Sunday Reads: Guess Who?

Actor Max Schreck, of Nosferatu fame….

Yeah…this guy:


Today’s post is complemented with images of famous people when they were young…some may surprise you…others will not. I hope you enjoy the show.

Earlier this week, Pence came to Georgia. One of my fellow Roller Girls showed up to protest:

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Brittany Martin from News Channel 9 talked to me at the Pence/Kemp rally in Dalton yesterday. There's a short clip of me saying a few words. Ill put the link in my bio. Pardon my look, I was standing in the rain. #fucktrump #fuckpence #fuckkemp #makeracistsashamedagain #protest #makechange #VoteStaceyAbrams #staceyabramsforgovernor #wewillnotbesilenced #metoomovement #impeachtrump

A post shared by Abby (@lovelyfatbabe) on

I am so proud of Pixie! It takes guts to stand there, by yourself…and she did get harassed by tRump supporters. Video clip of her interview with the local news station at this link.

Channel 9 Lone Protestor Outside Rally

One thing about the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association), they are proactive when it comes to issues and politics that strike out at causes and the culture Roller Derby stands up for…for instance:

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Condemns Discriminatory Policy in the US – WFTDA

In recent days, the United States executive branch has suggested federal policy changes may be coming that would significantly harm transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, intersex, and other gender nonconforming members of our communities. As the governing body for the sport of roller derby, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) denounces these proposed changes, which would be in direct opposition to the inclusive spirit of our roller derby community. We ask other sports governing bodies, amateur and professional, as well as organizations and individuals who recognize the value of inclusivity in sport to join us in pushing back on these discriminatory policies.

As a nonprofit proudly based in Austin, Texas, the WFTDA is saddened to hear of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ interest in defining gender as a biological condition. In the eyes of the WFTDA, this is an attack on our core values as an organization.

In 1972, Title IX was introduced as part of the U.S. Education Amendments, to end “discrimination on the basis of sex.” Title IX specifically offered protections and space for women in amateur sports, addressing the collegiate system directly. In recent years, the NCAA has taken steps to begin extending these protections to transgender athletes wishing to compete at the highest level in their chosen sports, pushing Title IX to end discrimination not just on the basis of assigned sex, but also on the basis of gender expression and transgender status.

The WFTDA has also worked throughout its existence to re-evaluate its own gender policies and create its current gender statement, at the encouragement of the WFTDA community as well as our colleagues in the Junior Roller Derby Association, the Men’s Roller Derby Association, and other organizations that have contributed significantly to gender-expansive competition. Together, we recognize that a commitment to inclusivity makes our sport brighter and more competitive. Diversity adds complexity and nuance that would not otherwise exist on eight wheels. It’s our collective obligation to advocate for the human rights of our membership — especially those who have historically faced disproportionately larger barriers to inclusion.

Please, go to the link to read the rest of the statement. There is a lot more there to chew on.

As you can also see, they encourage their teams to participate in the political discussion:

Arizona Roller Derby Announces the New Names of its International Travel Teams – Arizona Roller Derby

In 2004, AZRD agreed to play the Texas Rollergirls (TXRG) in the first interstate-bout of the modern era. As part of creating its first All-Star team, AZRD members selected the name Tent City Terrors, a satirical political statement in reference to Arizona’s notorious outdoor jail. Many of the skaters on the original team selected a second identity separate from that of their home team, such as “Sheriff Shutyerpaio”. When it was formed, it was unclear when or how many more games the team would play; at the time, there was no flat track organization nor rule set. Still, the name and uniform stuck through the first national tournament held in 2006, and has been used by the team since.

Yeah, a team name…plus derby player’s names to make a political statement. Check out a few other examples below:

Here are a few more links on politics and WFTDA and Roller Derby this:

A few articles on gender issues and concentrating on Derby as an LGBTQ inclusive sport.

WFTDA Gender Statement – WFTDA

Making Inclusivity Happen in Roller Derby – The Apex

The WFTDA Challenges ESPN to Improve Their Relationship with Non – NBC2 News

Roller derby is mashing up gender norms in sport – here’s how

Roller Derby and promoting the Indigenous Community:

Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Community in Roller Derby – WFTDA

Team Indigenous Talks Politics – WiSP Sports | conversations from the world of women’s sports-‘MICK SWAGGER’ AND ‘JUMPY MCGEE’ DISCUSS HOT TOPICS AND THE POLITICS OF TEAM INDIGENOUS AND THE WFTDA

Here is a statement back when tRump issued the fucking Muslim travel ban:

WFTDA Issues Statement Against US Travel Ban – WFTDA

It really makes me proud to be a part of the North Georgia Roller Girls ….which is a WFTDA team associated with Peach State Roller Derby; with the WFTDA backing us, we should stand up for the causes that are a part of the movement that is Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby…it is wonderful to see women like Abby/Pixie embracing the Culture of WFTDA. I applaud her efforts. Brava!

As for the NGRG…we start playing our official first games in March of 2019, so I will definitely keep you all up to date with that nugget of derby news from time to time.

Oh, yeah…more young celebrity pictures:

Milton Berle

Kate Winslet

So back to the shit storm that is tRump.

This little Nazi Youth is none other than tRump himself.

Trump’s attack on birthright citizenship betrays his ignorance – and his weakness | Corey Brettschneider | Opinion | The Guardian

The 14th amendment to the constitution confirms that all Americans are born equal. One immigrant-hating lover of dictators cannot change that with a simple stroke of his pen

In an interview that will air in full on Sunday, Donald Trump reveals that he wants to end birthright citizenship through executive order. But he doesn’t have that power. An executive order cannot reverse the guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States that is enshrined in the constitution.

After the civil war, Congress sought to grant full citizenship to African Americans, who had been denied it under the Dred Scottsupreme court decision. Yet when it passed the 14th amendment in 1868, Congress went further. It wrote a rule making it clear that any person, regardless of ethnicity or national origin, had a right to citizenship upon being born in the US.

The relevant portion of the 14th amendment reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The phrase about jurisdiction was meant to exclude the children of ambassadors and tribal Native Americans, who until 1924 were regarded as citizens of separate sovereign nations.

These words about birthright citizenship reflect the wider values of the 14th amendment, which also guarantees “equal protection of the laws” for all persons. Together with the constitution’s ban on royal titles in Article I, Section 9, the document stands for the idea that the US does not condone hereditary hierarchy – or any legal distinction based on birth or parentage, ideas associated with aristocratic societies. In the US, everyone starts on the same plane.

I also think this is yet another form of tRumpian white nationalist intimidation. Considering the past 2013 Scalia Supreme Court decision which removed the Voting Rights portion of Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Remember the Civil Rights Act will again be revisited soon enough.)

This way of sending these outright threats goes far to back the claims of fascism that Boston Boomer discuss in her post from yesterday.

But back to the the op/ed up top. It goes on to discuss the first case that came before the SCOTUS, in 1898… United States v Wong Kim Ark. Please read the rest to learn more…

I’m going to stick with the Guardian for the next few links, I think it will give us a good look from a different perspective.

Julia Roberts

‘This is Georgia’: hate, hope and history in election that shows the clash of two Americas | US news | The Guardian

Hey, what a fucking surprise. Georgia’s election shit is making news over in the UK!

“The consequences of any of us staying home really are profound because America’s at a crossroads,” he warned. “The healthcare of millions of people is on the ballot. Making sure working families get a fair shake is on the ballot. But maybe most of all, the character of our country is on the ballot.”

It was not meant to be like this. America’s first black president hoped to steer the nation on an upward trajectory. Then came Donald Trump, a man endorsed by white supremacists and the breathing embodiment of everything Obama is not. On Tuesday, these two radically opposing visions of “the character of our country” will collide at the ballot box. Georgia is ground zero.

I live in ground zero. I know the crap first hand. Ugh.

From Seinfeld to bagels, it was always easy to be a Jew in America. What changed? | Hadley Freeman | News | The Guardian by Hadley Freeman.

Recently a clutch of American relatives came to visit me in London. I don’t get to see my extended family so much these days, but thanks to the internet they see me all the time, reading my articles and sending messages so supportive they occasionally reject English as insufficiently adoring and opt for Yiddish (“I’m kvelling!”). They ask me about the different things I’ve been writing about: celebrities, feminism, and so on. But when they made the transatlantic trip this time there was a rare consensus: they all wanted to talk about the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

What is going on? It’s just crazy!” one uncle said to me after I wrote about protesting against antisemitism in British politics. We discussed the rise in verbal and physical attacks on Jews in the UK, the election of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, the Law and Justice party in Poland. He was especially horrified by the murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris. “It is just unimaginable,” my cousin said.

