Everything is still a giant mess–honestly, Trump planning a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa feels like a pretty succinct summary of where we are as a country. But as always, pecan resist, and we keep pushing for a more just world. I’m here if anyone needs anything.
Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a hunting rule–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Constitutional Crisis Corner:
Though our focus is mostly elsewhere right now, we did see a lot of Disregard of Governing Norms–and these things are definitely related, because this administration is still using unrest to consolidate power. Here are the main things to know:
- Regulation Free-For-All. The regulatory free-for-all continues for another week, with this administration chucking protections for several more groups in the span of the week. A lot of eyes are on their attempt to undo protections for transgender people and abortion in the ACA, which the administration released on the anniversary of the Pulse Massacre because of course they did. But they also finalized a rule that allows all kinds of egregious hunting practices in Alaska, which I take rather personally as an avid bear fan. And we should all pay attention to the proposed changes to asylum issued today, which would effectively cement severe curtailment of asylum claims first constructed during the COVID crisis.
- Messed Up Trump Response: BLM Edition. Of course, with all of the racial discourse and protest gripping the nation, it’s inevitable that we now have a Busted Things Trump is Doing subsection about it. He’s rumored to be giving a speech on racial unity this week–apparently written by actual white nationalist Stephen Miller–so that’s sure to be a party. Meanwhile, he definitely is advancing conspiracy theories about the elderly man in Buffalo who was assaulted by police on camera, and thanking the “S.S.” for doing a ‘GREAT JOB’. And as I mentioned above, he scheduled his first rally at the site of a massive racial massacre on the anniversary of emancipation, and when faced with criticism he changed the date but not the location. He also flat-out refused to change military bases named for Confederate generals, which put him at odds with his own party as well as the military he commands.
- Flynn Flyover. It almost feels quaint to discuss governmental malfeasance that doesn’t involve life or death by this point, but we nonetheless have more news on the Flynn trial. More specifically, the briefs to discuss dismissal were due this week, and the guy arguing against dismissal had a lot to say about the idea–one gets the impression that as a former judge, he takes the entire thing rather personally. I think my favorite was the part where he called the Department of Justice’s actions “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” but I’m also partial to his observations that they “abdicated . . . responsibility” and “everything about this is irregular.” At this rate, I hope the hearing on July 16 is televised.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Other Election Oddities (Again). Every week of election news is weird, but this past week was a whole other level of train wreck. Georgia’s primary did not exactly go smoothly, with new voting systems malfunctioning left and right and lines so long it prompted an independent investigation. The GOP condemned “the current President” because they just straight-up didn’t update their copy from 2016 when rolling out the official 2020 platform, which leaves the talking points as stale as you might expect as they gear up for their convention. Speaking of RNC news, the latest rumor is that the new destination will be Jacksonville, but that hasn’t been finalized (which feels pretty par for the course, given the rest of this paragraph). And in order to attend the first Trump rally on June 20, supporters have to sign a waiver saying they won’t sue if they get coronavirus there.
- State of the COVID-19.* COVID news continues to get worse on the national stage. Hospitalization rates are rising in several states, as are other signs of increased communal transmission–and three states have their highest-ever rates right now. Nonetheless, experts say we’re not experiencing a second wave because we’re still in the first one. And despite Lancet’s retraction last week, the FDA has ended emergency authorization to use hydroxychloroquine, probably because other trials concluded the same thing. Several research publications are now writing about the efficacy of masks, presumably to get more people wearing them. On the economy front, the Dow dropped precipitously on Thursday as the Fed left interest rates low and people worried about a COVID resurgence. There were also about 1.5 million new unemployment claims, suggesting some people are still being pushed out of the workplace even with states reopening.
- Black Lives Matter News. There was some progress on racial justice issues this week, but we are still seeing significant violence as well. In Atlanta, a man was shot and killed by police when a sobriety test went south; the officer was fired and the chief of police resigned, but as of yet there are no charges. In Ohio, an investigation is being opened after a woman died from teargas complications. And the Washington Post reports there have been nineteen documented instances of people driving cars into protest crowds, normalizing what was a shocking action only three years ago in Charlottesville.
- Recent Racial Justice Action. There has been a lot of positive action in the past week. The House held a hearing on police violence, accepting testimony from George Floyd’s brother, and legislation for reform has been introduced both there and in the Senate. People are increasingly losing their patience for racist symbols, with NASCAR banning the confederate flag at all events and the Senate proving receptive to renaming military bases. (Several monuments have been removed as well, by officials or otherwise.) Public opinion has also created pushback in other ways: an Ohio legislator was fired for his racist remarks; a top general apologized for appearing in the Lafayette Square photo op; more companies are refusing to let police use their facial recognition software; and over a thousand former DoJ employees have called for an investigation into Barr related to his clearing protesters with teargas. And Minneapolis continues to move forward with planning to disband their police force.
- Recent Court Resilience. SCOTUS dropped a lot of promising orders today, though some of them were baffling. They declined to hear a case challenging California protections for immigrants, which leaves those protections in place contrary to this administration’s aims. They also declined to hear cases challenging gun legislation based on the Second Amendment. But the biggest piece of news of the day was a 6-3 decision written by Justice Gorsuch, of all people, that concludes Title VII protects workers from being fired, disciplined, or denied opportunities due to sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ movement, and it may have a number of other implications (which I’ll try to write about in the near future).
So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can all agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve goat kids visiting elephants and this new Ben and Jerry’s flavor and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully more tolerable) news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me more hours to review court opinions!