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Dahlia Lithwick: Is John Roberts Moving to the Left?

Is John Roberts Moving to the Left?
Or is he just playing the long game?
By Dahlia Lithwick
July 06, 2020
3:45 PM

On the most recent episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick welcomed the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin and NYU School of Law professor Melissa Murray to discuss last week’s big abortion decision, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, in which Chief Justice John Roberts chose to strike down Louisiana’s restrictive abortion law. Murray and Toobin debate what this means for Roberts’ jurisprudence and whether he’s moving to the left. Read a portion of their conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, below.

Dahlia Lithwick: In June Medical, Roberts was not willing to make a judgment about whether Louisiana’s abortion law was pretextual. His problem with Louisiana was hutzpah—that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Louisiana were overturning 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health and that’s not appropriate, right?

Jeffrey Toobin: John Roberts could have voted either way. When they took June Medical, why would you take the exact same case four years later, other than to reverse it? That was my thinking. So I was surprised by the outcome. John Roberts, for the first time in his 15 years on the Supreme Court, said, State, you can’t do this to stop women from having abortions. And that, to me was, mind-blowing. I think of John Roberts as a dedicated pro-life justice, and he didn’t vote in the pro-life position. If he wanted to approve regulations on abortion, he could have voted to affirm the 5th Circuit. And he didn’t. And that to me was bigger than the terms he used in his opinion.

You’re right that you can’t separate this from his defection on DACA and his defection on Title VII. It’s clear that this is not the chief justice that we saw even this time last year.

Toobin: All of us who cover the court are always asked, Well, what do they really think? And what’s going on? And the honest answer is, Who the hell knows? I don’t know. I have no access to John Roberts’ inner most life. But here you have three enormously consequential cases. Oftentimes we talk about these cases in abstractions. These three cases have a huge impact on people’s lives. It is now illegal in the entire United States to fire gay people just because they’re gay. That’s wasn’t true a month ago. Seven hundred thousand Dreamers, if that case went the other way, would have been subject to deportation today, and they’re not. And now Louisiana will have seven abortion clinics instead of one if that case had gone the other way. That’s just enormous. And John Roberts voted with the liberals on all of them. As I say, I can’t explain what’s going on in his head, but that’s not the John Roberts who wrote Shelby County, killing the Voting Rights Act. Something is happening in his jurisprudence. I don’t think he’s becoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but he does not appear to be the same John Roberts he was two, five, 10 years ago.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 05:16 PM (16 replies)

ICE Tells Foreign Students to Leave the Country if Their Schools Are Going Online-Only


1 hour ago
ICE Tells Foreign Students to Leave the Country if Their Schools Are Going Online-Only
Unless they can find a way to transfer to a new school before the fall.
Noah Lanard

The Trump administration is giving a draconian choice to foreign students at schools that plan to offer only online courses this fall: Quickly transfer to a school with in-person classes or leave the country.

The new policy announced on Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes as colleges debate how to safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools are resuming in-person courses; others are adopting hybrid models that combine in-person and online courses; and some are going fully online.

With classes set to begin in September, it’s not clear how students would be able to transfer to a new university in time to stay in the United States. That may be the point.

After failing to get Congress to cut legal immigration, the White House has succeeded in using the pandemic as an excuse to shut off nearly all ways for people to come to the United States. Now it’s extending that crackdown to some students who are already in the country.

Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 04:55 PM (7 replies)

Surprise: Trump's "Drain the Swamp" Promise Was a Load of Hot Garbage

Trump Administration
Surprise: Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” Promise Was a Load of Hot Garbage
Two new reports find that Trump-connected lobbyists are thriving under his administration.
By Charlotte Klein
July 6, 2020

Lobbyists who have thrived under Donald Trump’s administration continue to do so in the throes of a pandemic, according to a new report from watchdog group Public Citizen. At least 40 lobbyists with ties to Trump—through his campaign, his inaugural committee, his transition team, or his administration—have either lobbied or registered to lobby on COVID-related issues, helping clients secure more than $10.5 billion in federal coronavirus aid in total. “The crisis offered an especially lucrative opportunity for those lobbyists who enjoy close ties to President Donald Trump and his administration—and they seized it,” noted Mike Tanglis and Taylor Lincoln, who wrote the report.

