MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Federal law says it’s illegal to encourage someone to stay in the United States unlawfully. But how far does that go? What does the law mean by encourage?
ROBERTS: Well, let’s suppose a grandmother whose granddaughter is in the United States illegally tells the granddaughter, you know, “I hope you will stay, because…I will miss you. That would be illegal under the statute, right?
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Plus a special roundup of market news in these turbulent times. I’ll talk with a financial analyst about how the bears chased away the bulls.
And our editor-in-chief on how to love our neighbor in a pandemic.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, March 16th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now here’s Kent Covington with the news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Federal government announces new countermeasures against coronavirus » The federal government is moving forward with a range of measures to fight the coronavirus and give financial relief to Americans.
At the White House Sunday, President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the Coronavirus Task Force briefed reporters on the response.
The president opened with praise for the Federal Reserve, which just minutes earlier slashed its benchmark interest rate to near zero.
TRUMP: And in addition, very importantly, the Federal Reserve is going to be purchasing $500 billion of treasuries, and $200 billion of mortgage backed securities, and that number could increase.
The central bank is also lowering the rate for short-term emergency loans and is encouraging banks to lend to households and businesses impacted by the virus.
The Fed move came two days after President Trump declared a national coronavirus emergency, freeing up $50 billion in federal funding.
And a day later, lawmakers in the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The president supports the bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained…
PELOSI: Our legislation secures paid leave with two weeks of paid sick leave, with family and medical leave for those affected by the virus.
She said it also strengthens unemployment benefits for those who might lose their jobs amid the crisis. And it will provide free coronavirus testing for all Americans.
And at the White House Sunday, officials had plenty to say about testing. Vice President Mike Pence said many more Covid-19 tests will be available very soon.
PENCE: We will now have access in the days ahead to more than 2,00 labs across the country that have the equipment today to process coronavirus tests much more rapidly at a much higher volume.
States, cities, and companies move to fight virus » States, cities and private companies across the country are also taking steps to fight the virus.
Several states are closing down bars and shutting down restaurants, at least to dine-in customers, in an attempt to increase social distancing. California, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts announced the measures on Sunday.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said he urged the public to voluntarily avoid crowds.
PRITZKER: It’s unfortunate that many people didn’t take that seriously. The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here.
The state of New York, meantime, is shutting down schools.
And Starbucks announced that for at least the next two weeks, its stores will only accept to-go orders. It will not allow gathering inside cafes or on patios.
Those announcements came as the CDC issued new—advising against any gatherings of 50 or more people for at least the next eight weeks.
Biden, Sanders debate without a crowd amid coronavirus crisis » The coronavirus was front and center at last night’s presidential debate.
DEBATE: Good evening from Washington D.C. and welcome to this unique event, the CNN/Univision Democratic presidential debate with the two leading candidates.
And it was indeed unique. No audience for this debate amid coronavirus concerns. And former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t shake hands. They exchanged a friendly elbow bump, and then took their positions on the stage, six feet apart from one other.
Both were asked how they would handle the COVID-19 crisis as president. Biden talked about the importance of access to testing, and he added…
BIDEN: I would also at this point begin to deal with the need to begin to plan for additional hospital beds. We have that capacity in the Department of Defense, as well as with FEMA. And they can set up hundred-bed, 500-bed hospitals in tents quickly.
Senator Sanders, said among other things, that Washington should guarantee workers that the government will reimburse them for any wages lost during the crisis.
SANDERS: What we have got to say to the American people: If you lose your job, you will be made whole. You’re not going to lose income. If Trump can put—or the Fed can put a trillion and a half into the banking system, we can protect the wages of every worker in America.
The candidates will debate again next month, but the date and location are still to be determined.
Voters in four states head to the polls tomorrow: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.
Israel’s Gantz will try again to form a government » Israel’s opposition leader Benny Gantz will get the first opportunity to form a new government. That after another inconclusive election earlier this month, the third in less than a year.
Israeli President Reuben Rivlin made the announcement Sunday. Rivlin’s position is largely ceremonial, but it’s up to him to decide who has the best chance to form a government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud emerged as the largest party in the March 2 election. But with his smaller religious and nationalist allies, he received the support of only 58 lawmakers during Sunday’s consultations. That leaves Likud three seats short of the required majority in parliament.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Supreme Court cases involving fraud and terrorism.
Plus, Marvin Olasky on loving our neighbors amid a pandemic.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Monday morning and back to work for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 16th of March, 2020. Good morning to you, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Back to work, indeed. But not back to mass public gatherings, I’m afraid.
REICHARD: Oh, I knew it!
