Clarence Thomas, The Most Corrupt Justice in Our History Needs To Be Forced to Resign

It seems impossible for 24 hours to pass without another major revelation expanding the overwhelming scope of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ corruption. In the latest news, The Washington Post reports that conservative activist Leonard Leo funneled “tens of thousands” to Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. And to make it clear that everyone involved knew this was sketchy as hell, Leonard instructed that the money be billed through a company with “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the rally in Washington, demanding that Congress overturn the election. She then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. Thomas amended her post two days later with the addendum: “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol].”

By that point, five people involved in the insurrection, including a Capitol Police officer, had died. Subscribe to the Slatest newsletter A daily email update of the stories you need to read right now.

Thomas, a conservative lobbyist and zealous supporter of Donald Trump, has fervently defended the president over the last four years. On her Facebook page, she frequently promotes baseless conspiracy theories about a “coup” against Trump led by Jewish philanthropist George Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic hate.

Thomas draws many of these theories from fringe corners of the internet, including an anti-vax Facebook group that claimed Bill Gates would use the COVID-19 vaccine to kill people. In recent months, she also amplified unsubstantiated corruption claims against Joe Biden while insisting, falsely, that the Obama administration illegally spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign, then tried to rig the election against him. In turn, Trump has rewarded Thomas with extraordinary access to the Oval Office. Her advocacy group, Groundswell, got an audience with the president in early 2019. According to the New York Times, the meeting was arranged after Clarence and Ginni Thomas had dinner with the Trumps.

Clarence Thomas and Trump appear to be quite friendly: The justice took his clerks to meet with the president in the Oval Office at least once; Ginni attended as well.) At the White House, Groundswell’s members lobbied Trump against transgender service in the military, which he already prohibited in 2017.

Around Groundswell’s meeting, the ban took effect in 2019 after the Supreme Court lifted lower court orders blocking it by a 5–4 vote. (Clarence Thomas did not recuse himself from the case; he has never recused from any case because of his wife’s lobbying activities.) The New York Times also reported that Ginni Thomas compiled lists of federal employees she deemed insufficiently loyal to the president. She sent her lists to Trump, urging him to fire the disloyal employees, though he seemingly ignored her. He has, however, stacked his administration with former Thomas clerks.

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Thomas remained active on Facebook, condemning Black Lives Matter, opposing COVID-19 shutdowns, and touting the “Walk Away” movement, which purports to spotlight Democrats who became Republicans under Trump. (At least two individuals featured in the “Walk Away” series, both Black, were models from royalty-free stock photos.)

She also campaigned for Trump in person—and, according to the Intercept, spearheaded a dark-money operation to support the president. Cleta Mitchell, the Republican lawyer who participated in Trump’s shakedown of the Georgia secretary of state, led the project.

After Nov. 3, Thomas grew uncharacteristically quiet on Facebook; she did not share popular conspiracy theories about election fraud, perhaps because election challenges would inevitably come before her husband. She provided her clearest statement on Jan. 6, when she enthusiastically endorsed the D.C. rally designed to make Congress overturn the election result and give Trump a second term. There is no evidence that Thomas personally attended the rally, and her posts indicate that she watched the events on TV from another location.

Federal law requires justices to recuse themselves from any proceeding in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” It also compels justices to recuse if their spouse has “an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome” of the case. In the coming months and years, Democrats will likely pressure Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from high-profile cases or to resign altogether. If Thomas steps down under Biden, progressives can restore a 5–4 divide on the Supreme Court, giving Chief Justice John Roberts control once again.

Given Thomas’ staunch refusal to recuse thus far, though, there is little chance that he will take any steps to remediate his conflicts of interest, let alone retire during the presidency of a man he openly despises. In all likelihood, Ginni Thomas will face no consequences for cheerleading a rally that sought to overturn an election, then laid siege to the Capitol in a failed insurrection. Her husband will ignore the controversy and continue to rule on cases that involve his wife’s lobbying efforts. We may never know how much influence a conspiracy theorist has on the highest court’s most conservative justice.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it well: “Each day that passes, the Supreme Court looks less like a bench and more like an auction house. Thomas should resign immediately…”

Leonard is a former vice president of the Federalist Society and connected to a network of “nonprofits” whose task was to get more conservative judges in place. One of those groups, the Judicial Education Project, had an upcoming case before the Supreme Court. Leonard went to Kellyanne Conway, then a Republican pollster, and had her bill the Judicial Education Project $25,000 for “constitution polling and opinion consulting,” which seems not to have been done. The money was then sent to Liberty Consulting, a company owned by Ginni Thomas.

A few months after the Judicial Education Project sent money to Ginni Thomas via Conway, they were in court in a case called Shelby County v. Holder, supporting an effort to strike down a portion of the Voting Rights Act. That portion of the VRA was eliminated in a 5-4 vote, with Thomas providing the deciding vote that put Judicial Education Project on the winning side.

Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose a 2014 real estate deal with a GOP megadonor. The deal involved the sale of three properties in Savannah, Georgia, owned by Thomas and his relatives to  Harlan Crow, according to ProPublica.  The tax and property records showed that Crow purchased through one of his companies for $133,363.

But Thomas “never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties,” and his failure to report it violates the law.“The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice,” ProPublica said in its report.

There is no doubt that the sale of personal real estate to Crow should have been reported on the justice’s financial disclosure form for 2014, and there is no excuse for failing to do so. The law requires government officials to include in their annual reports “a brief description, the date, and category of value of any purchase, sale or exchange during the preceding calendar year which exceeds $1,000,” including “in real property.”

The only exception is “property used solely as a personal residence of the reporting individual or the individual’s spouse.” Given this was reportedly Thomas’s mother’s house, that wouldn’t apply. The most logical explanation for Thomas not to disclose this transaction is that he wanted to keep it from public view.

Thomas’s relationship with Crow and the accuracy of his financial disclosure reports must now be fully scrutinized by the Judicial Conference of the United States, which oversees the federal judiciary and may refer the matter to the Justice Department for additional action. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. surely understands, this is a problem for Thomas and the court and its public legitimacy.

The Washington Post recently reported a particularly flagrant case wherein a conservative judicial activist named Leonard Leo covertly paid Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a minimum of $25,000 in 2012. Leo went to great lengths to ensure that the transaction remained concealed, as evidenced by his statement: “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

Thursday’s report comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation published last week by ProPublica that detailed Thomas and his wife’s luxury travel with the Crows, which included trips on the donor’s yacht and private jet.  Thomas is subject to criminal prosecution, and letting him resign would be a good deal for the nation and him.

Thursday’s report comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation published last week by ProPublica that detailed Thomas and his wife’s luxury travel with the Crows, which included trips on the donor’s yacht and private jet. The justice also did not disclose that travel, and he later defended the decision not to, saying in a rare statement last week that he was advised at the time that he did not have to report it.

Crow told CNN that he purchased the properties to “one day create a public museum at the Thomas home dedicated to telling the story of our nation’s second black Supreme Court Justice.”

hough two of the properties were later sold by Crow, according to his statement, the real estate magnate still owns the property on which Thomas’ elderly mother lives. Citing county tax records, ProPublica said one of Crow’s companies pays the “roughly $1,500 in annual property taxes on Thomas’ mother’s house,” which had previously been paid by the justice and his wife, Ginni.

Experts told ProPublica that Thomas’ failure to disclose the 2014 deal raises more questions about his relationship with Crow.

“He needed to report his interest in the sale,” Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who now works for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told the outlet. “Given the role Crow has played in subsidizing the lifestyle of Thomas and his wife, you have to wonder if this was an effort to put cash in their pockets.”

Clarence and Ginni Thomas have disgraced the court and the country. Ginni Thomas could be prosecuted for her actions leading up to January 6.  She has sought to overthrow the government that has given her the stature to make malicious mischief. She has agreed to appear before the January 6 committee. She sent messages to more than two dozen lawmakers in Arizona, arguing, without evidence, that there had been widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

She says does not believe in the results of more than 60 court cases, or more than 60 judges looking at the 2020 election lawsuits.  It is incredible that she can contend with this. None of the claims were true, and she rejects all of them. That it’s irrational is not a strong enough word for it. I just keep coming back to demented. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Washington Post has revealed that she has received $600,000 over the last three years from anonymous donors who funneled the money through something called  Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty.  In so doing she was able to hide both the money and its sources.

How about trading Thomas’s resignation from the Court in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute his wife?

What’s at stake goes beyond Roe v Wade. Conservatives have been laying the groundwork for decades to reduce the power of federal agencies like OSHA, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Since Congress is not equipped to implement the laws it passes, a civil service does this in a regulated democracy. If conservatives are able to overturn the 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in which the justices said courts should defer to the expert judgment of regulators when interpreting statutes whenever the wording or meaning of those statutes are ambiguous. Such an outcome would put the regulatory power of agencies subject to being thwarted in the courts.

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What kinds of proposals might they consider?

Expanding the court as Franklin Roosevelt attempted to do.  While the Constitution does not provide for the number of justices, the number of justices has changed starting with six, then five, then seven, then nine, then ten, then nine. Nine has been the number since 1869.FDR’s actual proposal would have allowed him to appoint a new judge in all federal courts for every judge older than 70. Branded as “court-packing, the measure died. Expanding the Court would not only restore balance but provide an opportunity to build a Court that is representative of the multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural nation that it serves.

  • Reducing the power of the federal judiciary is over certain kinds of cases such as gun control and labor regulations. This suffers by eliminating checks and balances on the restricted law.
  • Term-limiting justices to 18 or 20-year terms is an undesirable possibility, When the Constitution was adopted, life tenure didn’t anticipate people living much beyond age 65. To do this would require a Constitutional Amendment which takes approval from both the House and the Senate, as well as ratification by at least 38 states.
  • Term limits, however, spaced and staggered, will make the court appear more, not less, political in the eyes of the public. Confirmation battles will become more numerous and subject the court to the suspicion that attaches to courts around the world that have term limits or retirement ages. The change would leave the court shorthanded too often if confirmation delays set in. That risks leaving the court with an even number of eight members, hardly an ideal composition for any institution predicated on majority rule.
  • Requiring a supermajority of six or seven justices (rather than the current five) to declare a federal statute unconstitutional. This might get the support of both parties.

Each of these concepts needs to be measured against their feasibility of being adopted and their long-term impact.

Clarence Thomas, the hardline conservative supreme court justice, is again facing calls for his recusal in the case over race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Again, this is because of his wife’s political activity.

A one-person conservative powerhouse, she set up her own lobbying company Liberty Consulting in 2010. By her own description, she has “battled for conservative principles in Washington” for over 35 years. The conflict in the current case is because Ginni Thomas sits on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars. This group has intervened in this affirmative action case and this presents an appearance of a conflict of interest.

It has been established that Ginni Thomas met and advised Trump on who was loyal to him and who was not and who she believed to be part of the “Deep State.”. The New York Times and Axios have previously reported that Thomas would pass hiring and firing recommendations, compiled by her conservative organization Groundswell.

Trump reportedly went into rages upon being told who was disloyal. The meetings often resulted in Trump demanding that the alleged disloyalists be fired “immediately,” according to the Daily Beast.

The case, which is being brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, is the latest potential conflict of interest involving Thomas and his wife Virginia Thomas. Ginni, as she is known, is a prominent right-wing activist who speaks out on a raft of issues that frequently come before the nation’s highest court.

In an email on Nov. 9, just days after media organizations called the race in Arizona and nationally for Biden, Thomas sent identical emails to 27 lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate urging them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure”  as reported by the Washington Post. She corresponded with John Eastman and Mark Meadows.

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law.

The Washington Post reported this year that Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers, some of them twice, in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors, despite the fact that the responsibility for choosing electors rests with voters under Arizona state law.
Newly discovered emails show that Thomas also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen. Bernier and Tauchen received the email at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 9, virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas.
The Bernier email was obtained by The Washington Post, and the Tauchen email was obtained by the watchdog group, Documented, and provided to The Post.  Thomas sent all of the emails via FreeRoots, an online platform that allowed people to send pre-written emails to multiple elected officials.

John Eastman, the former clerk to Clarence Thomas,  allegedly spent weeks pressuring Pence’s top aides, to get the vice president to agree to do one of two things:

  1. Reject electoral votes in swing states Joe Biden won and just simply call the election for his boss, Trump.
  2. Reject electoral votes in swing states Biden won, send them back to the state legislatures to decide, and pressure Republicans in those states to say Trump won, rather than Biden.   Eastman was advised by Eric Herschmann, another Trump attorney to get himself a criminal defense attorney.

The potential appearance of a conflict of interest over the Harvard case was noted in a recent investigation by the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer that takes a deep dive into the overlapping interests of the couple. The article chronicles in devastating detail the many instances where Ginni’s political activism appears to present problems for the image and integrity of the court.

“Ginni Thomas has held so many leadership or advisory positions at conservative pressure groups that it’s hard to keep track of them,” Mayer concluded. “Many, if not all, of these groups have been involved in cases that have come before her husband.”

An even more troubling recent occurrence came about when Ginni Thomas lent her voice to Trump’s big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.  Virginia Thomas sent at least 29 messages to the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressing him to use his influences to overturn the 2020 election.  She described the loss to President Biden as an “obvious fraud” and “the greatest heist of our history.”Paradoxically, Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.

Virginia Thomas has publicly acknowledged that she participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse that preceded the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

On the morning of January 6 itself, Mark Joseph Stern of Slate reported, Thomas, posted on her Facebook page words of encouragement for the “Stop the Steal” marchers in Washington. “Watch MAGA crowd today best with Right Side Broadcasting .. and then C-Span for what the Congress does starting at 1:00 pm today. LOVE MAGA people!!!!!” “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

Shortly thereafter the post was removed after the deaths of five people and more than 100 police officers injured.

Soon after the insurrection, Thomas was forced to apologize to her husband’s former supreme court law clerks for comments she made privately to them that appeared to lament Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. The remarks were sent to a private email list called “Thomas Clerk World”.

Ginni Thomas attended an extremist “Stop the Steal” Rally meeting in Orlando, Florida on March 6, 2021, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy, and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings,  and interviews with several people involved in the group.

One photograph from the Orlando event shows pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant Bryant posing with Thomas. Others show Thomas wearing a name tag decorated with a yellow ribbon she and others wore saying “Trouble Maker.”

Thomas’s influence has grown in the new six-justice conservative supermajority. He’s being called the unofficial chief justice of the court.

Is Mrs. Thomas no less responsible for helping to trigger the incitement? We may find out as she is being subpoenaed as a witness before the January 6 committee.

The Thomas’s have been skirting ethical boundaries for years. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.

Prior to the election and just after the Vindman termination, the Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas was working with and on behalf of the White House on the great “purge” while Trump was president.

Clarence Thomas was the only justice to say Trump could keep his records from Congress. He has acted as a minority of one in cases in which his wife is deeply involved. This is unethical on the face of it and any judge in the federal system would be disciplined for a breach of ethics like this. However, Supreme Court Justices decide for themselves whether they have a conflict of interest.

