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Anti-Choice Lawyer Gives Away the Game in SCOTUS Abortion Case

Turns out, the case isn’t actually about a conflict between state and federal law, but a desire to deny certain types of care.

People hold pro-abortion protest signs outside the Supreme Court
Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in United States v. Idaho Wednesday—and it was not smooth sailing for the Gem State and its abortion ban.

At the crux of the case is whether pregnant people in Idaho will be allowed to get abortions when receiving lifesaving, critical care at hospitals and emergency rooms, or if they and their fetus will be considered two separate people, with the potential for the viability of the fetus to take a healthcare precedent.

But on Wednesday morning, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was already openly questioning why the nation’s highest court was even hearing the case if the state was, as Idaho Attorney General’s Office’s defense attorney Josh Turner claimed, in complete compliance with EMTALA, a federal law that requires emergency rooms to provide care to any individuals who show up.

But Turner’s claim completely fails to acknowledge the practical realities of medical care within the state, where politicians have made abortion care a felony and outright criminalizing the act even if it could save a pregnant person’s life—as Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar reminded the court.

According to Turner, there would need to be a “clear statement” in EMTALA that clarifies Congress explicitly demands doctors perform abortions.

Idaho already has a near-total abortion ban, but the Alliance Defending Freedom, the far-right Christian legal advocacy group arguing the lawsuit on behalf of the state, is utilizing the case to advance the idea of fetal personhood. This stipulation would effectively require doctors to treat fetuses—no matter how underdeveloped—with the same medical care as the person carrying it, even if it poses a medical risk to the pregnant patient.

Fetal personhood was a heavy topic of interest in Wednesday’s hearing, with Prelogar entering into a heated back-and-forth with Justice Samuel Alito over the issue, reminding the conservative judge that “a woman is an individual.” That made Alito, who wrote the majority opinion in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, scoff that nobody had suggested they weren’t, reported Rewire News Group’s Jessica Mason Pieklo.

But Prelogar shot one back: actually, Idaho is.

Pro-abortion activists have long warned that providing equal human rights to a fetus—especially if it’s a cluster of cells—will effectively strip pregnant people of their own rights. The notion of fetal personhood has also been leveraged elsewhere in the country to restrict IVF access in states such as Alabama and limit access to forms of birth control.

“Thirteen of Idaho’s 44 counties are already maternity care deserts. Emergency rooms then become frontline care. The Idaho ban’s severe limitation on treatment options will only result in increasing Idaho’s already unacceptable maternity mortality and morbidity rates,” warned the board chair of Physicians for Human Rights, Gerson H. Smoger, ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

Democratic Rep. Makes Outrageous Comparison to Columbia Protests

Representative Jared Moskowitz is comparing support for Gaza to white nationalist rallies.

People protest in support of Palestine outside Columbia University
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

While much of the ignorant takes about Columbia University’s pro-Palestine divestment protests have come from the right, Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz has decided to offer one of his own after touring the campus.

Moskowitz visited Columbia on Monday alongside fellow Democrats Josh Gottheimer, Dan Goldman, and Kathy Manning. Moskowitz and Gottheimer have been slow to call for a ceasefire, despite the feelings of Jewish congressional staffers.

“We were mad years ago when we saw Charlottesville, and ‘Jews will not replace us.’ And Donald Trump saying ‘good people on both sides’ or ‘Mexicans are rapists.’ Right? But somehow we don’t have the same anger of ‘Go back to Poland,’” Moskowitz told CNN that night.

“My grandfather’s entire family was killed in Poland. He was the sole survivor, right? ‘All Zionists should be killed. Bomb Tel Aviv.’ I know the people saying this aren’t, you know, white Aryan males with tiki torches, but they have the same message,” he added.