Ironically, Trump himself issued an executive order early-on in his administration that theoretically prevents former administration officials from lobbying the agency or office where they worked for a period of five years. It’s also supposed to prohibit political appointees from lobbying the administration while Trump is in office—all part of his “drain the swamp” campaign promise. Shockingly, that’s not quite how things have played out. Per the AP, at least five former members of the Trump administration are potentially in violation of the rule, including the wife of ex-White House counsel Don McGahn:

Shannon McGahn...worked in 2017 and 2018 as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. She then joined the National Association of Realtors as its top lobbyist and is listed on disclosures as part of a team that has lobbied both houses of Congress, plus six agencies, including the Treasury Department. The Realtors association did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump-connected lobbyists are reportedly popular in helping businesses win the designation of “essential” or “critical,” a title that “can allow businesses to continue operating despite the pandemic and may give them some defense against lawsuits for unreasonably endangering workers or the public,” per the AP. LaundryLux, a supplier of commercial laundry machines, looked to lobbyist Brian Ballard in March, after the Department of Homeland Security did not include laundry services as an essential business to operate during the coronavirus crisis. Eight days after his firm, Ballard Partners, was hired, the DHS issued follow-up guidance deeming laundry services essential. Ballard was part of Trump’s presidential transition and is the finance chair for the Republican National Committee; he has reportedly bundled more than $1 million for Trump’s fundraising committees.

Lobbyists thriving under the Trump administration want to keep it that way, which is why they’re invested in getting Trump reelected. The New York Times reported that at least eight lobbyists and operatives with ties to lobbying firms are assisting Trump’s campaign “in various paid and unpaid capacities, like fund-raising and strategy.” According to congressional and Justice Department filings analyzed by the Times, “those eight have been paid a total of nearly $120 million through their firms to influence the United States government from the beginning of 2017, as Mr. Trump prepared to take office, to the end of March.” Ballard, along with Texas operative Jeff Miller, are two of the top three earners of the group—neither had lobbied at the federal level until Trump’s election, and, according to Public Citizen, Ballard Partners now has the most clients of all federal lobbying firms.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 04:50 PM (1 replies)

Calls for GOP Governors to resign for their handling of Covid-19


Calls for GOP Governors to resign for their handling of Covid-19
Matthew Silvan 41 mins ago 3 min read


One Texas doctor reports that young patients are dying, and hospital beds are quickly running out.
Abbott’s failure to listen to health experts cost lives in Texas, and #AbbottResign trended on Twitter. However, in Ector County, Republican leaders met to censure the Governor on the 4th of July. They claim the Governor used constitutional overreach in his executive orders by enforcing mask-wearing.

So, Gov. Abbott is facing calls to resign both for enforcing mask-wearing and for failing to act.

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey, also Republican, reopened businesses in early May. Now, the state of 7 million people is reporting around as many new cases each day as the whole European Union, with some 446 million people.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the total coronavirus cases are over 200K as the Sunshine State added 40K new cases in four days. Once again, a Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, rushed to reopen the state.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a Trump fanboy who dragged his feet after receiving warnings to issue a stay-at-home order and then rushed to reopen despite advice from health experts, blames the media and protesters for the frightful increase in cases. The responsibility is his. As of now, DeSantis has not canceled his invitation for Trump’s Republican convention in Jacksonville. (Cases are soaring in Duval County, as they are around the state.),” writes Rubin.

Rubin calls for the resignation of these Republican governors whose “recklessness and incompetence” imperils all Americans. Of course, they are following Trump’s lead in rejecting science. (and common sense)

Today, Trump continues to blame the numbers of cases on testing, throwing in his usual racist rhetoric for his base. If anybody should resign first, it’s Trump for endangering Americans in more ways than one.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 01:34 PM (5 replies)

Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels dies at 83


Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels dies at 83
Dave Paulson
Matthew Leimkuehler
Nashville Tennessean

Charlie Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame best known for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," died Monday morning after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83.

Daniels' death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels Jr.

By the time the Charlie Daniels Band topped the charts with “Devil” in 1979, the instrumentalist, singer and songwriter had long established a remarkable, multifaceted career in Music City. As a session musician, he played on three of Bob Dylan’s albums — including the revolutionary “Nashville Skyline” — as well as recordings for Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen.

In 1974, he launched the first “Volunteer Jam,” a regun all-star concert that has continued for nearly 50 years. Daniels joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

This is a developing story.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 01:10 PM (24 replies)

Speaking of Protecting Our History

Truly appalling.


Speaking of Protecting Our History
July 6, 2020 at 11:15 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Philip Rucker: “With Trump’s newfound determination to preserve and celebrate history, I can’t help but recall his 2017 visit to the USS Arizona Memorial. The president had to ask John Kelly what happened at Pearl Harbor and its significance, as Carol Leonnig and I report in A Very Stable Genius.”
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 11:46 AM (2 replies)

'Is the Statue Shit Going to Work?'


