👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ A civil rights group demanded that the federal government end Harvard’s special admissions treatment for children of alumni, saying the policy discriminates against applicants of color in favor of less qualified white candidates. Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling that rejected race-based affirmative action, three civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Education Department claiming that Harvard’s preferences for “legacy” applicants violates a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funds. 70% of legacy admissions to Harvard are White, compared with about 40% of regular applicants. Further, legacy applicants are more than five times as likely to be admitted than non-legacy applicants. Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Reuters)
2/ The Supreme Court blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which aimed to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt for up to 40 million borrowers. In a 6-3 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Biden administration exceeded its authority when it used emergency “waiver” powers tied to the Covid-19 pandemic to wipe out more than $400 billion in federal student loan debt. Biden, however, announced a “new path” for loan forgiveness using a different legal authority, the Higher Education Act. The 1965 law allows the secretary of education the authority to “compromise, waive or release” debt. The new plan, however, may not be implemented before the 2024 election. In the mean time, Biden said his administration would offer a temporary, 12-month “ramp” repayment program for student loan borrowers. The Education Department won’t refer borrowers with missed payments to credit agencies for 12 months “to give them a chance to get back up and running,” Biden said. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
3/ The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian web designer who refused to work on same-sex weddings despite a state law that bars discrimination against gay people. The justices, divided 6-3 along ideological lines, said that Lorie Smith, who opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds, has a free speech right under the First Amendment to refuse to endorse messages she disagrees with. “Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing the dissent, said the court’s ruling was part of “a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities” and a type of “reactionary exclusion,” calling it “heartbreaking,” “a grave error,” and “profoundly wrong.” (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press)
4/ Harris warned that “there is a national movement afoot to attack hard won and hard fought freedoms” following the Supreme Court’s decisions to end the use of race as a factor in college admissions, blocked the administration’s attempt to forgive student loan debt, and ruled that businesses could refuse LGBTQ customers. “This is a serious moment and fundamental issues are at stake,” Harris said, adding: “So, fight we must.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, added that the Supreme Court is signaling “a dangerous creep toward authoritarianism,” saying “they are expanding their role into acting as though they are Congress itself.” (NPR / The Guardian / Politico)
poll/ 52% of Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s decision restricting the use of race as a factor in college admissions, while 32% disapprove, and 16% saying they don’t know. (ABC News)
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