Marlene Dietrich

Dietrich was one of many German born actors/entertainers who spoke out and actively campaigned against Hitler during WWII.

‘Vaya con Dios:’ the impossible life of an immigration judge at the US border | US news | The Guardian

Robert Brack, who at one point had the heaviest caseload of any federal judge in the US, pleads for justice for the immigrants he sees every day

One more link for today’s post…

Jon Stewart is right: How long will the media continue to play Trump’s game?

A fleeting moment within the teaser for Axios’s interview with Donald Trump, the centerpiece of Sunday’s “Axios on HBO,” tells all you need to know about how the president truly feels about his relationship to the media.

Moments after Jim VandeHei admits to Trump that his “enemy of the people” rhetoric scares the hell out of him, the reporter (and co-founder of the media site) tells the president, “You are, like, the most powerful man in the world.”

Reflexively Trump looks off-camera and grins, briefly, his face flush with what appears to be self-satisfaction. There was concentrated smugness in that expression, tinged with a pugilist’s cruelty.

In that scene, VandeHei points out the extreme irresponsibility of any leader of the free world using his position and platform to vilify an entire class of people, and using that rhetoric to stoke the emotions of the people who constitute his base.

Ever the attention-hungry reality show star, Trump softly replies, “They like me more because of it,” calling his dangerous hyperbolic term the only way he can fight back. That satisfied grin says he knows he’s winning.

Axios on HBO,” premiering Sunday at 6:30 p.m., is one of many specials the news site will run on the premium cable channel as part of a partnership. HBO has been steadily expanding its news and information footprint. And that in itself indicates how malleable our concept of news has become under Trump’s administration.

This is the interview where tRump announces he is going to snap his fingers…click his heels and poof, no more “14th Amendment.”

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So what are you finding today as we count down to Tuesday’s election?

This is an open thread.

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Monday Reads: #MeToo v Brett Kavanaugh #Be Silent No More!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

When preppy smug Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser unmasked herself in WAPO yesterday I knew exactly what this Monday Post would explore.  There were inklings of all kinds of moral lapses and weirdness in Kavanaugh’s binders full of boys will be boys.

He had a lascivious obsession with the details of the Lewinsky/Clinton affair. He worked for predator Judge Alexis Kozinski but managed to see or hear nothing. He belonged to an all boy social club known informally as “Tit and Clit” because that was evidently all it was about.  He was an infamous heavy drinker and rumors swirled about possible gambling addictions and odd debt and financial transactions.  Additionally, it’s pretty clear he’s lied before several senate committees under oath.

We were supposed to be distracted by the cute kids he coaches and his indefatigable list of 65 high school women that magically appeared to vouch for his activities.  But, women every where are beginning to learn the Truth will set you Free.  Listen, I knew the Jesuit prep school culture in Omaha during my high school years.  Those guys had some of the girls schools labelled the source of Madonnas and potential wives and other ones the girls were whores and prey. I was repeatedly warned by Catholic school girl friends to make sure you were never alone with a group of them. I can’t imagine it was anything but the same situation on steroids in those exclusive DC suburbs. This could be stuff I witnessed ten years earlier. I’m tempted to ask my daughters if those same prep schoolers still behave like this. I have a feeling they do.

Judge, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at the all-male Georgetown Prep the time of the alleged assault, tells stories in his 1997 memoir, Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, of binge drinking at teen parties and trying to “hook up” with girls.

It was at one such gathering, Ford told the Post, that Kavanaugh and Judge, both drunk, shoved her into a bedroom. She said that Kavanaugh locked the door, pushed her onto a bed, fumbled with her clothing, held her down and attempted to force himself on her. Ford said she managed to escape when Judge jumped on top of both of them. Kavanaugh has “categorically” denied the accusations.

Judge recalls in his book how his life changed when he first got drunk at the age of 14 and later battled alcoholism.

His “immersion” into alcohol began the end of his sophomore year during a typical annual “beach week,” when Catholic high school students headed to the shore after school was out. “Now I had an opportunity to make some headway [with girls]. Most of the time everyone, including the girls, was drunk. If you could breathe and walk at the same time, you could hook up,” he wrote.

His drinking became so extreme that he had blackout episodes, and woke up on the floor of a restaurant bathroom with no memory of how he got there. Once “I had the first beer, I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated,” he wrote.

And that’st the deal, I wonder if we can ever get rid of this culture of raising young men to be predators. But back to the cad at hand.  I put this up on the thread yesterday but I’m giving it my full attention now because, well, THIS!!!  Professor of constitutional law at the University of Baltimore and writer for the Atlantic wrote this yesterday: “The Subtext of Kavanaugh’s Nomination Bursts Into the Open. A sexual-assault allegation against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee brings the fight over gender and power to the fore.”

The gendered subtext of this moment is, not to put too fine a point on it, war—war to the knife—over the future of women’s autonomy in American society. Shall women control their own reproduction, their health care, their contraception, their legal protection at work against discrimination and harassment, or shall we move backward to the chimera of past American greatness, when the role of women was—supposedly for biological reasons—subordinate to that of men?

That theme became became apparent even before the 2016 election, when candidate Donald Trump promised to pick judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. The candidate was by his own admission a serial sexual harasser. On live national television, he then stalked, insulted, and physically menaced his female opponent—and he said, in an unguarded moment, that in his post-Roe future, women who choose abortion will face “some form of punishment.”

In context, Trump promised to restore the old system of dominion—by lawmakers, husbands, pastors, institutions, and judges—over women’s reproduction. Arguably that platform propelled Trump into the White House: Many evangelical Christian voters chose to overlook Trump’s flagrant sexual immorality, his overt contempt for the basics of faith, because they believed he would end abortion forever.

It’s also why Trump is going all in on the nominee. Kavanaugh’s got the same MOs as Trump.  They’re freaking soul mates.  Both are entitle dicks who hate women and feel they have the right to take and do whatever they want and to say whatever they want, and to freaking make decisions over “lesser beings” like people from shithole countries and women. Trump sees conspiracies when people actually try to hold any of them all to account for immoral, terrible behavior. They’re alllowed in their mind’s eye.

In the hours after a 51-year-old California professor came forward to publicly allege that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school, the White House signaled no interest in slowing Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Instead, the president’s team and his allies on and off the Hill began to mount a vigorous defense against the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, questioning why she had identified herself only now, and framing Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior as almost commonplace in nature.

A senior White House official told The Daily Beast that, as of Sunday evening, things are still “full steam ahead” for Kavanaugh. On Friday afternoon, a different White House official confirmed that President Trump had been made aware of the earlier reports involving the Kavanaugh sexual-misconduct allegation—reports that did not name the accuser.

The president has told those close to him in recent days that he believes there is a “conspiracy” or organized effort by Democrats to smear Kavanaugh and try to derail the nomination of a “good man.” One Trump confidant said Sunday that they “can’t imagine that” Ford coming forward will change the president’s position, and that it will far more likely cause Trump to dig in and attack those going after Kavanaugh.

The response from Team Trump rang all too familiar for women who have come forward in the past to allege that they had been targeted by prominent male officials. And for veterans of Clarence Thomas’ nomination for the Supreme Court seat some three decades ago, the echoes were even more profound. The extent to which lessons have been learned from that episode —and what specific lessons they are—could very well determine Kavanaugh’s fate in the coming days.

I’ve been mad about stuff like this for a very long time and I’ve never cooled down over it.  I will never, EVER vote for Joe Biden because ANITA HILL.  And you want a story? I was assaulted in the choir room in my high school by 2 hyperchristians.  I felt fortunate I didn’t get raped.  I just finally started talking about it 3 years ago.  I’m finally talking about what my exhusband did to me when I was 36 and both my kids’ godparents saw the bruises as did my parents and his mother.  My oldest daughter’s godparents even asked me if it was okay they talk to him at her wedding because they knew what he did to me. Just about every victim of abuse has to think long and hard about coming forward.  My friend in college was raped in the University of Nebraska Library Stacks.  She thought she had no options because she had smoked a joint prior to going to study.  At the time, the laws let her sexual history and all kinds of crap come forward. It was and still is a torturous process for victims no matter how long  SVU has been on TV.