‘Is the Statue Shit Going to Work?’
July 6, 2020 at 11:30 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Two individuals close to the president told the Daily Beast last week that they believe devoting so much time and energy to defending lifeless statues—a kick that started with sticking up for ones honoring racist dead Confederates—will likely fail to help rejuvenate his sagging 2020 campaign and close the wide polling deficits that former Vice President Biden has opened up.”

“Both sources independently said they intended to gently implore Trump to take a different approach. One of the sources said they had already told Trump in recent days that making statue fetishization a cornerstone of the re-election pitch amounted to a ‘distraction’ that wouldn’t help move the necessary votes into the president’s column by the election in November.”

Said one: “The question now is: Is the statue shit going to work?”
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 11:43 AM (6 replies)

Trump identifies a new enemy: Americans he doesn't like

Trump identifies a new enemy: Americans he doesn't like
Over the holiday weekend, Trump largely ignored the pandemic and instead sought to exploit national divisions to boost his struggling candidacy.
July 6, 2020, 8:00 AM EDT
By Steve Benen


As the New York Times put it, Trump used the 4th of July weekend "to mount a full-on culture war against a straw-man version of the left that he portrayed as inciting mayhem and moving the country toward totalitarianism."

That assessment wasn't hyperbolic in the slightest. "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children," the president declared. "Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities."

Far from trying to unify the country or honor American traditions, Trump told his followers, "In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.... Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution."

As part of the same tirade, Trump added, "One of their political weapons is 'Cancel Culture' -- driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism."

Happy Independence Day, one and all. What used to be a non-partisan day of celebration has become the latest arrow in Trump's quiver.

The broader political context was far from subtle: against a backdrop of a public-health crisis he has no idea how to address, the president largely ignored the deadly pandemic ravaging his own country and instead sought to exploit national divisions to boost his struggling candidacy.



Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 6, 2020, 11:41 AM (12 replies)

Fox & Friends Promotes Kanye West's Presidential Bid: 'The Unifying Force We've All Been Waiting For

7/05/20 11:08am

Fox & Friends Promotes Kanye West's Presidential Bid: 'The Unifying Force We’ve All Been Waiting For'
The hosts of "Fox & Friends" argued on Sunday that Kanye West could unite the country by running for president in 2020.
By David

The hosts of Fox & Friends argued on Sunday that Kanye West could unite the country by running for president in 2020.

During a segment on the Fox News morning show, host Jedidiah Bila noted that West had recently hinted on Twitter that he may be a candidate in 2020.

"I think that expectation of unity can exist somewhere and should exist somewhere, but you also have to expect that you're not going to agree on this stuff," Bila explained. "So it's very, very challenging to find unity."

"Now, one person who has been talked about a lot about potentially being able to bring some unity is Kanye West," she continued. "That's right. Kanye West might be running for president."

"Could Kanye be the unifying force that we have all be waiting for?" Bila wondered.

"That is the question that I woke up, of course, thinking this morning," co-host Todd Piro replied. "Who knows what this means for the upcoming election."


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 5, 2020, 04:30 PM (40 replies)

'We've got to do something': Republican rebels come together to take on Trump

'We've got to do something': Republican rebels come together to take on Trump
A slew of organized Republican groups have sprung up to do all they can to defeat Trump in November. Will their effort work?
Daniel Strauss in Washington
Published on Sun 5 Jul 2020 05.00 EDT


The latest prominent Republican anti-Trump organization made its debut in early July. It’s a Super Pac called 43 Alumni for Biden, and aims to rally alumni of George W Bush’s administration to support the Democrat.

The new Super Pac was co-founded by Kristopher Purcell, a former Bush administration official; John Farner, who worked in the commerce department during the Bush administration; and Karen Kirksey, another longtime Republican operative. Kirksey is the Super Pac’s director.

“We’re truly a grassroots organization. Our goal is to do whatever we can to elect Joe Biden as president,” said Farner.

The Super Pac is still in its early stages and isn’t setting expectations on raising something like $20m. Rather, 43 Alumni for Biden is just focused on organizing.

“After seeing three and a half years of chaos and incompetence and division, a lot of people have just been pushed to say, ‘We have got to do something else,” Purcell said. “We may not be fully on board with the Democratic agenda, but this is a one-issue election. ‘Are you for Donald Trump, or are you for America.’”


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 5, 2020, 10:18 AM (35 replies)
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