CA Funding LGBTQ+ Group Fighting Parental Notification

CA Funding LGBTQ+ Group Fighting Parental Notification

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Wire,

Over the summer, when a Southern California school board opposed a new state-determined social studies curriculum that included a bio of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a threatening tweet calling out the school board president by name.

“This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn,” Newsom tweeted. “Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned.”

Newsom followed up the vague warning with a far more tangible one. In a subsequent statement, the governor labeled the board’s reluctance to accept the curricula an act of “hate” and announced a $1.5 million fine for what he described as a “willful violation of the law.” He also threatened a lawsuit and a state Justice Department civil rights investigation. 

Demagogues who whitewash history, censor books, and perpetuate prejudice must never succeed,” Newsom added. “Hate doesn’t belong in our classrooms, and because of the board’s majority’s antics, Temecula has a civil rights investigation to answer for.”

Komrosky and other members of the school board for the Temecula Valley Unified School District were concerned about Milk’s well-documented relationship with a 16-year-old boy when he was in his 30s. He and other board members labeled Milk a “pedophile” and didn’t want his bio included in a supplemental curriculum for certain grade levels. 

After Newsom’s threat of legal action, the school board began to waver. Komrosky called an emergency Friday meeting that stretched late into the night and partially backed down, agreeing to accept the textbooks but putting off a decision on the 4th-grade lessons on civil rights, including the gay rights movement, until the board and parents could review it further.

The confrontation spurred weeks of headlines, with members of the LGBTQ+ community praising the governor’s actions while parents’ rights groups bemoaned the top-down threats from the highest level of state government. 

The Democrat-controlled state legislature last month passed a bill that would legalize hefty state fines for school boards that reject state-determined curricula and other state policies. The state attorney general also sued a different school district in Chino for requiring parents to be notified when their children begin identifying as a different gender in California public schools.

In mid-October, a judge sided, at least temporarily, with the state, and granted a preliminary injunction against the parent notification policy until he makes a final decision.

Over the last several months, the school board clashes have fueled a series of protests and rallies at the state Capitol in which parents, students, pastors, and school board members have accused the Newsom administration and the state legislature of keeping secrets from parents and undermining their ability to care for and oversee their children.

On the other side of the debate are Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who argue that the school boards are trying to ban textbooks teaching diversity. They also assert that students in the state public elementary schools who are changing their gender have a right to privacy from their parents who could try to stop them from transitioning – or worse – use physical force as punishment for doing so.

Amid the furor on both sides of the school board controversies, in late August, Newsom announced the latest round of grants to support an effort to combat hate crimes against transgender, Muslim, and black people after the attorney general’s office found a 20% increase in such crimes across the state in 2022.

Among the taxpayer-funded grants is $630,000 to Equality California, an LGBTQ+ group fighting alongside Thurmond against school boards’ parental notification policies and their ability to object to diversity-oriented curricula.

Over the last four years, the state has provided $400 million in federal grants to fund security measures for faith-based organizations and other nonprofits, and $196 million in grants to local organizations focused on preventing hate crimes and supporting survivors. The funding is taking place as the state is running a $31.5 billion budget deficit, up from $22.5 billion projected in January.

The state recently awarded this year’s nearly $91.5 million in “Stop the Hate” grants to more than 170 community groups after at least two disturbing incidents that police say were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ views and racism.

In August, a San Bernardino store owner was murdered after an argument over a rainbow “pride” flag hanging outside her store, and an Oakland elementary school was evacuated after receiving a bomb threat that police said was racially motivated.

Newsom last week also approved $10 million in funds to boost the presence of police at synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship as tensions have flared over the possibility of local violence stemming from the Israel-Hamas war.

Allowing all places of worship to receive the funds to boost security appears even-handed and proactive at a time of rising tensions and threat levels.

But the “Stop the Hate” grant to Equality California has sparked criticism from opponents that Newsom is inappropriately using state taxpayer funds to assist the top LBGTQ+ organization fighting parents over school board policies.

According to the California Department of Social Services, which issued the grants, the grants “may” fund various services and programs, including those providing mental health and legal services for victims and their families. The website also says funds could go to prevention services, including “arts and cultural work, youth development, senior safety and escort programs, safety planning, training and cross-racial alliance work.”

Equality California has been at the center of the fight for protecting children’s right to change genders without their parents’ knowledge in public schools across the state. The group has fiercely opposed the parental rights movement, labeling it homophobic and transphobic, and argues that notifying parents amounts to “forcibly outing” gender-transitioning children, which could lead to physical or emotional harm for these young people who already experience higher rates of depression, mental health, self-harm, and suicide than their peers.

Equality California staff have attended school board meetings and appeared alongside Thurmond as he answers questions from the press. The group’s staffers were among pro-LGBTQ+ advocates whom a Chino school board removed from a meeting along with Thurmond after he spoke against a proposed district policy that would require schools to inform parents if their students were changing their pronouns or asking to use different gendered facilities.

Because money is fungible, and the grant can help offset costs for the organization’s other work, parental rights advocates have argued that the grant is inappropriately boosting the group’s lobbying efforts opposing parental rights policies at local school boards.

According to its 2021 tax filings with the IRS, the most recent available, Equality California Institute spent more than $400,000 on lobbying the state legislature and received nearly $6 million in revenue for that year alone.

Carl DeMaio, a conservative radio talk show host in California who is gay, was the first to take issue with the Equality California grant in a post on his website, arguing that it was one of several designed to give a financial edge to left-leaning groups, such as Equality California, that actively engage in politics by endorsing candidates and other political activities.

For instance, the group endorsed Thurmond’s reelection last year, lauding him for “personally intervening” in a school board fight in Chino and working “diligently alongside Equality California to counter the attacks against our trans and gender-nonconforming youth, in particular, and we could not ask for a better ally and champion for all California students.” It’s unclear if that endorsement came directly from the Institute or another part of Equality California’s nonprofit organization.

There’s nothing wrong with these far-left groups engaging in political advocacy. It’s their First Amendment right, but not with my tax dollars,” DeMaio told RealClearPolitics. “This is the oldest scam going on in California politics right now. It’s the utilization of taxpayer money to subsidize Democrat and left-wing political organizations.”

