Recapping a wild Championship Sunday – The Denver Post

Nineteen thoughts on Sunday’s conference title games:

1. It was the first time both conference title games went into overtime. The Rams created a turnover to win at New Orleans, and New England marched down the field (13 plays, 75 yards) to beat Kansas City. The Chiefs never even got the football in overtime.

2. There are three Broncos connections on the Rams: cornerback Aqib Talib (traded in the offseason), running back C.J. Anderson (cut during the offseason) and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (left after 2016 season).

3. Ultimately in Patriots-Chiefs, it was tight end Rob Gronkowski vs. gimpy Chiefs safety Eric Berry. Gronk, discovering the fountain of football middle age, had a 25-yard catch to set up a fourth-quarter touchdown and then a 15-yard catch (on third-and-10). It was a mistake to have Berry on Gronkowski in man coverage outside. Berry played only two regular-season games because of a heel injury.

4. Of all the sketchy calls and replay delays in both games, it was an easy call on Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford that kept Kansas City from its first Super Bowl in 49 years. Tom Brady was intercepted to end the Patriots’ hopes, but Ford was lined up in the neutral zone to give New England life.

5. The Rams-Saints game went overtime and had one lead change (the final score). The Patriots-Chiefs game had four lead changes … in the final 7 minutes, 45 seconds heading into overtime.

6. Let’s start with the first game. Absolutely, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman got away with pass interference with 1:49 remaining in regulation. If the penalty was called, the Saints would have had a fresh set of downs and could run down the clock for a winning field goal. New Orleans kicked the go-ahead field goal, but left 1:41 left for the Rams.

7. But stop the belly-aching about the Saints. Don’t feel sorry for them. They were on their home field. They should have led 21-0 in the first quarter but had to settle for two red zone field goals. They led 20-10 midway through the third quarter. And they butchered their final drive of regulation. They should have never had to rely on a judgment call.

8. Following a 43-yard catch by receiver Ted Ginn at the two-minute warning, the Saints threw incomplete on first down. Clock stopped. Ran for no gain. Rams called timeout. And then the incompletion/non-penalty call. The Saints used only 17 seconds of the clock. Just inexcusable.

9. What poise throughout the final three quarters and overtime by the Rams, who looked like the stage was too big, the crowd too loud and the Saints’ skill players too slippery early on. Their defense kept them in the game with the aforementioned red-zone stops. Credit coach Sean McVay for rubber-stamping a fake punt early in the second quarter that led to the Rams’ first points (a field goal to cut the lead to 13-3).

10. Jared Goff showed terrific awareness at the end of both halves. Down 13-3, he led a seven-play, 81-yard drive that took only 1:29. He completed passes of 17 and 36 yards on consecutive plays to set up Todd Gurley’s 6-yard touchdown. And at the end of regulation, Goff converted a second-and-10 and a third-and-3.

11. Sean McVay, 32, will become the youngest coach in Super Bowl history. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin was 36 when the Steelers won after the 2008 season.

12. Moving forward for the Rams, what’s up with Gurley? He had four carries for 10 yards and one catch. Anderson had 16 carries. Gurley missed time late in the regular season with a knee injury, and the camera shots of him trying to stretch out suggested something was up physically. Another two-week break should benefit him.

13. And now the circus that was Patriots-Chiefs, the first AFC title game to require overtime since the Broncos’ win at Cleveland after the 1986 season.

14. The Patriots were a yard away from taking control early in the second quarter. They had third down at the Chiefs’ 1, but Brady was intercepted by linebacker Reggie Ragland in the end zone. It ended Brady’s postseason streak of 228 passes without an interception. Kansas City, though, could not take advantage.

15. Down 14-0, Kansas City got back in the game on a third-and-2 play. The Patriots rushed only three (big mistake). Patrick Mahomes had 6.01 seconds to survey the field, left to right and shallow to deep, before throwing 54 yards to Sammy Watkins. Mahomes threw a 12-yard touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce on the next play.

Giuliani says Trump pursued Moscow tower throughout ’16, raising questions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump pursued a business deal to erect a tower bearing his name in Moscow throughout 2016, his attorney said on Sunday, raising new questions for congressional investigators looking into possible ties between the president and Russia.

FILE PHOTO: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he may have continued to pursue the project and had discussions about it with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, until as late as October or November 2016, when Trump was closing in on his election victory against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“It’s our understanding that they (the discussions) went on throughout 2016,” Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November,” he said. “But the president’s recollection of them is that the thing had petered out quite a bit.”

The Moscow deal ultimately did not materialize but Giuliani’s remarks suggest that Trump’s discussions about the project with Cohen may have dragged on months longer than had been publicly known.

“That is news to me. And that is big news,” Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said on “Meet the Press.” “It’s remarkable that we’re two years after the fact and just discovering it today.”

An investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign has loomed large over the Trump presidency amid media reports of his team’s connections with Russia.

On Friday, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller who leads the investigation took the rare step of disputing elements of a BuzzFeed News report that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow real estate deal.

