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Week in Review: Schools Keeping Secrets

October 16, 2021

Are our schools trying to hide something? It often seems that way. They think parents should butt out of their own kids’ education, and that taxpayers shouldn’t be able to hold them accountable for their financial decisions.

No wonder parents have had enough. And the Goldwater Institute is helping them fight back.

Goldwater is standing beside Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mom who was thrust into the national spotlight for asking whether her daughter would be exposed to controversial topics like Critical Race Theory in her kindergarten classroom. Instead of the answers she deserved, she got hit with a $74,000 bill for her public records request and a lawsuit from the National Education Association.

Virginia mom Debra Tisler and Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur joined Eric Bolling’s Newsmax show “The Balance.”

And we’re representing Debra Tisler and Callie Oettinger, two Virginia moms suspected their Fairfax County school district was wasting taxpayer money on excessive legal fees. Debra made a Freedom of Information Act request, and Callie published some of the documents Debra received on her website, having redacted any confidential information. School officials sued both women, demanding that the court order the moms to return the documents—even though Debra had legally obtained them—and order Callie to take the information off her website.

School board officials were demanding censorship. But why? What does the Fairfax County School Board not want the public to know? Debra and her attorney, Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur joined Newsmax’s “The Balance” on Thursday to talk about the Fairfax County School Board’s attempt to silence Debra.

You can watch the full interview here.

Is the End Near for this Race-Based Law?

On the books since the 1970s, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was meant to protect Indian families. But in reality, it effectively bars states from protecting Native American kids from abuse or neglect. But now, the end might be near for this race-based law.

While states protect white, black, Asian, or Hispanic children from abuse or neglect under one set of rules, ICWA imposes a separate, federal set of rules for Indian children—rules that are less protective than the rules that apply to kids of other races. Recently, the Goldwater Institute—along with the Cato Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation—filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to review the constitutionality of this law.

Last week in the Orange County Register, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur—who has litigated several challenges to ICWA—urged the Court to put an end to this law that continues to put Indian children in harm’s way. Indian children are “at greater risk of neglect, abuse, addiction, gang membership, and suicide than children of any other race—and ought to receive greater protections, not fewer,” he writes. “Yet while there are adults ready and willing to help these children, ICWA says no—because their skin is the wrong color. That’s a crime—and the Supreme Court should strike down this unjust law.”

Sandefur’s analysis was featured prominently on The Ben Shapiro Show earlier this week, illustrating that despite talk about honoring the contributions of Native Americans to our country and remembering the injustices they’ve experienced, federal policy continues to treat Native Americans poorly in practice. “We’ve constructed laws that make it worse” for Native Americans, Shapiro said on his show Monday, pointing to Sandefur’s discussion of ICWA.

You can read more about the Indian Child Welfare Act here, and you can read more about the case we’re urging the Supreme Court to take, called Brackeen, here.

Telehealth Reforms: From Temporary to Permanent

Following the arrival of COVID-19 on America’s shores last year, states and the federal government moved to roll back regulations—hundreds of them, in fact—to make it easier for Americans to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Among the most important were reforms to telehealth, which makes it possible for Americans to use a smartphone or a laptop to access many kinds of medical care that don’t require an in-person visit.

So should these temporary telehealth reforms be made permanent?

Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur and Institute for Justice attorney Josh Windham discussed this question on the latest episode of “Explainer,” part of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project “Fourth Branch Podcast.” Sandefur and Windham talked about the possibility of extending the temporary telehealth regulation rollbacks, the government barriers to telehealth that persist, and what can be done on the legislative and litigation fronts to ease Americans’ access to telehealth options.

You can listen to the full “Explainer” podcast here to learn more about the promise of telehealth.



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