Las familias empiezan a buscar alternativas a asistir a clase ante el caos de la vuelta al colegio

La asociaciones de padres de alumnos no van a hacer huelga pero piden que se garantice la seguridad de las aulas Leer
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Petri Dishes with Alexandra Petri (Oct. 27)
Humor columnist Alexandra Petri takes your questions on the news and political in(s)anity of the day.
The remote learning center trend, explained
Students and staff at Celebrate! RVA, a Richmond, Virginia, nonprofit that has become a remote learning center during the pandemic. | Courtesy of Celebrate! RVA For parents who can’t afford “pods,” some small businesses and nonprofits are filling the void. For 15 years, kids came to Amerikick, a martial arts center on a bustling corner of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, for karate lessons, learning how to kick, chop, and bow in the center’s spacious upstairs studio. But in 2020, they come for something a little different: school. With New York City schools operating on a hybrid model that brings kids into classrooms just two or three days a week, Amerikick was hearing from working parents — especially those who were teachers themselves — that they needed a safe place to send their kids during their remote days. So over the summer, staff decided to transform the space into a distance learning center, where students could come to work on their online classes in a supervised environment. Turning a karate studio into a space for remote school during a pandemic required a few adjustments. “We outlined the mat with red tape in boxes” to make sure desks were 6 feet apart, Ada Vargas, Amerikick’s program director, told Vox. The studio also installed hand sanitizer stations throughout, as well as some warmer touches, like bulletin boards for each student. “They decorate it and make it their own, to kind of make them feel a little bit easier about things going on,” Vargas said. And, naturally, each student gets their own Amerikick-branded mask. While Amerikick’s pivot to distance learning may sound unusual, it’s not unique. Around the country, businesses and nonprofits from dance studios to summer camps are becoming what some call “supportive learning centers,” offering supervision, wifi, and sometimes extracurricular enrichment for kids whose schools are fully or partially remote due to Covid-19. These centers can offer a much-needed lifeline to parents at a time when many — especially moms — are being forced to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for their kids. Meanwhile, offering distance learning services could help some small businesses stay afloat in uncertain times. But businesses like Amerikick can’t solve America’s child care and education crisis all on their own. For one thing, unlike schools, these centers are often entirely unregulated, which means the quality of support kids get may vary widely, Elliot Haspel, a child care policy expert and the author of Crawling Behind: America’s Child Care Crisis and How to Fix It, told Vox. And while nationwide data on the number of new learning centers is sparse, there certainly aren’t enough to fill the enormous need with millions of American kids not yet back to school full time. Nor are their fees — which range from free for some nonprofits to thousands of dollars per session for some camps — affordable for every family. Still, for those who can access them, the centers may offer something many families have struggled to find during this time of isolation: a community to support them and their kids. “We want our kids to look back on this time and not think, ‘That was the worst semester, doing virtual learning,’” Julia Warren, executive director of Celebrate! RVA, a nonprofit that operates a learning center in Virginia, told Vox, “but rather, ‘Wow, it was really hard, but I got to go this really special space that made it as fun as possible.’” For some families who can’t afford pods, learning centers are filling the gaps This fall, thousands of schools around the country began the school year either fully remote or on a hybrid schedule that had kids in school buildings only part of the day or week. Overall, about 38 percent of districts — including most of the nation’s largest — were either remote or hybrid. That left millions of parents in the same untenable position they occupied in the spring: expected to care for their kids and supervise virtual learning while also somehow doing their jobs. Some parents have been able to form “pods” to share child care and homeschooling duties, with affluent families even hiring teachers to educate their kids at home at a cost of up to $100,000 per year. But most people can’t afford that price tag — and even less formal, parent-led pods are out of reach for many families who don’t know others in their area or whose work schedules don’t allow them to pitch in on child care. Some cities have responded by opening their own learning hubs, often with priority given to low-income families. But there typically aren’t enough city-run sites to serve all kids who are doing remote or hybrid learning. New York City, for example, announced in summer that it would provide free child care for 100,000 students, less than 10 percent of the city’s school-age population. And now, an increasing number of businesses and