EICHER: Yes, not a big surprise, but certainly a disappointment. And prudence is probably the right move here. But we made the decision late on Friday that we need to postpone our two planned events in Greenville, South Carolina, and Atlanta. Those were for Thursday night in Greenville, and Saturday in Atlanta.
So, bottom line, The World and Everything in It Live is going on a voluntary self-quarantine.
Our primary concern, of course, is the health of our staff, listeners, and loved ones. And thinking broadly of the command to love our neighbor, we felt like by canceling we could do our small part to slow the spread of the virus, and in that way at least not increase pressure on our healthcare system.
REICHARD: Right! Those who are most vulnerable, if they become infected, are likely to need hospitalization. We have to be aware of the danger of straining the system. And yet I know how you and the team here at WORLD struggled with this decision to postpone the events.
EICHER: So many people worked so hard, and I’m thinking of our colleague Jonathan Woods and his team. Jonathan invested quite a lot of resources into this, and so those are not easy decisions.
Now, good news here is that Jonathan and his team did such terrific work that they’re already talking about when we might be able to put a re-schedule date on the calendar. We will keep you posted.
But for now, again, very sorry to so many who were looking forward to these events, that we have to postpone The World and Everything in It Live.
REICHARD: It’s so important that we pray for God’s mercy in this health emergency. Yesterday was a national day of prayer, asking God’s help in this. Really, though, every day we should be seeking the Lord’s help.
They say, sing happy birthday while washing your hands, as a way to slow yourself down and be thorough. You know, I’ve got a better idea: say a prayer as you scrub. Pray, pray, pray, and keep your hands clean!
EICHER: Amen! Pure hearts, clean hands!
Let’s get going now on today’s Legal Docket. I’ll kick things off with a decision handed down earlier this month. The case is called Kansas v Garcia.
It asked what seemed a simple question: Can states prosecute someone, a, who is in the United States illegally, and, b, who uses stolen Social Security numbers to get a job?
The answer, in a 5-4 decision, is yes, with conservative justices making up the majority.
REICHARD: The conflict over this had to do with the federal form I-9. This is the document employers and the government use to verify identity and authorization to work in the United States.
A law that governs I-9 says prosecutors cannot use the form for purposes other than for specified crime enforcement. So three noncitizens convicted of identity theft argued that prosecutors broke that law by using I-9 information against them.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had the winning argument in October when the court heard the case:
SCHMIDT: Our laws apply in all settings, to all people, citizen and alien alike. Respondents were convicted because they stole other people’s personal information with intent to defraud. But in Respondents’ view, these state criminal laws that govern everybody else do not apply to them.
EICHER: Key to the decision is that Kansas relied on information from the state form. That although the same info was on the federal form, that didn’t taint its use. And that federal law does not “preempt” state law in this case.
What this means is it’s more likely that states will use their criminal laws to go after unauthorized workers.
REICHARD: On to oral arguments, and we have three cases today, so hang on to your seat. We’re moving fast.
First up, a provocative question: Do you have the right to encourage someone to break U.S. immigration laws?
Think about the word, “encourage.” What exactly does that mean? In this case, the federal law in question makes it a felony for any person, in the words of the statute, “to encourage or induce an undocumented alien to illegally enter or remain in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or financial gain.”
Sounds clear enough.
Yet Chief Justice John Roberts posed a scenario to Assistant to the Solicitor General, Eric Feigin, who argued in support of the law:
ROBERTS: Well, let’s suppose a grandmother whose granddaughter is in the United States illegally tells the granddaughter, you know, “I hope you will stay, because…I will miss you, things will not get better if you go back, so I encourage you to stay.” That would be illegal under the statute, right?
FEIGIN: It would not be illegal under the statute, Your Honor, and here’s why …
EICHER: Feigin explained that sort of communication does not cross the line. Criminal complicity requires something more: something like making money off an unlawful venture. Not a grandma and her granddaughter talking to one another.
The facts in this case, though, aren’t that simple.
The main character here is Evelyn Sineneng-Smith. She’s an American citizen, and had been an immigration consultant in California who eventually got in trouble with the law.
For example, she billed clients thousands of dollars for paperwork to obtain legal residence, even though the time to do that had already expired.
REICHARD: The focus of the case before the Supreme Court deals with statements she made encouraging people here illegally to stay. A jury found her guilty of violating the law against it.
But her lawyer argues the law is so over broad it’s unconstitutional.
