1/ The Supreme Court appeared likely to uphold a Mississippi law that bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. At issue is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortions for women roughly two months earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows. It is the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in nearly three decades. Lower courts have blocked the law, ruling that it violated the Supreme Court’s decisions in 1973’s Roe v. Wade, as well as 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Those rulings held that women have a fundamental right to an abortion, states cannot ban abortion before the point of fetal viability — roughly between 22 and 24 weeks — and that laws restricting abortion should not pose an “undue burden.” Mississippi, however, appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and asked the justices to reverse all its prior abortion decisions outright and return the abortion question to the states. During arguments, the court’s six-member conservative majority appeared divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions. The court’s liberal justices, meanwhile, said overturning Roe would make the court appear political and that its reputation would be irreparably damaged if it cast aside decades of precedent because of new justices. “It is particularly important to show that what we do in overturning a case is grounded in principle and not social pressure,” Justice Stephen Breyer warned. Justice Sonia Sotomayor added: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it’s possible.” Should 50 years of legal precedent be overturned, at least 20 states will immediately make almost all abortions unlawful: a dozen states have trigger laws that would automatically end most abortions and nine more have pre-Roe bans on the books. A decision is not expected until late June or early July. Last month, the justices heard arguments over a Texas law that bans abortion after about six weeks and allows enforcement by private citizens. The court has not yet issued a decision in the Texas case. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg)
2/ The first confirmed U.S. case of the coronavirus omicron variant was detected in California. The CDC said the fully vaccinated traveler, who returned to California from South Africa on Nov. 22, has mild Covid-19 symptoms that are improving. Since the new variant was first reported in South Africa last week, it has been identified in at least 24 countries. The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk of the omicron variant is “very high.” Federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana, meanwhile, blocked the Biden administration from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
3/ The House Freedom Caucus is urging Mitch McConnell to force a government shutdown in an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates. The House Freedom Caucus suggested that Senate Republicans have “important leverage” and can protest the vaccine mandates because Democrats need Republican votes to advance the spending measure by Friday night, when current funding for the government expires. Under Biden’s mandate, businesses that employ more than 100 workers must require vaccines or tested weekly. Entering the week, lawmakers had aimed to pass a spending bill that would finance the government at least into late Jan., but congressional leaders currently do not have an agreement on a stopgap resolution to keep the government open past Friday. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Trump tested positive for the coronavirus three days before his first debate against Biden in 2020, according to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and another former administration official. Trump’s positive test was on Sept. 26, 2020, the presidential debate was Sept. 29, and he was hospitalized for Covid-19 at Walter Reed National Medical Center on Oct. 2. The White House did not announce the positive test publicly or tell debate organizers at the time. Shortly after testing positive, Trump received a negative result from a different test and went ahead with a campaign rally and the debate. The administration first told the public on Oct. 2 that Trump had tested positive – several hours before he was hospitalized later that day. The White House at the time repeatedly declined to give a precise timeline of when Trump first received a positive coronavirus test result. Trump, meanwhile, called the report that he tested positive for Covid days before his first presidential debate “Fake News.” (The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)
5/ Mark Meadows agreed to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump’s former White House chief of staff agreed to provide requested documents and sit for a deposition. Meadows initially refused to cooperate with the committee because of Trump’s claims of executive privilege, which has been waived by Biden. Meadows’s cooperation deal, however, comes a day after the committee announced that it will move to hold Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt for not complying with its subpoena. Trump reportedly made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard Hotel hours before the attack on the Capitol about how to delay Biden’s certification from taking place. Trump’s calls about stopping Biden’s certification have increasingly become a central focus in the committee’s investigation. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / ABC News)
poll/ 52% of 18-to-29-year-olds believe that American democracy is either “in trouble,” or “failing,” while 7% view the U.S. as a “healthy democracy.” 46% of young Republicans, meanwhile, place the chances of a second civil war at 50% or higher, compared to 32% of Democrats, and 38% of independents. (Harvard Youth Poll)
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