nonprofits are filling the gap, opening up their storefronts to offer socially distanced spaces where kids can log in to their online classes, with supervision and help from adults on staff. Such supportive learning centers have “sort of become a cottage industry” in recent months, Haspel said. They include a dance studio in Islip, New York; sleepaway camps in New Hampshire and Wisconsin; and even private schools in California that have reopened as camps in order to be classified as essential businesses. Meanwhile, Amerikick, a franchise with locations around the country, is offering distance learning at its New Jersey studios as well as in Brooklyn. “We’re trying to help the community and the parents out,” Vargas said. At Amerikick, kids ages 5 to 12 can come in for distance learning from 8 am to 3 pm on days when they’re out of school buildings, with extended hours available if parents need them. Students each attend online classes at their own school, but Amerikick hired a teacher to make sure they log in at the right time and complete their assignments. And during breaks, staff help the kids get moving by playing socially distanced games like Simon Says — or by practicing martial arts. “Our style, we do acrobatics,” Vargas said. “There’s a lot of kicking and punching and rolling and fun stuff like that.” Amerikick’s distance learning program costs $65 per day, or a lower rate if parents pay by the month. Some nonprofits, however, are offering similar services for free to those in need. Celebrate! RVA, for example, was established in 2013 to throw birthday parties for low-income kids in Richmond, Virginia. But when the pandemic hit and schools closed down, “We were hearing from families who were just desperate for help” with child care, Warren said. “We just decided to make a pivot because we had the space, and we knew that our kids needed it more than anything.” Celebrate opened its space for distance learning on September 4, and today has 12 students, all attending free of charge. The nonprofit is part of a coalition of groups in the area that are trying to provide care and support to kids whose parents can’t afford to pay for it. For Celebrate, offering distance learning “was the most loving and joyful thing to do to support the kids and their families,” Warren said. Offering distance learning could also help small businesses While learning centers fill an important niche for families, they could also help some small businesses keep the lights on during a time when many former offerings — indoor dance classes, for example — aren’t possible. For Amerikick, which also offers online and outdoor karate classes, distance learning wasn’t a business decision, Vargas said. But with many school buildings closed, the time is ripe for youth-oriented businesses to make their services available for students, whether it’s operating a learning center or offering enrichment classes remotely, Ty Lewis, CEO of the nonprofit Educationally Speaking Center for Learning, told Vox. “This is the best time to tap into your gifts and offer whatever you’re offering,” Lewis said. “If you’re a dance teacher, a karate teacher, robotics, coding, this is an amazing time to do it.” For businesses and other organizations considering opening learning centers, many say the most important consideration is safety. “Just follow the science,” advises Richard “Woody” Woodstein, owner and director of Camp Robin Hood in Freedom, New Hampshire, which operated a five-week session this fall for students doing distance learning. “Whatever you think you need to do, do more to keep everybody safe,” he told Vox. “If you can do that, then kids can be kids.” After safety, though, the biggest question about supportive learning centers is quality. While large organizations like the YMCA have trained staff and a long track record of offering child care and supervision, smaller businesses and groups may be less prepared for the challenges, Haspel said. “Are they able to help a first grader who’s having a bad day and throwing a tantrum?” he asked. “Are they able to help a student who’s really struggling with reading or with math? That’s not as clear.” Parents looking to enroll their kids in learning centers should come prepared with questions, experts say. First, they should ask about pandemic precautions — questions like how many children are enrolled and whether social distancing is observed, Lewis said. Beyond that, they should consider asking what’s offered beyond just supervision: “Can you assist my child with instruction during the day? What are some activities that you’re going to offer them? Will they have repeated breaks so that they can move away from the screen?” And while some families may find centers that check all their boxes, they’re far from a full solution to the shortage of child care during the pandemic. For that, “we need a whole lot more money flowing into the system,” Haspel said. Experts agree that the child care industry needs at least $50 billion to stabilize it through the pandemic and into the future, but so far, provisions to provide the money have stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Still, some individual centers are seeing successes, especially in a time when many students around the country are struggling with remote learning. Absenteeism has been a huge problem during the pandemic, with about two in five Richmond students chronically absent from school, Warren said. But at Celebrate, “we have not seen any child absent unexcused,” she said. And even in the short time the center has been open, the students have made big strides academically. The youngest, in pre-kindergarten, came to Celebrate not knowing many of her letters. But “she can now identify and match uppercase and lowercase letters, she can spell words, she knows sight words, she can put sentences together, she can add,” Warren said. “We’ve just seen incredible growth in our kids,” she added, “and we’re just really proud of all that they’ve been able to accomplish.” Help keep Vox free for all Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