“If the National Rifle Association or the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation were receiving taxpayer money, the left and the media would be lighting their hair on fire, but here in California, you have political groups getting money from the government, and no one bats an eye,” he added.  

Equality California spokesman Jorge Reyes Salinas says the Institute does not engage in political work, as DeMaio alleges, and stressed that the entire grant is devoted to supporting the state’s “Stop the Hate” program.

“Equality California Institute’s Stop the Hate program is a tool to ensure that LGBTQ+ Californians know about and have access to culturally responsive resources on hate crimes and bystander intervention,” he said in a statement to RCP. “Through outreach and partnerships, this program aims to advance education on how to curb the sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in California.”

Newsom’s office did not respond to RCP’s inquiries about the grant.

Lance Christensen, a former state legislative staffer who ran for California superintendent of schools as a Republican last year, now serves as the vice president of education policy and government at the conservative California Policy Center. The Center is one of the main groups backing the parental rights policies in school boards across the state. 

Christensen argues that the deck is heavily stacked against his side because parents are already fighting the deep-pocketed teacher unions who back many of the policies parents’ rights groups have tried to fight, including extended COVID school shutdowns that kept students in virtual learning longer than many other states.

On top of that, the leaders of Equality California, which is more ideologically aligned with the Democrats who run the state, “feel like it’s their right and duty to extract money from taxpayers to help amplify their views,” he argued.

The fact of the matter is, most parents are well aware of the positions these groups have,” he said. “They just aren’t aware that their tax dollars are going to subsidize these activities.” 

Equality California has backed a raft of pro-LGBTQ+ bills that Newsom signed into law in late September, including several measures the governor’s office has said are designed to “better support vulnerable youth.” Among the new laws is one that would require courts to keep all petitions for a change of gender identity in public documents, including those filed by minors, confidential. 

The group also strongly backed the Transgender, Gender-Diverse and Intersex Youth Empowerment Act, which would have required judges to consider whether parents have affirmed the gender identity of their children in custody disputes.

While Newsom said he shares the commitment to advance transgender rights, he vetoed that bill in mid-September, arguing that it would inappropriately change legal standards for another branch of government.

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics’ White House/national political correspondent.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 19:05

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Real Estate Brokerages Zillow, RedFin Tumble After Jury Finds Realtors Conspired To Keep Commissions High

Real Estate Brokerages Zillow, RedFin Tumble After Jury Finds Realtors Conspired To Keep Commissions High

Real estate brokerages such as Zillow, RedFin, ReMex and others tumbled after a federal jury found the National Association of Realtors and large residential brokerages such as HomeServices of America and Keller Williams, liable for about $1.8 billion in damages after determining they conspired to keep commissions for home sales artificially high.

Under antitrust rules, the presiding judge could triple the damages verdict, which would total more than $5 billion. The plaintiffs also have asked the judge to order changes to how the industry operates.

The verdict came in the first of two major antitrust lawsuits that target decades-old industry practices and argue that unlawful industry practices have left consumers unable to lower their costs even though internet-era innovations have allowed many buyers to find homes themselves online. The two-week trial involved claims by home sellers in several Midwestern states; they sought to drive down commissions and change the way agents are compensated.

Two brokerages, HomeServices of America and Keller Williams Realty, were also defendants in the case. Two others, Anywhere Real Estate and Re/Max Holdings, settled before trial and agreed to pay almost $140 million combined.

Announced in a packed Kansas City courtroom, the verdict came after just a few hours of jury deliberations. The case was brought by home sellers in several Midwestern states. Their lawyers hugged and shook hands as the verdict was announced.

According to the WSJ, the verdict “could lead to industrywide upheaval by changing decades-old rules that have helped lock in commission rates even as home prices have skyrocketed—which has allowed real-estate agents to collect ever-larger sums.”

It comes in the first of two antitrust lawsuits arguing that unlawful industry practices have left consumers unable to lower their costs even though internet-era innovations have allowed many buyers to find homes themselves online.

For several years NAR has been fending off accusations by US antitrust officials and private litigants that it has conspired to keep home-sale costs high in the face of major technological upheavals. This verdict is by far the group’s biggest setback yet. An NAR spokesman said, “This matter is not close to being final as we will appeal the jury’s verdict.”

HomeServices of America, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said it intends to appeal. “Today’s decision means that buyers will face even more obstacles in an already challenging real estate market and sellers will have a harder time realizing the value of their homes,” a company spokeswoman said. Keller Williams said it is considering an appeal.

Under the current system, sellers pay their own agent a commission — typically 5% to 6% of a home’s selling price — which is in turn shared with the buyer’s agent. Over the course of the trial, plaintiffs’ attorneys argued this model has suppressed competition by making it difficult for buyers and sellers to negotiate for lower rates.

“NAR and corporate real-estate companies have had a stranglehold on real-estate commissions for too long,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Ketchmark said outside of the courtroom.

The news sent real-estate brokerage stocks tumbling: Redfin and Zillow both plunged as much as 10% before recovering some losses. Traditiona broker Re/Max was down 3%.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 18:45

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Bachelors Of Advocacy: The Rise Of Activism Over Academics In US Higher Education

Bachelors Of Advocacy: The Rise Of Activism Over Academics In US Higher Education

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Below is my column in The Hill on the rise of advocacy courses and degrees in higher education. Activism has always been a valued part of our colleges and universities. Indeed, many departments have long incorporated advocacy subjects in their course of study, including in law schools. My concern is the degree to which advocacy is now overwhelming academics in some of these programs.

It is often hard to tell the difference between advocacy groups and advocacy programs in these universities.

For some schools, a new B.A. model – a Bachelors of Advocacy – is emerging in higher education.

Here is the column:

Field trip for an extra 5 points.” The offer to students at the University of California-Berkeley sounded like a typical offer for students to go to a special exhibit at a museum or lecture at an institute. The “field trip” referenced by graduate assistant Victoria Huynh was joining a protest “against settler-colonial occupation of Gaza.”

This extra credit offer is all too typical of higher education today, where advocacy is now being taught as if it were a course of study. After an outcry, the school solved the problem by ordering “a number of options for extra credit, not just one.”