And she was 15 and he was 17.

And his behavior was not the normal high school boy stupidity. Read the details.  Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has a posse and it includes me because I know what it’s like.  I know it includes most of his here including many men.

A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford’s high school are circulating a letter to show support for the woman who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her while they were in high school.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

The women also say that what Ford is alleging “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

The letter is a boost of support for Ford, who has been thrust into the political spotlight and had her credibility questioned by going up against Kavanaugh and the White House. The signatories span decades at the school, both before, during and after Ford attended.

More than 200 women had signed the letter as of late Monday morning, said Sarah Burgess, a member of the class of 2005. Burgess said she and some of her schoolmates wrote the letter because hearing Ford’s story felt “personal.”

“I know that in the coming days, her story will be scrutinized, and she will be accused of lying,” Burgess said in an email. “However, I grew up hearing stories like hers, and believe her completely.”

Politico had this to say this morning: “Why God Is Laughing at Brett Kavanaugh”.

It is on this point that the cosmos may be having a laugh not just at Kavanaugh’s expense but at many other people’s. After decades of competitive moralizing and situational ethics—in which every accuser in due course becomes the accused, and anyone riding a high horse can expect to be bucked off—even the concept of fairness in American politics seemingly is defunct.

Three decades of remorseless ideological and cultural combat—over Robert Bork, over Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, over Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, over Bush v. Gore, and, at last and above all, over Donald Trump—have made the question virtually irrelevant.

Fairness is rooted in the idea of principles, precedent, proportionality. Few people in American life witnessed at closer range than Kavanaugh the modern reality that when things really matter—in the way that the balance of the Supreme Court matters—all these fine notions matter less than the cold, hard exercise of power.

So here was Kavanaugh—who spent his early 30s as a Ken Starr warrior pursuing Bill Clinton for the political and legal implications of his most intimate moral failings—now in his early 50s facing a political crisis over disturbingly vivid, passionately contested, decades-old allegations about Kavanaugh’s own possible moral failings.

Few prosecutors, it seems likely, would ever open an assault case—36 years later—on the basis of Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being pinned down on a bed by a drunken Kavanaugh, then 17, and being aggressively groped until a friend of his physically jumped in.

But few prosecutors in the 1990s would have pursued an extensive criminal investigation over perjury into a middle-aged man’s lies about adultery if that person had not been President Bill Clinton. In his zeal at the time, Kavanaugh, like Starr, may have worked himself into a belief that this was about sacred principles of law, but to many others—and ultimately to a clear majority of the country—it was obvious that the case was fundamentally about political power.

Kavanaugh’s fate, too, now depends on precisely the same thing: Do the allegations change the calculation for the perhaps half-a-dozen senators—including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—whose minds were not already made up by earlier political calculations?

With the benefit of hindsight, Kavanaugh later concluded presidents should be shielded from criminal investigations of the sort he helped wage against Clinton. At the time, however, he was filled with righteous indignation. “It is our job,” he wrote colleagues in Starr’s office in an email, “to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear—piece by painful piece.”

Can Kavanaugh and his supporters really be surprised that opponents of his nomination will feel similarly righteous in wanting to examine allegations against him piece by piece?

Both Judge* Kavanaugh and Professor Ford are willing to testify.

Democrats say the vote should be delayed so that the committee can hear Dr. Blasey — a move Republicans have said is a stalling tactic. Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings have drawn raucous protests and partisan fights, even before Dr. Blasey’s allegations became public.

Dr. Blasey was willing to testify before Congress, Debra Katz, a lawyer, said on Monday about her client, who has been referred to in news accounts as Ms. Ford but goes by Dr. Blasey professionally.

“We hope that this hearing is fair and not another weaponized attack on a woman who has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against a powerful man,” Ms. Katz told The New York Times.

There was no indication early Monday that the Judiciary Committee had requested such testimony or that the panel planned to delay the vote.

A key Republican on the committee, however, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, told Politico that he was “not comfortable voting yes” on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until he learned more about Dr. Blasey’s account. Mr. Flake’s objection could force a delay for the committee, which has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Senate Republicans have also expected they could win the support of some Democrats who face tough re-election campaigns in states Mr. Trump won in 2016. One such Democrat, Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, said on Monday that the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh were “serious and merit further review.”

This week is going to be a wild and bumpy ride.  We’re about to see if the recent women’s marches and the incredible removals of powerful men in charge of media and entertainment interests as well as holding political positions has sunk in enough to to make Anita Hill proud of us all.

This was the one thing I always wanted to protect my daughters from and it pains me to think the girls and women today are still not believed and the men are still waved off with the “boys will be boys” mentality.

He was 17 and she was 15.  She was afraid her parents would find out where she’d been.  She was afraid of all kinds of things that would happen and are happening now that she spoke out.

We should be on her posse just as I will always be on Anita Hill’s posse.  I believe them both.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  This is still an open thread so share everything!

 


Sunday Reads: It’s a tRump Ass World….

 

I’ve guess you all have seen the latest paintings from the tRumptonian artist Jon McNaughton?

Bizarre Right-Wing Trump Portrait Gets Mercilessly Mocked On Twitter | HuffPost

A right-wing artist’s latest “heroic” image of President Donald Trump received some pretty savage reviews from people on social media.

Jon McNaughton painted a take on George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, except in this version Trump is commanding a boat filled with members of his administration.

“Trump endeavors to cross the ‘swamp’ of Washington D.C. as he carries the light of truth, hope and prosperity,” McNaughton wrote. “The murky water of the deep state is laced with dangerous vermin, perfectly willing to destroy American prosperity for their personal ideologies and financial gain.”

Take a peek at the link to see the various jokes, I’ve posted one of the funnier ones below, which conveniently also shows what the original painting looks like….

 

You can also see another new “work of art” (excuse me while I vomit) below…I don’t know what the name of that piece of shit is…but it must have Strangling the Mueller somewhere in the title.

 

 

Nah, see? It is called Expose the Truth. God it is fucking disgusting.

 

 

So, now that I have posted some of the visual images for the thread, I suppose I should get around to throwing some links in the pie as well.

 

I don’t know what to make at that tweet above… I know whatever is being done with the attacks on the press is dangerous. Just like the paintings of tRump strangling Mueller with a tie…it crosses the line.

Pastor at Trump rally prays to shield Trump from ‘jungle journalism’ | TheHill

From enemy of the people to jungle journalism….

The pastor delivering the invocation at President Trump’s rally in Ohio on Saturday called for God to shield Trump from “jungle journalism.”

CNN reported that Gary Click, a pastor and member of the Ohio GOP’s State Central Committee, delivered the prayer ahead of Trump’s remarks, asking for God to “protect our President and his family with a shield of faith, Lord.”

“That shield of faith against the fiery darts of the wicked one, Lord, against that jungle journalism that extorts the truth and distorts honesty and integrity every single day, gets in his face with lies and mistruths and innuendos,” Click continued.

I doubt they hired that preacher from craigslist.

Even Fox News is sensing the danger:

What The Heck Is Happening When Even Fox News Starts Making Sense? | Crooks and Liars

But tRump still threatens:

Trump: I ‘destroy’ careers of Republicans who say bad things about me | TheHill

President Trump bragged about his prowess in defeating the Republicans who oppose him, saying at an Ohio rally that he “destroys” the careers of GOP politicians who dare defy him.

“How do you get 100 percent of anything? We always have somebody who says ‘I don’t like Trump, I don’t like our president, he destroyed my career,’ ” Trump said.

“I only destroy their career because they said bad things about me and you fight back and they go down the tubes and that’s OK,” he added.

He is a fucking thug, and it looks like Sunday will only be used for more threats and blows toward Mueller.

Sunday shows preview: Trump’s attacks on Mueller probe ramp up | TheHill

Read more at that link.

Maybe something big is coming?

Trump voicing concerns about son being entangled in Mueller probe – CNNPolitics

 

I thought this was a true enough tweet below.

 

Yeah, that is gross:

Justice Clarence Thomas Is Having an Outsize Influence on the Trump Administration – Mother Jones

Twenty percent of the quiet justice’s former clerks owe their current jobs to President Trump.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is by far the court’s quietest and most conservative justice. He went 10 years without asking a single question from the bench, a streak broken in 2016, not long after the death of his friend Justice Antonin Scalia. Since then, Thomas hasn’t uttered a word in court. His opinions are so quirky and radically conservative that his colleagues on the bench often seem reluctant to sign on to them, making him perhaps one of the least influential justices in the court’s history.