Trump has denied the BuzzFeed article’s claim and Giuliani backed him: “I can tell you his counsel to Michael Cohen throughout that entire period was: ‘Tell the truth’.”

Trump has repeatedly condemned the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” while denying any collusion with Moscow. Russia also denies any interference in the U.S. elections.

Warner, whose panel is conducting its own Russia probe, said the possibility that Trump pursued a business deal with Russia until as late as the 2016 election increases the need to know about his dealings as president with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

“That raises a whole host of questions that the American public needs an answer to and the Congress needs an answer to,” Warner said.

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to charges he lied to Congress when he testified that the discussions ended in January 2016. Instead, Cohen said they actually continued until that June, after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination.

Cohen, who has been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to lawmakers, is expected to testify before the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7. The House and Senate intelligence committees also want to hear from Cohen.

The president has provided written answers to questions from Mueller on the Moscow project, according to Giuliani.

“Our answers cover until the election. So any time during that period, they could have talked about it,” he said.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Jeffrey Benkoe

Gabbard says Democrats share blame in shutdown logjam

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

“The problem here is that this issue, like so many others in Washington, are being relegated to partisan politics,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic candidate for president Tulsi Gabbard said Sunday that her party’s leadership was not blameless for the partial government shutdown that is now approaching a month, accusing both sides of posturing and refusing to compromise.

“The problem here is that this issue, like so many others in Washington, are being relegated to partisan politics,” she said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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“Where if a Republican is putting forward a proposal, Democrats are going to shoot it down. If Democrats are putting forward a proposal, Republicans are going to shoot it down, really thinking about which party can call a win on this issue.”

The result, she said, is a loss for the country and especially the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, which has been driven over disagreements about immigration.

Negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders have stalled, but President Donald Trump put the ball back in Democrats’ court on Saturday when he announced an offer that would include his $5.7 billion request to fund a steel barrier along parts of the southern border in return for temporary protections for immigrants with temporary protected status and who came to the U.S. as children.

Democrats have roundly rejected the proposal, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling any wall funding a “nonstarter” and criticizing the offer’s lack of permanent relief on the issue of TPS and Dreamers.

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said that Trump’s proposal is not the administration’s final offer and that there could be room to negotiate, but he also said it was disappointing that Democrats had refused the offer outright.

But Gabbard said Sunday that both parties are guilty of being unyielding, adding that both sides are displaying an “unwillingness to actually just sit down and work through the details that each side is putting forward, knowing that neither side is going to get everything they need.”

Both Democrats and Republicans have “completely hardened their positions and are unwilling to come together and work out the differences,” she said, pointing out it’s not an isolated problem.

She said the problem is “an unwillingness to just say, ‘Hey, here’s my position. Here’s yours. Let’s figure out how we can work out the differences that we can, putting forward the best solution for the American people.’”

While recent public polling has pinned most of the blame for the shutdown on Trump and the GOP, that could shift if the public agrees with Pence that the White House’s offer is a “good faith compromise” that Democrats refuse to consider.

Democrats have argued that the president will need to reopen the government before engaging in any real negotiations over border security.

The Supreme Court may take a chunk out of MLK’s legacy

A new conservative bloc on the Supreme Court though may soon treat them as something else: outdated “racial entitlements” that need to be put back in their place.

“They will chip, chip away at these laws until there is nothing left,” says Carol Anderson, author of “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.”

“I could see the court tilting further and further to the right until we end up with a dystopian society.”

Such steady erosion would halt what some call the “Second American Civil Rights Revolution.” It would also destroy a central plank in the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. When the nation celebrates the King holiday on Monday, much of the focus will be on his stirring speeches and dramatic marches.
But these three laws are as central to King’s legacy as his “I Have a Dream” speech. They are in some ways the legal foundation for the “Beloved Community” he evoked in his speeches and books. While he wasn’t the only person who fought and died for these laws — there were countless others who did the same — King’s role in their passage was indispensable.

Today these laws touch virtually every American. They have changed everything from how women are treated in the workplace to protecting people with disabilities. Yet few realize these laws came about only because of a brutal struggle. And even fewer may be aware how a new high court could unravel them — all while claiming to honor the civil rights leader.

Here’s how some legal scholars and historians say it could happen.

The Fair Housing Act: Changing the way we define discrimination

It was one of the most frightening moments in his ministry, and it was all caught on film.

It was in August 1966 and King had launched a campaign to integrate housing in Chicago. He was about to lead a march on a sunny summer day when a white mob confronted him in a park. Someone threw a rock, and it hit King in the head. He fell to a knee, a look of fear visible on his face.

“I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hateful as I’ve seen here in Chicago,” King told reporters afterward.
The question that haunts King's last day in Memphis
King’s Chicago campaign would ultimately languish. But his assassination two years later would spark the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The legislation had been stalled, but President Lyndon Johnson successfully urged Congress to pass it, saying it would honor King’s legacy. When he signed it into law, Johnson declared, “The voice of justice speaks again.”
The fair housing law is one of the most consequential ones in America. It literally hits people where they live. It outlaws discrimination in the renting, buying and financing of homes based on race, religion, national origin and gender. It also protects families with children and people with disabilities seeking housing.

