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Opinion | How to Prevent an American Royal Family

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Top:  Scottie pet of the late President Franklin D Roosevelt, arrives at the White House in Washington, April 14, 1945 for the funeral of his master. He is led by Margaret Suckley, cousin of the late president. In the procession left to right are: Basil O'Connor, law partner of Mrs. Roosevelt; Grace Tully, secretary to Mr. Roosevelt; Miss Suckley; Laura Delano, cousin of Mr. Roosevelt, leading Anna Roosevelt Boettiger. Bottom: New York State Police guard the grave of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his estate at Hyde Park, N.Y., April 15, 1945, following his funeral.

But we can do better than remembering it with a quip, however immortal. Given the new and hard-to-check ways in which presidents can hold on to power—or even tee it up for their relatives—we ought to take a moment to appreciate what motivated the amendment’s champions. They were on the right side of history, animated by a coherent and nonpartisan philosophy we would do well to reflect upon today: anti-Caesarism, the belief that American government must never be transformed into an emanation of one man. Nor one family.

Given the growing tendency to treat spouses and children as presidents in waiting, it might be time not just to honor the spirit of the 22nd Amendment on its anniversary, but expand it.

In the most immediate sense, the “partisan revenge” interpretation of its origin story is right. Roosevelt’s Republican opponents did resent losing four straight elections to “That Man in the White House.” But they weren’t just acting in a fit of pique. In running for a third term, Roosevelt had broken the venerable norm of a two-term limit set by George Washington; in winning a fourth one, he had smashed it to bits. His critics worried about Roosevelt’s seemingly unchecked hold on the White House, and his willingness to use presidential power to keep himself there—and, in fact, so did many of his admirers.

So once Republicans regained control of Congress, it was more or less a given that they would move to codify the restraint the nation had once taken for granted. When the Republican-controlled 80th Congress convened in 1947, less than two years after Roosevelt’s death, it immediately took up two proposals to limit incumbents’ eligibility for the presidency. One resolution, offered by Rep. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.), would have limited presidents to a single term, to last six years instead of four. The other, introduced by Rep. Earl Michener (R-Mich.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, would have imposed a simple two-term limit. Congress chose Michener’s plan, and after debating particulars (with special attention to the treatment of someone who succeeded to the presidency), supermajorities including all Republicans and many, mostly Southern Democrats sent a revised version of the amendment to the states in March.

Support was not limited to the right. The New York Times’ Washington bureau chief, Arthur Krock, noted that Democrats had supported a two-term limit in 1928, when they wanted to ensure Calvin Coolidge would be leaving the White House. He also cited Thomas Jefferson’s support for limits on “perpetuations of power” based on worries that one man could become so politically ensconced as to be unbeatable. His newspaper’s editorial board, even then no bastion of conservatism, was also cautiously supportive of the amendment. With the amendment in place, it noted approvingly, “No man, whatever his motives might be, could hope to build his personal power to irresistible proportions.”

What troubled many about FDR’s long tenure were the New Yorker’s repeated attempts to turn the machinery of the federal government into an extension of his personal political operation. Most famously, in 1938 the president had decided to vigorously campaign against conservative members of his own party, an effort that the national media branded as a “purge.” Going well beyond an endorsement, workers employed by the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal’s leading infrastructure agency, were used as political foot soldiers in these and other primary elections across the country, including pressuring WPA officials to donate to favored candidates.

A Senate special committee created to investigate these allegations found pervasive abuses and recommended that Congress prohibit political contributions by recipients of federal relief funds or administrators of those funds. Senator Carl Hatch (D-N.M.), distressed by corrupt spending in his own state, rallied his colleagues to prevent “a system by which we can use funds from the Public Treasury to control the votes of the people of the Nation,” which he said would mean “democracy in America is dead.” Representative Edward Rees (R-Kan.) warned that current practice would “foster and approve the most gigantic political machine that is known in any nation anywhere.” In spite of administration protestations that federal employees would be deprived of their constitutional speech rights, in 1939 Congress passed the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from using government resources for partisan political ends or electioneering.

