Cup of Joe – April 12, 2023

“The Justice Department on Monday appealed a Texas judge’s decision that would block access to a key abortion drug across the country, arguing that the challengers had no right to file the lawsuit since they were not personally harmed by the abortion pill,” the Washington Post reports.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page sounds the alarm:

“Abortion has been a political gift to Democrats that they want to keep giving, which explains why they sounded almost gleefully furious on Friday after a Texas federal judge overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.”

“Top Republicans are in a state of paralysis over abortion, watching — with one eye on the 2024 ballot box — as a cascade of new restrictions threaten to dig the party into a political hole,” Axios reports.

“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last summer was a huge victory for the GOP, but the backlash to new abortion restrictions has been furious — and could box Republicans into defending rigid, unpopular policies in next year’s elections.”

“That backlash already helped drive Democrats’ over-performance in the 2022 midterms and their landslide victory in last week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race, a campaign that focused squarely on abortion rights.”

New York Times: “The conservative legal movement has long had two key goals: to limit access to abortion and to restrict the authority of administrative agencies.”

“The decision last week by a federal judge in Texas invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s approval 23 years ago of the abortion drug mifepristone checked both of those boxes. The ruling, if it stands, would not only thwart access to the pills, used in more than half of pregnancy terminations, but also undermine the F.D.A.’s authority to approve and regulate other drugs.”

“At first blush, all of that might seem to make the decision’s chances of surviving review by a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices quite promising.”

“But legal scholars said on Monday that the poor quality, breathtaking sweep and unknown collateral consequences of the Texas decision might cause at least some of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices to wait for a case that would allow them to take more measured steps.”

“Republican leaders have followed an emboldened base of conservative activists into what increasingly looks like a political cul-de-sac on the issue of abortion — a tightly confined absolutist position that has limited their options ahead of the 2024 election season, even as some in the party push for moderation,” the New York Times reports.

“Last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion was supposed to send the issue of abortion access to the states, where local politicians were supposed to have the best sense of the electorate’s views. But the decision on Friday by a conservative judge in Texas, invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, showed the push for nationwide restrictions on abortion has continued since the high court’s nullification of Roe v. Wade.”

“Days earlier, abortion was the central theme in a liberal judge’s landslide victory for a contested and pivotal seat on the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin. Some Republicans are warning that the uncompromising position of their party’s activist base could be leading them over an electoral cliff next year.”

FiveThirtyEight: “Around 66,510 people were unable to receive a legal abortion in their home state between July and December of 2022…”

“That number includes more than 43,830 people who were unable to receive an abortion because their home state had banned the procedure, and an additional 22,680 whose home states restricted or reduced access to abortion — a list that includes Arizona, South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, North Dakota and Indiana.”

Pew Research: “Overall, 53% of adults say medication abortion – that is, the use of a prescription pill or a series of pills to end a pregnancy – should be legal in their state, while fewer than half as many (22%) say it should be illegal. About a quarter (24%) say they aren’t sure.”

“Donald Trump is appealing a court decision that would require his former Vice President Mike Pence to appear before a federal grand jury probing efforts to undermine the 2020 presidential election,” Bloomberg reports.

“A federal judge in Washington in late March rejected the former president’s effort to argue that executive privilege should block Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office from questioning Pence.”

After former Attorney General Bill Barr said in an interview over the weekend that Donald Trump was likely to be indicted for having taken classified documents from the White House, Trump slammed Barr as “slovenly and pathetic” for “making statements that he knows nothing about.”

“The remarkable pace with which President Joe Biden has sought to remake the federal bench has been put into jeopardy by dual threats: Democratic Senate absences and a Senate rule that gives Republicans the ability to veto district court nominees for courts in their home states,” CNN reports.

“It’s a combination that has Democrats increasingly concerned about the fate of future nominees at a time when the party had hoped to counteract years judiciary transformation under President Donald Trump.”

“The latest blow came last week when Biden’s choice to fill a district court vacancy in Mississippi became the second nominee to be blockaded by the Senate rule, known as the blue slip tradition.”

