Hello and welcome to the Top 5 by Sam Jenkins. The Top 5 consists of the top five things happening right now in politics. Be sure to click that like button, leave a comment, or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big Thing: Kennedy Retires
On Wednesday, United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Because of this, President Trump will now have the opportunity to nominate Kennedy’s replacement to the Court.
- In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Court, where he was often the swing vote.
- In most cases, he voted with his conservative roots as he stuck down federal protections to voting rights, considered money a form of speech and weakened labor unions. Although for a few cases, he sided with the liberal bloc of the Court as he voted to legalize gay marriage and uphold the central premise of Roe v. Wade.
- Trump said he will nominate someone from a list of candidates he prepared during the presidential campaign. However, whoever the nominee, they will likely face an arduous path through the Senate’s confirmation process.
On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s executive order, which banned citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the United States. The Court focused on two main issues in their ruling: presidential authority and Trump’s statements.
- In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts and the majority argued that presidents have broad authority over immigration to protect national security. The majority opinion also dismissed Trump’s previous statements about the ban, including his own characterization as a “Muslim Ban.”
- In dissent, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor claimed Trump’s discriminatory statements must be tied to the executive order because they establish intent. Therefore, the order is unconstitutional because it derides the First Amendment’s religious provisions.
- Sotomayor compared this decision to Korematsu v. United States, which gave President Roosevelt the O.K. to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II. However, Roberts took issue with this comparison and, in doing so, officially declared Korematsu bad law.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, ordered U.S. officials to reunite immigrant children and parents within 30 days. She also ruled that the families can’t be separated in the future.
- The Trump administration is having a difficult time reuniting the children with their parents. They don’t seem to have a reunification process outlined and, if they do, they aren’t disclosing it. So far, only 6 out of the 2,053 children in U.S. custody have been reunited with their parents.
- Throughout the week, President Trump continued his tough rhetoric as he claimed, “I have to let people come in, but they have to come in through a merit.” Likewise, Vice President Pence traveled to Latin American countries to advise their citizens, “If you can’t come legally, don’t come at all.”
- In other news, the House handily defeated an immigration reform bill with provisions such as a limited pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, border wall funding and cuts to legal immigration levels.
Image Credit: Iftkhar Hussain/Flickr
On Tuesday night, another round of primaries concluded with several interesting storylines, including:
- In New York’s 14th congressional district, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old, defeated Representative Joe Crowley, a 20-year incumbent.
- The race was stunning because of the diametrically opposite campaigns. On one hand, Crowley, who outspent Ocasio-Cortez 10-1, was the epitome of the Democratic establishment and head of the Queens political machine. On the other hand, Ocasio-Cortez, who ran a grassroots campaign, was part of the working class and a Democratic Socialist.
- President Trump endorsed two candidates in their Republican primaries because he feared their opponents would falter in the general election if elected.
- In South Carolina, Trump campaigned for Governor Henry McMaster. Then in New York, Trump tweeted his support for Representative Dan Donovan. Both men won their elections with the help of the presidential endorsements.
Blobfish Basketball Classic
Image Credit: gaurav kumar/Flickr
This news week was blistering. While it made the Top 5 easy to write, it also made my head spin. Because of this, I want to write about a (kinda) funny story that might be a break from the unrelenting dodgeball game known as the “24-hour news cycle.”
The story starts with a late-night monologue, where TV host Jimmy Kimmel joked that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz looked like a “blobfish.” In response, Cruz challenged Kimmel to a one-on-one basketball game with the loser donating money to the other’s selected charities.
During the game, the two middle-aged men struggled to make a shot as much as they struggled for air. As someone who knows what sports are, I would generously explain the game as terrible with a side of terrible. Likewise, the Houston Chronicle described it as “a slow-motion car-crash of half-court basketball.” No matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat, I think we can all agree Kimmel and Cruz should stick to their day jobs. Google it if you want a quick laugh but don’t watch it for too long.