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Texas Judge: Punishment of Black Kid Over Hair Had Nothing to Do with Race

The shocking ruling comes after a Black high school student’s months-long punishment over his locs.

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

A Texas judge ruled Thursday that the monthslong punishment of a Black high school student over his hairstyle somehow does not constitute race-based discrimination by his school.

Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School, has spent most of his school days since August in either in-school suspension or in an off-site disciplinary program. The 18-year-old wears his hair in long locs twisted on top of his head. His school says the hairstyle violates the school district dress code, which states male students’ hair cannot hang below the eyebrows, earlobes, or neckline of a T-shirt.

George says he plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

George’s mother filed a federal lawsuit in September against the Barbers Hill school district and state officials. Darresha George accused the district of violating federal civil rights law and the state’s Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which bans discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyles associated with race. Darresha George also argued that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are failing to enforce the CROWN Act.

Darryl George says his locs are an expression of cultural pride but have unfortunately resulted in demeaning treatment and a loss of education.

“I am being harassed by school officials and treated like a dog,” he said in the lawsuit filing. “I am being subjected to cruel treatment and a lot of unkind words from many adults within the school including teachers, principals and administrators.”

After just a few hours on Thursday, state district Judge Chap Cain III ruled in favor of the school district. Cain said that disciplining George for the length of his hair is legal under the CROWN Act, which does not mention hair length.

But the lawmakers who wrote the act argue that length should be inherently protected. Democratic state Representative Ron Reynolds testified as much on Thursday.

“Length was inferred with the very nature of the style,” Reynolds told the courtroom. “Anyone familiar with braids, locs, twists knows it requires a certain amount of length.”

Reynolds said it is “almost impossible for a person to comply with this [grooming] policy and wear that protective hairstyle.”

Lawmakers and civil rights advocates say that the Barbers Hill dress code is based on anti-Black prejudice and stereotypes. In fact, George’s case isn’t the first time the school has caught heat for hair discrimination.

In 2020, Barbers Hill High School told a Black student that he could not attend his graduation ceremony unless he cut off his locs. His cousin, a sophomore at the time, was also given in-school suspension due to his hair length.

The students’ families filed a federal lawsuit arguing the dress code was discriminatory. That case is still ongoing, but it did prompt Texas to implement the CROWN Act statewide last year. Only 23 other states have passed the anti-discrimination law.

Before Abbott signed the CROWN Act, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved the measure in 2021. The county does not encompass the Barbers Hill school, but some Harris residents have been following George’s case.

Rodney Ellis, a Harris County commissioner and the sponsor of the resolution to enact the CROWN Act there, told The Texas Tribune he saw the Barbers Hill case as part of a larger national strategy. Throughout the country, Republican leaders have sharply restricted schools’ and libraries’ ability to teach Black history or have books about race.

“When young students are punished for simply expressing their cultural identity through their hair, it sends a chilling message that their heritage is unwelcome and that they do not belong,” Ellis said.

This story has been updated.

Biden Considers Resurrecting Asylum Ban Using Same Authority as Trump

Joe Biden is eyeing a sweeping new executive order on immigration, using the exact statute Trump relied on for the Muslim Ban.

Joe Biden
Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Biden administration appears to be dutifully taking advantage of the ways Donald Trump reshaped executive power on immigration, even going so far as to consider utilizing the same statute that Trump relied on to enact his Muslim Ban.

President Joe Biden is reportedly mulling an executive order that would restrict asylum access in the U.S., following the rejection of a border deal in Congress that would have placed a weekly threshold on unlawful entries through the U.S.-Mexico border, capping it if more than 8,500 tried to cross the border on a single day. Biden is considering instituting a similar trigger via executive order.

To do so, he would leverage the section of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the suspension of entry for anyone determined to be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” This is the exact statute Trump used to ban travelers from several from Muslim-majority countries during the course of his presidency.

If true, Biden’s executive order would essentially reverse a longstanding law that any person arriving at the border is entitled to seek asylum protections, whether or not they have a sponsor, passport, or plane ticket. The National Immigrant Justice Center notes this right to claim asylum is critical since “people fleeing for their lives are often unable to access pathways that require identification documents and a safe haven to wait for processing.”

No decisions have yet been made in regards to the order, according to an unidentified White House official who spoke with The New York Times.