“At what is clearly a critical time for confirming good federal judges, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) increasingly prolonged absence from the Senate is apparently holding up the process for a number of President Joe Biden’s judicial picks this year,” Jezebel reports.

“Feinstein, who was hospitalized in early March for shingles and has remained in her San Francisco home since March 7, has missed 60 votes of the 82 taken in the Senate in 2023… And as the Senate, which has been on recess since March 31, prepares to return on April 17, Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) said on Monday that Feinstein’s absence from the Senate—and the Judiciary Committee specifically—will impede Democrats’ ability to confirm judicial nominees.”

Five people are dead and eight more have been hospitalized after an active shooter opened fire in downtown Louisville Monday morning, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said that some of the victims were close friends.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds 21% of Americans say they have personally been threatened with a gun, 19% say a family member was killed by a gun (including death by suicide), and 17% have personally witnessed someone being shot.

Smaller shares have personally shot a gun in self-defense (4%) or been injured in a shooting (4%).

In total, 54% of all U.S. adults say they or a family member have ever had one of these experiences.

These numbers are truly insane.

Charlie Sykes: “Yesterday’s murder of five Americans in Louisville was the 145th mass shooting here, so far this year. And it is only mid-April. Last year, there were 647 mass shootings in our country.”

“It is staggering that we are not staggered by this.”

“When children at school are torn apart by AR-15s, the conscience of the nation should be set on fire. And we were horrified by Uvalde, and Nashville, Newtown, Parkland, Santa Fe, and Roseburg, Oregon. For a few days.”

“But we have gotten to the point where coverage of one slaughter is interrupted by breaking news of yet another. And our doom loop of thoughts, prayers, debate, and inertia has become numbingly familiar.”

“Political and racial tensions in Tennessee erupted into public view last week when Republicans in the state Assembly voted to expel two Black Democrats from the chamber,” NBC News reports.

“It was an unprecedented action that Democrats across the country — including President Joe Biden — excoriated as racist and political.”

“But politics watchers in Tennessee and around the nation say that what happened was nothing new for the state’s GOP lawmakers and that the process Republicans have taken to minimize representation of Democrats — on both the federal and state levels — has actually been years in the making.”

“Tennessee Democrats on Tuesday will press for the reinstatement of the second of two state representatives who were expelled for leading a rule-breaking gun policy protest on the floor of the statehouse, after the first was reinstated on Monday,” Reuters reports.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), who led the charge to expel two members of the Tennessee House for breaking the chamber’s rules, may not actually live in the district he’s supposed to represent, Popular Information reports.

“The Manhattan district attorney on Tuesday sued Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio in an extraordinary step intended to keep congressional Republicans from interfering in the office’s criminal case against former President Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“The 50-page suit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, accuses Mr. Jordan of a ‘brazen and unconstitutional attack’ on the prosecution of Mr. Trump and a ‘transparent campaign to intimidate and attack’ the district attorney, Alvin Bragg.”

Associated Press: “Trump has made some version of his false rigged election claims in at least 20 social media posts since March 3, the bulk of which occurred in the last two weeks, accelerating when a Manhattan grand jury appeared to be wrapping up its work and preparing to indict the former president.”

Jill Lawrence: “With his trademark self-owning projection, Trump has attacked all three black prosecutors investigating him as ‘racist.’”

“In his post-arraignment Mar-a-Lago rant, he referred to Willis as ‘a local racist Democrat district attorney in Atlanta who is doing everything in her power to indict me over an absolutely perfect phone call.’ James, he added, is ‘another racist in reverse.’ He spared Bragg that particular word that night, but he had already called him an ‘animal’ and warned of ‘potential death and destruction’ if he were to be charged. He was back at it Sunday night with a Truth Social post that started, ‘Just like New York, the Racist District Attorney in Atlanta…’”

“After one Republican said Monday it’s ‘like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth,’ the Florida House moved closer to taking up a bill that seeks to prevent transgender men and women from using bathrooms that don’t line up with their sex assigned at birth,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Said state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R): “We have people that live among us today on planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet. This is the planet Earth where God created men male and women female. I’m a proud Christian conservative Republican. I’m not on the fence, not on the fence.”

Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R) apologized after he called transgender people “demons” and “mutants” during a hearing on a bill that would make it a misdemeanor offense for someone to use a bathroom that doesn’t align with the sex they were assigned at birth, Politico reports.

Said Barnaby: “The lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us. That’s right, I called you demons and imps, who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world.”

David Ignatius: “Were these documents disclosed by the Russians to expose Ukrainian weakness and shatter morale, as seems most likely to the analysts I contacted? Or were they actually disseminated by Ukraine, as some Russian bloggers appear to believe, in a plot to make the Kremlin think that Ukraine is weak and thereby disguise its true strengths in advance of a planned spring counteroffensive?”

U.S. spies caught Russian intelligence officers boasting that they had convinced the oil-rich United Arab Emirates “to work together against US and UK intelligence agencies,” the AP reports.

“Donald Trump is due back in the Big Apple this week to be grilled for the second time by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is probing the Trump Organization’s business practices,“ the New York Post reports.

“Trump is expected to plead the Fifth — or refuse to answer questions to avoid potentially incriminating himself — as he did when he was quizzed by the AG’s office in the case last year, sources from multiple agencies said.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a dear colleague letter that he will introduce a resolution when the U.S. Senate returns next week rejecting Donald Trump’s call to “defund” the Department of Justice and FBI, Axios reports.

“A growing number of prominent Republicans are rallying around the idea that to solve the fentanyl crisis, America must bomb it away,” Politico reports.

“In recent weeks, Donald Trump has discussed sending ‘special forces’ and using ‘cyber warfare’ to target cartel leaders if he’s reelected president and, per Rolling Stone, asked for ‘battle plans’ to strike Mexico.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) told Fox News that if China invades Taiwan, congressional authorization of U.S. troops to defend the island is a distinct possibility.

Said McCaul: “If communist China invaded Taiwan, it would certainly be on the table and something that would be discussed by Congress and with the American people.”

Semafor: “Musk travels to Miami later this month in an effort to mollify advertisers as he grapples with the reality of a traditional, difficult, media business.”

Molly Ball: “Over the past couple of years, Rick Scott has transformed from rank-and-file Republican in good standing to self-styled bête noire of the GOP establishment. It began with his stewardship of the party’s Senate committee in last November’s midterms.”

“What was supposed to be a slam-dunk election cycle ended disastrously: Scott presided over a botched fundraising strategy, fielded a slate of awful candidates as a result of his insistence on staying out of primaries, and released a personal policy platform full of unpopular ideas that continues to bedevil his colleagues and provide fodder for Democratic attacks.”

Associated Press: “In a trial that has lasted over twice as long as expected, little new information has emerged about the Jan. 6 attack that halted Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory or the far-right extremist group’s role in the Capitol riot.”

“But a guilty verdict against Enrique Tarrio, who wasn’t even in Washington, D.C., when the riot erupted, would affirm that those accused of planning and inciting the violence could be held responsible even if they didn’t join in it.”

“Former President Donald Trump has a minor addition to his mounting pile of legal challenges after he failed to meet the deadline to disclose his personal financial holdings,” the New York Times reports.

“But the threatened initial penalty — a meager $200 — is the latest sign of how weak federal enforcement of campaign laws has become.”

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reversed his decision to fire his defense minister over criticism of the government’s contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary,” the AP reports.

Said Netanyahu: “I decided to put the differences we had behind us. Gallant remains in his position and we will continue to work together for the security of the citizens of Israel.”

“The Biden administration is launching a $5 billion-plus program to accelerate development of new coronavirus vaccines and treatments, seeking to better protect against a still-mutating virus, as well as other coronaviruses that might threaten us in the future,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Joe Biden on Monday signed a House bill immediately ending the Covid-19 national emergency, first enacted during the Trump administration in 2020,” Politico reports.

“The White House initially announced plans to extend the Covid-19 national emergency, as well as the public health emergency, until May 11. But shortly after, House Republicans put forth bills to end both imminently. The bill that the president signed into law on Monday ended only the national emergency.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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