Author: Michael Vargas (Michael Vargas)

Vargas: California’s experiment with direct democracy has failed

For more than a century, California has been an experiment in a form of direct democracy, giving “the people” unparalleled and extensive power to shape their laws and rebuke their politicians through initiatives, referendums and recalls. Just 5% of Californians working together can force a proposition onto the ballot, a referendum on a piece of...

Vargas: How will the new police chief engage with the LGBTQ+ community?

San Jose officials in March appointed Anthony Mata to be the new chief of police. His selection became controversial almost immediately, as community leaders raised concerns about his involvement in a police shooting and his treatment of a transgender officer. LGBTQ+ people have always had a difficult relationship with the police. The most famous LGBTQ+...

Vargas: Anti-trans laws miss the point of school sports

This year, more than 20 bills have been introduced attacking the right of transgender children to participate in school sports. These bills aim to either add to or supplant laws in 11 states that already unlawfully discriminate against transgender student-athletes. This is nothing new. Transgender athletes have faced discrimination for decades. In 1976, Renee Richards,...

Vargas: Biden administration ushers in new era in LGBTQ+ rights

The inauguration of President Joe Biden on Jan. 20 brought with it a wave of relief for the LGBTQ+ community. During his four years as president, Donald Trump made the oppression of LGBTQ+ people a centerpiece of his administration, a campaign that often targeted the most vulnerable, such as children and the homeless. As Joe...

Vargas: Expanding the federal judiciary is necessary

Eight years ago, I worked for U.S. District Court judge Susan Richard Nelson in St. Paul, Minnesota. My first project involved a procedural issue, in which the judge had to decide whether to grant a motion to move a case to Wisconsin. One of the most persuasive arguments for Judge Nelson was the fact that...

Vargas: Don’t expect judges to block new COVID-19 restrictions

With a surge in COVID-19 cases around the globe, Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed new restrictions on large and small gatherings, including a lockdown if local hospitals reach 85% capacity. Five Bay Area counties, including Santa Clara, have decided not to wait and imposed another lock-down already. This second round of lockdowns has, not surprisingly,...

Vargas: LGBTQ+ community’s historic gains this election                

For the past week the national headlines may have been focused on Joe Biden’s victory over President Trump and the historic implications of the election of Kamala Harris as vice president. However, a much quieter revolution was occurring as well. The 2020 election saw a record-shattering number of LGBTQ+ people running for public office around...

Vargas: The last giant of the Supreme Court

Of the 102 men and women to sit on the United States Supreme Court, only a few can truly be called giants of that most venerated body. Those who stand above the others are recognized not only for their towering intellect, but also for prophetic visions of social and political change. Among the greatest of...