The proposal is a stark contrast to the campaign promises of 2020 candidate Joe Biden, who had pledged a more humane future for immigrants entering the country than the one offered by his predecessor. But whether or not the proposal passes may not matter—it could prove the difference for American voters, who as of a January poll ranked immigrants as their primary concern.

Meanwhile, Trump is finding his own ways to escalate his old border policies, promising to bring back President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback,” which used military tactics to ship some 1.3 million immigrants to locations without food or water, and radically expand detention centers.

Pot, Meet Kettle: Tuberville Mocks Biden’s Walk, Forgets Own Viral Fall

The Alabama Republican had the gall to criticize Biden after his own epic stumble, trip, and nosedive down the stairs.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Tommy Tuberville took aim at Joe Biden’s physical capabilities during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday—conveniently forgetting his own recent struggles.

Republicans have repeatedly argued (and some Democrats worry) that Biden, who at age 81 is the oldest president ever, is mentally and physically unfit to hold office. Thursday was no exception: during an onstage interview, Tuberville claimed Biden has declined so much that “he doesn’t know what day it is.”

Later, Tuberville told Newsmax that it has been concerning to “see [Biden’s] decline over the last few months.”

“I don’t think he’ll make it,” Tuberville said. “Just watched him yesterday walking on a tarmac in L.A. with Nancy Pelosi, shuffling his feet, looking at the ground.”

Tuberville, though, is 69—no spring chicken himself. And the Alabama Republican appears to have conveniently forgotten a major lapse in his own physical abilities, when exiting a plane in October.

Biden and Tuberville are not alone in their advanced years. This Congress is the third-oldest since 1789, when the legislative branch in its current form was first established. And the Senate is the second-oldest in all of U.S. history.

CPAC Kicks Off With New Round of Legal Troubles in Matt Schlapp Scandal

Things are not looking good for the CPAC chairman accused of sexual assault.

Matt Schlapp stands in front of a huge CPAC logo
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

An official at the Conservative Political Action Conference allegedly oversaw the mass shredding of documents just days after the organization’s chief Matt Schlapp was accused of sexual assault.

Schlapp is the head of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the annual CPAC. He, his wife, and CPAC are being sued by Republican strategist Carlton Huffman, who accused Schlapp in January 2023 of groping him while Huffman was working as a staffer on Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign.

Just five days after Huffman came forward, the ACU’s manager of strategic initiatives Lynne Rasmussen personally oversaw a group of interns shredding documents in or near her office, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday. The Beast cited a subpoena to Rasmussen released earlier that day by the Alexandria City Courthouse, as well as three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Communications from someone inside the CPAC office which were dated January 11, 2023, alleged that Rasmussen and CPAC general counsel David Safavian oversaw the shredding. The messages also speculated whether Schlapp was involved, as well. At the time, Huffman had not taken concrete legal action against Schlapp. In fact, Huffman didn’t file his lawsuit until five days later.

Huffman alleges that Schlapp made “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual contact with him while he was driving the ACU chief back from an Atlanta bar in October 2022. Huffman says Schlapp bought him drinks at two different bars and then proceeded to grope his crotch on the drive back to Schlapp’s hotel. When they arrived at the hotel, Schlapp allegedly invited Huffman to his room.

Huffman recorded several tearful videos of himself describing what happened. “Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length,” he says in one video.

“From the bar to the Hilton Garden Inn, he has his hands on me. And I feel so fucking dirty. I feel so fucking dirty.”

The Schlapps have denied Huffman’s accusations, but in March last year, Schlapp reportedly offered Huffman a sum in the low six figures to settle the suit. Huffman countered with a significantly higher amount, which Schlapp turned down.

Former ACU employees, including its former vice president Charlie Gerow, have accused the organization of rushing to shield Schlapp—including well before Huffman officially accused Schlapp of assault. Huffman made his first post alluding to inappropriate drunken behavior in December 2021, tagging Schlapp. According to the Beast, that set off a wave of precautions in the CPAC offices.

Three people familiar with the situation, speaking anonymously, told the Beast that CPAC officials conducted an in-depth, informal inventory of the organization’s records and imposed new non-disclosure agreements on all office employees. Non-compliant staffers had their pay docked.

Despite the bombshell revelation from the subpoena on Wednesday, Schlapp seemed unfazed the next day at the opening of CPAC.

