Posts tagged with "U.S. Supreme Court"

Biden campaign launches Arizona ad blitz on heels of abortion ruling

April 15, 2024

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign launched a paid media blitz about reproductive rights in Arizona on Thursday, April 11—two days after the state’s Supreme Court upheld a near-total abortion ban  dating back to 1864, reports NBC News.

The seven-figure ad buy focuses on former President Donald Trump’s latest abortion stance, in which he again took credit for overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling because of the justices he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and said states should decide abortion policy.

The move is part of a larger, more aggressive strategy to seize on Trump’s record on abortion, with the Biden team quickly mobilizing to respond on an issue it sees as the most motivating one for voters in November.

“Because of Donald Trump, millions of women lost the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies,” the ad opens, with Biden narrating and then saying: “Women’s lives are in danger because of that.”

The 30-second spot, which first aired Thursday on MSNBC, will target key young, female and Latino voters, both on television and online, according to the campaign.

“Your body and your decisions belong to you, not the government, not Donald Trump,” Biden says directly to the camera before he vows: “I will fight like hell to get your freedom back.”

The campaign said it hopes to reach voters in the battleground state this month with ad placements on shows like Abbott Elementary, Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, The Voice, and  Saturday Night Live, as well as sports events and entertainment programming on TNT, TLC, ESPN, FX, and Bravo.

“This week, women across the state of Arizona are watching in horror as an abortion ban from 1864 with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of a woman will soon become the law of the land for Arizonans,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday. “This nightmare is only possible because of Donald Trump.”

A 60-second spot released on Monday, April 8,  features a testimonial from a Texas woman who says she nearly died twice from a miscarriage because she was denied care.

At the end of that video, the ad text says: “Donald Trump did this.”

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to travel to Tucson on Friday to hold a political event focused on reproductive freedom, where she plans to put Trump front and center on abortion, a Biden campaign official said.

When Biden was asked Wednesday for his message to Arizonans about the state Supreme Court’s Civil War-era ruling, he told NBC News, “Elect me,” adding that he was from the “21st century, not back then. They weren’t even a state.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Supreme Court justices appear deeply skeptical of effort to cut access to abortion pill

March 27, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled on Tuesday, March 26, that it would likely retain widespread access to one of the two common drugs used in medication abortion, in a case that could have nationwide implications for reproductive rights and the authority of federal agencies, reports The Hill.

During oral arguments, a majority of the justices appeared deeply skeptical that a group of anti-abortion doctors and organizations had the right to sue the Food and Drug Administration over changes the agency made to make it easier to access mifepristone.

In particular, the conservative justices appointed by former President Donald Trump questioned whether any of the doctors in the lawsuit could show they had personally been harmed by the government’s actions to regulate mifepristone.

The doctors asserted they would be violating their morals if they had to treat a woman suffering complications from using mifepristone. But as Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar and some of the justices noted, the doctors have the ability to opt out if such a scenario were to occur.

By suing the FDA over a potential harm, they were asking the Supreme Court to prevent all women across the country from accessing the pills, rather than seeking a remedy to their specific circumstances.

This was the first time abortion has come before the Court since the same justices overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Research contact: @thehill

Same-sex marriage finally will be written into law

December 12, 2022

After decades of inaction and months of back-and-forths between the House and Senate, lawmakers finally sent a bill to the President Joe Biden’s desk on Thursday, December 8, that would, for the first time ever, codify national same-sex marriage rights into law, reports The Daily Beast.

The House passed a final version of the Marriage Equality Bill (Bill 258-169) by a vote of 258-169,  with all Democrats and 39 House Republicans voting in favor of the legislation.

Before this summer, same-sex marriage wasn’t really on Congress’ radar. But after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a decision that sent shockwaves across the nation, things changed.

Many pointed out how Justice Clarence Thomas seemed to be targeting other rights, like gay marriage, in his abortion opinion. With Democrats unable to cobble together the numbers to codify abortion rights, they moved on to protecting same-sex marriage. And they were met with some surprising levels of support—at least at first.

