MIAMI -- Laura Stieghorst was sitting in the back of a University of Miami classroom in November 2021 when she got the email that would change her life. As her professor lectured the class on sustainable development, Stieghorst, then a senior studying environmental science and policy, learned that Elon Musk — founder of Tesla and SpaceX, new owner of Twitter and the world’s richest man — was about to give her a $100,000 grant to fund her research proposal to fight climate change. “I just wanted to jump out of my seat,” said Stieghorst, who graduated from UM in December. She had applied for the...
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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in one of the most important cases of the term, a case that will determine if the nation's highest court will or will not allow a person citing their personal religious beliefs to openly discriminate in the marketplace against same-sex couples.
In likely the most salient and important hypothetical example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson described in great detail a photographer wanting to re-create scenes from 1940's Christmases with Santa Clauses and children, in sepia tones, and making them historically accurate.
She asked the attorney representing the right-wing Christian website designer who does not want to have to provide her product to same-sex couples, if under her legal theory the hypothetical photographer would have to create photos of a white Santa with Black children.
Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom's attorney arguing in favor of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, was forced to admit that the photographer would be able to say they would not take photos of Black children with a white Santa.
Later, Justice Samuel Alito, one of the Court's most far-right jurists, decided to use Justice Jackson's hypothetical analogy to make a point, and he did so by mockingly joking about Black children wearing KKK costumes.
"Justice Jackson's example of that, the Santa in the mall who doesn't want his picture taken with Black children," Justice Alito began, getting the basics of the analogy incorrect.
"So if there's a Black Santa at the other end of the mall, and he doesn't want to have his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, now does that Black Santa have to do that?"
Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied, "No, because Klu Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws."
"And presumably," Justice Sonia Sotomayor interjected, "that would be the same Ku Klux Klan outfit regardless whether if the child was Black or white or any other characteristic."
That's when Alito decided to make a "joke," while thousands of Americans were listening to the Court's live proceedings.
"You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time," he said, presumably sarcastically.
He then laughed, and some viewers in the gallery joined with him.
Many on social media were outraged and offended.
"He is so inappropriate today. And offensive," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). "The Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits? Not funny. Is this the highest Court of the most powerful country in the world? Good grief."
Minutes later, NYU School of Law Professor of Law Melissa Murray weighed in, saying, "I'm going to need Justice Alito to stop joking about seeing 'Black children in Ku Klux Klan costumes.'"
"Seriously, what am I listening to?" she asked, to which Ifill replied, "Just awful."
"The joke about Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits?" Ifill also lamented. "No Justice Alito, these 'jokes' are so inappropriate, no matter how many in the courtroom chuckle mindlessly."
Columbia University Professor of Law Katherine Franke tweeted, "Justice Alito is resorting to KKK jokes. Ha ha ha. As if what's at stake here is funny, and isn't taking place in a context in which LGBTQ people feel like we have a target on our backs. And, ahem - Klan jokes aren't funny under any context."
The Rewire News Group tweeted, in all caps, "I knew Alito wouldn't be able to resist bringing up the Ku Klux Klan," and then: "What the hell, Sam."
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is hiring a former senior justice department official who has a history of taking on Donald Trump to join the criminal investigation into the former president's business practices, The New York Times reports.
Matthew Colangelo previously led the New York attorney general’s civil inquiry into Trump and will likely head the Manhattan D.A.'s investigation of Trump.
As The Times' report points out, Manhattan prosecutors are looking into whether Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets. They're also renewing their focus on a hush-money payment Trump allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged sexual encounter.
"Mr. Colangelo, 48, who also worked in the Obama administration as a senior labor department official, will join the district attorney’s office as senior counsel. In addition to helping with its 'most sensitive and high-profile white-collar investigations,' he is expected to focus on housing and tenant protection and labor and worker protection, priorities for Mr. Bragg," The Times' report stated.
“Matthew Colangelo brings a wealth of economic justice experience combined with complex white-collar investigations, and he has the sound judgment and integrity needed to pursue justice against powerful people and institutions when they abuse their power,” Bragg said in a statement.
Read the full report over at The New York Times.
Former President Donald Trump on Monday angrily denied that he had called for the termination of portions of the U.S. Constitution.
Two days after Trump created a firestorm by once again claiming his 2020 election loss was fraudulent and then writing on Truth Social "A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great 'Founders' did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!" he is now attacking the press for reporting on his rant.
With one conservative pundit calling his Saturday rant "political suicide," the former president went off on another tirade on Monday in two new Truth Social posts larded with more elections conspiracy lies.
The former president kicked off his latest attack on the press, writing, "The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to 'terminate' the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES, just like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and all of their other HOAXES & SCAMS."
He then added, "What I said was that when there is 'MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,' as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG. Only FOOLS would disagree with that and accept STOLEN ELECTIONS. MAGA!"
Not content with that, he continued in all-caps, "SIMPLY PUT, IF AN ELECTION IS IRREFUTABLY FRAUDULENT, IT SHOULD GO TO THE RIGHTFUL WINNER OR, AT A MINIMUM, BE REDONE. WHERE OPEN AND BLATANT FRAUD IS INVOLVED, THERE SHOULD BE NO TIME LIMIT FOR CHANGE!"
It should be noted that there is no mechanism to redo an election, whether there was fraud or not.