But the court’s only African-American justice is having an outsize influence in one important sphere: the Trump administration. A new report by the AP’s Mark Sherman indicates that roughly 20 percent of the clerks—a total of 22—Thomas has hired since his confirmation in 1991 are either now working as political appointees in the administration or have been appointed by Trump to federal judgeships.

In other news, this headline got me thinking…what the fuck is she doing back? Hope Hicks Spotted Boarding Air Force One

Check it out, I wonder if this was agreed on at the summit:

Steven Seagal Named By Russia As Special Rep To US For Humanitarian Ties | Deadline

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a Russian passport to the US actor in 2016, and now Seagal will expand his ties, serving as a goodwill ambassador. He will receive no salary, the Ministry said, adding, “It’s a case of people’s diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy.”

Seagal’s new role was noted by Kremlin-backed TV station RT, who noted Seagal as welcoming the appointment.

“I’ve always had a very strong desire to do all I can to help improve Russian-American relations,” RT quoted Seagal. “I have worked tirelessly in this direction for many years unofficially and I am now very grateful for the opportunity to do the same thing officially.”

Don’t forget…

While Seagal is popular in Russia, he has been accused in the US of sexual misconduct.

In March of this year, two women who previously accused Steven Seagal of rape and sexual assault stepped forward to offer more detailed accounts of the actor’s alleged misconduct. Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom told reporters in a press conference that she will represent former Dutch model Faviola Dadis and one-time aspiring actress Regina Simons as they seek justice.

Actresses Juliana Margulies and Pamela Anderson have also complained about Seagal’s conduct during auditions.

Looks like DC is trying to make the relations between the Neo Nazis holding a rally and folks counterprotesting the racist KKK white nationalist fucks:

D.C. Metro Considers Separate Trains for ‘Unite the Right’ White Nationalist Rally – Truthdig

In an effort to head off violence between white nationalists and counterprotesters, the District of Columbia metro transit system is considering providing separate trains for those attending the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally Aug. 12. The use of separate trains for such a purpose would be unprecedented.

In response to criticism, Jack Evans, chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said in a Washington Post article:

“We’re not trying to give anyone special treatment. We’re just trying to avoid scuffles and things of that nature.”

 

It doesn’t look like special treatment helped the situation in Portland:

Portland protestor seriously wounded by flash-bang grenade fired by cops clearing way for alt-right marchers

Hundreds of far-right protesters from as far away as Florida gathered on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon for a “Freedom March” on Saturday. Dozens of those interviewed said they were there to utilize their “freedom of speech.” To do so, they came armed with bats, weighted fighting gloves, wooden poles, canisters of mace, knives, shields and body armor.

The police had declared a day earlier that all such weapons were illegal in Portland parks. But no effort was witnessed to confiscate the weapons or arrest the weapon-holders.

For hours, four lines of riot police kept the far right separated from a much larger crowd of anti-fascists. The Portland police seemingly wanted to avoid a replay of June 30, when they took a hands-off approach to another far-right rally that quickly degenerated into a violent brawl of about 100 people, resulting in five hospitalizations.

This time it was the police who sent protesters to the hospital. Later in the day, when the far right decided to march into the city, police decided to sweep the streets of counter-protesters. Neither side had permits, but police provided protection to the far right to march for two blocks.

To clear the way, police shot dozens of flash-bang grenades at more than 1,000 people who had gathered to oppose what they say are white supremacists.

 

There are exclusive pictures of the wounded at the Raw Story link.

About the latest tRump tariffs:

Here are a few links above various things….

There was a strange assassination attempt last night…WATCH: Speech By Venezuelan President Maduro Cut Off After Reported Explosion

Maduro was unharmed in the attempt, but many of the military members in attendance were seen reacting to the explosion.

Footage of the speech, circulated on social media, showed Maduro delivering a speech before the sound cuts out, and those on the stage duck. A camera then shows soldiers running from in a square, before the footage cuts completely.

According to Patricia Laya, Bloomberg News’s Venezuela Bureau Chief, the feed cut after an explosion was heard near the stage.

 

Orson Welles: actor, director… painter? | Film | The Guardian

Iam essentially a hack, a commercial person,” Orson Welles once said. “If I had a hobby, I would immediately make money on it or abandon it.” Self-deprecation aside, this most creatively ambitious and restless of US directors was hardly a hack. Welles did have a hobby, though – one he never abandoned or monetised, and one that is now shedding fresh light on a mighty career.

For in private, the great man worked quietly as an artist – yielding a vast, varied collection of paintings, drawings and doodles that has rarely been given serious scrutiny. That output is the subject of The Eyes of Orson Welles, a whimsical documentary by film critic, historian and lifelong Welles devotee Mark Cousins. An exhibition of the artworks, on which Cousins advised, is also now running at Edinburgh’s Summerhall galleries.

For those who think of Welles chiefly as the stern, booming talent behind such concrete American standards as Citizen Kane, Cousins’s film is revelatory, exposing a wry, playful, angry, often lovestruck man behind the Hollywood legend.

That is all I have today, hope everybody is doing well.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

The Four Justices, Nelson Shanks, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Good Morning!!

Last night thug “president” Trump did his ridiculous PT Barnum act with his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace Anthony Kennedy. Supposedly, Trump was deciding among about four candidates, but it turns out the fix may have been in all along.

Has any other president made a deal with a Supreme Court Justice to appoint a chosen replacement?

From Politico: How a private meeting with Kennedy helped Trump get to ‘yes’ on Kavanaugh.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk….

So even as Trump dispatched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rulings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush family, potentially a fatal flaw, the president was always leaning toward accepting Kennedy’s partiality for Kavanaugh while preserving the secret until his formal announcement, sources with knowledge of his thinking told POLITICO.

I’m sure we’ll be learning more about this, and I hope Democrats respond aggressively.

Basic background on Kavenaugh

NBC News: Who is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh?

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick is no stranger to partisan politics: Before becoming a judge, he was helping make the case for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and later for the election of George W. Bush.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh

Twenty years ago, Kavanaugh’s story starts amid the highly politicized independent counsel investigation into Clinton. He worked for Starr as a young Yale Law graduate, first when Kenneth Starr was solicitor general and later in the Office of the Independent Counsel, where Kavanaugh was a key player in the slew of investigations into the Clintons, including the Whitewater scandal, the suicide of White House counsel Vincent Foster and Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The Starr Report to Congress laid out the details of Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair and findings of potential wrongdoing by the president. Kavanaugh was the primary author of the section on the grounds for possible impeachment, Starr would reportedly later say,because “that needed to be very carefully crafted, so I was looking to one of the office’s most talented lawyers — of superb and balanced judgment — to take the lead in drafting.” [….]

He was a member of the GOP legal team fighting to stop the recount in Florida to clear the way for Bush’s election against Al Gore in 2000, later taking a job in the Bush White House in 2001, where he’d serve for five years as counsel and later staff secretary until his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006.

The Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, has sided with broad views of presidential powers.

Brett M. Kavanaugh, the federal judge nominated by President Trump on Monday to the Supreme Court, has endorsed robust views of the powers of the president, consistently siding with arguments in favor of broad executive authority during his 12 years on the bench in Washington.

Justice Anthony Kennedy

He has called for restructuring the government’s consumer watchdog agency so the president could remove the director and has been a leading defender of the government’s position when it comes to using military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects.

Kavanaugh is “an unrelenting, unapologetic defender of presidential power” who believes courts can and should actively seek to rein in “large swaths of the current administrative state,” said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, who closely follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Kavanaugh’s record suggests that if he is confirmed, he would be more to the right than the man he would replace, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for whom he clerked. Kavanaugh has staked out conservative positions in cases involving gun rights, abortion and the separation of powers.

Read more details at both of those links.

