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Who Will Protect Starbucks if Not the Supreme Court?

Someone needs to look out for union-busting corporations.

A man standing in front of a Starbucks holds a cardboard sign that reads "Starbucks No Contract No Coffee."
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Members and supporters of Starbucks Workers United protest outside of a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 2023.

In a major blow to dastardly labor rights that cruelly curtail righteous corporate greed, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Starbucks on Thursday. The ruling comes amid an ongoing battle between the heroic $25 billion corporation and the evil National Labor Relations Board’s order to rehire the “Memphis Seven,” a group of working class Starbucks employees who had the audacity to organize a union to support workers’ rights. The seven low wage workers were terminated by the java giant, prompting the NLRB to step in.

The case before the Supreme Court was brought by Starbucks seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that affirmed the NLRB’s order for Starbucks to rehire the Memphis Seven, and which issued an injunction against Starbucks for attempting to fight that rehiring. The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday establishes a new precedent limiting the extent labor organizers and the NLRB can use the courts to enforce their rulings against companies that violate labor law or who unlawfully terminate workers in an effort to union-bust.

The NLRB successfully ordered Starbucks to rehire the “Memphis Seven” in September 2022. The NLRB alleged unfair labor practices for the firings, while Starbucks claimed the seven had engaged in “significant violations” of company policy: Starbucks claimed workers stayed in the store past closing time and allowed interviews by local media. Starbucks took its appeal to federal court and lost in August 2023 before appealing to the Supreme Court.

In response to the ruling, the Memphis Seven wrote, “It is a shame to see the lengths Starbucks is willing to go to destroy their image.” Starbucks Workers United, which represents unionized Starbucks employees, issued a statement on the ruling, calling it “particularly egregious” in light of how curtailed labor protections have become over the years.

SB Workers United statement Twitter screenshot: “Working people have so few tools to protect and defend themselves when their employers break the law. That makes today’s ruling by the Supreme Court particularly egregious. It underscores how the economy is rigged against working people all the way up to the Supreme Court. “Starbucks should have dropped this case the day it committed to chart a new path forward with its workers, instead of aligning itself with other giant corporations intent on stifling worker organizing. It’s incongruous to want to build a productive, positive relationship with workers and at the same time lead an attack on one of the few mechanisms they have to defend themselves against unscrupulous employers. “Regardless of large corporations’ machinations at the Supreme Court, workers are continuing to organize. Just last week, workers at 20 Starbucks stores filed petitions to join Starbucks Workers United. And there are nearly 450 union Starbucks stores across the country. Workers’ momentum is unstoppable and they will not let the Supreme Court down."

Unionized Starbucks workers and those seeking to unionize have frequently alleged union-busting efforts by the coffee giant, including unlawfully reducing or changing worker-organizers’ schedules or closing locations in retaliation for successful organizing drives. Starbucks has received at least 446 unfair labor practice charges in the past year alone. The Strategic Organizing Center estimates Starbucks has spent $153 million on “anti-union activity,” and is liable for $87 million in denied wages, illegal firings, and store closings.

On Thursday, all nine Supreme Court justices either wholly or partially ruled in favor of Starbucks on the basis of impropriety for courts to intervene on matters that can be—and in this case were—resolved by the National Labor Relations Board. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority decision and pointed to “traditional rules” of courts not stepping in, with liberal justice Ketanji Brown Jackson partially concurring. “I am loath to bless this aggrandizement of judicial power where Congress has so plainly limited the discretion of the courts, and where it so clearly intends for the expert agency it has created to make the primary determinations about both merits and process,” wrote Jackson. The ruling effectively neutralizes the NLRB’s ability to use the court system to enforce its rulings against combative companies, marking the loss of one of the few tools left to combat intensified corporate union-busting.

This article has been updated.

Republicans in Panic Mode After Trump Trashes Milwaukee

Donald Trump attacked Milwaukee in a meeting with Republicans on the Hill—and now Republicans are desperately trying to cover for him.

