The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18 underlined a peculiar aspect of the American political system: The state of laws governing everything from abortion to environmental regulation to health care to national security depends, in part, on when exactly elderly judges happen to die.
That not only fosters a ghoulish preoccupation with the health of Supreme Court justices, and puts justices like Ginsburg in a position where they have to dictate their wishes for their seat from their deathbed — it also raises major questions about whether a group of nine unelected jurists, appointed for life, has too much power over law and policy in the United States.
This worry, that the courts have gotten too powerful relative to other branches, has a long history, among conservatives repulsed by decisions affirming rights to abortion and birth control, as well as among liberals and leftists who argue that courts capable of overruling Congress and state legislatures undermine democracy.
Two law professors, Ryan Doerfler of the University of Chicago and Samuel Moyn of Yale, recently released a paper laying out a way to “democratize” the Supreme Court by weakening its ability to strike down federal laws as unconstitutional (an ability usually referred to as “judicial review”). In order to pass transformative progressive legislation like Medicare-for-all or a Green New Deal and ensure the Court does not tamper with them, Doerfler and Moyn propose either stripping the Court of jurisdiction over certain legislation or imposing a supermajority requirement under which a 7-2 majority would be required for the Court to overturn acts of Congress.
Doerfler and I discussed the paper last week, what their proposals would mean for the Court, why liberals and leftists shouldn’t fear losing judicial review, and why we can’t count on courts to protect democracy. A transcript, edited for length and clarity, follows.
Let’s start with the very basics: What is “judicial review”?
When people use the term “judicial review,” usually what people are referring to is the judicial evaluation of either legislation or executive activity for conformity with the Constitution. Because the Constitution has legal priority over legislation and executive actions, courts in the US will decline to enforce either if the Constitution conflicts with them.
A whole lot of judicial activity is not judicial review, including, for example, review of executive actions for conformity with statutes when making regulations.
The US has a fairly strong practice of judicial review. How unusual is that internationally, especially compared to what we think of as peer countries in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand?
I should say I’m very much not a comparativist, but American-style judicial review, where judicial assessments of constitutionality are binding on all of their branches, has traditionally been understood as a global outlier.
Now, since the mid-20th century, that has become less and less true. Still, even today, we see a huge range of practices. There are systems that go entirely without judicial review, like the Netherlands or Switzerland, where federal legislation, at least, is entirely exempt from review. We also have systems like Canada or Israel, where the legislation is subject to judicial review, but legislators reserve the right to override judicial determinations. And then to the other end of the spectrum, we have systems like we have here in the US.
Interestingly, US states also employ different systems with respect to state constitutions. North Dakota and Nebraska require supermajorities for their high courts to declare state statutes inconsistent with the state constitution.
Let’s dig into your actual proposals. The first is a supermajority rule, where the Supreme Court would need seven votes, not just five, to overturn federal legislation. How would that work?
The baseline is the Court can, by a simple majority 5-4 vote, declare a federal statute invalid. And then that’s it, under our system of judicial supremacy.
Our basic idea is that Congress could impose a limit on the Supreme Court that says that the Court may only declare a federal statute unconstitutional by, let’s say, a 7-2 majority. Congress could pass a statute that imposes this requirement for federal legislation in general, or just for specific statutes — if Congress were to enact the Green New Deal or HR 1 [the House Democrats’ democracy reform bill], something like that.
To close out the scheme, Congress would probably want to add a couple of additional features. Congress would likely want to establish an analogous requirement for lower courts — for example, a requirement that federal courts of appeal can declare federal legislation unconstitutional only by unanimous 3-0 vote.
Even more importantly, [they could also pass] legislation providing that any relief provided by lower federal courts on constitutional grounds would terminate upon Supreme Court review, even in the event that the justices are ultimately unable to rule on a statute’s constitutionality. For example, if the justices voted 5-4 that a statute was unconstitutional, under the supermajority rule, the court couldn’t declare the statute unconstitutional. And in that event, any relief [that is, rulings stating the statute was unconstitutional] provided by lower courts would terminate. That limitation on relief is to prevent disuniformity among lower courts in those sorts of 5-4 cases.
You also propose using the power of Congress to circumscribe certain topics from judicial review. Is there any precedent for that? What kind of bills are you imagining making SCOTUS-proof? And would the Supreme Court really accept legislation limiting its jurisdiction, or just rule it unconstitutional?
This is a mechanism called “jurisdiction stripping” — Congress just passing a statute prohibiting either the Supreme Court specifically or even lower courts from ruling on the constitutionality of, say, the Green New Deal.
Congress has — not with tremendous frequency but certainly over the course of history — enacted jurisdiction-stripping legislation. Historically, courts have gone to great lengths to interpret those statutes narrowly, and the constitutionality of that legislation is a hot topic of debate among professors who study federal courts, largely because there’s just not a ton of judicial precedent on it.
As to which topics Congress should specifically exempt there, we don’t really take a firm position. These are just tools that we’re trying to put on the table for progressives, but I would say our inclination is the more the better. Whether we’re talking about jurisdiction stripping or a supermajority requirement or some other type of reform, our goal is to channel as many policy decisions as possible away from the democratically unaccountable judiciary back to the political branches.
