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Friday, December 10, 2021
BY SARAH LAZARUS & CROOKED MEDIA

 -A Fox News contributor keeping the Christmas tree fire in perspective

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a sneakily terrible decision in the Texas vigilante-enforced abortion-law case, allowing the near-total ban to remain in effect and endorsing Texas’s core scheme to shut down legal challenges.
 

  • On its face, the ruling looks like a win for abortion rights: In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that Texas abortion providers can proceed with their challenge to S.B. 8, sending the case back to a federal district court that already halted enforcement of the law once before. But the majority refused to block the law while those challenges proceed, forcing Texas providers to continue turning away patients in desperate need of care. 
     
  • What’s subtly worse, Justice Neil Gorsuchs’s majority opinion only allows suits against state health officials, who play a minor role in enforcing the law—providers can’t sue the state-court judges and clerks who would actually hear and process the vigilante lawsuits seeking bounties. By taking health officials out of the equation, Texas could now shut down federal legal challenges completely. That’s an underhanded stamp of approval for Texas’s plan to evade judicial review by outsourcing enforcement of an unconstitutional law to private citizens, and an invitation to other states to go ahead and give it a whirl.
     
  • As Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote in dissent, “My disagreement with the Court runs far deeper than a quibble over how many defendants these petitioners may sue. The dispute is over whether States may nullify federal constitutional rights by employing schemes like the one at hand.” Republican lawmakers were lining up to try even before Friday’s green light from Gorsuch: This week Alabama became the fourth state to consider a copycat Texas-style abortion bill, on the heels of Arkanas, Ohio, and Florida.

Just a day earlier, a lowly Texas state district court judge had no trouble spotting that implication.
 

  • Judge David Peeples ruled on Thursday that S.B. 8 violated Texas’s state constitution by allowing people who hadn’t suffered any injury from a breach of the abortion ban to come to court and sue about it. (He didn’t issue an injunction, but if the Texas State Supreme Court upholds his ruling, abortion providers will be in the clear.) Peeples wrote that the law’s enforcement mechanism, if permitted, would soon be deployed on all kinds of other issues, from gun rights to same-sex marriage: “Pandora’s Box has already been opened a bit, and time will tell.”
     
  • So how can Democrats slam that box shut, when an illegitimate Supreme Court majority is nonchalantly prying it open? By getting some more justices in there, according to the nation’s top legal scholars. Retired federal judge Nancy Gertner and constitutional-law professor Larry Tribe published an op-ed this week arguing for court expansion, writing that their time serving on President Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission convinced them of its necessity. “A Supreme Court that has been effectively packed by one party will remain packed into the indefinite future, with serious consequences to our democracy. This is a uniquely perilous moment that demands a unique response.”
 

The patina of good news on Friday’s ruling can’t obscure the fact that the Court just dealt a major blow to abortion rights (and much more) by signaling that states can opt out of the Constitution with One Simple Trick. If Democrats aren’t comfortable with that state of affairs, and they certainly shouldn’t be, it’s time to expand the Court.

This month X-Ray Vision is covering Hawkeye and Spider-Man! Join host Jason Concepcion for a discussion of the new Marvel series, Hawkeye, plus a recap of the previous Spider-Man movies and the upcoming film Spider-Man: No Way Home. You can catch new episodes of X-Ray Vision every Friday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

Kanye West’s publicist played an active role in Donald Trump’s coup attempt, in today’s edition of Sentences That Would Be Interesting To Show Your 2009 Self. On January 4, Trevian Kutti showed up at the home of Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman, who was dealing with an onslaught of death threats after then-President Trump falsely accused her of counting phony mail-in ballots. Kutti told Freeman she had been sent by an unidentified “high-profile individual” and told her to confess to Trump’s allegations, or dangerous people would come to her house within 48 hours, and she’d wind up in jail. Law enforcement has somehow seen no reason to pursue this incident. In other completely berserk coup developments, be advised that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows did turn over a PowerPoint to the January 6 committee, but it’s not quite clear whether it included the How To Coup slides circulating on social media.

Maryland Democrats could have used their control of the state’s redistricting process to offset GOP gerrymandering and rid themselves of Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who voted against certifying the 2020 election and later got caught with a gun outside the House floor, but they took a pass. While the new map that Maryland’s General Assembly passed this week would make Harris’s district more competitive, it stops short of locking down an 8–0 Democratic map, and national Democrats are rightly pissed. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) summed up the problem with high-mindedly (or fearfully) leaving seats on the table: “Given that [Republicans] were the ones who blocked redistricting reform, and they are now in the process of trying to gerrymander us into oblivion from Texas to Georgia to North Carolina to Michigan to Wisconsin, we have not only a political right, but I would argue an ethical duty, to do whatever we can to fight fire with fire, and try to defend democratic values and democratic process in America.”

Defend Civil Liberties on Every Front 

A law in Texas that bans abortions after 6 weeks, before many even know they are pregnant.

A sweeping voter suppression bill in Georgia, disproportionately targeting voters of color.

An Arkansas law cruelly banning medically necessary health care for transgender youth.

Over 900 bills like these made their way into legislatures this year. In state after state, opponents of civil liberties are advancing attacks against our most fundamental freedoms. So in state after state, the ACLU is there to fight back. We have an on-the-ground presence – in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico – focused on defending civil liberties on every front, from litigation to advocacy to organizing and beyond.

By working together, we can win the progress our country so urgently needs. Add your name today to be a part of these fights – any many more to come. 

Nebraska has become the first red state in the country to commit to decarbonizing its electricity sector by mid-century.

Reddit users broke Kellogg’s job portal after the company announced that it would permanently replace striking union workers. Also, President Biden came out against the move

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has announced the country’s first bill to ban algorithmic discrimination. 

Researchers are looking to Native American farming practices as potential solutions to concerns over food supplies in a hotter, drier future.

. . . . . .


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