Donald Trump speaks before a mic. U.S. flags are behind him.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Donald Trump visited Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with Republicans in Congress and supposedly discuss strategy, but it didn’t take long for him to go off on tangents—and dump on the site of this year’s Republican National Convention, Milwaukee.

Tweet screenshot Jake Sherman: 🚨TRUMP TO HOUSE REPUBLICANS: "Milwaukee, where we are having our convention, is a horrible city."

Republican members of Congress from Wisconsin scrambled to respond to the comments, offering several different explanations to cover for the former president and convicted felon, including one representative who said the whole thing never happened. Unfortunately, three others said it definitely did.

Twitter Screenshot Lawrence Andrea: Wisconsin Rep. Glenn Grothman told me Trump made these comments when speaking about the election. Grothman said Trump was "concerned about the election in MKE" and "felt we need to do better in urban centers around the country."
Tweet screenshot Adam Rife: GOP appears to be scrambling to spin. A convention spokesperson told me Trump "was referencing the ongoing political game the City and County are playing with Pere Marquette Park. Despite concerns being raised months ago, the City has still not designated a first amendment zone."
Tweet screenshot Derrick Van Orden: Another classic example of shitty reporting by a Democratic Party shill pretending to be a journalist. Lies busy omission. @realDonaldTrump was specifically referring to the crime the CRIME RATE in Milwaukee. Tweet accompanies an article that reads "Milwaukee ranks third for violent crimes nationwide"
Tweet screenshot Lawrence Andrea: An aide to Rep. Scott Fitzgerald backs Grothman’s claim and tells me Fitzgerald said Trump’s comments “were about election integrity.”
Tweet screenshot Representative Bryan Steil: I was in the room. President Trump did not say this. There is no better place than Wisconsin in July.

Why would Trump criticize the city, especially since Wisconsin is a swing state that he narrowly lost in the 2020 election? The answer may very well be racism. Milwaukee is very often criticized by the rural and suburban politicians in the rest of the state, who use racist dog whistles, yell “socialism,” or rely on more overt bigotry. Myths of rampant crime continue to plague the city, even as its crime rate has dropped. Meanwhile, its sizable Black population, which has historically tipped the state blue, has slightly tempered its support for Democrats. In 2020, Trump’s allies responded to his election loss by trying to write off Milwaukee’s votes and overturn the state’s election results.

Recently, Wisconsin has been a source of bad news for the GOP, from a liberal candidate successfully winning a state Supreme Court seat to Democrats successfully throwing out one of the most gerrymandered legislative maps in the country. Perhaps Trump sees the writing on the wall and is (presumptuously) writing off the state for 2024, or he has another frightening plan to interfere in the state’s results if they don’t go his way. Or, maybe he hates Milwaukee for the same reasons he hates Chicago and Harrisburg.

One member of Congress who actually represents Milwaukee, had a healthier response to Trump’s comments.

Twitter screenshot Representative Gwen Moore: Once he's settled in with his parole officer, I am certain he will discover that Milwaukee is a wonderful, vibrant and welcoming city full of diverse neighborhoods and a thriving business community. (Quote tweeting Jake Sherman: TRUMP TO HOUSE REPUBLICANS: "Milwaukee, where we are having our convention, is a horrible city.")

This article has been updated.

Trump’s Latest Gripe About Taylor Swift Will Crack You Up

Donald Trump is desperate for Swift’s endorsement.

Taylor Swift fans herself
Andre Dias Nobre/AFP/Getty Images

The all-business, very important, couldn’t-be-missed meeting between Donald Trump and House Republicans Thursday quickly devolved into a mess, with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee apparently more focused on obsessing over his appeal to celebrities than discussing concrete policy changes intended to aid the American people.

In his first visit to Capitol Hill since before the January 6 insurrection, Trump ranted and raved, lasering in on key issues such as how Representative Nancy Pelosi is too old for him to date, slamming Wisconsin—the host of the Republican National Convention in July—as a “horrible city,” and, somehow most surprisingly, obsessing over Taylor Swift’s alleged support for President Joe Biden.