“It goes way beyond race, and it has from the very start,” says Gregory D. Squires, editor of “The Fight for Fair Housing: Causes, Consequences and Future Implications of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.”

The act is less well known than the other two landmark laws. But it’s become a battleground for one of the most powerful tools used to fight discrimination of any kind. That tool is called the “disparate impact standard,” and many legal scholars expect the court’s conservative bloc to abolish it.

The standard looks not at the racial intent but the racial impact of a policy. The government doesn’t have to catch a landlord or mortgage lender being intentionally racist to conclude they’re discriminating. It looks at statistical evidence, which often reveals racial disparities.

“A policy that concentrates low income housing vouchers in poor, minority neighborhoods, for example, is every bit as discriminatory as a whites-only listing — per a disparate impact reading of the Fair Housing Act,” Kriston Capps explained in an article for CityLab magazine called “Is the Fight for Fair Housing Over?
Riots erupted in Chicago and other cities after King's  1968 assassination.
Critics of disparate impact, though, say it’s a contrived legal theory that encourages frivolous lawsuits and the use of racial quotas. They say the Fair Housing Act was only meant to target intentional discrimination.
The Obama administration relied on disparate impact to secure a $335 million settlement in 2011 against Bank of America. The government concluded the bank’s now-defunct Countrywide Financial unit had charged black and Latino customers higher rates and fees than white applicants with similar credit histories.

The standard is crucial, civil rights advocates say, because it’s used not only in housing law, but other areas such as in education and employment regulations. Plus, the most insidious forms of racism are no longer overt, they say: Few people are going to be dumb enough to write a memo saying don’t rent to Mexicans or Muslims. The standard gives advocates a radar for detecting discrimination even when it’s hidden or unintentional.

Disparate impact, though, has been hanging by a legal thread at the Supreme Court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy was the only conservative who voted to preserve the standard during a crucial housing case in 2015. He said the courts shouldn’t just pay attention to intentional racism. In his decision upholding the standard, he alluded to the damage done by “unconscious prejudices and disguised animus.”
Brett Kavanaugh will help dismantle key civil rights laws, activists say.

Kennedy has retired — while the four conservative justices who dissented in that case are still on the court.

They’re now joined by Kennedy’s replacement, Kavanaugh, who has a history of being skeptical of disparate impact theory, according to several groups that examined his record.

The high court may now be poised to render the Fair Housing Act toothless — and, some say, dramatically narrow the definition of discrimination.

“You’d have to prove that a real estate agent said, ‘I’m not going to sell you a house because you’re black,’ and they’re not going to do that,” says Peter Irons, author of “A People’s History of the Supreme Court,” which looks at how the high court has acted to thwart social change.

It could mark a return to a segregated America, when banks and real estate agents used various means to prevent the “wrong kind of people” from moving into white neighborhoods, Squires says.

“We would probably see less movement in the direction of more diverse communities, and increasing incidents of discrimination,” says Squires, who is also a sociology professor at the George Washington University.

“Housing providers would feel empowered to do things they wouldn’t do today with disparate impact.”

How Brett Kavanaugh will collide with a changing America
The Trump administration appears to be feeling empowered enough to question the standard. The Washington Post recently reported that officials are considering rolling back the use of disparate impact in ways that would dilute federal rules against discrimination of women and people of color in areas such as housing and education.
Such a move would take the United States back to a pre-civil rights era, writes Nancy LeTourneau in a Washington Monthly column about the proposed rule change.

“We’ll be headed back to the 1950s when it comes to civil rights,” she says, “with racists given free rein to discriminate as long as they don’t make racially biased statements about it in public.”

The 1965 Voting Rights Act: Taking it off ‘life support’

Here’s a thought that frightens some people who worry about the spread of voting restrictions across America:

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. is now considered the swing vote on the Supreme Court.
Civil rights advocates have long regarded Roberts as an implacable foe of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which targets racially discriminatory voting restrictions. He was a “key foot solider” in the Reagan administration’s attempts to weaken the law as a litigator in the Justice Department. One Justice Department lawyer told Mother Jones that Roberts “had it in for the Voting Rights Act” as far back as the 1980s, noting that he thought it should only address intentional discrimination.

He still does, says Anderson, author of “One Person, No Vote.”

“I don’t think John Roberts believes in the Voting Rights Act,” she says. “Because John Roberts has this veneer of respectability, folks find it very difficult to place uber-right ideologies in that veneer. If you’re looking at the man’s record, you can’t be hopeful.”

In 2013, Roberts wrote the ruling that struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. Section 5 had stipulated that states with a history of racially discriminatory voting first had to “pre-clear” any voting change with the federal government.

