Washington, Aug 31 (AP/UNB) — Brett Kavanaugh emailed his White House colleagues in June 2003 with an alert: The U.S. Supreme Court was about to release opinions on the University of Michigan's use of race as a factor to admit students.
It was an issue of great interest to his boss, President George W. Bush — who favored race-neutral admissions — and one Kavanaugh had followed for years. Staff prepared a response anticipating the practice would be struck down, saying, "We must be ever mindful not to use means that create another wrong and thus perpetuate our divisions" in the pursuit of diversity.
But the next day, justices released a 5-4 opinion written by Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor that upheld the university's law school admissions policy, a disappointment that prompted then-Bush policy adviser Joel Kaplan to email Kavanaugh, then a White House attorney: "What's going on???" In a separate 6-3 opinion, the court said race could be a factor in undergraduate admissions, but not the deciding factor.
There is no evidence of a reply from Kavanaugh among the tens of thousands of pages of emails released by the Senate Judiciary Committee from his time in the White House counsel's office.
But as President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, his views on affirmative action, along with voting rights and discrimination, are coming under intense scrutiny by civil rights organizations as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to begin confirmation hearings Tuesday.
"We are confident that if he's confirmed to the court, he would undermine the court's integrity and would prove a grave threat to civil rights, racial justice and the marginalized communities that the Legal Defense Fund represents," Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said Thursday as the organization officially opposed Kavanaugh's nomination and asked the Senate to place its consideration on hold until more documents from his career were made available.
Civil rights organizations that have been combing through Kavanaugh's 300-plus decisions during 12 years as a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C., his work as a lawyer and his time inside Bush's White House say there are red flags. He co-wrote a brief as a private attorney in a case involving native Hawaiians that they fear signals his personal opposition to affirmative action, and he wrote the appellate court opinion upholding South Carolina's voter ID law.
Kavanaugh's record also includes opinions that civil rights advocates would praise in other candidates — including that a single utterance of a racial epithet toward a black employee could create a hostile work environment under federal law, and a suggestion that federal courts should make it clear that discriminatory actions by employers violate the Civil Rights Act.
That contrasting record underscores the challenge facing groups that already opposed Kavanaugh because he was on a list of potential nominees put forward by the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, essentially certifying them as appropriately conservative for Trump, who has vowed to move the high court to the right while replacing retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The White House had no comment for this story but referred The Associated Press to a former Kavanaugh law clerk, an African-American, who said Kavanaugh is attuned to civil rights and racial justice issues.
"In my experience with him, he's someone who approaches cases fairly and with an open mind," said Luke McCloud, who clerked for Kavanaugh from 2013 to 2014 and is now in private practice. He praised Kavanaugh's efforts to recruit and mentor minority lawyers, adding that Kavanaugh "acknowledges the history and current reality of race in this country and takes it into account as he can within the confines of his role as a judge."
Kavanaugh's keen interest in affirmative action is evident in the released White House emails. Although he appeared careful to withhold his own opinion, he clearly was interested in Bush's anti-affirmative action views, often emailing and receiving articles and opinion pieces on the issue.
Also, while in private practice a few years earlier, Kavanaugh wrote a brief along with failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork challenging a law banning non-native Hawaiians from voting in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections. He also wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal sharply criticizing the policy, but during confirmation hearings for the appeals court post, he said he wrote the piece to advance his client's position and refused to say whether he agreed.
The case involved a $300 million public trust fund set up by Congress to compensate ancestors of native Hawaiians whose land and cultural heritage were taken by the U.S. The state said only blood relatives could vote in board of trustees elections, while Kavanaugh challenged that as discriminatory to non-indigenous residents. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the law amounted to racial discrimination.
Kavanaugh's brief and other comments around the case indicate that he thinks government will ultimately end up race-blind, which "could signal where his own thinking is" on affirmative action, said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who also opposes Kavanaugh. "His record is deeply disturbing ... but there is a lot we don't know."
Opponents point to other issues that trouble them, especially his 2012 ruling on South Carolina's voter ID law. Kavanaugh said the statute was legal because those who had difficulty getting a photo ID still could vote by signing an affidavit. The law had been blocked by the Justice Department, which sided with those who said such laws make it more difficult for minorities to vote and are pushed by conservatives to dampen minority turnout.
