Have Your Pray In Court
April 26, 2022
Some Good News
- Mayor Proposes 1,400 Shelter Beds to Move Homeless People Off Streets (NYT, $)
- No London shooting deaths in six months as police say gun trade stifled (Guardian)
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg
Have Your Pray In Court
Pew Research shows Americans are seeing a more ideologically conservative Supreme Court than they did just 19 months ago. Before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020, and Amy Coney Barrett was appointed, 30% of adults said the court was ideologically conservative. Today, 38% of adults say the court is conservative – an 8-point increase. It’s clear the supermajority hasn’t hesitated to take up cases that present opportunities to restrict or overturn decades-old legal precedent in order to reflect more conservative, non-inclusive cultural values. And they’re willing to forego a deliberate pace of justice to make that race to the right.
When Ginsburg was alive, the Court turned away emergency challenges to state Covid restrictions from houses of worship. Barrett’s vote shifted the majority in favor of the houses of worship. In the past year, justices demonstrated hostility toward abortion rights, first agreeing to hear a Mississippi case, then an even more restrictive Texas case. The Court limited the ability of minorities to challenge state laws as discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. In 6-3 decisions, justices invalidated a California regulation requiring charities to disclose their donors and weakened the power of unions in a property rights dispute. The majority approved of a Catholic Foster Care agency in Philadelphia that refused to work with same-sex couples, and they’re close to striking down a New York gun control law.
Steps taken to expand religious freedom have been particularly noticeable, and another opportunity appeared Monday. Justices heard arguments in a case brought by Bremerton, Washington public high school football coach, Joseph Kennedy, who claims the right to kneel and pray on the 50-yard line at the conclusion of each game, joined by players who want to participate. School authorities told the coach to stop his midfield praying because it violated a school policy saying employees could neither encourage nor discourage religion. The school district and the lower courts said Kennedy’s public praying amounted to a school endorsement of religion – when Kennedy refused to stop, he was put on paid leave. Three liberal justices have no desire to overturn precedents marking a clear separation between church and state. Conversely, six conservatives are focused on accommodating religion in public schools and other public institutions. (Pew, CNN, NPR)
Slovenia And Steady
- First, France’s center-left President Emmanuel Macron wins reelection. Now, Slovenia’s political newcomer, Robert Golob, has defeated three-time prime minister and far-right populist, Janez Janša, in Sunday’s elections. Golob launched his Liberal Freedom Movement (GS) Party in January and built on the anger with Janša’s regime.
- The opposition accuses Janša, an admirer of ex-president Trump, of having attempted to undermine democratic institutions and press freedoms since he returned to power in 2020. With almost all votes counted Sunday in the former Yugoslav state of about 2 million people, GS had 34.5% compared to 23.6% for Janša’s Slovenian Democratic party.
- Golob, 55, is a former power company manager; he labeled the elections a “referendum on democracy” and promises to restore “normality.” One political analyst said, “The vote was a vote against Janša. Against Slovenia on the Hungarian path, against an illiberal democracy in Slovenia, against the government taking over the public television, against the control of judiciary.” Former first lady Melania Trump is a native of Slovenia. (Guardian)
A Leg To Stand On
- Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper ran a story Sunday that quoted an anonymous Conservative lawmaker as saying Labor Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner tried to throw Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson “off his stride” when she sat across from him in the House of Commons and repeatedly crossed and uncrossed her legs. The article called it “a fully clothed Parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone’s infamous scene in the 1992 film ‘Basic Instinct’,” in which Stone mesmerizes police interrogators by crossing her legs without wearing panties.
- Rayner accused “Boris Johnson’s cheerleaders” of using “desperate, perverted smears.” She tweeted: “I stand accused of a ‘ploy’ to ‘distract’ the helpless PM – by being a woman, having legs, and wearing clothes.” She went on to say, “Women in politics face sexism and misogyny every day — and I’m no different.”
