ORLANDO, Fla. — In a church gym in Longwood, 20 young men circled around their basketball coach to kick off the first practice of the season.But the huddle was notably short two players.The players of the Lightning Youth Basketball team listened as coach Don Martin’s voice took on a solemn tone.“One of our assistant coaches and two of our kids are dead, as of yesterday,” Martin told the boys. “It’s sad news. It hit everybody hard, but like Lightning, we’re going to carry forward, (and) we’re going to represent.”The team took a moment of silence for Ezequiel “Zeke” Almodovar, 16, and Gabriel “G...
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Panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" denounced Ginni Thomas for proudly affirming her belief in Donald Trump's election lies during testimony before the Jan. 6 committee.
The wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas testified before the House select committee, whose chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) revealed that she still believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and she emerged smiling from the interview with lawmakers.
"Thomas first came under scrutiny for sending text messages to Mark Meadows encouraging then-president Trump not to concede the 2020 election," said co-host Mika Brzezinski. "In her opening statement to the committee yesterday, she said her husband, Justice Thomas, was, quote, 'completely unaware of my texts with Mark Meadows until this committee leaked them to the press.' Her attorney also issued a statement yesterday arguing that her activities relating to the 2020 election were, quote, 'minimal.'"
"Just the fact that she's still an election denier is staggering to me," Brzezinski added. "It defies every court ruling. Fair to say it defies logic at this point."
Co-host Willie Geist agreed, saying he was troubled by her demeanor after affirming to the select committee her belief in Trump's election lies.
"We've seen some humility from other people who have been called in front of that panel realizing that now that the screws are being turned, it's time to admit what's true, that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election," Geist said. "Not her, in fact, emerged proudly from the long deposition smiling and proud of her position on that."
Thomas played a key role in connecting various participants in the attempted coup to one another, Geist said, and her involvement raises questions about whether her husband should recuse himself from any cases related to the 2020 election.
"If you had asked me a few years ago about Ginni Thomas," said Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, "I would have said she is a far-right Republican activist, but I would have sort of left it there. Now she just appears just to be part of the demented fringe, really, just so far out there that she can't see reality anymore. The idea, you know, she is the wife of a Supreme Court justice, the idea that someone that close to the pinnacle of judicial power in this country does not believe in our justice system, does not believe in results of more than 60, you know, court cases, or more than 60 judges looking at this question of, as if there were a question about the 2020 election and saying, no, this is garbage. This is ridiculous. None of these claims is true, and she rejects all of that. That it's irrational is not a strong enough word for it. I just keep coming back to demented. It just doesn't make any sense."
Jonathan Lemire, the White House bureau chief for Politico, expressed alarm that Thomas continues to profess that President Joe Biden had not been duly elected.
"She is still saying this now, and let's remember, this isn't just her saying yesterday, on Jan. 6, this isn't just her texting with Mark Meadows saying keep up the fight," Lemire said. "She was working with state legislatures, pushing two different states, Wisconsin and Arizona, to seat alternate false set of electors to try to overturn Joe Biden's win. She is into this up to her neck, and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, I know she claims that there's a wall between the two of them, and they don't speak about this sort of stuff. Let's remember he was the one dissenting voice in the Trump case about keeping the documents at Mar-a-Lago, and many lawmakers, Democrats, have called him to recuse himself for Trump-related efforts going forward. It's hard not to be really worried about the implications of Ginni Thomas's beliefs."
Watch below or at this link:
09 30 2022 06 44 58 www.youtube.com
‘Tarnished image’: Gallup releases devastating SCOTUS poll – as conservative Justices snipe at Kagan’s warning
Ever since December of 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case that six months later would overturn Roe v. Wade, a 49-year old precedent – "settled law," Americans were assured by the Court's Justices in their confirmation hearings – ensuring women have the constitutional right to abortion, Chief Justice John Roberts has been accused of losing control of his justices.
On Thursday, just days before the high court begins its new term, as one of the Justices' spouses delivers testimony on her role in the coordinated efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, amid sniping by the Chief Justice and a conservative justice at their liberal colleague, and anger across the nation so virulent the midterm elections appear to be rapidly swinging back to Democrats, the right-leaning Gallup organization has released a new poll that's absolutely devastating for the Chief Justice and the Court he was entrusted to lead – not to mention American democracy itself.