While Moskowitz’s fear of anti-Semitism should not be dismissed, the protests at Columbia have included Jewish students, who even held a Shabbat service on Friday. The national organization Jewish Voice for Peace even pointed out in a statement that university officials, in attempting to shut down the protests, have infringed upon some Jewish students’ religious practices:

  • Last Friday, on the eve of Shabbat, when Jewish scripture encourages Jews to gather in homes and in community to pray and welcome the sabbath, the university instead forced Jewish students from their homes on campus, denying them a safe place to worship or gather with their community.
  • Some of these Jewish students also observe shomer Shabbat, abjuring all electronics during the sabbath. Last Friday, they were forced to break with their religious observances in order to comply with the administration’s urgent email communications.

Moskowitz’s comparison also compares protests against the war in Gaza to the “Unite the Right” protests of 2017, when white nationalists actively sought conflict in the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, which didn’t want them there. In contrast, many faculty members at Columbia University, appalled at the university’s crackdown, led a walkout on Tuesday in support of the student protesters.

Student groups across the country have continued with their own campus encampments and protests following the events at Columbia, while the discovery of mass graves in Gaza has brought international calls for an investigation. It seems a solution to both would be a ceasefire, but that may not happen until the Biden administration also ends its support for the war.

The Insane Moment Tennessee Republicans Voted to Put Guns in Schools

State Republican lawmakers cut off debate to force the bill through.

Seth Herald/Getty Images

Tennessee House Republicans have pushed through a bill that will allow teachers and staff to carry guns in public schools, causing the viewing gallery—filled with teachers, parents, and students—to erupt in outrage.

Moments after the legislation passed on Tuesday with a 68-28 vote, the mass of protesters exploded.

“Blood on your hands,” the group screamed in unison, waving signs that read “Protect kids not guns” and “1 Kid > All the guns.”

Democratic Representative Justin Jones, one of two lawmakers that Republicans expelled last year for joining protests in support of gun control, accused the GOP of “fascism.”

The bill will almost definitely become law once it reaches Republican Governor Bill Lee, who has yet to veto a piece of legislation that reaches his desk. The measure will allow teachers and staff to carry weapons in most school settings without notifying parents or even their colleagues that they’re armed.

The bill will also require some teachers to receive firearm training, though opponents to the bill have insisted that the minimal training is not enough to keep staff and children safe.

“This is nothing but a bad disaster and tragedy waiting to happen if we do not ensure personal responsibility,” House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons told The Tennessean. “Our children’s lives are at stake.”

Shortly before holding the vote, House Republicans cut off debate on the legislation after one member of the viewing public, teacher Lauren Shipman-Dorrance, cried out from the gallery. House Speaker Cameron Sexton ordered state troopers to remove her.

“I’ve been teaching a long time. I’ve worked in a lot of schools where violence is a thing, even if a gun isn’t involved. And that will happen more if they pass this,” Shipman-Dorrance told The Tennessean. “I used to think they didn’t get it, but I honestly just think at this point, they’re not hearing us no matter what. And that really, to me, calls into question ethically, morally, what they are doing and why.”

The crowd erupted after Shipman-Dorrance was removed, prompting Sexton to order everyone seated in the gallery out—but that was only followed by the House completely falling into disorder, with some members of the House reportedly filming and pushing one another.

Trump’s Untethered 2 A.M. Rant Is Unlikely to Help His Gag Order Fight

The former president railed against his hush-money case on social media.

Donald Trump speaks
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump must sense the walls closing in. At 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, the former president begged Republicans to step in and save him from his hush-money trial in a long, rambling two-post thread on Truth Social.

“This New York Cabal, run by Crooked Joe Biden’s White House, is a hit job on a Political Opponent the likes of which the USA has never seen before. For the Good of our Country, it must be stopped. The Crooked Joe Biden Witch Hunts have to be ended. REPUBLICANS IN WASHINGTON MUST TAKE ACTION!” he wrote.

Trump took aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as being “soft on crime,” Judge Juan Merchan for being “rigged” against him, and even the judges in his defamation case and civil fraud case, calling them “corrupt.” His complaints come just up to the threshold of acceptable commentary under his gag order, which prohibits him from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members. Trump has complained bitterly and almost continuously about the order, even after his contempt of court hearing Tuesday for allegedly violating it.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly using his former fixer Michael Cohen to cover up an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Tuesday’s proceedings did not go well for Trump, with witness David Pecker, who was publisher of the National Enquirer and CEO of its parent company in 2016, detailing how he worked with the Trump campaign to “catch and kill” negative stories about the then-presidential candidate.

