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Supreme Court Protects Access to the Abortion Pill, for Now

Access to mifepristone will remain available while the legal battle plays out.

Activists holding abortion rights signs like "Safe abortion is a human right" and "Keep abortion legal."
Probal Rashid/LightRocket/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday halted lower court rulings that would have restricted access to the abortion pill mifepristone, leaving national access to the pill in place—for now.

A Texas federal judge ruled two weeks ago that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the Food and Drug Administration and should be yanked from the U.S. market. The Department of Justice appealed the decision, first to the Fifth Circuit Court, which only partially stayed the ruling. The Justice Department then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary administrative stay while it considered the appeal.

The high court has now decided to temporarily stay the Texas court’s ruling. The court will issue a final decision on the abortion pill at a later time.

The stay means that nationwide access to mifepristone will remain unchanged as the lawsuit moves through the appeals process. The abortion pill is still available nationwide, without restriction.

Danco Laboratories, which manufactures mifepristone, had argued that a partial stay on the pill would “irreparably injure” its business because it would have to change its drug labels, recertify providers, and get approval for a supplemental new drug application, all processes that could take months. Danco also pointed out that it could not comply with both the Fifth Circuit ruling and the injunction out of Washington.

Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions performed in the United States. These drugs can be ordered online and delivered via mail, making them a key resource for people who live in states that have cracked down on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer. The Supreme Court’s decision Friday is a temporary relief to nationwide abortion access.

A bigger issue at play, though, is that nonelected judges who do not have medical backgrounds are now making decisions about medication. As Rachel Rebouché, the dean of Temple University’s law school, previously told The New Republic, “The question for appellate courts is not just about abortion but about deference to a federal agency’s expertise.”

The Texas case “undermined” the FDA’s authority, she said. “To take seriously that it ignored risks, risks unsupported by any credible evidence, suggests questions as to what federal courts might decide about other federal agencies’ decisions.”

Even Fox News Doesn’t Want to Pay for a Blue Check on Twitter

Elon Musk’s big idea to save Twitter revenue is falling flat on its face.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It has been 24 hours since Twitter purged all non-paid blue verification checkmarks, and not even Fox News is choosing to pay to get it back.

This comes just a few days after Twitter owner Elon Musk gave Fox an exclusive and absolutely bananas interview.

The only people who still have blue checks—once a coveted symbol of influence and credibility—are those who pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue (and a few celebrities Musk is trolling because they were mean to him once).

Only a handful of people who weren’t already subscribed to Twitter Blue have started paying for it since the purge.

Oh Look, New York City Is Actually Pretty Darn Safe

A new report finds that New York City shootings and murders are down, despite Republicans’ best attempts to portray it as a crime haven.

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Chair Representative Jim Jordan holds a House Judiciary Committee field hearing on violent crime in New York on April 17.

Amid all the noise of the “liberal city infested with crime” narrative this week, you might have missed a report revealing the truth: New York City is one of the safest major cities in America, and may only be getting safer.

According to the NYPD’s weekly statistics report, shootings are down 23.1 percent relative to this point last year, while murders are down 6.6 percent. Hate crimes, a special concern over the past few years amid rising hate toward an array of marginalized groups, are down 40.6 percent.

Meanwhile, New York City recorded the third-lowest number of murders per capita among the 20 largest cities in 2022.

One of Republicans’ primary hobbies is criticizing cities (read: places with public transportation and lots of not-white people and queer people) as bastions of crime. The hobby has become all the more the rage as conservatives have tried to discredit Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg following his office’s indictment of twice-impeached former President Donald Trump.

The Republican pastime has fallen short of the facts (shocker) and has become more than just dumb posts online, but “official” House business too. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee held a “field hearing” in Manhattan, attempting to deride New York as a center of crime. An expert witness pointed out that the city is in fact very safe, especially relative to some of the places that the assailing Republicans themselves hailed from.

There arguably is indeed a crime wave sweeping the nation. Just over the past month, America has been host to a wave of mass shootings, and an array of appalling instances of people being shot for accidentally pulling up to the wrong driveway, ringing the wrong doorbell, or trying to open the wrong car door. This record pace of shootings is sparked by inordinately easy access to guns and reactionary social distrust: issues instigated by Republicans and issues they seem to have no concern to actually rein in.

