1. In Maryland, a good compromise on immigration.

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Post, March 27, 2017, Pg. A14

THE POLITICAL turmoil and outrage attending a bill that would limit the cooperation granted to federal immigration authorities by state and local officials in Maryland are disconnected from the effect of the latest, watered-down provisions that actually appear in the legislation.

No doubt, the intent of the sponsors of the measure, known as the Maryland Law Enforcement and Trust Act, was to sharply curtail many kinds of assistance rendered to federal immigration authorities by state and local officials in police departments, sheriff’s departments and penal facilities. As the bill has emerged from the Democrat-dominated House of Delegates in Annapolis, however, its real-world impact would be modest at best, and certainly nothing to justify the huffing and puffing from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who said it “will make Maryland a sanctuary state and endanger our citizens.”


2. More lies on Planned Parenthood.

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Post, March 27, 2017, Pg. A14

NOT “EVEN a scintilla of evidence.” That was the judgment of a federal judgelast month in Texas about allegations of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. He was not alone in finding that the health-care organization did not illegally profit from fetal-tissue donation: Three Republican-led congressional investigations, 13 states and a Texas grand jury all could find no substance to claims about the alleged sale of “baby body parts,” which gained currency through videos released by anti-abortion activists.

It is important to point out these facts in light of an advertising campaign that uses misleading data and half-truths in a bid to whip up support in Congress for a cutoff of federal support to Planned Parenthood. While the would-be cutters suffered a setback with last week’s collapse of the Republicans’ attempted overhaul of health care, which also targeted Planned Parenthood, it is clear the threat remains and that misinformation will continue to be a key weapon.

Studies and real-life practice have established that there simply are not enough community health centers to fill the gap that would be created if Planned Parenthood lost Medicaid funds. The truth is that a cutoff would tear a huge hole in the safety net for the 2.5 million patients — the majority of them low-income — who each year go to Planned Parenthood centers for basic medical needs. Congress should reject it.


3. A bad signal to China on torture: The U.S. doesn’t sign on to a letter condemning human rights abuses. 

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Post, March 26, 2017, Pg. A22

Frustrated by China’s relentless crackdown on civil society and human rights, Western governments have lately adopted the tactic of drawing up joint communications to Beijing. Last year the United States joined in at least two such initiatives, a declaration at the United Nations Human Rights Council and a letter raising concerns about new Chinese laws on cybersecurity, counterterrorism and nongovernment organizations. The appeals haven’t stopped repression by the regime of Xi Jinpeng, but they have at least embarrassed it, and forced senior officials to respond.

On Feb. 27, a new letter was dispatched to the Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, on the vital subject of the torture and secret detention of a number of human rights lawyers. It was signed by 11 governments, including Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan. But from China’s point of view, the big news was the signature that was missing — that of the United States. Whether intentional or not, it was another signal that the Trump administration will play down human rights in its foreign policy, granting a free pass to regimes it regards as allies or with which it hopes to cut deals.

In a visit to Beijing last weekend Mr. Tillerson said he had “made clear that the United States will continue to advocate for universal values such as human rights and religious freedom.” So why not support a concrete appeal drafted by America’s closest democratic allies? A State Department official told us that the inaction was mainly the result of timing; Mr. Tillerson had just taken office and quick action was difficult. But it’s doubtful that China’s leaders — or the courageous lawyers suffering torture — interpreted it that way.


4. End this inhumane punishment. 

By Bob Taft and Joseph E. Kernan, The Washington Post, March 26, 2017, Pg. A23

Legislators in six states — Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — have proposed legislation to prohibit the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness. As former governors of states that are grappling with this issue, we strongly support this effort to end an inhumane practice that fails to respect common standards of decency and comport with recommendations of mental-health experts.

The overwhelming majority of people with severe mental illness are not violent; in fact, they are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime. For the very small number who do commit a capital crime while suffering from a severe mental disorder, current death-penalty law does not adequately take the effects of their illness into account.

As a result, defendants with severe mental illness — such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — continue to be sentenced to death and executed.

We come from different political parties, but we join the majority of Americans — supporters and opponents of the death penalty alike — who believe it should not be imposed on defendants with such serious impairments. This is a fair, efficient and bipartisan reform that would put an end to a practice that is not consistent with current knowledge about mental illness and fundamental principles of human decency.

Bob Taft, a Republican, was governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007. Joseph E. Kernan, a Democrat, was governor of Indiana from 2003 to 2005.


5. Pope’s sex abuse board vows to go on without survivor member. 

By Associated Press, March 26, 2017, 4:59 PM

Members of Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory board vowed Sunday to press ahead with their work even without abuse survivors on the panel following the resignation of a respected child advocate.

The commission wrapped up a plenary Sunday saying it would “find new ways” to ensure people who were abused by clergy shape and inform its work. But no specifics were announced, and it wasn’t clear if survivors would be named as members down the line.

Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, a founding member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, resigned on March 1, citing what she called “unacceptable” resistance to the commission’s proposals from the Vatican’s doctrine office, which is responsible for processing cases against abusive priests.


6. Supreme Court nominee praised for record of building unity on religious freedom.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, March 25, 2017

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch received a strong voice of support Thursday from a lawyer at a major religious liberty firm, who said that he shows a record of consensus building and protecting religious freedom for all.

In addition to ruling on some high profile cases, Gorsuch also defended the religious freedom of religious minorities and prisoners, “some of the most politically powerless in our society,” said Hannah Smith, senior counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Smith testified about Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Gorsuch sits on the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and was nominated by President Donald Trump in February to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ultimately, Smith said, Gorsuch’s record makes it clear that he will uphold the religious liberty of all people.

“His jurisprudence demonstrates an even-handed application of the principle that religious liberty is fundamental to freedom and to human dignity,” she said, “and that protecting the religious rights of others – even the rights of those with whom we may disagree – ultimately leads to greater protections for all of our rights.”


7. Pope urges EU: Resist ‘false’ security promised by populists.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 24, 2017, 2:26 PM

Pope Francis urged European leaders on Friday to resist the “false forms of security” promised by populists who want to wall themselves off and instead bank on a future of greater solidarity and union.

Francis welcomed 27 EU leaders to the Vatican on the eve of a summit to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the founding charter of the bloc.

The summit falls just days before Britain triggers a procedure to leave the EU and comes amid a wave of anti-EU populist sentiment sweeping the continent that threatens the very essence of the EU.

In his remarks, Francis said Europeans seem to have forgotten the “tragedy” of the walls and divisions that inspired leaders decades ago to hope for a better future through union.