The stories have been running a bit long lately. Granted, there's been a lot of news to cover. Jack returns Monday and I trust him to restore brevity to the newsletter. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
Biden Must Pack the Court Before All Is Lost
First, the good news. Ketanji Brown Jackson yesterday was sworn in as the first Black woman justice on the United States Supreme Court, following, by her own count, 232 years and 115 prior appointments. NAACP pressident Derrick Johnson said her swearing-in was "the greatest news for Black America coming out of this Supreme Court in a long, long time" and that Justice Jackson will be a vote "for compassion, respect for human rights, and honor for the rule of law" at a time when "far-right extremism [is] poisoning our nation's highest court."
Indeed. Now we just need another three or four of her named to the court to undo the damage from the past few weeks alone.
More rulings dropped yesterday as the court wrapped up its last term with Justice Jackson's predecessor, Stephen Breyer. And, with one exception, they were truly abysmal decisions by this unelected panel of clerics, decisions that will have horrific global consequences. Not content with stripping people's rights, the court's far-right majority seems determined to extinguish democracy in this country just in time for the ecological collapse it has now virtually guaranteed.
By a 6-3 vote, the court ruled to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from fighting climate change by requiring existing power plants to cut carbon emissions. Writing the dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the conservative bloc appointed themselves, instead of Congress or agency scientists, "the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening." Indeed, experts warned that the ruling means "it will soon be mathematically impossible" to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, which means -- there's no reason to sugar-coat it -- literal catastrophe. California is already facing permanent dustbowl conditions of the sort that led "to the collapse of ancient cities in Mesopotamia and the Mayan Empire." But hey, at least Charles Koch is happy!
Kagan is right to be frightened of her colleagues' ignorance. In another opinion published yesterday, Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to embrace a popular QAnon conspiracy theory, writing that "all available COVID–19 vaccines...were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children" -- which is false. "Justice Thomas has already proven that he is unfit to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Spreading false information about a lifesaving vaccine is further evidence that he must either resign or be removed," responded Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
Yesterday's other big story out of the court was its decision to hear a case from North Carolina on the question of "independent state legislature doctrine," a crackpot Republican legal theory that would give state lawmakers -- like, potentially, this guy -- sole authority over federal elections. This theory, which is "at odds with more than a hundred years of Supreme Court precedent," is conveniently being pushed at a time when the GOP controls legislatures in 30 states. Not at all coincidentally, the theory also featured in the "sham electors" element of Donald Trump's failed coup attempt in January 2021. It must be noted that the lead plaintiff in the case, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, backed Trump's "stop the steal" lies in November 2020.
"We are witnessing a judicial coup in process," New York Democratic Rep. and voice of sanity Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned yesterday. "If the President and Congress do not restrain the Court now, the Court is signaling they will come for the Presidential election next. All our leaders - regardless of party - must recognize this Constitutional crisis for what it is."
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Biden Backs Filibuster Carveout for Abortion Rights
President Joe Biden said yesterday that he supports an exception to the Senate filibuster rule to codify abortion protections into federal law, which is the most he's done so far to address the Supreme Court's decision to strip well-established rights from millions of Americans. "Now we're talking!" AOC responded. Obstructionist Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain opposed to filibuster changes, however -- at least for now. And it must be noted, Biden isn't exactly reliable on this issue; he has reportedly backed the nomination of an anti-abortion lawyer to a federal judgeship in eastern Kentucky as part of a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In related news, a Florida judge temporarily blocked the state's abortion ban from taking effect; while in Michigan, two Republican county prosecutors announced they would defy a similar judicial injuction and proceed prosecuting doctors. Finally, conservative legal groups are pushing legislation for Republican state lawmakers across the country to establish a Texas-style bounty system encouraging private lawsuits against people who cross state lines for abortions, and anyone who helps them.
Pennsylvania Republicans Are Coming for Larry Krasner
Krasner, Philly's progressive District Attorney, will face an open-ended state House investigation following a largely party-line vote yesterday. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, the new House "Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order" will have subpoena power. They're looking for a reason to impeach Krasner, although that "would require evidence of corruption or clear misbehavior in office, experts say -- not simply political or ideological disagreements over how he manages his office and prosecutes crime." Krasner calls the GOP-led inquiry a "farce" and potentially unconstitutional. Four state House Democrats, including three from Philly, sided with Republicans in the vote.
- Russia Calls Its Retreat from Ukraine's Snake Island a "Goodwill Gesture" The small but strategically located Black Sea island was seized by Russia on the first day of its invasion. via the Guardian.
- Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone He's the one who allegedly warned another staffer that "we're going to get charged with every crime imaginable." via the Washington Post.
- West Coast Union Dockworkers' Contract Expires Today The Biden administration has been actively involved in negotiations behind the scenes; the implications are big for inflation and the economy. via the New York Times.
- New Zealand Designates the Proud Boys as a Terrorist Group The group's role in the Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt was a big reason why. via Radio New Zealand.
1 in 3
That's how many Republicans agree with the statement that "it may be necessary at some point soon for citizens to take up arms against the government," according to a new poll by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. One in five Democrats agreed.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
Don't Miss MR Clips
Maybe it would do Biden some good to watch this segment.
Because they planned the violence, of course.
"To make this decision so hastily really flies in the face of due process and fair treatment. Quite frankly, Officer Lugo expected more from his city."
-- Daniel Griffin, the attorney for Providence Police Department officer and Republican state senate candidate Jeann Lugo, in a statement after the department placed Lugo on administrative leave for punching his Democratic opponent, Jennifer Rourke, two times in the face at an abortion-rights protest. For her part, Rourke said "This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up."
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