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New York City said it would purge its DNA database. A year later, it’s expanded.

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New York City said it would purge its DNA database. A year later, it’s expanded.

“They’re doing it at a snail’s pace on the removal, and they’re adding people more quickly. It really neutralizes any sense of reform,” said Terri Rosenblatt, supervising attorney of the DNA Unit at Legal Aid.

Advocates are pushing for state legislation that would ban New York City and other municipalities from maintaining their own DNA databases. The state maintains its own, more limited DNA tracking system, which includes only people convicted of crimes.

“A year ago, the NYPD promised to reform its shameful practice of collecting and indexing DNA from people — including children as young as 12 — who have not been convicted of a crime,” Rosenblatt said. ”These numbers show that the NYPD can’t be trusted. Legislators must act now to end genetic stop and frisk, which disproportionately culls the DNA of Black and Latinx people, by shutting down the city’s rogue DNA index.”

Police brass have described DNA as a crucial tool in solving violent crimes.

“We have a responsibility to use available technology and scientific advancements in a constitutional and legal way in order to protect the communities we serve,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said at the hearing last year. “Law enforcement, the defense bar, and the courts have acknowledged DNA testing’s unparalleled ability to both exonerate the wrongly accused and identify the guilty.”

The city’s database was built up over more than two decades and expanded rapidly in the last few years. As of the promised reforms last year, about a quarter of the people in it — or 8,000 profiles — had not been convicted of a crime. That includes people who were questioned but never charged, or charged but not convicted.

DNA is collected by the NYPD and stored in a database maintained by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The statistics show that 2,826 profiles have been flagged for removal by NYPD, while 1,042 of those have had all paperwork completed and been fully removed by the medical examiner.

The NYPD reports that it has reviewed 8,000 suspect profiles as of the end of 2020 and recommended removing 2,826 of them while keeping 5,174 in place. Of those they opted to keep, 5,030 are “designated offenders” convicted of felonies or penal law misdemeanors, while 134 are suspects in ongoing investigations or prosecutions. There are another 10 where no judicial conclusion was reached.

The profiles that have been flagged for removal, but not yet fully deleted, are no longer compared to forensic material found at crime scenes, according to the medical examiner’s office.

“Those who have been directly affected by violent crime appreciate the role DNA analysis as a tool plays in giving them answers and ultimately delivering justice. As of December, there were almost 3,000 DNA samples flagged for removal from the local database,” said OCME spokesperson Aja Worthy-Davis. “This ongoing process is technically complex, and accuracy is essential, however with consideration to public concerns we have effectively removed access to those cases in the process of elimination. We have kept our partners updated on this process throughout, and will continue to do so.”

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

In addition to removing old profiles, the announced reforms include limiting the collection of DNA from minors, who will only have DNA taken if they’re suspected in a felony, sex crime, gun crime or hate crime.

The plan also included a new consent form giving subjects more information about how their genetic information will be used before they sign off. Some people agree to give a DNA sample, while others have it taken under a court order or from what cops call abandoned property, such as a water bottle or cigarette.

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Perdue rules out Georgia Senate comeback in 2022

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Perdue rules out Georgia Senate comeback in 2022

Former Republican Sen. David Perdue will not run for Senate in 2022, he said in a statement Tuesday, ruling out another campaign in Georgia less than two months after losing a runoff election for a second term.

The decision comes just a week after Perdue filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and said publicly that he was considering another campaign in 2022. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who won a special election against former GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in January, is on the ballot again next year for a full term.

“This is a personal decision, not a political one,” Perdue said in the statement announcing that he would not run. “I am confident that whoever wins the Republican primary next year will defeat the Democrat candidate in the General election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”

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Native Americans Finally Have a Cabinet Nominee. Will an Adopted Tlingit Take Her Down?

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Native Americans Finally Have a Cabinet Nominee. Will an Adopted Tlingit Take Her Down?

