The Republican Party is still fractured on criminal justice reform

“Recent progress on criminal justice reform indicates that there’s still bipartisan interest in narrower policies.
Republicans’ backing for the Equal Act — a pretty limited bill — is still significant. It’s not yet clear if the legislation will move forward in the Senate, though it now has sufficient Republican support.

In the past, Republicans have similarly been open to very targeted policies.
The First Step Act, for example, enables just a subset of federal inmates to shorten their sentences. Other more ambitious reforms, meanwhile, have floundered.”

Why Democrats’ ambitions for health care are shrinking rapidly

“America still has the highest uninsured rate in the developed world and the highest health care costs. So long as the health care industry wields a veto pen over any plan that would cut into its profits to address those problems, little is going to change.”

House passes police reform bill

“The bill would prohibit racial and religious profiling by law enforcement at every level while banning chokeholds at the federal level and no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. The federal policies would be tied to law enforcement funding for governments at the state and local levels.

The measure would also eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement, mandate data collection on police encounters and create a nationwide police misconduct registry to hold accountable problematic officers who are fired or leave an agency.”

“the bill’s fate in the upper chamber is still uncertain, as Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to send the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk.”

Police reform was a big winner this election

“Despite being a contentious issue across party lines, cities in six states overwhelmingly approved 18 of these ballot measures, including creating and improving police oversight boards, changing police department staffing and funding, and requiring public access to police body and dashboard camera recordings. While most of these measures are a step toward reform, almost none are radical in terms of reimagining policing. Many are standards already implemented in other cities — and a bare minimum for police accountability, activists say.”

Virginia Voters Approve Redistricting Reforms

“Nearly two-thirds of Virginian voters approved Question 1, which establishes a bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw state and federal legislative districts after this year’s census. Previously, the governor and the Virginia General Assembly handled the once-per-decade redistricting

The new commission will include eight legislators and eight citizens, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Each new map—one for the state’s congressional districts, one for the state Senate, and one for the state House of Delegates—requires the approval of at least 12 commissioners, including six of the legislators and six of the citizens.”

Does the Supreme Court Need Fixing? If So, Why and How?

“Northwestern law professor Steven Calabresi, who chairs the Federalist Society’s Board of Directors, argues that an 18-year term limit for justices would prevent them from staying on the Court when they are no longer mentally fit and from influencing the choice of their successors through strategic retirement decisions. He suggests that term limits also would turn down the temperature of the selection process.

Under Calabresi’s plan of staggered terms, each president would have an opportunity to pick at least two justices (four if he is reelected). “No other major democracy in the world gives the justices on its highest court life tenure,” he notes. Calabresi argues that an 18-year limit, which would require a constitutional amendment that he thinks should also fix the Court’s size at nine justices, would preserve judicial independence, “end what has become a poisonous process of picking a Supreme Court justice,” and “promote the rule of law” by “depoliticiz[ing] the court and judicial selection.””

Here Are 4 Policing Reforms Cities and States Are Considering Right Now

“1. In San Diego: No more “carotid restraints.” Police in San Diego are permitted to use a type of neck hold that cuts off blood to the brain and quickly renders people unconscious. Officers used these holds 70 times in 2019, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Yesterday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit ordered a stop to their use, given the potential for harm.”

“2. In New York City: Standardize police discipline and ban police chokeholds. In New York City, where police unions are powerful and Mayor Bill de Blasio is so weak that it took five years just to fire the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner, it will likely take the city council to actually force changes.

After Garner’s death from a chokehold in 2014, a New York City council member introduced a measure that would criminalize the use of choke holds by police. De Blasio responded by threatening a veto. Now de Blasio says he’d approve the measure so long as it provides an exception if the officer is in a “life or death situation.”

In addition, another council member is proposing a “disciplinary matrix” to create a standard of discipline when officers engage in misconduct. Council Member Donavan Richards told NY1, “There is no written instruction on what a disciplinary action should be if an officer commits an infraction. This will set an example.””

“3. In Colorado: Require police to intervene when fellow officers act out. Police unions are often quick to run to the defense of officers when they’re accused of misconduct. But when Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, many unions made it clear they found Chauvin’s conduct indefensible.

In Colorado, three law enforcement groups—the County Sheriffs of Colorado, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police—put out a joint statement Tuesday calling for state lawmakers to require that other officers intervene when they see something like what happened to Floyd.

The groups note that it’s already a duty for officers to intervene when he or she witnesses a fellow officer engaged in unreasonable force. They’re asking for state lawmakers to make it a statutory requirement, leaving officers who don’t intervene (like the three cops who stood by while Chauvin slowly suffocated Floyd) possibly facing criminal charges.”

“4. In New Jersey: Launch a statewide use-of-force database. One of the challenges when fighting for reform is the general lack of data about how frequently police use force, under what circumstances, and what the justifications were. Heck, simply tracking who police officers kill in the line of duty is not easy, and efforts by the FBI to track that information nationally have been woefully inadequate.

In New Jersey, data journalists at NJ Advance Media put together their own database of use-of-force incidents within the state covering five years and collating more than 70,000 documents. There was no other statewide collection of use-of-force data and little analysis. After the NJ Advance Media “Force Report” database was released in 2018, state officials started a pilot project to launch an official government database to track the use of force in selected police departments. On Tuesday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that starting on July 1, all police departments in the state will be able to participate.”

The FBI Will Be Audited To See How Frequently They Screw Up Other FISA Warrants

“”When the Justice Department’s Inspector General finds significant concerns regarding flawed surveillance applications concerning the president’s campaign advisors, it is clear that this regime lacks basic safeguards and is in need of serious reform. While the report found that there wasn’t an improper purpose or initiation of the investigation, it also found significant problems that are alarming from a civil liberties perspective. For instance, the litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government’s one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse. The concerns the Inspector General identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.

The system requires fundamental reforms, and Congress can start by providing defendants subjected to FISA surveillance the opportunity to review the government’s secret submissions. The FBI must also adopt higher standards for investigations involving constitutionally protected sensitive activities, such as political campaigns.””