And most of the justices seemed sympathetic to that argument. Listen to Justice Sonia Sotomayor question Feigin, lawyer for the government defending the law:
SOTOMAYOR: Mr. Feigin, what in reading this statute would give an average person notice of all of the limitations you’re suggesting to us? Because …seems to me that all of the examples that were raised earlier, the hospital that’s treating … an illegally present child with a disease, the church who provides worship to illegal aliens, to the common reader of those words would be a violation of the statute.
FEIGIN: Well, Your Honor, I don’t think that is the standard this court applies, if someone is ignorant of what those words mean in the context of the criminal law.
This is another one of those disputes that could be resolved by Congress employing clearer language.
The lawyer for Sineneng-Smith went for the close and for victory, asking the justices to do Congress a favor and just add a few words, to limit the law to a solicitation of criminal conduct with specific intent.
Chief Justice Roberts pointed to a procedure for that:
ROBERTS: Would we have to get that passed by the Senate and House — (Laughter) — and then signed by the President before we could put that many changes to the statute?
FLEMING: Absolutely, Mr. Chief Justice. And the fact that you would need to do that in order for it to be constitutional is a good indication that Congress did not mean for the statute to be read that way …
OK, case two. I’ll keep it very brief.
In this one, two fraudsters solicited money to build a cancer treatment center. They raked in nearly $20 million from investors. But they never constructed the building.
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued, and a court ordered they return the $20 million to investors. The fraudsters dispute the way SEC went about all this in a process known as disgorgement.
Now, honestly, that takes some chutzpah given what they did.
But in the abstract, I think the court may agree and wind up trimming SEC’s toolbox at least a little. My sense is the justices will order the agency to go after the money instead by using methods specified in the statute.
Okay, final case today, argued back in late February.
Here are the facts: 600 people sued for injuries arising from truck bomb explosions outside U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The attacks killed 200 and injured thousands. Authorities later found al-Qaeda responsible for the bombings.
The main player here is the nation of Sudan, because that country provided sanctuary to Islamic terror groups during that time. So victims sued Sudan starting in 2001 under a law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. That law allows U.S. courts to handle litigation against foreign nations that are designated as sponsors of terror, as Sudan was and still is.
But Sudan didn’t show up in court to defend itself, so the lower court in 2014 entered a default judgment of more than $10 billion. That included a good chunk of punitive damages, about 40 percent of it.
So now Sudan is speaking up, and trying to make the case that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act doesn’t allow for punitive damages for terror acts that happened before 2008. And the reason is because 2008 is the year Congress authorized punitive damages under that law.
Lawyer for Sudan, Christopher Curran, also tried to distance his client from the bombings.
CURRAN: I note that the D.C. Circuit concluded that the evidence at the default hearing failed to show that Sudan either specifically intended or directly advanced the 1998 embassy bombings.
Lawyer for the victims, Matthew McGill, argued culpability is not in doubt.
MCGILL: If fairness is the issue here, then Sudan surely should lose. The State Department had designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993, but Sudan continued to shelter Osama Bin Laden even as he issued fatwahs calling for attacks on U.S. interests.
Yet generally speaking unless Congress explicitly makes a law retroactive, the presumption is that it isn’t.
Justice Alito wondered why not make Congress use those simple magic words, “apply retroactively?”
McGill answered that’s not how the court looked at this problem in the past, and every reason to think Congress meant to expand relief to terror victims.
Justice Alito also questioned the logic behind separating out damages specifically designated for compensation and those designated for punishment: compensatory versus punitive.
Listen to this exchange with Assistant to the Solicitor General Erica Ross, who also argued in support of the victims and retroactive application of punitive damages:
ALITO: I mean, is the idea that if a — if a foreign state is going to sponsor terrorism, it might think, well, you know, if we’re going to be liable for compensatory damages, it’s worth our while, but if we’re going to get hit with punitive damages, well, that’s going to stop us? Is that the — the thinking of the U.S. Government?
ROSS: I don’t think that that’s the thinking of the U.S. Government, Justice Alito.
Ross going on to explain she thinks this case merits a more lenient interpretation.
Finally, have a listen to this clip of Justice Neil Gorsuch.
As an aside, I’m reading his book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It, and in the book he talks about how he strives to bring civility to every interaction.
So I wanted to call your attention to an example of that genteel, un-rushed mannerism Justice Gorsuch strives to achieve. Here, he has a question for the lawyer representing Sudan.
GORSUCH: And this is just the heart of the matter, so take your time with it. There’s no rush. But I think this is the heart of the matter for me, and it sounds like it may be for some of my colleagues. If we agree that the cause of action is a new one and applies retroactively, and if we agree that compensatory damages apply retroactively, on what account does it make sense to speak of punitive damages not also applying retroactively, given that it’s authorized by the same statute?
