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Foster-Care/Adoption/Child-Welfare Things That Caught My Eye Today

1. Child welfare in the midst of the pandemic — an excellent panel I highly recommend viewing:

2. Advocates for Responsible Fatherhood Say Men Are Rising To Challenge

One-time mayoral candidate and state Rep. LaShawn Ford from Chicago’s West Side has pushed for so- called “shared responsibility” legislation. It requires family court judges to begin custody decisions with the presumption that 50-50 shared custody is best and that both parents are presumed to be “fit” unless there is “clear and convincing evidence that parent’s exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” 

3. Herbie Newell: Amy Coney Barrett and Orphan Sunday coming early

James 1:27 states, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

I believe that the Lord commands His people to care for and visit the orphan, not because there is a desire to “civilize ‘savage’ children,” but because family is an essential need for any and every child’s flourishing. 

4. U.K.: Coronavirus: Government confirms extra funding to support adoptive families

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned that too much bureaucracy is making it harder for people to adopt resulting in too many children ‘bouncing around’ the care system.

. . .

Mr Williamson also called for an end to an ‘obsession with finding the perfect ethnic match for children’, with Black and Minority Ethnic children often wait the longest to be adopted. He stated that there is no acceptable reason why adopters should be blocked from registering simply because there are no children of the same ethnicity waiting to be adopted.

5. The Corvallis Advocate: Recent Child Abuse Stats Don’t Tell Full Story

6. Krish Kandiah: Pandemic or no pandemic, young people should not ‘age out’ of care

In England 32% of children leaving care are young people “ageing out” of the system when they reach their 18th birthday. A third are likely to become homeless within the first two years; a quarter of all homeless people are care-experienced. Only 12% of care leavers are in higher education by the age of 23, compared with 42% among the wider population; 39% of care-leavers aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training – three times the rate of all young people in this age group. Almost half of males under 21 who have contact with the criminal justice system are care-experienced.

. . .

The care system has been producing terrible outcomes for our country’s most vulnerable young people for decades. Sadly, the sector has become immune to the shock of them.

7. Archbishop Joseph Naumann: It is not enough to support moms through pregnancy and birth

If Judge Barrett’s nomination is confirmed by the Senate, it is possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to allow greater latitude for the Congress and state Legislatures to protect both the lives of unborn children, as well as parents from experiencing the spiritual and emotional scars that inevitably result from abortion.

The protection of the unborn is not just the preeminent issue when we vote, but it also must be a high pastoral priority for the Catholic community.


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Wisconsin Democrats Are Already Thinking about the 2022 Senate Race

Senator Ron Johnson (R., WI) questions Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of Homeland Security, at a committee hearing in Washington, D.C., August 6, 2020 (Toni Sandys/Reuters)

Politico informs us that Wisconsin Democrats can’t wait to run against incumbent GOP senator Ron Johnson next cycle. Tom Nelson, a former state assembly majority leader, already announced he’ll run in 2022.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about that. Johnson is a conservative senator (lifetime ACU rating 90) and Wisconsin is a swing-y purple state, perhaps trending blue again; we’ll know more when this year’s final vote count is in. Democratic governor Tony Evers beat Scott Walker by a percentage point, after Walker won the previous two elections and a recall election. The House delegation currently splits five Republicans and three Democrats. Wisconsin’s other senator, Tammy Baldwin, won pretty comfortably while running in two cycles that were good for Democrats, 2012 and 2018.

Democrats tell Politico they plan to use Johnson’s stalwart support for President Trump against him in 2022. If Trump wins reelection, that will probably be a galvanizing issue, the same way the Democrats were fired up for the 2018 midterms. But if Biden wins, will Wisconsinites still be thinking about Johnson’s support for Trump in November 2022? Two years from now, the electorate will have lived through a whole new slate of big issues, high-stakes votes, and controversies. It’s hard to believe “Johnson supported the Trump tax cuts back in 2017” or “Johnson voted for Amy Coney Barrett” will be the top-tier Democratic arguments against Johnson.

In 2010, Ron Johnson beat then-incumbent Russ Feingold by four points, a slightly smaller margin than the last few polls. Six years later, almost everyone thought Johnson was a goner — in October, The Nation did a cover piece entitled, “Mr. Feingold Goes Back to Washington.” Whoops. Only one poll had Johnson ahead of Feingold in their 2016 rematch, but Johnson won by 3.4 points.

If Biden wins the presidency, there’s always the chance that he defies the pattern of the midterms in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. But if the usual pendulum effect occurs — grassroots Republicans get fired up, grassroots Democrats get complacent — then Ron Johnson looks like he has a decent shot at a third term, presuming he wants one.

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New York Times: Why I’m Canceling My Subscription

Activists from the group Extinction Rebellion drop a banner on the New York Times building in New York, June 22, 2019.
(Jefferson Siegel/Reuters)

From my father I inherited a love of reading and my conservative politics. National Review and Commentary were always on the coffee table, and the Sunday New York Times was a ritual. I remember discovering the Arts and Leisure section for myself when I was ten. I’ve subscribed to the Sunday Times for my entire adult life. In my book of poems A Door on the River, I have a poem remembering my father by way of his devotion to the Times.

As the Times has been swallowed by a tide of wokeness and insipidity in recent years, I’ve become increasingly dismayed and often downright disgusted. The Sunday Review section is an ocean of ugh with the one island of Douthat. I gave up on the formerly mildly diverting “Social Q’s” column in the Style section when the answers skewed toward how best to earnestly signal one’s virtue. The Book Review’s “By the Book” column often asks famous writers to opine on which acclaimed works they find “disappointing, overrated, just not good” — and I felt my mental state endangered by the number of times the answer was Anna Karenina.

