Supreme Court Conservatives Allow Execution of Muslim Prisoner Despite Religious Freedom Violation
Feb 8, 2019, 5:54pm Andrew L. Seidel
If you’re seeking justice or vindication of your religious freedom, this Supreme Court has just said non-Christians need not apply.
The five conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court were in such a rush to see Domineque Ray executed that they ignored the First Amendment. This is because the condemned prisoner was a Muslim, not a member of the favored religion: Christianity.
Two weeks before his execution, Ray met with the warden, who explained the process and told him that the prison chaplain—a Christian—would be present in the execution chamber.
Alabama law says that the prison chaplain, a Christian (always a Christian) may be present. It also allows the condemned to have his own “spiritual advisor” present. But the prison interpreted this to mean that the Christian chaplain must be in the execution chamber while any other spiritual advisor watches from a separate room. Ray, a Muslim, objected. If any religious official would be there, Ray wanted a fellow Muslim.
Five days after meeting with the warden and learning that a Christian chaplain would be foisted on him while his preferred religious counselor would be essentially excluded, Ray’s lawyers asked for the courts to stay the execution, just over a week away. The Eleventh Circuit, in a brilliant defense of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, correctly held that Alabama had violated Ray’s rights: “If Ray were a Christian, he would have a profound benefit; because he is a Muslim, he is denied that benefit.”
Trump Still Won’t Name ‘White Supremacist Terrorism’ and His Base Loves It
Donald Trump understands his base better than anyone. He gets what makes them cheer and what turns them off. And Trump’s response to Friday’s horrific white supremacist terrorist attack in New Zealand that saw 49 Muslims murdered was coldly calculated to play to them, especially his refusal to use the term “white supremacist terrorism.”
But first there was to Trump’s reaction to the terrorist attack on Twitter where he spoke of standing, “in solidarity with New Zealand” and declaring, “We love you New Zealand!” Great sentiment but where was the mention of Muslims, as in, “I stand with the Muslim community today”?! After all, the 49 victims were all Muslims killed in their place of worship because they were Muslim.
There’s no doubt Trump’s failure to say any kind words about Muslims was by design. Trump understands that would likely upset his base whom he has fed a diet of anti-Muslim hate, from declaring that “Islam hates us” to calling for a total ban on Muslims coming to this country, and his 2016 comment that takes on a different meaning after Friday’s terror attack: “We're having problems with the Muslims coming into this country…You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not.”
In Attacking Ilhan Omar, Trump Revives His Familiar Refrain Against Muslims
WASHINGTON — President Trump has often seen the political benefits of stigmatizing Muslims.
During the 2016 campaign, he would not rule out creating a registry of Muslims in the United States. He claimed to have seen “thousands” of Muslims cheering on rooftops in New Jersey after Sept. 11, a statement that was widely debunked. And after the deadly attacks in Paris and California, Mr. Trump called for a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States.
“I think Islam hates us,” Mr. Trump told Anderson Cooper, the CNN host.
Now, with 19 months until the 2020 election, Mr. Trump is seeking to rally his base by sounding that theme again. And this time, he has a specific target: Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
In Ms. Omar, a Somali refugee whose family received asylum in the United States when she was a teenager, Mr. Trump has found a perfect foil: a progressive whose embrace of the boycott-Israel movement and attacks on supporters of the Jewish state have already made her a divisive figure within her own party. As the first woman to wear a hijab on the House floor — she pushed for a rules change to allow it — she is also a powerful, and visible symbol for Muslims and refugees.
Mr. Trump and his team are trying to make Ms. Omar, who is relatively unknown in national politics, a household name, to be seen as the most prominent voice of the Democratic Party, regardless of her actual position. In February, the president pounced when Ms. Omar unleashed a firestorm with her comments on Israel, rejecting her subsequent apology and calling for her to resign.
Trump Insults London Mayor as ‘Loser’ as He Pays Tribute to the Queen
But the stately narrative carried a more rough-edged subtext. Even before Air Force One touched down outside London, Mr. Trump was on Twitter, accusing the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with whom he has feuded since 2016 over immigration, terrorism and other issues, of being “nasty” to him, while misspelling the mayor’s name and mocking his stature.