Many advocacy-based classes have course descriptions that sound analytical and clinical. The UC Davis course “Asian American Communities and Race Relations,” for instance, states that it covers “race relations and the commonalities and differences between Asian Americans and other race and ethnic groups.” However, the assignments and lectures often reflect a political viewpoint that students are expected to mimic if they want to excel in the class.

In this course, a screen shot showed that the class would discuss “Palestinian history in relation to class concepts like colonialism, imperialism, and Third World solidarity.” It is clear enough that “the solidarity” cannot extend to Israel.

Advocacy has increasingly displaced academics in higher education. Activism now permeates higher education as social justice becomes the touchstone for many departments. Today protests rather than Plato are more likely to be the concentration of many students.

Even journalism students are now sometimes told to drop “objectivity” and “leave neutrality behind.Former executive editor for The Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr. explained that “pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading ‘bothsidesism’ in covering stories about race, the treatment of women, LGBTQ+ rights, income inequality, climate change and many other subjects.”

Advocacy has long been part of graduate programs like law and social work, where students are trained to represent the interests of clients or other individuals. But now, advocacy and activism itself is being offered as a general course for students in place of education. Where protests were once defiant demonstrations held in the university yard, they are now a course of study in classrooms led by academic activists.

For example, Arizona State University offers a BA program entirely on “community advocacy and social policy” that focuses on “historically under-served individuals, families and communities.” Students “complete courses in two core areas: diversity and oppressed populations and social issues and interventions.”

Many schools offer “advocacy and social justice studies.” At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students are offered the opportunity to “study social justice with distinguished instructors from a wide range of academic departments, from Afro-American Studies to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies.”

Camden County College offers a diversity and social justice degree based on the advocacy work of the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic, which “revealed the depth of social inequality and its life-or-death consequences.” Others offer “a certificate of proficiency in social justice and an A.S. degree in Human Services, Social Justice Advocacy.”

These courses offer far left-faculty platforms to proselytize and politicize. It is often confined to one side of the political spectrum and occurs now on every level of our educational system. In academic departments, future primary and secondary teachers are taught that “teaching is a political act” that allows them to instill political and social values in their young pupils. Those students can then attend college and get degrees in activism and advocacy.

In New York,  1.1 million students were excused by the Department of Education to leave their classes to march against climate change. It seems doubtful that the same accommodation would be allowed for countervailing conservative causes like pro-life marches or demonstrations in favor of gun rights.

These courses dovetail with faculties that have moved radically to the left, with many faculty using their courses to espouse political viewpoints more than educate. The clear message to students is that they are expected to express the same views in their own analysis.

One professor erased any pretense and directly required students to contribute to her advocacy group as part of their training. In the meantime, conservative faculty find themselves censored or suspended for engaging in unpopular speech or attending controversial rallies.

Universities as a whole have largely purged their ranks of Republicans and conservatives over the last few decades. A new survey conducted by the Harvard Crimson shows that more than three-quarters of Harvard Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty respondents identify as “liberal” or “very liberal.” Only 2.5 percent identified as “conservative,” and only 0.4 percent as “very conservative.”

Another study by Georgetown University’s Kevin Tobia and MIT’s Eric Martinez found that only 9 percent of law school professors identify as conservative at the top 50 law schools.

In these departments with advocacy and social justice components, diversity of thought runs from the left to the far left.

Some of these faculty advocates can teach by example. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, feminist studies associate professor Mireille Miller-Young physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display. She later pleaded guilty to criminal assault, but the university refused to fire or discipline her.

Other professors continue to engage in violence or destruction in front of students in order to block pro-life or other views from being expressed on campuses.

The same blind rage was shown after the massacre of Israelis by Hamas this month as faculty rallied students to denounce Israel. UC Davis Professor (and undergraduate adviser) Jemma Decristo posted social media threats against the faculty and the families of those supporting Israel as possible targets. Decristo wrote: “one group of ppl we have easy access to in the U.S. is all these zionist journalists who spread propaganda and misinformation…they have houses w addresses, kids in school, they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” This threatening language was accompanied by pictures of a knife and an axe, followed by three drops of blood.

The university eventually denounced Decristo’s violent, threatening comments, but it had no prior qualms about the professor teaching American studies to UC Davis students. She is part of the radical chic — the far left professors who have populated departments for years.

The emphasis on advocacy at the expense of education has also contributed to the increasing hostility toward opposing views on campus. These professors and students often show little tolerance for others’ views and “advocate” by canceling or silencing other views as “harmful.”

Many of us encourage political activism and engagement of our students. They need to bring their passion and voices to the debates today over issues ranging from abortion to the environment to wars.

We have long benefited from intellectual activists in our country, but they were intellectuals first and activists second. They were thought-leaders who used classic education to advance societal change.

As jobs and markets become more competitive, we are not doing these students any favors as we crank out thousands with few skills beyond staging demonstrations.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 18:25

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Reports Say China Scrubbed Israel From Online Maps

Reports Say China Scrubbed Israel From Online Maps

China’s scathing criticisms of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, where the death toll has surpassed 8,500 mostly civilians, have grown of late – but this week escalated to a new precedent. 

The Wall Street Journal has confirmed internet users’ deepening suspicions that the country of Israel has disappeared from several online maps after the ‘mistake’ began to gain increased attention. “Internet users in China are expressing bewilderment that the name Israel doesn’t appear on leading online digital maps from Baidu and Alibaba, an ambiguity that matches Beijing’s vague diplomacy in the region and contrasts with its attentiveness to maps generally,” WSJ writes Tuesday. But some pundits have said the claim is misleading, stressing that many Chinese maps don’t label “disputed areas” by default.  

The internationally recognized borders of the Israeli state are also missing. The report says that Israel may have gone ‘missing’ on the popular maps since the start of the Oct.7 conflict and Israel’s subsequent bombing campaign on Gaza. 

But as WSJ also points out, neither major Chinese company has publicly acknowledged the missing country information:

The same is true with online maps produced by Alibaba’s Amap, where even small nations like Luxembourg are clearly marked. Neither company responded to questions on Monday. It is unclear whether the development is new, though it has been discussed by Chinese internet users since war broke out.

China’s government has over the years cried foul and levied fines over maps published elsewhere online, such as on hotel websites, for failing to strictly adhere to Beijing’s territorial claims, like leaving off a nine-dotted line stretching around the South China Sea that isn’t internationally recognized.

