“If the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), a number of American states will immediately criminalize abortion. Some of those states may also attempt to ban women from traveling out of state for the purpose of obtaining a lawful abortion elsewhere. But any such anti-abortion interstate travel ban would be constitutionally defective for multiple reasons.
First, the Constitution protects the right to travel, which necessarily includes the right to interstate travel. This is a fundamental constitutional right that has been repeatedly recognized by the courts. During the debates over the ratification of the 14th Amendment, the right to travel was invoked as one of the privileges or immunities of citizenship that the amendment was designed to protect from state infringement. For a state to prohibit (or even penalize) the act of leaving that state and doing something perfectly lawful in another state would violate this constitutional safeguard.
Second, an anti-abortion interstate travel ban would run afoul of the Dormant Commerce Clause, a legal doctrine which holds that the Commerce Clause, in addition to authorizing congressional regulation of economic activity that occurs between the states, also forbids the states from enacting their own interstate economic barriers.”
“Finally, there is relevant case law which cuts against the lawfulness of any anti-abortion interstate travel ban. In Planned Parenthood of Kansas v. Nixon (2007), the Missouri Supreme Court reviewed a state law which created a civil cause of action against any person who helped a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent either inside the state or in another state. “Of course, it is beyond Missouri’s authority to regulate conduct that occurs wholly outside of Missouri,” the Missouri Supreme Court observed, and the law at issue “cannot constitutionally be read to apply to such wholly out-of-state conduct. Missouri simply does not have the authority to make lawful out-of-state conduct actionable here, for its laws do not have extraterritorial effect.””
“Three years ago, President Donald Trump bragged that “we are making progress” in reducing drug-related deaths, citing a 4 percent drop between 2017 and 2018. That progress, a dubious accomplishment even then, proved fleeting. The upward trend in drug-related deaths, which began decades ago, resumed that very year, and 2020 saw both the largest increase and the largest number ever. That record was broken last year, according to preliminary data that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published this week.
The CDC projects that the total for 2021 will be nearly 108,000 when the numbers are finalized, up 15 percent from 2020, when the number of deaths jumped by 30 percent. Two-thirds of last year’s cases involved “synthetic opioids other than methadone,” the category that includes fentanyl and its analogs. Those drugs showed up in nearly three-quarters of the cases involving opioids.
Illicit fentanyl, which has become increasingly common as a heroin booster or substitute during the last decade, is now showing up in cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit pills passed off as prescription analgesics or anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax. That phenomenon vividly illustrates the hazards of the black market created by the war on drugs that Trump thought the government was finally winning.
Joe Biden, a supposedly reformed drug warrior, is still keen on “going after drug trafficking and illicit drug profits,” a strategy that has failed for a century but, he figures, might just work this time around. At the same time, Biden talks a lot about drug treatment and other forms of “harm reduction,” including “key tools like naloxone and syringe services programs.” He proudly proclaims that his drug control plan is “the first-ever to champion harm reduction to meet people where they are and engage them in care and services.””
“If we focus on substance rather than words, the real breakthrough will come when politicians understand and acknowledge the nature of the harm that needs to be reduced. It is not just the harm caused by drug abuse but also the harm caused by misguided and counterproductive efforts to address that problem. Prohibition itself is the most obvious example.
Consider one of the harm reduction measures that the Times mentions: the distribution of test strips that can alert drug users to the presence of fentanyl in a substance sold as something else. Those test strips don’t tell you how much fentanyl a bag of powder or a pill contains; they just tell you whether there is a detectable amount. But even that much knowledge is an improvement in a black market where people routinely buy drugs of unknown provenance, composition, and potency.
The danger that fentanyl poses to drug users is not inherent in the drug itself, which can be used safely when you know the dose, as demonstrated by its various medical applications. I was recently given fentanyl, along with midazolam, as a sedative during dental surgery, and I was not at all worried that it would kill me. Patients who receive fentanyl injections in the hospital or use fentanyl patches, lozenges, or nasal spray to relieve severe chronic pain likewise are not dropping dead left and right.
In the black market, by contrast, drug users may not even realize they are buying fentanyl; hence the test strips. Even if they do realize that, they still don’t know the concentration. That potentially lethal ignorance is entirely a product of prohibition. While the proliferation of illicit fentanyl has made drug use more dangerous by increasing variability and uncertainty, those problems are not new. They are inevitable when the government tries to prevent the use of psychoactive substances by banning them.”