“Kahn reminds me very much of our dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height,” Mr. Trump said in a message posted on Twitter, as he invoked another pet target, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. Mr. Khan, he said, should pay attention to London’s crime rate.
The dispute played out all day, with Conservative politicians stepping forward to defend Mr. Trump and criticize Mr. Khan. It was a jarring counterpoint to the gauzy images of the president meeting the royal family, but it played to Mr. Trump’s desire, even when visiting one of America’s closest allies, to have an adversary.
Mr. Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani extraction, had earlier described Mr. Trump as “just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” and likened the president’s language to that used by “fascists of the 20th century.” In particular, he has singled out Mr. Trump’s effort to ban travelers from Muslim countries.
Trump Renews Feud With London Mayor, Calling Him a ‘Disaster’
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Saturday resumed his 3,675-mile feud with the mayor of London, calling him “a disaster” who should be turned out of office after a spate of stabbings in Britain’s capital.
“LONDON needs a new mayor ASAP,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Sadiq Khan, the mayor he has been fighting with from a distance for three years. “Khan is a disaster - will only get worse!”
The president offered his harsh view while reposting a tweet on crime over the past day written by Katie Hopkins, a conservative commentator who referred to “20 hours in Stab-City,” in which four stabbings and a shooting resulted in three deaths. “This is Khan’s Londonistan,” Ms. Hopkins added, using a disparaging term referring to the city’s Muslim population. Mr. Khan is Britain’s first Muslim mayor.
The Travel Ban Shows What Happens When the Supreme Court Trusts Trump
A cautionary tale for the census case before the Supreme Court.
A year ago, the Supreme Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, President Trump’s imposition of a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. The court’s decision was gravely disappointing the day it was handed down. A year later, it looks even worse — particularly because it rested on three premises pushed by Trump Administration lawyers that have proven thoroughly unfounded.
The false premises should act as a cautionary tale: This term’s Supreme Court case on whether to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 census was similarly argued on what may turn out to be false premises.
Immigration lawyers report Canadian Muslims being denied entry to U.S.
A number of Canadian Muslims have been turned away at the Canada-U.S. border in recent weeks, immigration lawyers say.
Those denied entry include a prominent Guyana-born Toronto imam who serves as a chaplain with the Peel Regional Police and an Iraqi Turkmen community leader who has family members fighting ISIS in the Middle East.
The two men — who were denied entry at different border crossings and were not travelling together — are among at least six Canadian Muslim men who have been denied entry at the U.S. border over the last two weeks.
The men and their families, all of whom are Canadian citizens, were given little in the way of explanation by border officials for the decision to deem them inadmissible.
Neither Guyana nor Iraq are among the seven Muslim-majority countries subject to U.S. President Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" executive order, which essentially blocks refugees and visitors from those countries from entering the U.S.
Both men were told to apply for visas at the U.S. consulate in Toronto before returning to the border to seek entry — an unusual process for people who hold Canadian passports.
The six men are represented by the Toronto-area immigration firm CILF — Caruso Guberman Appleby. Lawyers there say that if they're seeing this level of activity at their law firm, there may be many other Canadian nationals facing similar problems at the border.
Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban
President Trump added Africa’s biggest country, Nigeria, as well as Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania, to his restricted travel list.
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday added six countries to his list of nations facing stringent travel restrictions, a move that will virtually block immigration from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, and from Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide.
Beside Nigeria, three other African countries, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, will face varying degrees of restrictions, as will one former Soviet state, Kyrgyzstan. Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could also be caught in the crossfire.
All six countries have substantial Muslim populations. The total number of countries now on the restricted travel list stands at 13.
Immigrant visas, issued to those seeking to live in the United States, will be banned for Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan. The ban will also prevent immigrants from Sudan and Tanzania from moving to the United States through the diversity visa lottery, which grants green cards to as many as 50,000 people a year.