Indeed this could be a subtle game of ‘retaliation’ for when Western sources publish maps which Beijing vehemently disagrees with, such as depicting Taiwan as independent from the Chinese mainland.

Additionally, China has increasingly aligned its foreign policy with the Global South in recent months, and the Gaza crisis is a further demonstration of this trend.

In statements from the foreign ministry, Chinese officials have consistently highlighted Israel’s bombing of Gazan civilians, instead of focusing on denunciations of the Oct.7 terror attack by Hamas (as the US and much of the West has done). “Every country has the right to self-defense, but every country should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians,” FM Wang Yi told his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen a week ago.

And then there’s this provocative tweet from the Chinese embassy in France, rejecting Western claims of “genocide” against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, while highlighting that Gaza lies in ruins

“As long as [any resolution] is conducive to peace, China will firmly support it; as long as [any resolution] is conducive to Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation, China will do its best,” Wang had said. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the clearly deteriorating Israel-China relations by the end of this current crisis. 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 18:05

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Sen. Josh Hawley To Introduce Bill Reversing Citizens United

Sen. Josh Hawley To Introduce Bill Reversing Citizens United

Authored by Philip Wegmann via,

More than a decade ago, President Obama scolded the Supreme Court for reversing “a century of law” and opening “the floodgates for special interest” to “spend without limit in our elections.”

It was during the State of the Union, and while the former president qualified his criticism by offering “all due deference to the separation of powers,” Justice Samuel Alito was caught on camera muttering an objection.

Seated in the front of the House of Representatives, Alito seemed to say, “Not true.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts, who had employed a young lawyer from Missouri just two years prior, didn’t move a muscle.

Sen. Josh Hawley told RealClearPolitics that the episode “predates me,” but on the substance of the question, the senior Republican senator from Missouri, the same young lawyer who once clerked for Roberts on the high court, sides with Obama, not the conservative justices.

Albeit for very different reasons.

“I am an originalist,” he said in a Monday interview, “and I don’t think you can make an originalist case for business corporations being treated like individuals when it comes to the right to political speech.”

Thirteen years removed from that exchange between Obama and the justices, Hawley plans to introduce legislation that would gut Citizens United v. FEC, RCP is first to report.

“My goal is to get corporate money out of our politics,” he said.

His aim is to stop “corporate influence” from “controlling our elections.”

This kind of rhetoric is not unusual. But it usually comes from Democrats.

President Biden pledged to overturn Citizens United and bring to heal the Super PACs that shower politicians with the kind of unlimited anonymous donations known colloquially as “dark money.” His closest ally in this effort: Progressive Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who blames the decision for turning America into “an oligarchy” where billionaires “buy elections.”

And now this coalition includes at least one Republican. Hawley blames Citizens United for giving corporations free rein to “sink their teeth” into the American political process.

The Hawley legislation would ban publicly traded corporations from making independent expenditures and giving to Super PACs while prohibiting them from cutting political ads or engaging in “other electioneering communications.” Ironically, however, it would not stop the conservative group that upended modern election law. Citizens United is itself a non-profit and, therefore, wouldn’t be affected.

The bill likely has little chance of making it to the president’s desk. Similar proposals have died in committee. All the same, the legislation represents the latest fissure between the Grand Old Party and the corporations. As the Republican realignment continues, on this issue, Hawley hammers the wedge.

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Hawley bellowed this summer, “Corporations are not people.”

The crowd, this one gathered in Washington for the social conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition summit, barely stirred.

But then they erupted when the populist senator continued, “I’ve got news for these woke corporations: We are not going to surrender this nation to the cultural Marxists in the C-suite.”

Would Hawley still seek to muzzle corporations if the content of their speech was different, though? “Well, actions do have consequences,” the senator replied.

Bad trade deals, monopolies over everyday pharmaceuticals, and offshore industries – Hawley blames all of this on Wall Street getting involved in politics, saying that politically connected corporations “have been in favor of almost everything that has been devastating for us.” Beyond economics, he added, “what’s new in the last two or three years” is those same corporations “now want to dictate voting laws in the states” and “now want to dictate rules on biological men playing women’s sports.”

For example, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, two of the biggest employers in Georgia, publicly oppose that state’s efforts to tighten voter registration requirements in the wake of the 2020 election. Another example is the dark money donors who provided $145 million to pro-Biden groups that year, helping pave his way to the White House and dwarfing the $28.4 million spent on behalf of Donald Trump.

“That is not a reason in-and-of-itself to get the Constitution right,” Hawley cautions, however. While the senator insists that Democrats benefit disproportionately from dark money, he argued that “this isn’t a game that is good for anybody” and “most importantly, the voters don’t benefit from it.”

This is consistent with the general disposition of the senator who once wrote an adoring biography of Teddy Roosevelt. It is also an evolution from a politician who welcomed the endorsement and cashed the checks of Citizens United during his first campaign. Hawley does not dispute the development.

A closer examination of the history, he said, “looking back at how the Founders thought of corporations” reveals that the earliest Americans “were deeply skeptical of the corporate form.” On the jurisprudence question, he added, “I just don’t think that history supports the outcome that the Court ultimately got to there.”

More recent history can be found in the conservative opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. Reflecting the view of that editorial board, Bradley Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, celebrated the anniversary of Citizens United in 2020, writing that “the ruling has empowered small-dollar donors and political outsiders, not corporations.” The donor who writes a check from the kitchen table, the former FEC chair argued, is now king in American politics, not the Super PAC.

Hawley suggests that those who doubt the power of corporate dollars in politics visit Capitol Hill. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he said before pointing to TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media company.

“A year ago, we were talking about a nationwide ban on TikTok. I was able to get one passed at the federal level last December,” he said.

“Today, it is difficult to get even my most ardent anti-tech partners to talk about this because TikTok has gone out and spent incredible sums of money to get influence on both sides of the aisle.”

According to federal disclosures, TikTok and its parent company spent more than $13 million on lobbying the federal government in the last four years. A spokesman for the company declined to address this when RCP requested comment.