Virginia Thomas originated Liberty Central, whose purpose is to restore the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty.

The pressure should build to force  Thomas’s resignation. At age 72, he has been on the court as the longest-serving justice. After Court 30 years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas assured his law clerks, “I ain’t evolving.”  We live in a time of unprecedented change and Justice Thomas sits like a stone in the middle of the road.

With the unfolding cases unfolding in the criminal court against Trump and his operatives and with the prosecution of Trump officials increasingly certain,  now is an opportune time to call for the resignations of Thomas and Kavanaugh from the Court.  This is an opportune time to release the FBI records on Kavanaugh that were suppressed by the Trump administration.

We already see Trump’s handpicked trio of justices being accused of blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. Their ascension to the Supreme Court was enabled by a web of right-wing dark money.

Republican operatives have developed a robust network of conservative and Catholic-affiliated nonprofits, charities, and funds large out of public view  For more than a decade, this network has been leveraged to propel conservative judicial nominees. While most Americans wouldn’t recognize these operators, they have been the overseers of massive amounts of money that have gone into federal judicial races. They don’t have social media accounts and don’t give public speeches. They do all they can to operate in the shadows, out of public view.

What we do know is this began with the now-defunct Wellspring Committee, a 501(c)(4) organization that took in perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed donors for more than a decade. Charles and David Koch gave the first $10 million seedling donation from attendees at a Koch donor seminar.

Wellspring could pass itself off in those terms thanks to U.S. tax law, which a decade ago mandated that organizations of that type could devote no more than 49 percent of their expenditures to political activity. What distinguishes “political activity” from “social welfare” continues to be an open question, however. This loophole potentially gave Wellspring free rein to donate unlimited amounts of money to other social welfare groups, even if those groups had explicit political goals and in the process have taken control of the Supreme Court.
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

Biden appointed a commission to study possible court reform. Possible recommendations may include adding four new justices to the Supreme Court, term limits for justices, and finding a bipartisan selection process, among others. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign after news that his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas,  made numerous emails to with conservative lawyer John Eastman, who was central in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.  Thomas by participating in a  decision involving his wife’s misconduct is complicit.

Now it’s time to improve the Supreme Court. It’s time for Clarence Thomas to be pressured into resigning or move to impeach him.  Any other judge in the federal judiciary would be impeached for such conduct.

McConnell when asked if a Republican Senate would confirm a Biden nominee in 2024. “It’s highly unlikely.” So McConnell is planning on pulling the same stunt if a vacancy arose in 2023, with, say, 18 months left in Biden’s term.  When asked whether a Biden nominee — a “normal mainstream liberal”— “get a fair shot at a hearing. Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens.” Bipartisan votes on Supreme Court nominees are ancient history. That Senate is no more.  It doesn’t work with McConnell.

Ending the filibuster and court reform is the only answer and it may take one or two more Congresses to get this done. In the meantime, the Court loses credibility. Justice is the loser.

The Supreme Court dealt more blows to the Voting Rights Act on Thursday, ruling in favor of Republicans that Arizona can maintain restrictions that critics say discriminate against nonwhite voters. Justice Kagan in her dissent said, “State after State has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting” in recent months, saying the U.S. is “at a perilous moment for the Nation’s commitment to equal citizenship.”

“The law that confronted one of this country’s most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy; and now stands as the crucial tool to achieve that goal,” she wrote. “That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it. That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this Court.”

President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect voting rights. “The Court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”

The Senate failed to pass the Voting Rights Act because two Democratic Senators did not vote to create an opening in the filibuster rule. These same two Senators have created openings in the filibuster rule on less critical matters.  Now the best way forward is to elect additional Democratic senators in 2022 to make it possible to achieve needed voting rights legislation.

The Supreme Court has ruled several times over the past 50 years that a woman has a right to an abortion before the fetus can live on its own, around 22 to 24 weeks. The overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court has upheld, on procedural grounds, a Texas law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected — so, basically, all abortions, since that’s before most people know they’re pregnant. This Supreme Court seems certain to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In another fulfillment of a right-wing plot to control America, the Supreme Court ruled for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in his legal challenge to federal placing limits on the amount of money candidates can raise from donors to pay off their personal debt after an election. This makes running for office into a business – run for office and collect enough campaign funds to pay off debts or fund a pet project. In this way, a candidate can profit without winning.

The 6-3 ruling struck down a $250,000 cap on the amount of post-election funds a candidate can be repaid for personal loans they made to their campaign, finding that the restriction violated the First Amendment.

Biden is improving the composition of the lower courts, but with a “deeply broken” system there are no quick fixes because judges who were already woefully understaffed and often undertrained are now overwhelmed with a growing backlog of over 1.6 million cases.

Dozens of federal actions dealing with everything from energy efficiency standards to funding for transit projects have been upended by a recent Supreme court ruling against the Biden administration’s climate change calculations.

 

 

 

 

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t use their marathon question-and-answer session with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to challenge her about two high-profile decisions she issued that went against former President Trump.

Instead, they focussed on other issues, a shift that marks the latest sign that Senate Republicans see Trump as more of a liability than an asset heading into the 2022 election. Let’s hope we’ll see the last of Trump by 2024 if the Justice Department procedures Trump and his allies.

“The Supreme Court is out of step with the American people. The decisions we are seeing are not popular. The majority of Americans want Roe upheld, but the court might well go the other way. A majority of Americans would like to see some regulation of guns; the court may not do that,” according to Shira A. Scheindlin, a former federal judge in New York who is co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The Pew Research Center found this year that only 54% of respondents had a favorable view of the court, down from 69% in mid-2019, according to several opinion polls. the Gallup Organization reported last year that Americans disapproved of the court’s performance by 53% to 40%.

Chief Justice John Roberts is no longer able to manage the ultra-conservatives on the Court. In good conscious, it is time for him to resign.

The Washington Post has said: “Public faith in the Supreme Court is down to a historic low of 25 percent, and there’s a good reason why it keeps eroding. We are experiencing what the Founders feared: a crisis of governmental legitimacy brought about by minoritarian tyranny. And it could soon get a whole lot worse. In his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to overturn popular precedents upholding a right to contraception, same-sex relationships and marriage equality. So much for Hamilton’s hope that “the sense of the majority should prevail.”

A petition calling for Clarence Thomas’s  removal from Supreme Court has gotten over one million signatures.

Thomas is feeling the heat.  He has canceled plans to teach a seminar this fall at George Washington University’s law school, a few weeks after the private university in the nation’s capital had defended the conservative jurist’s position on its faculty.

Thomas, on the high court for more than 30 years, has taught at the D.C. law school since 2011. His adjunct faculty position there drew controversy this summer after the court’s conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that had established a constitutional right to abortion.

With the support of three justices chosen by President Donald Trump in the past five years, the Supreme Court now has a 6-to-3 conservative majority. Those justices sent the court on a dramatic turn to the right in the term completed this summer, overturning the guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, striking a gun control law in New York, limiting the power of the Biden administration to confront climate change, and scoring victories for religious conservatives.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips around the globe for more than two decades, including travel on a superyacht and private jet, from a prominent Republican donor without disclosing them, according to a new report. A nine-day trip that Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, took to Indonesia in 2019, shortly after the court released its final opinions of the term. That trip, which included flights on Crow’s jet and island-hopping on a superyacht, would have cost the couple more than $500,000 if they had paid for it themselves.

Federal law mandates that top officials from the three branches of government, including the Supreme Court, file annual forms detailing their finances, outside income, and spouses’ sources of income, with each branch determining its own reporting standards.

Judges are prohibited from accepting gifts from anyone with business before the court. Until recently, however, the judicial branch had not clearly defined an exemption for gifts considered “personal hospitality.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday said he “was advised” that he did not have to disclose a series of trips reportedly paid for by a Republican mega-donor. Would not he otherwise write “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Revised rules adopted by a committee of the Judicial Conference, the courts’ policymaking body, seek to provide a fuller accounting. The rules took effect on March 14.

The Supreme Court conservatives have ignited a new era without hesitation. 

The court’s approval rating has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever in public opinion polls, led by unhappy Democrats and to a lesser extent people who heretofore identified as independents.

But Roberts said it is the Supreme Court’s job to decide what the law is. “That role doesn’t change simply because people disagree with this opinion or that opinion or with a particular mode of jurisprudence.”  In all due respect, Mr. Justice Roberts, it’s the Court’s drastic rulings that have riled the public.

 Irving Kaufman said it well, “The Supreme Court’s only armor is the cloak of public trust; its sole ammunition, the collective hopes of our society.”

Justice Thomas lacks any sense of propriety. Justice Clarence Thomas, acting unilaterally on Monday, granted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to temporarily shield the South Carolina Republican from testifying in a probe of alleged pro-Trump election interference in Georgia.

Newly revealed is that Trump’s lawyers described in emails ” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “key” to Trump’s plan to delay Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s victory through litigation after the 2020 election.

“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue” a temporary order putting Georgia’s results in doubt, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a December 31, 2020, email, adding that a favorable order from Thomas was their “only chance” to hold up Congress from counting electoral votes for Biden from Georgia.

According to Venmo transactions, several lawyers who have had business before the Supreme Court paid money to a top aide of Justice Clarence Thomas. These payments appear to be related to Thomas’s 2019 Christmas party and were made to Rajan Vasisht, who served as Thomas’s aide from July 2019 to July 2021. This seems to highlight the close relationship between Thomas, who is currently involved in ethics scandals, and certain senior Washington lawyers.

Vasisht’s Venmo account, which was public before this article was requested for comment, shows that he received seven payments in November and December 2019 from lawyers who previously served as Thomas’s legal clerks. The amount of the payments is not disclosed, but the purpose of each payment is listed as either “Christmas party,” “Thomas Christmas Party,” “CT Christmas Party,” or “CT Xmas party.”

There have been several reports about a corruption scandal involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to these reports, Thomas has accepted undisclosed luxury gifts from a Republican mega-donor for two decades³. He has also been accused of accepting benefits from wealthy friends through his membership in the Horatio Alger Association, including luxury trips and a Super Bowl ring². There have been calls for him to recuse himself from cases or be removed from office and for the court to impose a binding code of ethics². Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has promised hearings on Supreme Court corruption¹. Is there anything else you would like to know?

Clarence Thomas should face impeachment calls after reports of undisclosed  gifts that appear to be bribes: Source.. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/06/clarence-thomas-supreme-courts-gifts-republican-megadonor.
(2) Clarence Thomas: Here Are All The Ethics Scandals Involving as documents by Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2023/05/05/clarence-thomas-here-are-all-the-ethics-scandals-involving-the-supreme-court-justice-amid-new-revelations/.
(3) The Supreme Court closes ranks around Clarence Thomas after the revelations. It’s time to question a turnover of the Supreme Court.  https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/4/26/23698962/supreme-court-clarence-thomas-corruption-ethics-harlan-crown-john-roberts-dick-durbin.
(4) ‘Biggest Legitimacy Crisis in Modern History of the Supreme Court. Source https://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2023/05/biggest-legitimacy-crisis-in-modern-history-of-the-supreme-court-experts-examine-new-clarence-thomas-corruption-scandal/.
(5) The Clarence Thomas Scandal Is About More Than Corruption. It goes to the heart of the Court’s ability to get decisions enforced.  https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/04/18/clarence-thomas-scandal-corruption-00092335.

 

This raises questions about the nature of these payments and their connection to Thomas. It is unusual for a holiday party to be paid for by anyone other than the organization hosting it. The fact that Vasisht made his Venmo account private after reporters began asking about it only adds to the suspicion. Some may even see this as poorly concealed bribery.

Eastman was formerly a law clerk to Thomas and was in contact with Ginni Thomas.

The independent state legislature doctrine is a theory that lacks any support in the Constitution’s history, text, or architecture. It has never been judicially approved.

Following are the ways court reform of the federal judiciary needs to go:

  • term limits
  • independent and enforced ethics requirements
  • expanding number of Supremes
  • realignment of appeals districts
  • randomized assignment of cases to districts (to eliminate cherry-picking of judges)
  • elimination of legislation by the judiciary with ‘designer cases’ (e.g. independent legislation theory)

Here is a promising idea –

John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight,” offered Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas $1 million annually to step down immediately, along with a $2.4 million motor coach.

Oliver argued that the Supreme Court had reached a “breaking point” due to scandals involving the patronage of right-wing billionaires

Is American Justice for Sale?

Prominent Democrats are calling on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign following his indictment on bribery charges.

One prominent Democrat said that “corruption is corruption” and that Menendez must be held accountable for his actions.

Menendez is accused of exchanging political favors for kickbacks, including cash, gold, and mortgage assistance. Menendez has denied the allegations but has faced calls for his resignation from several Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jeff Jackson, Dean Phillips, Josh Gottheimer, Tom Malinowski, Frank Pallone, Mikie Sherill, Bill Pascrell, and Andy Kim.

Why are Justices Thomas and Alioto not being criminally prosecuted as members of the House and Senate are?

Why are prominent Democrats calling for Menendez to resign when they are not to be heard calling for Justices Thomas and Alioto to resign?

Are these Justices’ excesses and financial gains any less serious in their capacity to do harm at the bidding of people financially invested in them?

Is ignoring them shouting a message that American “justice” is for sale?

Menendez joins 7 members of Congress indicted in recent years BY SARAH FORTINSKY – 10/01/23 6:29 PM ET SHARE TWEET Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) Greg Nash Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) exits the Capitol after a series of votes on Thursday, September 28, 2023. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has resisted calls from fellow Democrats to resign since his indictment on bribery and corruption charges on Sept. 22. He has maintained his innocence and refused to step down.

His political future is uncertain, as he joins a list of recent members of Congress who have faced federal indictments.

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) Santos was indicted on 13 federal counts in May for allegedly deceiving donors and misreporting his finances. He pleaded not guilty and agreed to pause the trial for plea negotiations. A status conference was delayed to Oct. 27.Santos defied calls for his resignation from both parties and launched a reelection campaign. He survived a vote on his expulsion, but the House sent the measure to the Ethics Committee, which was already probing him.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) Fortenberry was indicted on three charges in October 2021, and convicted in March 2022 on one charge of hiding information and lying to federal authorities about illegal contributions from a foreign national to his 2016 campaign, according to the DOJ.

He resigned at the request of then-House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He got two years of probation instead of prison time.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) Collins was arrested for insider trading in August 2018 and charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to the FBI, according to the DOJ.

He resigned from Congress in September 2019, a day before he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal agents.

He was sentenced to more than two years in prison in 2020. He was pardoned by then-President Trump soon after starting his sentence.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) Hunter was indicted in August 2018 with his wife for converting more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing false records, according to the DOJ.

He pleaded guilty to one charge in December 2019, and resigned from Congress in January 2020. He was sentenced to 11 months in March 2020, and pardoned by Trump that year.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) Brown was indicted on fraud charges in July 2016 for a case involving an education charity. She lost her primary the next month. She was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in 2017.

Sen. Bob Menendez Menendez has been through a similar ordeal before and survived — he was reelected to the Senate in 2018 by a wide margin. He was indicted in 2015 on corruption charges, but the case ended in a mistrial in November 2017, after a hung jury.