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Philosopher Peter Singer’s newest book, Why Vegan? returns to questions he’s spent 45 years writing about. | Joe Armao/Fairfax Media/Getty Images In his new book Why Vegan?, the pioneering philosopher of animal rights takes stock of the movement’s progress — and why there’s so much work left to do Forty-five years ago, Australian philosopher Peter Singer published the book Animal Liberation. The arguments it made— that animals can suffer; that it is morally wrong to inflict extraordinary suffering upon them; and that we consequently haveto rethink our farming and food systems — are ones that many consumers today will have heard. At the time, however,Singer’s perspective was a deeply unusual one. There were animal advocacy groups,certainly, but they tended to focus on the plight of abandoned pet animals, like cats and dogs, with no major organization working on the plight of farmed animals (more on this below). In a 1999 New Yorker profile, journalist Michael Specter wrote thatSinger “gave birth to the animal-rights movement.” Singer’s book, activist Ingrid Newkirk wrote, “was a philosophical bombshell. It forever changed the conversation about our treatment of animals. It made people — myself included — change what we ate, what we wore, and how we perceived animals.” Simply put, the animal welfare movement would not be where it is today without Singer and his book. Now, 45 years later, he’s revisiting the topic in a new book — a collection of his essays called Why Vegan?, released for sale in the US last week. I spoke with Singer about the history of the animal welfare movement, what progress we’ve made since Animal Liberation came out, and what it will take to change the world he’s been criticizing for nearly half a century now. This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Kelsey Piper You first wrote about the case for caring about animals 45 years ago. What has changed? Peter Singer A lot has changed, really. There has been a huge amount of change in awareness. Quite frankly, there is an animal movement now, which is concerned about all animals, not just about dogs and cats and horses. And there really wasn’t in 1975. It’s not that thereweren’t sort of tiny organizations. There were so many vivisection organizations [which work to combat the practice of animal vivisection for research], actually. But in terms of farm animals, there was really nothing going on. There was a small organization called Compassion in World Farming in the UK when I got into it, which is now a sort of quite large global organization. But it was run by one guy out of his home, I think, at the time, and there was no legislation to protect the welfare of farm animals. Now, the entire European Union has prohibited some of the worst forms of confinement that I described in Animal Liberation. And so has the state of California. And I think six or seven other states in the US also have legislation protecting farm animals. So that’s a big change. Then there’s a huge change in the availability of vegetarian and vegan food. Nobody would have known what vegan meant in 1975. There was this very small British organization that was founded in the late ’40s, called the Vegan Society. That was probably pretty much all of the vegans in the UK. And virtually none in the US either. There’s been a huge growth of awareness — organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to courses in animal law being taught at Harvard. There was none of that happening at all [in 1975]. So that’s an immense amount of change. But there hasn’t been nearly enough change in the way we treat animals. Kelsey Piper There’s change, maybe, in people’s interest in the issue and how we think about it, but still a pretty bad situation on the ground, and in some ways getting worse, right? Because we have more automation, we have more technology. We’ve bred birds differently. Peter Singer Yeah, the breeding of chickens in particular is a really bad aspect of it. They grow faster, they put on weight faster, and they seem to be in more pain just standing up now. That’s one difference, which you’ve written about. The other thing that I would say is — it isn’t bad that China and a lot of other countries are more prosperous. That’s great because there are fewer people in extreme poverty. But there are also hundreds of millions more people wanting to eat meat, [previously] unable to afford to eat meat. And China, in particular, has no national laws about animal welfare at all. The multiplying factory farms, what conditions the animals undergo — they’re pretty terrible. When you go to China, you see [animal abuses] that are pretty horrible you wouldn’t see here in the US. Kelsey Piper I’m also curious about the philosophy side of this. Are the arguments that you put forward 45 years ago still what you see as some of the strongest arguments for animals? Peter Singer I think the arguments that I put forward in 1975 are still the basic arguments, which seemed to me the most cogent. So what happened after I wrote Animal Liberation is that a number of different philosophers use different approaches.