"Supreme Court Trust, Job Approval at Historical Lows," Gallup's damning headline reads.
"47% trust the judicial branch; previous low was 53%," "40% job approval of U.S. Supreme Court is tied for record low," and "Record-high 42% say Supreme Court is too conservative."
Translated, that means the legitimacy of the court is in question, despite entreaties from Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the Dobbs opinion that discarded nearly five decades of settled law to achieve a desired goal: rescinding the constitutional right to abortion, and with it, quite possibly not far down the road, the constitutional right to contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage.
"'Less than half of Americans say they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ of trust in the judicial branch of the federal government, representing a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year,'" Politico reports, quoting an advanced copy of Gallup's findings.
"This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago," Gallup's own report reveals, "including seven points since last year, and is now the lowest in Gallup's trend by six points. The judicial branch's current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup's trend that began in 1972."
Respect for the Supreme Court was such a non-question that from 1976, when Americans' "trust and confidence" in the nation's highest court stood at 63%, Gallup, it appears, did not even ask the question again in polls again until 1997, when the answer came back at 71%.
Today, under Chief Justice Roberts, it is a mere 47%.
Also today, Ginni Thomas, the far right wing activist spouse of one of the Court's most right-wing jurists, Clarence Thomas, is testifying before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack regarding her role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
This week Justice Alito, also a far-right conservative, delivered a thinly-veiled attack against Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, in a rare public forum.
So did the Chief Justice, just weeks earlier.
“The very worst moments [in the court’s history] have been times when judges have even essentially reflected one party’s or one ideology’s set of views in their legal decisions," Justice Kagan said recently, sparking anger from the right. "The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is the court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process.”
“Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves when they don’t act like courts,” she also said, and “when they instead stray into places that looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences.”
“If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” Kagan warned.
Chief Justice Roberts later delivered a terse retort.
“Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”
Bloomberg Law columnist Vivia Chen, citing the well-respected constitutional scholar and retired Harvard Law professor of law, Laurence Tribe, recently wrote: "Chief Justice Roberts Is Officially Irrelevant."
“Having had both John Roberts and Elena Kagan as my brilliant students in constitutional law, and having watched each of their careers unfold, I can’t help thinking that one of them, Justice Kagan, has grown into her role as a wise jurist,” Tribe told Chen in response to the Roberts-Kagan flap.
“Chief Justice Roberts has dwindled in stature as his cliches have lost their power and even their relevance,” Tribe added.
Justice Alito entered the sparring match this week, telling The Wall Street Journal: “It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.”
It was a clear swipe at Justice Kagan.
"It’s embarrassingly obvious that recent decisions rendered by the conservative supermajority hew to a certain political agenda," Bloomberg's Chen noted, asking: "where does one start? I guess Dobbs was a biggie because it destroyed almost 50 years of reproductive rights for women."
"Then," she added, "there’s the decision that crippled New York’s gun-control law and the one that severely cut back climate change regulations. And let’s not forget how the court keeps siding with religion, as if the separation of church and state is an optional part of the Constitution."
"That the Supreme Court lurched so far to the right in less than a year is breathtaking," Chen observes. "It’s like we’re suddenly transported to a country where Wayne LaPierre, Christian fundamentalists, corporate polluters, and the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly are calling the shots."
(For those looking fore even more justification of how the Supreme Court is undermining its own legitimacy, this video clip offers an additional answer.)
All this turmoil, turbulence, and trouble comes days before the Court begins its new term.
"The Supreme Court will return to work on the first Monday of October, after a three-month summer break, with all the determination of a Renaissance-era explorer looking for new lands to conquer," snarked – or warned – The Nation's Elie Mystal. "Last term, the court’s conservative supermajority showed it was willing to ignore precedent (overturning Roe v. Wade), reality (issuing rulings that will lead to more gun violence and climate pollution), and facts (making up evidence in the praying-football-coach case) to arrive at its preferred judicial outcomes."
"This term, the high court will cement its grip on political life in America, overturning affirmative action and other critical protections along the way," he says.
"The conservative Supreme Court has been willing to suppress the vote or let Republican-controlled state legislatures gerrymander district maps to the point where the popular vote is all but meaningless, but so far, the court has been unwilling to throw away enough votes after the fact to change the outcome of an election. We’ll see if there’s a first time for everything."
How bad could it be?
