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Feb. 12, 2020 by Matthew Freeman

Connecting the Dots Between Rulings on Climate Change and School Busing

When I was a 7th grader living in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., my school system was one of many around the nation to launch a program of school busing to desegregate its schools. After 18 years, the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education finally traveled a handful of miles down the road from the Supreme Court and arrived in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The program was anything but voluntary as far as the school system was concerned, requiring a court order to make it happen. In fact, the order was very specific: It didn’t simply direct the county to desegregate; it required the county to submit for court approval specific plans laying out which children would go to which schools. It took the county, which fought the order right down to the last possible moment, several tries before the court finally signed off.

I was reminded of that as I listened to the latest episode of Connect the Dots, CPR’s podcast hosted by Rob Verchick, on the Juliana v. United States case. Verchick and his guests, CPR Member Scholars Melissa Powers and Karen Sokol, discuss in detail a recent ruling by a …

April 23, 2019 by Matthew Freeman
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CPR Member Scholar Bill Buzbee has an op-ed in The New York Times this morning in which he observes that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority faces a true rubber-meets-the-road test as it considers the Trump administration’s determination to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, despite multiple procedural and substantive problems with the plan.

The administration’s thinly veiled objective with the additional question is to discourage participation in the census by non-citizens, who might understandably fear that revealing their status on an official government questionnaire could result in deportation. Since the Constitution makes clear that the purpose of the census is to count the total population, not just citizens, such questions haven’t been included since 1960.

But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross apparently regards that problem as a feature, not a bug, no doubt with the approval of the president. So, in March …

Dec. 27, 2018 by Matthew Freeman
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As we prepare to tie a bow on 2018, it’s worth looking back at the various op-eds CPR’s Member Scholars and staff penned over the course of the year. You can find and read every single one of them on our op-ed page. But here are some highlights for quick(er) perusal:

  • In February, CPR’s Founding President, Tom McGarity had a piece in The American Prospect, reviewing the damage done by the GOP congressional majority by means of the Congressional Review Act.
  • Lisa Heinzerling had a March piece in The Washington Post pointing out that, on at least one front, the President is losing his war on sensible safeguards, because, as it turns out, the courts sometimes insist that regulatory agencies follow the Administrative Procedure Act, even when the President is eager to ignore it.
  • In June, CPR President Rob Verchick was in the …

May 29, 2018 by Matthew Freeman
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While most of the press EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is getting these days has to do with his various over-spending scandals, his more lasting impact is likely to be his scorched-earth approach to environmental protections. In an op-ed in The Hill earlier this month, CPR’s Sid Shapiro highlighted one way Pruitt hopes to make an across-the-board, anti-environment impact: By limiting the scope of scientific studies that his agency may consider when developing safeguards.

Under the guise of greater transparency, Pruitt is proposing to restrict the use of studies for which the underlying data is not completely available to the public. That may sound reasonable on its face, but the reality is that plenty of important research and knowledge derives from studies for which some measure of confidentiality is a must. Medical studies typically protect the confidential information of participating patients, for example.

As Shapiro notes …

April 11, 2018 by Matthew Freeman
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CPR’s Member Scholars and staff are off to a fast start on the op-ed front in 2018. We list them all on our op-ed page, but here’s a quick roundup of pieces they’ve placed so far.

Member Scholar Alejandro Camacho joins his UC-Irvine colleague Michael Robinson-Dorn in a piece published by The Conversation. In "Turning power over to states won't improve protection for endangered species," they summarize their recent analysis of state endangered species laws and state funding for enforcement. They write, “Our review shows that most states are poorly positioned to assume primary responsibility for endangered species protection. State laws generally are weaker and less comprehensive than the Endangered Species Act,” and the states themselves are contributing just 5 percent of funding for enforcement of the Act.

