Why elite colleges are bringing the SAT back

“according to Opportunity Insights’ findings, it can be the case that tests reinforce inequality generally but also allow schools to identify individual kids who are academically prepared despite challenging circumstances.”


Trump’s immigration policies are his old ones — but worse

“Along with reupping his old ideas, Trump has spoken at length about how he intends to scale up his past policies, calling for the “largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” He’s focused, too, on bringing back wide-ranging raids to round up undocumented immigrants and setting up new camps where they’d be forcibly detained. And he’s interested in testing out proposals he didn’t get to last term, such as severely limiting birthright citizenship.
Essentially, Trump’s second-term immigration policy is shaping up to be much like his first, but even harsher.

Take Trump’s proposal for a new travel ban, a policy imposed during his first term: “When I return to office, [it’s] coming back even bigger than before and much stronger than before,” Trump said in a July 2023 speech.

That 2016 ban temporarily barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US before it was struck down by the courts (only to return in updated form). On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rescinded the ban. This time around, Trump is weighing expanding this ban to encompass people from even more places, including Afghanistan and Gaza, and to bar those who express “communist” and “Marxist” views.

Much of what’s driving Trump’s hardline immigration policies is how they resonate with Republican base voters, including those who subscribe to xenophobic ideas of keeping migrants out and economic claims about immigrants purportedly taking jobs or abusing benefits. Additionally, a recent surge in migrant apprehensions across the southern border, as well as an influx of migrants in major cities across the country, has put the issue more prominently in the news, and provided a platform for Republicans — Trump included — to argue the current administration doesn’t have immigration under control.

Two developments could make Trump’s immigration policy in 2025 more viable than it was in his first term as well. Trump is reportedly planning to staff his next administration with loyalists who will find a way to execute his vision, unlike some of the staffers who’ve tried to restrain him in the past. And changes to the judiciary because of Trump’s appointments — including the stacking of the Supreme Court with his nominees — could mean a better legal reception for his policies.”


How Mitch McConnell broke Congress

“The filibuster allows a minority of senators to veto virtually any legislation, unless the majority can convince 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to break that filibuster. Because it is quite rare for either party to control 60 seats in the Senate — the last time it happened was a seven-month period in 2009–10 — this means that the minority party can block nearly all bills.
Filibusters used to be exceedingly rare. One common method used to measure the frequency of filibusters is to count the number of “cloture” votes, the process used to break a filibuster, taken every year. And from 1917 until 1970, the Senate held less than one a year.

That number started to rise well before McConnell became his party’s Senate leader. But the rate of cloture votes doubled in 2007, when McConnell first became minority leader. And it has grown rapidly since then. Between 2010 and 2020, the Senate took more than 80 cloture votes every year.

This escalation in filibusters, a tactic spearheaded by McConnell, has transformed the role of Congress in society. And it’s similarly transformed what kind of legislation governing parties even attempt to pass.

In the two years when President Joe Biden had a Democratic majority in Congress, for example, all of his major legislative accomplishments — the Inflation Reduction Act, the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act, and the American Rescue Plan — were spending bills and not regulatory legislation such as a minimum wage hike or a new voting rights law.

A major reason why is that it is sometimes possible to bypass a filibuster of spending legislation through a process known as “budget reconciliation,” but reconciliation cannot be used to regulate. So presidents who wish to accomplish anything at all in Congress must limit their ambition to taxing and spending unless they can convince their opposition to play ball. Parties try their best to get creative within those categories (and sometimes succeed), but it is a huge constraint on policymaking.

Yet, while McConnell essentially eliminated Congress’s ability to regulate, the Republican Party has still enjoyed tremendous regulatory policymaking success over the last decade or more. And the reason why is that Republicans don’t need a functioning Congress to set policy, so long as they control the courts.”

“While McConnell was busy cutting Congress out of the policymaking process, a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees racked up an impressive array of conservative policy victories.

The Court dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law. It neutralized key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, allowed red states to opt out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, gave religious conservatives a sweeping new right to defy federal and state laws, sabotaged unions, laid waste to US gun laws, abolished affirmative action at nearly all universities, and eliminated the constitutional right to abortion.

Perhaps most significantly of all, the Court has rapidly consolidated power within itself, at the expense of the two elected branches of government. In many existing federal laws, for example, Congress delegated significant policymaking authority to federal agencies such as the EPA or the Department of Labor. But the Supreme Court gave itself a largely limitless veto power over any of those agency regulations — as long as five justices deem an agency’s action to be too significant.

And so the Supreme Court is now the locus of policymaking in the United States.

