The Briefcase: Someone Else's Babies

This week, Americans are squarely confronting the rights and responsibilities of our government, our citizens, and our fellow humans. With the travel ban, news from the intelligence community, and the AHCA, we’re asking what we exactly we do and do not owe to someone else’s babies. 

The Travel Ban

A federal district judge in Hawaii enjoined enforcement of President Trump's revised executive order on immigration. We recap the decision

The plaintiffs were seeking a nationwide temporary restraining order. They had to establish

  1. Standing (similar to state of Washington in 9th Circuit decision + tourism; the Court also held that an individual plaintiff had standing to challenge the order)
  2. Strong likelihood of success on the merits of the Establishment Clause claims

The Court extensively quoted statements from then-candidate Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Stephen Miller regarding the intention of the executive order. "The Government has established a disfavored religion." The Court also found that the executive order does not achieve its stated national security objectives because citizenship, according to the DHS, is an "unlikely indicator" of terrorism threats. 

Under the Lemon test, the Court held that the government could not show that the order has a primarily secular purpose. The Court also rejected the Government's claim that the executive order does not discriminate against Muslims because it does not apply to all countries with majority-Muslim populations, saying, “The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. The court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise."

The Court held that the plaintiffs would likely suffer irreparable harm without a temporary restraining order. Sarah fully agrees with the Court's analysis. Beth, while taking serious issue with the executive order, thinks the Court's analysis, particularly on standing, is very thin and problematic. 

Other News

We discuss the Justice Department's indictment of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the breach of 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014, and we wonder how the administration will respond. 

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced this week that there is no indication that the government surveilled Trump Tower before the election. Sean Spicer then told the press that a British intelligence agency, GCHQ, actually did the spying. GCHQ responded by saying that Spicer's allegations are "utterly ridiculous." 

We applaud the Netherlands for Geert Wilders' defeat, and we lament remarks from Congressman Steve King

Friday Feedback

We briefly discuss the CBO report on the American Health Care Act and consider feedback from listeners Lauren and Susan. 

From Lauren: speaking as someone who has had fibromyalgia for nine years those ads have actually brought a new awareness to the disease. 9 years ago when I was 15 and diagnosed and would people I that I had been diagnosed they would say "wait what is that I don't know what that is." Or even "well that sounds fake you must just want special treatment and the attention."  But now they say "oh yeah the one with the drug ad on TV" and it gives them a point of reference to understand what the disease is better than they did before. 

I would like to know who is actually thinking about the young and sick because there are a lot of us? I feel like I and people like me have been completely forgotten in this discussion and it is one that will greatly affect my life in far more ways than it will affect my peers as they are young and healthy. 

From Susan: As a physician I have been regularly confronted with all the ways the current insurance structure (with or without the ACA) fails patients (and makes their doctors crazy talking to insurance companies to get coverage for standard of care items).  I have always been anti-single-payer but have started to feel like maybe it's the only way to get the people who need help, well, helped.  And then I listened to today's podcast!

I think that so often the idea of single payer can be seen as the ONLY way we actually help those in need, while those who promote a market based strategy are seen as elitist or not wanting to help those in poverty.  Your approach of "absolutely, we are have to help people, but let's do it in a way that keeps as much control as possible in their own hands" was so refreshing, and a voice I think is sorely missing from the more public conversation.  I am so with you on separating insurance from employers... I would be really interested to hear if you have amy thoughts on how to make that opinion heard - many of my colleagues (and most medical associations who make statements on policy) are pro-single-payer, so that avenue of advocacy as not as useful as it can be at times.