We’re in the middle of yet another apocalypse multipack as I type this, with much of the West Coast in crisis and the rest of us not exactly thriving either. It gets overwhelming very quickly, but I’m here if I can help. Your good friend Comfort Food is here also.
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 technical glitch!–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:
We continue to see an uptick in Disregard of Governing Norms, which is another thing we can expect to increase as we get closer to the election. Here’s what I have for you:
- Your Regularly Scheduled Illegality. We had a lot of overt illegality again this week. First, in a stunning show of “l’etat, c’est moi,” the Justice Department has intervened on 45’s personal defamation case against a woman who alleges he raped her. For folks playing the home game, this is a really big deal–it’s a pretty blatant signal that the Department of Justice has been co-opted into Trump’s personal law service, which is not the role it is supposed to serve. A senior Department of Homeland Security official also alleged in a whistleblowing complaint this week that he was instructed to stop reporting on Russian interference in the 2020 election, because it “made the President look bad.” (Which does in fact do, but if that was this administration’s motivation I’ll eat my laptop.) And also in sketchy election news, the administration has signaled it may host a campaign event at the White House on Election Day, which would be a very blatant violation of the Hatch Act as well. Of course, this is hardly surprising given the giant indoor campaign rally he held this week, addressing thousands of people in clear violation of Nevada law.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Election Oddities (Again). There was a significant amount of odd election news even discounting the sketchy Trump shenanigans listed above. In Florida, a federal appeals court blocked the re-enfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of denizens with criminal records who cannot afford to pay court fines. In slightly more positive Florida news, Mike Bloomberg also promised to spend at least $100M in the state to help Joe Biden’s campaign–and though he said he would support the campaign of whoever wins, this kind of donation from a former candidate has got to be an election first. And the Fourth Circuit is considering a North Carolina law that would require voters to show ID, which has been enjoined by state courts already and hopefully will remain enjoined through the November election.
- State of the COVID-19.* Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s laughably inadequate new COVID response bill was introduced in the Senate this week, where it promptly failed in a matter of days. The situation at schools remains messy, with many remote learners experiencing tech glitches and colleges struggling to quarantine infected students or sending them back to their hometowns. Meanwhile, the administration’s obvious interference with the vaccine process has prompted many pharmacy CEOs to take a voluntary pledge that they will engage in safe practices. And finally, a newly-released tell-all book says Trump has known exactly how deadly COVID would be since March, despite leading the public to believe otherwise.
- Black Lives Still Matter. There is still news on the Black Lives Matter front for another week, though it’s mostly aftermath from the previous week. In Rochester, the Police Union President and Mayor are both arguing about which one of them should resign, while several officers and the Chief of Police have stepped down. Meanwhile, a witness to the shooting says the suspect shot by police in Portland, Oregon last week was never arrested or even warned before he was fatally shot.
- Fire Crisis on the West Coast. We’re experiencing an unprecedented rate and range of wildfire all along the American West coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle, and it’s only the beginning of fire season. At the time that I type this, over five million acres have burned, and more than two dozen people have died. In many places, the entire sky is orange, and air quality is dangerously poor along points on the entire coast. These unprecedented fires are not a coincidence; data shows that climate change is causing increasingly dangerous conditions–though of course, Trump is claiming the opposite.
- Recent Court Resilience. We had a few promising court cases this week. A federal court refused to let the Trump administration drop undocumented people from the census (again), ruling that it would violate the Fourteenth Amendment and federal law. And a different federal judge blocked the U.S. Postal Service from sending voting disinformation to denizens of Colorado, finding that the state would suffer irreparable harm if the mailer went out.
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 pigfren taking the subway 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 comfort food, I’m running out!