Day 520: "Substantial misconduct."
1/ The Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that limited who could carry a concealed handgun for self-defense in public, ruling for the first time that the Second Amendment protects gun rights outside the home. The 6-3 ruling to limit the ability of state and local governments to restrict guns outside the home marks the widest expansion of gun rights in a decade. At least six states have laws that prevent most people from legally carrying a handgun outside the home. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that “the constitutional right to bear arms in public for self defense is not a second class right subject to an entirely different body of rules,” and that the Second Amendment is not limited to people who can demonstrate a special need to carry a gun in public. In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed to the nearly 300 mass shootings since January and to data showing “gun violence has now surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.” (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)
2/ The Senate moved a step closer to approving bipartisan gun control legislation after clearing the 60-vote threshold needed to break a Republican filibuster. The vote was 65-34, with 15 Republicans including Mitch McConnell joining all 50 Democrats in voting to advance the package. A final vote could come as soon as today, and the House is expected to pass the bill and send it to Biden’s desk for his signature before leaving for a two-week recess. The procedural vote came less than two hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required people to show a special need to carry a handgun in public. (NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Bloomberg)
3/ The Biden administration plans to reinstate Title IX protections for transgender students that were tossed out by the Trump administration. The proposal would also overhaul a controversial set of rules issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, expanded the rights of students accused of harassment, and required schools to allow cross-examination of parties in sexual misconduct complaints. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the proposal would codify the protections of Title IX, which prohibits schools that get federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex, for transgender students and ban “all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.” (NPR / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
4/ The Biden administration agreed to cancel about $6 billion in federal student loan debt for roughly 200,000 borrowers who were defrauded by their college. In 2019 during the Trump administration, a group of borrowers sued the Education Department under a rule known as the borrower defense to repayment, which allows borrowers who believe they were defrauded by their college to request federal student loan relief. According to the settlement, the schools included in the deal – more than 150 – demonstrated “substantial misconduct” and many of them are now out of business. The administration has previously approved $25 billion in loan forgiveness for 1.3 million borrowers. Roughly 43 million Americans have federal student loan debt. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Federal agents searched the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get the Justice Department to challenge Biden’s election victory. In the days before Jan. 6, Clark and Trump devised a plan to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and for Trump to then name him attorney general. According to the scheme, Clark would then direct the Justice Department intervene in Georgia and set aside its voting results in order to sway the state toward Trump. The alleged plan to appoint Clark acting attorney general prompted several Justice Department officials to threaten to resign. Trump considered but ultimately abandoned the plan before the Jan. 6 attack. Clark’s conduct is also the focus of today’s Jan. 6 hearing. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News)
6/ Trump pressured top Justice Department officials to “just say [the election] was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen” in his bid to stay in power, according to evidence presented during the Jan. 6 committee’s fifth hearing. Three Trump-era Justice Department officials recounted Trump’s efforts to enlist the Justice Department into helping overturn the election, including seizing voting machines from states in late December 2020. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified that the Justice Department didn’t have the legal authority to carry out Trump’s request and that the DOJ “held firm” against political pressure. And, days after Jan. 6, at least five Republican lawmakers asked White House officials whether Trump would pardon them for their activities in the lead-up to Jan. 6. Reps. Andy Biggs Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Matt Gaetz all requested pardons. Rep. Mo Brooks also sent an email asking for “all purpose” pardons for lawmakers who objected to the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. (New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / NPR)
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