Increasingly, Hawley is more likely to echo T.R. than Ronald Reagan. He notes how Roosevelt warned against “the malefactors of great wealth” and speaks admirably of his wars with the railroads. The senator also points to scandals of the past, like the Teapot Dome Scandal, as a prologue for modern malfeasance.

“Not a lot has changed in the last century. They would do that today, if they could get away with it,” Hawley said of disparate corporate actors from Silicon Valley to Wall Street without naming anyone in particular.

“And who knows,” he added, “maybe they are.”

Republicans who once felt at ease among corporate power are increasingly skeptical. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy publicly divorced the Chamber of Commerce this year. Ohio Sen. JD Vance is currently at war with the railroads over safety regulations. Businessman-turned-presidential-candidate Vivek Ramaswamy seemed to rebuke the ghost of Reagan during the August primary debate.

And last month, Hawley landed well to the left of the White House, but only slightly to the right of the likes of Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when he proposed capping the annual percentage rate of credit cards at 18%.

The Hawley project then can perhaps be best described as an effort to export traditional conservative skepticism of big government to the realm of big corporations. “What we find, and what lawsuits like the Missouri v. Biden case exposed, is that big corporations and big government work hand in hand,” he said referencing the federal case that found the White House lobbied social media companies to remove content critical of the administration.

“I would just say to my conservative friends, listen, there is no reason we should want to empower these mega-corporations, who are already in bed and colluding with the government, and give them control over our elections and over our speech,” Hawley said.

It remains to be seen whether Republicans will listen, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He celebrated the initial action by the Supreme Court.

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process,” McConnell said in a statement when the conservative court handed down Citizens United, celebrating the decision as “an important step” in “restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups.”

A decade later, McConnell added, “My warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics.”

As the Washington Post reported at the time, the Republican leader included a qualification during a local news conference.

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 17:45

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Teenage Trick-Or-Treaters Are Too Scary For These Cities

Trick-or-treaters on Halloween | Photo 131552046 © Susan Sheldon |

Every year, it seems like the controversies surrounding Halloween keep getting stupider.

Last year, fears about “rainbow fentanyl” caused panic over brightly colored pills supposedly designed as candy. This year, parents online expressed horror over the “switch witch” (a clever, if cruel way to throw away your kid’s candy haul), and a New Jersey school district announced its baffling decision to cancel Halloween celebrations over concern for the minority of kids who don’t celebrate the holiday.

But there’s also another Halloween debate that has long gotten out of hand: How old is too old to go trick-or-treating? While this seems like a question for parents, some local governments have handed down their own decrees about just who gets to participate in Halloween candy collecting.

According to a recent NPR story, kids over 14 in Chesapeake, Virginia, caught trick-or-treating can be charged with a misdemeanor. Until 2019, they apparently faced six months in jail.

In nearby Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, kids over 12 are barred from trick-or-treating. Rayne, Louisiana, and Jacksonville, Illinois, also ban teenage trick-or-treaters. In Belleville, Illinois, they can get slapped with a $1,000 fine.

How often these laws are enforced is unclear. However, it doesn’t seem like local police departments are rigorously verifying the age of trick-or-treaters.

“Officers do not spend Halloween night ‘carding’ trick-or-treaters, nor are they actively seeking ‘over age’ participants,” one Chesapeake spokesperson told Today in 2019.

It’s not entirely clear why these cities have enacted age limits on trick-or-treating; the most common—though often vaguely phrased—reasoning seems to be an attempt to halt teenage crime.

“We saw and heard from a lot of seniors particularly, that big kids—kids in high school—kids were coming to the door as late as 10 o’clock at night and seniors were afraid to open the door and they were afraid if they didn’t open the door that something was going to happen to their house,” Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said in a 2019 Slate interview. “Sometimes we have to make those decisions for parents who aren’t being parents….It’s unfortunate, but in today’s world we live in, sometimes government has to make tough decisions like this.”

While there is some evidence that crime does increase on Halloween, there’s no reason to think that banning teenagers from trick-or-treating decreases crime among juveniles. More importantly, pushing teenagers away from trick-or-treating might actually make them more likely to get up to less wholesome activities. 

“What would you rather a teen do with the holiday?” Deseret News recently put it. “Egg houses? Drink?”

The real problem with these laws is that they present a legal solution to what is typically a social annoyance at most. Some find it obnoxious when teenagers try to collect their share of free candy, but truly disgruntled adults are perfectly free to turn away conspicuously teenage trick-or-treaters if they choose.

As it turns out, most people aren’t that bothered by younger teenagers getting in on the Halloween fun—even if many cities would ban their participation in trick-or-treating. A 2021 YouGov poll found that 26 percent of respondents thought that no teenager is too old to participate, while only 21 percent drew the line at age 12 or younger. 

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The Solicitor General’s response to my amicus brief in Rahimi

On November 7, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the only Second Amendment merits case this term, United States v. Rahimi. (Docket page.) In that case, twenty-one amicus briefs urged the Court to affirm the Fifth Circuit’s decision. On October 25, the Solicitor General, who is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit, filed its reply brief. The reply brief addresses only a single one of the amici briefs, namely the one that I coauthored; the amici included the VC’s Randy Barnett. Because the Solicitor General considered that amicus brief important enough to address, I thought that readers might be interested in some further analysis. In my view, the SG brief fails to address the unique constitutional infirmity of one of the statutory sections at issue.

Rahimi involves 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), which imposes a prison sentence of up to 15 years for firearm possession by everyone subject to certain domestic restraining orders. In the amicus brief, we wrote:

The statute bans firearms possession based on two different types of court orders:

“(C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physi-
cal safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury;”

Because (C)(i) requires a judicial finding of dangerousness, it does not infringe the Second Amendment. Subsection (C)(ii) does not require such a finding and is an infringement. Judicial orders that acrimonious domestic parties not do something illegal in the future is not equivalent to a judicial finding that there is “a credible threat” of illegal behavior. Congress could easily fix the problem by changing the “or” at the end of (C)(i) to “and.”14 Alternatively, subsection (C)(ii) could be severed.