The Rev. James J. Reeb was killed in 1965 in Selma, Alabama, after going to march there for voting rights laws.
That section of the law was transformative. Before the Voting Rights Act, the South was virtually an apartheid state. Black people who tried to register to vote were sometimes beaten or murdered. Voter registration offices were closed or rarely opened in black areas, and blacks voters faced “literacy tests” that were nearly impossible to pass.

King called the right to vote the “No. 1 civil rights issue.”

“So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself,” King said in a 1957 speech at the Lincoln Memorial, “Give Us the Ballot — We Will Transform the South.”

“I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.”

His leadership was vital in forcing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. He helped organize and lead a campaign in Selma, Alabama, that was designed specifically to produce a voting rights bill.

The law is known today as “the crown jewel” of the movement. The dramatic expansion of black political power within the last 30 years was made possible by the act. No Voting Rights Act, no President Barack Obama.
Toobin: Chief justice out to end affirmative action

In the Shelby decision, Roberts said the court was not overturning the law’s permanent ban on racial discrimination in voting. It was merely jettisoning a formula that unfairly targeted states with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices. He praised the Voting Rights Act, saying, “There is no denying that, due to the Voting Rights Act, our nation has made great strides.”

Roberts’ rhetoric offered a sneak preview of how the court will go after other civil rights laws, some say: Gut them while celebrating their importance. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin described Roberts’ reasoning this way: “Declare victory in the nation’s fight against racial discrimination and then to disable the weapons with which that struggle was won.”

Voting rights advocates still hold out some hope for what remains of the Voting Rights Act, but the results so far have been mixed.

Section 2 of the act bans racially discriminatory voting practices once they go into effect. It also bans any local voting changes that have “the result” of denying racial minorities participation in the political process. But some say relying only on Section 2 hurls voting rights back to the way they were before the law ever existed. Then, as now, voters had to spend a lot of time and money on lawsuits that target racially discriminatory voting changes after they went into effect.
King's leadership was crucial on civil rights legislation, but Johnson and others played key roles.

Voting rights activists recently tried to use Section 2 to go after the Texas Legislature.

They argued before the high court that state lawmakers violated Section 2 when they drew congressional and legislative maps that diluted minority voters. The conservative bloc on the high court, though, voted 5-4 last year in Abbott v. Perez to uphold all but one of Texas’ congressional and state legislative districts. One voting rights expert said that decision gives “states like Texas freer rein for repression of minority voting rights.”
The high court’s decision rejected a lower court finding that lawmakers had violated the Voting Rights Act by drawing maps that discriminated against black and Latino voters. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the Abbott decision that courts must presume the “good faith” of state lawmakers when gauging whether their voting changes were driven by racism.
That same month, the court’s conservative bloc also approved Ohio’s purging of its voting rolls, a move that some critics say changes voting rights to a “use it or lose it” proposition.

Anderson says the high court’s conservative bloc isn’t finished with the Voting Rights Act.

“They will go after Section 2 and just say there’s no need for the Voting Rights Act; people can vote if they want to,” says Anderson, who is also a professor of African-American studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

The conservative bloc on the high court will then treat voting ID laws, which discourage millions of Americans from voting, as an issue of character, not discrimination, Anderson says. She doesn’t expect Kavanaugh to change the court’s trajectory on voting rights. He was part of a panel of three federal judges that upheld a South Carolina voter ID law in 2012.
The character argument is already being invoked. In 2016, an Alabama election official said he opposes automatically registering voters when they turn 18 because allowing “lazy people” to register without any effort would “cheapen” the civil rights movement’s voting rights legacy.
The greatest MLK speeches you never heard

“They’re going to treat the issue of voter turnout, the issue of voter registration, as a singular moral issue, a personal failing,” Anderson says, “not a structural one that the state has put into place.”

One legal commentator says voting rights are on “life support,” and that the United States is in the midst of “the worst decade for voter suppression since the 1940s.” Anderson evokes another era when she thinks of life after the movement’s “crown jewel” has been tarnished.

It would look in some ways like America before the Civil War — half-slave, half-free — half of the country making voting more accessible while the other half throws up restrictions.

“We’re going to have the kind of political battles that become so frayed,” Anderson says, “that it will feel like a Disunited States.”

The 1964 Civil Rights Act: Goodbye affirmative action?

It was called “the child of a storm,” the product of one of the most turbulent periods in American history during peacetime.

At the center of that storm was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was birthed not just in idealism, but also blood. Kennedy first introduced a civil rights bill in 1963. Lyndon Johnson, however, could only summon the congressional will to pass the law by invoking Kennedy’s death after a ferocious yearlong legislative battle.

What pushed Kennedy to introduce the bill was relentless pressure from King and other civil rights protesters. King led a bloody civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 that provoked outrage across the globe. He also wrote his classic “Letter From Birmingham Jail” during the protests.

President John F. Kennedy goes on TV to urge passage of a civil rights bill.
Kennedy went on national television to call for a civil rights bill in June 1963. He echoed King’s letter so much that “in a powerful sense, King and the movement were the authors of the president’s oratory,” historian Jonathan Rieder wrote.