U.S. Supreme Court rule Muslim men can sue FBI agents over no-fly list
WASHINGTON -- A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Muslim men who were placed on the government's no-fly list because they refused to serve as FBI informants can seek to hold federal agents financially liable.
The justices continued a string of decisions friendly to religious interests in holding that the men could sue the agents under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act for what it calls “appropriate relief.”
“The question here is whether `appropriate relief' includes claims for money damages against Government officials in their individual capacities. We hold that it does,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.
Trump's disastrous end to his shocking presidency
CNN Mon, January 11, 2021, 11:05 PM CST
President Donald Trump is leaving America in a vortex of violence, sickness and death and as internally estranged than it has been for 150 years.
The disorientating end to his shocking term has the nation reeling from a Washington insurrection. The FBI warned Monday of armed protests by pro-Trump thugs in 50 states, which raise the awful prospect of a domestic insurgency. Health officials fear 5,000 Americans could soon be dying every day from the pandemic Trump ignored. Hospitals are swamped, medical workers are shattered amid a faltering rollout of the vaccine supposed to end the crisis.
It took 200 years for the country to rack up its first two presidential impeachments. Trump's malfeasance has led the country down that awful, divisive path twice in just more than a year. With House Democrats expected to formally impeach the President for inciting a mob assault on Congress on Wednesday, he will rely on the Republican enablers who refused to rein in his lawlessness to save him from conviction again.
Millions of Americans have bought into the delusional, poisoned fiction that an election Trump lost was stolen, and there are signs that some police and military forces have been radicalized by the grievance he stokes.
The city Trump has called home for four years is being turned into an armed camp incongruous with the mood of joy and renewal that pulsates through most inaugurations. In a symbol of a democracy under siege, the people's buildings -- the White House and the US Capitol -- are caged behind ugly iron and cement barriers.
This is the legacy President-elect Joe Biden will inherit in eight days when he swears to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution -- an oath that Trump trampled when inciting the Capitol attack last week from behind a bulletproof screen while buckling the cherished US chain of peaceful transfers of power.
With unintended irony, Biden's team has picked "America United" as the inaugural theme -- a motto that is now more apt in defining Biden's hoped for destination rather than the splintered land he will begin to lead.
Trump's pattern of violence
It is becoming ever more obvious that the horrific scenes on Capitol Hill on Wednesday were not a one-off. Instead, they now look part of a pattern including the White supremacist marches in Charlottesville that Trump refused to condemn, and the gassing of peaceful anti-racist protesters in the square outside the White House so he could hold an inflammatory photo-op.
In a chilling new warning, the FBI revealed the possible next stage in this now nationwide wave of radicalization, saying armed protests were planned at state Capitols in all 50 states between January 16 and Inauguration Day, January 20. Even as a nationwide sweep widens for the perpetrators of last week's outrage, the bureau said new protests were planned for Washington for three days around the inauguration.
There are threats of an uprising if Trump is removed by way of the 25th Amendment. The FBI said it was also tracking threats against Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In Washington, two Capitol Police officers were suspended and more are under investigation for allegedly helping the mob.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was shocked by the magnitude of the bureau's intelligence on possible new violence.
"I don't think in the entire scope of my career working counter terrorism issues for many, many years, I don't think I ever saw a bulletin go out that concerned armed protest activity in 50 states in a three or four day period," McCabe said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Biden told reporters that despite the warnings, he was not afraid of taking the oath of office outside next week -- but the combination of a massive security effort to protect him from Trump's supporters and social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic mean his will be the most hollowed out inauguration in years.
Trump's acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned on Monday, in a yet another sign that the country lacks effective government at a moment of stark danger. By contrast, senior officials from the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration worked closely together in the Situation Room on January 20, 2009, when there was concern about the authenticity of terror threat to the inauguration.
So far, after a massive domestic terror attack on the citadel of US democracy, there has been no major public briefing by any major federal law enforcement agency or the White House, an omission that fosters a sense of an absent government.