- Johnson expressed outrage, condemned the article, and said the anonymous lawmaker would face “the terrors of the Earth” if identified. Many female U.K. politicians said the article was an extreme example of the sexism they encounter daily. (AP)
Additional World News
- At least 168 killed in western Darfur violence, aid group says (CNN)
- ‘You can’t imagine the conditions’ – Accounts emerge of Russian detention camps (BBC)
- Israel strikes southern Lebanon in response to rocket fire (ABC)
- Large fires break out at Russian oil depots near Ukraine border (Guardian)
- Mass testing hits Beijing amid fears it could face Shanghai-style lockdown (WaPo, $)
- India’s Modi promises investments on Kashmir visit (Al Jazeera)
Trump Through The Hoops
- New York’s Judge Arthur Engoron is holding former President Donald Trump in civil contempt for not complying with a subpoena for documents, served on him in December by Attorney General Letitia James as part of her two-year investigation into the Trump Organization.
- James’ office previously said it found multiple misleading or fraudulent misstatements and omissions in the Organization’s financial statements, which were provided to lenders and insurers, among others. A spokesperson with the AG’s office said Trump had failed to produce “even a single responsive document.” Engoron fined the ex-president $10,000 a day until he complies with the subpoena.
- Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said her client simply didn’t have any of the types of written communications sought by the subpoena, because Trump “does not email. He does not text message. And he has no work computer at home or anywhere else.” When the judge asked why Trump didn’t sign an affidavit swearing that he complied with the subpoena, Habba said that he would. She also said Engoron’s ruling would be appealed. (CNN)
On A Witch Hunter
- Hunter Biden will be the new Hillary Clinton if Republicans take over the House in November’s midterms. A person spoke anonymously to say there is widespread sentiment in the GOP that questions about the financial dealings of President Biden’s son remain unanswered, and they intend to do something about it.
- Unverified allegations about Biden’s son and his foreign business ties were a staple of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, but this isn’t the first time they’ve pursued this tactic. The GOP spent over $82 million in taxpayer dollars on four Clinton-related scandals pushed by Republican lawmakers, beginning when she was first lady in the 1990s. It all led to the independent counsel’s report that concluded the evidence was insufficient to bring charges.
- When that didn’t work, congressional hearings were convened on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. In one of the longest congressional investigations in U.S. history, Republicans heard 255 witnesses, held 62 hours of hearings, generated 13 reports, and compiled over 2,500 pages of information, but also brought no charges. (AP, Gainesville Sun)
Additional USA News
- Man dies after setting himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court, police say (CBS)
- Border migrants injured after high-speed Texas police chase ends in crash (Guardian)
- Kemp and Perdue clash over 2020 election results at Georgia GOP governor’s debate (CNN)
- FBI chief says espionage threat posed by China ‘unprecedented in history’ (The Hill)
- Blinken’s Zelensky meeting signals momentum for on-the-ground diplomacy (Axios)
- Charges Dropped Against Pamela Moses, Who Was Jailed Over Voter Fraud (NYT, $)
- North Carolinians are polite, law-abiding citizens. And that goes for their wildlife, too. A video posted by Asheville police on their Facebook page shows a black bear enjoying a recent stroll through the downtown area. The bear saunters along the sidewalk before coming to the street corner, where it looks both ways before proceeding across the street – in the crosswalk. Next, you can see the bear lazily climbing a tree in a nearby park – you know, as one is wont to do.
- After a bit, police officers help get the bear safely back to a wooded area by giving it the space to mosey along as it saw fit. All in all, a most polite engagement – the third in the last three weeks. No word on whether that’s three different black bears, or the same bear coming to town once a week. (CBS News)
- World’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, dies in Japan aged 119 (CNN)
- Glowing Ancient Spider Fossils Offer Rare Glimpse of Extinct Life (Vice)
- EU law targets Big Tech over hate speech, disinformation (AP)
- Antarctica’s ‘Penguin Post Office’ is hiring (NPR)
- Male spiders speedily catapult off their mates after sex to avoid being eaten (Ars Technica)
- Star trek: three rich men return from Nasa’s first foray into space tourism (Guardian)
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