Free Lady Justice and a Gavel Stock Photo

Health Emergency – Gun Violence

Guns are the leading cause of death among children in this nation. Not the pandemic. Not malnutrition. Not disease. — No wonder there are more guns than people in the United States –400 million guns versus 335 million people.  No other country has even half as many guns per capita.  There have been 377 school shootings since 1999. At least 199 children, educators, and other people have been killed, and an additional 424 have been injured while exposing more than 349,000 children to gun violence during school hours.

A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that many Americans had traumatic experiences related to guns. Specifically, 21% of respondents reported being threatened with a gun, 19% stated that a gun had killed a family member, and 17% claimed to have witnessed someone being shot before them. Over half of Americans, 54% of respondents or their family members, had experienced at least one of these traumas. Additionally, 84% of Americans reported that they consider how to stay safe from gun violence when going out in public!

How America became awash in guns, mass shootings, and child murders in our schools. Over the next few months, the entire book will be here; new chapters will be posted every Sunday for subscribers to read at no cost. If you want to get a physical book to mark up or share with others, just click on the picture above, visit your local bookstore, or check your favorite online seller.

Without America’s history of slavery and Native American genocide, today’s “American gun culture” wouldn’t exist. The fact that America is today soaked in gun-splattered blood should be no surprise; this nation’s story is one of the most genocidal in the modern history of the world. 

In 1992, historian David Stannard set out to determine how many Native Americans were killed, both directly at the barrel of a gun and indirectly by disease and loss of land/food, by European invaders to the Americas. His best estimate puts Hitler to shame: white people killed more than 100 million Native Americans between 1492 and today . . . and the killing continues, in subtler ways than previous generations could have imagined. 

The U.S. constitutes 5% of the world’s population and owns 25% of all guns on the globe. The Washington Post has reported that “1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.”

In 2018, the Small Arms Survey reported that Americans collectively own 393 million guns. That’s more guns than America has people. The population of the United States stood at 332 million in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Every day in America, an average of 321 people are shot, according to Brady United. Since 2020, mass shootings have been on the rise, with the Washington Post noting that there have been at least four mass shootings every week in 2022.

The number of Americans killed by guns annually (about 43,000) is on par with those who die from breast cancer (43,000) and pancreatic cancer (49,000), according to the American Cancer Society. These numbers are based on five-year death averages.

The first recognized mass shooting in America occurred in 1966, when a sniper at the University of Texas killed 17 people from his perch in a clock tower. Between then and 2020, 1,449 people have been murdered in mass shootings, and an additional 2,141 have been wounded. A mass shooting is defined as one in which four or more people are shot in a single event, not including the perpetrator.

Mass shootings are on the rise.  In the 10 years from 1966 to 1975, there were 12 mass shootings; from 2011 to 2020, there were 160. About 30% of mass shootings happen in workplaces, and about 25% occur in schools. The U.S. has seen more than 600 mass shootings for three straight years.

According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, there have been 609 incidents in 2022 in which four or more people, other than the attacker, were shot — putting the U.S. on pace to reach around 675 by the end of the year.

In 2020, 44% of Americans reported that they or someone in their household owned a gun, per an annual Gallup poll on guns in America. The typical American gun owner is White, male, between the ages of 30 and 64, has a household income of less than $100,000, lives in the suburbs or a rural area and is registered to vote as a Republican.

In 2021, 45,034 people died by gunfire, while 42,915 died in motor vehicle accidents. While these numbers may seem comparable, they’re more lopsided than you might realize, since car owners far outnumber gun owners: There are an estimated 234.9 million licensed drivers—and only 81.4 million gun owners.

Violence has become so widespread that it both neutralizes the public’s sense of moral outrage and shatters their bonds of solidarity. As society is increasingly militarized under neoliberalism, violence becomes the solution for everything. This is especially dangerous for those individuals who feel isolated and lonely in a society that atomizes everything. Some of these individuals turn to the internet and social media in search of community, often to be radicalized by White supremacist conspiracy theories, as was the case with the Buffalo shooter.

Faced with other problems, Americans act sensibly. Auto accidents used to be the leading cause of death among children for decades and to deal with this, all 50 states sensibly have child safety laws for children in automobiles.  After the 1995 bombing of the  Oklahoma City  Courthouse,  the purchase of ammonium nitrate — a chemical commonly used in fertilizer and explosives – became regulated.

What sense does it make for 18-year-olds to be able to buy AR-15 assault weapons but not alcohol or cigarettes? What sense is there in states making it easier to get a gun than for women to get an abortion?

Death by gun is a massive public health emergency as deadly as the pandemic at its worst and striking those most innocent. Consider that in 2020, according to CDC mortality data, there were more than 19,000 gun homicides and 24,000 gun suicides, and more than 500 accidental gun deaths.

More guns, more deaths. Compare the states with the highest rates of gun ownership with the highest rates of gun deaths:

10 states with the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 residents by state:

 

10 states with the highest rates of gun ownership:

 

Alaska (23 per 100,000 people)

 

Alaska (64.5%)
Alabama (21.4 per 100,000 people) Wyoming (66.20%)

 

Louisiana (21.2 per 100,000 people) Montana (66.30%)

 

Mississippi (19.8 per 100,000 people)

 

Idaho (60.10%)

 

Oklahoma (19.6 per 100,000 people)

 

West Virginia (58.50%)

 

Montana (19 per 100,000 people)

 

Arkansas (57.20%)

 

Missouri (18.8 per 100,000 people)

 

Mississippi (55.80%)

 

New Mexico (18.2 per 100,000 people) Alabama (55.50%)

 

Arkansas (17.7 per 100,000 people) South Dakota (55.30%)

 

South Carolina (17.7 per 100,000 people) North Dakota (55.10%)

 

The solution to mass shootings like Uvalde hinges on a simple premise: fewer guns in fewer hands.

How can we accept 1.5 million of firearm deaths between 1968 and 2017? – this is more than the number of soldiers killed in every US conflict since the American War for Independence in 1775!

 

There have been 200 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, which represents a doubling since 2018, followed by 119 in 2019; 114 in 2020; 249 in 2021.

In the 20-plus years since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, more than 300,000 children have been exposed to gunfire in a school setting, resulting in a generation of children who can’t assume going to school is safe. One-third of adults say they avoid certain places due to fears of gun violence. Of those, over half fear gun violence at public events, like concerts. By comparison, since 9/11, no one has perished at the hands of terrorists on a commercial airliner.

Rather than uniting the country behind a shared vision for how to keep the public safe, the massacres, the right-wing backlash forced Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY) announced that he is suspending his campaign after endorsing a ban on assault weapons.

During the first year of the pandemic, the number of Americans felled by gun violence reached a level not seen since 1994, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increasingly, a majority of Americans view the Second Amendment as a malleable doctrine, subject to protecting people from mass shootings. 96% of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. 77% want families to be able to request a Red Flag intervention. 70% want police to be able to request a Red Flag intervention. 56% want gun laws strengthened. Each shooting increases those willing to curtail weaponizing America.

Dr. Mark Goulston wrote an article identifying the signs of a person to whom the Red Flag laws apply

What to LOOK for:

  • loss of temper on a daily basis
  • frequent physical fighting
  • significant vandalism or property damage
  • increase in use of drugs or alcohol
  • increase in risk-taking behavior
  • detailed plans to commit acts of violence
  • enjoying hurting animals
  • carrying a weapon
  • agitated movement – difficulty keeping still
  • easily irritated – you walk on “eggshells” around him
  • very impatient when having to wait in lines or wait to speak
  • shifty eye movements – tends to look evasively to left or right as if hiding something, if looks downward this may be a sign of submissiveness, but may then incense him later on
  • change in usual routines in terms of hobbies or exercises, etc.
  • stays to self or starts associating with “m! arginal” people
  • drawn to violent movies, newspaper stories, internet sites, television and radio shows
  • less attention to hygiene
  • paradoxical calmness in someone who has been agitated (may signal that has come up with a violent solution to his problems)

What to LISTEN for:

  • announcing threats or plans for hurting others
  • argumentative
  • becomes defensive easily
  • takes things personally that are not meant that way
  • negative comments about most things
  • complaining done with underlying agitation
  • blaming – most of what he talks about is blaming someone or something
  • sullen more than sulking– he can be silent in an intense way that doesn’t feel quiet, sulking means he’s getting some frustrations out

And if you notice the following signs over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:

  • a history of violent or aggressive behavior
  • serious drug or alcohol use
  • gang membership or a strong desire to be in a gang
  • access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
  • threatening others regularly
  • trouble controlling feelings like anger
  • withdrawal from friends and usual activities
  • feeling rejected or alone
  • having been a victim of bullying
  • poor school performance
  • history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
  • feeling constantly disrespected
  • failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others

Who then owns firearms?

Former Justice John Paul Stephens said the amendment was adopted out of fear that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the states.

A literal reading of the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” indicates Stephens was correct. President Biden stated “the Second Amendment is not absolute,” meaning it does not say anyone can carry a gun anywhere for any reason.

Who Knows People Who Have Been Shot

44% of US residents know someone who has been shot, and a higher proportion, 51% of US gun owners surveyed, know someone who was shot.

Is Gun Ownership a Right?

There is no such thing as an unconstrained right. Speech has limits.  Libel is illegal. Slander is illegal. Inciting a mob to commit an assault or murder is a crime. Sedition is illegal. The government places limits where public safety is at stake. The Supreme Court ruled in a  2008 case  District of Columbia v. Heller recognized an individual’s right to keep a gun in the home, the ruling also stated that Second Amendment rights are “not unlimited.”

Ironically, the Supreme Court is expanding gun rights in its first major Second Amendment opinion in more than ten years.  Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the deciding opinion for the 6-to-3 majority, saying that the Second Amendment allows people to carry guns outside their home for self-defense and that they should not have to “demonstrate some special need” to the government to exercise that right.

As new generations acquire political power, will subject the Supreme Court to the will of the majority of Americans? The Court is putting its independence on the line.

Americans endure more mass shootings than all other developed countries combined. It’s not even close.

For the past 20 years or so, the gun industry has been aggressively marketing military-grade munitions to the American people — with ads using social media and video streaming s invoking race-based fear, twisted notions of masculinity, and distorted ideas about “patriotism.”

Gun manufacturers appropriate social media, YouTube servers, video streaming services, and the work of YouTube influencers to attract audiences to websites that sell firearms:

One out of seven Twitter posts, 54% of YouTube videos, and nine out of ten YouTube influencer videos link to websites that facilitate gun sales.

Top manufacturers of domestic firearms received 98 million channel views, compared with 6.1 billion channel views received by the remaining top 12 YouTube influencers.

Advertisements use women in efforts to market handguns and pistols for the purpose of protection. Videos with women 2.5 times more often than videos without women.

YouTube and Twitter subsidize gun advertising by offering server and streaming services at no cost to gun manufacturers, to the commercial benefit of Google and Twitter’s corporate ownership.

This has fed some deadly trends:

  • The number of guns manufactured in America has nearly tripled over the past two decades, from 3.9 million in 2000 to 11.3 million in 2020.
  • We endure more mass shootings than all other developed countries combined. It’s not even close.
  • Guns unlike light bulbs, refrigerators, and cars don’t wear out.  Every gun sold may be around for a century or more. The frequency — and body count — of mass shootings has increased as well.13 of the 20 deadliest mass shootings since 1982 happened in just the past decade.

Credit LA Times2022 — 21 people killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

2022 — 10 people killed at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

2021 — 10 people killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

2019 — 23 people killed at a big-box store in El Paso, Texas.

2019 — 12 people killed at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

2018 — 12 people killed at a bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

2018 — 11 people killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

2018 — 17 people killed at high school in Parkland, Florida.

2017 — 26 people killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

2017 — 60 people killed at a music festival in Paradise, Nevada.

2016 — 49 people killed at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

2015 — 14 people killed at a conference center in San Bernardino, California.

2012 — 27 people killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

2012 — 12 people killed at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Below is a list of school shootings, not including nightclubs or businesses or anything else, just schools from 1998 to today:

Thurston High School
Columbine High School
Heritage High School
Deming Middle School
Fort Gibson Middle School
Buell Elementary School
Lake Worth Middle School
University of Arkansas
Junipero Serra High School
Santana High School
Bishop Neumann High School
Pacific Lutheran University
Granite Hills High School
Lew Wallace High School
Martin Luther King, Jr High School
Appalachian School of Law
Washington High School
Conception Abbey
Benjamin Tasker Middle School
University of Arizona
Lincoln High School
John McDonogh High School
Red Lion Area Junior High School
Case Western Reserve University
Rocori High School
Ballou High School
Randallstown High School
Bowen High School
Red Lake Senior High School
Harlan Community Academy High School
Campbell County High School
Milwee Middle School
Roseburg High School
Pine Middle School
Essex Elementary School
Duquesne University
Platte Canyon High School
Weston High School
West Nickel Mines School
Joplin Memorial Middle School
Henry Foss High School
Compton Centennial High School
Virginia Tech
Success Tech Academy
Miami Carol City Senior High School
Hamilton High School
Louisiana Technical College
Mitchell High School
EO Green Junior High School
Northern Illinois University
Lakota Middle School
Knoxville Central High School
Willoughby South High School
Henry Ford High School
University of Central Arkansas
Dillard High School
Dunbar High School
Hampton University
Harvard College
Larose-Cut Off Middle School
International Studies Academy
Skyline College
Discovery Middle School
University of Alabama
DeKalb School
Deer Creek Middle School
Ohio State University
Mumford High School
University of Texas
Kelly Elementary School
Marinette High School
Aurora Central High School
Millard South High School
Martinsville West Middle School
Worthing High School
Millard South High School
Highlands Intermediate School
Cape Fear High School
Chardon High School
Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Oikos University
Hamilton High School
Perry Hall School
Normal Community High School
University of South Alabama
Banner Academy South
University of Southern California
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Apostolic Revival Center Christian School
Taft Union High School
Osborn High School
Stevens Institute of Business and Arts
Hazard Community and Technical College
Chicago State University
Lone Star College-North
Cesar Chavez High School
Price Middle School
University of Central Florida
New River Community College
Grambling State University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School
Ronald E McNair Discovery Academy
North Panola High School
Carver High School
Agape Christian Academy
Sparks Middle School
North Carolina A&T State University
Stephenson High School
Brashear High School
West Orange High School
Arapahoe High School
Edison High School
Liberty Technology Magnet High School
Hillhouse High School
Berrendo Middle School
Purdue University
South Carolina State University
Los Angeles Valley College
Charles F Brush High School
University of Southern California
Georgia Regents University
Academy of Knowledge Preschool
Benjamin Banneker High School
D H Conley High School
East English Village Preparatory Academy
Paine College
Georgia Gwinnett College
John F Kennedy High School
Seattle Pacific University
Reynolds High School
Indiana State University
Albemarle High School
Fern Creek Traditional High School
Langston Hughes High School
Marysville Pilchuck High School
Florida State University
Miami Carol City High School
Rogers State University
Rosemary Anderson High School
Wisconsin Lutheran High School
Frederick High School
Tenaya Middle School
Bethune-Cookman University
Pershing Elementary School
Wayne Community College
JB Martin Middle School
Southwestern Classical Academy
Savannah State University
Harrisburg High School
Umpqua Community College
Northern Arizona University
Texas Southern University
Tennessee State University
Winston-Salem State University
Mojave High School
Lawrence Central High School
Franklin High School
Muskegon Heights High School
Independence High School
Madison High School
Antigo High School
University of California-Los Angeles
Jeremiah Burke High School
Alpine High School
Townville Elementary School
Vigor High School
Linden McKinley STEM Academy
June Jordan High School for Equity
Union Middle School
Mueller Park Junior High School
West Liberty-Salem High School
University of Washington
King City High School
North Park Elementary School
North Lake College
Freeman High School
Mattoon High School
Rancho Tehama Elementary School
Aztec High School
Wake Forest University
Italy High School
NET Charter High School
Marshall County High School
Sal Castro Middle School
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Great Mills High School
Central Michigan University
Huffman High School
Frederick Douglass High School
Forest High School
Highland High School
Dixon High School
Santa Fe High School
Noblesville West Middle School
University of North Carolina Charlotte
STEM School Highlands Ranch
Edgewood High School
Palm Beach Central High School
Providence Career & Technical Academy
Fairley High School (school bus)
Canyon Springs High School
Dennis Intermediate School
Florida International University
Central Elementary School
Cascade Middle School
Davidson High School
Prairie View A & M University
Altascocita High School
Central Academy of Excellence
Cleveland High School
Robert E Lee High School
Cheyenne South High School
Grambling State University
Blountsville Elementary School
Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus)
Prescott High School
College of the Mainland
Wynbrooke Elementary School
UNC Charlotte
Riverview Florida (school bus)
Second Chance High School
Carman-Ainsworth High School
Williwaw Elementary School
Monroe Clark Middle School
Central Catholic High School
Jeanette High School
Eastern Hills High School
DeAnza High School
Ridgway High School
Reginald F Lewis High School
Saugus High School
Pleasantville High School
Waukesha South High School
Oshkosh High School
Catholic Academy of New Haven
Bellaire High School
North Crowley High School
McAuliffe Elementary School
South Oak Cliff High School
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Sonora High School
Western Illinois University
Oxford High School
Robb Elementary School

