I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’m finding our current heat wave and current news cycle to be a match made in hell. It’s rough right now, but I’m here if anyone needs anything–albeit from at least six feet away and in front of an air conditioner.
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 rose garden!–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:
On the Disregard of Governing Norms front, we have graduated from COVID concerns (though there’s plenty of that) to extrajudicial detention stories that are frankly terrifying. Here are the things to know:
- News Out of Portland. News out of Portland, Oregon is pretty extreme, and we need to be talking about it. As is true in many cities, protests there have been ongoing since the George Floyd murder–about fifty days all told, by the time that I write this. Protesters already had a lot of stories about tear gas being abused and police brutality in the city. But this week, they also began reporting that unmarked vans containing military personnel were snatching people off the street to take into custody, in sudden and unpredictable patterns that looked more like abduction than law enforcement. Incredibly, CBP has since confirmed this allegation, and government officials signaled that we can expect this pattern to continue and even spread to other cities. This statement was made despite a pending lawsuit, the obvious hostility of city officials, and mounting evidence that the federal agents have no training. This is all incredibly alarming, and we need to be acting on it immediately.
- Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. Of course, we also had a lot of Trump-flavored COVID news this week (and let me tell you, that is not a quality product). In addition to the smear campaign against Fauci, which I think we talked about last week, hospitals were ordered to give COVID data to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the CDC, which had been previously keeping track. This was promptly followed by the disappearance of said data, which did eventually reappear after considerable complaint but will not be updated further by the CDC. It also coincided with news that the CDC was prevented from testifying before Congress, and as other countries get their outbreaks under control, it becomes more and more starkly apparent just how badly the United States has handled this crisis. Needless to say, all of this has experts really worried
- Rose Garden Campaign Speech. I wasn’t quite sure where to put this one, but since it’s certainly disregarding governing norms, I might as well put it here: Trump gave a campaign re-election speech at a press conference from the Rose Garden this week, which in case anybody is keeping track is a pretty strong no-no. (To be fair to Trump, the speech was pretty incoherent and also went on for sixty-three straight minutes, so I guess it’s possible he flat-out forgot where he was somewhere in there.) Among his claims and insinuations about Joe Biden: Joe Biden is getting dementia; Joe Biden is “a gift to the Chinese Communist party”; Joe Biden “wants to kill American energy.” You know, the level of gravitas we associate with Rose Garden speeches throughout history.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Election Oddities (Again). There was a fair amount of unusual election news this week. Jeff Sessions lost his primary in Alabama, which feels fitting but does illustrate the strange times we live in. After considerable back-and-forth the RNC will be scaled back when it’s held in Jacksonville next month (but more on the COVID news that prompted this below). Perhaps the oddest news, though, is that Trump has already replaced his campaign manager, which reflects his unusually low polls as well as his high turnover rate in general.
- State of the COVID-19.* COVID news remains a mess on both national and state levels. We continue to break records about daily infection rates, and death rates are rising again as well. Unemployment rates are still rising too, with over a million new claims filed for the seventeenth week in a row. Despite this news, a lot of workers are about to run out of benefits, because this is the last week of the extra $600 created by federal legislation. The Senate is expected to debate and/or vote on some version of the Heroes Act this week to respond, but current drafts include horrorshow provisions about forcing schools to reopen and shielding businesses from consequences if they make workers sick. And though more and more franchises are requiring that their customers wear masks, Georgia’s governor has forbidden municipalities from requiring them, and is even suing Atlanta for ignoring his utterly bananas decree and requiring masks in public anyway.
- Black Lives Matter News. We touched on some of the biggest BLM news above, but there were some other things to know as well. Demonstrators in Louisville were charged with felonies for protesting Breonna Taylor’s murder, though the police that actually murdered her have not been arrested, let alone charged. A town near Seattle declared writing “Black Lives Matter” in chalk a crime as well. Meanwhile, the military issued a broad rule apparently intended to remove confederate flags, which was probably so broad to avoid backlash from Trump, who keeps insisting those flags are a point of Southern pride.
- Confounding Shooting. The household of the judge assigned to an Epstein-related Deutsche Bank civil case was attacked this week when a shooter showed up at their door dressed like a FedEx employee. Judge Salas’s son was killed in the attack, and her husband remains in critical condition. Confusing things further, the believed assailant was found dead this morning, about two hours away from the site of the shooting, and appearing to have shot himself. Said assailant was a self-described “antifeminist” who had brought a case in front of her last year, but hadn’t had any contact with her since–and the shooting occurred the day after Judge Salas was assigned the Deutsche case, with no recent threats issued against her. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out how incredibly sketchy this entire story is, but uh… this entire story is incredibly sketchy and disturbing, no matter what was motivating the shooter.
- Recent Court Resilience. The several schools that are suing Trump over his student visa power move have had a good past few days. First seventeen state Attorneys General joined in, which I’m sure were welcome reinforcements. Then said reinforcements got results, when the administration announced it was rescinding the decision rather than face numerous lengthy court battles. And in semi-positive-but-better-than-expected news, the gun-toting married couple that brandished weapons at protesters in St Louis a few weeks ago are now facing criminal charges (though their case is being diverted to a civil court).
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this self-examining cat friend 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 ice cubes and Mr. Freeze memes!