Daily Archives: Jun 27, 2018

WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., reading for the majority on Tuesday morning, spoke clinically. Justice Stephen G. Breyer followed, working his way through his dissent mildly and analytically.

Then it was Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s turn.

Steely and unwavering, she began: “The United States of America is a nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment.”

The crowded courthouse fell silent.

In upholding President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, Justice Sotomayor continued, the Supreme Court had failed to “safeguard that fundamental principle.”

For the next 20 minutes, she remained resolute as she delivered an extraordinarily scorching dissent, skewering the court’s decision and condemning the ban as “harrowing” and “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”

The remarkable dissent was delivered by a woman who has championed her own upbringing as an example of the American dream. Justice Sotomayor, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico during World War II, was raised in a housing project in the Bronx. Her father did not speak English and her first language was Spanish. But determined to become a judge, she would go on to attend Princeton University and become the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice.

Justice Sotomayor once said that “personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.” She again drew upon that idea in her dissent on Tuesday, in which she accused the majority of “ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”

That was the crux of the Justice Sotomayor’s damning conclusion: The president’s ban is “inexplicable by anything but animus,” and to argue anything else is to divorce oneself from the facts.

The court voted 5 to 4, with the more conservative justices in the majority and with Justice Breyer writing his own dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Sotomayor’s.

Justice Sotomayor chose her words carefully and sharply, at one point charging that Mr. Trump’s policy “now masquerades behind a facade of national security concerns.”

But one of her most striking decisions was to repeat the words of the president himself. Citing more than a dozen instances in which Mr. Trump tweeted or issued anti-Muslim sentiments, it was his words, not her own, that rang out from the bench.

She continued down the list for minutes, reading one example after another.

“On Dec. 21, 2016, President-elect Trump was asked whether he would ‘rethink’ his previous ‘plans to create a Muslim registry or ban Muslim immigration,’” Justice Sotomayor said. “He replied: ‘You know my plans. All along, I’ve proven to be right.’”

“‘People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!’” she read, recounting the president’s 2017 tweet.

“Islam hates us,” she read, citing another example, and added another: “We’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country.”

The conservative justices, staring unblinkingly ahead, remained stone-faced.

She continued that Mr. Trump had never disavowed any of his statements regarding Islam, and thus had failed “to correct the reasonable perception of his apparent hostility toward the Islamic faith.”

In another powerful passage, Justice Sotomayor drew parallels between the decision and Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 ruling that upheld the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“As here, the government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion,” she said. “As here, the exclusion was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States.”

Justice Sotomayor continued that “our nation has done much to leave its sordid legacy behind” in the years since Korematsu. But, she reasoned, “it does not make the majority’s decision here acceptable or right.”

“By blindly accepting the government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security,” she said, “the court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”

Story by: Catie Edmondson -NY Times

    Donald Trump and Communist leader Vladimir Putin will hold their first official summit in Helsinki on 16 July, the Kremlin and the White House have announced, scheduling an encounter that is certain to generate fresh controversy for the White House.

    By: Andrew Roth

    The optics of the meeting are likely to be as important to the leaders as its results. Moscow is keen to show it is not isolated on the world stage, while Trump has ignored criticism at home to plot a course towards closer relations with Putin.

    “I’ve said it from day one, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing,” Trump said, adding that Syria, Ukraine and “many other subjects” would be discussed at the summit. “It’s good for the world, it’s good for us, it’s good for everybody.”

    Ahead of the announcement on Thursday, Trump sent out an early-morning tweet once more calling into question the conclusion of the US intelligence agencies that Russia was involved in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails during the election.

    Arms control and other security issues are likely to be among the main topics of discussion, although both sides have already played down the potential for the meeting to deliver concrete results.

    The format reflects Trump’s recent preference for high-profile summits, such as the one he held in Singapore this month with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

    The announcement of the meeting – only the third time the two leaders will have met face to face – was made simultaneously by the two governments on Thursday as part of a carefully choreographed rollout.

    The Trump administration has been embarrassed several times when Russia has released information about conversations that Washington had either omitted or tried to downplay. Last year Russian state media ran photos of Trump meeting senior Russian officials in the Oval Office, and in March it emerged that Trump had congratulated Putin on his victory in Russia’s presidential election.

    During a visit to Moscow on Wednesday, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, defended the planned summit, blaming opponents of Trump for trying to score points by creating “political noise”. He said Trump would go ahead with the meeting “regardless of political criticism”.

    Nevertheless, the encounter is likely to generate controversy in the US, where establishment politicians have questioned Trump’s motivations and the optics of holding a meeting with a power accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

    Russia and the US have clashed over a number of issues, including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, nuclear arms treaties, Nato policy and cybersecurity. Relations between the countries are widely seen as at their lowest point since the cold war.

    On Wednesday Putin told Bolton that while relations between the two countries were bad, “your arrival in Moscow has given us hope that we can make the first steps to reviving full relations between our governments”.

    Trump and Putin have met twice before. The first time was during the Hamburg G7 meeting in 2017, ending in a dinner chat between the two leaders with only a Russian translator present. Trump said afterwards they had discussed adoption policy. The two also proposed a joint cybersecurity unit, and a ceasefire in south-west Syria. The cyber unit was immediately dismissed in US as ridiculous as Russia was one of the main aggressors in that field, and the Syria ceasefire has been bulldozed in recent days by a Russian-backed Assad offensive.

    The pair also greeted each other at a leaders’ summit in Vietnam in November.

     

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