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Texas Attorney General Says State Board Can’t Ban Social Workers From Discriminating Against People Who Are LGBTQ

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Texas attorney general says state board can’t ban social workers from discriminating against people who are LGBTQ or have a disability” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a nonbinding legal opinion Monday that a state board cannot forbid social workers from discriminating against LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, which regulates social workers, has been in a monthslong debate over its code of conduct. In October, it removed language from the section that establishes when a social worker may refuse to serve someone, allowing social workers to refuse service based on someone’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

After facing intense backlash from social workers, lawmakers and advocates, the board reversed its decision just two weeks later, voting unanimously to restore the explicit protections. It also voted to request an opinion from Paxton’s office about the legality of its rule change.

Months later, Paxton’s opinion states that the board was authorized by the Legislature to punish social workers who refused work with clients based on aspects of identity like age, race and religion — but not their disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The board lacks the authority to add those three categories, he argues.

Additionally, he writes that state law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, so there are no higher grounds for the board’s protections.

The board has yet to announce how it will respond to the opinion. Legal opinions from the attorney general don’t carry the weight of law, but agencies and government officials often consult the opinions when determining what is permitted under state law.

Paxton also argues in the opinion that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity may be constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Since “religious and philosophical objections to categories of sexual orientation are protected views,” he writes, the board’s rule conflicts with the “longstanding constitutional protection” for religious expression.

Will Francis, executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said that opinion takes a “very narrow reading” that ignores the core question of what constitutes ethical practice and how the board is allowed to delineate that through its code of conduct.

“It puts forth a political agenda in lieu of actually looking into the statutory obligations of the board,” he said. He noted that the code of conduct that prevents discrimination “isn’t about First Amendment rights — it’s about access to services.”

By encouraging the removal of the protections, he said, the opinion risks discouraging people in need from seeking these essential services.

“They have just opened the door for a social worker to discriminate based on disability, and nothing can be done about him from a licensing standpoint,” he said. “That’s an incredibly, incredibly dangerous precedent to set.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/06/14/texas-social-workers-lgbtq-discrimination/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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Marjorie Taylor Green’s Chief of Staff Quits — Hours After Her Very Public Meltdown on the Capitol Steps

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lost her most senior staffer on Friday after she made a scene on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

NBC News reported Greene “instigated a shouting match with a group of House Democrats who were holding an event outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday.”

Greene screamed that Democrats support “murder” for supporting abortion rights.

Following the incident, Greene announced that her chief of staff had “advised” her that he would no longer be working in her office.

“I want to thank my Chief of Staff, Patrick Parsons, for helping me take the fight to the Socialist Democrats as I’ve transitioned into Congress. He’s advised me he will be moving back into the political arena to help elect America First conservatives who can fight alongside me,” she posted to Twitter.

 

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‘Intentionally Misleading or Staggeringly Ignorant’: Maricopa County Destroys Cyber Ninjas After ‘Laughable’ Audit

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Maricopa County officials Friday afternoon responded in detail to claims made by Cyber Ninjas in the $6 million six month “audit” of the Arizona county’s ballots from the 2020 presidential election. Late Thursday night multiple news organizations reported that Cyber Ninjas’ audit, officially released Friday afternoon, found Joe Biden did win the election in Arizona, as originally reported nearly one year ago, and actually walked away with even more votes that first reported, while Donald Trump, the company concluded, got even less.

But the devil is in the details and after six frustrating months of dealing with a company that reportedly has zero expertise in auditing elections, Maricopa County officials blasted some of the “critical concerns” Cyber Ninjas claimed in their report.

Via a lengthy series of tweets Maricopa County officials destroyed Cyber Ninja’s audit, which is being called a “fraudit” and a sham.

For example, calling it “intentionally misleading or staggeringly ignorant,” Maricopa County blasted Cyber Ninjas and GOP state senators over the claim and “concern” that 23,344 mail-in ballots voted from a prior address:

County officials went even further, writing:

1) Military and overseas voters can cast a “federal only ballot” despite living outside the U.S. The address tied to their ballot would be their prior address in AZ.
2) People are allowed to move from one house to another (or even one state to another) in October and November of an election year (yes, shocking!). If the driver’s license address matches the voter registration address, they are still allowed to vote.
3) For the November General Election Maricopa County had 20,933 one-time temporary address requests. In addition, snowbirds and college students tend to have forwarding addresses when they are out of the county.
4) Mail-in ballots are not forwarded to another address.

In another they called it “laughable” that Cyber Ninjas were concerned that in a state of “more than 7 million people” … “yes, some of them share names & birth years.”

“If Cyber Ninjas understood data analysis, they would have performed standard processes to rule out situations that lead to faulty conclusions,” county officials added.

And even more criticisms:

You can read them all here.

 

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‘Pretty Much the Ball Game’: Trump Just Lost Any Chance of Being Able to Claim Executive Privilege

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki Friday afternoon casually let reporters know President Joe Biden will not invoke executive privilege on behalf of former president Donald Trump when the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack requests documents.

Trump is claiming that his status as a former president allows him to retain executive privilege rights, which is wrong. The ability to invoke executive privilege rests only with the current president, and is well-defined.

“The president has already concluded it would not be appropriate to exert executive privilege,” Psaki told Huffpost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte when asked.

(Dáte is the reporter who possibly is best-known for asking then-President Donald Trump last year in August, live and on-camera, “do you regret at all, all the lying that you’ve done to the American people?“)

Top national security expert and attorney Bradley Moss quickly weighed in, saying “this would pretty much be the ball game on that issue,” meaning there’s nearly no chance Trump will get that protection, barring “intervention” from the Library of Congress’s Archivist.

 

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