“They don’t know what it means to be an Indian,” Williams said of these elected officials from his party. “An old Indian proverb would say: ‘walk a mile in his moccasins.’ Then maybe they’d come to that understanding.”

Normally, voting against the nomination of a progressive environmentalist would a be a no-brainer for an Alaska Republican like Murkowski. Her state more or less runs on oil, which most years contributes as much as 90 percent of Alaska’s Unrestricted General Fund. Only about 3 percent of Alaskans work in the oil and gas industry, but all residents who have lived in the state for a year and intend to stay get paid an annual dividend based on industry revenues. In 2020, that was $992 in every Alaskan’s pocket. The Biden administration’s policies are designed, in part, to move beyond this oil-centric status quo, and Haaland, who went to the camps erected in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and cooked green chili stew for demonstrators, has been an outspoken champion of them. If she weren’t Native, this would probably be an easy decision for Murkowski. But the senator’s personal connection and electoral dependence on Native voters makes it a lot more complicated.

And American Indians are taking notice of the fight. “Opposition to her appointment would send a message that we’re not worthy of such a high office,” said Paulette Moreno, the Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. “And that message is not one that should be shared with the world.”

Across the country, Haaland is beloved by First Peoples. Her nomination has galvanized the Indigenous with the hope of representation, and it’s not lost on these voters that the leaders of the Grand Old Party are lining up against them. The National Congress of American Indians has written a letter to senators, urging them to confirm Haaland and has created a template so that tribal leaders across the country can do the same.

When a Republican House member urged Biden to withdraw his nomination of Haaland, five tribes in the congressman’s district wrote him a letter saying: “This historic nomination is more important to us and all of Indian country than any other Cabinet nomination in recent history. … Your opposition to the first and only American Indian ever nominated to a Cabinet position is likely to reverberate across Indian country.”

Gerald Gray, the Chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of North Dakota, criticized Senate Republicans’ statements and said that it was “time to put the partisan politics aside, stop calling every Democrat a ‘radical’ and get things moving in Interior.” In Daines’ state of Montana, where, like Alaska, Native voters comprise a significant part of the electorate, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council erected two billboards last week emblazoned with Haaland’s image: one in Billings and another in Great Falls. “Deb Haaland’s confirmation brings hope for Indigenous communities and the United States to have a true steward of natural resources that is in this high-ranking position,” said Ronnie Jo Horse, executive director of Western Native Voice, a Native voting rights group active in the state. “Montana’s Native voters are watching,” added her deputy Tajin Perez. “Senator Daines has the opportunity to do what’s right for all Montanans and all Americans.”

More Natives, like Williams’ old friend Ron Allen, the chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and former president of the National Congress of American Indians, who once served as an advisor to John McCain’s presidential campaign, are reconsidering their support for Republicans. “My folks, they would refer to me as the token Republican Indian,” he said. “I would joke back with them that I switched to ‘I’ for ‘Indian.’” Perhaps that’s a sign of the times. The Native American Caucus in Congress is comprised of six members: three Democrats, three Republicans. And Native voters are less likely than voters of other races to identify with either party. But, as Republicans move against Haaland and Indian Country, that partisan balance may be slipping into the past, as Native voters increasingly align themselves with the Democratic Party and as tribal leaders find their conservative friends in Washington aren’t so friendly when it counts.

So far, the Tlingit and Alaska Natives I talked to aren’t too worried about Murkowski. She’s a senator, maverick and auntie because of them, after all. Since voting to convict Trump, she has faced threats of censure from Republicans in her home state, and former governor Sarah Palin is reportedly considering a primary challenge.

With all that in mind, the Tlingit and Indigenous insiders I interviewed expect Murkowski to ask Haaland some tough questions about energy policy, but ultimately to honor Biden’s choice for Interior. “I believe that she’s a woman of integrity and that she’s fair and that she will balance out the weight of the message of sister Haaland’s potential nomination,” said Moreno. Still, they’re not taking any chances, writing and calling Murkowski’s office to express how meaningful this vote is to them.

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