Republican Senate Candidate Suggests Reparations for White People

Bernie Moreno is a far-right Republican backed by Donald Trump.

Capitol building
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Trump-approved Republican Ohio Senate candidate Bernie Moreno says to hell with reparations for the descendants of slaves—what about the people who freed them?

The Republican made the wild suggestion at a campaign event the same day he announced his candidacy to become the nominee to take on Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.

“White people died to free Black people. That’s never happened in human history before, but it happened here in America. That’s not talked about in schools very much, is it?” Moreno posed, as if the conservative movement hasn’t already gone full throttle in whitewashing American history and pitching white Americans as saviors.

“They make it sound like America is a racist, broken country. You name a country that did that: that freed slaves, died to do that. You know, they talk about reparations. Where are the reparations for the people in the North who died to save the lives of Black people?”

“That’s right!” an audience member said toward the end of Moreno’s remarks, which were completely unconcerned with facts or history.

“I know it’s not politically correct to say that, but you know what, we gotta stop being politically correct. We gotta call it what it is,” Moreno continued, triggering his audience to break out into cheers and applause.

It’s amazing how, in their libidinal desire not to be “politically correct,” far-right Republicans are falling over themselves not to be “logically correct,” either.

Interestingly enough, if someone was actually looking for what isn’t “talked about in schools very much,” they may look to a cursory two-minute history lesson from Representative Jamaal Bowman this week, in which he laid out exactly how slavery and ensuing structural racism has left Black people systemically worse off.

Florida GOP Bill Would Let Doctors Deny Health Care to Anyone if They Just Felt Like It

The bill is expected to target women, people of color, and LGBTQ people in the state.

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Florida’s House of Representatives will vote next week on a bill that would allow doctors and health insurance companies to deny care to anyone they want.

According to the bill, “a health care provider or health payor has the right to opt out of participation in or payment for any health care service on the basis of a conscience-based objection,” meaning based on their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.

Providers and insurers would face no consequences under the measure and would not be required to refer patients to a place that would provide the needed care. If they are penalized for denying care or coverage, the doctor or company can sue.

House Bill 1403 makes no mention of protections against gender- or race-based discrimination. Critics are worried that the sweeping nature of the text would let providers deny care or coverage to women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.

Kara Gross, the legislative director and senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Florida, slammed the state legislature for government overreach, pointing out that the bill does not set a standard for potential objections.

There is no definition of ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ in the bill. Who determines what constitutes a sincerely held moral or ethical belief, and more importantly, why should access to health care be denied based on such vague, imprecise, and subjective terms?” Gross said in a statement Wednesday. She cited examples that could lead to people denying care, such as believing people should not have children before marriage.

“Medical standards, not individual, subjective beliefs, should guide medical and health care services.”

HB1403 is the latest in an onslaught of measures that Florida Republicans have put forward attacking people’s rights and health care access. They have especially targeted LGBTQ rights, particularly for transgender people. Just Wednesday, the House passed a bill that would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.

But HB 1403 makes clear that Republicans are perfectly fine with stripping rights away from everybody. Also on Wednesday, the House passed an anti-drag bill that is already stopping Pride parades and festivals in the state.

During the debate on that measure, Democrat Daryl Campbell warned that “right now, [Republicans are] going after the LGBTQ+ community. For those watching, they will come after you when it’s in their interest.”

It appears that is already happening in Florida.

Students Across Florida Are Protesting Ron DeSantis’s Entire Agenda

Students are walking out of school and discussing history lessons banned in classrooms.

Students from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools School for Advanced Studies–Wolfson campus protest during a statewide walkout on April 21.
Joe Raedle/Getty Image

Florida students across the state are conducting a two-day protest and walkout against pretty much Ron DeSantis’s entire policy agenda. Students from at least 300 high schools, every state HBCU, and 90 percent of Florida’s overall colleges were slated to be participating, according to organizers.

The efforts began Friday, as students walked out of class, choosing instead to learn a banned history lesson about Black and LGBTQ historical figures. The students also checked their voter registration and began sending letters to school board officials and DeSantis himself, vowing to use their votes to defend student rights.

Students also held a rally at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus, in solidarity with Floridians being attacked by an array of bills pushed by state Republicans.

