Judiciary

S.276 – Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

Official Titles as Introduced:

A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to divide the ninth judicial circuit of the United States into 2 circuits, and for other purposes.

Introduced in Senate (02/02/2017)

Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

This bill divides the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit into: (1) a new Ninth Circuit, to be composed of California, Hawaii, Oregon, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands; and (2) a newly established Twelfth Circuit, to be composed of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.

Precedent from the former Ninth Circuit shall not be binding on the Twelfth Circuit.

The bill designates locations where the new circuits are to hold regular sessions.

The bill distributes active circuit judges of the former Ninth Circuit to the new circuits. Circuit judges and senior circuit judges currently stationed in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, or Washington may elect their circuit assignment. For each circuit judge in regular service who elects to be assigned to the new Ninth Circuit, the President shall appoint one additional circuit judge for the Twelfth Circuit.

–From Countable:

“This bill would split off part of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — which is the federal appeals court for Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — into a new 12th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 12th Circuit Court would cover Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington, while the 9th would keep the other states and territories under its current jurisdiction. These changes would take effect one year after this legislation’s enactment.

When this legislation takes effect, the 9th Circuit would continue to deal with all cases that have already been submitted for a decision. Appeals or proceedings that haven’t progressed to that stage of the judicial process would be referred to the court that would’ve had jurisdiction over it had the new court existed at the time of submission, and all relevant records would be transferred to that court.”

Argument in favor‘:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as it’s currently structured is too large and has too heavy a caseload. With an average wait time of 15 months, citizens under its jurisdiction don’t have quick access to justice. Creating a new 12th Circuit Court of Appeals would ease the burden of both courts and ensure the judicial system functions efficiently for residents of western states.”

Argument opposed‘:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should keep its current jurisdiction despite it being a lot bigger than other circuits in terms of geographic size and population. Conservatives mainly want to break it up because they think it is staffed by too many liberal judges and has issued too many rulings that were eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.”

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Checks and Balances

H.R.177 – To bar Supreme Court decisions in certain Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases from citation.

 

Notes:

This would set a dangerous and likely unconstitutional precedent if passed that could allow the legislative branch to decide for the judicial branch what court cases can and cannot be cited as precedent for making important legal decisions, when they have no judicial background, or legal or constitutional authority, to do so. It would open the flood gate to allow them to throw out landmark decisions like Rove v. Wade, etc.

Science

H.R.1054 – Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration, and Promotion Act

Short Titles as Introduced:

Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration, and Promotion Act

Official Title as Introduced:

To promote botanical research and botanical sciences capacity, and for other purposes.

Arts

H.R.726 – To prohibit Federal funding of National Public Radio and the use of Federal funds to acquire radio content.

Introduced in House (01/30/2017)

This bill prohibits federal funding to organizations incorporated to: (1) make radio programs available for broadcast over noncommercial educational radio broadcast stations, networks, and systems; (2) cooperate with foreign broadcasting systems and networks in international radio programming and broadcasting; (3) assist and support such noncommercial educational radio broadcasting pursuant to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967; (4) pay dues to such organizations; or (5) acquire radio programs by or for the use of a public broadcast radio station.

The Communications Act of 1934 is amended to remove provisions that require the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to use a percentage of funds from the Public Broadcasting Fund to make grants for: (1) the production of public radio programs by independent producers and production entities and public telecommunications entities or by producers of national children’s educational programming or programs addressing the needs and interests of minorities, or (2) the acquisition of such programs by public telecommunications entities. The bill also eliminates a requirement that a percentage of the amounts that the CPB distributes to public radio stations be used solely for acquiring or producing programming that is distributed nationally and is designed for a national audience.

Racial Equality

H.R.799 – Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To authorize the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to establish a pilot program to make grants to historically Black colleges and universities to provide educational programs to offenders who have recently been, or will soon be, released from incarceration, and for other purposes.

Summary:

Introduced in House (02/01/2017)

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.

An eligible offender is a convicted criminal offender who has been released from incarceration for less than one year or who is scheduled to be released from incarceration within one year.

The Government Accountability Office must report to Congress on the results of the pilot program.

Question:

“This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.”

Why only direct ‘convicted criminal offender[s]’ to ‘historically black colleges and universities*’ rather than provide the grant to any university who is willing to offer such a program? Is it not a racist stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American? Is this bill simply trying to implement a form of segregation through education as well as to possibly place a heavier burden, both financially as well as potentially skewing performance statistics for their students, on ‘historically black colleges and universities’ rather than on other non-historically black colleges and universities? Could it not also potentially stigmatize any ‘historically black colleges and universities’ that opt to participate, as it would signal, both to their other students as well as the community at large, that they agree with the stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American?

The general idea seems relevant, however the planned implementation seems suspect.

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*According to the text of the bill, “The term “historically Black college or university” has the meaning given the term “part B institution” under section 322(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1061(2)

20 U.S.C. 1061(2) States that:

“(2) The term “part B institution” means any historically Black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation,,1 except that any branch campus of a southern institution of higher education that prior to September 30, 1986, received a grant as an institution with special needs under section 1060 of this title and was formally recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics as a Historically Black College or University but was determined not to be a part B institution on or after October 17, 1986, shall, from July 18, 1988, be considered a part B institution.”