If you call yourself a journalist but you spend all your time trying to destroy Americans…we don’t want you here,” he told the crowd.

DeSantis Suddenly Finds Backbone in Responding to Trump VP Shortlist

A shocking development!

Ron DeSantis wears a blue jacket that says "Ron DeSantis Governor of Florida."
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he has zero interest in joining Donald Trump’s presidential ticket, nixing the possibility of bonding with the man who dubbed him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and sparked rumors that he needed heels to reach the debate podium.

“People were mentioning me [as a potential vice president]. I am not doing that,” DeSantis said on a private video call with more than 200 supporters, obtained by the New York Post. Instead, DeSantis says he’s not ruling out another bid for the White House after his gubernatorial term runs out in 2027.

At a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, the GOP front-runner was presented with several names he could tap as potential vice presidents, including one time Democratic presidential primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Florida Representative Byron Donalds, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and of course, DeSantis.

“Are they all on your shortlist?” asked Fox’s Laura Ingraham, to which Trump responded that “they are.”

“They’re all solid,” Trump added, noting that the “first quality” he looks for in a running mate is the ability to serve as a good president. “And I always say I want people with common sense because there’s so many things happening in this country that don’t make sense.”

Despite having never gotten far enough in the general election to legitimately consider a running mate, DeSantis had some of his own advice to pass on to Trump for picking someone to run what John Adams coined as the nation’s “most insignificant office.”

“My criteria was, basically, I need someone who can do the job if it came to that, and I would have been the third-youngest president elected so chances are, actually I would probably be in pretty good shape, but you never know what else can happen, it’s happened before,” the 45-year-old said, adding that he would have been “partial to governors.”

DeSantis also warned Trump against leveraging “identity politics” in his choice for No. 2.

“I think that’s a mistake. I think you should just focus on who you think the best person for the job would be,” DeSantis said.

Trump’s campaign wasted no time in slapping back the unsolicited advice, with a spokesperson noting that DeSantis had “failed miserably in his presidential campaign” and has no “voice in selecting the next vice president.”

Other members of Team Trump had less kind words for the former GOP favorite.

“Chicken fingers and pudding cups is what you will be remembered for you sad little man,” posted Trump 2024 adviser Chris LaCivita.

It Sure Looks Like Trump Can’t Pay the Bond in His Fraud Trial

Donald Trump has made a desperate, last minute gamble to delay paying the massive fraud judgment.

Donald Trump sits in a courtroom and turns to look behind him
Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked to postpone enforcement of his multimillion-dollar civil fraud fine, even as delay tactics cost the former president $87,500 a day.

Trump was fined $354 million on Friday for real estate-related financial fraud in New York state and temporarily banned from doing business in the state. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron gave Trump 30 days to pay the fine. But Engoron also ordered Trump to pay pre-judgment interest dating back to March 2019, when New York Attorney General Letitia James first began investigating the Trump Organization.

James’s office calculated last week that, including interest, Trump owes more than $450 million. Trump can appeal the decision, but he has to pay the penalty in full first. And unfortunately for him, he accrues more interest every day.

In a desperate bid to keep the bill as low as possible, Trump’s lawyers filed a request Wednesday night to delay enforcement of the fine. In a letter to Engoron, lawyer Clifford Robert slammed what he described as James’s “unseemly rush to memorialize a ‘judgment.’”

“Defendants request the Court stay enforcement of that Judgment for thirty (30) days,” Robert wrote.

The request for delay is likely so Trump can try either to raise enough capital to pay the fine, or to find a company willing to help him post a bond. Trump reportedly holds only about $600 million in liquid assets, not nearly enough to pay the millions he owes in this and other legal penalties.

Trump owes writer E. Jean Carroll $88.3 million for sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s and then defaming her twice when denying it. He also owes thousands of dollars in fines that he racked up during his recent trials for attacking courtroom staff, and $400,000 to The New York Times.

Unfortunately for Trump, the longer he delays paying the civil fraud fine, the higher it gets. With the statutory annual interest rate set at nine percent, that shakes out to an increase of $87,502 per day. According to a penalty calculator created by Associated Press journalist Mike Sislak, as of Thursday, Trump owes the state of New York a grand total of $454,069,281.

House Republican Levels Massive Allegation Against Comer and Jordan

Representative Ken Buck is exposing the Republicans leading the Biden impeachment crusade, after all the revelations about that ex-FBI informant.

