My wife is absolutely going to make fun of me for putting this in the newsletter, but one of the highlights of my weekend is that I got a new big extremely soft fisherman's sweater that is extremely warm. Anyway, we've got a big Supreme Court case to discuss and some other bizarre stories. Let's have at it! - Jack
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THE BIG NEWS
Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments on Pivotal LGBTQ Rights Case
If the title of today's newsletter stirred any inkling of memory for you, well, you're in luck – because the Supreme Court is about to hear it all over again.
All right, the cases aren't identical. The oral arguments that will be presented today in 303 Creative v. Elenis aren't exactly the same as the ones in Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but the similarties are pretty profound. The current case concerns a graphic designer named Lori Smith, who is suing in order to protect what she says is her right to refuse her services to LGBT people. The Masterpiece Cakeshop case – when a cakeshop owner didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple – ended on an inconclusive techicality, and the new case is clearly designed to render a more definitive ruling in the Supreme Court (which is even more conservative than it was then). Here's the key differences, per the Times:
The decision to hear Ms. Smith’s case was probably driven by several factors: an increasingly assertive six-justice conservative supermajority, a sense that Ms. Smith’s designs were more likely to be expression protected by the First Amendment and the desire of at least some justices to undo or limit Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision establishing a right to same-sex marriage.
So here's where we're at: Smith is likely thinking that her work as a graphic designer is more likely to get a first amendment ruling (not forcing an artist to make art they don't like), and also that this will be testing the boundaries and extremity of the newly-Conservative court. It's not really even a subtle attempt to get this to happen: Smith lives just a few miles from Masterpiece Cakeshop, and both she and the proprietor there are being represented by the same Conservative Christian law firm. You know, the same peopel trying the same things for the same reasons. Keep an eye on how the arguments develop today, I know we will. We'll check back in on this one soon.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Bizarre Shootings Take Down Power in North Carolina
I almost made this the main story today, but we're still waiting for more conclusive information. What we do know is that some 45,000 people lost power in North Carolina today after firearm attacks multiple power stations serving Moore County. As in, someone went in and deliberately shot up... a power station. This is truly bizarre. Police are still looking for a shooter or shooters and a motive, but there are some wild rumors going around. Here's the Post:
Investigators are looking into whether the incident is linked to a drag queen show that took place in the town of Southern Pines that evening, but they have so far not found any connection, Fields said.
Community members said far-right activists have tried to shut down the event for weeks, the Fayetteville Observer reported Friday.
Wild. Completely wild! Authorities said it could take until Thursday to get power back on for some people affected.
Iran Abolishes "Morality Police" After Months of Protests
The wildfire protests in Iran, a massive development. The Iranian government has allegedly abolished its feared "Morality Police," the "law enforcement" unit in charge of enforcing the Iranian government's strict social regulations on women and anyone deemed to be participating in behavior they don't like. Mahsa Amini, the 22 year old woman who was killed in September, igniting the protests, died while in custody of the morality police. However, remember that allegedly in the top sentence. The game of telephone here is pretty garbled. The Times reports:
The morality police “was abolished by the same authorities who installed it,” Attorney General Mohammad Javad Montazeri said on Saturday during a meeting at which officials were discussing the unrest, according to state media reports.
Ok, but the government itself didn't confirm the news. Other officials said the government would continue to enforce restrictions on social behavior, and yet more officials downplayed Montazeri's comments. So the actual shape of what this will look like is still to come – but it's clear that the Iranian government is beginning to feel the heat.
- Biden Kills the Rail Strike That's it. The bill is signed. The only option now would be a wildcat, but that's unlikely. via NYT.
- Trump Suggests "Termination" of Constitution Sorry for making this one a quickie but... yep. This is all connected to the truly dumb Twitter files, which I didn't even get to. via WaPo.
- China Walking Back "Zero COVID" Policies This is also an attempt to take some of the heat off from popular protests. via WaPo.
- Blinken Claims US Working on Griner Release Couldn't come a minute too soon. via HuffPo.
Current number of COVID hospitalizations, reflecting a post-Thanksgiving spike, per the Post.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/5: Sam and Emma host Adam Hochschild, lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism, to discuss his recent book American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Exposing the circular logic of the conservative argument against trans people.
“To me it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system and on that basis they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law."
– Ryan Newman, Ron DeSantis’ General Counsel, when asked to give a definition of the term "woke." That sounds... about right! But Conservatives think this is a bad thing, of course.
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