What Kavanaugh Would Likely Do on the Court

Slate: How Brett Kavanaugh Will Gut Roe v. Wade

Kavanaugh is an obvious choice for Trump. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he has maintained staunchly conservative credentials without earning a reputation for being a bomb-thrower. Unless Republican Sen. Susan Collins grows a spine, which she won’t, he has a clear path to Senate confirmation. During his hearings, Kavanaugh will claim he cannot reveal his true feelings about Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion access. But there is little doubt that Kavanaugh will gut Roe at the first opportunity. Indeed, he has already provided a road map that shows precisely how he’ll do it.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Kavanaugh was forced to confront the abortion question in 2017 after the Trump administration barred an undocumented minor, known as Jane Doe, from terminating an unwanted pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on Doe’s behalf, and the dispute came before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was joined on the panel by Judge Karen L. Henderson, an arch-conservative, and Judge Patricia Millett, a moderate liberal. Doe, who was being held in a federally funded Texas shelter, had already obtained the necessary judicial bypass to get an abortion. But the Trump administration refused to let her see an abortion provider, instead sending her to an anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center.”

By that point, Doe would be about 18 weeks pregnant. Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, and the procedure becomes more dangerous as the pregnancy advances. Moreover, the process of finding and verifying a sponsor for an undocumented minor frequently takes weeks or months. And Doe’s lawyers had already searched for a possible sponsor, to no avail. Kavanaugh’s ostensible compromise, then, was nothing of the sort. At best, it would force Doe to suffer through her unwanted pregnancy for at least two more weeks, increasing the odds of complications when she was finally able to obtain an abortion. At worst, it meant the government could run down the clock to the point that an abortion would become illegal.

Luckily for Doe, the full D.C. Circuit swiftly reversed Kavanaugh’s decision and allowed her to terminate her pregnancy, which she did. This move prompted Kavanaugh to write a bitter dissent explaining why the government’s bar on Doe’s abortion was not, in fact, an undue burden.

Read the rest at Slate.

The Daily Beast: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick, Is Probably the End of Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage.

When President Trump Monday nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he probably doomed the right to abortion, same-sex marriage, and maybe even contraception….

Future justice Elena Kagan arging a campaign finance reform case before SCOTUS

…while Kavanaugh’s record on women’s and LGBT rights is sparse, it gives good reason to suspect that he could be the swing vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights case. This, after all, is what Trump promised in 2016: that Roe would be “automatically” be overturned should he be elected. And Kavanaugh has been praised by numerous right-wing organizations.

In the case of Garza v. Hargan, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an undocumented teenage immigrant was entitled to obtain an abortion without having to obtain familial consent (as is required in several states).

Kavanaugh vigorously dissented, asking, “Is it really absurd for the United States to think that the minor should be transferred to her immigration sponsor ― ordinarily a family member, relative, or friend ― before she makes that decision?”

Those are strong words, endorsing not only parental consent rules but enforcing them in extreme circumstances. If you are looking for signals that a Justice Kavanaugh would limit or overturn Roe, Garza is a giant red flare.

There’s also a possibility that Kavenaugh might not be right wing enough to satisfy some Republicans.

Kavanaugh may not be conservative enough to survive the confirmation process. There is even talk that conservatives might revolt against Kavanaugh, as they did in 2005 against George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers. The reason? Many conservatives wanted Kavanaugh to cast doubt on the teenager’s right to get an abortion at all, which another dissenting judge did.

Neal K. Katyal for respondents, Travel Ban case

Legally speaking, that objection is absurd. Not unlike “judicial minimalist” Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh was discussing the case at issue, not some hypothetical issue. And he was responding to the circuit court’s holding, not writing an essay.

But there’s more. Some conservatives have pointed to dicta in another Kavanaugh opinion, a dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, a case similar to Hobby Lobby involving the Affordable Care Act’s contraception requirement. While dissenting in favor of the Catholic religious organization objecting to the requirement, Kavanaugh wrote that the “the Government has a compelling interest in facilitating women’s access to contraception” because of a variety of factors, such as “reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would further women’s health, advance women’s personal and professional opportunities, reduce the number of abortions, and help break a cycle of poverty.”

Kavanaugh is writing here about the state’s interest in access to contraception, not whether an individual has a constitutional right to access it. Those are totally different questions. But Kavanaugh’s opinion doesn’t question the constitutional right either, which rests on the same foundations (substantive due process, privacy, family) as the right to obtain an abortion.

This one is a must read–lots of details on Kavenaugh’s record. Head over to The Daily Beast to read the rest.

Read more about Kavenaugh and abortion here:

One more from The New York Times editorial board: There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh. And you probably won’t until it’s too late.

First, the awful lot: Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century. While the somewhat unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy once served as the fulcrum for the court, that role will now go to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a far more ideological conservative.

Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, has been a fixture in conservative politics and is widely respected by the Republican elite. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House. He successfully portrayed himself in his remarks at the White House as a nice guy who coaches girls in basketball, feeds the homeless and believes in the Constitution.

What Americans can’t know about Judge Kavanaugh: pretty much anything else. That’s thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process, which once provided the Senate and the public with useful information about a potential justice’s views on the Constitution, but which has, ever since the bitter battle over President Ronald Reagan’s failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, devolved into a second-rate Samuel Beckett play starring an earnest legal scholar who sits for days at a microphone and labors to sound thoughtful while saying almost nothing.

Read the rest at the NYT.

I know there’s plenty of other news, but this is the biggie for today. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and try to have a good day despite the horrors all around us.

 


Monday Reads: SCOTUS Slices the Cake Thinly

Good Morning

I’m not a big fan of the institution of marriage. It’s one of those things purposefully set up to make men unnecessarily comfortable and women overtly miserable even though men swear they’re continually put out by it. Women are really sold a fish story on how the marriage thing is in their interests. Few marriages actually wind up being happy and equitable but still, every one hopes for it. I always hope that the institution evolves and think expanding it to the GLBT community helps that along although I wouldn’t be adverse to it going the way of the dinosaurs.

I’ve worked in a man’s field forever and my biggest shock was the level of upmanship expressed by men in groups–when no women are present–on whose wife is the worst. It’s almost always lists of reasonable requests like helping out with work, paying for something that kids or the house requires or doing some activity beyond living at work or on the couch. For some reason, I’ve always been a fly on the wall during these prick sessions. Women share stories about what theatrics men undertake to avoid work. We also know large numbers of wives beaten and/or emotionally abused by husbands. That’s central to women’s gatherings. That plus discussions of everything we gave up and continually give up. I’m going through the DV support with two friends now and it never gets easier. We trudge along with the drudge. Men make their wives monsters for it.

These are the reasons I always have problems with the traditional, patriarchal, religious frame hammered to marriage. This creates some of its worst tendencies as an institution. It always worries me to see laws and legal decisions that add more nails. Man act oppressed by it while taking advantage of its built-in safety net for them to oppress.

Domestic violence is central to enforcing dominance and marriages can be rife with it. You always think it won’t happen to you. You are amazed when they try to tell the family that you made them do it. Well#MeToo One day it went beyond eye rolling and heavy sighs and the “how dare you bitch!” look and I was headed with the youngest in diapers to my parents’ house totally in bruises but only after he tried to stop me from dialing 911 over and over. The instances of domestic violence alone make me happily single, alone in blissful solitude, and never in need of the experience of anything else.

I heard Bill Murray one night express my exact thoughts about marriage both gay and hetero. He failed miserably at it and I personally believe his exwife. After having been mired in marriage for 20 years, all I could think was if the GLBT community really wants it they should have it and I hope they can make less of a mess of it. He said about the same thing.

To be honest, even a large percentage of my long time married friends basically say what I say. If I had it to do over again, I’d have the kids and skip the husband. I’ve been divorced now since 1995. I do not want one of them around useless, in the way, constantly looking put out or angry, and just waiting for you to commit some imaginary sin so they can hit you, turn people against you, and go on doing whatever it is that meets their needs. I’d never enter into that fucked up bargain again. I discouraged my daughters from it. I remember my mom endlessly wailing “But what about my needs?” At one point, I understood fully what “until death us part” really meant. I’d gotten life in prison.

The funny thing is that I’ve gotten to the point now where I truly never fill lonely or understand what that means when folks express the feeling. I’ve grown so comfortable being in solitude that I can’t imagine wanting anything else.

But, I’m old, overly experienced, and I understand everything that’s bundled up and pressed on folks to be married and have a family. I also understand how it functions as an institution that establishes property rights and control. All the Abrahamic religions use it to establish male dominance and supremacy under the grift of it being some kind of sky fairy blessing. I can understand why they hate having all of that taken away and they don’t want to share it.

So, we’ve established that I really don’t do weddings unless truly forced into it. I just cannot contain my strong urge to tell the bride to run because she’s about to do irreparable damage to her entire life.