CURRAN: Yeah, the answer to that lies in this Court’s analysis of the Bradley case…
I see possibly five justices leaning in favor of the victims here.
Still, there is something to the argument that we generally don’t apply penalties retroactively, because people don’t have notice of what’s prohibited. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg brought up that point specifically.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The WORLD and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: After we run the numbers, I’ll bring in our market analyst David Bahnsen to talk about Wall Street’s worst day since the crash of 1987, and a week on the New York Stock Exchange that has ushered in a new financial era.
To make room for that, and in the spirit of postponing things related to coronavirus, we’ll put off this week’s regular WORLD History Book. Because what’s happening even now is truly historic, a series of events around the globe and in the economy that I rather expect Paul Butler will find significant enough to refer to a year from now around the time of the anniversary.
So let’s think back to 1987 and the day in financial history known as Black Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on that day alone more than 30 years ago lost about a fifth, or more than 20 percent, of its value. But the event inspired an immigrant sculptor to create and give a gift to America. Arturo DiModica was saying, chin up, countrymen.
DIMODICA: After the stock market, you know, crash, that’s my idea of what I’m gonna do. I did the bull, because the bull means power.
He called it Charging Bull, a three-and-a-half ton bronze monument to American free-market optimism. DiModica had the bull cast and delivered on December 14th, 1989, right outside the stock exchange, paid out of his own pocket. A Christmas gift to the country that had given him economic opportunity.
Now, however well-intended, one does not simply plop down 7,000 pounds of bronze in the middle of the biggest city in America, and not attract New York’s finest.
It was an unlawful act, but nonetheless an act that eventually won New York City’s official approval, however reluctant.
The bull, of course, stands for bull market. A bull market is an environment of rising prices and rising expectations. For 11 years straight, that’s what Wall Street has experienced: a bull market.
But last week, the bulls got quarantined.
REICHARD: Yes, they did, and losses for the week in the major stock indexes ranged from 8 percent to 10. Those losses weren’t as big as losses at the end of February, but when you take them together, by market close on Thursday, the Dow, the Standard & Poor’s 500, and the Nasdaq officially brought about the end of the bull-market run. Black Thursday, we’ll call it.
The losses stood perilously close to 30 percent below the very recent high point.
EICHER: But Friday was a day of recovery, with stocks up 4 to 5 percent. As President Trump outlined the national emergency he’d just declared, stocks in the last 30 minutes of trading doubled their gains, and all the indexes finished the day up almost 10 percent.
Of course, that wasn’t nearly enough to recoup all the losses to that point.
Going into today’s trading, the Nasdaq stands off 19.8 percent from the record high. The S&P 500 down 19.9. The Dow, minus -21.5 percent.
I want to turn back to David Bahnsen, financial adviser and analyst with offices in New York and Southern California.
Dare I say it to a financial guy? Good morning?
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Well, look, I’m sure a lot of people aren’t using the adjective good but to the extent that days and weeks like this are part of our job and want every day to be a good day, I’m fine to hear the adjective.
EICHER: Last time we talked, we were defining the term “correction” in the stock market. Again, a major stock index suffering a 10-percent drop from its most recent high. Now we’ll define another term, “bear market.” That builds—in a negative way—on the concept of correction. But instead of 10 percent down, correction, we’re talking 20 percent down, bear market. And so the bear market came and that pushed aside the bull market, which had been running for 11 straight years.
So here we are, even after a nice Wall Street recovery on Friday to close out the week.
You said panic selling last time we talked. Is this just more of the same, taken to the n-th degree?
BAHNSEN: No, I mean—well, yes and no, OK? Certainly the levels and the magnitude of the selling is clearly a byproduct of a panic, but I think one thing that’s different than two weeks ago is that right now they’re responding to at least one level of known information that two weeks ago was unknown.
And that is the degree to which the economy is going to go on pause for a bit. But there’s no question now that economic activity is going to come to a screeching halt. And the big question will be when things kind of normalize. And if you start seeing the health data go to a positive direction, normalization, some decrease in diagnosis count, some ongoing favorable metrics in fear and recovery, not to mention low mortality. Those are the things we want, obviously, on a human level and they’re also things that the market wants and has very good reason to think will happen—particularly now with the severity of the response.
And this week, market actors didn’t wait to see what would happen. They went straight to the worst-case scenario and priced in a recession—and I’ll share with your listeners—the quickest in history. Sixteen days to go from a peak to down over 20 percent, which as you accurately said is the technical definition of a bear market. And when you look at every bear market we’ve had going back to the Great Depression, even the famous crash in 1929 took over 30 days to get to a bear market. And you have 1980, it was over 300 days. So this is something for the history books. It happened so quickly but what that tends to mean is that they took their medicine quickly so the recovery will end up happening quicker as well.