“Why would she endorse this dope?” Trump wondered, according to CNN’s Melanie Zanona. “He doesn’t know how to get off a stage.”

Swift has not endorsed anyone for the 2024 presidential election yet.

Days earlier, reports emerged that Trump had mused about Swift’s looks during a November 2023 conservation with Variety co–editor in chief Ramin Setoodeh.

“I think she’s beautiful—very beautiful!” Trump said at the time. “I find her very beautiful. I think she’s liberal. She probably doesn’t like Trump. I hear she’s very talented. I think she’s very beautiful, actually—unusually beautiful!”

Swift was notoriously close-lipped about her political beliefs, even through the 2016 presidential election, when she was rumored to be a closet Republican—but that changed when she sided with Tennessee Democrats in the 2018 midterms against now-Senator Marsha Blackburn.

“Back in the [2016] presidential election, I was in such a horrendous place that I wasn’t going to pop my head out,” Swift explained in her 2020 documentary, Miss Americana. “These aren’t your dad’s celebrities and these aren’t your dad’s Republicans.… I need to be on the right side of history.”

Even with a stacked year that includes running for U.S. president, several criminal trials, serving a sentence, and owing half a billion dollars in legal penalties, Trump still can’t seem to shake Swift from his mind. In private, Trump has promised a “holy war” against the singer if she chooses to endorse Biden in the upcoming election. He has also privately bragged that he’s “more popular” than the internationally recognized pop superstar.

Republicans, meanwhile, appeared less interested in idle gossip. When they left the highly anticipated reunion with Trump, they described it as more of a “pep talk” than anything else.

What else Trump thinks about Taylor Swift:

Trump Creeps Everyone Out With Weird Comments About Nancy Pelosi

Donald Trump revealed his bizarre little crush during an important Republican strategy meeting.

Nancy Pelosi claps at Donald Trump
Doug Mills/Pool/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In the same week that he rambled about electric boats and shark attacks, Donald Trump’s newest riff is one of his most bizarre yet.

During a closed-door policy meeting Thursday with House Republicans, Trump mused about his and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s romantic compatibility, reported Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman. Trump even alleged that one of Pelosi’s daughters had brought it up in conversation with him.

“Nancy Pelosi’s daughter is a whacko, her daughter told me if things were different Nancy and I would be perfect together, there’s an age difference though,” Trump reportedly said.

Pelosi’s daughter Christine, for her part, vehemently denied that the implausible interaction took place.

“Speaking for all 4 Pelosi daughters—this is a LIE,” Christine Pelosi tweeted. “His deceitful, deranged obsession with our mother is yet another reason Donald Trump is unwell, unhinged and unfit to step foot anywhere near her—or the White House.”

Trump has previously waded into Pelosi family discourse, mocking Pelosi’s husband, Paul, after a right-wing conspiracist broke into their San Francisco home and attacked him with a hammer, fracturing his skull. In 2019, Trump called Pelosi, then speaker of the House, “a disgrace to herself and her family.”

Hilarious “Trump Too Small” Case Comes to Sad End at Supreme Court

The man at the heart of the case wanted to sell T-shirts with the phrase, which he said were about Trump’s “dimunitive” features. And he went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Donald Trump's hands folded on the table
Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

Justice too delayed is justice too denied: The Supreme Court on Thursday tragically rejected a First Amendment complaint against the Patent and Trademark Office for rejecting a trademark of the phrase “Trump too small.”

The fateful phrase first came to fore following a calculated zinger from Marco Rubio during a 2016 Republican debate. Once upon a time, the debates were largely viewed as absurd chaos spirals from noncontenders for office, an opportunity for anyone with a dream and a little graphic design knowledge to craft some chintzy merch that gets flooded in the replies of viral tweets by spambots for years to come.