[American philosopher]Tom Regan’s animal rights argument, for example, wasn’t really in the literature beforehand, not in the form that Tom put it in, and a variety of other different views. [Regan argues that from a Kantian perspective, at least some animals have intrinsic rights as humans do, because they are what he called “subjects-of-a-life.”] So there is more pluralism about different approaches, philosophically, that lead to somewhat similar conclusions. But I remain a consequentialist. [There are] rights-based approaches — for those who like that approach ... [they] are out there, and that’s a good thing. Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach comes to a similar conclusion as well. [Nussbaum’s approach argues that ethics should be focused on the freedom to achieve well-being, and understood in terms of how many real opportunities to do that someone has.] Kelsey Piper I have seen it said that animals mattering, and being of moral significance — and accordingly, factory farming being very bad — is something of a rare area of agreement in moral philosophy. Peter Singer Yeah, absolutely. And even people who disagree on some of the points, like Roger Scruton, who died recently, was a conservative, British philosopher. Some sort of religious bent, I think, because hetalked about [how] we should have piety towards animals. He certainly continued to eat them, and even champion eating them, but he certainly opposed factory farming. Kelsey Piper I’m curious what you see as the strongest, simply put argument for being vegan. Peter Singer I think that it removes you completely from complicity in practices that are not morally defensible about the raising and killing of animals for food. There are more complicated arguments about whether you’re justified in bringing animals into existence who would not otherwise have existed and have a good life, about animals raised in suitable conditions and humanely killed. So you know, there are arguments for defending some forms of animal consumption. I don’t know what the impact of that is on attitudes to animals and whether it reinforces the idea that animals are still things for us to use. Kelsey Piper Are you personally vegan? Peter Singer Strictly speaking, no. For example, I don’t think that bivalves — mussels and clams — I don’t think they can suffer, so I eat them. I would certainly eat cellular-based meat, once it was available. And I’m not really strict about avoiding free-range eggs. Kelsey Piper That’s been one of the struggles in our family, finding eggs that we are confident come from chickens who were well-treated. Peter Singer Yes, that’s right. I think it’s somewhat easier to get genuinely free-range eggs in Australia [where Singer lives] than in big American cities anyway. It’s not always that easy to sort out which are labeled free range, but actually kept in big warehouses with small patches where they can go outside. In Australia they report the stocking density. Kelsey Piper In 2020, of course, there’s lots of old arguments about animal farming that are still relevant. But there’s also some new sorts of concerns on everybody’s horizon — like the potential for pandemics and the potential for contributing to climate change. Peter Singer The last essay in the collection is a 2020 essay about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, flu, and whatnot. It talks about wet markets, and the combination of cruelty and health risk that involves. When I published Animal Liberation, I was focused entirely on the animal aspect of it. Then, during the ’80s, I became aware of the climate change issue, and of the role of animal production in that. So there was a second major argument for avoiding animal products. When I talk to people who’ve become vegan in the last few years, I find climate has played quite a significant role. And then in recent years, I’ve become aware of the risk of pandemics coming out of factory farming. So what I say in the book is — there’s now this third reason: animals, climate, pandemics. Sign up for the Future Perfect newsletter. Twice a week, you’ll get a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling our biggest challenges: improving public health, decreasing human and animal suffering, easing catastrophic risks, and — to put it simply — getting better at doing good. Help keep Vox free for all Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