King was ecstatic after hearing Kennedy’s speech.

“Can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit it over the fence!” he said.

The law spelled the end of “For Whites Only” signs in public places. But it didn’t just help racial minorities. It explicitly banned discrimination against women and religious minorities as well. It inspired millions of women to enter the workplace. And it served as a model for other anti-discrimination measures such as the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

It also spawned one of the most controversial legacies of the civil rights movement: the use of affirmative action, particularly in higher education.

Mention affirmative action, and some people’s blood pressure immediately spikes. There’s a popular argument among conservatives that King opposed affirmative action. It’s not true. Although King did not use the phrase “affirmative action” — it was coined by Kennedy — he supported the concept.

“A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro,” King wrote in his final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

There’s also a popular belief that affirmative action is used today to set racial quotas and compensate for slavery and segregation.

But the high court has long banned those uses of affirmative action. In its 1978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court ruled that colleges could consider the race of applicants only for the purposes of building diversity in a student body.
Affirmative action in higher education survived a near-death experience in 2016 when Justice Anthony Kennedy cast a surprising and pivotal vote upholding the University of Texas’ race-based admissions plan.

But the rationale used to justify the Bakke and Texas decisions is also hanging by a thread.

The court’s conservative bloc may soon ban colleges from considering the race of applicants under any circumstances, even to promote diversity, some say.

Chief Justice John Roberts has been hostile to the legal legacy of the civil rights movement, advocates say.
What inspires such pessimism? All five conservatives on the bench come out of a conservative legal movement that was formed in part to strike down anti-discrimination laws. That movement says dividing people up by race is unconstitutional, that the Constitution is “colorblind” and that all Americans should be treated as individuals, not as members of a racial or ethnic group.
Roberts, the chief justice, alluded to this legal point of view when he once wrote in a voting rights case, “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”

The high court has been led by conservatives before, but nothing like this new bloc, says Garrett Epps, a constitutional law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

“It really is a group of people who self-identify as movement conservatives, and their mission is to take the courts back and fundamentally change their function in our political system,” Epps says.

Roberts already has written an opinion striking down some school district plans designed to promote diversity.

In 2007, Roberts drew a moral equivalence between two districts’ plans to keep schools from becoming racially segregated and Jim Crow-era schools that banned black children from attending.

Roberts cited the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which outlawed the “separate but equal” doctrine that led to segregated schools, in the 5-4 opinion that struck down the plans in Seattle and Louisville, Kentucky.

“Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin. The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons,” Roberts wrote.

Kavanaugh is equally opposed to affirmative action, some civil rights advocates say.

The NAACP described him as a “hard-core ideologue” who is “hostile” to affirmative action. The group pointed to his work helping the Bush administration’s unsuccessful 2003 challenge to a University of Michigan admission program that considered race. The NAACP noted Kavanaugh once wrote that “the Constitution does not allow governmental racial classifications.”

If affirmative action in higher education is struck down, some people say they already know what to expect. They cite California.

King pressured Kennedy to call for a civil rights bill by leading protests and going to jail.
In 1996, nearly two decades after the Bakke decision, California voters passed Proposition 209, which banned the use of affirmative action in educational settings. Following the ban, admission offers to blacks at UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, fell by 55%, according to one estimate. One UCLA faculty member told The New Yorker that his school ended up “looking more like Ole Miss.”

“We had a massive plummeting of Latino and African-American students in law schools and in medical schools,” says Anderson, author of “One Person, No Vote.” The ban still stands.

Epps, a contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, says he expects the new conservative majority to strike down affirmative action while borrowing from the rhetorical playbook Roberts flashed in the Voting Rights Act decision.

These justices won’t admit that they’re overturning a landmark law. They’ll say they’re actually fulfilling the original goal of the civil rights laws by creating a colorblind society, he says.

“Of course, they’re never going to say we decided to change national policy,” Epps says.

“It’s going to be a lot of language like the Seattle case. There’s going to be a lot of pious language about ‘We yield to no one in our contempt for racism.’ ” But Epps says they’ll really be thinking, ” ‘And that’s precisely why white people have to win.’ ”

The ripple effect of such decisions could sweep aside much of the civil rights movement’s legal legacy, says Epps, who is also author of “American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.”

The United States may be on the verge of entering a post-civil rights landscape, he says.

Epps cited an article in The New Republic more four years ago about the end of the civil rights movement.

“We may be at that place now,” he says.

Power to the people or the court?

There is, however, one optimistic scenario for some who dread the rise of a new conservative court. The power of the people will eventually beat the power of the court, says University of Chicago law professor Gerald Rosenberg.

Rosenberg is the author of “The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?” He doesn’t buy into the doomsday scenarios.
King waves to supporters during the 1963 March on Washington.

“If you think about the major social changes in the 20th century — Social Security, the minimum wage, nondiscrimination laws, Medicare and Medicaid — they are all acts of Congress, not the courts.”