“Biden thinks that “going after drug trafficking” will help prevent drug-related deaths. But the pressure from enforcement drives drug traffickers toward more-potent products, which facilitate smuggling by allowing them to pack more doses into the same volume. Alcohol prohibition shifted consumption from beer and wine toward distilled spirits. Drug prohibition gave us heroin instead of opium, fentanyl instead of heroin, and sometimes even-more-potent fentanyl analogs instead of fentanyl.
Given the economics of the black market, interdiction has always been a hopeless proposition. That should be clearer than ever today as the government vainly tries to intercept little packages of fentanyl, each of which contains thousands of doses. But while “going after drug traffickers” has never been a cost-effective way to reduce drug consumption, that does not mean it has not accomplished anything. It has been remarkably effective at making drug use deadlier.”
“When Carlos got pinched by the fuzz, he was holding some hot commodities.
Flaming hot, in fact.
No, that’s not slang. The illegal behavior that landed Carlos (not his real name), a ninth-grade student at a high school in the southern suburbs of Chicago, in the deans’ office on a mid-September morning in 2019 was the illicit sale of chips to one of his fellow students. For the crime, he was summarily sentenced to a one-day suspension from school—and his mother was called to pick him up.
As Karlyn Gorski, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Chicago, relates in a paper recently published in the journal Youth & Society, Carlos is just one small part of a robust black market for snack foods that persists at Hamilton High (not the school’s real name) despite the best efforts by school administrators, security guards, and teachers to stamp it out. The punishment handed out to Carlos for his busted chip-deal was actually a light sentence, Gorski explains, with administrators granting leniency on the grounds that Carlos was a freshman and might not yet understand the school’s zero-tolerance policy for unapproved exercises of snack-related capitalism. Repeat offenders, she writes, faced in-school suspensions—the high school equivalent of solitary confinement.
Gorski spent 112 days observing students and adults at Hamilton during the 2019–2020 school year, though her research was cut short by the school’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While there, she observed a widespread black market for snack sales. The perpetrators were mere children, but they organized “elaborate strategies to hide sales, build networks of sellers, and develop a verbal shorthand around the market.”
By outlawing the sale of snacks, the school ensured that only outlaws would sell snacks.
Enforcement of the snack-selling ban was robust, with security guards even relying on the use of mounted cameras to identify perpetrators so they could be hauled out of class and reprimanded.”
“Punishing a student for a victimless crime was apparently more important than whatever he might have learned in class that day.”
“treating innocuous behavior as criminal forces students to behave more like criminals in order to continue engaging in the market. Those patterns are the opposite of what schools should be teaching.”
“Both the MORE Act and the legalization bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) plans to introduce this spring include unnecessarily contentious provisions that are bound to alienate Republicans who might otherwise be inclined to resolve the untenable conflict between federal prohibition and the laws that allow medical or recreational use of cannabis in 37 states.
According to the latest Gallup poll, 68 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal, including 83 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans. Even Republicans who are not crazy about the idea should be able to get behind legislation that would let states set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.
Such legislation can be straightforward. The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, sponsored by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–Calif.), consisted of a single sentence that said the federal marijuana ban would not apply to conduct authorized by state law. Its 46 cosponsors included 14 Republicans—11 more than voted for the MORE Act last week.
The Common Sense Cannabis Reform Act, which Rep. Dave Joyce (R–Ohio) introduced last May, is 14 pages long. So far it has just eight cosponsors, including four Republicans, but that still means it has more GOP support than Democrats managed to attract for the 92-page MORE Act, which includes new taxes, regulations, and spending programs.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) thinks Congress never should have banned marijuana, because it had no constitutional authority to do so. He nevertheless voted against the MORE Act, objecting to the “new marijuana crimes” its tax and regulatory provisions would create, with each violation punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The 163-page preliminary version of Schumer’s bill doubles down on the MORE Act’s overly prescriptive and burdensome approach. It would levy a 25 percent federal excise tax on top of frequently hefty state and local taxes, impose picayune federal regulations, and create the sort of “social equity” programs that gave pause even to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.), the MORE Act’s lone Republican cosponsor.