Critics also question his record on employment discrimination, citing an appellate court case in which Kavanaugh disagreed with the majority of judges, who said that a black woman fired from a job as House of Representatives deputy budget director could pursue claims of racial discrimination and retaliation in federal court.
"We're mostly concerned about whether Judge Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would approach civil rights issues with the appropriate understanding and respect for the history of racial discrimination in this country," said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Dhaka, Aug 31 (UNB) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on Friday afternoon from Kathmandu warping up her two-day official visit to Nepal to attend the 4th summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).
A VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh carrying the Prime Minister and her entourage landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 2:35pm (BST).
Earlier, the flight took off from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu at 1:15pm (local time).
Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel and Bangladesh Ambassador in Kathmandu Mashfee Binte Shams saw her off at the airport.
Earlier in the day, Sheikh Hasina attended the Bimstec retreat and closing session.
On Thursday morning, the Prime Minister went to Kathmandu and addressed the opening session of the two-day Bimstec summit on the same day.
Bimstec having seven Member States -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand -- came into being on June 6, 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
During her stay in Kathmandu, Sheikh Hasina held meetings with her Indian and Nepalese counterparts Narendra Modi and KP Sharma Oli.
She also had meetings with Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Bhutan's Chief Adviser or interim government chief Dasho Tshering Wangchuk there.
Dhaka, Aug 31 (UNB) – BNP on Friday turned down the Election Commission’s (EC’s) decision to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the national elections, saying such machines can easily be manipulated.
“The Election Commission in which we’ve no confidence will control the EVMs. We reject their decision of introducing EVMs in the national elections,” said BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed.
Speaking at a discussion, he also said BNP which, what he claims, represents most people of the country will not accept the use of EVMs in the polls. “We don’t accept the decision.”
Youth Forum, a pro-BNP platform, arranged the programme at the Jatiya Press Club demanding BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release from jail.
Earlier on Thursday, the Election Commission at a meeting decided to send a proposal to the government for amending the electoral laws to pave the way for the use of EVMs in the general elections.
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, alleged that the government is behind the EC’s such decision. “I think there’s a big conspiracy behind the move to use the machines for taking votes just three months ahead of the parliamentary polls. The government is directly involved with the plot.”
He said the EC’s hurried decision to use the voting machine has raised various questions in public mind.
Referring to Bangladesh Bank’s reserve heist, the BNP leader said how people can keep confidence in the electronic voting system in a country where central bank’s reserve was plundered through hacking.
“We would like to say voting machine manipulation is not a tough job in a country where central bank’s money can be looted by hacking,” he observed.
Moudud said many countries, including Germany, Italy and Ireland, discarded the use of EVMs in the polls. “Even, 73 percent people in India gave opinions against the EVM use…there’s no country where election was fair and unquestionable using the EVMs.”
He said the move to procure EVMs was taken to indulge in corruption and plunder public money. “Public money will only be wasted by buying the voting machines as those won’t be used in the polls.”
The BNP leader said the government is now trying to keep confidence in machines instead of people as people’s minds cannot be manipulated like machines.
About the efforts of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain to forge a national unity, Moudud said it will turn out to be a successful one as people want all to get united against the current government.
Earlier, at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi also opposed the EC’s decision describing EVMs as the magic boxes of vote rigging.
“We think the unilateral decision of using EVMs was taken as part of a master plan to rig votes in the next parliamentary polls,” he observed.
The BNP leader also warned that people with their united efforts will foil the government’s all ‘evil plans’ to manipulate the next election.
Dhaka, Aug 31 (UNB) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday asked the leaders and activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) to do politics upholding the ideology of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“You’ll have to do politics with the ideology of the Father of the Nation. Because, Chhatra League is an organisation which was established in the hands of the Father of the Nation,” she said while addressing a discussion at her official residence Ganobhaban in the city.
BCL, the student wing of ruling Awami League, arranged the programme marking the National Mourning Day.
Noting that BCL has made sacrifice in every achievement of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president, asked the BCL men to work for people’s wellbeing.