This happened in no small part because of McConnell’s Senate leadership. Under President Barack Obama, McConnell’s Republican caucus aggressively blockaded judicial nominees, including holding a Supreme Court seat open for more than a year until Trump could fill it with the archconservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Then, once Trump came into office, McConnell transformed the Senate into a factory that rolled out newly confirmed judges almost as fast as the Trump White House could find conservatives to nominate to the bench. The result is a judiciary that routinely engages in political hardball to advance the GOP’s policy priorities.”


America has a good model for how to handle immigration: America

“Since the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees. That’s more than any other country, making America’s refugee resettlement program the largest of its kind in the world.
That doesn’t mean it’s big enough, and the annual number of people admitted through the program — people fleeing war, persecution, or violence — has fluctuated over the years, especially recently. The Trump administration slashed the annual cap on refugee admissions to a historic low of 15,000, while the Biden administration raised it to 125,000. That’s just a small fraction of the world’s total refugee population of 36.4 million, according to the United Nations.

But for the people admitted, the program tends to work really well. “Congress set up this elaborate coordination and support system for resettled refugees and it was very deliberately done,” said Yael Schacher, the director for the Americas and Europe at Refugees International.

From the start, coordination between the federal government, states, and private resettlement agencies helps refugees land on their feet when they arrive. They qualify for health care, for example, and through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, they have access to services such as job training and case management. “They are also usually eligible for state benefits, like Medicaid, SNAP, food support, cash assistance if needed for families,” Schacher said. “Basically it puts resettled refugees in a position where they’re able to get all the benefits that citizens can get very soon after arriving.”

That assistance is crucial to helping refugees begin to rebuild their lives — especially as they do so after enduring traumatic circumstances — and it also benefits the communities that accept them. Studies have shown that once refugees resettle, they end up positively contributing to the economy: They eventually earn enough income to more than pay back in taxes the costs of the public assistance they initially received, and their spending helps boost local businesses and creates jobs. A study in Michigan, for example, found that refugees in the state pay some $130 million in state and local taxes each year. In 2016 alone, refugees in southeast Michigan contributed over $225 million to the regional economy in new spending and helped create thousands of new jobs.

The refugee program, in other words, benefits everyone involved. Yet despite its proven success, not all migrants have access to it. Asylum seekers, for example, don’t generally have access to federal benefits and, barring some exceptions, aren’t granted work permits. That’s in part why many cities have struggled to meet recent migrants’ needs, resulting in overcrowded shelters, a rise in homelessness, and overwhelmed local and state services.

As the country continues to face a growing migrant population, it’s worth considering what has worked in the past. “The only model we have for something like this is the refugee model, which acknowledges that that’s a national challenge,” said Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. “The fact that all these people are seeking asylum, makes it a problem that is akin, in our view, to the refugee problem. And the refugee [program] is the only time when the government gets involved in finding housing for migrants.””


The Supreme Court appeared lost in a massive case about free speech online

“Texas and Florida’s Republican legislatures both passed similar, but not identical, laws that would effectively seize control of content moderation at the “big three” social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (the platform that Elon Musk insists on calling “X”).
These laws’ advocates are quite proud of the fact that they were enacted to prevent moderation of conservative speech online, even if the big three platforms deem some of that content (such as insurrectionist or anti-vax content) offensive or harmful. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said his state’s law exists to fight supposedly “biased silencing” of “our freedom of speech as conservatives … by the ‘big tech’ oligarchs in Silicon Valley.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said his state’s law targets a “dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”

At least five justices — Chief Justice John Roberts, plus Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — all seemed to agree that the First Amendment does not permit this kind of government takeover of social media moderation. There is a long line of Supreme Court cases, stretching back at least as far as Miami Herald v. Tornillo (1974), holding that the government may not force newspapers and the like to publish content they do not wish to publish. And these five justices appeared to believe that cases like Tornillo should also apply to social media companies.”

“the Supreme Court appears likely to reinstate the Texas and Florida laws. This is not because the Court thinks they are constitutional, and not because the Court thinks that they are constitutional with respect to the three companies that Texas and Florida actually wanted to regulate. But the ham-handedly drafted laws at issue in the NetChoice cases sweep so broadly that they may have some ancillary effects that are permitted by the First Amendment.

That’s probably the right outcome under existing law, but good Lord, it’s an unsatisfying one. This litigation has been ongoing for a very long time, and the Texas law already reached the Supreme Court once in 2022, when a majority of the Court voted to temporarily block it. A decision reinstating the laws because they are not vulnerable to a facial challenge would start that process all over again. And it would create at least some risk that, should the personnel of the Court change while this case is being relitigated, that these clearly unconstitutional laws could actually be upheld.”