GOP support for marijuana federalism is clear from the fact that 106 Republicans voted last April for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect financial institutions that serve state-licensed marijuana businesses from federal prosecution, forfeiture, and regulatory penalties. The SAFE Banking Act would already be law if it had not been blocked by Schumer, who insisted that his own bill take priority.
Instead of building on the Republican appetite for letting states go their own way on this issue, Schumer is effectively telling GOP senators their views don’t matter. That makes sense only if he is more interested in scoring political points than in reversing a morally, scientifically, and constitutionally bankrupt policy that should have been abandoned long ago.”
“In May, the Lone Star State raised the minimum legal age for working in a sexually oriented business from 18 to 21.”
“Since the new law passed, adult businesses in Texas have laid off “droves” of 18- to 20-year-old workers, according to the Texas Entertainment Association (TEA), an organization that represents the interests of sex-oriented businesses and one of the plaintiffs challenging S.B. 315. Kevin Richardson, a TEA member who owns five adult cabarets, told the court he had to lay off more than 700 people due to the new law.
Evanny Salazar is one of the young adults who lost a job after S.B. 315 reclassified her as a child. Salazar “worked at two adult cabarets in San Antonio, Texas, where she earned about $1,000 a night” and did not witness any human trafficking, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman noted in a July ruling. “Before she worked as an exotic dancer, Salazar was homeless and lived in her car,” he wrote. “Her job at the adult cabarets allowed Salazar to obtain housing and cover her living expenses. Since losing her job as an exotic dancer, Salazar has become homeless again and works for Door Dash [sic], where she makes about $30 a night.””
“So let’s just get this out of the way: Critical race theory is the idea that structural racism is embedded in many U.S. institutions. Slavery was the reality when the country was founded, and segregation endured for a century following the Civil War. It would thus be naive to assume that supposedly race-neutral policies are actually race-neutral—there’s nothing neutral about America and race. Working from this assumption, adherents of critical race theory tend toward a kind of progressive activism that views post-Enlightenment classical liberalism and its notions of equal opportunity, the prioritization of individual rights over group rights, and colorblindness with hostility.”
“Savvier liberals are correct, for instance, that CRT, as defined by the people who actually coined the term, mostly exists in academia, not K-12 classrooms. This means that Republican legislative efforts to protect kids from CRT are actually targeting a wide swath of only semi-related progressive concepts. These bills are almost uniformly heavy-handed, and in some cases represent active threats to freedom of expression in the classroom.”
“anti-CRT folks on the right are correct that there are a whole host of progressive writers, teachers, and activists who were clearly inspired by critical race theory—a field that does in fact include fairly radical ideas, some of which run contrary to the colorblind liberalism of previous racial equality advocacy. Whether or not these people would admit to being adherents of CRT is almost beside the point.
Included in this mix are two of the least persuasive anti-racism writers: White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo and How to Be Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi, who are routinely paid thousands of dollars to give short presentations to corporate employees, school administrators, and teachers. Both take wildly flawed approaches; DiAngelo treats racism as a kind of incurable infection, or original sin—John McWhorter accurately accused her of promoting the cultish notion that “you will never succeed in the ‘work’ she demands of you…it is lifelong, and you will die a racist just as you will die a sinner.”
Kendi’s big idea is to create a U.S. Department of Antiracism. “The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas,” he wrote. This proposal would necessitate the creation of a vast surveillance state and render the First Amendment moot.”
“The person most responsible for this framing—CRT as the avatar of all dubious race and diversity stuff—is undoubtedly Rufo, whose unmatched zeal for exposing it occasionally makes him sound like the sort of activist he is otherwise criticizing. He tweeted, for instance, “The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.” That’s a fairly straightforward admission that he’s not really against CRT; his project is raising the salience of CRT so that people will identify the concept with every other thing they don’t like.”
“The policy, colloquially known as the “Muslim ban,” first went into effect in January 2017 and became one of Trump’s signature immigration policies. The ban has slowed or altogether halted legal immigration from certain countries that the former administration deemed to be security threats, keeping families apart and even stymieing refugee resettlement.”
“The ban was amended several times in the face of numerous court challenges arguing that Trump did not have the legal authority to issue it and that it unlawfully discriminated against Muslims. The third version of the ban, ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, barred citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea — from obtaining any kind of visas, largely preventing them from entering the US. (Chad was taken off the list of countries subject to the ban in April 2019 after it met the Trump administration’s demands to share information with US authorities that could aid in efforts to vet foreigners.)