Here is the discussion from the footnote on page 15 of the Solicitor General brief:

* Amici Professors of Second Amendment Law accept (Br. 28-29) the validity of Section 922(g)(8)(C)(i) because it “requires a judicial finding of dangerousness” but reject Section 922(g)(8)(C)(ii) because it does not require a specific finding. That is wrong. History and tradition establish legislatures’ authority to disarm dangerous or irresponsible categories of persons, and the category of individuals subject to protective orders specifically prohibiting the use of force against partners or children surely qualifies. In any event, any defect in subparagraph (C)(ii) would not assist Rahimi because his order included the finding required in subparagraph (C)(i). Gov’t Br. 4-5.

The SG brief accurately quotes our brief, although how we “accept” Section 922(g)(8)(C)(i) has some caveats. We agree with the Solicitor General that the original meaning of the Second Amendment, as elucidated by American historical tradition, is consistent with restricting Second Amendment rights of persons whose individual behavior shows them to be dangerous to others. That is why subsection (C)(i) does not infringe the Second Amendment.

However, our brief took no position on the due process issues of (C)(i). Those are addressed in the amicus briefs of the Bronx Defenders Union and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Alameda County and California Public Defenders. Likewise, the brief took no position on whether the restrictions imposed by section 922(g)(8)—a prison sentence of up to 15 years for possession of a firearm, even in the home—are comparable to historic restrictions on persons judicially found to be dangerous to others. Our amicus brief did say that some aspects of the firearms possession prohibitions 922(g) are insupportable by the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Our main disagreement with the Solicitor General is about subsection (C)(ii). The SG is correct that the domestic violence restraining order against Mr. Rahimi was issued under (C)(i), and so the Supreme Court could uphold his conviction for violating (C)(i); at the same time the Court could (and in our view, should), hold that (C)(ii) infringes the Second Amendment, and sever that subsection. The federal Gun Control Act has an express severability clause. 18 U.S.C. 928.

In defense of (C)(ii), the SG argues:

History and tradition establish legislatures’ authority to disarm dangerous or irresponsible categories of persons, and the category of individuals subject to protective orders specifically prohibiting the use of force against partners or children surely qualifies.

The SG argument has two weaknesses.

  • First, the claim about categorical disarmament is incorrect, at least in terms of original meaning.
  • Second, even if the categorical prohibitions enacted in the twentieth century can be used as precedents consistent with Bruen, they still don’t rescue 922(g)(8)(C)(ii), which is a unique infringement. It is the only federal firearms prohibition that does not “require a specific finding.”

As for original meaning, there were colonial period and Early Republic laws taking guns from individuals who had been judicially found to have misused those guns—such as by carrying arms to terrorize the public, or in a manner threatening to breach the peace. The SG opening brief cited these laws, and our amicus brief agreed with them.

The Solicitor General properly and explicitly rejected reliance on categorical disarmament laws from the original meaning period. Those laws aimed at Catholics (two colonies in 1756, at the start of the French & Indian War), slaves, or free people of color. Our amicus brief had explained why reliance on these bad laws by some of the SG’s amici was incorrect.

The Department of Justice’s rejection of these laws in Supreme Court briefing is purely tactical; in lower courts, the DOJ continues to claim that old laws that were rejected by subsequent constitutional enactments are still valid precedents for modern gun controls. For example, an October 30, 2023, brief in the Tenth Circuit argues that the two 1756 colonial laws against Catholics at the beginning of the French & Indian War are justifications for banning firearms possession by marijuana users. DOJ brief at 6, 13, 16, 18.

Once we put aside the prejudiced categorical laws that the SG does not invoke at the Supreme Court level, there are few precedents for categorical restrictions on arms rights of groups of people.

First, starting with an 1856 Alabama law against selling handguns to male minors, some states restricted the purchases of handguns, Bowie knives, and some other weapons by minors, or by minors who did not have parental consent. By the end of the 19th century, a significant minority of states had such laws. SG opening brief at 24-25. Whether laws about children are strong precedents for laws about adults seems questionable.

In the latter 19th century, a few states enacted laws against firearms carrying by “tramps”—often defined as itinerants who were away from their home county, and had no means of support. There were also against firearms sales to the insane, or to persons who were intoxicated. SG opening brief at 25-26.

Then in the twentieth century, other categorical restrictions became common, most notably in the federal Gun Control Act of 1968. Examples include: persons convicted of a crime that could be punished by over a year in prison; unlawful users of controlled substances; persons unlawfully in the United States; persons convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors; persons dishonarably discharged from the military; persons who have been adjudicated to be a “mental defective”; and persons who have renounced their American citizenship. 18 U.S.C. 922(g).

The bans on unlawful aliens and on persons who have renounced citizenship are easy to uphold without historical inquiry. The Second Amendment protects “the right of the people,” and neither unlawful aliens nor citizenship renouncers are among “the people” of the United States.

The Solicitor General is correct to say that the federal prohibitions that do apply to some of “the people” are based on Congress deciding some categories of persons are inherently dangerous.

However, none of the other prohibitions are comparable to section 922(g)(8)(C)(ii). Other than (C)(ii), every prohibition in the Gun Control Act requires that a decision-maker must made “a specific finding” about an individual. Here is a list of the government’s burden of proof for “a specific finding” for each of the firearms prohibitors in 922(g). We start at the top, and will finish with 922(g)(8)(C)(ii), which does not require proof of anything.

Proof by documents that an individual chose to file with the U.S. government

Federal law bans firearm possession by someone “who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship.” 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(7). To prove renunciation, the prosecution would have to introduce into evidence the documents that an individual had to file in order to renounce citizenship. Renunciation requires not only the documents, but also a personal appearance at a government office to take an oath of renunciation, and payment of a $2,350 fee.

Prior conviction of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt

Other prohibitors are based on criminal convictions, which of course require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or a guilty plea. “[W]ho has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1); “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” 922(g)(9).

A similar prohibitor is “who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions.” 922(g)(6). As in civilian courts, the standard for a court martial to convict someone of crimes leading to a dishonorable discharge is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt at a prohibition enforcement trial

Two of the 922(g) prohibitors require the government to prove “a specific finding” beyond a reasonable doubt in a prosecution to enforce the prohibitions. One prohibition is for anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)).” 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(3). The prosecution would have to prove the unlawful use or the addiction beyond a reasonable doubt.

Another category bans firearms possession by illegal or unlawful aliens, or, under some circumstances, by aliens admitted with nonimmigrant visas. “[W]ho, being an alien—(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26))).” 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5).