A picture's worth a thousand words.
Warden of West Texas immigration detention center arrested in migrant’s death was previously accused of abusing detainees
Sept. 29, 2022
EL PASO — Two men shot two migrants, killing one and injuring another, earlier this week while the two victims stood along a West Texas road getting water, authorities said. One of the alleged shooters is reportedly a warden for a privately run immigration detention center.
Two brothers were arrested in connection to the shooting that occurred Tuesday on FM 1111 in Hudspeth County, approximately four miles south of Sierra Blanca, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. They were identified as Mike Thomas Sheppard and Mark Edward Sheppard, both 60.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Mike Sheppard was the warden of the West Texas Detention Center, run by the Louisiana-based LaSalle Corrections, a company that operates jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. Sheppard began working as a warden in 2015 at the West Texas facility, which has been the subject of several allegations of violence against immigrants, according to The Intercept.
The brothers, who were charged with manslaughter, were in a truck when they pulled over and shot at a group of migrants, according to DPS. Agents from the U.S. Border Patrol’s Sierra Blanca checkpoint were also called to help the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office “locate a female gunshot victim” around 9:15 p.m., a spokesperson for the federal agency said.
Hudspeth Sheriff Arvin West did not immediately return an email Thursday.
The vehicle linked to the shooting belonged to LaSalle Corrections, according to the Express-News. Border Patrol helped trace the truck and investigators discovered the vehicle was assigned to Mike Sheppard, according to the newspaper.
Scott Sutterfield, a spokesperson for LaSalle Corrections, said in a statement that Sheppard no longer worked for the company.
“The warden at the West Texas Detention Center (WTDC), Sierra Blanca, TX has been terminated due to an off-duty incident unrelated to his employment,” Sutterfield said.
A 2018 report found officials at the Sierra Blanca facility had grievously abused 80 men who were detained at the center. Over a week, the men faced beatings, racial taunts and sexual abuse at the hands of the center’s officials who were under the leadership of Mike Sheppard at the time. The Intercept reported the allegations more than four years ago.
Mike Sheppard was accused of punching a man in the face and kicking him while he was handcuffed on the ground in solitary confinement, according to The Intercept.
Before the 2018 incident, the West Texas facility came under scrutiny from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Detention Oversight, citing health services deficiencies and a lack of training on how to use nonlethal weapons. Inmates at the time resorted to using plastic bags for toilets and had to kill a rattlesnake found in their sleeping quarters when officials failed to respond.
Sutterfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday about those previous allegations or Mike Sheppard’s continued employment after they were made.
As The Intercept reported in 2018, a report from three entities detailed African detainees’ allegations of abuse. It found that officers used racist epithets and engaged in hate crimes. It was unclear late Thursday what, if any, action federal officials took after the report was released and published in The Intercept.
It was not clear why Mike Sheppard and his brother were accused of manslaughter as opposed to another potential criminal charge this week. A DPS spokesperson referred further questions about the shooting to prosecutors in El Paso, where jail records show the two brothers were being held.
Court records, however, did not show either of the men had been formally charged as of Thursday afternoon with a crime.
A county court clerk in El Paso said there were no documents available yet because the men were recently booked.
The wounded individual, identified by DPS only as a female, was taken to Del Sol Hospital in El Paso, where she was recovering.
Jeanette Harper, an FBI special agent in El Paso, confirmed the agency had provided resources to Texas Rangers for an evidence recovery scene but deferred further comment to DPS as it was the leading investigative authority.
The New York Times, citing “affidavits filed by investigators,” reported the group was walking around 7 p.m. when they stopped at a water tank. The group hid when a truck approached.
The migrants later told federal agents they had heard one of the men shout in Spanish for them to “Come out,” according to the Times’ report. Eventually, the driver revved the truck’s engine, fired a gun, climbed back into the truck and drove away.
The men, per the Times, said in interviews with law enforcement that they had been out looking for animals to shoot.
Mark Sheppard said that they had stopped the truck because they believed they had spotted a javelina, according to the Times. He denied yelling anything.
In an unsigned email response Thursday evening, the El Paso district attorney’s office told the Tribune to contact DPS for the affidavits.
A DPS spokesperson said they did not have copies of the records to release.
Robert Downen contributed to this story.
Disclosure: New York Times has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/29/texas-migrant-shooting-arrests/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.