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Senate bill would ban student loan forgiveness for protestors convicted of a crime | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor – 2024-05-08 12:53:00

(The Center Square) – Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill that would ban student loan forgiveness for protestors convicted of a crime while protesting on U.S. college campuses.

The No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act was filed by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., with multiple cosponsors. The bill would prevent any college or student who is convicted of any offense under federal or state while protesting at a higher education institution from their federal student loans forgiven, cancelled, waived or modified.

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Despite the striking down 's student loan forgiveness program last June, his administration has proposed new student debt cancellation plans that could cost taxpayers up to $1.4 trillion, The Center Square reported.

The senators, who oppose Biden's plans, proposed the bill after widespread, anti-Semitic protests continue to occur on campuses nationwide resulting in violence against Jewish students and in-person instruction and graduations being canceled. In the past few weeks alone, hundreds of students nationwide have been on charges ranging from disrupting the peace, criminal trespass, alleged hate crimes, and acts of violence.

“Americans who never went to college or responsibly paid off their debts shouldn't have to pay off other people's student loans. They especially shouldn't have to pay off the loans of Hamas sympathizers shutting down and defacing campuses,” Cotton said.

U.S. Rep. Brandon Williams, R-NY, who is sponsoring companion legislation in the House, said, “Violent campus protestors laughably demand respect, amnesty, and even takeout food. Our bicameral bill ensures that not one student protestor convicted of criminal offenses is bailed out by student loan forgiveness. Not one dime of taxpayer money will fund these criminals.”

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No Democrats signed onto Cotton's bill. Republican cosponsors include Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Katie Britt of Alabama, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of , Steve Daines of Montana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and J.D. Vance of Ohio.

Cotton also led another delegation of 27 U.S. senators last month calling on the Departments of Justice and Education to immediately respond to the “outbreak of anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist mobs on college campuses.”

They called on the Department of Education and federal law enforcement “to restore order, prosecute the mobs who have perpetuated violence and threats against Jewish students, revoke the visas of all foreign nationals (such as exchange students) who have taken part in promoting terrorism, and hold accountable school administrators who have stood by instead of protecting their students,” The Center Square reported. At the time, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights was currently investigating roughly 100 incidents at colleges and universities for alleged “discrimination involving shared ancestry” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Center Square reported.

After the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel, antisemitism and violence escalated against Jews in America by nearly 400%, The Center Square reported. Since then, violence has increased on college campuses with leaders failing to stop it, another report found.

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Hamas, the acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. “It is the largest and most capable militant group in the Palestinian territories and one of the territories' two major political parties,” according to the National Counterterrorism Center.

More than a dozen federal judges have pledged not to hire students from Columbia University after its leaders pro-Hamas encampments on its property and chose to shut down in-person instruction and cancelled graduation. The judges said Columbia had become an “incubator of bigotry” against Jewish people, The Center Square reported.

Several Jewish groups have also sued Palestinian groups they argue are “collaborators and propagandists for Hamas.” Advocating for the of Jews and committing violence against Jews is not protected speech under the First Amendment, they argue.

Cotton's bill was also filed after nearly all Ivy League universities received failing grades for antisemitism, The Center Square reported. They include Harvard, whose student group hosted a pro-Palestinian activist with ties to Hamas; Brown, which is considering divesting from Israel; and Yale, who's student paper's editor was stabbed in the eye by a pro-Hamas rioter.

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According to The Center Square Voters' Voice Poll, only 2% of Americans surveyed said public universities should encourage students to oppose Israel; 32% said students advocating for the genocide of Jews at schools receiving taxpayer should be held accountable for their words and actions.

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The Center Square

Federal judge issues temporary injunction stopping Biden’s Title IX rules | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-13 17:00:00

(The Center Square) — A federal judge issued an injunction on Thursday that put a temporary hold on new Title IX rules issued by the Biden administration.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued the order in a lawsuit brought by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. The injunction keeps the final rules from going into effect pending a by the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana. 

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The new rules finalized by the Department of Education and which are supposed to go into effect Aug. 1 expand the definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity and pregnancy, but the agency didn't issue any rules relating to transgender athletes. Among the changes include a prohibition on single-sex bathroom and locker rooms and requirements that a school use pronouns based on a student's preferred gender identity.

Doughty said in the order that the new rule violated the speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment along with the spending clause and “is arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge also said in his ruling that for one of these injunctions to be issued, the plaintiffs must show a substantial of success on the merits of their case, a threat of irreparable harm that must outweigh any that would result if the injunction weren't issued and it must be in the public interest. Doughty said the plaintiffs did so successfully. 