Students are trying to bring attention to laws that would ban the teaching of race, gender, and intersectionality; ban “any speech or expressive activity” that “advocate[s] for diversity, equity, and inclusion”; and criminalize anyone who has an undocumented person in their home or car. They also are protesting the state’s new six-week abortion ban and permitless carry laws.

Demonstrators during the “Walkout 2 Learn” rally in Miami on Friday, April 21
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Republicans … claim that they hate cancel culture,” Democratic Representative Angie Nixon told local affiliate WJXT. “However, they are literally the ones trying to cancel cultures. They’re trying to cancel our communities. They’re trying to cancel the ability for our students—our babies—to learn, to be taught true history, Black history, LGBTQ history, trans history, our history, American history.”

The protest follows Florida’s expansion of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law up through high school. It also comes as groups begin to cancel Pride celebrations in the wake of Florida Republicans’ forthcoming drag ban, which is so extreme it would also ban high school kids from watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show or even the musical Hair.

“The overwhelming majority of Florida students, faculty, and community members reject these attacks on our education, livelihood, and safety,” organizers with Stand for Freedom said. “We understand that diversity is what makes our schools and nation strong … students will be rallying to unite against these infringements on our individual freedoms.”

Ohio Republicans Are Making It Harder to Change the Constitution

The move could block abortion protections, gun reform, and more.

Ohio state Capitol building
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Ohio Republicans are making it harder to amend the state Constitution—affecting things like abortion rights, increases to the minimum wage, and gun reform.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate passed a bill to set up a $20 million taxpayer-funded election to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments. Since 1912, voters have just needed a simple 50-plus-one majority to add an amendment to the Constitution. Now Republicans want to raise that number to 60 percent, allowing a smaller minority of voters to stop any potential amendments from passing.

Of course, this isn’t happening in a vacuum; this isn’t preparation for an unknown future. For instance, Ohioans may be voting on abortion rights this November and on a raise to Ohio’s minimum wage next year. The push to set up a special election this August is meant as a final Hail Mary to block those referendums (sound like a familiar conservative formula?).

Four states—Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Michigan—voted by simple majority to affirm abortion rights just in the past year. Two others, Vermont and California, voted above the 60 percent threshold.

Also last year, Nevada and Nebraska both voted in simple majorities in favor of raising their minimum wages.

Critics have noted that Ohio’s August election would be a costly endeavor, all for a likely low-turnout affair. (Last year’s August election garnered a whopping 8 percent in turnout.) Senator Nathan Manning, the lone Republican to vote against the bill, agreed.

“I don’t think spending $20 million on a low turnout election was the right decision,” Manning told the Columbus Dispatch.

As for the principle of it all, Ohio lawmakers in December actually moved to eliminate most August special elections, on the same grounds of cost and turnout. The change was supported by Republicans, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The issue of turnout is all the greater when, comically, a vote to raise the threshold of referendums from 50 percent to 60 percent would itself only require 50 percent to pass.

Now the bill’s fate is left to the Ohio House, where Republicans have a supermajority.

Republicans’ Big Plan for 2024 Is to Make It Harder for College Kids to Vote

Leaked audio from a top Republican strategist reveals where the party’s priorities are.

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A woman votes in the 2022 midterm election on Election Day in East Lansing, Michigan.

Republicans know that the majority of young voters don’t support them. So rather than appeal to the next generation, the GOP has decided the best course of action is to make it harder for young people to vote.

Top Republican strategist Cleta Mitchell gave a presentation at the RNC donor retreat over the weekend that was ironically titled “A Level Playing Field for 2024,” journalist Lauren Windsor reported. Mitchell worked with former President Donald Trump to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and has continued to work closely with the Republican Party since Trump left office.

Leaked audio recordings of her presentation reveal Mitchell called on the GOP to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration, and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters. Both young voters and mail-in votes tend to skew Democratic.

“What is this young people effort that they do? They basically put the polling place next to the student dorm so they just have to roll out of bed, vote, and go back to bed,” Mitchell complained.

At one point in her presentation text, Mitchell insisted that her organization, the Election Integrity Network, is “NOT about winning campaigns.” But her presentation gave no other explanation for why campus and mail-in voting should be restricted, and she also said the U.S. electoral systems must be saved “for any candidate other than a leftist to have a chance to WIN in 2024.”

