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Coronavirus sets off new culture war battles as states respond to outbreak

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Governors and attorneys general in some states have responded to the coronavirus outbreak by pushing the same partisan priorities they always have.

Republicans in Mississippi and Texas imposed limits on abortion access, and New Jersey’s Democratic governor refused to categorize gun shops as essential services that could remain open during the pandemic — setting off court battles, reported Reuters.

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“It’s hard to imagine more compelling circumstances to restrict someone’s fundamental rights than a deadly epidemic,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

Abortion rights activists have sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after he declared abortion providers were covered by a state order canceling non-urgent surgical procedures, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves threatened action against the state’s sole abortion clinic if procedures did not end during the pandemic.

Ohio and Louisiana have imposed similar orders.

At two lawsuits have been filed by gun rights activists against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s designation of gun shops as nonessential.

One lawsuit complains that state police stopped conducting legally necessary background checks after Murphy’s executive order, which the complaint describes “as a perpetual ban on purchasing firearms and ammunition.”

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“The Second Amendment cannot simply be put on hold because of COVID-19,” argued Gun Owners of America, which complained to the FBI about the background check pause.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf allowed gun shops to reopen on a limited basis after an emergency legal challenge reached the state Supreme Court.

Voting rights groups have also raised questions about the coronavirus’ impact on November’s election, and they have joined Democrats in calling for all Americans to be allowed to vote by mail, as some states permit.

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But vote by mail measures are strongly opposed by Republicans.


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BUSTED: Trump adviser Peter Navarro publicly contradicted his own dire coronavirus warnings to the White House

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White House trade adviser circulated coronavirus warnings inside the administration, even as he assured the public that everything was under control.

Navarro circulated two memos within the White House in late January and February warning that a full-blown outbreak could devastate the U.S., but he continued going on television to present a much more rosy outlook, reported CNN's KFile.

His Jan. 29 memo warned COVID-19 could infect up to 100 million Americans and kill "as many as 1-2 million souls," but he made no mention of those dire predictions when he went on CNBC that same day to promote the USMCA trade agreement.

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Coronavirus pandemic reveals GOP’s soft civil war

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JB Pritzker appeared on PBS Newshour. The Democratic governor of Illinois said the White House had arranged for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be flown in from China to meet shortages in the US. On its arrival, Pritzker said, the PPE will be turned over to private firms. States like his, which are experiencing the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, are expected to bid against each other for access to it.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

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Republicans scrambling for a new 2020 election game plan in wake of Trump’s COVID-19 debacle: Ex-Ted Cruz aide

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Republicans who had hoped to see Donald Trump re-elected and their hold on the Senate maintained in the November election because of a strong economy are scrambling to come up with a new strategy now that millions are out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Writing for the conservative Bulwark, former Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) aide Amanda Carpenter, explained that the GOP leadership has their work cut out for them in the wake of the COVID-19 health crisis that may leave hundreds of thousands dead and millions out of work.

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