And all the while, gun industry profits have exploded.

Here are the companies profiting:

Aero Precision LLC

Aero Precision, Aero Precision LLC

Anderson Manufacturing, WM C Anderson Inc

Armscor

ArmscorRIA,

Beretta USA Corp

Browning Arms Company

Colt Manufacturing Co

CZUSA, CZ

Diamondback Firearms, Diamondback Firearms LLC (owned by Taurus)

Fn America, LLC

Glock Inc

Henry Repeating Arms, Henry RAC Holding Corp

Heritage Manufacturing IncSturm, Ruger & Company

Hi-Point, Strassells Machine Inc (also known as Hi-Point Firearms)

Kel-Tec, Kel Tec CNC Industries Inc

Kimber Firearms, Kimber Mfg Inc

Maverick Arms, Inc (subsidiary of Mossberg & Sons)

MKE (also known as Zenith Firearms)

Mossberg, Maverick Arms, Inc (subsidiary of Mossberg & Sons)

Palmetto State Armory, Palmetto State Armory, LLC

Radical Firearms LLC

Remington Arms, Remington Arms Company LLC

SCCY Firearms, Sccy Industries LLC

Sig Sauer Inc

Smith & Wesson Corp

Springfield Armory, Springfield Inc

Strassells Machine Inc (also known as Hi-Point Firearms)

Sturm, Ruger and Co

Taurus International Manufacturing Inc

WM C Anderson Inc

Zenith Firearms, MKE (also known as Zenith Firearms)

What Can Be Done

Ban the sale of assault weapons. Both the Uvalde shooter and the accused Buffalo shooter were 18 when they bought assault weapons.  The Highland Park shooter also used an assault weapon for the massacre in July, 2022.

Does banning assault weapons work?   In the years after the assault weapons ban went into effect, the number of deaths from mass shootings fell, and the increase in the annual number of incidents slowed down. Even including 1999’s Columbine High School massacre – the deadliest mass shooting during the period of the ban – the 1994 to 2004 period saw lower average annual rates of both mass shootings and deaths resulting from such incidents than before the ban’s inception.

When the ban ended, there was an immediate and steep rise in mass shooting deaths. Calculations show the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active. The proportion of overall gun homicides resulting from mass shootings was also down, with nine fewer mass-shooting-related fatalities per 10,000 shooting deaths.

Expand background checks to include online sales and gun shows: The House has passed a universal background-check bill, but Senate Democrats know that Republicans will oppose anything that requires background checks for family members selling guns to one another.

Ban high-capacity magazines: The Washington Post Fact Checker’s Glenn Kessler has reported that this could make mass shootings when they do happen, less deadly.

Crackdown on ‘ghost guns’: These weapons are often sold in kits that the buyer puts together at home. They don’t have to have a serial number, and the buyer doesn’t have to pass a background check to buy one. In his only executive order on guns, President Biden made it easier for law enforcement to trace these guns. But Democrats in Congress want to turn this into law so the next president can’t overturn it.

Red-flag laws: These allow family members, community members or police to petition a judge to temporarily take away someone’s firearms if they appear to be a risk to themselves or others.

The big takeaway for me from the Illinois experience, as is the case for so many of these mass shootings and quite frankly so many of the shootings and deaths that don’t capture national attention, is implementation,” Frattaroli said.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws, including GOP-led states like Florida and Indiana. The new federal law includes $750 million to incentivize other states to pass them.

Yet even with a stronger national model and better implementation, Eugene Volokh, the University of California-Los Angeles’s expert in firearms regulation policy, argued that the black market for firearm purchases provides a loophole that is not easy to crack down on.

“People ask could this have been stopped with a red flag law? And the answer is nobody could be sure if it could be stopped. At most, what a red flag does it is causes the seizure of a weapon and prevents somebody from lawfully buying a weapon in the future,” he said, adding that someone could then just go buy a gun illegally.

Proponents of the red-flag laws argue that if properly implemented, they could have stopped Monday’s shooting in Highland Park.

“The fact is red flag laws do work, we have a mountain of evidence that shows that, but it’s an imperfect tool,” said Noah Lumbantobing, spokesperson for March for Our Lives. “You’ve got to train local officials on its use, you’ve got to make the public aware that it’s a tool available to them if they’re worried about the safety of a loved one.”

At the same time, many advocates say the best way to really reduce mass shootings would be for the government to reimpose an assault weapons ban or impose controls on large capacity magazines and ammunition.

“In our view, it’s clear a nationwide assault weapons ban would have prevented this,” Lumbantobing said.

Large capacity magazines can be put into handguns to allow the shooter to fire more rounds. The suspect on Monday allegedly fired more than 70 bullets from a roof of a local business through a fire escape ladder.

The big takeaway for me from the Illinois experience, as is the case for so many of these mass shootings and quite frankly so many of the shootings and deaths that don’t capture national attention, is implementation,” Frattaroli said.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws, including GOP-led states like Florida and Indiana. The new federal law includes $750 million to incentivize other states to pass them.

Branas argued that national action towards red flag laws would be better than leaving them to the states. He also called for a similar model across the country.

Yet even with a stronger national model and better implementation, Eugene Volokh, the University of California-Los Angeles’s expert in firearms regulation policy, argued that the black market for firearm purchases provides a loophole that is not easy to crack down on.

“People ask could this have been stopped with a red flag law? And the answer is nobody could be sure if it could be stopped. At most, what a red flag does it is causes the seizure of a weapon and prevents somebody from lawfully buying a weapon in the future,” he said, adding that someone could then just go buy a gun illegally.

“You can’t really stop someone simply by this kind of proceeding,” he added.

Proponents of the red-flag laws argue that if properly implemented, they could have stopped Monday’s shooting in Highland Park.

“The fact is red flag laws do work, we have a mountain of evidence that shows that, but it’s an imperfect tool,” said Noah Lumbantobing, spokesperson for March for Our Lives. “You’ve got to train local officials on its use, you’ve got to make the public aware that it’s a tool available to them if they’re worried about the safety of a loved one.”

Red-flag laws can be critical tools in lowering the number of suicides, experts say.

At the same time, many advocates say the best way to really reduce mass shootings would be for the government to reimpose an assault weapons ban or impose controls on large-capacity magazines and ammunition.

The bottom line, say gun control groups, is that the nation’s laws are simply too weak to really stop gun violence, even with the new gun safety measure and more red-flag laws.

“I think what’s really important to remember is our federal gun laws are extremely weak. The bipartisan bill is absolutely a concrete important, critical step forward on that but there’s a lot of work to be done on that,” said Robin Lloyd, Giffords’ managing director.

“Our federal gun laws are riddled with loopholes,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be this way, but in order for this not to be this way, we have to do a lot.”

The bottom line, say gun control groups, is that the nation’s laws are too weak to stop gun violence, even with the new gun safety measure and more red-flag laws.

“I think what’s important to remember is our federal gun laws are extremely weak. The bipartisan bill is a concrete important, critical step forward on that, but there’s a lot of work to be done on that,” said Robin Lloyd, Giffords’ managing director.

The deadliness and frequency of gun violence have given rise to an increasing number of partisans who think violence can be justified to achieve a political end.  What happened on January 6 was a manifestation of this, as well as the young man carrying a Glock 17 pistol, burglary tools, and zip ties, telling an FBI agent what had inspired him to travel from California to assassinate the conservative Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Kavanaugh incident galvanized Republicans to want to do something about gun violence, though they stopped short of allowing truly effective measures like eliminating assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

The national season of violence deepened with another weekend of tragedy in Texas that hit two of the rawest political divides, guns, and immigration.on s Saturday afternoon, a gunman armed with an AR-15-style rifle sprayed shoppers with bullets, killing eight people. It was the latest in a string of mass shootings in Texas and across the country that have killed many innocent people.

Then, on Sunday, a driver slammed into a group of migrants waiting at a bus stop outside a shelter in the Texas border town of Brownsville. At least eight people were killed, and nearly a dozen were injured. It was not clear whether the incident was an accident or intentional. In either case, the tragedy focused fresh attention on the plight of migrants and the controversy over their future.

The tragedies were unrelated. But both moments of aching sorrow took place against a backdrop of two of the nation’s most divisive issues, especially acute in Texas and which fractured national politics has failed to fix – mass shootings and a border crisis.

Suspicion of government runs hot in the Lone Star State. But it’s also an epicenter of an emerging political struggle between deeply conservative Republican leaders drawing power from rural areas and more liberal cities. It often appears to exemplify the extremes of American life. It also had the misfortune of suffering a sequence of shootings, including in a school in Uvalde in 2022, a Walmart shopping center in El Paso in 2019, and a church in Sutherland Springs in 2017. Just last week, Texans were shocked by a mass shooting by a gunman who killed five people.

How many more deaths can this country endure? How many more innocent children will be killed before a mass movement arises that can bring this brutal social disease to an end?

The House on July 29 passed a bill to ban assault weapons,  marking the first time lawmakers have approved a prohibition on the popular firearms in more than two decades. The legislation, titled the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, cleared the chamber in a 217-213 vote. Let’s hope for success in the Senate! Showing how divisive this issue is, five Democrats voted against the ban alongside 208 Republicans were Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. vs. Bruen, the Supreme Court not only ruled that broad limits against people carrying firearms in states like New York and California were unconstitutional, but that other restrictions on firearms that aren’t deeply rooted in early American history — or at least analogous to some historical rule — would likewise violate the 2nd Amendment.

In less than a month, the Bruen decision has reinvigorated an already robust legal war on California’s gun laws and forced lower courts to begin reconsidering a whole host of legal challenges — with potentially massive stakes in a country devastated by gun violence on a daily basis.

The shifting legal landscape resulting from the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court’s expansion of the Second Amendment in its June ruling has led lower courts to block or strike down gun control measures at a dizzying pace.

To get around the filibuster rule in the Senate, 10 Republican senators would need to join Democrats. With shootings happening at any time and in any setting – shopping, banking, walking in a shopping mall – is it too much to ask if this is not an American problem – not one to be decided along party lines.

Striking numbers of people  have begun mobilizing against gun violence and the climate crisis. At this moment, as well, we seem to be witnessing the rise of a new labor movement, with workers already organizing at Starbucks, Dollar General stores, and Walmart, among other places. The Christian nationalist movement relies on a divide-and-conquer strategy and single-issue organizing.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked gun store licenses at a higher rate in 2022 than in any year since 2006. This indicates that federal investigators have cracked down on lawbreaking gun dealers following guidance from the Biden administration ordering the agency to take a harsher tack during inspections. 

The agency revoked 92 licenses in 2022 – roughly 1.3 percent of all the dealers inspected. The total more than triples the number of licenses revoked in 2021, when a similar number of dealers were inspected.

The ATF’s inspections division is tasked with ensuring gun dealers comply with federal firearms laws. When inspectors visit a store, they verify that proper records are retained, inventory is accurate, and that customers have undergone background checks. If they find evidence that a dealer has violated the law, they can recommend penalties ranging from verbal or written warnings to the revocation of a store owner’s license to sell firearms.

Here is something to keep in mind:

Not a single kid has died in a mass reading, yet they’re banning books instead of guns.

How Trump Wrecked the GOP: The Crime of the Century

How Trump Wrecked the GOP: The Crime of the Century

Donald Trump may have left the White House but he has not left the Republican Party alone. His relentless fundraising efforts have siphoned off millions of dollars that would have otherwise gone to the GOP, leaving many state parties in dire straits. The consequences are clear:

  • In Arizona, the state GOP barely has enough money to keep the lights on, with less than $170,000 in its accounts1.
  • In Colorado, the state GOP faces eviction from its headquarters this month after failing to pay rent12.
  • In Michigan, the state GOP is mired in debt and internal conflict between its new leader and its top candidate for attorney general1.
  • In Minnesota, the state GOP was recently down to a measly $53.81 in its bank account while owing more than $335,000 to creditors2.
  • In Oklahoma, the state GOP struggled to pay its vendors and staff and had to rely on a loan from a wealthy donor3.
  • In Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, the state GOPs have alienated donors and supporters by embracing Trump’s baseless election fraud claims and have seen their fundraising plummet compared to previous cycles4.

Meanwhile, Trump is sitting on a massive war chest of $102 million in his “Save America” PAC, more than the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee combined. He has used his influence to undermine the party establishment, promote loyalists, and attack critics. He has shown no signs of letting go of his grip on the GOP or sharing his wealth with the party that made him president.

Trump has committed the crime of the 21st Century,  sabotaging the Republican Party from within and endangering the future of American democracy.

The Debt Ceiling Crisis is Solvable

How the United States government manages its budget is inefficient and harmful to the economy. Congress passes two sets of laws every year: one that sets tax rates and one that sets spending levels. If Congress spends more money than it collects in taxes, it creates a budget deficit. To cover the deficit, the government borrows money from investors, which increases the national debt.