He says a new high court can’t reverse the most significant changes embedded in civil rights laws as long as most Americans support them.

“Social change almost always comes through the political process,” he says, “not the courts.”

Some might argue with Rosenberg by pointing to one of the most infamous periods in Supreme Court history. In the late 19th century, the high court obliterated post-Civil War racial progress with a series of blatantly racist decisions that culminated in 1896 with Plessy v. Ferguson. That notorious ruling upheld racial segregation laws, sanctioning the separate but equal doctrine that undergirded Jim Crow for nearly a century.

Rosenberg though points to Plessy and that Supreme Court era to make the opposite point — that the high court isn’t as all-powerful as people think.

What if the high court had ruled against the separate but equal doctrine, he asks, and banned segregation laws throughout America?

Most white Americans would have ignored the decision, he says, because white supremacy was too ingrained.

“You think that would have mattered one whit in practice?” he says. “The court absolutely eviscerated civil rights laws in the late 19th century in part because white Americans had no interest in them.”

Power, he says, ultimately belongs to the people.

“I think we’re in for some really tough times,” he says. “In the short turn there’s going to be some bad stuff. But in the long run it’s up to voters.”

Epps shares some of that optimism. He says the United States will eventually have to embrace “its demographic destiny” because of the browning of America. But it can’t thrive if it restricts the rights of racial minorities whose talents it will need to prosper.
Three ways MLK speaks to our time

But it’s what happens in the short term that worries him.

“We could have a serious transition problem,” Epps says. “We could have a white-run minority political system resisting successfully, for quite a long time, the transition to a multiracial system. There could be a lot of suffering, a lot of lost opportunities for our society and for young people of all races.”

If that dystopian period becomes permanent, though, all bets are off. The three great laws of the civil rights movement would no longer inspire poetic tributes celebrating the nation’s march toward King’s Beloved Community.

Instead they’d become discredited legal relics from an era of optimism that would seem even further away than it does today.

Patriots vs. Rams in a meeting of past vs. future – The Denver Post

It all began in 2002, back when the Rams were in St. Louis and the Patriots were a plucky underdog standing in the way of a potential dynasty.

So much has changed.

This hasn’t: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

The duo, every bit as formidable now as when they won that first title, face the Rams, now back in Los Angeles, in a Super Bowl rematch of sorts that pits the NFL’s past against its future.

At 32, Sean McVay is the youngest Super Bowl coach. At 66, Bill Belichick has an NFL-record 30 playoff wins.

At 24, Jared Goff is the youngest quarterback to win the NFC championship. At 41, Brady will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl.

The Rams (15-3) are back in the Super Bowl for the first time since that meeting against the Patriots — and for the first time as the “Los Angeles Rams” since 1980, when they fell to the Steelers. The Patriots (13-5) are back for the third straight time, the fourth in five years and the ninth since Belichick got the dynasty on track in the 2002 win over St. Louis.

The Rams duo of McVay and Goff has spent the past two seasons heralding the coming of a new age of football — one in which McVay’s reimagined offense has dealt a blow to the old, increasingly dated adage that teams ultimately must win championships with defense. The Rams have cracked 30 points in 13 of their 18 games this season. A generation ago, that would’ve been novel; now, it’s normal.

But to officially usher the NFL into a new era, the Rams will have to get past New England, which is a 1-point underdog for the game in Atlanta, set for Feb. 3 — exactly 17 years to the date of the last Super Bowl showdown.

Is Brady up to it?

Well, on Sunday, he drove the Patriots down the field for three straight touchdowns — two in the fourth quarter and once in overtime — for a 37-31 victory over the Chiefs, the only team that outgained Los Angeles this season.

It put an end to the dream of a rematch between two teams of the future — Rams vs. Chiefs — who delivered a wildly entertaining, defense-optional touchdown-fest in a 54-51 Rams victory in November.

Instead, we get a “rematch” of that 2002 Super Bowl, won by the Patriots 20-17.

The Rams came into that game as a franchise on the edge of a dynasty.

They were one season removed from their first Super Bowl win, led by quarterback Kurt Warner and known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” for the fake grass they burned up at their seven-year-old home in St. Louis. They had amassed what was then unheard of — 500-plus points in three straight seasons — and were a two-touchdown favorite against Belichick and Brady, who was in his second year and best known as the sixth-round draft pick Belichick stuck with after Drew Bledsoe got injured.

New England used ball control and defense to shut down Warner and the Rams. The task figures to not be all that different this time around, though Brady is showing he’s perfectly capable of matching opponents touchdown-for-touchdown. Sunday’s win adds to a Week 6 victory over Kansas City by the score of 43-40. The Patriots ranked fifth in overall offense this season, only 28 yards a game behind LA.

Senate GOP adds disaster aid, spending stopgap to Trump’s immigration offer

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday said the Senate will take up the package in the coming week. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Republicans plan to include $12.7 billion in disaster aid and government funding through the end of the fiscal year in their bill to advance President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal.