“And you know what they say about guys with small hands,” Rubio said with a grin to a chuckling crowd a lifetime ago. “You can’t trust ’em!”

Eight years later, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to those aspiring to turn zesty one-liners about Trump into trademarked merch. Steve Elster, an employment lawyer and progressive activist, crafted the shirt and applied to register “Trump too small” in 2018. The patent office rejected the patent based on the Lanham Act, which denies patents containing the names of living people without their written consent, on the basis that people would reasonably associate the trademark with the person.

A federal circuit court ruled that the Lanham Act doesn’t extend to content criticizing a government official or public figure. That ruling was kicked up to the Supreme Court by the Biden administration on behalf of the U.S. Patent Office.

Most Supreme Court justices concurred on the decision to reject Esler’s case, led by Clarence Thomas. Thomas concluded that there was a “tradition” of rejecting trademarks that include a person’s name, writing, “We see no reason to disturb this long standing tradition, which supports the restriction of the use of another’s name in a trademark.”

During oral arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested upholding the rejection, noting, “The question is: Is this an infringement on speech? And the answer is no. He can sell as many shirts with this saying and the government’s not telling him he can’t use the phrase, he can’t sell it anywhere he wants. There’s no limitation on him selling it. So there’s no traditional infringement.”

As noted by Sotomayor, Elster’s merch has had no issues being sold, except perhaps for lack of interest. “Trump too small” is still available for purchase, marked down from $39.99 to $24.99.

Internet Hilariously Roasts Nancy Mace’s Latest Hypocrisy

The South Carolina representative can’t outrun her own actions.

Nancy Mace sits in front of a microphone
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace bragged about her record supporting civil rights—but was quickly called out for leaving out a major detail.

Mace appeared on CNN Wednesday night to discuss the House vote to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio of President Joe Biden’s classified documents case interview with special counsel Robert Hur. Speaking with Laura Coates, Mace bravely posed as a guardian of due process.

“I work on a lot of civil rights issues. I was the ranking member of the civil rights subcommittee last session on oversight. Due process is a really important issue,” she said. Mace did not, however, mention why she’s no longer the ranking member of the subcommittee: She helped lead the charge to disband it.

It’s not the first time Mace has trotted out this defense. In January, at a House Oversight Committee hearing during which Hunter Biden testified, she tried to beat back criticism from Texas Representative Jasmine Crockett that she had misused the term “white privilege” while questioning Biden, citing her former ranking position on the subcommittee.

“I take great pride as a white female Republican to address the inadequacies in our country,” Mace said.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly pointed out, though, that Mace’s position appeared more valuable to her as a title to be wielded over Democrats than an actual leadership role in safeguarding the rights of minorities across the country. After all, the subcommittee did not just cease to exist. Mace, along with Kentucky Representative and abortive Biden impeachment architect James Comer, had overseen its elimination in early 2023.

Crockett had noted during the hearing that “rather than squandering their authority on investigations of the president’s family, the chairman and House Republicans should use their authority to conduct oversight and investigate the merciless murders of innocent Americans—mainly Americans who look like me—at the hands of law enforcement.”

That hasn’t stopped Mace—who has been in the news recently for potential ethics violations and mistreatment of staff—from loudly proclaiming her civil rights bona fides when they are of political use to her. Right-wing retconning of the conservative civil rights record is nothing new, however; they’ve done it about Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Act, and plenty of other now-popular causes they once opposed. But as the right continues to openly repudiate those civil rights achievements, Mace’s convenient lie of omission may become increasingly rare.

J.D. Vance Reaches Pathetic New Low in Audition for Trump’s V.P.

The Ohio senator will do whatever he can to get the gig—even if it means desperate flattery.

Senator J.D. Vance
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Hoping to be Donald Trump’s running mate, Senator J.D. Vance is trying to butter up his son Donald Trump Jr.

