President Trump has nominated federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, it would create a bloc of five right-wing justices, making it the most conservative Supreme Court since the 1930s. Critics warn this could lead to major rollbacks of civil rights, environmental regulations, gun control measures, voting rights and reproductive rights, including possibly overturning Roe v. Wade. This is Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, speaking Monday night.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh: “My judicial philosophy is straightforward: A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”
We’ll host a roundtable discussion on Brett Kavanaugh after headlines.
In immigration news, the Trump administration will not meet today’s deadline to reunite all migrant children under the age of 5 whom immigration officials took from their parents at the border and then sent to jails and detention centers across the country. The Justice Department says it will reunite only about half of the more than 100 migrant children under 5 today, after a federal judge in San Diego agreed to extend the deadline mandating the reunification of all of the youngest children. Today’s secretive reunification operation will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and will involve transporting the children hundreds of miles across the country to undisclosed locations. In total, about 3,000 children are still separated from their parents.
Meanwhile, federal Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles dealt a major blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to indefinitely jail migrant families, including asylum seekers. She ruled the Trump administration cannot amend the 1997 Flores agreement, which says children cannot be jailed for more than 20 days. All this comes as pro-immigration protests continue nationwide, including in Ohio, where 12 activists were arrested blockading an office of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, in downtown Columbus.
President Trump is flying to Brussels today for the NATO summit. Thousands rallied over the weekend in Brussels to oppose Trump’s visit, many carrying banners reading “Pro-America, Anti-Trump” and “Make Peace Great Again.” Tuesday’s opening of the NATO summit comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party is in crisis, after two top officials—Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis—resigned Monday.
In East Africa, the historic peace effort between Ethiopia and Eritrea continued Monday, with the leaders of the neighboring countries signing a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” and declaring an end to the nearly 2-decades-long “state of war.” From 1998 to 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war in which 70,000 people were killed. Since then, ongoing border disputes have kept the two countries in a state of conflict. This is U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, celebrating the news of the landmark peace declaration.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “I believe that the recent evolution in relation to between Eritrea and Ethiopia is a very important signal of hope, not only for the two countries, not only for Africa, but for the whole world.”
In Afghanistan, a suicide bomb attack in the eastern city of Jalalabad has killed at least 19 people, including 10 Sikhs. At least 20 more people were wounded in the bombing, which came only hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated a hospital in Jalalabad. No group has claimed responsibility so far.
In Burma, two Reuters journalists have been charged under Burma’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries up to 14 years in prison. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12 as they investigated a Burmese military massacre of Rohingya Muslims committed in the village of Inn Din last September. This is Wa Lone speaking outside the court Monday.
Wa Lone: “We didn’t commit any crime. What I would like to say in relation to the court’s decision today is that we will not give up. The court’s decision is not a declaration that we are guilty. Even though we are charged, we are not guilty. We have an opportunity to defend ourselves. In the upcoming sessions, we will testify to our innocence. We will not tremble before the charges laid on us.”
In Haiti, workers launched a general strike Monday, shutting down the capital Port-au-Prince, amid ongoing anti-austerity protests nationwide. The protests began Friday, when the government tried to dramatically raise fuel prices at the behest of the International Monetary Fund. This is Haitian protester Francois Anelson.
Francois Anelson: “I think that President Jovenel Moïse should step down because of his incompetence—above all, because he makes bad decisions. In this case, he should leave as soon as possible.”
In Thailand, rescuers have evacuated all 12 boys from a youth soccer team, and their coach, from an underground cave. The group had been trapped since June 23. The dangerous rescue operation has captivated the world.
In India, a widespread environmental movement in the capital New Delhi has forced the government to abandon its plans to cut down 16,000 trees in a city that is already one of the most polluted on Earth. The month-long grassroots movement included thousands of people participating in vigils, sit-ins, tree-defense patrols and tree-planting activities. Residents also filed lawsuits, which forced a high court to halt all tree cutting in the city, ruling it could “not allow Delhi to die at the cost of the redevelopment projects.”
Back in the United States, President Trump’s longtime personal driver, Noel Cintron, has sued the Trump Organization, arguing he was not paid for more than 3,000 hours of overtime in recent years. The lawsuit argues, “In an utterly callous display of unwarranted privilege and entitlement … President Donald Trump has, through the defendant entities, exploited and denied significant wages to his own long-standing personal driver.”
Meanwhile, the Trump Organization is seeking to hire 61 foreign guest workers through the H-2B visa program to cook and clean at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. While Trump has sought to crack down dramatically on nearly every form of immigration into the U.S. during his time in office, he has expanded the H-2B visa program, which benefits companies seeking to hire foreign workers for seasonal, low-wage work.
And in Virginia, a federal court has ruled that a civil rights lawsuit against the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who planned last year’s deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, can move forward. The lawsuit filed by Charlottesville residents argues the organizers of the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act and the 1866 Civil Rights Act. The suit specifically names prominent white supremacists, including Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer and James Fields, who killed anti-racist protester Heather Heyer when he drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters.