By Andrew Hay TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) - Wind-driven wildfires in northern New Mexico burned multiple homes and forced hundreds to flee mountain villages as blazes raged in the parched U.S. Southwest at a time when the fire season is just beginning. Two wildfires merged northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico, on Friday and raced through 15 miles of forest driven by winds of over 75 mph (121 kph). Air tankers and ground crews were able to fight the blaze on Saturday after a yet-untold number of houses burned south of the village of Mora. To the northeast, a fire about 35 miles west of Taos doubled in s...
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There’s a lot to be worried about in the draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade — and with it, half a century of constitutional precedent.
At least 26 states are likely to criminalize abortions, often without exceptions for rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancies. In Louisiana, people seeking abortions could even face execution, which doesn’t strike me as particularly pro-life.
A few states are already rushing to attack contraception too, with officials in Idaho and Louisiana pushing to ban IUDs, the morning after pill, and other common birth control methods. Hardline lawmakers are also likely to ban methods of conception, including in-vitro fertilization, or IVF.
Down the line, experts warn that the rights to interracial marriage, same-sex marriage, and even divorce, parental custody, and the right to accept or refuse medical treatment could be in jeopardy. People’s control over their own intimate decisions and private lives is at stake.
But among the most alarming things in the draft ruling is its sneering pretense that this is somehow about safeguarding democracy. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito.
That’s the same “states’ rights” deceit once used to defend segregation.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once called states “laboratories of democracy.” These days, as former Hamilton County, Ohio commissioner David Pepper put it in his book of the same name, many have become “laboratories of autocracy.”
Pepper and I share a home state that’s a case in point.
On two occasions, Ohio voters have overwhelmingly mandated fairer legislative districts. And four times, a bipartisan state Supreme Court majority has held that the extremely gerrymandered maps Ohio Republicans have proposed violate the state constitution.
Ohio Republicans are nonetheless forcing these illegal maps on voters to protect their unlawful one-party rule. “Returning power over basic civil rights to illegally gerrymandered states like Ohio is an absolute disaster in waiting,” concludes David DeWitt in the Ohio Capital Journal.
But it gets even more absurd elsewhere.
In states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly gotten more votes than their Republican counterparts. But rigged maps keep giving Republicans sizable majorities — which they’ve then used in all three states to strip power from Democratic governors elected statewide.
Across the country, methods like these are used to ram through extreme legislation that ignores the will of voters. For example, recent polling suggests at least 34 states plus D.C. have pro-choice majorities or pluralities. Many will ban abortion anyway.
It’s not just abortion. Again and again, unaccountable state governments are showing themselves incapable of decent governance.
In a case that’s now the subject of a federal bribery investigation, corrupt Ohio lawmakers took money taxpayers were investing in renewable energy and used it to bail out coal and nuclear plants — even one in Indiana.
Meanwhile, Florida is ripping up K-12 math books — yes, math books — that allegedly teach “critical race theory.” Unhinged Tennessee lawmakers are calling for literal book burnings. And one-party states nationwide are making it harder to vote.
Frankly, things aren’t much better at the federal level — and Alito should know.
Five of the six conservative seats on the Supreme Court, including Alito’s, were filled by Republicans who initially lost the popular vote — and confirmed by Republican Senate “majorities” representing a minority of Americans.
The same Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression while lifting bans on money in politics. So much for the power of the people.
The loser here isn’t the big-D Democratic Party. It’s small-d democracy. When politicians can do whatever they want to us, everyone loses.
Decades ago, it took a national civil rights movement and federal legislation to reclaim common sense and decency from extremist state governments. Today, it’s also going to take reforming the Supreme Court.
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Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: email@example.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.
On Wednesday, NPR reported that the American Conservative Union, a prominent GOP lobby group, is about to travel to Hungary to hold a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event in the domain of an authoritarian strongman who supports Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Viktor Orban, the report noted, has "clamped down on democratic institutions and targeted minority groups" — and is set to give the keynote speech.
Moreover, according to a Reuters report from when the event was initially confirmed, Orban is "a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin" and "the European Union has accused Orban, who won re-election by a large margin... of curbing media and judicial independence, enriching associates with public funds and recasting election laws to entrench his power."
Making matters worse, Orban has resisted EU efforts to embargo Russia during the invasion of Ukraine, demanding that Hungary be carved out of any restrictions on importing Russian oil.
Former President Donald Trump himself has praised Orban. Meanwhile, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, who has frequently been accused of laundering white supremacist propaganda to a mainstream audience, traveled to Hungary and has defended Orban's authoritarian regime.
CPAC is an important gathering for the American right, with prominent Republican politicians and right-wing media figures frequently in attendance.
‘Pretty savvy’ DOJ just sidestepped legal battles that have slowed Jan. 6 committee’s probe: legal expert
The Department of Justice may have sidestepped the legal battles that have slowed the House Select Committee's investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Federal authorities opened a new direction in their criminal probe by requesting transcripts of interviews conducted by congressional investigators, and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner explained why that move was "savvy."
"I think we've all experienced some frustration because it doesn't look like the Department of Justice has been investigating this the way it would ordinarily investigate, you know, even large-scale conspiracy cases because they don't appear to have been sort of carpet-bombing folks with grand jury subpoenas the way we ordinarily would," Kirschner said.
Kirschner praised DOJ investigators for waiting until the Select Committee had conducted its interviews instead of pursuing the same witnesses.
"If the Department of Justice had gone after everybody with grand jury subpoenas, they probably would have been battling witness after witness after witness, these thousand-plus witnesses," he said. "They would have been battling Congress, who gets which witness first and who has the greater priority. Now what the Department of Justice can do is take a thousand-plus transcripts and they can use that to build their criminal investigation.
"I actually think whether this was by design or happenstance, this may turn out to be a pretty savvy way about investigating the case," Kirschner added, "and let's not forget that the chief investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 committee is frankly a very accomplished prosecutor in his open own right when he served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and I expect this is a really savvy investigation put together by the Jan. 6 Committee."
Watch the video below or at this link.