I should say that I’m also something of a judicial review skeptic, and when I make this argument to friends on the left, the usual rebuttal, which is very fair, is to go down a litany of decisions from Brown v. Board of Education (striking down school segregation) to Loving v. Virginia (legalizing interracial marriage) to Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion) to Obergefell v. Hodges (legalizing same-sex marriage). Those are all cases where the Court struck down some legislation or policy that was suppressing some minority group, or impinging upon what many believe to be a fundamental right.
I’m curious how you weigh the downsides, for progressives, of losing those decisions against the upside of losing decisions that went the other way. I’m also curious if that’s even the right way to think about judicial review.
That’s exactly the question that I think we need to address from the left in particular.
First, this might seem a little convenient, but my first response is to say our proposal deals with federal legislation in particular. Review of executive action is more complicated, as is review of state law, for reasons having to do with federal supremacy. So with Brown or Roe, for example, [our proposal] may not even affect that [because those cases didn’t originate with challenges to federal legislation].
But setting those qualifications aside — for universally accepted precedents, like Brown, for example, a supermajority requirement is going to have no bearing. If a litigant were today to argue that Brown was wrongly decided, she would lose 0-9. Even under a supermajority rule, Brown would remain the law of the land.
Second, with other more contentious precedents, one has to look at what judicial enforcement has actually provided, right? Take Roe, for example. What Roe as applied has actually afforded us are incredibly paltry abortion protections, especially for economically disadvantaged women. And at what cost? What’s the downside of operating under this regime?
So in part, our position is, “Look, for every Roe or Obergefell, we get a Citizens United [striking down restrictions on corporate political spending] or Shelby County [striking down part of the Voting Rights Act], let alone decisions like Lochner [striking down a state law limiting workdays to 10 hours] or Dred Scott [ruling Black Americans could not be citizens].” And our claim is that progressives have over the long run fared terribly under a system of judicial supremacy.
It’s worse still if we think about the rights that progressives should be concerned about providing: positive, affirmative rights. Take the abortion example. Progressive are concerned with providing an affirmative right for abortion, financed by the state. That sort of protection is only going to be provided by statute, through something like Medicare-for-all with abortion services covered. And there, by lessening the court’s authority to review legislation, we make it more possible for Congress to successfully create such a right without judicial interference.
Those are some instrumental reasons why I think progressives should prefer a system with less, rather than more, judicial intervention. There are more principled reasons as well. If the only way that progressives can achieve their policy goals is through an anti-democratic institution, rather than through popular majorities, that should be concerning, just as a matter of principle. Now, I don’t think that’s true. I think that progressives should be more confident in the popularity, or at least the potential popularity, of their policies with the broader population. But insofar as we’re relying on judicial elites to tell popular majorities what they should think? I think that should also trouble progressives.
The most persuasive defense of judicial review, to my mind, is what law professors sometimes call the “political process theory” approach. To simplify dramatically, on this view you concede the point that high-stakes political decisions should be made by democratically accountable legislators, not by the courts.
But a prerequisite for democratically accountable legislators making these decisions is that they’re actually democratically accountable, and they have strong incentives to make themselves less accountable through measures like gerrymandering or voting restrictions or, in extreme cases, vast constitutional changes like the ones the Fidesz party in Hungary has enacted to entrench its autocratic regime. So you need a Supreme Court with the ability to overturn legislation that threatens the democratic nature of our legislatures themselves.
Is the supermajority court you’re imagining able to push back challenges like this, given that there weren’t even five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn large-scale gerrymandering in North Carolina and Maryland?
That’s a great place to start, right? There wasn’t a supermajority; there wasn’t even a majority. I think that that’s part of the response.
This is the John Hart Ely approach to justifying judicial review: The role of the Court is not to enforce substantive values, but rather to police the democratic process to make sure that we exercise our democratic capacities well.
The first response is sort of glib, but I think it rings true, which is: nice in theory, but it fails in practice. [Harvard law professor] Michael Klarman just authored a book-length foreword to the Harvard Law Review’s Supreme Court issue detailing the Supreme Court’s contribution to what he calls “the degradation of our democracy.” The Roberts Court in particular has been horrendous on this front with decisions like Shelby County. The justices, like the rest of us, are ideological actors, and they’re disposed to help their ideological compatriots where they can, even in cases where it seems more plausible that the Court would intervene, like partisan gerrymandering. Time and again, it’s just declined to do so.
So then what’s our recourse? Sadly, I think probably the recourse is to press ahead through the bad democratic system that we have, to make it a better one. Maybe that’s unsatisfying, but I think that’s just the situation we’re in right? There is no deus ex machina that’s going to come in and save our democracy. We just have to do it ourselves. We have to enact statutes like HR 1, for instance, which would make our system meaningfully more democratic. And then if we protect HR 1 from judicial invalidation — that’s a good thing. Then we’ve made progress on the democratic front.
Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.
The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
Asparagus and Feta Tartlet with Phyllo Crust
Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp
The 10 Best Deals of January 12, 2021
Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp
The 10 Best Deals of January 12, 2021
The 10 Best Deals of November 23, 2020
Tech3 months ago
Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp
Uncategorized4 months ago
The 10 Best Deals of January 12, 2021
Uncategorized5 months ago
The 10 Best Deals of November 23, 2020
Uncategorized4 weeks ago
Asparagus and Feta Tartlet with Phyllo Crust
Tech5 months ago
Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code
Food8 months ago
Berkeley Is First in the U.S. to Ban Candy, Chips, and Soda From Grocery Store Checkout Lanes
Tech6 months ago
Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum
Sports6 months ago
Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home