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AM Quickie

Supreme Court Seems Like It's Going to Side With the Homophobes - The Tuesday AM Quickie 12/6/22

An immediate update to yesterday's story, and we should have seen it coming. Also, if you're reading this from Georgia, it's election day! Fingers crossed that Warnock pulls through. - Jack

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THE BIG NEWS

Supreme Court Seems Like It's Going to Side With the Homophobes

Here we go: the arguments are in, and the decision appears to be written on the wall. Like all Court decisions, the pace of an actual ruling is glacial – Sam has the venerated Mark Joseph Stern on today to tell you all about it – but I'll do my best to sum up what we saw today.

In short, it appears the court thinks the graphic designer's case we wrote about yesterday has merit under the first amendment. Here's the key grafs from the Times' coverage:

They explored the difference between businesses engaged in expression and ones simply selling goods; the difference between a client’s message and that of the designer; the difference between discrimination against gay couples and compelling the creation of messages supporting same-sex marriage; and the difference between discrimination based on race and that based on sexual orientation.

The bottom line, though, seemed to be that the court would not require the designer to create customized websites celebrating same-sex marriage despite the state anti-discrimination law.

So the question now becomes: how far do they go. The Times also notes that "several justices leaning in [the plaintiff's] direction appeared to be searching for limiting principles so as not to upend all sorts of anti-discrimination laws," but as the court's three liberal members pointed out, basically any ruling that carves out an exception to state anti-discrimination laws is a chink in the already-fragile armor that has been built up for marginalized groups over decades of legal process.

The most conservative members of the court – Clarence Thomas, short may he live, for instance – have intimated openly that they could put even more important gay rights rulings on the chopping block if the right case comes down for them. As we've seen with Roe, it's often not one decision but a cavalcade of similar cases funded by the same legal societies all chipping away at legal protections simultaneously both in the federal system and in specific states. The blizzard is coming, and this case is one of the first snowflakes.

An actual ruling isn't expected until June of next year, so be prepared for this whole news cycle to run again then.

Election Day in Georgia

The big day is here: whether or not the Democrats expand their majority in the Senate by one vote will be decided by the second election between Raphael Warnock and Hershel Walker, dueling candidates for Georgia's open Senate seat. Early polls have Warnock in the lead. Momentum for Walker seems to have completely died out – all he's got is Trump doing a "Tele-rally" for him and a sparsely populated live event. Here we go, fingers crossed!

Ukraine Strikes Air Bases Deep Into Russia

Ukraine appears to have pulled off one of its most daring strikes yet, using unmanned vehicles to attack Russian targets not in occupied territory but at airfields in Russia itself, allegedly damaging bombers that the invaders have been using to launch destructive campaigns against civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. Details are still a bit lost in the fog of war: Moscow blames Ukraine, and a senior Ukrainian official confirmed the attacks, and we know the drones were launched from Ukraine, but the government itself isn't gloating yet. Probably wise, all things considered. Meanwhile, a wave of missile strikes across the country sent Ukrainians back underground yet again.

QUICKEST QUICKIES

  • John Bolton Offers Up Run For President Hahahahahahahahahahahah via Twitter.
  • Michael Avenatti Sentenced to 14 Years That's what rampant embezzlement gets you, I guess. via Rolling Stone.
  • Mysterious Object on Florida Beach I thought about adding more context to the headline there but no. Click and find out. Mysterious object!! via NYT.
  • You Will Probably Never Need a Real ID The government is pushing back the deadline to need one to fly yet again. Will it ever happen? Who knows. via NYT.

SOME NUMBER

$10,810,709

Amount Michael Avenatti must pay in restitution to four former clients and the IRS. Whoops!

ON THE SHOW TODAY

12/6: Sam and Emma host Mark Joseph Stern, senior writer at Slate, to discuss the recent opening arguments that have come in front of the Supreme Court.

DON'T MISS MR CLIPS

Herschel Walker Has No Idea How Congress Works

Warnock is going to trounce this guy today, that's my prediction.

Ben Shapiro is Losing the Culture War

It's the only one he's qualified to fight in, as well – sad!

PARTING WORDS

“A runoff makes it harder for folks who have less resources to vote. This was before advanced in-person voting or [voting was offered] by mail and when we had many other unfair, iniquitous, undemocratic policies. It wasn’t for a partisan advantage so much as an ideological and cultural one."

– Ashton Ellett, a political historian and archivist at the University of Georgia, explaining how the state's election system was designed to make sure "a conservative White candidate won an election." If all goes well no part of that sentence will come true today.

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