In the House, the original bill passed with the support of 47 Republicans. Democrats rejoiced at the moment of bipartisan agreement. But as the bill went to the Senate, prospects changed.

Led by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), who is gay, Senate Democrats struggled to assure that ten Senate Republicans would join them in supporting the proposal and averting a filibuster. Some early supporters emerged, like Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose son is gay. But others hemmed and hawed, voicing concerns about religious liberties and protections they felt weren’t concrete in the bill text. Some senators swore they wouldn’t unveil their position until Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) put it to a vote.

Ultimately, Schumer kicked back the vote on the bill until after the midterms in an apparent bid to give Republicans some breathing room.

The bill would ensure that the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages, even if a couple is in a state that does not. Some changes to the bill were made in the Senate to ensure religious liberties were intact, like ensuring religious non-profit groups would not have to perform same-sex marriages.

Last week, the Senate passed the proposal, 61-36. It got tossed back to the House for this final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who’s sure to sign it into law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) gaveled the vote as Democratic members on the floor cheered.

“Americans have grown accustomed knowing that they have a constitutional right to equal marriage. Those living in same sex and interracial marriages should not have to live with the fear that their government could rescind legal recognition of their families at any moment,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said on the floor, adding, “That’s not America. That’s not content of character.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

‘It wouldn’t be my choice for judge’: Senate Democrats slam Biden’s planned anti-abortion pick

July 13, 2022

Several Senate Democrats said on Monday, July 11, that they planned to vote against the confirmation of a conservative, anti-abortion federal judge nominee if President Joe Biden follows through with a purported deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports USA Today. 

The strong reaction from Democrats on Biden’s planned nomination of attorney Chad Meredith in Kentucky raised the prospects that the president’s own party could block the pick, should he move forward.

“All I’m going to tell you is I’m going to vote no,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday. “It’s his call, but if he asked me for my advice I would say I don’t know how many Democrats are planning on voting yes.”

Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, a Federal Society attorney who has fought against abortion rights.  But—as first reported exclusively by The Courier Journal—a White House official informed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear‘s office in an email on June 23 that the Biden Administration planned to nominate Meredith to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kentucky’s Eastern District the next day.

The next morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shock waves across the nation. Meredith’s intended nomination was not announced or submitted.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up federal judicial nominations, said he spoke last week to the White House about the potential Meredith nomination.

“What’s in it for us? They didn’t give a specific answer,” Durbin told reporters, according to Politico. He said Democrats would not support Meredith’s confirmation “on his merits alone.”

Durbin told USA TODAY he needs to “know more,” including whether there was any arrangement with McConnell, adding: “It wouldn’t be my choice for judge.”

Biden could try to win support of a Meredith nomination with Republican votes in an evenly divided Senate. But a president fighting his own party for a lower-court judicial nominee would be highly unusual, and he would have to overcome a Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

McConnell has refused to comment until Biden officially submits a nominee, but his camp has dismissed talk of a deal as “false information.”

Biden’s potential nomination of Meredith has fueled a backlash from progressive activists who have demanded bolder action from the Biden Administration after the Supreme Court decision.

Several pro-abortion-rights groups have called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and demanded Biden not move ahead with it.

nominated,” Brown said. “He should not send the name on.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade

June 27, 2022

On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade—eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure, reports The Hill.

The political bulletin predicts that the 6-3 decision by a majority of conservative justices will “fundamentally reshape” American society by overturning the landmark 1973 precedent—and cautions that “it is certain to ignite a political firestorm and yield a complex patchwork of state laws that will effectively block large swathes of the population from terminating unwanted pregnancies.”

The ruling upholds Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which directly clashed with Roe’s requirement that states permit abortion up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that reaffirmed Roe’s core holding.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

He further noted, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

More than two dozen states, primarily in the South and Midwest, are expected to tighten abortion access as a result of Roe falling—including 13 states with “trigger bans” set to take effect automatically or through minimal effort by state officials.