The president’s plan will test Democrats’ solidarity, pitting border security funding against protections for young immigrants and refugees. Now, it will also force Democrats to vote against bipartisan funding levels, aid for disaster-hit communities and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, according to a summary of the Senate plan, obtained by POLITICO.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday said the Senate will take up the package in the coming week.

The bill, which has yet to be released, would reopen the nine shuttered federal departments and dozens of agencies through Oct. 1 and will include the full $5.7 billion Trump requested for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It would also provide a three-year extension of protections for young immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and an extension of Temporary Protected Status for refugees currently covered.

The Senate GOP proposal includes $70.4 billion in total discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security. That includes a $5.9 billion funding boost for Customs and Border Protection, to pay for an additional 750 Border Patrol agents and 375 new CBP officers.

It would provide $8.5 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — a $1.4 billion boost above current levels — funding an average detention capacity of 52,000 immigrants a day and an additional 2,000 law enforcement personnel.

The bill will also include nearly $2.2 billion for the Secret Service, which will help fund hiring for Trump’s 2020 presidential bid.

But there is little hope on Capitol Hill that the package will end the shutdown, which entered its fifth week on Saturday. Democrats remain firm in refusing to negotiate an immigration deal until after the government is reopened.

“The president’s trade offer — temporary protections for some immigrants in exchange for a border wall boondoggle — is not acceptable,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement following Trump’s televised immigration offer on Saturday.

House Democrats plan to take up their tenth bill to reopen the government in the coming week. Each previous bill has netted only a few Republican supporters, with McConnell saying the Senate won’t take up any spending bills the president won’t sign.

The House bill also reflects bipartisan conference agreements Republican and Democratic appropriators in both chambers negotiated last year.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

Student in Trump hat denies mocking Native American activist in videotaped encounter

(Reuters) – A white high school student seen with classmates appearing to confront a Native American Vietnam veteran near the Lincoln Memorial issued a statement on Sunday that video of the incident that went viral gives the false impression that the teens were instigators.

A student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American Vietnam veteran Nathan Phillips in Washington, U.S., in this still image from a January 18, 2019 video by Kaya Taitano. Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via REUTERS .

Nick Sandmann, a student from the private, all-male Covington Catholic High School in northern Kentucky, is seen in the video standing face to face with the Indian activist, Nathan Phillips, staring at him with a smile, while Phillips sings and plays a drum.

The footage, shared online by organizers of an indigenous people’s march that took place in Washington on Friday before the incident, shows a group of fellow Covington students surrounding Phillips apparently mocking him.

Phillips recounted in a separate video that he heard the students chanting “build that wall,” during the encounter.

The students, many wearing baseball caps emblazoned with President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, were in the nation’s capital the same day for an anti-abortion rally.

The footage sparked outrage on social media and led the high school to issue a statement condemning the students’ actions and promising an investigation.

But Sandmann, whose statement was tweeted by CNN anchor Jake Tapper late on Sunday, insisted the video was misinterpreted, leading to “outright lies being spread about my family and me.”

He denied acting with any disrespect toward Phillips.

According to Sandmann, his group was waiting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for their bus back to Kentucky when four African American protesters nearby began shouting racially charged insults at them.

With permission from their teacher chaperones, the students responded by shouting “school spirit” chants to “drown out the hateful comments” directed at them.

In the midst of this interaction, Sandmann said, he noticed that a Native American protester – since identified as Phillips – “began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him.”

“He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face,” Sandmann recalled.

“I never interacted with this protester. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves,” Sandmann wrote, adding that he was “startled and confused” as to why Phillips approached him.

Sandmann said he reasoned that by remaining “motionless and calm” he hoped to diffuse the situation.

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His account was reinforced, at least in part, by a New York Times report on Sunday quoting Phillips, 64, as acknowledging he had approached the crowd of students in a bid to ease racial tensions that had flared between the mostly white teens and the African American protesters.

“I stepped in between to pray,” said Phillips, an elder of Nebraska’s Omaha tribe and a well-known activist who was among those leading the Standing Rock protests in 2016-2017 against construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota.

Phillips could not be reached by Reuters for comment over the weekend.

Reporting by Steve Gorman; editing by Darren Schuettler

Carl Soderberg, Avalanche’s oldest member, is playing best hockey of NHL career

There is a reason 33-year-old Carl Soderberg is playing the best hockey of his NHL career.

The Avalanche second-line center tipped the puck past Los Angelesw Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in the first period Saturday. It opened the floodgates for a 7-1 victory and notched Soderberg’s 16th goal of the season, tying a career high set last year. Soderberg now has 34 more games to extend it starting Monday against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center.

Soderberg, the Avs’ oldest player, is a decade-plus ahead of teammates like defenseman Sam Girard (20) and winger Mikko Rantanen (22). You could never tell that watching Soderberg skate, since the calendar turned to January with seven points — five goals and two assists — over his past six outings.

“I don’t have that many years left (in the NHL),” Soderberg said, “so I try to enjoy every game.”

