The news this week is a pile of quasi-constitutional trash, and it’s bleak in a way I hoped we’d be past by now. Maybe it’s the lack of carbs talking, but this week’s stories really get under my skin. I demand a news refund.
Standard standing reminders still apply: I may be well into my seventh year of journalism, but I summarize news within my areas of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not an injunction!–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!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
There are a couple of different growing Biden Rebuilding stories, but this week we’re focusing on the one I think is most ripe. Here’s what I have for you:
- Biden’s Both Sides Trans Policy. The Biden administration released some proposed changes to Title IX this week, which governs (among other things) sports in education. The proposed rule would restrict categorical bans on transgender student athletes, such as the one SCOTUS just ignored from West Virginia. However, it would still permit bans, as long as those bans have pretextual underpinnings such as “promoting fairness in competition.” There will be a thirty-day comment period for people to yell about it, and I’m sure lots of people will, because both trans advocates and far-right legislators are going to hate this rule. But here we are.
Your New Normal:
- Extremely Normal SCOTUS News. Speaking of SCOTUS, human waste pile and SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas was in the news repeatedly this week for accepting twenty years of jet setting trips from Texas whack job Harlan Crow, which naturally he has not disclosed. (If the name ‘Harlan Crow’ rings a faint bell in your head, by the way, as it did mine, it’s probably because the dude is famous for his signed copy of Mein Kampf and private Nazi museum.) Needless to say, Democrats are not impressed by this, with responses ranging from a joint call for investigation to a call for impeachment to… whatever the Senate Judiciary Chair’s actual end game is. It’s worth noting, incidentally, that this news breaks as SCOTUS becomes subject to stricter disclosure rules, which is likely not a coincidence at all.
- Reproductive Justice Crossroads. We currently have dueling injunctions on the subject of medication abortion, which is pretty much the legal mess you might expect. Over the past week, one federal court in Texas suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone while another federal court in Washington ordered the FDA to keep mifepristone on the shelves. The DOJ is appealing the Texas ruling to the Fifth Circuit. That said, given the makeup of the Fifth Circuit, this is definitely going to the Supreme Court. I really want to stress how absolutely kangaroo the Texas ruling is–it is wildly against our existing court structures to basically just say the FDA did its job wrong. This type of decision is eroding how our courts work and I don’t want that to get lost in the shuffle–it’s no surprise the Washington judge immediately responded.
- Tennessee Horrorshow Continues. As predicted last week, a supermajority of Republicans in Tennessee did vote to expel two Black state legislators against the express will of the people who voted them in. Notably, they did not expel the white legislator who also participated in the rally to promote gun legislation. Though it’s likely that the expelled legislators will be reinstated, I really want to stress how incredibly unprecedented their removal was, especially in response to peaceful assembly right after such a serious tragedy. Expulsion of this type has only happened twice ever before this week, and both instances were for actual illegal activity in the course of representation.And while Tennessee is still resolving this mess, today saw another mass shooting with a rifle in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Recent Supreme Court Resilience. Against all the appalling legal news above, it’s nice to have a piece of promising court news for a change. In Wisconsin, constituents have newly elected liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court. This creates the first liberal majority on the court in fifteen years. Here’s hoping that will result in more protections for folks living in the state.
So that’s all the news I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are still no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve these unlikely buddies and a more functional government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved 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 in the day!