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During her confirmation hearing, Democratic senators repeatedly asked Barrett whether she would commit to recuse from cases related to the 2020 election, due to the appearance of impropriety created by Trump’s comments. Barrett, however, would only offer a vague promise of “fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal” if asked to sit out an election case. Similarly, while Barrett’s record suggests that she agrees with the Republican Party’s opposition to abortion and Obamacare, much of her scholarship discusses legal theory at a very high level of generality and offers little insight into how she would decide specific cases. We know that Barrett will be a very conservative justice. But we don’t yet know if she will embrace the radical, even nihilistic approach preferred by someone like Justice Clarence Thomas, who has suggested that federal child labor laws are unconstitutional. We don’t know how much she’ll feel bound by precedent, or whether she’ll be moved by public opinion in cases where conservative “originalists” like herself read the law in ways that are wildly at odds with the public’s preferences. But these are contentious times, and the Supreme Court has an unusually contentious docket. Almost immediately after joining the Court, Barrett will confront cases that seek to move the law dramatically to the right — often relying on arguments that even many leading conservatives view as ridiculous. The four cases below will likely help us gain an understanding of whether Barrett is a right-wing outlier, even within an increasingly conservative federal judiciary. The votes she casts in these cases, and the specific legal arguments that she signs onto,may show us just how hostile the Court’s newest member is to democracy, and whether she’s willing to embrace deeply radical legal arguments that undermine progressive policy or punish interest groups aligned with the Democratic Party. To be sure, Democrats should not necessarily heave a sigh of relief even if Barrett rejects the conservative position in each of these lawsuits. These four cases represent some of the most extreme arguments before the Court, and there are others that could well be revelatory. How Barrett rules on them should offer a window into just how radical the newest justice is likely to be. 1) Pennsylvania mail-in ballots and the 2020 election Earlier this month, the Supreme Court handed down a brief order in Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, which left in place a Pennsylvania state Supreme Court decision allowing some mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day to be counted — although it is far from clear that this decision will remain in place now that Barrett is on the Court. On the surface, Republican Party was a defeat for the GOP, which hoped to have these ballots tossed out. But the Court divided 4-4 in Republican Party, meaning that Barrett could potentially provide the fifth vote to trash these ballots. The Pennsylvania GOP has already asked the Supreme Court to reconsider this case. So Barrett’s very first action as a justice could be to hand the GOP a victory against voting rights. One of the GOP’s primary arguments in Republican Party — an argument that three justices seemed to endorse in Bush v. Gore (2000) — is astonishingly radical. The GOP argues that only the state’s Republican-controlled legislature — not the state Supreme Court or some other body — is allowed to determine how Pennsylvania chooses presidential electors. Taken to its logical extreme, the Republican Party’s argument could invalidate state constitutional provisions protecting the right to vote, at least in presidential elections. It could even allow Republicans to steal the 2020 election for President Trump. This latter point may seem far-fetched, but bear with me. The Constitution provides that “each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,” members of the Electoral College. In its briefs in Republican Party, the GOP focuses on the word “Legislature,” claiming that only the Pennsylvania state legislature may set the state’s rules for choosing presidential electors, and not the state Supreme Court. For more than a century, the Supreme Court has understood the word “legislature,” when used in this or similar contexts, to refer to whatever the valid lawmaking process is within that state. As the Court held most recently in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2015), the word “legislature” should be read “in accordance with the State’s prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum and the Governor’s veto.” Similarly, if a state’s constitution protects voting rights and gives the state Supreme Court the power to interpret state law, then the state Supreme Court may make binding decisions regarding how state law or a state constitution should be interpreted during a presidential election. The Arizona decision was 5-4, however, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing the majority opinion. While the four dissenting justices in Republican Party did not explain why they voted with the GOP, it’s not unreasonable to think that they voted the way they did because they agree with the GOP’s hyper-literal interpretation of the word “legislature.” Indeed, two of those four dissenters, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, signaled that they do agree with the GOP’s approach in an opinion handed down Monday night. So what would it mean if Justice Barrett provides the fifth vote for this interpretation of the Constitution? For starters, it could mean that state constitutional provisions protecting the right to vote would no longer function in presidential