If Trump is looking for Republicans to interfere in his court proceedings, there’s not much they can do besides make weird, full-throated defenses to the public. Even then, the real people Trump needs on his side are the jurors in the trial, who are understandably more worried about their own safety.

George Santos Congressional Bid Ends Exactly How It Started: In Chaos

The serial fabulist raised zero dollars in his effort to return to Congress.

George Santos walks
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

George Santos just pulled another fast one on… well, anybody who still believed in George Santos.

The disgraced former lawmaker dropped his renewed bid for Congress on Tuesday, claiming that he didn’t want his run for New York’s 1st Congressional District to be “portrayed as a reprisal” against his apparent Long Island nemesis, Representative Nick LaLota.

“Although Nick and I don’t have the same voting record and I remain critical of his abysmal record, I don’t want to split the ticket and be responsible for handing the house to Dems,” Santos wrote in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It is clear that with the rise of antisemitism in our country we cannot afford to hand the house to Dems as they have a very large issue with antisemitism in their ranks…”

But Santos’s latest FEC filing tells a different story: one in which the ousted congressman raised exactly $0 in the first quarter of his campaign.

Critics quickly picked up on the detail online, including LaLota himself, who snarkily wrote back that Santos was “taking a plea deal.”

“You wish you useless feckless RINO,” Santos barked. “Keep spreading misinformation… Show us that time sheet of yours from when you were at the BOE and Law school at the same time… We are waiting for you to refute but then again you can’t…”

The reputed hustler—who was caught fabricating his entire résumé and lying about his relation to Holocaust survivors, being “Jew-ish,” his connection to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, and the kidnapping of his niece, among many other things—is currently facing 23 counts related to illegally receiving unemployment benefits, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud. His next court proceeding is scheduled for August 13, with a trial expected in September.

Still, there’s always a chance that Santos might return.

“It’s only goodbye for now, I’ll be back,” he wrote on Tuesday.

The Latest Supreme Court Case on Abortion Is the Scariest One Yet

The high court is taking up the question of fetal personhood.

People hold up pro-abortion protest signs outside the Supreme Court
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
People protest in support of abortion rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 2024

The Supreme Court will hear another abortion case on Wednesday, providing the nation’s highest court with another opportunity to ban the medical procedure.

The case, United States v. Idaho, will argue whether pregnant people in the Gem State are allowed to get abortions when receiving lifesaving, critical care at hospitals, or if they and their fetus will be considered two separate people.

Idaho already has a near-total abortion ban, but the Alliance Defending Freedom, the far-right Christian legal advocacy group arguing the lawsuit on behalf of the state, is utilizing the case to advance the idea of fetal personhood. This stipulation would effectively require doctors to treat fetuses—no matter how underdeveloped—with the same medical care as the person carrying it, even if it poses a medical risk to the pregnant patient.

“Idaho’s law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to provide the emergency medical treatment that federal law requires,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in 2022.

Pro-abortion activists have argued that providing equal human rights to a fetus—especially if it’s a cluster of cells—will effectively strip pregnant people of their own rights, reported freelance journalist Susan Rinkunas. An amicus brief in the case specifies that, if the court rules for Idaho, it will “succeed in demoting pregnant women to second-class status under EMTALA,” a federal law that requires emergency rooms that run on Medicare funding to provide care to any individuals who show up.

“Only pregnant women will be forced to surrender their EMTALA rights to make healthcare decisions about their bodies, and only pregnant women will have treatment guaranteed under federal law limited to Idaho’s prohibitory terms,” the brief reads. “Pregnant women stripped of their EMTALA rights under bans like Idaho’s have already experienced devastating harms because of the denial of abortion care. They have endured severe hemorrhage, life-threatening infection, and the trauma of painful, hours-long vaginal delivery of a non-viable fetus.”