Republicans are starting to see the writing on the wall, but they’re taking away the wrong message. During the 2022 midterms, young voters turned out in record numbers and overwhelmingly voted Democratic. The GOP response was to call to raise the voting age.

Rather than implementing policies about things that young people actually care about—such as environmental protection, increased abortion access, and LGBTQ rights—Republicans are instead embracing stances that alienate huge swathes of the new generations of voters. And then they get upset when young people don’t support them.

It’s easy to poke fun at the GOP over this, but it’s important to keep in mind that Mitchell’s plan is terrifying. It’s a blatant violation of voter rights. The Republican Party has not formally backed her plan, but they haven’t denounced it either.

The nonprofit Gen-Z for Change slammed Mitchell’s plan as “disgusting.”

“Republicans are actively trying to suppress our ability to participate in democracy, to make changes in the world that WE have to live in,” the group tweeted.

Texas Republicans Pass Bill Requiring Ten Commandments in Every Classroom

Separation of church and state or nah?

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The separation of church and state isn’t doing too great in Texas right now.

Republican senators passed a bill Thursday that would require all public schools to display a nearly two-foot-tall copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom. Each poster must be printed “in a size and typeface that is legible to a person with average vision from anywhere in the classroom” and displayed in a “conspicuous place.” The bill’s sponsor had previously cited Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the Supreme Court case that said a football coach at a public high school in Washington state could pray at games, as paving the way for this legislation.

The Senate also passed a bill that would let public school districts and charter schools implement a policy that requires every campus to set aside time every day for students and employees to pray and read the Bible “or other religious texts.” While the bill does not restrict the prayer or texts to Christianity, it’s safe to say that reading, for instance, the Quran is not what lawmakers had in mind.

Both bills now go to the House of Representatives. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hailed the legislation as “one step we can take to make sure that all Texans have the right to freely express their sincerely held religious beliefs.” This would be the same man who, in 2007, while serving as a senator, boycotted the first prayer delivered in the chamber by a Muslim cleric.

Texas has been increasingly regulating what can and cannot be taught in state public schools—or even who can attend. Republicans introduced a bill in March that would ban students from China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea from all public colleges and universities. The measure, widely decried as racist and xenophobic, has yet to make it out of committee.

State Republicans also want to ban public school libraries from having books that feature same-sex couples and transgender characters. And in March, the Texas Education Agency announced it would forcibly remove the Houston Independent School District’s elected board and seize control of the district, which is the largest in the state.

All of this is part of a wider movement among Republicans to clamp down on freedom of thought and expression. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in particular, seem to be in a twisted game of one-upmanship to see who can impose the most restrictive policies on their constituents.

Fox News Accidentally Touts Benefits of the Green New Deal

Sean Hannity (almost) sees the light.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

For conservatives, the problem with trying to attack the Green New Deal is that not only is it necessary for the survival of the planet, but it’s also just flat out appealing for anyone interested in living a nice life.

On Thursday, leading sponsors Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reintroduced the Green New Deal, which aims to “tackle the climate crisis with a 10-year mobilization that puts millions of Americans to work in good-paying, union jobs.” It’s the twenty-first-century analogue to the popular and nation-changing New Deal set out by FDR.

And on Thursday evening, Fox’s Sean Hannity implored his viewers to see provisions like “food security” and “additional paid vacation time” as deplorable.

More family and medical leave? That’s just time for you to be there for your family or even to take care of yourself with less stress. More paid vacation time? Everyone understands the slog of our current economic system, where work is primal and everything else about life takes a backseat. Wouldn’t it be nice for “everything else” to have a bigger presence in our lives? Universal health care? Everyone in this country has a run-in with exorbitantly high costs for necessary care; it is hard to justify the current system as better than any possible alternative. Green housing? The government upgrading my home while helping to protect the environment that surrounds it? Sign me up! Food security? When is all this supposed to be bad again?

Of course, some chunk of the Fox audience may just adopt the line, and see life-changing ideas as undesirable. But the core issue with trying to paint something as bad is that it is difficult to do so when that something is just, meritably good. Though it may be under the guise of vacuous criticisms like “Who Is Going to Pay for It?” Fox is still helping its viewers begin to imagine what society could look like instead.