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Opinion: Enough of Border Crackdowns. Try Staffing Up the Courts
Untenable backlog in our immigration court system is prompting tough choices

Immigrants and their supporters gather outside an immigration court in New York in 2017. Staffing up such courts would cost much less and accomplish much more than the Trump administration’s slow-moving approach, Ramón and Brown write. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

It was a week of recriminations as lawmakers, civil society organizations and the public slammed the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” criminal prosecution policy that split families apart at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The outcry caught the administration flat-footed, leading to a new executive order that supposedly keeps children with their parents. But the fix still requires families to be detained (possibly in violation of an existing court order), and it doesn’t address the key issue that is prompting these hard choices in the first place — the untenable backlog in our immigration court system.

Opinion: 3 Ways to Defeat Dysfunction on the Hill
Recent bipartisan moves offer hope for a return to traditional legislating

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform must advance some recommendations for change, even if they do not address every issue, Daschle and Lott write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago this month, we joined with 27 other Americans to release recommendations to reform how our government works, improve the management of our elections, and promote more civic engagement.

At the time, the Commission on Political Reform, or CPR, was grappling with how to enable our institutions to better function in an era marked by hyperpartisanship. We did not think the tone and dysfunction in Washington could get worse — and yet it has.

Opinion: To Keep Drug Costs Low, Think Competition, Not Price Controls
A robust, competitive market is the best way to promote innovation and reduce prices

If we truly want to reduce drug costs and make life-changing medications accessible to all Americans, we must increase competition among prescription drugs, Hatch writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Even in today’s highly partisan environment, there’s one thing nearly all Americans agree on: The soaring cost of prescription drugs is alarming.

In fact, 80 percent of Americans consider the cost of prescription drugs unreasonable. At the same time, a majority of Americans recognize that prescription drugs have improved countless lives. The president’s recently unveiled comprehensive blueprint to lower prescription drug costs has many ideas worthy of exploration. However, if we truly want to reduce costs and make life-changing and life-saving medications accessible to all Americans, we must increase competition among prescription drugs — particularly new drugs that have the ability to cure diseases, but face limited competition.

Supreme Court Dials Up Privacy Rights on Cellphone Records
Government must get a warrant to access a cellphone user’s location data

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the location information collected by companies is “an entirely different species of business record.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday boosted protections for cellphone records that reveal a user’s location and movements over extended periods of time, in a major privacy decision for the internet age.

The majority, in a 5-4 opinion, required the government in most cases to obtain a warrant to get a cellphone user’s location data from phone providers because it is a search under the Fourth Amendment. The decision highlights modern-day concerns about how much personal information can be gleaned from such data.

Supreme Court Overturns 1992 Sales Tax Ruling
Decision will ripple through the economy, lawmakers and business groups say

The Supreme Court overturned a 26-year-old tax ruling on Thursday, citing online sales. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday accomplished something that Congress couldn’t in the past 26 years — overturn a 1992 ruling that barred states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Business groups and lawmakers expect the decision to reverberate throughout the economy, affecting online retail giants, small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores, and that could build pressure for congressional action.

Opinion: Back to the Future With Party ID
Spike in the generic ballot? Calm down and carry on

A voter casts his ballot in the Virginia primary at the Hillsboro Old Stone School in the Old Dominion State’s 10th District on June 12. More voters now identify as independents — not a positive trend for either party, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s morning again in America. You grab your first cup of coffee, click to your favorite news site and are greeted by a new poll with a huge generic ballot spike in the congressional vote. What should your reaction be? Is it time to freak out, or calm down and assume the poll is an outlier?

The answer is neither. When a particular survey suddenly shows a significant shift in one direction or the other, political and media analysts and the public need to approach the data with caution. Before assuming there was a change in voter preference, we need to ask whether party identification in the survey also changed significantly, and if so, why. 

Opinion: Trump May Have American Carnage, but Biden Has American Corny
As the president flexes muscles as the border, ‘Uncle Joe’ offers a different vision of strength

Former Vice President Joe Biden is drawing eager crowds on his book tour. His optimism may be corny, Curtis writes, but it may yet counter scenes at the border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

You know the lights may be dimming on the American experiment when Attorney General Jeff Sessions resurrects an abbreviated Bible passage that slaveholders once used to justify selling children away from parents to justify separating children from parents on America’s Southern border and then parses the difference between his “zero tolerance” plans and Nazi tactics — as a defense. Leaving aside that using any interpretation of the Bible (or the Koran or any holy book) in setting government policy slides awfully close to a theocracy, this is strong stuff.

And don’t forget the 2018 version of the Pips — Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen — singing backup to their official and unofficial leader on immigration, with special guest Corey Lewandowski adding his signature mocking “womp, womp” refrain.

Irish Interns Learn About Bridging Gaps in Divided US
Political students learning to ‘stand up and lead’

Boniface Odoemene, right, is New York Rep. Peter T. King's 19th intern from the Washington Ireland Program. (Courtesy Rep. Peter T. King’s office)

During a pivotal time in U.S. politics, students from Ireland are learning how things work — and don’t work — in Washington, and how to apply that knowledge to their studies back home.

The Washington Ireland Program, or WIP, has been a coveted student development program for more than 20 years. Alumni include Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, former Northern Ireland Justice Minister Claire Sugden and former Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister.

Court’s Gerrymandering Punt Looks to Land in North Carolina
Current House map was drawn by partisan greed, its author says. Is that unconstitutional?

Gerrymandering activists gather on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 28 as the court prepares to hear the a Maryland partisan gerrymandering case. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it sidestepped an opening to decide the future of partisan gerrymandering this week, the Supreme Court may have turned a tobacco grower and farm equipment dealer into one of the most important people in American politics.

The farmer and John Deere salesman, 47-year-old David Lewis, is also an influential state legislator who represents the rural geographic center of North Carolina — the state that will now be Ground Zero in the three-decadeslong debate over whether electoral boundaries can ever be drawn with so much partisan motivation that they’re unconstitutional.

Opinion: When Even Ted Cruz Balks at Trump’s Excesses
Children’s screams are now the soundtrack of the Trump era

A boy and father from Honduras are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents near Mission, Texas, on June 12. (John Moore/Getty Images)

If the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice, then we know what soundtrack will greet future visitors to the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Golf Resort.

It will be the eight-minute audio recording, obtained and authenticated by ProPublica, of children in a Border Patrol detention facility screaming for their parents.