EICHER: Let’s come back to the Fed. Again, last time we talked, you perfectly predicted an interest rate cut. But the central bank has taken a few extra steps beyond the emergency half-point rate cut, steps that are pretty highly technical: one of them an injection of funding into the short-term lending market, and then a big purchase of government bonds? What’s the point of that, and do you think it’ll help?
BAHNSEN: Well, if you mean market psychology, I think that they help on the margin. I don’t think that’s the extent of what they’ll do though. Now, remember there’s no free lunch and this is an ironclad rule of economics and so to the degree one argues they help, you have to also wonder what the hurt is. You don’t just get free help from interventions in central bank as they have a magic wand. But in this case, I expect much more intervention from the Fed. I think some of it will be psychologically beneficial to financial markets. I think none of it is materially substantive. And I think all of it comes at a cost at a later date.
EICHER: What’s your feeling on the drastic measures we’re seeing all around us—from sports leagues shutting down and so forth and people not gathering in large groups—seems prudent as virus mitigation, but at what point does the economic cost become too high a cost?
BAHNSEN: Well, the economic cost is very high, but the question is the magnitude and the duration. A temporary shutdown of all these things is going to take a big hit, but there’s something economists call a pent up demand. So, there are things that get cancelled that never come back and that represents economic loss—either in opportunity cost or real subtraction. But then there’s pent up demand where you simply move an activity from one month to another month. The vast majority of what’s going on right now will result in pent up demand and if indeed we get the help, the recovery that we all pray on a human level we get, then economically there’s still chance for there to be a v-shape recovery. There’s no chance to avoid contraction now. These things are going to hurt the economy badly. However, the idea that perhaps you will see a resurgence of activity that makes up for a lot of it in the third quarter is still, to me, very much on the table and going to require an ongoing monitoring of data in the days, weeks, months ahead. So, that’s my assessment of the economic implications of a lot of these responses.
EICHER: David Bahnsen is a financial adviser and analyst based in California. David, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate your insights.
BAHNSEN: Thanks for having me. Take care.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, March 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky with some thoughts from a theological giant of the 16th century who had to grapple with a deadly plague.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: It takes a Texas two-step to fight poverty. Step one: Be generous. Step two: Be discerning.
It takes the same kind of Texas two-step to fight the coronavirus: Step one: Love your neighbor. Step two. Don’t be foolhardy.
Such an understanding is nothing new. Ten years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg door, a plague ravaged Germany.
Pastor Johann Hess asked Luther for advice. Luther responded with a tract titled, Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.
Luther’s step one was to follow Christ’s statement, “‘As much as you did to one of the least, you did to me” (Matthew 25:40). Luther continued: “If you wish to serve Christ and to wait on Him, very well, you have your sick neighbor well at hand.”
Luther knew Satan would tempt us to flee. He said “the devil wants us to disregard God’s command in our dealings with our neighbor.” He called that—“sin of the left hand.”
Luther then said, “Others sin on the right hand. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. … They do not avoid persons and places infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are.”
Luther said when people fail to protect themselves from the plague, they risk infecting and poisoning others who might have remained alive.
Luther was blunt: “He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over. My dear friends, that is no good. … Shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence.”
Now back to the coronavirus: We still don’t know how far and fast it will spread. We don’t know how lethal it will be, but we need to take precautions. We should carry on with necessary personal and public conduct but avoid the unessential.
We should postpone pleasure trips and cancel big public gatherings.
Luther said pastors “must admonish people to attend church and listen to the sermon so that they learn through God’s word how to live and how to die.”
But what if people can listen to the sermon via Skype or Zoom or podcast? Christians everywhere need to think that through prayerfully.
Let’s conclude with one way Luther talked back to Satan: “If Christ shed his blood and died for me, why should I not expose myself to some small dangers for his sake and disregard this feeble plague? If you can terrorize, Christ can strengthen me. If you can kill, Christ can give life. If you have poison in your fangs, Christ has far greater medicine. … Get away, devil. Here is Christ and here am I, his servant in this work. Let Christ prevail! Amen.”
I’m Marvin Olasky.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: we’ll talk about what churches are doing to serve others during the coronavirus outbreak, and how states are dealing with it.
And, we’ll hear first-hand travel experiences from our reporters in the field.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
It seems appropriate today to remind you what we know from the book of Hebrews: that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Go now in grace and peace.