Wrecking ball-sized buoys on the Rio Grande. Razor wire strung across private property without permission. Bulldozers changing the very terrain of America’s southern border.
For more than two years, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has escalated measures to keep migrants from entering the U.S., pushing legal boundaries with a go-it-alone bravado along the state’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) border with Mexico. Now blowback over the tactics is widening, including from within Texas.
A state trooper’s account of officers denying migrants water in 100-degree Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius) temperatures and razor wire leaving asylum-seekers bloodied has prompted renewed criticism. The Mexican government, some Texas residents along the border and the Biden administration are pushing back. On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department sued Abbott over the buoy barrier that it says raises humanitarian and environmental concerns, asking a federal court to require Texas to dismantle it.
bbott, who cruised to a third term in November while promising tougher border crackdowns, has used disaster declarations as the legal bedrock for some measures.
Critics call that a warped view. “There are so many ways that what Texas is doing right now is just flagrantly illegal,” said David Donatti, an attorney for the Texas American Civil Liberties Union.
Abbott did not respond to requests for comment. He has repeatedly attacked President Joe Biden’s border policies, tweeting Friday that they “encourage migrants to risk their lives crossing illegally through the Rio Grande, instead of safely and legally over a bridge.”
The Biden administration has said illegal border crossings have declined significantly since new immigration rules took effect in May.
Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a group of families slated for eviction from a flashpoint east Jerusalem neighborhood can remain in their homes for the time being.
The ruling could work to ease tensions in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which helped ignite the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year.
The court ruled that the families can stay in their homes for now until Israel carries out a land arrangement, a process that could take years or may not be carried out at all, according to Ir Amim, an advocacy group that was not involved in the court case.
For the time being, the four families residing in the homes will be recognized as protected tenants. Each will deposit a largely symbolic rent amounting to $62 a month to a trust, until the property’s ownership is settled.
Sami Arsheid, a lawyer representing the families’ case before the court, said the decision was “something huge” that ran counter to the previous 63 rulings by Israeli courts on the issue of Palestinian properties in Sheikh Jarrah.
A federal judge is refusing landlords’ request to put the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium on hold, though she made clear she thinks it’s illegal.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Friday said her “hands are tied” by an appellate ruling the last time courts considered the evictions moratorium in the spring.
Alabama landlords who are challenging the moratorium are likely to appeal.
Friedrich wrote that the new temporary ban on evictions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed last week is substantially similar to the version she ruled was illegal in May. At the time, Freidrich put her ruling on hold to allow the administration to appeal.
This time, she said, she is bound to follow a ruling from the appeals court that sits above her, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
If the D.C. Circuit doesn’t give the landlords what they want, they are expected to seek Supreme Court involvement.
In late June, the high court refused by a 5-4 vote to allow evictions to resume. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, part of the slim majority, said he agreed with Friedrich, but was voting to keep the moratorium in place because it was set to expire at the end of July.
Kavanaugh said then that he would reject any additional extension without clear authorization from Congress, which has not been able to take action.
In discussing the new moratorium last week, President Joe Biden acknowledged there were questions about its legality, but said a court fight over the new CDC order would buy time for the distribution of some of the $45 billion in rental assistance that has been approved but not yet used.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday put on hold a lower court order that would have permitted curbside voting in Alabama in November.
The justices' vote was 5-3, with the court's three liberals dissenting. As is typical when the Supreme Court acts on an emergency basis, the justices in the majority did not explain their decision. It was not clear how many counties might have offered curbside voting, allowing people to vote from their car by handing their ballot to a poll worker.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissent joined by Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan, described the lower court's order allowing curbside voting in November as “modest,” and she said she would not have put it on hold.
“It does not require all counties to adopt curbside voting; it simply gives prepared counties the option to do so. This remedy respects both the right of voters with disabilities to vote safely and the State’s interest in orderly elections,” she said, noting that 28 states permit curbside voting.
The decision stemmed from a lawsuit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed on behalf of voters with health issues who were concerned about the risk of COVID-19 at the polls.
The state’s Republican attorney general and secretary of state sought to block a lower court's ruling in the case that would have let counties offer curbside voting. Lawyers for the state argued that since Alabama does not have a law expressly permitting curbside voting, that it should not be allowed.
“I am very enthusiastic that the Supreme Court of the United States has seen fit to secure Alabama’s election integrity by ruling as to the letter and the spirit of the law," Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a telephone interview.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall argued Alabama has “taken extraordinary measures to ensure that all voters can vote safely," and that it would be potentially chaotic to rapidly implement curbside voting days ahead of the election.