That being said marriage is between two people and it’s not up to any one else to interpret it or deny their access to what they want from it or the Merger Day. Religion should only define it for those who adhere to that religion. But, that’s not what all religions preach or do.

SCOTUS is comprised of a group of judges with a majority belonging to a cult within Catholicism. That would be Opus Dei. That’s something that even creeps Popes and the Jesuits out and they know a lot about oppression of women and children within religious institutions. It was started in 1928 and adores the concept of “Corporal Mortification”. That should tell you how sick they are. It’s basically a cult. But, a bunch of them sit on the bench because the Republicans love religious fanatics. They vote. Religious diversity left the building when it comes to SCOTUS and the christofascists love it! So, does every other bigoted throwback religion.

They love it because they gradually get to enshrine their sick, twisted, religious views into law. Now, today’s ruling was written by Kennedy and it’s leaving a door cracked open for future dissent, but what it basically does is create a weird notion of ‘religious liberty’. This is not just about the guy that just couldn’t bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and the laws and lawsuits that followed. This is also about situation that followed. It’s about 3 bakeries refusing to make 2 hateful, ‘christian’ themed sheet cakes condemning gay marriage.

Does this decision basically allow hatred and bigotry in the name of religious sects basically infamous for that?

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that leaves many questions unanswered, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not adequately taken into account the religious beliefs of baker Jack Phillips.

In fact, Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker’s faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. While the justices split in their reasoning, only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Kennedy wrote that the question of when religious beliefs must give way to anti-discrimination laws might be different in future cases. But in this case, he said, Phillips did not get the proper consideration.

“The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” he wrote. “Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here.”

So, tell me, wtf does this mean? Here’s SCOTUS blog.

Almost six months to the day after the oral argument, the justices today handed Phillips a victory, even if not necessarily the ruling that he and his supporters had hoped for. Kennedy, the author of some of the court’s most important gay-rights rulings, began by explaining that the case involved a conflict between two important principles: on the one hand, the state’s power “to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services”; and, on the other, the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

As a general rule, Kennedy explained, the Supreme Court’s cases make clear that Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion is not absolute, and can be limited by neutral laws that apply to everyone. But the critical question of when Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion.

Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. One commissioner, Kennedy pointed out, “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.” Therefore, Kennedy concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”

The majority left open, however, the possibility that a future case could come out differently, particularly if the decisionmaker in the case considered religious objections neutrally and fairly. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances,” the majority closed, “must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s ruling, in an opinion joined only by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ginsburg stressed that there “is much in the Court’s opinion with which I agree,” but she “strongly” disagreed with the idea that the same-sex couple “should lose this case.” In particular, she argued, neither the commissioners’ statements about religion nor the commission’s disparate treatment of other bakers who refused to make cakes disapproving of same-sex marriage justified a ruling in favor of Phillips.

So, this is an odd narrow scope. Really odd. Really narrow. Really wtf?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Colorado’s enforcement of its civil rights law was flawed, while reaffirming that LGBTQ Americans should not face discrimination in the provision of goods and services and state law may continue to prohibit such discrimination.

“In today’s narrow ruling against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court acknowledged that LGBTQ people are equal and have a right to live free from the indignity of discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for — and today’s ruling does not change our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws. Yet, the fact remains that LGBTQ people face alarming levels of discrimination all across the country and HRC’s efforts to advance equality are as urgent as ever. With LGBTQ people at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in 31 states, HRC continues to build momentum for the Equality Act, to elect pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot, and to fight in every corner of our country to advance policies that protect LGBTQ people from being targeted for who they are or whom they love.”

This is basically an invitation to flood the court with wedding cake cases I guess. Does this create the inroads that religious bigots truly desire?

Like a good wedding cake, the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision on Monday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commissionhas a little something for everyone. Gay people, who were justifiably terrified that the case could undermine their right to equal service, get a reaffirmation of their “dignity and worth.” Religious-liberty advocates get a continued expansion of the Free Exercise Clause. Anti-gay activists get a victory—a midsize and possibly temporary but still very real win, in a case that few initially expected to even reach the Supreme Court.

Who loses? Everybody who hoped this decision would definitively settle the ostensible clash between LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. In the end, Masterpiece Cakeshop barely resolves anything and doesn’t even touch the free-speech claim at the center of the case. Instead, it punts that question, leaving lower courts (and American society) to continue fighting about how, exactly, Justice Anthony Kennedy should feel about it. A great wedding cake might leave you wanting more, but Masterpiece Cakeshop just leaves you craving something you can actually sink your teeth into.

Like I said, best wishes and good luck to all of you in or entering the marital merge thing! You have me hoping you prove me wrong!!!

Other SCOTUS Decisions

From WAPO: Supreme Court throws out lower-court decision that allowed immigrant teenager to obtain abortion

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a lower court’s decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion over the protests of the Trump administration.

The action, which came in an unsigned opinion without noted dissents, throws out a precedent that might allow other teenagers in the same circumstance to obtain an abortion.

The five-page order directs the lower courts to dismiss as moot the teen’s individual claim seeking access to abortion services. The girl, known in court papers as Jane Doe, was able to terminate her pregnancy before the high court got involved. She has since turned 18 and is no longer in federal custody.

Her lawyer, Brigitte Amiri of the American Civil Liberties Union, described as narrow the Monday ruling that she said does not affect a broader challenge to the government’s policy for pregnant teens in federal immigration custody that is pending in District Court in Washington.

zombie-wedding-cake-topper-6-7674SCOTUS Bound Nonsense

Also from WAPO: “Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself of federal crimes but denies any wrongdoing”

President Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a subsequent tweet Monday, Trump also claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election had been “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

“Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong! Trump said.

Trump’s assessment of his pardon powers echoed that of his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who offered an expansive view of the president’s executive powers during interviews Sunday, arguing that Trump probably has the ability to pardon himself.

“He probably does,” Giuliani said Sunday, when asked on ABC News’s “This Week” whether Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”

So, that’s it for me!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Appearance is everything

FellP20160628_low

 

Abortion Ruling: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Ah, good afternoon!

It has been a while since we took a look at the offerings of political cartoonist, so I thought today would be a good day for that…and in all honesty, there is another reason, things have been moving quickly with my parent’s closing (it is now pushed to the 6th) so there is plenty to do. (But it is a good plenty…)

First I will start with this video from UNICEF, posted on Huffington Post Facebook page,

 

Some of you may have seen this…if you haven’t please take the few minutes to watch it in full.

If you cannot see the embedded video, here is a link to the page:  The Huffington Post

Those fuckers made that little girl cry.

Many of the cartoons today mention the ruling regarding SCOTUS smackdown of Texas Anti-abortion law HB-2. In relation to this, Vox has an article: It could take years for Texas abortion clinics to reopen, even after a Supreme Court victory – Vox

Pro-choice advocates won a huge victory on Monday when the Supreme Court struck down two major anti-abortion laws in Texas inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Those laws, part of an omnibus anti-abortion bill called HB 2, were responsible for closing about half of all abortion clinics in Texas.

Before HB 2 passed in 2013, Texas had 41 open clinics. Today there are 19. If the Court had ruled to uphold the restrictions, that number would have shrunk to nine. So it’s no surprise that lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said she was “beyond elated” by the ruling.

But, Hagstrom Miller said in a recent interview with Vox, a victory at the Supreme Court is really just the beginning for abortion providers in Texas. Not only are other restrictions, like a 20-week abortion ban and limits on medication abortion, still in place in Texas but HB 2 has also done lasting damage to abortion access that could take years to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

It turns out, according to the Vox report…

The closed clinics can’t just reopen overnight, and some might never reopen

Well, I realized that they would not reopen with a snap of the fingers, but that some may never reopen, that just is salt in wounds.

Then there was this, from the NY Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges – The New York Times

From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling — that those provisions in a Texas law do not protect women’s health and place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — will quickly reverberate across the country.

It will prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time was likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.

“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.

Adopting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors that are said to be about protecting women’s health has been one of the anti-abortion movement’s most successful efforts, imposing large expenses on some clinics, forcing others to close and making it harder for women in some regions to obtain abortions. Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who deplored Monday’s ruling, argued that they were requiring clinics to “be held to the same standards as other medical facilities.”

Now, the court has ruled that any such requirements must be based on convincing medical evidence that the rules are solving a real health issue to be weighed by a court, not by ideologically driven legislators — and that the benefits must outweigh the burdens imposed on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Take a look at that article, because it highlights a few states that currently have abortion laws going into effect on July 1st…which could now be seen in a different light since the Monday ruling.