On X (formerly Twitter) Wednesday morning, the Ohio politician shared an Axios post calling the younger Trump “MAGA’s new kingmaker,” and called him “one of the best people I’ve met in politics.”

Twitter Screenshot J.D. Vance: Don is one of the best people I’ve met in politics. He genuinely believes in America First and works his ass off to make it a reality.

The post was immediately mocked online, as users pointed out the pathetic suck-up attempt.

Twitter Screenshot: Well, every king needs a court jester and every village needs an idiot so here you are.
Twitter screenshot: J.D. Vance isi sucking up so hard, I'm wondering how depressed he will be if he's not Trump's choice for V.P.

It’s only the latest move from Vance to curry favor with the former president and convicted felon. Vance has introduced a performative bill to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion principles from the federal government, and implied that he would have carried out a coup in favor of Trump if he were vice president on January 6, 2021. He said he would accept the 2024 election results—if Trump is the victor. He also criticized the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over Trump’s hush-money trial, on Trump’s behalf since the Republican presidential nominee was bound by a gag order.

When Trump will pick a vice president is anyone’s guess, but Vance is supposedly among his top four, along with Senators Marco Rubio and Tim Scott and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. With Vance’s claim to fame being the narrative of climbing out of rural poverty to wealth and education (before embracing MAGA and attacking the elite institutions he benefited from), he may have an advantage over the other candidates. Trump also supposedly “likes people who are rich and have hot wives,” according to one source.

According to Vance, the Trump campaign has ironically asked prospective vice presidential candidates whether they have been convicted of a crime.

More on election hell:

Supreme Court Shocks Everyone by Saving Abortion Pill—for Now

The conservative-majority court ruled against a challenge to mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion.

People hold up pro-abortion protest signs outside the Supreme Court
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Supreme Court decided Thursday that an anti-abortion group does not have legal standing to sue the Food and Drug Administration over mifepristone, guaranteeing national access to abortion medication under U.S. law.

A coalition of anti-abortion doctors and activists challenged access to mifepristone in November 2022, alleging that the FDA had overstepped its role by taking several steps that expanded access to the drug in 2016. The plaintiffs, represented by the right-wing Christian organization Alliance Defending Freedom, sought to overturn the FDA’s approval and have mifepristone pulled from the market.

In a unanimous opinion, the court ruled that the group had no standing to sue the federal agency and that it had failed to demonstrate how it was personally harmed by the drug’s existence on the market.

“Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff’s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue. Nor do the plaintiffs’ other standing theories suffice. Therefore, the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge FDA’s actions,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote, later specifying that “citizens and doctors do not have standing to sue simply because others are allowed to engage in certain activities—at least without the plaintiffs demonstrating how they would be injured by the government’s alleged under-regulation of others.”

Mifepristone and misoprostol comprise the two-step prescription referred to as “the abortion pill.” Together, they account for more than half of all the abortions in the United States, according to a 2022 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

The case, FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, was the biggest challenge to national reproductive access since the court’s conservative supermajority overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The battle truly kicked off in April the following year, when a Trump-appointed judge in Texas halted access to the drug.

Four months later, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that while the pill was safe for market, the FDA had improperly approved expanded access. Those steps included allowing women to access mifepristone 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven, lowering the standard dosage, and allowing the prescription to be accessed via telemedicine.

To be clear, the Supreme Court’s decision hinges on the legality of the case, not on whether people have a right to bodily autonomy. The high court ruled that the Fifth Circuit’s decision failed to find a basis in the U.S. Constitution.

“The plaintiffs have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,” Kavanaugh wrote. “But under Article III of the Constitution, those kinds of objections alone do not establish a justiciable case or controversy in federal court. Here, the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that FDA’s relaxed regulatory requirements likely would cause them to suffer an injury in fact. For that reason, the federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions.”

Instead, Kavanaugh suggested that the plaintiffs take their issues to the president, setting up another fight to maintain abortion access should Donald Trump win in November.