Representative Ken Buck speaks with a mic in front of him

Republican Representative Ken Buck went on the attack against his colleagues on Wednesday night, revealing to CNN that House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and House Oversight Chair James Comer had both been warned ahead of time that the story sold by their primary witness, Alexander Smirnov, was full of holes.

“Obviously, this witness—and we were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness’s testimony—we were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known,” Buck told Kaitlin Collins on CNN’s The Source.

“And yet people, my colleagues went out and talked to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden’s—at the time Vice President Biden’s—complicity in receiving bribes,” Buck continued. “It appears to absolutely be false and to really undercut the nature of the charges. We’ve always been looking for a link between what Hunter Biden received in terms of money and Joe Biden’s activities or Joe Biden receiving money. This clearly is not a credible link at this point.”

In response to a point-blank question as to whether Comer and Jordan pushed the Burisma narrative knowing full well that Smirnov’s claims were not corroborated, Buck said “that’s what it appears.”

“I certainly didn’t have any evidence outside the statement itself that it was credible,” he added. “And as a prosecutor for 25 years, Kaitlan, I never went to the public until I could prove the reliability of a statement. And even then, the only one public statement a prosecutor makes is the charging document. Let’s see what the evidence is in this impeachment, if there is more evidence before going forward.”

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden has crashed and burned in a spectacular way since its main witness, an informant who claimed Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch, was indicted by the Department of Justice for lying to the FBI. Since then, Smirnov has reportedly admitted to law enforcement that top Russian intelligence officials were involved in the smear campaign against the sitting president.

Regardless, Republicans are still scrambling to revive the probe. On Wednesday, Jordan insisted to reporters that Smirnov’s indictment “doesn’t change the fundamental facts”—although, of course, those “facts” have now turned out to be Russia-baked lies.

Andy Biggs Absolutely Fumbles When Asked What Biden Evidence GOP Has Now

The House Oversight Republican had no idea what to say when asked about the charges against ex–FBI informant Alexander Smirnov.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is crashing and burning without its star witness, Alexander Smirnov, but Republicans were still primed and ready to answer pressing questions from reporters—actually, wait, no they weren’t.

Representative Andy Biggs somehow made an even more embarrassing attempt at defending the now transparently baseless impeachment effort than Representative Jim Jordan did on Wednesday, flatly insisting that the party had plenty to go on without Smirnov.

“What evidence do you have of a bribery scheme now?” a reporter asked the House Oversight Committee member.

“We got lots of evidence, yes,” Biggs replied as he hurried past a crush of reporters, refusing to elaborate.

Republicans had spent months building up the hype around Smirnov as a witness, isolating his allegation that Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch as the centerpiece of their probe.

But on Tuesday, the Justice Department revealed that Smirnov admitted to prosecutors that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved” in developing the Hunter Biden narrative. In a court filing, Smirnov told investigators he was in contact with “four different [top] Russian officials,” two of whom were the “heads of the entities they represent.”

“It targeted the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties in the United States. The effects of Smirnov’s false statements and fabricated information continue to be felt to this day,” prosecutors wrote, noting that Smirnov’s contacts were “not benign.”

Those revelations came after Smirnov was charged with lying to the FBI about his Biden allegations.

Republican waffling on whether to continue the probe offers just another whiff of Russian meddling in a presidential election—and legal experts have picked up on the scent, predicting that the effort to save Smirnov’s testimony could spell certain disaster for the Republican lawmakers leading the effort.

That Alabama Court Embryo Ruling Is Already Having Tragic Effects

Critics warned that the ruling would hurt anyone seeking IVF in the state—and they were right.

A hand points to an ovocyte on the computer screen.
IVAN COURONNE/AFP/Getty Images
An embryologist shows an ovocyte after it is inseminated.

It has been less than a week since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization can be classified as children, but the decision is already wrecking access to fertility treatments.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school announced Wednesday that it is pausing IVF treatments in order to avoid potential lawsuits under the court ruling. Patients can complete the process up through egg retrieval, but fertilization and embryo development have been paused.

“We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments,” UAB spokeswoman Hannah Echols said in a statement.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 7–2 on Friday that embryos created through IVF are protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The case stems from a lawsuit brought by several parents against a fertility clinic. The plaintiffs argued their “embryonic children” had been the victims of wrongful death when an intruder broke into the clinic and dropped trays holding some of the embryos, destroying them.

