Will the Policing Push Go Anywhere?


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Trump issues an order, and virus cases rise. It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet.

  • President Trump signed an executive order yesterday outlining a series of overarching principles meant to encourage police departments to amend their use-of-force policies. But the order could have little concrete impact — and it’s unlikely to quell the demands of protesters, who continue to push daily for a far-ranging reconsideration of the American justice system.

  • Flanked by uniformed police officers at a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden, Trump reiterated his belief that most officers conduct their jobs well and pushed back against calls for more sweeping change. “I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments,” Trump said. “Americans want law and order. They demand law and order.”

  • Senate Republicans plan to unveil their police reform bill today, a little over a week after House Democrats put forth a bill that includes measures to increase police oversight and rein in the use of force. The G.O.P. legislation is expected to include some elements of that bill, but not others. Yesterday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, called the Democratic bill an “overreach” that was “going nowhere in the Senate.”

  • House Democrats have scheduled a vote on a separate bill that would grant statehood to the District of Columbia. It’s a largely symbolic vote, as Washington’s residents are heavily Democratic and the bill is virtually guaranteed to perish in the Republican-controlled Senate.

  • But it’s the first time in over a quarter-century that the issue has come to a vote on Capitol Hill. It was once a prominent demand in the push for racial justice, given that D.C.’s population, which has no meaningful representation in Congress, has long been heavily African-American.

  • With most states moving ahead with reopening, coronavirus cases are surging in areas around the country. Florida, Texas and Arizona yesterday all reported their highest one-day increases in new cases. Each state had reported well north of 2,000 new cases the day before.

  • In Oklahoma this week, Tulsa County also registered its highest number of daily coronavirus cases so far. Trump is planning to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday, his first major one since the onset of the pandemic, but local health officials are begging him to call it off.

  • “It’s the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission,” said the director of Tulsa’s health department. “It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have.” The rally is set to take place in a 20,000-person indoor arena; attendees will be forced to accept liability if they contract the virus there.

  • A day after the Food and Drug Administration revoked its authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, some good news blew in from across the Atlantic: Scientists at the University of Oxford announced that after a 6,000-person trial, a steroid had been proven effective at reducing virus deaths among patients receiving oxygen. If that conclusion is borne out, this would be the first drug proven effective at reducing coronavirus mortality rates in severely ill patients.

  • A group of federal inspectors general appealed to Congress for help last week, saying that the White House had put such great limits on their oversight powers that they could not effectively keep watch over virus relief spending. In a letter to various House and Senate committees, the inspectors charged with overseeing more than $1 trillion in pandemic-related funding — including large payouts to businesses facing economic distress — said the administration had used an “ambiguity” in the law to curtail their ability to monitor where the funds went.

  • At least four members of Congress benefited from the small-business-loan program in the stimulus legislation, Politico reported yesterday. It’s impossible to know how many more might have received stimulus money for businesses they have an interest in, because only the Trump administration has access to that information — and it’s not making it public.

  • We don’t have a copy of the president’s summer reading list — but we have a good sense of what probably isn’t on it. On the top of the don’t-read list is John Bolton’s new tell-all book, “The Room Where It Happened,” set for release next week. In a move sure to help sales, the administration has sued Bolton, one of Trump’s former national security advisers, to try to prevent the memoir from hitting bookshelves, claiming that it contains classified information.

  • Bolton confirmed this week that the book contains explosive details about his time at the White House and that it affirms accusations that were central to House Democrats’ impeachment case against the president.

  • Another book Trump probably wants no part of: “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” by the president’s niece Mary Trump. She has promised that the book contains “harrowing” revelations about Trump, and in it she writes that she was a source for The New York Times’s in-depth 2018 investigation into the Trump family’s finances.

  • And yesterday was the release of “Exercise of Power,” the latest book by Robert Gates, the former defense secretary under President Barack Obama. It takes a broad-reaching look at what Gates calls the executive branch’s habitual overreliance on the military, and it doesn’t focus mainly on the current president. But Gates does take a few shots at Trump, pointedly criticizing him for his warm relationship with autocratic leaders around the world. “We must work with these leaders but we don’t need to say we love them,” Gates writes.

President Trump unveiled his executive order on policing in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday.


The Supreme Court’s big ruling on Monday, which protects gay and transgender people from discrimination at work, could have a big impact in health care, too.

The decision was just about employment, but the logic of the opinion is likely to apply broadly, according to legal experts from a variety of perspectives. That means lawsuits brought against a range of policies will be substantially strengthened now.

The Trump administration has been working across various parts of government to limit civil rights protections for transgender people. The ruling is likely to reverse that trend by substantially strengthening the legal hand of people challenging those rules.

In health care, a provision of the Affordable Care Act bars discrimination by heath care providers against patients on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.” The language about sex discrimination is what makes it similar to the employment law the Supreme Court just interpreted. If courts apply the same logic, it could mean that health care providers who don’t provide medically necessary care to gay or transgender patients could end up afoul of the law.

That could be a big reversal of current policy. Under a regulation published by the Trump administration just last week, transgender patients have no special protections at all.

It’s not the only area where civil rights for transgender people may broaden significantly in the coming years: Policies in education, housing, and other domains of daily life may also need to shift and protect people against discrimination on the basis of their gender identity. As in health care, the Trump administration has worked to constrain rights for transgender people in those areas, and those policies will probably need to change.

“It is a big, society-transforming deal,” said William Eskridge Jr., a professor at Yale Law School, who has written extensively about the changing legal landscape for L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

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