There is an interesting lawsuit out of Texas where a white Austin lawyer has sued to strike down a law that imposes a race and gender quote for the governing board of the State Bar. The law requires that four of the positions be filled by women and racial or ethnic minorities. Family law attorney, Greg Gegenheimer, 38, has challenged the law under the U.S. Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws. The Project on Fair Representation provided the lawyers assisting Gegenheimer. The Project was involved in Fisher case challenging the admission policies at the University of Texas before the Supreme Court.
We have followed the rapid decline of civil liberties under the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past few years as well as his empowering of Islamic parties in the once secular state. When Erdogan first ran, he assured Turks that he was committed to the secular traditions and constitution of the country. He then did precisely the opposite in power by chipping away at secular laws, introducing Islamic governing principles, and assuming authoritarian power. After the attempted recent coup, Erdogan has arrested thousands of his opponents. He has suspended civil liberties and shutdown the free media. He has also replaced academics and other professionals with Islamic party stalwarts. Now, we have a chilling story of just how Erdogan’s government has wiped out secular values. Dr. Abuzer Meral, an employee of a private hospital in the Turkish city of Yalova, was fired after merely objecting to mandatory religious studies for children.
We have been following the honor killings around the world where women are beaten and killed for attempting to marry for love or seek education in traditional Muslim countries. The latest murderer is Rahim Dad who can claim to have killed not just one but two wives for “honor.” Dad slit his wife’s throat in Bara Qabristan, Pakistan after an argument.
In 2010, I (and others) criticized the Democratic leadership (including then Majority Leader Harry Reid and many of the continuing Democratic senators) for their use of the “nuclear option” in curtailing the power of the filibuster. I was equally critical of Republican leaders who previously suggested such a course of action. It was remarkably short-sighted and, like so many moves during this period, impulsive. The Democrats acted with little concern that they might ever be in the minority and need this critical power. They muscled through the Affordable Care Act on a marginal vote that cost various members their seats and passed a highly flawed bill that was plagued by problems of bad drafting and poor planning. Moreover, they secured relatively few confirmations to federal office. Now, however, the bill will come due for the Democrats as they long for the minority rights that they so blithely threw away. The first such cost will likely occur in the waiver that will be given to Gen. James N. Mattis who has not satisfied the requisite seven years to pass since retirement in order to become Secretary of Defense.
The medieval Islamic system enforced in Saudi Arabia is on display this week after Malak Al Shehri decided to do what most women around the world do without a second’s thought: she went out into public without covering herself up with a veil or hijab. Malak then posted herself on a public street. The result has been volcanic with some supporting her courage but many others calling for her to be beheaded or “thrown to the dogs.” It is a reminder of the plight of women in the Kingdom and other Islamic countries imposing Sharia law.
Donald Trump has set off a new controversy with a signature early morning tweet. Trump lashed out at those who burn American flags and said that they should be punished for their actions. The problem is that this question was already answered by the Supreme Court, which found that such acts (while despicable) are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro is dead at age 90. While many around the world spoke highly of Castro’s success in greatly reducing illiteracy and proving basic services like health care, I have long been critical of his reign and his enablers in the West. Whatever success he achieved, he did so through a brutal dictatorship that denied freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other basic civil liberties. For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, he was a defining character of our generation. The menace across the border. When we were being taught to shelter under our desks in any nuclear attack, it was his image with that of the Soviet premier that would be flashed across the screen. It was a time of utter madness and mania — on both sides of the Iron Curtain.