For conservatives, the toppling of Roe marks the crowning achievement of a carefully orchestrated and well-funded movement that for decades has sought to elevate reliable allies to the Supreme Court and erase federal protections under Roe that conservatives have long considered an infringement of states’ rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined in the majority’s judgment but said he would have preferred a more incremental approach that would not have required overturning Roe and Casey outright.

“If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more,” the Chief Justice wrote in a concurring opinion. “Perhaps we are not always perfect in following that command, and certainly there are cases that warrant an exception. But this is not one of them.”

The blockbuster decision comes after a stunning breach of Supreme Court secrecy last month led to the public release of a draft version of the opinion, offering a glimpse at the coming dismantlement of abortion rights as well as the likely upheaval over a ruling that most Americans said they would oppose.

Research contact: @thehill

In pushback to Trump, Supreme Court allows release of hundreds of January 6 documents

January 21, 2022

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 19,  refused a request from former President Donald Trump to block the release of White House records concerning the January 6 attack on the Capitol—effectively rejecting Trump’s claim of executive privilege and clearing the way for the House committee investigating the riot to start receiving the documents hours later, reports The New York Times.

The court, with only Justice Clarence Thomas noting a dissent, let stand an appeals court ruling that Trump’s desire to maintain the confidentiality of internal White House communications was outweighed by the need for a full accounting of the attack and the disruption of the certification of the 2020 electoral count.

In an unsigned order, the majority wrote that Mr. Trump’s request for a stay while the case moved forward presented weighty issues, including “whether and in what circumstances a former president may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent president to waive the privilege.”

But an appeals court’s ruling against Trump did not turn on those questions, the order said. “Because the court of appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former president necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” the order said.

Within hours of the decision, the National Archives began turning over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee.v A Justice Department spokesperson said on Wednesday evening that the documents had been delivered to the committee. But a spokesperson for the panel said on Thursday morning that the committee had received only some of the documents and expected the rest to be delivered as quickly as the archives could produce them.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman, called the decision “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”

“Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of January 6 and its causes,” they said.

Research contact: @nytimes

How SCOTUS quietly undercut Roe v. Wade

September 6, 2021

In an extraordinary use of the so-called shadow docket, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a law effectively banning abortion, The New York Times reports.

According to the American Bar Association, the “shadow docket” is a mechanism that defies the court’s “normal procedural regularity.” Instead, it is a method by which the court can hand down decisions quickly—without hearing oral arguments, receiving amici curiae filings, or having to write out lengthy philosophical tracts explaining the jurisprudence underpinning their decision.

At 1 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, September 1,without a single word, the Supreme Court let the State of Texas effectively ban abortion—for the first time in nearly 50 years, the Times notes.

But it was not the first time the court had used the shadow docket so aggressively. It was not even the first time in the past week: Indeed, on Thursday, August 27, the court blocked an extension of the federal emergency ban on evictions—gutting a 1944 law that gave the CDC the authority to implement such measures to curb disease, and endangering the eight million American households that are behind on rent – and which may now, without federal eviction protection, face homelessness.

As the night of September 1 became day, and became night again, abortion providers across Texas turned away patients seeking what was, according to the court’s own precedent, a constitutional right, still the justices said nothing. When they broke their silence 23 hours later, refusing to block a law that unambiguously violates Roe v. Wade, the five-justice majority took only 400 words to describe its reasoning.

Because the shadow docket involves so little deliberation and transparency, the court historically hasn’t used it to enable major policy changes or to reverse precedents, and the rulings themselves haven’t been treated as precedents. But that restraint is a norm, not a requirement, and the court has increasingly been breaking it: using the shadow docket more often, on more consequential matters, and with more precedential weight. Last year, it issued several orders on the shadow docket concerning coronavirus restrictions and went on to cite some of them in rulings on the regular docket.