elections. The GOP is quite explicit about this in one of its briefs, claiming that to the extent that the Pennsylvania Constitution conflicts with the GOP’s understanding of the word “Legislature,” “the State Constitution must give way.” But that’s only the beginning. If the Supreme Court embraces the GOP’s understanding of the word “Legislature,” Republicans could potentially hand down pivotal rulings in battleground states that hand Trump a second term. Although every state has a law providing that the state’s electoral votes will be decided in a popular election, the Constitution does not actually require such an election. Again, it provides that “each State shall appoint” presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Under the Republican Party’s theory in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, only the elected representatives in the state’s legislative body are allowed to make this determination. The state courts are cut out of the process because the judicial branch is not the “Legislature.” A similar logic could apply to Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor — again, because the governor is part of the state’s executive branch, not the “Legislature.” In other words, Republican-controlled legislatures in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan could potentially overrule the voters of their state, or stop a close and contested count, and simply assign their states’ electoral votes to Trump. All three states have Democratic governors, but if the Supreme Court reads the word “Legislature” in a hyper-literal way, those governors would not be allowed to veto such legislation. One of Barrett’s very first actions as a justice could be to weigh in on such a question. To be clear, we don’t know for sure if the Court’s conservatives would take such an argument all the way to that conclusion. But the Court’s4-4 vote in Republican Partycertainly left the door open to such a reading. 2) Obamacare On November 10, just one week after Election Day, the Court will hear oral arguments in California v. Texas, the latest effort by Republican lawyers to repeal the Affordable Care Act through litigation. Unlike previous efforts to convince the Supreme Court to take out Obamacare, however, the plaintiffs’ arguments in this lawsuit are widely viewed as laughable even among conservative opponents of Obamacare. As Yuval Levin, a prominent conservative policy wonk, wrote in the National Review, the Texas lawsuit “doesn’t even merit being called silly. It’s ridiculous.” As originally enacted, the Affordable Care Act required most Americans to either carry health insurance or pay at least $695 in additional taxes. The Supreme Court upheld this requirement, commonly known as the “individual mandate,” as a valid exercise of Congress’s power to levy taxes inNational Federation of Individual Business v. Sebelius (2012). The 2017 tax law signed by President Trump, however, effectively repealed the individual mandate by reducing the amount of the tax for people who do not have insurance to zero dollars. The plaintiffs argue that this zeroed-out mandate — which tells people that they must be insured or else they’ll be forced to pay absolutely nothing — is unconstitutional. Their theory is that the original mandate was upheld as a tax, and a zero dollar tax is no tax at all. That’s a plausible argument, but hardly an airtight one. It also shouldn’t be more than an academic argument. Who cares if a “mandate” that does nothing at all is constitutional or not? The answer can be summarized in one word: “severability.” When a court strikes down a provision of law that is part of a broader statute, it often must ask whether the rest of the statute can stand without the invalid provision. Ordinarily, this is a speculative inquiry. The court must try to figure out what law Congress would have enacted if it had known that a single provision of that law would be struck down. But in Texas, no speculation is necessary. Congress spent the bulk of 2017 debating whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Ultimately, it didn’t have the votes to do so. So it repealed just one provision: the individual mandate. We know, in other words, that Congress would have preferred to leave the rest of the law intact if the zeroed-out mandate were struck down, because Congress left the rest of the law intact! This conclusion is bolstered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy v. NCAA (2018), which held that courts should preserve as much of the statute as possible if they strike down one provision. “In order for other ... provisions to fall,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court in Murphy, “it must be ‘evident that [Congress] would not have enacted those provisions which are within its power, independently of [those] which [are] not.’” There’s also another glaring problem with the Texas lawsuit. Federal courts are not allowed to hear a lawsuit challenging a particular legal provision unless the plaintiff has been injured in some way by that law — this is a requirement known as “standing.” But no one is injured by a zero dollar tax, so no one should have standing to raise the arguments presented in the Texas case. Yuval Levin, in other words, is correct. The plaintiffs’ arguments in Texas are ridiculous. If Barrett accepts