The current atmosphere of fear and wild political insurrection are a lesson in what happens when a figure as powerful as a President deliberately tears at America's deep racial and social fault lines as a tool of his own power. Trump's presidency revealed a new insight about the all-powerful modern presidency -- the character of the person in the Oval Office chair really matters.
A Congress that can't constrain a President
Momentum towards impeachment is now all but unstoppable in the House after Pelosi rejected a suggestion from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of some kind of censure motion.
McCarthy did acknowledge to Republican caucus members Monday that the President bore some responsibility for last week's insurrection, according to a person familiar with the call. But some of his other responses to the outrage -- an overhaul to the electoral certification process and legislation to promote voter confidence hinted at the insincerity of the Republican approach.
With a few exceptions, Republicans -- who indulged and in many cases supported Trump's blatantly false claims of electoral fraud for weeks -- have responded to the uproar over last week's Capitol attack by complaining that by pushing impeachment, Democrats are fracturing national unity. It's as if the last four years never happened.
There are also questions over whether Republicans understand the seriousness of last week's events. Remarks by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt are still reverberating through the Capitol.
"My personal view is that the President touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again," Blunt said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
His comment eerily recalled the rationalizations of Republicans who declined to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial after he tried to get Ukraine to interfere in the election to damage Biden.
America has emerged from many dark periods since the Civil War. The country was torn by resistance to the Civil Rights movement. And the Vietnam War turned generations against one another. But the fact that millions of people now appear to deeply mistrust the electoral system that is the basis of US democracy means that the country's internal political cohesion is now being tested as it has rarely been in the last century-and-a-half.
And the Republican indulgence of the President's repeated political arson has revealed a massive constitutional blind spot. When one party's lawmakers are in thrall to a strongman leader, their duty to ensure checks and balances to constrain presidential power is soon forgotten.
Trump to reemerge
Trump has not appeared in public for days. And the suspension of his social media accounts amid concern that he could stir up more violence mean the country has been unable to assess his mood.
But the President is due to make a trip to visit the border wall that he said Mexico would pay for but instead saddled the taxpayers with the bill. White House sources said that the President is determined to spend his last full week in office touting his achievements and is expected to release another round of controversial pardons. CNN reported Monday that former Attorney General William Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone have advised the President not to attempt what would be yet another epic abuse of power -- an attempt to pardon himself.
The virus is meanwhile running rampant. Eleven states and Washington, DC, just recorded their highest 7-day average of new cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. For the first time, the country is averaging over 3,000 deaths from the pandemic per day. Trump's outgoing head of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield warned in a recent interview with McClatchy newspapers that the pandemic would get worse for the rest of January and parts of February and that the country could see 5,000 deaths a day.
And hopes that the nation could soon turn a corner are being tempered by the glitches in the vaccine roll out. Just as with the early stages of the crisis, poor coordination between federal and local and state authorities and the overall lack of a broader distribution plan are hampering the effort.
Like everything else, it will be up to Biden to fix it.
Gold statue of Trump appears at CPAC conference
The Independent Fri, February 26, 2021, 7:59 AM
A golden statue of Donald Trump, wearing shorts in the print of the US flag and carrying a wand, has caused a stir on Twitter since a video of it being wheeled into the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) conference surfaced on the social networking site.
A Bloomberg reporter shared footage of staff at the conservative conference wheeling a golden statue of the former US president across the conference floor.
Voices in the background can be heard saying “awesome” and “that is so cool” in reaction to the golden model of Mr Trump. Others laugh and someone chants: “Four more years!” In reference to a chant popular with Mr Trump’s supporters when he was America’s president.
The statue of the former US president has caused a stir on social media, with Twitter users responding to Bloomberg reporter William Turton’s tweet calling it everything from “obscene” to “perfect.”
Other Twitter users went as far as to compare the model of Mr Trump to Moses’ golden calf in the Bible, with caricatures and even a spoof YouTube video springing up in response.
Launched in 1974, the annual CPAC conference calls itself the “largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world.”
On Sunday, it will welcome Mr Trump onto its stage to give his first post-White House speech there.
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