Steve King's stand on birthright citizenship more mainstream than ever in GOP

Just four years ago, Representative Steve King’s commitment to ending birthright citizenship was considered such a political liability for Republicans that King was passed over to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration.

Now a growing number of Republican presidential candidates would end birthright citizenship for children born to parents not authorized to live in the U.S. In fact, GOP presidential contenders who share King’s perspective outnumber those who are willing to defend current law, which has been settled for more than a century.

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Bad news for supporters of Iowa's "ag gag" law

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled unconstitutional an Idaho law that criminalized lying to obtain employment at an agricultural facility or making unauthorized audio and video recordings at such facilities. Will Potter, one of the plaintiffs challenging the "ag gag" law, has been covering the case at the Green is the New Red blog. Judge Lyn Winmill’s ruling (pdf) found that the Idaho law’s provisions violated both "the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution.

The Iowa House and Senate approved and Governor Terry Branstad signed our state’s version of the “ag gag” law in 2012. It was the first of its kind in the country.

Although Iowa’s law differed from the Idaho statute in some ways, several parts of yesterday’s federal court ruling would appear to apply equally to Iowa’s law. After the jump I’ve enclosed the relevant language from both state laws and excerpts from Judge Winmill’s ruling.

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Steve King wants you to know he's no sellout

Congressional press releases don’t always tell you about important votes, but they always tell you what members of Congress want you to know about them. Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) didn’t release a statement last week explaining his vote to let John Boehner stay on as House speaker. But I think he’s a little worried about his street cred as a bold conservative, because he quickly moved to flaunt his work on some hopeless right-wing causes.  

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Remembering the Tinker case

A former Iowa student whose black armband led to an important U.S. Supreme Court decision of the 1960s died last week in Florida, the Des Moines Register reported yesterday. The Iowa Civil Liberties Union sued the Des Moines Independent Community School district on behalf of Christopher Eckhardt and his friends John Tinker and Mary Beth Tinker after all three students were suspended for wearing black armbands to their schools as an anti-war protest. The case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1969 that the school principals were not justified in limiting the students’ free expression.

Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Comm. School Dist. may be the most important case from Iowa ever to reach the Supreme Court. Judges have applied the “Tinker standard” in many other First Amendment cases. After the jump I’ve posted links about the case and some reflections on Eckhardt’s role.

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Grassley yes, Harkin no on five more years of warrantless wiretapping

The U.S. Senate voted today to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for five more years, allowing "electronic eavesdropping" without a warrant to continue in the U.S. and abroad. President Barack Obama (who at one time opposed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping policy) will sign the bill sometime before the end of December 31. Follow me after the jump for details on the Senate voting, including how Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley voted on various amendments.

When the U.S. House approved this bill in September, four of the five Iowans voted yes: Democrats Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Democrat Bruce Braley (IA-01) was among 118 House members to oppose the bill.

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