In the Bay Journal, Rena Steinzor and David Flores update an op-ed from the end …

Jan. 31, 2018 by Matthew Freeman
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During the State of the Union address last night, no one was surprised to hear President Trump brag about all the work his administration has done slashing regulatory safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and financial security. It’s clearly one of his proudest first-year accomplishments — making us all less safe and more vulnerable to industries that profit by polluting the air and water, creating unsafe working conditions, using underhanded financial practices, or selling dangerous products. The president thinks that regulations that curb such misbehavior are simply too costly to indulge and refuses to acknowledge their value in any way.

If you listen carefully when he makes that pitch, you’ll notice that he would have us believe that safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and financial security generate untold “costs” for industry. But as with so many things that are clear to Donald Trump but that …

Dec. 28, 2017 by Matthew Freeman
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CPR’s Member Scholars and staff rounded out a prolific year of op-ed writing with pieces covering several topics, touching on the Endangered Species Act, the scuttling of criminal justice reform, saving the Chesapeake Bay, the Administration’s efforts to unravel the Clean Power Plan, and the tax bill President Trump signed into law last week. You can read all 46 of this year's op-eds here, but here’s a brief roundup of the latest:

In an October 29, 2017, piece in The Hill, Bill Buzbee says that the Trump administration’s efforts to wish away the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan are headed for “rocky shoals.” Among other problems, the repeal push is proceeding in the absence of a formal rulemaking process. “Just last year,” he writes, “the Supreme Court reiterated that an agency proposing a policy change must provide a ‘reasoned explanation for …

Dec. 21, 2017 by Matthew Freeman
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"Despite the most extensive bipartisan support in many years for the reform of mass incarceration in the United States, the Trump administration has ignored this enormous problem and focuses solely on greater leniency for white collar criminals."

So writes CPR’s Rena Steinzor in her latest op-ed in The Hill. She goes on to describe the circumstances under which the Department of Justice abandoned its prosecution of HSBC, and with it a deferred prosecution agreement that would have settled a “massive criminal case accusing HSBC of money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels and allegedly serving as banker for rogue states like Iran and Sudan. The bank dramatically expanded its compliance efforts even as it stood accused of committing further crimes, including assisting its customers in evading U.S. taxes. But its agreement went up in a puff of smoke.”

The key to the bipartisan legislation was a conservative …

Dec. 19, 2017 by Matthew Freeman
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"You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?"

Winston Smith, 1984

Donald Trump has never been known for the breadth of his vocabulary. In his case, I’ve always assumed that was a marker of a not particularly curious mind. The guy’s openly contemptuous of higher education; he says he doesn’t read books because he gets what he needs to know from “watching the shows.” When speaking, he likes to repeat things, uttering the same short sentence or phrase two or three times in the same breath, presumably for emphasis. And his word choices won’t be adding to anyone’s vocabulary. He uses “very” very often, for example, and “very, very” very frequently, too.

Now we learn that the president and his team …

Nov. 28, 2017 by Matthew Freeman
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If there's a defining value to the tax bill now working its way through Congress, it's greed. How else to account for a bill that wipes out tax deductions for health care expenses, double-taxes the money you pay in state and local income taxes, eliminates the deduction for interest on student loans, and at the same time eliminates the tax that's now paid on estates in excess of $5.5 million, eliminates the alternative minimum tax, and slashes corporate taxes, all while adding $1.5 trillion to the federal debt? The principal objective of this bill is to make rich people richer, and it accomplishes that by squeezing pretty much everybody else – some right away, some in a few years.

Of course, greed is at the heart of much of President Trump's policy agenda. In its service, he's rolled back environmental regulations …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Feb. 12, 2020

Connecting the Dots Between Rulings on Climate Change and School Busing

April 23, 2019

Buzbee in NYT: Census Case Tests SCOTUS Majority's Commitment to Political Neutrality

Dec. 27, 2018

CPR's 2018 Op-Eds

May 29, 2018

Shapiro Takes on Pruitt's Pseudo-Transparency Rule

April 11, 2018

CPR's 2018 Op-Eds, Part One

Jan. 31, 2018

What Creates the Cost, Mr. President?

Dec. 28, 2017

A Final 2017 Dose of Op-Eds