One more link before the cartoons…I just think this is funny: Why Do Monkeys Become More Selective With Friends As They Age, Just Like Humans? : SCIENCE : Tech Times

Scientists from the German Primate Center wanted to know how age affected the behavior of more than 100 Barbary macaques kept in an enclosure in a park in France.

They investigated how the monkeys – whose ages ranged from 4 to 29 years (equivalent to 105 human years) – reacted to physical objects such as novel toys and tubes with food, social interactions such as fighting and grooming “friends” and new social information, such as calls and photos of “friends” and “strangers.”

Researchers discovered that the interest of Barbary macaques in toys wane when they become adults. At around 20 or the retirement age of monkeys, these animals approached fewer monkeys and had less social contact.

What surprised scientists is that this obvious withdrawal was not prompted by a social affinity to avoid old monkeys. Younger ones still groomed and approached their elders.

It also wasn’t because older monkeys were not interested in anything at all. Scientists found that older monkeys still hissed to others during fights and still responded to photos of others.

These older monkeys are still attuned to what is going on around them, but they do not want to participate, says Julia Fischer, one of the researchers of the study.

They hissed? Could this be a monkey’s way of saying, get off my lawn?

The dominant psychological theory that could explain why this behavior happens in humans is that they want to maximize the time they have left with death on the horizon.

Fischer says although monkeys have excellent memories, there is no evidence that they are self-aware about their impending deaths. So if both monkeys and humans act this way as they age, the theory may be rationalizing a natural behavior with biological roots, she says.

Alexandra Freund, Fischer’s co-researcher, says the findings of the study clearly tell us that we are not distinctive in how we grow into old age.

“There might be an evolutionary ‘deep’ root in this pattern,” says Freund.

There is a bit more at the link, along with some other sources and connections to the published study.

And now the funnies…

Starting with Luckovich…06/17 Mike Luckovich: Losing letters. | Mike Luckovich

lk061716_color

 

From June, published around the 17th.

From June, published around the 17th.

 

06/22 Mike Luckovich:Hair today… | Mike Luckovich

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Signe Wilkinson: Abortion Clinic – Truthdig

Clay Bennett: Brexit Lifeboat – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Another Benefit of Brexit – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Brexit Racism – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

From Cagle Cartoons, click to see the toon:

Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

This is a good one: Brexit

Brexit ….a different one, but the same name.

Brexit Washup

Brexit …another one with the same name, but different, and damn good.

Brexit regret

And the rest from the AAEC:

George Will splits from GOP: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - George Will splits from GOP

06/28/2016 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Brexit and Trump: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Cartoon by Steve Greenberg - Brexit and Trump

Undue Burden: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Undue Burden

GOP Sit-In: 06/24/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - GOP Sit-In

Great Britain Great Again: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco

Cartoon by A.F.Branco - Great Britain Great Again

The above cartoon is from a right wing cartoonist btw….so that is not a sarcastic cartoon. It is in fact a glorification. To see more from this cartoonist…cough, cough: AAEC — Political Cartoons by A.F.Branco Because I will not put up a sample of his other shit. (Now, I bet that gives ya the creeps. As it gave me…at least check this one out: Eye To Eye: 06/26/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco)

The Bowtie Rebellion: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The Bowtie Rebellion

SUPREME COURT v TEXAS ABORTION LAWS: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SUPREME COURT v TEXAS ABORTION LAWS

John Lewis sit-in: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - John Lewis sit-in

Brexit: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Brexit

Smoking gun: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Smoking gun

Pulse shooting: 06/15/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Pulse shooting

That is an older cartoon, but I thought it was a good one and should be included.

06/28/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/23/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/13/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

American Community: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - American Community

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/27/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Pat Summitt Tribute: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Pat Summitt Tribute

This is an open thread…


Monday Reads: The Supremes Speak

Good Afternoon!

I’m in an absolute haze from a summer cold that popped up yesterday and sent me directly to bed. I’m trying to write and work right nowows_145558192527968 but it’s not easy at all.  I want to try to discuss a lot of upcoming things that will be important including the SCOTUS decision on the Texas Trap laws regarding abortion and abortion clinics.  These law certainly create an undue burden and they reflect specific religious view rather than medical or biological science.  Here’s a few reads to prepare us all because it’s important for all of us to understand this basic constitutional right.

Abortion opponents regularly talk as though no restriction is off the table when it comes to stripping away reproductive rights. And supporters of abortion rights don’t always set them straight. If we don’t know what our established rights are, we can’t defend them. Pro-choicers need to know why abortion is a constitutional right and what boundaries the U.S. Supreme Court has set out to protect it.

1. Abortion is protected by the rights to bodily integrity and to make decisions about family. The Court explained that decades ago.

The 14th Amendment prohibits states from depriving a person of liberty without due process of law. A person has the right to end a pregnancy without undue interference from the government because that right to liberty includes (1) the right to make decisions about family and (2) the right to bodily integrity.

However, in order to portray abortion rights as illegitimate, conservatives like to argue—inaccurately—that the Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade by inventing a right to privacy that is not grounded in the Constitution’s actual text.

In the pre-Roe contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Court did hold that “penumbras, formed by emanations” or various interpretations of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments protect a right to privacy. But in deciding Roe, the Warren court located the right to privacy in the 14th Amendment’s explicit protection of the right to liberty. Regardless, the Court’s understanding of the rights that protect reproductive freedom expanded beyond just privacy decades ago.

Privacy is barely mentioned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which established the current law governing abortion rights more than 20 years ago. “The controlling word in the cases before us is ‘liberty,’” the decision explained. It was settled law prior to Roe that liberty includes “the right to make family decisions and the right to physical autonomy.”

Privacy is also a constitutional right, and it was indeed violated by the laws at issue in Roe and its companion case,Doe v. Bolton. Those laws required a woman seeking an abortion to share her reasons for wanting the procedure with legal or medical authorities to have any hope of receiving legal abortion care. However, the law and discourse around privacy at the time of Roe implied a woman should be permitted to use contraception or end a pregnancy because the state should not interfere in decisions made in secret with the permission of her doctor, husband, father, pastor, or others. Casey instead properly recognized that the 14th Amendment protects a person’s right to control her body and destiny.

So why has the idea persisted that all we’ve got is a privacy right made up out of thin air? A counterintuitive and less textually based right serves abortion opponents, but abortion rights advocates also have a history of telling us abortion restrictions are primarily a threat to privacy. As William Saletan documented in Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the War on Abortion, in the run-up to Casey, pro-choice leaders emphasized privacy on the advice of pollsters and political consultants to appeal to anti-government, anti-welfare, anti-tax, and anti-integration sentiments. While reproductive rights lawyers argued to the Supreme Court that the Constitution’s protection of autonomy, bodily integrity, and equality protected abortion access, outside of court pro-choice leaders told the public the right at stake was privacy. But, ultimately, the Casey decision provided a much fuller discussion of why abortion is constitutionally protected by rights beyond privacy.

Abortion is protected by the due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment (which restricts the federal government) and the 14th Amendment (which was added to the Constitution to restrict the states). As Casey explained, “It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.” Using the force of law to compel a person to use her body against her will to bring a pregnancy to term is a violation of her physical autonomy and decisional freedom—which the Constitution does not allow.

 

7B2d881c8a-a777-42dc-8c89-37944494cFollow the link to read about the other two basic rights that include:” 2. Any pre-viability ban is unconstitutional. Period.” and “3. Casey‘s “undue burden” standard is a meaningful protection of abortion rights when courts apply it properly.”

There’s no doubt that the Texas Trap Law creates an “undue” burden.  Clinic closures have left the few remaining clinics overwhelmed.

The war on abortion access in Texas has already fundamentally shifted the landscape of women’s lives in the state. Now, the fallout continues: The closure of Planned Parenthood (PP) clinics in the state—which once served as primary sources of reproductive health care for women there—has left the few clinics remaining in west Texas underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed by demand.

According to new research, 60 percent of women receiving a low salary who were of reproductive age accessed health care through PP before the cuts and defunding which took place in 2013. The majority of those patients have since been directed to Texas Tech University and Midland County Health Services (MCHS) after PP’s clinics in west Texas closed—increasing demand at an overwhelming rate for their capacity to provide services.