So the debt ceiling is the maximum amount of money the US Treasury can borrow to fund the government and pay its bills. It is the difference between the government’s spending and revenue.

The first debt ceiling was imposed in 1939 when Congress imposed a general restriction on government debt, known as the debt ceiling, that rather than automatically authorizing the Treasury to borrow much money however is necessary to cover this deficit, it prohibits the Treasury from borrowing more than a set amount of funds. The law eliminated previous separate limits and established an initial limit of $65 billion.

Congress has revised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960. Strangely, this complicated way of authorizing borrowing improves the previous system. Before 1917, Congress had to approve every new issuance of Treasury bonds.

Nothing changes if Congress agrees to increase the debt limit. The Treasury will keep paying for all the federal programs and services that Congress has authorized and will keep borrowing money when needed.

Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have disastrous economic consequences. It will cause the United States to default on some of its financial obligations, triggering the same spiral of reduced creditworthiness that faces consumers who refuse to pay their credit card bills. According to Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, such a failure would cost 7 million jobs. Beth Ann Bovino, the top economist at Standard and Poor’s, warned in 2017 that a US government default would be worse than the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse, wreaking havoc on markets and the economy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she will run out of authority to borrow money by early June.

Among the monthly obligations paid by the Treasury:

  • – Social Security benefits are disbursed to about 66 million retirees, disabled workers, and others on the third day of the month and on three Wednesdays each month. About $25 billion is sent each week.
  • – About $40 billion is paid to Medicare Advantage insurers and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans on the first day of the month.
  • – About $25 billion in pay or benefits for active-duty military members, civil service and military retirees, veterans, and Supplemental Security Income recipients is disbursed on the first day of the month.
  • – Interest payments of varying amounts are made around the 15th and on the last day of each month.
  • When the cash runs out, the Treasury would find themselves doing an ugly triage to decide which parts of the economy — Social Security? Medicare? National defense? — keep running and which ones get an IOU.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Default says it would cause a “Social Security shutdown.”
  • Goldman economists estimate that one-tenth of all economic activity would stop.
  • At least 3 million jobs would be lost, according to the center-left think tank Third Way.
  • Interest rates would skyrocket. Third Way estimates it would add an extra $130,000 to a typical home loan.
  • Financial markets, which run partly on confidence, would fall into disarray, ushering in a recession.
  • The US dollar, the world’s global reserve currency, would lose value as investors lose confidence in Treasuries.

House Republicans are using the debt ceiling to pressure President Joe Biden to make policy changes. They are telling Biden that they will cause an economic disaster by defaulting on the debt unless he agrees to spending cuts — such as reducing Medicaid or undoing much of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — that they could not get in a standard budget negotiation.

The question is whether the Constitution requires Congress to act on the debt limit. The 14th Amendment says that “the validity of the United States public debt… shall not be questioned.”

There are good legal reasons to think the debt ceiling violates the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of US debt “shall not be questioned.” But no court has ever decided if the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. And only one Supreme Court case has ever used the 14th Amendment’s Public Debt Clause — and that case, Perry v. United States, and that case, Perry v. United States (1935), did so only briefly. In that case, the Supreme Court reasoned that Congress could not use its power to regulate the value of money to invalidate its own contracts when it had borrowed money on the credit of the United States. The Court also stated that the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States implied a pledge of good faith and assurance of payment as stipulated, which could not be withdrawn or ignored by Congress.

Nevertheless, the legality of this law — which will make the nation default on its debts unless Congress prevents it — is uncertain. What is certain is that if Biden invokes the 14th Amendment and declares the debt ceiling law unconstitutional, it will be challenged in court.

The Treasury Department could continue to pay its bills as instructed by the President, regardless of the legal status of the debt ceiling set by Congress. Republican litigants will undoubtedly file a lawsuit, most likely in a federal judicial division where they can be sure the case will be heard by a right-wing Republican. If they do an adequate job of shopping around for a partisan judge, that judge could issue an order forbidding the Treasury from issuing any more bonds very quickly. The case will likely wind up before the Supreme Court in short order. With the Supreme Court constituted as it now is, with its 6-3 Republican supermajority, the outcome of a case like this is uncertain.

To reform its budget process, the United States government should enact a law that mandates a balanced budget every year. This would compel Congress to prioritize spending and curb the national debt. It would also foster more predictability about future government spending, stimulating the economy.

Ian Millhiser, a senior correspondent at **Vox** who covers the Supreme Court and the Constitution. He wrote an article titled “The Supreme Court just saved the US Economy from a Depression” on June 23, 2021, He also wrote a book called “The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America”

“There is some evidence that the present-day Supreme Court, despite its 6-3 Republican-appointed majority, is willing to set aside conservative ideology when necessary to protect the nation’s economy.”

“In Collins v. Yellen (2021), the Court heard a lawsuit claiming that potentially every single action taken by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an agency created in 2008 to prevent the US housing market from collapsing and bringing down the entire global economy with it, was null and void.

Ultimately, the Court voted 8-1 to leave the FHFA largely unmolested. Only Justice Neil Gorsuch accepted the arguments that could have triggered a global depression. If the Court had accepted this conclusion, it could have meant unraveling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of transactions and potentially triggering an economic depression.”

 

 

Reversing Roe Deletes Rights It Took a Century to Achieve

A record-high 69 percent of Americans in a Gallup poll released Wednesday said that abortion should be legal throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.

Support for abortion access in the second and third trimester of pregnancy also reached an all-time high, according to the survey, despite remaining significantly lower than support for the procedure during the first trimester.

While 37 percent of respondents said abortion should be legal in the second trimester, 22 percent said it should be legal in the third trimester, pollsters found.

A slight majority — 52 percent — said they identify as pro-choice, compared to 44 percent who said they identify as pro-life. Another 52 percent also said they view abortion as morally acceptable, while 41 percent said they view it as morally wrong.

Abortion is recognized as a matter of health care to be decided by women and their doctors.

More than half of Americans strongly oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to end constitutional abortion protections, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released in May, 2023

Forbidding abortion undermines the financial security of women. The Economic Policy Institute has found that women denied an abortion have a higher chance of living in poverty, a lower possibility of full-time employment, and an increase in unpaid debt and financial distress.

Middle-class families can expect to spend more than $230,000 on food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through the age of 17, according to data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the end of Roe v. Wade represents a “major loss of rights” for women, a Washington Post-Schar School poll finds. A large and bipartisan majority of Americans, about 8 in 10 overall, say states that ban abortion should not be allowed to outlaw people from traveling elsewhere to access the procedure — an idea gaining steam among some antiabortion groups and Republican lawmakers. Those opposed include 64 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of independents .and 89 percent of Democrats.

Another indication of how a large segment of the American population is that pro-abortion-rights posts get more views than antiabortion videos on TikTok.

About 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. It’s not surprising that forty percent of Americans list abortion as one of the most important issues in the country, according to a Marquette Law School Poll.  U.S. Catholics are majority pro-choice according to many polls!

Few Americans hold absolutist views on abortion: Only about 1 in 5 say it should be legal in all cases, and fewer than 1 in 10 say it should be illegal without exception, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

A USA Today-Suffolk poll found that 31 percent of American voters said a state banning abortion would make the state less desirable to live in; 5 percent said it would be more desirable. 6 in 10 voters said a state abortion ban would not affect their thinking on a state’s desirability as a place to live.

Overwhelmingly, Americans support people’s right to cross state lines for an abortion, polls are finding.. One showed 77 percent of Americans and even 64 percent of Republicans oppose laws that would ban residents from traveling to another state for an abortion. Another showed even more resistance to such laws: 78 percent overall, and 73 percent among Republicans.

Throwback Republicans

Republicans were not always anti-choice. California Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law the nation’s most permissive abortion regulation in 1967, six years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision.  Reagan’s 1980 running mate, former Texas Congressman George HW Bush, had supported Planned Parenthood — including abortion rights — all the way back to the 1960s.

Then Reagan discovered a growing backlash to Roe v Wade and led the Republicans to victory, capitalizing on general Republican mistrust of the Supreme Court dating back to the 1954 Brown v Board decision desegregating public schools.  This locked Republican candidates into an anti-choice position, appeasing the prejudices of angry Americans.

Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for the Senate in Arizona, wants a national abortion ban, women to stay home from work, and a federal law that says life begins at conception.

The Maga Republicans’ zeal to pass stringent forced-birth laws and their pining for a national abortion ban — as the party’s candidates scramble to erase evidence of their antiabortion views from their campaign websites — reveal how little they think of women.

Women are supposed to forget that Republican candidates have been at the forefront of the effort to deny them personal agency and to intrude on their most intimate healthcare decisions. They’re supposed to forget which party has consigned pregnant people to physical and mental suffering.

Sending America Back 70 Years

By reversing Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court takes America back 70 years. Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra insists that the country “can no longer trust” the Supreme Court. America is moving toward an abortion regime that brutalizes and sometimes kills pregnant women while ignoring the most promising opportunities to prevent abortions.

The reversal of Roe produced cognitive dissonance in a generation that grew up when abortion was legal. It was a shock to our collective intelligence when this was released, and it likely accounts for some of the divisiveness and disaffection in today’s population.

Alioto’s opinion is dangerously wrong on its face and when extended, could end many of the rights we take for granted. Alioto asserts, “For the first 185 years after the adoption of the Constitution, each State was permitted to address this issue in accordance with the views of its citizens.” To put this another way, abortion was not illegal in some states until the 1800s.

To reach his conclusion, Alioto reached back to English common law, relying on Sir Matthew Hale, an influential 17th Century jurist who is best remembered for his belief that women could be witches, assumed women were liars, and thought husbands owned their wives’ bodies. He permitted the execution of two women accused as witches. Even then, Alioto misconstrues Hale, who wrote abortion was a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” Note Hale used the conditional precedent of “if.” Quickening is the moment when a pregnant woman first detects fetal movement, which can happen as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy.
Except for misogynists, what sense is there in giving credence to a jurist whose views of women are as dated as lobotomies? By roughly a margin of 2-to-1, Americans want women to have the right to bring or not bring a child into the world. It’s not surprising that Roe v. Wade was decided with a 7-2 majority.

The ninth amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other retained by the people.” The plain meaning of this is that a right, such as the right to marry, does not need to be enumerated to be recognized.

The Roe decision was in line with earlier decisions of the Court. For decades before Roe, the Supreme Court held that the Ninth Amendment granted rights such as the right to marry, the right to procreate, the right to use contraception, the right to control the upbringing of children, and the right of every person to choose “whether to bear or beget a child.”
So a fair question is the U.S. Constitution a living document? A living constitution is one that evolves, and adapts to new circumstances, without being formally amended. It’s been calculated that the rate of change accelerates every decade. So, in 20 years from now, the rate of change will be 4x what it is today.

Common sense tells us there is no realistic alternative to a living constitution in a rapidly changing world.  Does it make sense for the technologies of everyday life to change but our personal liberties will shrink? Will Alioto’s decision pave the way to abrogating other rights that are not explicitly stated, as Clarence Thomas stated, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

  • The right to marry
  • The right to have children
  • The right to travel
  •  The right to a fair trial
  •  The right to a jury of your peers
  • The right to have judicial review
  • The right to privacy includes the right to be left alone, to the care of your body, and, the right not to have your health information made public.
  • The right to health care has gained the support of 70.1% of the American public. COVID-19 and the probability of other pandemics to come have made explicit the need for health care.
  • Right to contraceptives
  • LGBTQ rights

An indication of this throwback court’s limited concept of our rights is contained in the words of Justice Kavanaugh, “For example, may a state bar a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”

The Supreme Court as now constituted does not reflect the values of most Americans. In another blog, I propose that Justice Thomas be forced to resign. This can be the beginning of changing the direction of the Supreme Court.

13 GOP AGs want a ‘fugitive slave act’ to track their states’ abortion and trans felons.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has plans to add $57 million to his proposed state budget in preparation for a possible influx of out-of-state patients who are seeking abortions (Axios). Pro-choice states, including New York, are budgeting accordingly.

The draft ruling published by Politico in May would give individual states authority over abortion access. According to the abortion rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute:

Abortion is now banned (or close to it) in 15 states, according to a Washington Post abortion tracker.

In the United States, 58 percent of women of reproductive age live in states taking away abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute (The Guardian).

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. In total, about 700 women die every year of pregnancy-related complications in the U.S., and about 3 in 5 of those deaths are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A University of Colorado study found there will be abortion a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall and a 33% increase among Black women, simply because staying pregnant is more dangerous than having an abortion. Back alley” abortions will be the last resource for women with no access to safe and legal services, and the horrific consequences of such abortions will become a major cause of death and severe health complications for some of the most vulnerable women in this country.

All across the nation, people are voicing their anxieties about a right that for decades has been taken for granted.  In cities across the country, thousands of Americans have turned out to rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin,  Cleveland, St. Louis, Denver, St. Peterburg, Florida, and 200 communities across the country.

Men have a stake in Roe vs. Wade.  Abortion is usually a joint decision between a man and a woman. With earning a living an ever-present challenge, one in five men have been involved in an abortion, as men have been involved in an abortion, one study finds.

The Washington Post has reported that Republicans plan to pass a national ban on abortion if they win back control of Congress. This would include even the blue states where abortion rights remain legal and protected. And if the Supreme Court gets away with overturning Roe v. Wade, it means the odds are they would let Congressional Republicans get away with banning abortion nationwide. America is out-of-step with reproductive rights being recognized by more nations.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he will oppose a Democratic bill to guarantee abortion access nationwide, indicating that it was too broad to get his vote. Manchin proves himself once more to be a  demi-Democrat.

Meanwhile, opponents of abortion are already using methods like license plate tracking, body cam recordings, and Wi-Fi networks designed to find people so they can direct them to anti-abortion arguments and if states to criminalize abortion, this data could be used by anti-abortion activists to try to prosecute people seeking abortions.

As the dissenting judges said, reversing Roe vs. Waderemoves a right nearly 50 years old and is at odds with polls that show consistent public support for Roe.

But more, the dissenting justices said, the opinion “breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed to promote constancy in the law … It places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the Court’s legitimacy.”

All 13 states that have GOP-controlled legislatures — Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming — have “trigger laws” that functionally banned abortion as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated it as a right.

 

Alabama

The 2019 Human Life Protection Act, which had been held by an injunction, was allowed to go into effect Friday. It makes it unlawful “for any person to intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion” unless “an abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

Alaska

The right to an abortion is protected by state law and constitution. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said, though, the overturning of Roe v. Wade will cause “renewed conversation” on the issue of abortion rights in the state.

Arizona

A pre-Roe v. Wade law bans abortions except when the mother’s life is endangered. Gov. Doug Ducey in April signed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that will go into effect.

Arkansas

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed the state’s trigger law into effect Friday, banning abortion in the state following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The Arkansas Human Life Protection Act makes performing or attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger.

California

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Colorado

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Connecticut

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Delaware

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Florida

A law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy will go into effect July 1.

Georgia

A law prohibiting abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy was signed in 2019 but not in effect following legal challenges.