By and large, most Americans support abortion access. In a 2023 Gallup poll, just 13 percent of surveyed Americans said that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Meanwhile, 34 percent said it should be legal under any circumstances, and an additional 13 percent said it should be legal in most circumstances.

This story has been updated.

Watch: Witness Brilliantly Shuts Down GOP Senator’s Abortion Question

Jocelyn Frye of the National Partnership for Women & Families did not have time for Senator John Kennedy’s deceptive line of questioning.

Senator John Neely Kennedy speaking
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Well, Senator, first of all, don’t ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer.” Wise words were offered on Wednesday by Joceyln Frye, president of National Partnership for Women & Families, during testimony to a congressional subcommittee on the freedom to travel for abortion care.

The comments came as Frye was asked by Republican Senator John Neely Kennedy about a woman who allegedly asked for an abortion at 34 weeks.

“Should the mother at that juncture have the right—clearly a viable child—to abort the child?” Kennedy asked Frye, who quickly shut down the entire premise.

“One percent of abortions happen at 21 weeks or later,” says Frye. “So I think the premise of your question sets up a conversation about abortion that is unfair. It is rarely—is that ever the instance. Most, the vast majority of pregnancies and abortions that are considered late in a pregnancy have to do with severe, devastating medical circumstances.”

“And I understand your point. Senator, I understand your point. But with all due respect, I also think the chances of people sort of getting all the way through a pregnancy, and just sort of saying, ‘I don’t want it,’ it’s disrespectful to women.”

Kennedy is an anti-abortion conservative who proudly touts an “A” rating from the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. Kennedy has often gotten shut down for asking questions detached from reality and espousing anti-abortion disinformation.

Last week, all but two Senate Republicans voted against protecting the right to contraception, as conservative lawmakers steadily chop away at access to abortion care and Trump continues to platform extreme anti-abortion stances.

More on the war on women and gender minorities:

Trump’s F-Bomb Rant to Mike Johnson Sparks Desperate GOP Moves

Trump begged the House speaker to save him after his hush-money conviction.

Mike Johnson stands behind Donald Trump as he speaks at a podium
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After a jury found him guilty on 34 felony counts, Donald Trump knew exactly who to call for a solution: House Speaker Mike Johnson.

In a conversation reportedly laced with F-bombs, Trump urged the Louisiana Republican to find  a political solution for his legal comeuppance, Politico reported Thursday.

“We have to overturn this,” Trump told a sympathetic Johnson, according to Politico

Johnson already believed that the House had a role to play in overturning Trump’s conviction, but since that call, he’s practically done backflips to make it happen. During an interview on Fox and Friends last month, Johnson urged the Supreme Court to “step in” and overturn the jury’s verdict.

“I think that the justices on the court—I know many of them personally—I think they are deeply concerned about that, as we are. So I think they’ll set this straight,” Johnson said, before effectively promising to viewers that the nation’s highest court would step in to make the ruling go away. “This will be overturned, guys, there’s no question about it; it’s just going to take some time to do it.”

The House Speaker is looking to unravel Trump’s other criminal charges, as well. Johnson is reportedly examining using the appropriations process to target special counsel Jack Smith’s probe, and is already in talks with Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan to do so. It’s a near reversal of a position he took early last month, when Johnson told Politico that a similar idea proposed by Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene would be “unworkable.”

“That country certainly sees what’s going on, and they don’t want Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg and these kinds of folks to be able to continue to use grant dollars for targeting people in a political lawfare type of way,” Jordan told the publication.

But other Republicans aren’t exactly on board with the idea of defunding the special counsel—even if they disagree with the case against Trump.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea unless you can show that [the prosecutors] acted in bad faith or fraud or something like that,” Idaho Representative Mike Simpson told Politico. “They’re just doing their job—even though I disagree with what they did.”

Another, unnamed Republican went even further in torching the effort, claiming that attacking Smith’s case would completely undermine their calls against Democrats for “weaponizing” the justice system to their political benefit.