“If Idaho prevails and pregnant women’s EMTALA rights are allowed to vary State-to-State, these appalling, and completely avoidable, injuries will proliferate everywhere there are bans like Idaho’s,” it continues. “And, in lock-step, denial of emergency abortions under EMTALA will contribute to this country’s already-abysmal rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, which—like all reproductive harms—are racially disparate.”

The notion of fetal personhood has also been leveraged to restrict IVF access in states such as Alabama and limit access to forms of birth control.

Mitch McConnell—Yes, Really—Gives Sickest Tucker Carlson Burn

The Senate minority leader celebrated passing an aid bill for Ukraine.

Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

After a large bill approving aid for Ukraine and Israel passed the Senate Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stood triumphant—and directed the blame for the aid package’s holdup at former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

When asked why it took so long to pass the aid package, McConnell said, “I think the demonization of Ukraine began by Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin. And so, he had an enormous audience which convinced a lot of rank and file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake.”

The Republican Party has been split over sending more aid to Ukraine. The far right has vehemently opposed the move, expressing sympathy for Vladimir Putin and Russia even before Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Carlson was no exception, downplaying the conflict in the days before the invasion and calling it a “border dispute.” He even touted a conspiracy theory of a U.S.-led effort to supply Ukraine with chemical weapons. Carlson’s interview with Putin earlier this year was widely mocked as overly deferential to the Russian leader, even by Putin himself.

But to say Carlson was the main impediment to aiding Ukraine is misguided. It seems that McConnell is avoiding the real culprit: Donald Trump and his far-right acolytes in Congress. The former president and Putin have long enjoyed a close relationship, and Trump has repeatedly threatened to withhold military aid to NATO allies, who are vulnerable to Russian actions. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported Trump’s plan for Ukraine: giving Russia control of Crimea and most of the Donbass region.

While McConnell took his time endorsing Trump’s candidacy, waiting until the former president locked up the GOP nomination in March, he is still likely afraid of provoking the Republican presidential nominee before November. Even though McConnell has always been an ardent backer of Ukraine, he knows not to poke Trump in order to stay in power.

Mike Johnson Steps Smack Into a Major House Intra-GOP Foodfight

Republicans are fighting after one representative called some of his colleagues “scumbags.”

Mike Johnson grimaces
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Another conservative appeared to be sour on House Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday amid what has turned out to be a major party upheaval.

Texas Representative Chip Roy said he is “beside himself” after witnessing Johnson help out another Republican colleague, Tony Gonzales, who has openly berated some caucus members as “scumbags.”

“I’m being attacked. Conservatives are being attacked,” Roy told KTSA News. “I cannot tolerate what’s happening to the people that I think are fighting for this country… the primary season matters.”

Roy’s comments come amid a growing push from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus to penalize Gonzales after he went scorched earth on the party’s moral standards over the weekend. More caucus members have endorsed Gonzales’s primary opponent, a far-right social media influencer.

“I served 20 years in the military. It’s my absolute honor to be in Congress, but I serve with some real scumbags!” Gonzales told CNN on Sunday.

“Matt Gaetz, he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties. Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi. These people used to walk around with white hoods at night. Now they’re walking around with white hoods in the daytime,” he continued. “Look, it didn’t surprise me that some of these folks voted against aid to Israel, but I was encouraged to see by a nearly 10-to-1 mark that Republicans supported our allies on the battlefield.”

If push came to shove, Gonzales said he didn’t believe Johnson would lose the gavel—even though the beleaguered speaker has been bleeding support in the weeks since Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to vacate in March. The fracture came after Johnson worked with Democrats and Senate Republicans to pass a $1.2 trillion omnibus bill, with the House GOP torching him for accomplishing one of the legislature’s primary annual responsibilities: funding the government.

But Johnson’s recent (successful) efforts to pass a foreign aid bill reminded others that there are adults in the room willing to push back on Greene’s intraparty drama—even if she only needs a handful of conservative defectors to actually kick Johnson out from leadership.