them, it raises very serious questions about whether the new justice is capable of distinguishing her own conservative political views from the law. 3) The census and undocumented immigrants The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides that “representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.” This is unambiguous text. With a narrow exception for certain Native Americans, all “persons” must be counted in the decennial census, regardless of their immigration status. And yet, last July, President Trump released a memorandum announcing that “for the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census, it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.” Thus, in violation of the plain text of the Constitution, Trump would not allow the census to count undocumented immigrants for the purpose of determining how much representation each state receives in the House of Representatives. Notably, about 20 percent of the estimated 10.6 million undocumented immigrants in the United States live in California. If Trump’s unconstitutional plan — which is now before the justices in Trump v. New York — succeeds, then the nation’s largest blue state could lose as many as three House seats. (It’s likely that Texas, a one-time Republican stronghold that is starting to trend toward Democrats, would also be hit hard.) In his memorandum, Trump tries to get around the Constitution’s explicit text by claiming that undocumented immigrants do not count as “inhabitants” of the state where they live. “Although the Constitution requires the ‘persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed,’ to be enumerated in the census,” Trump claims, “that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State’s boundaries at the time of the census.” As Trump correctly notes, there are many people who may be present in the United States — tourists visiting from other nations, foreign diplomats, and businesspeople, for example — who are not counted by the census. “The term ‘persons in each State’ has been interpreted to mean that only the ‘inhabitants’ of each State should be included,” Trump argues, and “determining which persons should be considered ‘inhabitants’ for the purpose of apportionment requires the exercise of judgment.” At the most general level, Trump is right that someone needs to determine which individuals who may be temporarily present in a state do not count as a resident of that state. But that doesn’t mean that Trump himself gets to make this determination, or that this decision can be made arbitrarily. As a federal court that rejected Trump’s argument explains, “it does not follow that illegal aliens — a category defined by legal status, not residence — can be excluded” from the census by claiming that they are not “inhabitants” of a state. “To the contrary,” the court continues, while quoting from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “the ordinary definition of the term ‘inhabitant’ is ‘one that occupies a particular place regularly, routinely, or for a period of time.’” Many undocumented immigrants reside in a state for “many years or even decades.” They are as much “inhabitants” of those states as any other resident. The three-judge panel — two appointed by George W. Bush, one by Barack Obama — ruled unanimously. The legal questions in the New York case are, in the words of the lower court that rejected Trump’s arguments, “not particularly close or complicated.” 4) Union-busting litigation More than four decades ago, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), the Supreme Court held that public sector unions may, under certain circumstances, charge “agency fees” to non-members of the union. These fees are intended to reimburse the union for services it provides to such non-members. Then, in 2018, the Supreme Court decided Janus v. AFSCMEby a 5-4 vote along party lines. Janus overruled Abood, and held that public sector unions may not charge agency fees to non-members. So, from 1977 until 2018, agency fees charged by public sector unions were legal. And they were legal because the Supreme Court said they were legal. Nevertheless, anti-union litigators have, since Janus, brought a wave of cases claiming that unions have to pay back many of the agency fees that they charged prior to the Court’s decision in Janus — again, during a period when it was legal for unions to charge such fees. Though these cases have not fared well for the anti-union side in the lower courts, many of them are now before the Supreme Court. For the time being, at least, the Supreme Court has not announced whether it will hear these cases or not. But the justices have discussed these anti-union cases at multiple conferences — a sign that at least some members of the Court want to take them up. As one of the federal appeals courts that rejected these lawsuits explained, “the Rule of Law requires that parties abide by, and be able to rely on, what the law is,” not what the law may become in the future. It would be extraordinary if Barrett — or any other justice — voted to sanction unions for actions that, again, the Supreme Court itself held to be legal at the time that the union engaged in those actions. Will you help keep Vox free for all? The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
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