Terming education the ‘biggest asset’ of a person, she directed every leader and activist of BCL to acquire knowledge first. “With this knowledge, you’ll have to do politics following the ideology shown by the Father of the Nation,” she added.
It is not enough to utter ideology in mouths; rather following and exercising it is very important, the Prime Minister said.
She said it was possible for her government to establish Bangladesh as a role model for development as it followed the ideology of the Father of the Nation.
Pointing at the BCL leaders, Sheikh Hasina said, “If you build yourselves as leaders having ideology, you’ll establish yourselves (in the politics). If you indulge in greed to make assets, you’ll be lost (from politics).”
She asked the BCL leaders to work for implementation of the goals her government fixed to establish Bangladesh as a developed, prosperous and peaceful country in the world.
Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu, said those spread falsehood against Bangabandhu immediately after the Liberal War still continue their conspiracy.
She said when children took to the streets following the death of two students in a road accident, a vested quarter tried to make political gains using anger of the children. “Many of them (group) are very knowledgeable, dignified, intelligent and internationally renowned persons as well.”
The internationally renowned personalities instigated people to carry out propaganda and falsehood in social media taking the advantage of Digital Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said. “They wanted to get personal gains cashing in on the anger of children,” she added.
“But whenever we took actions against them, there was lamentation all around and pressure came from international levels,” she said.
Mentioning that there was an evil attempt for 21 years after 1975 to remove the name of Father of the Nation from the history, Sheikh Hasina said no one can erase or hide the truth. “Now, Bangabandhu's 7th March historic speech is internationally recognised as the best speech.”
Talking about her mother Fazilatunnesa Mujib's contribution to the country's liberation, she said when Bangabandhu was in jail, she used to convey his instructions to the leaders and activists of Awami League and Chhatra League.
“I found my mother firm in taking decisions,” the Prime Minister said, adding that when there was division among the political leaders about the Six-point Programme, it was Fazilatunnesa who had firmly said it must be a Six-point one, not Eight-point one.
She said despite being the wife of a minister and the President, Fazilatunnesa used to lead a very simple life and help Bangabandhu take right decisions in the critical times.
BCL President Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon presided over the discussion conducted by its General Secretary Golam Rabbani.
Washington, Aug 30 (AP/UNB)— President Donald Trump urged evangelical leaders this week to get out the vote ahead of the upcoming midterm elections and warned of "violence" by opponents if they fail.
Trump made the dire warning at a White House dinner Monday evening attended by dozens of conservative Christian pastors, ministers and supporters of his administration.
Trump was stressing the stakes in November when he warned that, if Democrats win, they "will overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently," according to attendees and audio of his closed-door remarks obtained by media outlets, including The New York Times. He specifically mentioned self-described antifa, or anti-fascist groups, describing them as "violent people."
Asked Wednesday what he meant, Trump told reporters, "I just hope there won't be violence."
"If you look at what happens ... there's a lot of unnecessary violence all over the world, but also in this country. And I don't want to see it," Trump said.
At the dinner, Trump talked up his administration's efforts to bolster conservative Christian causes and urged those gathered to get their "people" to vote, warning the efforts could quickly be undone.
"I just ask you to go out and make sure all of your people vote," Trump said, according to the Times. "Because if they don't — it's Nov. 6 — if they don't vote we're going to have a miserable two years and we're going to have, frankly, a very hard period of time because then it just gets to be one election — you're one election away from losing everything you've got."
Ohio Pastor Darrell Scott, an early Trump supporter who attended the dinner, said he interpreted the comments differently than the media has portrayed them.
"It wasn't any kind of dire warning," Scott said, "... except the things that we've been working on as a body of voters will be reversed and overturned."
"What he was saying," Scott continued, is that "there are some violent people ... but it wasn't that we've got to worry about murder on the streets and chaos and anarchy ... just that the things we've worked for will be overturned."
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and another attendee, said he, too, interpreted Trump's message as a warning not to be complacent.
While Trump did make a reference to antifa, Perkins told CNN, "I don't think anybody in the room suggested that there was going to be violence across the nation."
"I did not interpret him to say that the outcome of the election is going to lead (to) violence in the streets, and violence in the churches," he told CNN.