Reason Roundup

In Rebuke to Saudis and Trump, Senate Votes to At Least Talk About Pulling U.S. Troops From Yemen: Reason Roundup

Plus: good signs in Supreme Court case on asset forfeiture and Ashley Judd talks prostitution.



Finally a bit of bipartisanship with merit: Senators yesterday decided to at least debate ending U.S. sponsorship of Saudi Arabia's aggression in Yemen. With a 63–37 vote, the Senate moved to advance the resolution, which was sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), Mike Lee (R–Utah), and Chris Murphy (D–Conn.).

Specifically, the resolution "directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affectingYemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda, within 30 days unless: (1) the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, or (2) a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces has been enacted."

Yesterday's "procedural vote sets up the beginning of a floor debate on the resolution next week," explains the AP.

The vote stems from political anger over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump's response to Khashoggi's death, and Trump's derision of intelligence reports that the prince was involved, as well as ongoing Saudi aggression in Yemen and the humanitarian crisis it's created there. (Alas, the latter seems a lower-priority offense for most in Congress.)

What form the final measure could take is unclear. Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, tells Roll Call he doesn't necessarily endorse the resolution as is but wants the "ability to have a debate as it relates to our relationship with Saudi Arabia." More from Roll Call:

If the Sanders-Lee resolution does not pass, Corker said he could see members of the Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee adding language regarding Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi to the final fiscal 2019 foreign aid spending bill.

Another possibility is new legislation from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would require the Director of National Intelligence within one month to issue an unclassified report into the individuals that participated in, ordered or "were otherwise complicit in" the death of Khashoggi.

The resolution does not explicitly halt U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as folks like Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) have proposed, and it does not end all U.S. millitary operations in Yemen. Still, it's something.

Of course, neither the White House nor Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were pleased.


Scapegoating Section 230. Cato Institute analyst Julian Sanchez comments on incoming Sen. Josh Hawley's bad rhetoric around internet law:

I wrote about this here yesterday. Unfortunately, self-interested calls to weaken Section 230 are an increasingly common (and bipartisan) affair.


Very good signs from Supreme Court on asset forfeiture case. The Court heard oral arguments Wednesday.

"The big questions before the Court are whether the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment is 'incorporated' against state governments and, if so, whether at least some state civil asset forfeitures violate the Clause," explains lawyer and Volokh Conspiracy blogger Ilya Somin, and "if the answers to these two questions are both "yes," the Court could also potentially address the issue of what qualifies as an 'excessive' fine."After oral arguments yesterday, it's "clear that the Court will almost certainly rule that the Excessive Fines Clause does indeed apply to the states," Somin concluded.

"Civil asset forfeiture is such a farce that it took Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer only about 100 words to twist Indiana's solicitor general into admitting that his state could have the power to seize cars over something as insubstantial as driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit," notes Eric Boehm. "Here's how he set the trap":


• Ashley Judd continues in the great Hollywood tradition of swooping into serious issues with very strong and bad opinions:

Kate D'Adamo, a sex-worker rights advocate and partner with Reframe Health and Justice, called her out, tweeting, "Congrats, ?@AshleyJudd, on your hard work trying to make ?#MeToo a space where those most likely to face and harm are unwelcome and unsafe. ?#sexworkerlivesmatte?r."

Judd eventually responded to D'Adamo's thread, writing, "Hi, Thanks for your perspective. I disagree. I believe body invasion is indeed inherently harmful, and cash is the proof of coercion. Buying sexual access commodifies something that is beyond the realm of capitalism and entrepreneurship: girls and women's orfices [sic].

• In Pierce County, Washington, "Jessica Ortega repeatedly told deputies that her boyfriend threatened to kill her," reports Reason's Zuri Davis. "She died following their negligence." Now her family is accusing the Pierce County Sheriff's Office of being "grossly negligent in their efforts to serve and enforce a domestic violence protection order on a known, violent criminal."

• Los Angeles has finally passed a formal plan to legalize street food.

• The Reason 2018 Webathon is still ongoing—donate here!