10 Things in Politics: SCOTUS seems likely to undercut Roe
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- The Supreme Court seems open to undermining Roe v. Wade
- Republicans may shut down the government over vaccine mandates
- Elizabeth Holmes' emotional testimony may have saved her
1. AT THE SUPREME COURT: Justices appear ready to fundamentally change abortion rights in the US by reversing one of the major parts of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Here are some of the major takeaways from oral arguments:
None of the court's conservative justices appear to want the status quo: The Mississippi law that would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks is a direct challenge to an underpinning of Roe that prohibits states from outlawing abortions before the point of fetal viability, roughly 22 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy, The Washington Post reports. Justices' comments seem to strongly indicate that line will be moved.
- Key quote: "Why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked during oral arguments yesterday. Roberts, who is viewed as the most moderate of the court's six conservative justices, said Mississippi's 15-week deadline was not a "dramatic departure" from Roe's red line.
And some are ready to ditch Roe entirely: Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch asked questions that strongly indicated they saw no middle ground on the topic, The New York Times reports. Meaning, they would like the court to overturn Roe entirely and allow states to determine the extent of abortion bans. Just years ago, some considered it far-fetched that Roe would be completely overturned.
- Here's what would happen then: Many states have laws in the books that would automatically limit access to abortion once allowed by the courts. Twelve states have so-called trigger laws that would explicitly ban most abortions. Others such as Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan have currently unenforced abortion bans that predate Roe.
The spotlight is on Justice Brett Kavanaugh: During his contentious confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh told senators that Roe was "settled as precedent." During oral arguments, Kavanaugh appeared to differ from those remarks, The Post reports.
- More details: At one point, he cited a list of instances in which prior courts had ruled against precedent, including Brown v. Board, when a unanimous court overruled the "separate but equal" doctrine that had shielded segregation for generations.
2. A top aide to Vice President Kamala Harris is leaving: Symone Sanders, Harris' chief spokesperson and senior advisor, is leaving Harris' office at the end of the year, Politico reports. It's not immediately clear where Sanders will go, but she is set to be the second high-profile staffer to leave the vice president's office after a tumultuous first year. More on what's happening in Harris' orbit.
3. Republicans may shut down the government over vaccine mandates: A small group of GOP senators and House Republicans are threatening to derail a government-funding bill over a push to include amendments defunding the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Their effort is reminiscent of the 2013 government shutdown when Republican lawmakers dug in their heels in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act only to cave when Democrats and President Barack Obama refused to acquiesce to their demands. Here's where talks stand ahead of Friday night's deadline.
4. First US Omicron case is detected in California: The University of California at San Francisco spotted the case in an infected traveler, an adult under age 50, who had returned from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive for the coronavirus on November 29. The person is said to be fully vaccinated with "mild symptoms that are improving." More on the news.
5. Prosecutors may charge the parents of the Michigan school-shooting suspect: Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said prosecutors expected to charge the suspect, identified as Ethan Crumbley, with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of felony firearm possession. She added that evidence indicated the shooting was planned. Authorities say Crumbley's father just last Friday purchased the pistol used in the shooting. Here's what else we're learning about what happened.
6. Meadows says Trump tested positive for coronavirus before his chaotic first debate with Biden: Former President Donald Trump lashed out at his former chief of staff Mark Meadows over Meadows' claim that Trump tested positive on September 26, three days before his indoor, in-person presidential debate with Joe Biden, and later tested negative. Meadows also writes in his new book that Trump's doctor Sean Conley instructed the president's team to stop Trump from traveling to a campaign rally. Instead, Trump went ahead with his plans as scheduled and later talked to reporters on Air Force One without wearing a mask. Trump also went ahead with an event for Gold Star families, an event he later blamed with infecting him.
7. Biden is preparing to extend a mask mandate for air travel: The White House is expected to extend a federal mandate for travelers in the US to wear face coverings on planes, trains, and buses, as well as in airports and other transit stations, Reuters reports. Here's how else things are changing in the face of the Omicron variant.
8. Alec Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger before fatal shooting: "I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them," Baldwin told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, his first sit-down interview since the deadly incident on the set of his Western "Rust." Baldwin said he had "no idea" how a real bullet, something experienced Hollywood hands have said should never be on a film set, was in his gun. More from Baldwin's interview.
9. Elizabeth Holmes' testimony may have saved her: Holmes, the embattled Theranos founder, and one of her top lawyers, Kevin Downey, "spent four days in court singing a pitch-perfect duet that attempted to portray her as the biggest victim of the company she founded," Adam Lashinsky wrote for Insider. Her tearful appearance didn't change the case against her, he said, but did exploit her skill as a storyteller — and could be enough to sway the jury.
10. MLB has begun its first work stoppage in decades: America's national pastime is facing an uncertain future after owners locked out players early Thursday morning following the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement, the Associated Press reports. Until now, the sport had experienced labor peace for over 26 years. Here's where things stand as spring training and opening day are under threat.
Today's trivia question: Speaking of MLB, who is the only person to have been elected to both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the US Senate? It just so happens this person was instrumental in the history of the MLB players' union too. Email your answer and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Yesterday's answer: Henry Clay became secretary of state after the closely contested election of 1824. Andrew Jackson cried foul and rode his cries of a "corrupt bargain" straight into the White House. Historians still debate how explicit any backroom dealing was at the time.
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