To win a conviction, the government would have to prove that the defendant is a person in the described category of aliens.

Lower standards of proof

The prohibitor “adjudicated as a mental defective”(922(g)(4)) typically requires the adjuticator to find that the person is “a mental defective” at some civil standard of proof. The adjudicator must specifically find that the individual is “(1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or (2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.” 27 C.F.R. 478.11.

Under section 922(n), a person who has been indicted may keep the arms and ammunition that he already owns, but not acquire more. Post-Bruen, U.S. district courts have split on the constitutionality of section 922(n). See, e.g., United States v. Kays, No. CR-22-40-D, 2022 WL 3718519 (W.D. Okla., Aug. 29, 2022) (upholding); United States v. Quiroz, No. PE:22-CR-00104-DC, 2022 WL 4352482 (W.D. Tex., Sept. 19, 2022) (holding unconstitutional).

An indictment is based on the standard of probable cause, and the grand jury typically hears only the prosecutor’s side of the case. Although the due process is weak, the government still has the burden of proving specific findings of probable cause for every element of the alleged crime.

Finally, there is the federal prohibition for a person “who has been committed to a mental institution.” 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4). This means an “involuntary” commitment for inpatient or outpatient treatment. 27 C.F.R. 478.11.

In Pennsylvania, a doctor can order a person to be examined within two hours at a treatment facility. The person can then be involuntarily committed if the examining physician at the treatment facility specifically finds that the person is “severely mentally disabled” and poses a “clear and present danger of harm.” See, e.g., Doe I v. Governor of Pennsylvania, 977 F.3d 270 (3d Cir. 2020).

Unlike the prohibitors that are based on factual findings by a jury or grand jury, the involuntary commitment prohibition is based on a factual finding by a physician. But at least there must be a factual finding.

Section 922(g)(8)

Subsection 922(g)(8)(C)(i) requires a factual finding by a judge that a person poses “a credible threat” to an “intimate partner” or child. In most states, the civil burden of proof—by a preponderance of evidence—would apply.

In contrast—and uniquely among all the federal statutory prohibitors, subsection (C)(ii) requires no fact-finding by anyone. The prohibition is simply created by a court order that

(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury;

As we said in the amicus brief, “Judicial orders that acrimonious domestic parties not do something illegal in the future is not equivalent to a judicial finding that there is ‘a credible threat’ of illegal behavior.”

In fact, as noted by Judge Ho’s concurrence in the Fifth Circuit Rahimi case, and in the Defender briefs, there is a widespread problem of judges perfunctorily issuing mutual restraining orders in domestic cases. As a result, an abuser and a victim may both be disarmed.

Subsection 922(g)(8)(C)(ii) is an outlier. It is the only federal gun prohibition for any of “the people” that at no stage of the process requires any finding of fact about a prohibited person. It is therefore a facial infringement of the Second Amendment.

Alone among congressional arm prohibitions, subsection 922(g)(8)(C)(ii) extinguishes the right of firearms self-defense without an iota of fact-finding. It disarms the just and the unjust. Ordered liberty is not so promiscuous in depriving the right to defend self and others.

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Biden Issues ‘A.I. Red Tape Wishlist’

President Biden signs AI executive order. | Illustration: Lex Villena; CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom

President Joe Biden issued yesterday a sweeping executive order aiming to impose federal regulation on the development of artificial intelligence technologies, such as large language models like ChatGPT. The executive order cites the emergency powers of the Korean War-era Defense Production Act as the justification for imposing federal regulation on AI technologies. As my Reason colleague Eric Boehm has pointed out, “the Defense Production Act has become a license for central planning.” Taken as a whole, the new order amounts to federal central planning for artificial intelligence.

Among other things, the order will “require that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government,” according to the White House. Specifically, the new federal AI regulators are supposed to oversee any “foundation model” that purportedly “poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety” by requiring that developers report to the secretary of commerce the results of extensive “red-team safety tests.” Roughly speaking, foundation models are large language models like OpenAI’s GPT-4, Google’s PaLM-2, and Meta’s LlamA 2. Red-teaming is the practice of creating adversarial squads of hackers to attack AI systems with the goal of uncovering weaknesses, biases, and security flaws. As it happens, the leading AI tech companies— OpenAI, Google, Meta—have been red-teaming their models all along.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is charged with setting up the additional safety standards with which the AI developers are supposed to comply. Complying with such reporting requirements will likely slow down the process of safety and security testing undertaken by Big Tech developers while at the same time driving out smaller competitors who cannot afford the costs of dotting regulatory i’s and crossing bureaucratic t’s. An even bigger worry is that the new AI safety testing orders will quickly evolve into the digital equivalent of the deadly slow hyper-precautionary FDA drug safety approval scheme.

It’s hard to see how U.S. national defense can be enhanced by slowing down domestic AI innovation. After all, U.S. regulations will not apply to foreign competitors who will be able to catch up and surpass U.S. artificial intelligence developers hampered by bureaucratic fetters.

In addition, the executive order directs the Department of Commerce to develop techniques for watermarking the outputs of AI technologies. This means embedding information into photos, videos, audio clips, or text to let users know that they were generated by AI. As it happens, AI companies like OpenAI and Google are already doing that. Of course, scammers and propagandists will simply ignore watermarking when they create their misleading deepfakes.

Biden’s order also directs various federal agencies to address the problem of AI “job displacement” and “job disruption.” And doubtlessly, such a powerful suite of technologies will affect nearly everyone’s work activities and prospects. But keep in mind the dire prediction back in 2014 that robots would steal one in three human jobs by 2025. Only just over a year to go, folks and the U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969.

On the plus side, Biden’s executive order does instruct the Department of Homeland Security to “modernize immigration pathways for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies.” This is always a good idea since such immigrants significantly boost U.S. technological progress, employment, and economic growth.

“White House executive order threatens to put AI in a regulatory cage,” is how the free market R Street Institute characterized the Biden administration’s regulatory proposals. In a statement, Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for the technology lobbying group NetChoice, warned that Biden’s new executive amounts to an “AI red tape wishlist” that “will result in stifling new companies and competitors from entering the marketplace and significantly expanding the power of the federal government over American innovation.” He added that the executive order “puts any investment in AI at risk of being shut down at the whims of government bureaucrats.”