Doughty also said that the plaintiffs were able to prove that the harassment standard created by the rule is contrary to Title IX and he said they “made compelling arguments for how it can violate the free speech right of the First Amendment.”

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Louisiana Liz Murrill, who brought the Title IX , praised the ruling. 

“This a victory for women and girls,” Murrill said in a statement. “When Joe Biden forced his illegal and radical gender ideology on America, Louisiana said NO! Along with Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, states are fighting back in defense of the , the safety and prosperity of women and girls, and basic American values.”

Title IX prohibits educational institutions that federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex in both educational programs and activities.

Federal courts have already acted against the Biden administration's rules. 

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On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor granted the 's motion for summary judgement in a case over a mandate issued by two federal agencies before the administration amended Title IX to redefine biological sex to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” 

He also denied the Biden administration's request to dismiss and vacated the guidance nationwide and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement in .

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The Center Square

Injunction granted against ATF’s ‘firearms dealer’ rule for 4 states, 4 groups | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Jon Styf | – 2024-06-12 09:00:00

(The Center Square) – A federal judge in granted an injunction against the of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from enforcing its new rule that changes the definition of a firearms dealer in four states and for members of four .

The rule defines firearms dealers requiring a license as anyone who engages in “a single firearm transaction or offer to engage in a transaction.”

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The injunction applies to of Texas, , Mississippi and Utah along with members of Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, Tennessee Firearms Association and Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The ATF explained in its final rule the goal was to “ clarity to persons who remain unsure of whether they are engaged in the business as a dealer in firearms with the predominate intent of pecuniary gain.”

The was filed May 1 and the preliminary injunction extends a temporary restraining order that was set to through Sunday.

“Other Plaintiffs face both civil and criminal enforcement actions for engaging in conduct that the BSCA (Bipartisan Safer Communities Act) permits but the Final Rule impermissibly forbids,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk wrote. “They cannot engage in lawful, noncommercial conduct without fear of prosecution. They cannot collect firearms for personal defense while enjoying statutory protection. Nor can they dispose of firearms from their personal collections for fear of being presumed ‘engaged in the business.' “

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The ruling doesn't impact other residents of Tennessee, Virginia or states not involved in the lawsuit.

“This is a substantial victory for residents of these four states, Mr. Tormey and members of these four organizations,” the Tennessee Firearms Association wrote. “At this time, members of Tennessee Firearms Association are protected but only because Tennessee Firearms Association made the choice to invest in this litigation and to accept the to be a party plaintiff on behalf of its members.”

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Report gives Mississippi historic ranking on education | Mississippi

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-11 15:23:00

(The Center Square) – A new report gave Mississippi its best education ranking, but the continues to struggle in other areas regarding child welfare.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book ranked the state 30th in education, 49th in overall child well-being, and last in economic well-being, and family and community categories. 

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement praising the state's historic ranking.

“This is another history-making moment for Mississippi,” Reeves said. “We have more work to do, but the fact that we're 30th in the entire nation for education proves how much momentum we have in the classroom.

“Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to with the tools they need to fulfilling lives and secure high-paying careers in our state. Congratulations to Mississippi's , teachers, and students for once again making history.”

The report uses statewide data to compile its rankings and states from the Southeast didn't fare well in the overall rankings, which are calculated using the other categories. 

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Overall, only New Mexico was worse than Mississippi, with the other bottom five states being Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma.

The top five states overall were New Hampshire in first, , Utah, Vermont and Minnesota. 

The economic rankings had Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia and Arkansas in the bottom five. North Dakota was in the lead, followed by New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah and Nebraska. 

In education, Georgia was 31st, Tennessee 32nd, Kentucky 33rd and Alabama 34th. The worst five states were New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alaska and Nevada. 

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The top state for education was Massachusetts, trailed by New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida. 

In the bottom five for health ahead of Mississippi were Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and South Carolina. The best states in this measure were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington and Vermont. 

Just ahead of Mississippi in the bottom five for the family and community category were New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Top states were led by Utah, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho and Maine. 

Nationally, the report authors found the COVID-19 pandemic hit proficiency hard in both math and reading. 

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Only 26% of eighth graders nationally were at or above proficient in math in 2022, worse than 2019 (33%). 

Less than a third of fourth-grade students (32%) reached or were better than proficient in reading, 2 percentage points lower than right before the pandemic.

The report also found that 30% of students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double than before the pandemic. 

Forty percent of students were also found to endured an adverse experience, such as an economic hardship or their parents divorce, separate or one parent go to prison. 

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