“That’s really not typical, nor is it supposed to be typical,” said Melissa Murray, a professor of law at New York University and an expert on reproductive rights.

I think it’s a reasonable question, whatever one thinks of the answers the court is reaching in these cases, whether we actually think it’s healthy for so many major questions affecting so many people to be resolved in this highly compressed, circumscribed, truncated review process,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law and an expert on federal courts.

The court’s increasingly assertive use of the shadow docket has angered some of its members, like Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote in her dissent from the order on Texas’ law, “The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making—which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the only conservative who dissented, criticized the process less forcefully, writing that the structure of the new abortion law was “not only unusual, but unprecedented,” and that while Texas’ legal arguments “may be correct,” the questions involved were too weighty to resolve in such a rushed way.

 Texas’ law, called S.B. 8, prohibits abortion once cardiac activity is detectable in the embryo — around six weeks’ gestation, before many people know they are pregnant. (Pregnancies are dated from the last menstrual period, so “six weeks” generally means four or less after fertilization, and two or less after a missed period.) Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that affirmed Roe, protects a right to abortion until the fetus can survive outside the uterus, around 23 weeks’ gestation.

What distinguishes the Texas law from bans that courts have blocked everywhere else is that, instead of making abortion a crime prosecutable by the government, it lets any citizen sue anyone whom he or she accuses of “aiding or abetting” an abortion after the cutoff point—phrasing that includes not only abortion providers but also anyone who, for instance, pays for a procedure or drives a patient to a clinic. Successful plaintiffs will get $10,000 and reimbursement of their legal fees. Defendants who prevail will not be reimbursed.

“It is quite striking and quite galling that the Supreme Court would allow a state to essentially destroy Roe under cover of night with no decision,” Leah Litman, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, said Wednesday afternoon, before the court had spoken. “I think it’s pretty cowardly, I think it’s an affront to the rule of law, and it is quite troubling about what it suggests about the enforcement of our constitutional rights going forward.”

If by outsourcing enforcement to citizens, a state can enact a law that would otherwise be blocked as unconstitutional, “there’s nothing that stops other states from enacting similar laws to undermine other constitutional rights,” Professor Litman said. “Religious liberty, Second Amendment protections, property rights, right to bodily autonomy — there’s just no limitation.”

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Dark money’ funds TV ads to defeat Dems

July 16, 2018

So-called “dark money” has funded nearly 44% of TV spots about Congressional candidates during the first six months of this year, according to an analysis of Kantar Media data by USA Today, released on July 13. And more than half of those ads (25%) have not been positive.

In all, nearly 386,000 television spots focused on House and Senate races aired between January 1 and July 8, ranging from ads by candidates to those funded by outside groups. That total surpasses the 355,464 broadcast TV spots that ran at the same point in the last midterm elections for Congress in 2014 and underscores the battle raging for control of Congress.

Leading the way, the news outlet said, were organizations “affiliated with” billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, whose conservative donor network “plows hundreds of millions of dollars into politics” during each election cycle.

Indeed, two groups tied to Koch—Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America—accounted for more than 25% of the advertising from groups that don’t disclose their donors. Both broadcast negative ads against five Democratic senators from red and purple states who are up for reelection—among them, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Not only that, but they are only just kicking off their efforts, both to oust candidates who do not support their political agenda—and to advocate for those who are prepared to hold the conservative line.

Americans for Prosperity has announced that it will spend at least $1 million on paid advertising and voter outreach to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy..

The other groups in the top five are One Nation, an issue advocacy group linked to Senate GOP leadership; Vote Vets Action Fund, a Democratic group that aims to elect veterans to office; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats in order to regain the House majority. But the party has a tougher challenge in the Senate. They’re largely playing defense and protecting ten seats in states Trump won, despite Republicans’ slim 51-49 seat majority

Research contact: fschoute@usatoday.com