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‘Utterly disqualifying’: Pete Buttigieg panned for praising Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

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Critics pointed out that the retired justice “voted to uphold Trump’s Muslim ban, voted for the Janus decision gutting labor unions, and voted to uphold voter suppression in Husted.”

Progressives on Thursday piled on Pete Buttigieg—the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate—for praising former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

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While explaining possible reforms “to stop the descent of the Supreme Court into becoming yet another political body,” Buttigieg said that “one of them would be to have 15 members, but 5 of them can only be seated if the other 10 unanimously agree. The idea here is you get more justices who think for themselves. Justices like Justice Kennedy.”

Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith called Buttigieg’s remarks “utterly disqualifying for me as a primary voter.”

Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court last year, paving the way for President Donald Trump to nominate and the Republican-held Senate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Critics of Kennedy swiftly called attention to his record of judicial rulings.

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“Pete Buttigieg’s model Supreme Court justice is a guy who was appointed by Reagan, consistently worked to gut workers’ rights and voting rights, and resigned to allow Donald Trump to appoint Kavanaugh,” tweeted The Nation‘s national affairs correspondent Jeet Heer.

Brian Tashman, a researcher at the ACLU, pointed out that Kennedy “voted to uphold Trump’s Muslim ban, voted for the Janus decision gutting labor unions, and voted to uphold voter suppression in Husted.”

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Responding to Tashman on Twitter Thursday, Buttigieg spokesperson Sean Savett wrote that “this tweet ignores his comments in the interview, in which he said his appointments would ‘definitely be people who share my values,’ and how depoliticizing SCOTUS is personal to him because his marriage exists by a single vote on the court.”

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another White House hopeful, also weighed in. Linking to Tashman’s summary of Kennedy’s record, Sanders tweeted, “Interesting, I’d like more justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.”

This post has been updated with comment from Buttigieg spokesperson Sean Savett.

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‘Mega fire’ forms north of Sydney

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Several Australian bushfires have combined to form a "mega fire" that is burning out of control across a swathe of land north of Sydney, authorities said Friday, warning they cannot contain the blaze.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner, Rob Rogers said "there are probably more than eight fires in all" that have merged to form what has been dubbed a "mega fire" in an area of national park forest.

The blaze was burning across 300,000 hectares -- an area roughly 60 kilometres (37 miles) across -- within an hour's drive of Australia's largest city, which was again subsumed in a soup of toxic smoke.

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Anti-vaxxer arrested as Samoa battles measles epidemic

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Samoan authorities warned Friday that anti-vaccine propaganda would not be tolerated, after a social media campaigner was arrested for opposing a mass immunization drive aimed at containing the Pacific nation's deadly measles epidemic.

At least 63 people, mostly children, have died since the outbreak began in mid-October, with the crisis blamed on so-called "anti-vaxxers" convincing parents that immunizations were dangerous.

Samoa was on Friday enduring its second day of a lockdown as government and aid workers spread out across the nation of 200,000 people to vaccinate as many as possible.

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2020 Election

People who want to ban fracking immediately, says Joe Biden, ‘oughta vote for someone else’

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"Might I recommend Bernie Sanders: the climate candidate," responds Vermont senator's press secretary.

If you want a candidate committed to banning fracking in the United States immediately, find another candidate than Joe Biden.

That's the advice of Biden himself, given to an activist from the Sunrise Movement in a video posted online Thursday after the two discussed the former vice president's adviser Heather Zichal and Biden's plans for the future of fracking.

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