The Blues drafted Soderberg in 2004 in the second round, but he didn’t debut in the NHL until 2013 at age 27 with the Bruins. The Avs acquired Soderberg via trade three years later, and he amassed a career-high 51 points for Colorado in the 2015-16 season. But Soderberg’s signature moment arrived last week in Toronto when he recorded his first NHL hat trick.

Trump says no amnesty for ‘Dreamers,’ signals support in broader deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Sunday that his proposed immigration deal to end a 30-day partial government shutdown would not lead to amnesty for “Dreamers,” but appeared to signal support for amnesty as part of a broader immigration agreement.

In a morning Twitter storm, Trump also said he would not seek the removal of millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States, while bashing House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for turning down an offer he made on Saturday, including for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3-year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else,” Trump said on Twitter.

“Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

The Dreamers are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA was put in place under former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration said in September 2017 it would rescind DACA but it remains in effect under court order.

Trump did not make clear what he was referring to regarding the 11 million people mentioned in his tweet. About 12 million people are living in the United States illegally, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates.

In a Saturday speech from the White House, Trump offered three years of protections for Dreamers and for holders of temporary protected status (TPS), another class of immigrants from designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other strife.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the plan as a “bold solution”, while a spokesman said McConnell would seek Senate passage of the proposal this week.

The legislation will include bills to fund government departments that have been closed during the shutdown, as well as some disaster aid and the president’s immigration proposal, a McConnell aide said.

But Trump’s amnesty tweet caught some Republicans off guard.

The U.S. Capitol is pictured on day 30 of a partial government shutdown, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago

“I don’t know what the president’s calling amnesty,” Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told ABC’s “This Week” program. “That’s a longer debate and obviously not something we can solve quickly.”

Trump appeared to be responding to conservative critics who accused him of proposing amnesty and reneging on a campaign promise, which could alienate his right-wing base.

About one-quarter of the U.S. government shut down on Dec. 22 over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a wall along the border with Mexico, which Democrats have refused to consider. Some 800,000 federal workers have been ordered to stay home or work without pay during the shutdown.

The promise of a border wall was a mainstay of Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign. As a candidate, he said Mexico would pay for the barrier, but the Mexican government has refused.

The shutdown has caused widespread disruptions.

The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday reported an 8 percent national rate of unscheduled absences on Saturday, compared with 3 percent a year ago. More than 50,000 TSA officers are working without pay.

Some airports experienced longer wait times at security checkpoints, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport closed one of its checkpoints due to excessive absences.


On Sunday, a day after Trump’s DACA proposal, there appeared to be signs of movement, even as Democrats insisted the government should reopen before proceeding with talks over border security.

“What the president proposed yesterday – increasing border security, looking at TPS, looking at the Dreamers – I’ll use that as a starting point. But you’ve got to start by reopening the government,” U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Warner, a Virginia Democrat, also said Congress should approve pay for federal workers affected by the shutdown before they miss another paycheck this week.

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Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security committee, said Democrats were not opposed to physical barriers on the southern border, but Trump’s changing position poses a problem for resolving the border security issue.

“I would not rule out a wall in certain instances,” Thompson said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Additional reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Susan Cornwell in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas

Oklahoma senator blames hateful rhetoric for teens harassing Native American

Sen. James Lankford

“If there’s anything we should have learned from Martin Luther King Jr. is hate doesn’t drive out hate, only love drives out hate,” said Sen. James Lankford. | Al Drago/Getty Images

The actions of a group of teenage Trump supporters who harassed a Native American veteran in Washington over the weekend are the result of an uptick in hateful rhetoric that has creeped into the public discourse, Sen. James Lankford said.

“The key issue that I would say is in our culture for whatever reason, in our current culture, whether it’s on social media or at events, I see people trying to stop hate with more hate,” the Oklahoma Republican said Sunday during an interview with host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”

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“That doesn’t help us as a culture,” he said. “If there’s anything we should have learned from Martin Luther King Jr., [it] is: Hate doesn’t drive out hate; only love drives out hate.”

King, whose federal holiday will be observed Monday, famously said in a 1957 sermon: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“To respond back with love and compassion to people rather than driving out hatred would help us in our social media culture and with the dialogue that’s happening,” Lankford said. “It would help us at events and be able to have more open dialogue.”

The confrontation Friday between Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Omaha Tribe elder and Vietnam veteran, and students from a Catholic boys’ high school in Kentucky, wearing hats emblazoned with President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, has sparked widespread outrage. Phillips said the students were chanting “build the wall” at him. Defenders of the teenagers said others at the site were harassing them, and that the teens weren’t chanting hateful slogans at him.

The teenagers were in the nation’s capital to participate in the anti-abortion March for Life, which coincided with the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington. Their school, Covington Catholic, and the Roman Catholic diocese have issued a statement condemning the behavior.

Lankford, whose home state boasts one of the nation’s largest Native American populations, declined to say whether the president bore any responsibility for the episode. Trump has repeatedly mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “Pocahontas” and recently invoked the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre in a tweet mocking her.