The court ruled the clinic had been negligent and chillingly cited the Bible in its majority opinion. “We believe that each human being, from the moment of conception, is made in the image of God, created by Him to reflect His likeness. It is as if the People of Alabama took what was spoken of the prophet Jeremiah and applied it to every unborn person in this state: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, Before you were born I sanctified you.’ Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV 1982),” the opinion read.

The president and CEO of Resolve: The National Infertility Association, Barbara Collura, said she was “heartbroken” by the UAB decision. “Would-be parents have invested their hearts, time and resources” in lengthy and potentially emotionally draining IVF treatment, she said in a statement. “Now, less than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court’s devastating ruling, Alabamans in the midst of seeking treatment have had their lives, their hopes and dreams crushed.”

“This cruel ruling, and the subsequent decision by UAB’s health system, are horrifying signals of what’s to come across the country.”

In addition to already wreaking havoc on the third-party fertility industry, the ruling could have devastating effects on reproductive health statewide. As reporter Jessica Valenti pointed out Wednesday, the ruling further enforces the concept of fetal personhood.

Anti-abortion activists argue that humanity begins at conception and thus fetuses should be afforded legal rights. But health experts warn this line of thinking could be used to criminalize doctors who provide lifesaving care, such as by terminating a pregnancy that is fatal to the patient. By further enshrining fetal personhood, the Alabama ruling could put health care workers or even people who miscarry at risk of legal repercussions.

Trump Is Planning an Even More Inhumane Anti-Immigrant Second Term

A new report says Donald Trump is preparing to do everything he couldn’t in his second term, like mass deportation camps.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For all the horrific immigration policies Donald Trump instituted during his first term—expanding detention centers, separating families at the border, and ending “catch and release”—the GOP front-runner and his allies are sketching out even more disturbing plans should he regain the White House.

Trump has promised to bring back President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback,” which used military tactics to conduct massive roundups of some 1.3 million immigrants, legal or otherwise, across the country, packing them into trucks and shipping them to locations without food or water, resulting in tragic and unnecessary deaths.

“Americans can expect that immediately upon President Trump’s return to the Oval Office, he will restore all of his prior policies, implement brand new crackdowns that will send shock waves to all the world’s criminal smugglers, and marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation in American history,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt in a statement to The Washington Post, adding that undocumented immigrants “should not get comfortable because very soon they will be going home.”

To support such an operation, Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other allies have proposed building mass deportation camps.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Miller, who is largely expected to reenter the West Wing as the leading expert on “America First” immigration policy should Trump win in November, has also described the forthcoming reality of “large-scale raids” and “throughput facilities.”

“I don’t care what the hell happens in this world,” Miller said earlier this month on a podcast with Charlie Kirk. “If President Trump gets reelected, the border’s going to be sealed, the military will be deployed, the National Guard will be activated, and the illegals are going home.”

Behind the scenes, Trump has worked overtime to make immigration a focal point of the upcoming general election. He has strong-armed Republican lawmakers into refusing bipartisan border deals to avoid giving President Joe Biden a win on the issue. He has stoked the flames of a standoff between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government over lengths of concertina wire erected by the state that have prevented federal border agents from doing their job along the Rio Grande section of the U.S.-Mexico border. And so far, his angling has been successful—as of a January poll conducted by Harvard CAPS-Harris, immigration now ranks as the top issue for U.S. voters, with 35 percent of respondents listing it as the primary concern.

“Trump is following the 20th century dictator’s playbook of dehumanizing vulnerable groups in order to isolate them and justify cruelty by the state,” Genevieve Nadeau, a former Department of Homeland Security lawyer, said in a report by the nonpartisan organization Protect Democracy. “He’s backing up his rhetoric by threatening to invoke extreme and novel legal tools to effectuate an agenda of inhumanity on a scale we haven’t seen for generations. We should expect him to follow through on his pledges.”

And the violent measures fly in the face of what Republicans and Democratic leaders alike argue would most benefit their communities: allowing the immigrants to legally work.

“Every migrant I speak to tells me they don’t want any charity; they just want to work,” Denver Mayor Mike Johnston wrote in an MSNBC op-ed earlier this month. “When I speak to conservative business leaders, they say the same thing: Newcomers should work; I have open jobs; let me hire them.”