“There are women [who] need these services but can’t afford them and we see as many as we can,” Michael Austin, director of MCHS, told Women’s Health Policy Report. “But the state program to help these folks along has basically evaporated. So I’m afraid there are probably a lot of folks flying under the radar who need care and aren’t getting it.” Austin pointed to the challenges of seeking funding in a state that has “eliminated or severely messed up” many of their programs which provide reproductive health care to women.

In 2011, the Texas State Assembly passed legislation which blocked funding to women’s health clinics, including Planned Parenthood, and cut the state’s family planning budget by two-thirds. Two years later, the draconian anti-abortion bill known as HB2 was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, putting in place numerous obstacles meant to shutter clinics and restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion. HB2 requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital and clinics are licensed ambulatory centers. It also bans surgical abortion after 20 weeks and medication abortion after seven. (Medication abortion is the most cost- and time-effective abortion procedure.)

HB2’s impact was immediate and drastic. 82 percent of family planning clinics closed. The number of abortion practitioners decreased by over 75 percent. Over half of the clinics performing abortion closed, which in turn drastically increased the time it would take for women to make an appointment to 28 days— essentially rendering the option of medication abortion moot. When it comes to clinics, Texas is in crisis.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the Connecticut law banning assault weapon as well as the challenge to other state laws.  Thisimages (15) leaves the bans in place.

SCOTUS will look at certain key rights of jailed inmates that have illegal immigration status.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will take up a case exploring when immigrants detained solely for immigration violations have the right to be released from jail.

The justices agreed to consider a federal appeals court decision that essentially found detained immigrants were entitled to a bond hearing after six months in custody and every six months thereafter.

The high court’s announcement comes as immigrant rights advocates are awaiting a Supreme Court decision on the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive actions granting quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of immigrants who entered or stayed in the U.S. illegally.

In that case, the Obama administration is aligned with most immigrants rights groups. However, in the case the court said Monday that it would take up, the Obama administration is pressing for fewer rights for detained immigrants. In fact, the administration is asking the justices to overturn the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found immigrants have the right to regular review of their detention.

The newly-accepted case, Jennings v. Rodriguez, could also explore when immigrants accused of ties to terrorism have to be released if authorities are having difficulty deporting them.

9beaac6d2a9b369f60b838f47dbde993SCOTUS blog has some basic information on the remaining cases in the docket.  Here’s a few of the remaining 13.

Between tomorrow morning, when the Justices will take the bench at ten o’clock, and the end of June, the Court is expected to issue thirteen rulings in cases involving everything from tribal-court jurisdiction to abortion, immigration, and the scope of federal laws prohibiting political corruption.  Here are summaries of each pending case:

Dollar General Stores v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (argued December 7, 2015).  This case stems from accusations by a thirteen-year-old member of the tribe that a manager at a Dollar General store within the tribe’s reservation had sexually molested him while the boy was interning at the store.  The child and his parents filed a lawsuit against the manager and the store in tribal court, arguing that the store was liable for the manager’s conduct.  The issue before the Court is whether the tribal court has jurisdiction over tort claims against defendants, like Dollar General, who are not members of the tribe.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (argued December 9, 2015).  This case, a challenge to the university’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process, is on its second trip to the Court.  In 2013, the Court sent the case back to the lower courts for a more critical look at whether the university really needed to consider race to achieve a diverse student body.  After the Fifth Circuit once again upheld the policy, the Court agreed to weigh in.  Unlike some of the Court’s other high-profile cases this Term, no one expects the Court to deadlock:  Justice Elena Kagan is not participating, which in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death leaves the Court with just seven Justices to decide the case.

Utah v. Strieff (argued February 22, 2016).  When a police officer stops a pedestrian in violation of the law, asks him for identification, discovers that there is a traffic warrant for his arrest, arrests him, and in the process of searching him discovers drug paraphernalia and methamphetamines, can the evidence found in the search of the pedestrian be used against him?  Edward Strieff argues that it cannot:  because the police officer’s stop was illegal, then anything obtained as a result of the stop is also tainted.  The state, on the other hand, contends that the evidence should be admitted because it resulted from the lawful warrant for his arrest, rather than the illegal stop.

Taylor v. United States (argued February 23, 2016).  The petitioner in this case, David Taylor, was part of a Virginia gang that robbed drug dealers.  The two robberies that led to this case, however, did not yield any drugs – only cellphones, jewelry, and a small amount of money.  Taylor was indicted on federal charges that he had violated the Hobbs Act, which punishes robberies and extortion but applies only when the defendant “obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce.”  The question before the Court is whether the federal government is required to prove facts to show that the defendant’s conduct actually affects commerce.

Voisine v. United States (argued February 29, 2016).  Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, the other petitioner in this case, both pleaded guilty in state court to misdemeanor assaults on their respective domestic partners. Several years later, each man was charged with violating a federal law that prohibits the possession of firearms and ammunition by individuals who have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  Voisine and Armstrong contend their state convictions do not automatically qualify as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence because the state-law provisions can be violated by conduct that is merely reckless, rather than intentional.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (argued March 2, 2016).  This is a challenge to the constitutionality of two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortion in that state.  One provision requires doctors who perform abortions to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital; the other requires abortion clinics to have facilities that are comparable to outpatient surgical centers.  Texas contends that these new laws are constitutional because they were intended to protect women’s health, while the challengers argue that the law was actually intended to close most clinics and therefore limit women’s access to abortions.

RJR Nabisco v. The European Community (argued March 21, 2016).  The issue in this case is whether and to what extent the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a 1970 law that was originally enacted to target organized crime, applies outside the United States.  The European Community filed a lawsuit in the United States, seeking to hold RJR liable for what it says is the company’s role in an international money-laundering plot that harmed European countries.  RJR counters that nothing in the law suggests that Congress intended it to apply to a situation like this.  Justice Samuel Alito is almost certainly writing the Court’s opinion in this case, because he is the only Justice who has not yet written for the Court’s March sitting; based on the oral argument, that could bode well for RJR.

United States v. Texas (argued April 18, 2016).  This case is a challenge to an Obama administration policy, announced in November 2014, that would allow some undocumented immigrants to apply to stay in the country and work legally for three years.  Before the policy could go into effect, Texas and a large group of other states went to court to block its implementation, arguing that the administration lacks the authority to issue a policy like this.  But before the Supreme Court can weigh in on that question, it will also have to agree that the states have the legal right, known as “standing,” to challenge the policy at all; the lower courts ruled that they did, because at least Texas would incur additional costs from the undocumented immigrants who would become eligible for driver’s licenses if the policy goes into effect.

Birchfield v. North Dakota (argued April 20, 2016).  Twelve states and the National Park Service impose criminal penalties on suspected drunk drivers who refuse to submit to testing to measure their blood-alcohol levels.  The question before the Court is whether those penalties violate the Fourth Amendment, which only allows police to “search” someone if they have a warrant or one of a handful of exceptions to the warrant requirement applies.  Three drivers from North Dakota and Minnesota argue that neither of those conditions is met, and so the laws must fall.

Encino Motorcars v. Navarro (argued April 20, 2016).  This case requires the Court to weigh in on the interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which generally requires employers to pay overtime to employees who work for more than forty hours in a week but also contains a variety of exceptions – including for a salesman whose primary job is selling or servicing cars.  The respondents in this case are service advisors at a car dealership, who argue that they are not included in the exemption and are therefore entitled to overtime.

You can check out the rest on the link to SCOTUS blog. So, there’s a lot of interesting things coming down the pipe.  We’ll definitely be  following a lot of them.

There’s one piece of SCOTUS gossip that you might be interested in today. Check out this lede by David Badash:  “DC Insider Report SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Thinking of Retiring Throws Twitter Into Frenzy.”

The Washington Examiner Sunday afternoon posted a piece by DC insider columnist Paul Bedard that claims uber-conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “is mulling retirement after the presidential election, according to court watchers.” Those “court watchers” of course are unnamed, so the actual source of the claim is unknown.

It could be true, it could be false, but the implications of course are tremendous. Assuming Republicans in the Senate successfully keeps their vow to not confirm any SCOTUS justice nominated by President Obama, and wait until the next president takes office, this would mean the next president would automatically nominate not one but two justices to the nation’s top court, controlling its destiny for decades.

So naturally, Clarence Thomas began trending on Twitter.

Follow the link for the Twitter Frenzy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

h/t to Delphyne