Hawaii

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Idaho

A trigger law making abortion illegal goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned.

Illinois

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Indiana

Indiana became the first state after Roe was reversed to ban abortion.

Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court in June reversed an earlier court ruling that the state constitution guaranteed the right to abortion.

Kansas

The right to abortion is protected by state law. Voters will decide on Aug. 2 whether to change the state constitution to say there is no right to abortion.

Kentucky

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Friday that abortion is now banned in the state after a trigger law went into effect. Under the law, anybody who performs or attempts to perform an abortion will be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison. The only exception is if the mother’s health is at risk.

Louisiana

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Friday abortion is banned in the state after a trigger law went into effect following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law that strengthened the 2006 trigger law that went into effect Friday. The new law increases the penalties abortion providers face: prison terms range from one to 10 years and $10,000 to $100,000 in fines.

The state constitution also bars the right to abortion, and lawmakers recently approved a bill to ban abortion after “fertilization and implantation.”

Maine

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Maryland

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Massachusetts

The right to abortion is protected by state law. On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order to “further preserve” abortion rights in Massachusetts and protect “reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents.”

Michigan

pre-Roe v. Wade law bans abortions, but a judge ruled in May the state government cannot enforce the law as a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed against the state plays out. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is also working to protect the right in the state.

A Michigan judge Friday blocked county prosecutors from enforcing a 91-year-old law banning abortion in the state while courts consider a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law. The ruling means abortion will remain legal in Michigan for the foreseeable future. The 1931 law bans abortion for all women, and doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.  and calls for the prosecution of reproductive care providers.

The ruling comes after the state Court of Appeals earlier this month cleared a path for county prosecutors to enforce the 1931 law by ruling they were not covered by a May order.

“It is clear to the Court that only one group is harmed by this statute- women, and people capable of carrying children,” Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham said during his ruling.

The 1931 abortion ban doesn’t pass constitutional muster, he said.

Minnesota

The right to an abortion is protected under the state constitution.

Mississippi

A trigger law banning nearly all abortions would go into effect immediately after Roe is overturned. In addition to its 15-week abortion ban at the center of the Supreme Court case, Mississippi has a 6-week abortion ban.

Missouri

Missouri ended the right to abortion following the Supreme Court decision. On Friday, Gov. Mike Parsons tweeted that he signed a proclamation activating the Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act, ending elective abortions in the state.

Montana

The right to an abortion is currently protected under the state constitution.

Nebraska

The right to an abortion is neither protected nor barred in the state constitution. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he will push for the state legislature to pass a total abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Nevada

The right to an abortion is protected under the Nevada Revised Statutes, the codified laws of the state.   However, Montana voters will vote to dramatically reverse women’s rights at the ballot box in November when they vote on an anti-abortion ballot measure. That measure, known as LR-131, would require “health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant” or face up to 20 years in prison.

New Hampshire

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

New Jersey

The right to an abortion is protected under the state constitution.

New Mexico

The right to an abortion is neither protected nor barred in the state constitution.

New York

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

North Carolina

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

North Dakota

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal. After Roe is overturned, the Legislative Council must approve a recommendation from the state’s attorney general that the ban on abortion is constitutional.

Ohio

A 6-week ban on abortion that had been previously blocked was allowed to go into effect Friday.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced Friday the state trigger law banning abortions went into effect after the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. Prior to the ruling, Oklahoma had a near-total ban on abortion.

Oregon

The right to have an abortion is protected in the state constitution.

Pennsylvania

The right to an abortion is not protected by constitutional or statutory laws.

Rhode Island

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

South Carolina

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

South Dakota

A trigger law was in place to make abortion illegal. After Roe was overturned, it went into effect immediately without further action required.

The law makes all abortions illegal “unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.”

Tennessee

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal that goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned with no further action required. The state constitution bars protection of the right.

Texas

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal that goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned with no further action required. The state already has a 6-week ban in effect.

Utah

Most abortions are now illegal in Utah after the trigger law ban was put into effect. The law does allow for exceptions for rape, incest, averting maternal death or impairment, and lethal fetal deformity.

Vermont

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Virginia

The right to an abortion is not protected by constitutional or statutory laws.

Washington

Under the Code of Washington, individuals are not allowed to interfere with a pregnant person’s right have an abortion.

West Virginia

A state constitutional amendment bars the protection of the right to an abortion. Abortion is still legal in West Virginia, but there is an 1882 law on the books that makes performing abortions a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison. It’s unclear if it will go into effect follow Roe’s overturn. Gov. Jim Justice said Friday he is meeting with the Legislature and his legal team to decide if the state’s abortion laws need to be updated.

Despite abortion still being legal in the state, the only clinic said in a statement on Facebook it will not be performing the procedure “until further notice.”

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a pre-Roe law dating back to 1849 making an abortion a felony that could go back into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Wyoming

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal. It would require certification by the governor, advised by the Attorney General within 30 days of the Supreme Court ruling.

The consequences of reversing Roe are becoming evident.

A Florida court ruled that a 16-year-old wasn’t ‘sufficiently mature’ enough to have an abortion.

In Texas, a woman says she was denied an abortion for a medical emergency.

The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to block the state’s near-total abortion ban while it reviews legal challenges to the law.

The President laid out the fastest and best way to return women to their rights:

“Let me be clear. While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available,” Biden said. “The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage on my desk.”

A vivid illustration of the grief that is being caused by the Roe reversal is a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped and traveled to Indiana for an abortion. The girl’s doctor was afraid she was too far into her pregnancy to get an abortion, even though she was only six weeks and three days along — meaning she had probably just learned that she was pregnant. This was due to an Ohio law banning abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected (sometimes as early as six weeks). This was reported by, the Indianapolis Star.

This case is showing how dangerous the Court’s ruling is becoming. The Republican Attorney General says he is looking into the licensure of the physician who provided abortion services to the 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.  Rokita, the Attorney General, appeared on Fox News and called the doctor “an abortion activist acting as a doctor.” He accused her of having a history of failing to report abortions and that an investigation into the physician and her license is underway.

Another casualty of Roe is sex education coincides with abortion restrictions and a movement to stop educators from discussing gender and sexual orientation.

Seventeen members of Congress — including Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — were among dozens of abortion rights protesters arrested  outside the Supreme Court in a rally demanding immediate action to protect abortion following the court’s decision  to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Thirty-five people were arrested for crowding, obstructing or incommoding, a D.C. code often cited when arresting protesters during peaceful, planned, and coordinated actions of civil disobedience such as the demonstration on Tuesday. Those arrested were ticketed and released on-site, as is standard practice during events such as this, said Capitol Police spokesman Tim Barber.

Among those arrested were members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and including Assistant House Speaker Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) and Reps. Bush, Omar, Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), and Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), according to their offices.

Can women be prosecuted for crossing state lines to get an abortion?
As a general rule, this should not happen. Even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that it would be a step too far to ban women from traveling across state lines to seek care. The Constitution protects interstate commerce, and that means it also protects interstate travel, he wrote, calling it “not especially difficult as a constitutional matter.”
In the year following the Supreme Court Dobbs decision, the abortion landscape in the United States became more fractured than ever.

 

Abortions increased nationwide, according to a new report from #WeCount, a research project led by the Society of Family Planning, the average monthly change in the 12 months post-Dobbs compared to the two months pre-Dobbs adds up to about 2,200 more abortions over the course of a year.

 

But the trends diverged sharply based on state policy, with abortions all but stopped in states with bans and significant increases in many states where abortion remained legal.

 

There were about 115,000 fewer abortions in the 17 states with total or six-week bans in effect – plummeting 98% in banned states and dropping 40% in those with 6-week gestational limits, according to the new report. About a third of the overall decline can be attributed to Texas.

 

The remaining 33 states where abortion remained legal, along with the District of Columbia, recorded nearly 117,000 more abortions – a 14% increase year-over-year.

 

“This is a sign of increasing inequality of access,” said Caitlin Myers, a  professor of economics at Middlebury College. Her research has focused on abortion trends, but she was not involved in the new analysis.

“Whether somebody who wants to access abortion can actually do so depends more than ever on where they live,” she said.

Much of the increase in states where abortion remains legal were among patients who traveled from states with bans or restrictions, experts say. The new report doesn’t capture how widespread the need to travel for an abortion has become, but local data suggests a clear trend.

Earlier research has shown that travel is a significant barrier. And even if additional resources help reduce the burden on patients, it shouldn’t be the gauge of success, experts say.

“It’s really not a public health triumph that people have to mobilize the financial and social resources to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles away from their home, to obtain basic health care,” said Dr. Alison Norris, co-chair of #WeCount and association professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health. “That’s really a public health crisis.”

17 members of Congress were arrested and subsequently released at an abortion rights protest outside the Supreme Court on July 19. (Video: The Washington Post)

In the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision, confusion surrounding new abortion-related laws has led to patients being denied much-needed maternal health care.

Confusion post-Roe spurs delays, denials for some lifesaving pregnancy care

At the time of the decision to overturn Roe, 13 states had “trigger bans,” designed to take effect to prohibit abortion within 30 days of the ruling. At least eight states banned the procedure the day the ruling was released.

Now, common complications, including incomplete miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, have now been scrutinized, delayed, and even denied, according to the accounts of doctors in multiple states where new laws have gone into effect.

The supporters of reversing Roe claim they want to protect life. Following the decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the once constitutionally protected right to an abortion, young women and others across the country have increasingly requested sterilization, according to obstetrician-gynecologists who have seen upticks in Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida.

Because of the overturning of Roe, is causing women to undergo major surgery and take on the complications and risks that come with it just so they don’t have to worry about carrying an unwanted pregnancy.

Access to abortion meant women could pursue a child-free life if they chose. But lawmakers appear determined to take away their choices.

Another foreseeable consequence of reversal is that the number of men seeking vasectomies is on the rise.  People’s needs and choices are not stopped by a regressive court decision.

Signs of resistance are becoming commonplace. Seventeen members of Congress — including Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — were among dozens of abortion rights protesters arrested Tuesday outside the Supreme Court in a rally demanding immediate action to protect abortion following the court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also at risk is the right to love whomever a person chooses. By 2121  half of Americans supported marriage equality, according to Gallup’s data, which show support growing by an average of 1% to 2% per year since the mid-1990s. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 issued its marriage equality decision, Obergefell vs. Hodges, support had grown to about 60%.

Since then, same-sex marriages have become routine. The Census Bureau last year estimated that 980,000 same-sex households exist in the U.S., roughly 1.5% of all households in the country, of whom about 58% were headed by married couples. The share of the public that supports equal marriage rights now surpasses 70%.

Reaction to the Roe’s fate has been convincing and swift. Kansas, a red state, resoundingly rejected an amendment that would have led to abortion bans. Democratic voters especially turned out in higher numbers, and the ballot measure was rejected by a huge margin.  Corporations are recognizing their responsibility to their employees. Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, expands abortion coverage for staff.

The results prompted President Biden to call again for Congress to codify abortion protections into federal law, and on Wednesday he signed an executive order to help patients travel across state lines for abortion care.

Changing the Constitution is one of the most difficult processes in all of governing. There are a couple of different ways to do it. One of the most common requires a two-thirds vote in Congress and then three-fourths of states (38 states) to ratify it.

Take the Equal Rights Amendment: Congress passed it in 1972 and sent it to the states for ratification. But only 35 states ratified it before the deadline passed (three-fourths have now ratified, but a few did so after the deadline), so it still hasn’t been added. So it’s highly unlikely that a more controversial amendment, such as one enshrining the right to abortion or banning assault weapons, would make it through such a rigorous process, especially at a time when states are so divided on these policies.

With the  Supreme Court so clearly on the wrong side of history and one of the justices so clearly corrupted, it may be easier to bring pressure on some judges to resign, particularly Justice Thomas.

22 states have laws or constitutional amendments on the books now poised to severely limit access to abortion or ban it outright. Even before the Supreme Court issued its decision, states with more restrictive abortion laws had higher maternal mortality and infant mortality rates. Now, experts are predicting at least a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths across the country.

1 in 3 American women has already lost abortion access. More restrictive laws are coming.

 Two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, about 20.9 million women have lost access to nearly all elective abortions in their home states, and a slate of strict new trigger laws expected to take effect in the coming days will shut out even more.

Texas, Tennessee, and Idaho all have existing restrictions on abortion, but the laws slated to begin Thursday will either outlaw the procedure entirely or heighten penalties for doctors who perform an abortion, contributing to a seismic shift in who can access abortion in their home states.

At least 11 other states have banned most abortions, prohibiting the procedure with narrow exceptions from the time of conception or after fetal cardiac activity is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy, with legislation known as “heartbeat” laws. Five more states have similar bans temporarily blocked by the courts. If those injunctions are lifted, abortion could soon be inaccessible for millions more — in total, 36 percent of U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 would be largely unable to obtain an elective abortion in the state where they live.

The rapid pace of change has shocked even the closest observers.

“I just thought there would be a little more time to help providers and patients cope with these changes,” said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks abortion legislation in the states for the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center that supports abortion rights. “It was very clear that that sort of grace period was not going to be provided.”

Advocates and doctors in favor of abortion rights fear that the newest trigger laws — which in Texas will carry a potential life sentence for doctors who perform an abortion — will have a chilling effect on helping people who either need an abortion because they are facing life-threatening complications or are trying to travel and get one elsewhere. The stiffer laws come as patients and providers navigate a confusing tangle of policies amid ongoing legal challenges that at times have made abortion accessible one day and completely illegal the next. Even more changes are on the horizon as lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia consider new bills during special legislative sessions.

Patients in states such as Tennessee have rushed in recent days to try to make last-minute appointments before they lose access to abortion completely — some only to be turned away, ineligible for an abortion because of the state’s “heartbeat” law.

Kaydria, a 28-year-old from Jackson, Miss., started researching the changing abortion laws as soon as she found out she was pregnant in mid-August. With abortion already banned in her home state, she decided to drive three hours to Memphis.

She knew she’d have to hurry: On Aug. 25, all elective abortions would be banned there, too.

“I needed to go ahead and take care of it,” said Kaydria, who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used to protect her privacy. “I knew I didn’t have time.”

Roughly 14 states have bans outlawing most abortions, with varying exemptions and penalties for doctors. In all, nearly 21 million — about 1 in 3 girls and women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 — have lost access to the procedure, according to U.S. census data. The restrictions apply to both medication and surgical abortions.

The states that bar abortion from conception tend to be located in the South and the Midwest, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Wisconsin has conflicting laws that leave the legality of abortion uncertain, but clinics stopped providing abortions in the state after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, effectively ending abortion within its borders. Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee have bans that begin when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur before many people realize they are pregnant.

The Austin City Council passed a resolution that seeks to decriminalize abortion care. The move was especially urgent given that Texans, who have already been living under a draconian abortion law for nearly a year, face a full “trigger” ban with harsh criminal penalties and an attorney general eager to prosecute. The proposal is now spreading across Texas—and beyond.

