1/ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted secret luxury vacations from a Republican megadonor for more than two decades without disclosing them. The trips were funded by Harlan Crow, a real-estate billionaire and Republican Party donor, who treated Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas to luxury vacations, stays at his properties and private resort, as well as free travel on his private jet and superyacht. Thomas didn’t disclose that travel on his annual financial disclosure forms, which appear to violate a federal law mandating top officials from the three branches of government, including the Supreme Court, file annual forms detailing their finances, outside income, and spouses’ sources of income. Judges are prohibited from accepting gifts from anyone with business before the court, and until a month ago the judicial branch had not defined an exemption for gifts considered “personal hospitality.” Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Thomas’ actions were “simply inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of any public servant, let alone a Justice on the Supreme Court,” adding that “the highest court in the land shouldn’t have the lowest ethical standards.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, called for Thomas to be impeached, saying “this is beyond party or partisanship. This degree of corruption is shocking - almost cartoonish.” (ProPublica / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / NBC News / CBS News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Supreme Court refused to reinstate a West Virginia law barring transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams at school. West Virginia’s 2021 law – the Save Women’s Sports Act – was challenged by a 12-year-old middle school transgender girl and her parents to allow her to continue running on her middle school cross-country and track teams. The Supreme Court was not considering the ban on the merits but instead addressed whether the law should remain on hold while legal proceedings continue in lower courts. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying they would have granted the request to immediately reinstate the ban on transgender girls from participating on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Some 19 states have enacted laws like West Virginia’s in the last three years. (NPR / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)
3/ The Biden administration proposed new regulations to make it illegal for schools to broadly ban transgender students from sports teams. Under the proposal, blanket or categorical bans on all transgender athletes would not be allowed, but schools could bar transgender athletes from participating in competitive high school and college sports for “fairness in competition.” Schools that want to limit participation by transgender athletes would have to consider the sport, the level of competition, and the grade or education level involved. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / The Hill)
4/ Idaho’s Republican governor signed a bill into law that makes it illegal to help a pregnant minor get an abortion in another state. The new “abortion trafficking” law – the first of its kind in the U.S. – makes helping a minor obtain abortion pills or cross state lines for an abortion without parental consent punishable by two to five years in prison. Anyone convicted could also be sued by the minor’s parent or guardian. Abortion has been banned at all stages of pregnancy in Idaho. (Associated Press / ABC News / NBC News)
5/ Tennessee Republican lawmakers expelled the first of three Democratic legislators from the state House for leading a protest calling for gun reform – the first partisan expulsion in the state’s modern history. Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson violated House decorum rules by using a bullhorn on the House floor to lead the protest and speaking without being formally recognized. In the first vote, the legislature voted 72-25 to oust Jones, with votes on expelling the other two lawmakers expected to follow. “We called for you all to ban assault weapons and you respond with an assault on democracy,” Jones said during his opening statement, calling the resolution “a spectacle” and “a lynch mob assembled to not lynch me, but our democratic process.” The trio represent the three largest cities in Tennessee. (The Tennessean / Politico / ABC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)
6/ The IMF warned that its outlook for global economic growth over the next five years is the weakest in more than three decades. The world economy is expected to grow less than 3% this year – down from 3.4% last year – making it the lowest medium-term growth forecast since 1990. “There is simply no way that interest rates would go up so much after being low for so long and there would be no vulnerabilities. Something is going to go boom,” Kristalina Georgieva said, IMF Managing Director. Georgieva added that slower growth would be a “severe blow,” making it even harder for low-income nations to catch up. “Poverty and hunger could further increase, a dangerous trend that was started by the COVID crisis.” (Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
- Fear of an economic “lost decade” hangs over world leaders. “The war in Ukraine, stubbornly high inflation, rising interest rates, a fragile banking system and slower growth in China are all looming threats.” (Politico)
poll/ 32% of American say Biden deserves to be reelected – down 5 points since December. (CNN)
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