Over at Forbes, Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow James Broughel glumly warns, “Biden’s AI safety order could well be the biggest policy mistake of my lifetime.”

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Joe Rogan Shoots Arrow At Cybertruck’s Stainless Steel Exoskeleton

Joe Rogan Shoots Arrow At Cybertruck’s Stainless Steel Exoskeleton

Tesla’s long-awaited Cybertruck, which boasts bulletproof capabilities (though limited to 9mm rounds), is going viral again.

A new video shows Joe Rogan shooting an arrow via a compound bow into the passenger door – only to ricochet off the 301 stainless steel exoskeleton. This must mean the ‘apocalypse vehicle’ is now “arrow-proof.”

Responding to Rogan’s Instagram post, one user said, “Already pre-ordered mine!!,” while another said, “Getting ready for ww3.” 

The video is part of Elon Musk’s visit to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. This is the billionaire’s fourth appearance on the show. 

Earlier this month, Musk revealed on X his team of Tesla engineers “emptied the entire drum magazine of a Tommy gun into the driver door” of the new Cybertruck, adding the bulletproof test was like “Al Capone-style.”

Musk was commenting on a video shared by the Tesla Owners Club of Silicon Valley that shows a Cybertruck coasting down the highway with dozens of bullet holes in the vehicle’s driver’s side.

The Cybertruck’s skin is the same stainless steel used in SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, according to a 2019 Motortrend article.

… and now you understand why Tesla does not advertise or pay for endorsements. This type of organic advertising is enough to attract Cybertruck demand as Democrats fail to enforce law and order across major metro areas, which has only triggered one of the worst crime tsunamis in a generation. 

Who doesn’t want an apocalypse vehicle that can stop arrows from compound bows and 9mm rounds? 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 17:25

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GOP Governors Lean On NCAA To Keep ‘Biological Men’ Out Of Women’s Sports

GOP Governors Lean On NCAA To Keep ‘Biological Men’ Out Of Women’s Sports

Authored by Philip Wegmann via RealClear Wire,

Republican governors are quietly leaning on one of their former colleagues while pressing the NCAA to bar biological men and women from competing against one another. It is the latest in an ongoing debate over transgender athletes in women’s sports.

Led by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, nine states brought their case directly to NCAA President Charlie Baker, warning the former Republican Massachusetts governor that, without a change in rules, “truly remarkable female athletes” were at risk of being dominated by “average male athletes.”

According to sources familiar with those discussions, Baker in turn referred the governors to a body called the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.

“The NCAA has the chance to guarantee an environment where female college athletes can thrive without the concern of inequities. We trust that you also want to guarantee just such an environment,” the governors wrote that body in a letter obtained first by RealClearPolitics.

Arguments over including transgender athletes in women’s sports have divided the country in recent years, and the issue has become something of a litmus test for the candidates now running for the Republican presidential nomination.

“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” Gov. Ron DeSantis, said in 2021 while signing a bill mandating that policy. On the campaign trail, meanwhile, former South Carolina Gov.  Nikki Haley has called keeping biological boys out of girls spaces “the women’s issue of our time.” For his part, former President Trump has vowed to “defeat the cult of gender ideology.”

Eighteen states have passed laws banning transgender athletes from participating in female school sports, and earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that West Virginia’s ban was constitutional and could remain in place.

The Biden administration has proposed federal rules that would allow schools to place limits on transgender students competing on teams that do not match their biological sex. The proposed rules would, however, bar schools from enacting across-the-board bans on trans athletes. According to the governors, this has left the states as “the last line of defense for protecting fairness in women’s and girls’ sports.”

According to a source familiar with the drafting of the letter, Baker was “very gracious” and “highly cooperative” even as Republicans lean on the organization that he now leads to update their rules.

The letter follows a call that Noem made two years ago to build a “coalition to defend fairness in women’s sports.” That bloc is now emerging. Eight governors co-signed the letter to the NCAA: Sarah Sanders of Arkansas, Mike Parsons of Missouri, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Joe Lombardo of Nevada, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Gregg Abbott of Texas, and Mark Gordon of Wyoming. Notably, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, chairman of the Republican Governors Association’s policy arm, which represents the 26 states with GOP executives, also co-signed the letter to the NCAA.

The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach, which the governors oppose. Proponents note that this policy brings the NCAA in line with their counterparts on both the U.S. and international Olympic committees.

But this policy allows the NCAA to avoid responsibility for ensuring the fairness of collegiate sports – therefore it must be changed,” the GOP governors wrote in their letter.

The governors pointed to “fundamental” differences between men and women, arguing that “biological men are generally taller, faster, stronger, and have more testosterone than biological women,” which when they compete against one another “puts women, through no fault of their own, at a disadvantage.”

Exhibit A for the Republican governors is Riley Gaines, the former Kentucky swimmer who set Southeastern Conference records before finishing in a dead heat with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania in 200-yard NCAA freestyle championship in 2022.

“Traditionally, when two swimmers tie, they both stand on top of the podium – but Riley was told that the trophy was going to be given to Lia. When Riley asked why she couldn’t stand for photos with the first-place trophy that she rightfully earned, she was given a series of non-answers that boiled down to ‘we just have to give it to Lia,’” the governors wrote.

“The decade of hard work and the countless hours spent in the pool were suddenly wasted. Riley’s lifetime of achievement was ripped away from her by someone who shouldn’t have even been in the race—all for a photo op,” they continued.

During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, Baker distanced himself from the rules that allowed Lia to compete against Gaines, noting that the controversy predated his time as head of the NCAA.

“As I said before, the rules around transgender athletes generally are more restrictive today than they were in 2022,” Baker told lawmakers. “And I can state pretty clearly that no one’s going to get forced into any sort of situation that’s going to make them uncomfortable.”

That testimony has not assuaged the fears of the coalition of governors led by Noem.

The NCAA has the opportunity to guarantee a fair environment for women’s sports. If you take this opportunity, it will expand the possibilities for so many young women for years to come,” they wrote. “But if you continue the NCAA’s misguided policies, stories like Riley Gaines’ will only become more common.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/31/2023 – 17:05

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