A shimmer of light in these dark times, municipalities like Austin are creatively harnessing their local power and uplifting their progressive values to fight back against onerous state abortion laws and, importantly, proving that we can find pockets of hope, determination, and optimism in our communities amid what often feels like perpetual doom in life after Roe.

Religion claiming restrictions on the legitimacy of abortion imposes on most people’s sense of what is right or wrong.

Marjorie Taylor Green introduced a bill to make gender-affirming care for transgender youth a felony. Demonstrating where the Republicans really stand, Senator Lindsay Graham on Tuesday, August 23 introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationally after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Can the Republicans be more tone-deaf? Graham, the quintessential hypocrite previously said abortions should be left to the states.

America is the only industrialized country without some form of universal health care – it’s the poor who suffer the most. Survey data shows that nearly 50% of women who seek abortions live under the poverty line. What pregnant women deserve is free abortion on demand, under any circumstance.

How telling it is that having gotten Roe reversed, Republicans, are not talking about increasing the life chances of children being born only because of Roe’s reversal.  It’s time the United States join other developed countries in providing universal health care. Doing so would raise the life chances of Americans.

In Texas, U.S. District Judge James Hendrix halted emergency abortion guidance that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued last month’s administration that requires doctors to provide abortions in emergency medical situations even if doing so would run afoul of state law.

The government urged the court to find that a 1986 federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) superseded some restrictive state abortion laws passed in the wake of the demise of Roe vs. Wade.

The EMTALA law requires a hospital to provide stabilizing care to any patient that presents with an emergency medical condition.  The Biden Administration maintains that abortion qualifies as stabilizing care under the law.

A federal judge in Utah August 24 temporarily blocked Idaho’s abortion ban from taking effect during medical emergencies, ruling that it conflicts with federal law. This was the first court win in the federal effort to assure women needing medical attention can get it regardless of state law.

The National Association of Evangelicals called climate action a Christian responsibility in a 50-page report in August 2021, a call to action for a demographic that is less likely than the general population to consider climate change a threat.

The NAE’s report, entitled “Loving the Least of These,” addresses the scientific evidence for the reality of climate change and the role of greenhouse gas emissions in driving it, as well as examining and debunking common arguments against the objectivity of climatologists.

The report goes on to address the issue from a theological and personal perspective, outlining biblical arguments for environmental stewardship.

“The earth brings glory to God, and God continues to care for and sustain the natural processes of the world. The psalmist says: ‘Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul’ (Psalm 103:22),” it reads. “Because God’s glory is revealed in creation, we should be intentional about caring for his artistry.”

The report also cites Matthew: 22’s edict to “Love your neighbor as yourself” in the context of the human suffering caused by climate change and environmental disasters, and outlines personal experiences and examples of the human toll of those ongoing disasters.

The organization, which represents 45,000 evangelical churches, has acknowledged the existence of climate change.

It’s ironic that suffragettes celebrated a major victory 102 years ago today: A proclamation was signed that added the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving some 26 million women voting rights for the first time.

When the Founding Fathers were drafting the earliest laws, Abigail Adams encouraged her husband, then-Vice President John Adams, to “remember the ladies” — yet the resulting Constitution omitted the word “women.” Seneca Falls, New York, hosted the inaugural women’s rights convention in 1848.

Three decades later, a women’s suffrage amendment was introduced in Congress, and more than 40 more years later a suffrage bill finally passed in the House and Senate. Afterward, 36 states needed to ratify the amendment for constitutional inclusion. An indecisive 24-year-old, Representative Harry T. Burns, cast the deciding vote, ultimately favoring ratification at the behest of his mother giving women the right to vote.

The laws of some states place our country outside the pale of what is internationally acceptable. If the U.S. does not change course on women’s rights, the U.S. will be the subject of international scorn and sanctions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new rule making the agency an abortion provider. The VA has already started providing abortions to pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries in the limited circumstances set out in the rule, which took effect when it was published on Sept. 9.

  • The VA’s rule would allow abortions for those who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or if a pregnancy endangered the “life and health” of the person seeking an abortion.
  • There are still questions about how “health” will be interpreted. VA officials have said it will be up to veterans and doctors to determine whether health is endangered on a case-by-case basis.

Republicans have questioned the legality of the rule and promised to give the department a tough time if the GOP regains control of Congress in the fall.

It has now been 100 days since the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion, triggering states across the country to enact restrictive abortion laws. Since the high court’s June decision, dozens of clinics across 15 states have been forced to stop offering abortions.

People are still getting abortions. With its Dobbs v. Jackson decision in June, the Supreme Court overturned the half-century-old Roe v. Wade and effectively made abortion illegal in nearly half of US states. New data from the Society of Family Planning shows that the number of clinician-provided abortions in those states has plummeted. (It’s important to remember that data wouldn’t include self-managed abortions, where women take abortion pills at home.)

What’s perhaps more interesting is the notable jumps in abortion in states surrounding those where abortion is illegal, suggesting that women are traveling to get medical care. In Kansas, the number of abortions rose 36 percent from April to August; abortion became illegal in neighboring Oklahoma during the same time. North Carolina, which is surrounded by the less abortion-friendly South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, saw a 37 percent jump.

Those jumps show up in national numbers. Despite declining by 100 percent in a number of states, the number of recorded abortions in the US only declined a modest 6 percent nationwide, from 85,020 in April to 79,620 abortions in August 2022. Of course, traveling to another state can be prohibitively expensive for many, meaning that poorer people will have a harder time terminating pregnancies in states with strict abortion laws.

Now men can have birth control. The Pill went on the market for women in the 1960s. And The Pill went on the market for women in the 1960s. And the male contraception pill? Researchers would joke that it was “a couple of years away for 50 years.”

But now, new forms of birth control for men finally seem within reach. Not just male hormonal pills but gels and implants. Many of these developing products are more convenient and foolproof than condoms or easily reversed than vasectomies.
Is this a new “Woke” issue for the Right?

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a decision by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, which had paused FDA approval for the abortion pill mifepristone. That’s a great victory for abortion rights advocates, right? Nope! As part of its decision, the appeals court also rolled back major FDA changes which made mifepristone easier to obtain —  blocking the drug from being sent by mail, forcing patients to go to doctors for their prescriptions, and making them undergo multiple in-person examinations while taking the medication. Also, it can now only be administered 49 days into a pregnancy, down from the 70 days set by the FDA.

As a lawyer for a conservative legal group, Matthew Kacsmaryk, in early 2017, submitted an article to a Texas law review criticizing Obama-era protections for transgender people and those seeking abortions.

The Obama administration, the draft article argued, had discounted religious physicians who “cannot use their scalpels to make female what God created male” and “cannot use their pens to prescribe or dispense abortifacient drugs designed to kill unborn children.”

But a few months after the piece arrived, an editor at the law journal who had been working with Kacsmaryk received an unusual email: Citing “reasons I may discuss at a later date,” Kacsmaryk, who had originally been listed as the article’s sole author, said he would be removing his name and replacing it with those of two colleagues at his legal group, First Liberty Institute, according to emails and early drafts obtained by The Washington Post.

Now, six years later, as Kacsmaryk sits as a judge in Amarillo, Tex., his strong ideological views have grabbed the country’s attention after he ruled this month that sought to block government approval of a key drug used in more than half of all abortions in the country — an opinion that invoked antiabortion-movement rhetoric and which some medical experts have said relied on debunked claims that exaggerate potential harms of the drug.

Legal abortions probably increased in the United States in the first half of the year compared with 2020, an analysis of new estimates shows, as states with fewer abortion restrictions welcomed patients traveling from those with bans and access to abortion pills through telemedicine grew. New research from the Guttmacher Institute gives the latest picture of legal abortions since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year changed access to abortion nationwide and allowed more than a dozen states to prohibit or limit the procedure.

There are no estimates yet of women who were turned away from abortions or those who could not get them. The increases in most states may also hide the number of abortions stopped by the bans. “Abortions had started rising before Dobbs, and they may have risen even faster than observed if not for the bans,” Dr. Myers said. The Guttmacher Institute’s report is based on a survey of physical abortion clinics and telehealth and virtual providers. The institute, which supports abortion rights, does not contact all clinics in each state but uses a sample to estimate the number of abortions.

The report does not include abortions obtained outside of the formal health care system, such as pills mailed into states with bans from other countries or states where abortion is legal. Other data suggests that thousands of people, especially those living in states with bans, have ordered abortion pills online from abroad. Large states like California, Florida, Illinois, and New York had the most abortions. Because the researchers used a statistical model, they reported a range of uncertainty in their counts, and there was more uncertainty in states with more abortion providers. Data was not collected from the 14 states with abortion bans in effect in the first part of the year.

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Someone Needs to be Punished

How did Fox News get exclusive possession of the January 6 tapes?   My hunch is the Chief of Police is responsible. We know the right has penetrated police forces, the military, and likely the Secret Service.

What did Speaker McCarthy have on the Chief to get him to turn over the tapes?  The Chief should have had no more leverage over McCarthy than he did over the Senate Majority Leader or the Board supervising the Capitol Hill Police.

There are enough questions to give The Special Prosecutor some more work.

Why Did the Capital Police Give the January 6 videos only to Fox News

The Capitol Police Force is supervised by a board comprised of the Sergeant-At-Arms of the House and Senate and as ex-officio member, the Chief of the Capitol Police. He turned over the video footage to Fox News at the “request” of Speaker McCarthy.

Why did he not inform, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Schumer? Did he inform the other members of his board? Did he have an implied or explicit duty to inform them? Had he done so, why would this footage only have gone to only the most conservative TV network which has shown a casual if not deceptive relationship with the truth?

21 other networks had gone to court to get this footage. The Chief surely knew this. An investigation is in order to find out to determine if proper procedures were followed.

There can be little doubt Fox will edit the footage down, perhaps adding its own tapes to make January 6 a false flag operation, finding a way to place the blame on the left.

Now is the time for the media to get the video footage. They will be able to point out how Fox juggled their version of January 6!

Close out the year with a big win!

The lame-duck session offers Democrats a final shot at notching policy wins before Republicans take control of the House on January 3. Hats off to what the House and Senate are doing.

The clock is running out for Congress to fund the government and avoid a shutdown by Friday, December 16 at midnight.

One of the major needs is to pass a budget covering the next fiscal year, rather than just a continuing resolution. I think the Speakership is the opportunity to get both a more moderate Republican and the budget past. The way it would work is Nancy Pelosi would nominate a moderate Republican like John Kasich of Ohio or Paul Ryan (former Speaker), Liz Cheney, or Adam Kinzinger and trade Democratic votes for Pelosi’s nominee for the budget bill. The Speaker of the House does not need to be a member of Congress. I believe there are enough right-center Republicans who with the Democratic votes, could help make the next two years more livable.

I use the phrase “more livable” but that understates what I think the stakes are.

Our democratic form of government is in jeopardy. Research shows that when 25% of a population subscribes to an idea, there are enough people to change a course of action or a government.  Approximately 23% of the population identifies with the insurgent movement, according to the University of Washington. We saw how close a fraction of the population came to overthrowing the government on January 6. We see how much devastation can be wrought by the attacks on power stations in North Carolina.  Representative Marjorie Taylor Green said on December 12, “the January 6 Capitol attack would have been armed and successful if I had planned it.” After getting blowback, she said this was sarcasm. Hmmm.

Now is a window in time to seize the opportunities to save ourselves. A recent survey found that 36 percent of Americans have a positive view of businesses, down from 45 percent before the pandemic. That’s the lowest mark since the Great Recession in 2008. This anger can be channeled into the productive reform of our institutions.

How the Far Right is Threatening our Existence

Nearly one in three Americans say it may soon be necessary to take up arms against the government. A majority of Americans say the U.S. government is corrupt and almost a third say it may soon be necessary to take up arms against it, according to a new poll from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

Far-right organizations have identified school boards as essential to winning ideological battles over Critical Race Theory (CRT). Conservatives opposing “woke” culture won seats on the Kansa Board of Education, ousting two Republican members more like Elizabeth Cheney in the same election Kansans overwhelmingly preserved women’s rights to an abortion.

Dangerous groups led by some white supremacists want to control how race is understood and discussed in this country, mostly at the expense of Black and brown communities. And more earnestly, former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, proudly admitted that “the path to save the nation is very simple–it’s going to go through the school boards,” in an episode of his podcast that aired just this past May.

An uptick in threats to the FBI after it executed a search warrant at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is unsettling the political right, with some calling on allies of the former president to tone down their rhetoric.

Barriers have been erected outside the perimeter of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., while the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly issued a joint bulletin Friday warning about spikes in threats that included a bomb threat at FBI headquarters and calls for a “civil war” and “armed rebellion.

Viktor Orban. the Hungarian dictator provides a formula for the permanent power of a minority party. He uses culture wars to fire up the base. Discredit opponents through party-controlled media. Engineer the election rules by controlling their design. Orban has demonstrated that this playbook works — and the Republicans are employing it.  They even had him speak at a recent CPAC conference.

What makes embracing Orban particularly troubling is that  China’s biggest supporter in Europe is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He is also an ally of Putin.  If the far-right regains the Presidency, I fear for the future of democracy.

The Confederacy was an ethno-nationalist police state, run by a small number of plantation-owning oligarch families like Robert E. Lee’s, and even being white was no protection from the Confederacy’s brutality.

Although they weren’t enslaved, poor whites had it rough in the Confederate states. They had no real access to due process, and in most cases were prevented from voting if they didn’t own land. Even when they did vote, ballot boxes were stuffed or ballots were burned when elections didn’t turn out the way the oligarchs wanted.

Through the period from the 1830s to the 1860s, as I document in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, southern plantation owners’ wealth and consolidation of political power radically increased because of the invention of the Cotton Gin that started spreading across the south in the 1820s. 

This new machine could clean as much cotton as 50 hardscrabble white farmers or enslaved people; thus, those few massive plantations that could afford a Gin soon economically and politically dominated the South in the era leading up to the Civil War. 

By manipulating cotton prices, giant plantations ran small white-owned farms out of business. The plantation oligarchs would then buy up the distressed farms and use the poor white farmers’ own indebtedness to force them to work what had previously been their own land as sharecroppers. 

When poor whites protested or tried to fight back, they were often imprisoned on trumped-up charges or just killed and buried in unmarked graves. As Keri Leigh Merritt documents in Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South:

“[P]oor whites made particularly inviting targets for a southern legal system dominated by slaveholders… On the eve of secession, slaveholders were still jailing poor whites for small amounts of debt, publicly whipping thieves, and auctioning off debtors and criminals (for their labor) to the highest bidder.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 separate charges including grand larceny and criminal tax fraud in an indictment filed in New York State Supreme Court, admitting to what authorities described as a 15-year tax evasion scheme for skipping out on taxes due on $1.76 million in income that wasn’t reported to the IRS.

Weisselberg was promised a sentence of five months in New York City’s Rikers Island prison — although that could be shortened to a little over three months — as well as five years’ probation. He will also have to fully repay taxes, penalties, and interest due to the New York City and New York state tax authorities totaling $1,994,321.

Here are five things to know about Weisselberg’s plea deal.