Today the paper arrived with the New York Times Style Magazine supplement, whose cover feature is titled “The Greats.” The “great” shown on the cover — the others profiled within are an artist, an actress, a songwriter, and a photographer — is none other than Angela Davis, that “great” admirer of totalitarian communist regimes, despiser of Israel, excuser of terrorism, and hero of the intersectional Left.

I’ve been edging closer to canceling my subscription to the Sunday Times, wondering what the last push might be. Today it feels like the paper went back in time, to 1970s radical chic, to insult my father. It’s too bad, because I’ll miss the crossword.

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Lisa Murkowski Will Vote ‘Yes’ on Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) listens during a Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on new coronavirus tests on Capitol Hill, May 7, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/Pool via Reuters)

Alaska GOP senator Lisa Murkowski, who announced immediately after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that she opposed holding a vote on a Supreme Court nominee before the election, said on Saturday she nevertheless will vote “yes” on the final vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett.

“I will vote ‘no’ on the procedural votes ahead of us, but ‘yes’ to confirm Judge Barrett when the question before us is her qualification to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court,” Murkowski said during remarks on the Senate floor.

Murkowski’s vote isn’t necessary to confirm Barrett — it was already clear there were 51 Republican senators to vote “yes.” But her support for Barrett is a clear sign that the Alaska senator intends to remain in the Republican caucus.

Murkowski lost a Republican primary challenge in 2010 but still held onto her seat that November by running as an independent write-in candidate. In 2016, she easily won the Republican primary, but Murkowski opposed the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. A vote against Barrett may have been tantamount to ejecting herself from the Republican Party. “You could launch, fund, and win a Republican Senate primary on this vote alone,” one GOP strategist told National Review.

The vote to cut off debate on Barrett’s nomination is scheduled for Sunday, and the confirmation vote is scheduled for Monday.

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Polish High Court Outlaws Abortion in Cases of Fetal Disability

Sunrise in the market square of Krakow, Poland (Liseykina/Dreamstime)

Poland has traditionally outlawed most abortions, except for those obtained due to fetal abnormality or to save the life or health of the mother.  Now, the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland’s highest court, has ruled that abortion obtained because of fetal disability is unconstitutional. From the New York Times story:

In the ruling, the tribunal’s president, Julia Przylebska, said that allowing abortions in cases of fetal abnormality legalized “eugenic practices with regard to an unborn child, thus denying it the respect and protection of human dignity.”

Because the Polish Constitution guarantees a right to life, she added, terminating a pregnancy based on the health of the fetus amounted to “a directly forbidden form of discrimination.”

In other words, the court treated the unborn child as a human being deserving of the same equal rights as people who are born.

Fetal anomaly was the reason for most of Poland’s 1,110 legal abortions in 2019, so this ruling could save the lives of children diagnosed with Down syndrome, dwarfism, and other genetic conditions.

Most non-Polish news stories about the case focused on the “angry” protests that erupted in the decision’s wake, with some critics of the decision worrying that more women will have to leave Poland for an abortion — which more than 100,000 already do each year.

The only way the case can be overturned would be to amend the Polish constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority vote of the people. Poland is a pro-life country — one of the few in the West — so that isn’t likely, at least in the near term.

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Sheldon Whitehouse Again Abuses the Judicial Confirmation Process

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questions judicial nominees during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 4, 2019.
(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

At Vanity Fair, Bess Levin pretends that she believes that Amy Coney Barrett is in favor of executing women who get abortions. Levin writes:

All of which makes one of her nonanswers to a written follow-up question from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse extremely chilling. Specifically, the one in which she says, “As a sitting judge and as a judicial nominee, it would not be appropriate for me to offer an opinion on abstract legal issues or hypotheticals” in response to the question “Under an originalist theory of interpretation, would there be any constitutional problem with a state making abortion a capital crime, thus subjecting women who get abortions to the death penalty?”

Obviously, claiming that she can’t answer hypothetical questions has been Barrett’s schtick throughout this entire process and, in some instances, it might actually be appropriate to say as much. But not when the question is “can a state sentence a woman to death for getting an abortion,” unless of course she thinks there might somehow be a scenario in which the answer is yes!

This is enormously dishonest, and Levin knows it. Barrett adopted the same approach in her hearing as did Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993: She refused to answer hypotheticals or to speculate as to how she would rule in future cases. Barrett took this approach seriously, not least because she is obliged to by the rules that govern her conduct as a sitting judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. As such, she refused to answer hypotheticals that were pleasant in nature and hypotheticals that were not.

Knowing this, the Democrats chose to play some appalling games with Barrett. The question that Levin cites here — from Sheldon Whitehouse, naturally — is a great example. Whitehouse knew full well that Barrett wouldn’t answer a hypothetical question, and so he contrived to ask her an absolutely ridiculous one so that he and his friends in the press could pretend that her silence amounted to consent. And it worked. The headline on Levin’s piece is “Amy Coney Barrett Sees a Scenario in Which Abortion Should Be Punishable by Death.” This is a lie, but many people will see it and believe it. Which, of course, is the point.

Had he so wished, Whitehouse could have asked Barrett if she believed that “Under an originalist theory of interpretation, would there be any constitutional problem with a state inviting sadistic aliens down to torture puppies?” and then, when she refused to answer, relied upon his friends in the media to scream, “Amy Coney Barrett Sees a Scenario in Which Aliens Should Torture Puppies.” And they wonder why the justices don’t want cameras in the courtroom.