“For some reason, these fringe people think as if they have the high ground. They do not,” Gonzales told CNN. “I assure you, the rank and file members that normally are kind of easygoing, doing the right thing, put their head down, they vote yes or no but they’re not public about it—those days are over. The fight is here.”

“If someone pokes you in the chest, the way you take care of a bully is you bloody their nose.”

Hush-Money Witness Unmasks Team Trump’s Shady Inner Workings

David Pecker testified that the former president’s team was careful to hide their actions.

Donald Trump gestures while he speaks
Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

It seems Donald Trump didn’t want to leave any trace of certain conversations with a tabloid magnate just before the 2016 election.

During Trump’s hush-money trial on Tuesday, David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and former CEO of its parent company, American Media Inc., revealed that Trump’s team very well knew what they were doing was shady. In fact, Pecker said, the president’s fixer and attorney in 2016, Michael Cohen, tried to steer conversations about payments off of the phone and onto an encrypted messaging app.

In conversations concerning Playboy model Karen McDougal, with whom Trump had an affair, Pecker said that Cohen sought to shift their conversations to Signal, an encrypted app with the ability to make messages disappear.

Trump faces 34 felony counts for allegedly paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair before the 2016 presidential election. At the time, Pecker was using his position in a “catch-and-kill” scheme to buy off anyone, like McDougal and Daniels, with any disparaging stories about Trump, he admitted earlier in court Tuesday.

Attempting to have conversations without a record is suspect, to say the least, and seems to indicate that Trump and his people knew that their activities were suspicious, if not outright illegal. It’s another strike for Trump’s defense team, which already has to deal with the impending playback of audio evidence where Trump himself discusses making payments to McDougal with Cohen “with cash.”

Effectively, Pecker confessed he was the “eyes and ears” for the Trump campaign regarding “women selling stories,” and he promised to notify Cohen in order to have such stories “killed.”

According to Pecker, Trump directly asked him what he and his magazines could do to help Trump’s campaign. The tabloid publisher responded that he could “publish positive stories about Trump” and “negative stories about his opponents.”

Republicans Have Outrageous Response to Columbia University Protest

The students’s protest in support of Gaza has sparked some truly dumb comments.

Students participate in an encampment in support of Gaza at Columbia University
Selçuk Acar/Anadolu/Getty Images

Republicans have started commenting on the Columbia University protests staged in support of Gaza—and unsurprisingly, the comments have been lackluster, punitive, and completely beside the point.

Columbia University and Barnard College students have been protesting for months against the war in Gaza, including setting up an encampment on campus last week. University officials and police have responded with arrests and disciplinary action, causing the protest, which sought to persuade the institutions to divest from weapons manufacturers and companies doing business with Israel, to spread across the country.

Fox News’s Maria Baritromo called the protests “barbaric” on Tuesday, drawing a completely inaccurate comparison. “And yet, you don’t see the upset that you saw around January 6,” she said, referring to the Capitol insurrection

Unlike the January 6 riots, there have been no reports of buildings being stormed, or law enforcement getting attacked. And contrary to accusations that the demonstration is inherently antisemitic, the protesters held Jewish Shabbat services over the weekend followed by Muslim evening prayers. 

Screenshot of a tweet

David Frum, a senior editor at The Atlantic and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, thought that protesters should lose their student loan forgiveness. Critics were quick to point out that he was effectively saying that poorer students shouldn’t be able to peacefully protest on campuses.  

Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley demanded that the National Guard be called in to subdue the peaceful protesters. Cotton referred to the protest as “nascent pogroms.”

Such comments are not out of character for these two. Cotton has practically made a career out of calling for violence against peaceful protests, including his infamous “send in the troops” op-ed during the 2020 to Black Lives Matter protests. Hawley, meanwhile, raised his fist right before the January 6 riot—only to be seen running scared through the Capitol once the mob breached the building. 

Meanwhile, in Gaza, mass graves are being discovered, and the death toll keeps rising even as it becomes harder to count. Student protests continue to spread, not just in the U.S., but even overseas. But the discourse in the United States seems to be over offensive language and not offensive military aid, which continues to get majority votes in Congress.