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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.

In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.

The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”

The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.

“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.

McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.

The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.

“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.

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Theresa May to make last ditch attempt to break Brexit DEADLOCK as European elections loom

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THERESA MAY will return to Parliament tomorrow to kickstart talks with the Labour opposition in hopes to break the Brexit deadlock before the forthcoming European elections.

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Supreme Court to rule whether civil rights law bans discrimination against LGBTQ employees

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/ Source: Pandora

By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether existing civil rights laws ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a question that has divided the nation’s lower courts.

Federal law forbids workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It does not explicitly apply to LGBT individuals, but gay rights advocates have argued that firing employees because of their sexual orientation is already prohibited as a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. They’ve been hoping to achieve in the courts what they have so far been unable to get in Congress — a nationwide ban on job discrimination.

The cases accepted Monday reflect the split among federal courts. Two appeals courts ruled that employers violated Title VII by firing gay and transgender employees. A third said civil rights laws don’t cover sexual orientation.

For decades, every federal appeals court to consider whether gay employees are entitled to non-discrimination protection ruled that they are not. But advocates of LGBT rights argued that support for that position has been eroding. In 1989, the Supreme Court said Title VII bans discrimination based on an employee’s failure to act according to sex-based expectations, ruling for a woman denied a promotion who was told to walk, talk, and dress femininely, wear make-up and jewelry, and have her hair styled.



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Supreme Court to decide if Trump administration can ask about citizenship in 2020 census

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court hears its highest profile case of the term Tuesday — a battle over the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household.

A total of 18 states, several of the nation’s largest cities, and immigrant rights groups say the question would make immigrants reluctant to respond to census takers, resulting in an undercount of the population. They won two battles in the lower courts, prompting the government’s appeal to the high court.

The Constitution requires a census every 10 years, and the results determine how many members each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data is also used to calculate a local government’s share of funds under many federal programs.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the question was added at his direction after he received a letter from the Department of Justice which said the data was needed to properly enforce civil rights laws. But Federal District Court Judge Jesse Furman of New York said the evidence at a trial on the issue revealed that Ross’ claim was nothing but a pretext.

Furman concluded that Ross actually prodded the Justice Department to send the letter, which demonstrated that he “made the decision to add a citizenship question well before he received DOJ’s request.” The judge also found that including the question would violate a federal law requiring the government to get as accurate a count as possible, because it would “materially reduce response rates among immigrant and Hispanic households.”

Led by New York, the states opposing the question also said Ross’ directive sidestepped the Census Bureau’s long-standing procedures for testing changes to the questionnaire in order to evaluate whether they would lead to an undercount. Because the citizenship question would depress minority responses, the challengers said, including it on the form would actually produce a less accurate count than leaving it off and using Social Security and IRS data to supplement the information gathered from the census form.

The administration of President Donald Trump argued at the trial that questions about citizenship or country of birth have been asked during all but one census from 1820 to 2000. But in recent decades, the long-form version that included those questions — along with others about race, sex, Hispanic origin, and relationship status — was not sent to every household.

Separately, a judge in San Francisco ruled in March that including the citizenship question would violate the Constitution’s requirement for an “actual enumeration” of the population. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg agreed with California that adding the question would discourage responses within the noncitizen and Latino communities, even among those here legally. The negative effect of including the question would be magnified by the current immigration debate, he said.

A Supreme Court brief filed by civil rights advocates agreed. “The Census Bureau’s confidentiality obligations provide cold comfort to Latino immigrants,” it said. “The Trump Administration has created an environment of fear and distrust in the Latino community.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said an analysis by the Census Bureau estimated that almost 6 percent of households where a noncitizen lives would not respond to the census if the question is added. That would amount to about 6.5 million people.

Trump weighed in on the controversy in early April. “Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all important Citizenship Question,” he said in a tweet. “Report would be meaningless and a waste of the $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together!”

The court will decide the case by late June.



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