The plea may be a consolation prize

The plea deal from a Trump Organization representative close to the former president may feel like something of a consolation prize for prosecutors who have been trying for a year to get Weisselberg to turn on Trump himself and not just Trump’s company.

Their aim has been to find evidence that the former president engaged in criminal activity, and securing the cooperation of a key Trump lieutenant like Weisselberg for their investigation could have been a step in that direction.

“It’s been widely publicly reported that the DA’s office was aggressively trying to flip Weisselberg against individuals and against Trump in particular, and he obviously held out on that and refused to deliver,” Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, told The Hill in an interview.

But Weisselberg didn’t roll over. In fact, The New York Times reported that just after the deal was made, The Trump Organization held a birthday party for Weisselberg at Trump Tower.

Legal experts draw a sharp distinction between the sort of plea deal that Weisselberg agreed to and an actual cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors that could have led to much more substantive disclosures about the former president and his business practices.

“He got a plea deal. He did not get a cooperation agreement,” Perry said.

“The case against Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have any life left in it,” Daniel Alonso, who served as chief assistant district attorney under former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., told The Hill. “This deal certainly doesn’t mean Trump is going to be prosecuted. It probably means the opposite. It really doesn’t incriminate him.”

There has been a turn of events.  Alan Weisselberg’s plea deal requires him to testify when the Trump Organization faces its own trial in October, and this could turn into a big win for prosecutors this fall as they go after Trump’s core business.

The Trump Organization is going on trial for nine out of the 15 counts brought against Weisselberg himself, including charges of criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records.

The testimony of Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, could make things difficult for the company.

Former assistant United States Attorney Andrew Weissman told The Hill in an interview that Weisselberg’s plea deal is going to make it much harder for the Trump Organization to make its defense.

“Because an organization acts through its people, this is the CFO saying that he did this, and these are not crimes that are unrelated to the organization, and the organization benefited directly from this,” he said.

Legal experts say there’s one big unanswered question about Weisselberg’s deal.

What happens if prosecutors decide that he didn’t “testify truthfully” in the upcoming Trump Organization trial, as his plea deal requires him to do?

But if they ask him questions about how much Trump knew during the trial, and Weisselberg says he didn’t know anything, prosecutors might then say he’s not being fully truthful, and then all bets about the sentencing could be off.

“This is the one open question,” Alonso said. “What happens if he testifies that Trump had no knowledge of these schemes? Would the DA still vouch for Weisselberg’s truthfulness?”

“I’ve never heard of a deal like this,” Alonso said.

Weisselberg was not granted immunity from other crimes 

Both Andrew Weissmann and Danya Perry said they were interested by the fact that Weisselberg was not granted full immunity for any other potential crimes.

“Typically, lawyers negotiate for coverage or immunity for any other crimes he might have committed so they can’t keep coming back,” Perry said. “Here, they didn’t do that.”

“Why should the DA grant him that if he’s not cooperating fully? This is not a traditional cooperation agreement. If he’s doing less, then he’s getting less.”

There’s a legal full-court press now against Trump. Most presidents leave office and fade into the background of American political life. But Weisselberg’s plea deal is just one of several legal events involving the former president that has kept his name in the news.

The most dramatic of these was the Aug. 8 FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, which saw federal agents walk away from Trump’s Florida property with boxes of classified documents.

 

Hoisted with his own Petard

Trump returned to Washington for the first time Tuesday, July 26, after leaving office to give a speech to the right-wing America First Policy Institute’s America First Agenda Summit, which aired live on Newsmax.

What he said was terrifying: he wants the U.S. to be more like China with police on every corner, with “Very short trials and mass executions. Trump praised the way crime is handled in the Philippines, where over 12,000 people have been executed for drug-related crimes.

In reference to the January 6 insurrection, Trump said, “We may just have to do it again.” With these words, Trump is admitting to instigating the January 6 attempted insurrection. What more could the Justice Department or a jury need to convict Trump?

Trump said major drug traffickers are responsible for about 500 deaths each and should be executed upon conviction for those lost lives.

“If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute a very quick trial and death-penalty sentence for drug dealers,” Trump told the crowd.

“It doesn’t take 15 years in court. It goes quickly,” Trump said. “You execute a drug dealer and you save 500 lives because they kill on average 500 people.”

Trump cited Singapore and China as examples of countries with no drug problems where drug dealers are put to death.

“It’s terrible to say, but you take a look at every country in this world that doesn’t have a problem with drugs, [and] they have a very strong death penalty for people who sell drugs,” Trump said.

Predicting that the death sentence would be a deterrent to major drug dealers,

Trump complained at length about how unsightly homeless people spoil the view of cities. He advocated for all homeless people to be rounded up and forced from the cities, to “large parcels of inexpensive land.” Trump is America’s worst nightmare.

“A friend of mine said recently that I was the most persecuted person in the history of our country,” Trump said. “I said he may very well be right.”

Some Americans Believe Covid Will Never Go Away; Others Pretend It’s Not a Risk

After several months of stagnation, the U.S. average COVID-19 case rate has once again begun to rise as the omicron BA.5 subvariant has risen to become the dominant strain in the country. While infections are rising, pandemic fatigue has been noted to be at an all-time high, with a minority of people not willing to take up mitigation efforts. Many consider the pandemic to be over.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a mass-disabling event that experts liken to HIV, polio, or World War II, with millions suffering the long-term effects of infection with the coronavirus. Many have found their lives dramatically changed and are grappling with what it means to be disabled.

 

A large majority of Americans believe that COVID-19 will always be around, according to new polling data released on Tuesday, with pandemic pessimism appearing to be rising — along with recent case counts.

The Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index found that 78 percent of Americans surveyed agreed with the statement “We will never fully be rid of the coronavirus in my lifetime.” This trend was consistent for Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

The Axios-Ipsos poll noted that only 36 percent of respondents said they wear a mask when outside their home, the lowest rate observed since the beginning of the pandemic. The same percentage of respondents said they never wear a mask when outside their home, a 14 percent jump from this same time last year.

At the same time, 29 percent of respondents said they believed that the pandemic was over, indicating there was some overlap between those who believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus will never go away but also

We’re at this real confrontational moment of trying to educate as many people as possible about disability and structural inequalities and trying to make sure [long haulers] get the resources they need right now.

The map below shows 2020 counties with the color corresponding to the number of cases.

The more infectious BA.5 omicron subvariant now makes up almost 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., as case rates continue to trend upward.
About 78 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. are caused by the BA.5 subvariant, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The rise of BA.5 has spurred concerns over its enhanced ability to evade protection given by vaccines and prior infections from other variants.
Currently available vaccines are still believed to be effective in reducing the risk of hospitalizations and deaths from BA.5, but the shot’s ability to prevent infection is thought to be less potent against this subvariant.

As BA.5 has grown in prevalence, the rate of COVID-19 infections has steadily begun to rise again. The case rate now stands at about 126,000 cases per week.

Among covid-deniers — the always-testing-negative ones, not the conspiracy theory crew — theories about the reasons for their good fortune abound. “I must have superhuman immunity or something,” some people tell themselves.

Scientists have found no conclusive evidence of innate genetic immunity.

 

The Secret Service Has Gone From Protection to Criminality

The Secret Service revealed that it had erased the messages on their cell phones on the dates of January 5 and 6.  This reminds us of Rosemary Woods deleting key tapes of Richard Nixon’s tapes in the Oval Office. Unlike the Woods situation in which it could not be proved that she or someone did it intentionally, the Secret Service obviously intended to delete what they did. As I understand federal criminal law, this was – on its face – an unlawful act.

Inspector General Joseph Cuffari notified Congress earlier this month that text messages from the agency on Jan. 5 and 6 appeared to have been erased as part of a device replacement program – leaving lawmakers peeved he waited months to alert them. Lawmakers then asked the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security to step aside from an ongoing investigation into “erased” text messages at the Secret Service.

“We are writing to express our grave concerns with Inspector General Cuffari’s failure to promptly notify Congress of crucial information while conducting an investigation of the Secret Service’s preparation for and response to January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol,” House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter.

So far they have turned up only one text message was a plea from then Capitol Police Steven Sund asking for help. Texts sent by Secret Service agents during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 seem to have been erased. Coupled with testimony that raises questions about the Service’s response to the events of that day, a shadow has been cast on the agency. A retired agent wrote this. Donald J. McHaley.  This episode that turned into a full-blown scandal has become a criminal investigation into ten Secret Service personnel. Their phones contain metadata showing text messages that were sent and received around January 20 but were not preserved.

The agency deleted text messages on government employees’ work-issued phones on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, the day before and the day of the insurrection at the US Capitol. In a July 2022 statement(Opens in a new window), Anthony Guglielmi, Chief of Communications for the Secret Service, said it “reset its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration” before the Department of Homeland Security and lawmakers requested any information. “In that process, data resident on some phones was lost.” Apple likes to tout the security of iMessage, but it may be a bit too secure for the Secret Service.

It is not the Secret Service that has been flouting the law. It includes the Department of Homeland Security, and high-level Pentagon officials within the Trump administration. This is corruption that eats into the heart of government.

That didn’t sit well with lawmakers investigating the attack. As a result, the agency may restrict employees from using iMessage on work-issued phones to prevent such a loss of critical evidence in the future, Politico reports

The suspicion of criminal behavior is suggested by the fact that Trump appointed  Anthony Ornato, an official with the Secret Service, as his White House  Chief  Operations. Ornato returned to the Secret Service after serving Trump. In accepting this appointment, Ornato politicized the Secret Service and the chain of willful disobedience to lawful requests demonstrates this.

The Secret Service has a policy requiring employees to back up and store government communications when they retire old electronic or telephonic devices, but in practice, staff do not consistently back up texts from phones.

The Secret Service has had a history of important records disappearing under cover of night and agency staff members refusing to cooperate when investigators came calling seeking information.

A further indication of criminal behavior is that the erasures came “after” the Office of Inspector General requested copies of the text messages for its own investigation and signaled that they were part of a pattern of DHS resistance to his inquiries, so there was no excuse for not backing up the phones.

The Secret Service claims many U.S. Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021 were erased as part of a device-replacement program.

Normally, phones clearing or deleting messages on a cell phone doesn’t mean the data is permanently gone, it’s just been filed away differently. If law enforcement. Law enforcement can get any data they want from cell phones with the right court order.

The Secret Service is so severely compromised that a total investigation should turn up several indictments. It’s interesting to note that with the blowback following the disclosure of the destruction of cell phone data, they have suddenly claimed to be cooperating. Let us not forget they denied the events described by Cassidy Hutchinson. Only the testimony of the DC Capitol police substantiated what she told the nation.

Questions Not Asked and Issues Not Dealt With

Not asked are questions like “Would people in your district not benefit from childcare” or “improved bridges?”

Instead, the right-wing media machine begins every national news cycle with what Republicans are angry about. Critical Race Theory is an example. It is never taught in grade schools, however controversial an idea this is, it’s nowhere near as significant as global warming, or the cost of childcare, yet Fox News peddled this made-up controversy 437 times in 2020.

The problem is mainstream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MS-NBC) too often follow the stories broken by Fox News. Instead of ignoring or naming it a hoax, CNN aired 183 segments two or more times on critical race theory; in 2020 ABC News aired 31 reports; the Dallas Morning News, 69 reports; The Los Angeles Times, 38 times, and CNN’s newswire, 88 times.

What is significant is not important. What is important is not significant. Most of the time, most of the media obsess over issues of mind-numbing triviality.  At the same time, issues of immense, even existential importance are largely or entirely ignored in favor of repetitive coverage of the most newsworthy event of the day.

The Washington Post published an article about it in the spring but did not point out it’s not taught in public schools. It quoted eight Republicans but no Democrats. The New York Times also published lengthy a story about it. In the 13th paragraph, the Times acknowledged CRT isn’t taught in public schools, yet reported Republicans as saying critical race theory has invaded classrooms.

A group of 85 fact-checking organizations wrote an open letter to YouTube to Wednesday faulting the video platform for spreading disinformation.  The organizations, including, Univision and The Washington Post Fact-checker, call YouTube’s efforts to moderate content “insufficient.”

It wasn’t an accident that Joe Manchin chose Fox News to declare his opposition to the Build Back Better legislation and pressed Republicans and people like Joe Manchin to answer questions about the problems in their constituencies.

The media has in recent years completely normalized the Republicans’  worldview, to the point where virtually all of the Build Back Better coverage ignores the fact it’s 50 Republicans who are dooming legislation that would create a universal prekindergarten program, subsidize child care costs, lower prescription-drug costs and offer tax credits for reducing carbon emissions. Instead, the media is focused on the opposition of just one Senator, Joe Manchin. The Republicans are treated as innocent bystanders whose actions play no role in any of this.

The media can do a better job of relating the most urgent everyday problems of Americans like paying for childcare which prevents millions of Americans from returning to work. Global warming threatens our daily existence in more than a dozen ways.  These can be illustrated as well as “Made in America” segments, which I consider a “feel good” story.”

I propose a new category of “Solve Problems” stories. New patents, new ideas coming from universities, ideas solicited from the public are among the sources that could be tapped.

Half of the country is searching for a new understanding of our racial history, the other half violently denies it. Half of our neighbors are demagoguing critical race theory, while the other half are busy reading or watching Fox News about it. Millions of people are asking questions about whether  American history is an existential threat to them because then they have to ask questions of themselves.

Trump has said, “Our country is going to hell!” And, he is leading the march. 15 Republicans who voted against the oil import ban included several of Trump’s most outspoken supporters, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Cawthorn has  called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

His co-travelers include right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack who says “climate control is nothing but a ruse of the devil” and adds that people are dying in Ukraine because environmentalists have “empowered” Putin by trying to limit the use of fossil fuels.   Yet another example:

“At least the guy was a Democrat”  was a text sent to South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg after he committed a fatal hit-and-run by a  GOP political strategist.

In Nevada, while leaving a restaurant with his family, Governor Steve Sisolak, was threatened with hanging by two fat men.  “We should string you up on lamppost right now!” “They hang traitors!” shouted the men, one of whom recorded his own video and posted it on social media.  Two Republicans running for the nomination to replace Sisolak for governor Reno attorney Joey Gilbert and Las Vegas council member Michele Fiore lauded it: “I cannot think of a more deserving person,” Gilbert wrote, while Fiore chimed in that Sisolak was “lucky it was just words.

Now there are Republicans who have the audacity to require that Congress vote every five years on whether to continue Medicare and Social Security. This is the 11-point “Rescue America Plan” plan of Senator Rick Scott. He also calls for raising taxes on low- and middle-income Americans, including retirees who rely solely on Social Security for their income.

President Biden criticized the plan , noting that imposing new limits on Social Security and Medicare could endanger the programs in the future.

“Really, ask yourself: How well are we going to sleep at night knowing that every five years, MAGA Republicans — if they’re still the Republican — as I said, this is not your father’s Republican Party — if we’re going to have to vote on whether you will have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and what amounts you’ll have in each of those programs?” Biden asked.

This is a warning about the GOP’s agenda for Social Security and Medicare and what seniors could face if the Republicans retake Congress in November.”