Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at the Prospect.

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Recent Articles

How Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Could Lead to an Increase in Housing Discrimination

Kennedy was the swing vote on a case that affirmed the Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination even if it isn’t explicit.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, from left, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2016 trickle-downers_54.jpg J ustice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has pushed a number of significant issues to the forefront of discussion, since his more right-wing replacement could join the rest of the conservatives on the Court to overturn such landmark decisions as Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges . One case of particular importance on which Kennedy provided the swing vote involves curbing discrimination—even if it’s subtle discrimination—in housing policy. 2015’s Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. confirmed that the government can use “ disparate impact ” as means to prove discrimination in housing, which is how the Fair Housing Act had been interpreted since its inception in 1968. Disparate impact is the idea that...

Could Pro-Choice Advocacy Sway Susan Collins?

Public pressure influenced the Maine Republican’s vote against repealing the ACA. Could that same pressure convince her to protect Roe v. Wade?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Senator Susan Collins of Maine I s it any surprise that soon after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement, the internet was flooded with discussion about Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska? These two senators, among the last Republican moderates now in office, consider themselves pro-choice. And since Justice Kennedy has been the swing conservative justice who has supported Roe v. Wade , his retirement means that Collins and Murkowski will be seeing a lot of pressure in the coming months after President “ I am putting pro-life justices on the court ” Trump nominates his pick to fill the court vacancy. Is there any chance that the pressure from pro-choice forces could at all be effective, particularly for Collins, who may be the likelier of the two to vote “no”? The evidence is not inspiring. Collins has a history of voting for Trump’s judicial appointments, including Justice Neil Gorsuch. And her spokesperson recently indicated that Collins wouldn’...

The Idle Poor and the Idle Rich

Republicans attack the welfare system because they say the poor need to work, but they reduced the incentive of the rich to work by gutting the estate tax.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan A man passes the famed bronze bull in Lower Manhattan I N A SPEECH LAST NOVEMBER , before the GOP’s tax reform became law, President Trump told a crowd in Missouri, “I know people that work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who is not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his or her ass off.” This imaginary person next door, presumably, was living off of welfare benefits, and that’s why welfare reform was needed. But consider another person living off government benefits—in the form of tax breaks. That person may not work much, or not at all, but typically has far more money than someone working three jobs. As much as Trump and the Republicans malign the much-exaggerated idle poor, their tax reform is a major boost for the idle rich . Those who benefit from inherited wealth need not do anything to earn their windfall—just be born...

Federal Reorganization Plan Is Sleight of Hand to Gut the Safety Net

The plan to consolidate departments may be how Trump plans to corral assistance programs in order to destroy them.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on June 21, 2018. O ver a year ago, the now-ousted Steve Bannon declared that a priority of the just-settling-in Trump administration was the “destruction of the administrative state.” Trump’s cabinet appointees, Bannon said, “were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction.” While Bannon no longer roams the halls of the White House, his legacy persists (one need only look to the white nationalist immigration policies seeping out of the administration). And the destruction of the administrative state continues. Last week, the Trump administration released a plan to consolidate federal agencies and move certain programs to different agencies. While this news may seem innocuous—perhaps nothing more than federal housecleaning—the proposal is likely rooted in a desire to cut social programs. The first clue that social programs may be threatened...

Trump Moves to Curb Federal Employee Labor Protections

Unions representing federal employees are on the chopping block.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Wearing a mask that says "silenced," Appollos Baker, with the American Federation of Government Employees, attends a rally in Washington. trickle-downers_54.jpg I f an administration wanted to destroy the power of labor unions, it might first attack unions that are subject to executive orders. President Trump headed in that direction late last Friday, when he signed three executive orders that place new restrictions on federal employee labor unions. The orders , which affect more than two million federal employees, limit employees’ use of “ official time ” (the amount of time a federal employee can use to work on union matters while on the clock) to 25 percent of the work day; revamp the collective bargaining process, and make it easier for managers to fire employees. House Republicans want to cut back on “official time,” which they describe as “union time on the people’s dime” (and was actually the title Republicans used for last week’s House Oversight and...

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