Trump expanded the ban last February to include additional restrictions on citizens of six more countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. While they could still visit the US, citizens of these countries were, for the most part, barred from settling in the US permanently.”
“The human cost of the travel ban has been devastating. Not only has the policy torn families apart, but it has also contributed to crises including doctor shortages in rural America and a dramatic drop in enrollment among foreign students from affected countries.
More than 41,000 people have been denied visas due to the ban. Citizens of any of the banned countries could qualify for a waiver that would grant them entry to the US if, for example, they needed urgent medical care or were trying to reunite with their immediate family in the US. But those waivers proved exceedingly difficult to obtain.
Data from the State Department suggests that fewer people have been applying for visas since the ban was enacted: In fiscal year 2019, immigration authorities granted about 39,000 visas to noncitizens from the original seven countries covered by the ban as compared to almost 338,000 just three years prior — about an 88 percent drop. Iran and Venezuela saw the biggest declines.”
“National security experts have argued that the suffering of those like Alghazzouli was largely in vain: The travel ban has not made America safer, despite the Trump administration’s arguments to the contrary.
The Trump administration claimed that all the affected countries pose threats to US national security based on the findings of multiple government agencies. But the agencies’ findings were never made public, meaning the nature of those threats remains unclear. The administration broadly cited terrorist activity, failure of the countries to properly document their own travelers, and insufficient efforts to cooperate and share information with US authorities as justification for the ban.
But dozens of former intelligence officials have opposed the ban. Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Homeland Security Department under the Trump administration, said in a press call earlier this month that the ban has hurt America’s relationships with foreign governments, which are critical to US national security interests. The US government should have worked with foreign governments to improve their own security procedures and information-sharing structures, without punishing them for not already being up to standard, she said.”
“The temporary 60-day pause that President Donald Trump declared on legal immigration in mid-April after the coronavirus hit was not so temporary after all. Starting tomorrow, Trump will extend this pause until the end of 2020. But that’s not all. He is also expanding the scope of the ban to cover even more categories of immigrants.
Trump is justifying all this as an effort to save American workers from foreign competition. But if America’s past experience with restrictionist policies is any indication, the ban will backfire and end up hurting, not helping, American workers, its intended beneficiaries, while crimping America’s economic recovery.”
“There are already significant obstacles built into labor and immigration law that make it far more time consuming and costly for businesses to hire foreign workers. So businesses already automatically prioritize American workers over foreign workers. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) tweeted after Trump’s announcement: “Work visas for temporary and seasonal jobs covering industries like hospitality, forestry, and many economic sectors can only be issued AFTER American workers have had a chance to fill the position.”
The fact of the matter is that American employers only hire immigrants to fill niches at the top and the bottom end of the labor spectrum where qualified Americans aren’t available or willing to take jobs. Restrictionists like White House aide Stephen Miller, the real architect of Trump’s immigration pause, claim that starving businesses of foreign workers will force them to invest in training domestic workers and/or paying them more, resulting in more jobs and higher wages for Americans.
But this is the flawed logic of central planning. It ignores the fact that there are limits to the price increases that a market can bear. Businesses will automate functions that can’t be performed abroad and will outsource other functions to keep a lid on the costs of a key input—all of which will hurt, not help, American workers.”
“Interestingly, Trump’s immigration ban does not extend to H-2A visas for farm workers. In fact, that’s the one category of visas that has expanded on his watch. Why? Because agriculture is the mainstay of many red state economies whose leaders have indicated that they would not take kindly to being cut off from a key source of labor. Trump has also carved a very narrow exemption for foreign workers “involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19” and who are “currently hospitalized.”
But high-skilled foreign workers that blue states like California, Washington, and New York depend on are out of luck. What is likely to happen in these states? Will they rush to hire Americans with big bucks in hand? Not really.
For starters, there just aren’t enough high-skilled Americans sitting around to be hired. The unemployment rate last month—the peak of the pandemic—for computer jobs was 2.5 percent compared to the overall rate of 13.3 percent for all jobs, according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy.
So as high-tech companies are choked off from hiring foreign workers, they’ll start outsourcing more operations abroad. This is what happened in 2004 when Congress slashed the H-1B cap from 195,000 to less than half”