In light of attacks on our democracy, as well as federal recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday, I think a lot of us are trying to decide what July 4th means to us this year. I’m no exception, though I can’t say I’ve reached any firm conclusions–all I know is that we have a lot of work left to do.
Standard standing reminders still 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 tax crime!–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:
We have another Groundhog Day week of Election Rejection news, though there were a few new stories. Here’s what I have for you this week:
- Insurrection Redux. As I mentioned last week, in apparent response to Senate Republicans, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will form a select committee to investigate the January 6 attacks, which the House is uniquely situated to do. True to her word, the measure passed more-or-less along party lines on Wednesday. Though House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has threatened to strip committee assignments of any Republicans who accept appointment to Pelosi’s committee, Pelosi has already appointed Liz Cheney–one of only two Republicans who supported the committee–to serve on it.
- Elections on a Theme (Again). The Supreme Court messed up free election processes pretty significantly this week, and the timing is particularly inauspicious. Just last week, the Department of Justice announced that they are suing the state of Georgia over its brazen voter suppression law, alleging that the new law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But this case was immediately handed a major setback on Thursday, when the Supreme Court issued a decision effectively gutting that same legal provision. The Supreme Court also decided this week that conservative think-tanks do not have to disclose who donates to them, opening the door for more dark money in politics. (Given the Trump corp news below, the timing on this one is pretty obnoxious also.) Taken in tandem, these two decisions effectively raise the stakes on passing new voting protections, and I really hope we see renewed pressure moving forward.
This was also a bit of a groundhog week for Biden Rebuilding. Here’s what has happened:
- Administration Updates. Infrastructure remained a bit of a mess, with Democrats struggling to get their own party in line, but the House did pass a version of the infrastructure bill and it’s looking increasingly likely that more will get passed via reconciliation. Meanwhile, Biden announced support for removing the military’s internal authority on sexual assault cases, which was one of many recommended changes in a comprehensive review of military sexual assault. And 130 countries support Biden’s proposed 15% global minimum tax, which is a valuable first step for international financial reform.
- Trump Corporate Corruption. This one is definitely Cleanup in Aisle 45, and it was made possible by Biden stepping up, so let’s give Joe a win here. The Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselburg have been charged with numerous tax-fraud-related crimes by a grand jury in New York. These are expected to be preliminary rather than comprehensive charges, but we’ll have to see where they take us. In the meantime, Trump himself is already using the charges to campaign, because of course he is.
Your New Normal:
- Black Athletes Matter. This was a particularly painful week for intersectionality and institutional racism; I guess the universe wanted us to ponder the words “all men are created equal.” Several Black American Olympic contenders suffered racially disparate setbacks: 1) A swim cap made to accommodate Black hair was rejected from Olympic certification only days after the first-ever qualifying British Black swimmer qualified, despite the cap providing no detectable advantage, on the grounds that it “didn’t fit the natural form of the head”; 2) A Black American competitor was benched because she legally ingested marijuana–again, a substance that provides no detectable competitive advantage–upon learning that her mother died from a reporter during a sports interview; and 3) Two cisgender Namibian runners were disqualified from competing because their bodies naturally produce testosterone over a particular level, which apparently makes them not allowed to compete as women.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is mostly the same this week, though we did get both positive and negative news. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson both released data confirming their vaccines protect against the Delta variant, and might provide protection for multiple years. Nonetheless, the WHO suggests that even vaccinated people should keep wearing masks in public, and COVID cases are up 10% in the U.S. because of the Delta variant’s high transmission rate. That second bit of news is at least in part because so many eligible Americans still haven’t gotten vaccinated.
- Condo Collapse Updates. We have some updates on the Surfside condo collapse from last week, but none of them are what I’d call good. Search and rescue is still ongoing as I type this, but at least twenty-eight people are confirmed dead and 117 people are still missing, and a tropical storm is expected this week. Several other nearby condo units were ordered evacuated due to unsafe conditions as well in the wake of the tragedy, making rehousing of the displaced Champlain Towers residents even more of a challenge. News also came out that the safety concerns were known for years prior to the building collapse.
- Closing out Pride Month. With Pride Month wrapping up, now seems like a fine time to mention some positive LGBT changes that have happened in the last few days. Wisconsin birth certificates now use gender-neutral language to identify parents, rather than requiring a “mother” and “father” specifically. For the first time ever, this year’s Miss Nevada is a trans woman. New York now permits people to mark ‘X’ on drivers’ licenses instead of specifying gender. The State Department has made several inclusive changes to passport processes, including a third gender option and option to choose one’s own gender without requiring medical certification. And the Supreme Court declined to touch another same-sex wedding case, which given the current constellation is the best possible thing they could do.
- Execution Moratorium. Attorney General Garland announced this week that he is imposing a moratorium on federal executions to permit review of all existing policy on the subject. The move is not a permanent end to the practice, likely because Garland wants to push for execution in the Boston Marathon case. But his memorandum does show insight into the racial disparities and high number of exonerations that highlight serious issues with the practice.
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 relaxing doggo and a more consistently improved 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 a note telling me who sent me popsicles!