered the burden” of efforts to desegregate schools.

Gadsden, an associate professor of history at Northwestern University, said black students were forced to travel longer distances and for many more years than white students.

In this Sept. 26, 1957, file photo, members of the 101st Airborne Division take up positions outside Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., after President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered them into the city to enforce integration at the school.

Why was it controversial?

Busing proved to be intensely controversial nationwide. Supporters argued busing was necessary to integrate schools and to give black and white students equal access to resources and opportunities.

Critics argued that busing was dangerous and costly, and many parents did not want their children to have to travel great distances to get to school. 

While much of the opposition to busing came from whites, the black community was also divided about its merits. 

Gadsden said black critics cited the burden their children had to shoulder in terms of distance traveled and time spent on buses. They also complained that historically black schools were closed, and black administrators and teachers lost their jobs as a result of busing policies, while similar demands were not made of white schools, Gadsden said. 

In Boston, anti-busing protests turned violent in 1974, with demonstrators throwing bricks and bottles at school buses.

Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said in a Twitter post following the Democratic debate that busing was so unpopular in the 1970s that Democrats running for office often had a choice to “be a profile in courage and lose, or oppose busing in whole or in part & win to fight another day on stronger ground.”

Biden’s stance

During the 1970s when Biden was a freshman U.S. senator representing Delaware, he worked with conservative senators to oppose federally mandated busing. 

In a 1975 interview with a Delaware newspaper that was first resurfaced by The Washington Post, Biden said, “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ’60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’”

During the Democratic debate, Biden defended his position against mandated busing in the 1970s, arguing that he did not oppose voluntary busing by communities, only federal mandates. “I did not oppose busing in America; what I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education,” he said.

Democratic presidential hopeful former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaks during the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Harris responded by saying the federal government needed to be able to step in and mandate busing in some areas because “there was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America.”

Schools today

While some communities still champion voluntary busing measures, most busing efforts ended by the turn of the century. Local and national court rulings in the 1990s said many communities had succeeded in improving the integration of their schools and allowed busing programs to end. 

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA said in a May report  to mark the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, that segregation in schools is again on the rise and has been growing “unchecked” for nearly three decades, “placing the promise of Brown at grave risk.”

The report said white students, on average, attend a school in which 69% of the students are white, Latino students attend schools in which 55% of the students are Latino, and black students attend schools with a combined black and Latino enrollment averaging 67%. 

Gadsden agreed there is “a lot of segregation in schools now” but said there is little political will to go back to the era of busing. “Federal courts now are not particularly sympathetic to challenges to school segregation,” he said, also noting there is no great appetite in the U.S. Congress to introduce measures to advance school desegregation.  

After the debate, Harris told reporters that “busing is a tool among many that should be considered.” however, when pressed on whether she supported federally mandated busing today, she said she would not unless society became as opposed to integration as it was in the 1970s.

Some critics say Harris’ position on busing today is not that much different from Biden’s.

British Ambassador: Trump ‘Radiates Insecurity’

A British newspaper reported Sunday that Britain’s ambassador to the United States has described U.S. President Donald Trump as “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional.”

The Mail published the highly unflattering portrait of the U.S. leader, quoting comments allegedly taken from a cache of leaked diplomatic memos from Ambassador Kim Darroch.  

According to the newspaper, Darroch described Trump as someone who “radiates insecurity” and who is “incompetent.”

“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal,” Darroch is reported to have written.

The ambassador cautioned British officials, however, not to dismiss Trump’s chances for re-election, saying the president has a “credible path” to another four years in the White House.  

The Mail said Darroch warned that Trump could “emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator.”

Britain’s Foreign Office has not denied the comments.  A spokeswoman said ambassadors are expected “to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country.”  She added, “We pay them to be candid.”

 

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