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Supreme Court Surprises Us All and Delivers Major Win for Voting Rights

The 5–4 decision ruled in favor of Black voters.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of voting rights for Black residents of Alabama, in a total shock to everyone.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the three liberal justices, ruling 5–4 that Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama discriminated against Black voters under the Voting Rights Act.

This means that the seven congressional districts will now be redrawn. More than a quarter of Alabama residents are Black, but only one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts is majority-Black. Black voters are scattered throughout the other districts, dramatically reducing their ability to elect their preferred candidates. As a result of the racial gerrymandering, the state only has one Black representative.

A three-judge district court ruled unanimously in January 2022 that the map violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting Black votes, and ordered a new map be drawn. The judges ruled that Alabama’s Black population was large enough, and concentrated enough in one area, that there could be two majority-Black districts.

The state appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in October. While the case was ongoing, the map was used during the 2022 midterm elections.

Roberts wrote the majority opinion, and repeatedly rejected Alabama’s arguments in favor of keeping the current map as “unpersuasive” or of “little merit.”

“The Court’s opinion does not diminish or disregard the concern that [the Voting Rights Act] may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power within the States,” he wrote. “Instead, the Court simply holds that a faithful application of precedent and a fair reading of the record do not bear those concerns out here.”

Alabama’s new districting map could prove crucial to Democrats’ ability to retake the House of Representatives in 2024.

This post has been updated.

GOP Congressman Says It’s Too Soon to Talk About Climate Change, Amid Raging Wildfires

Stop politicizing the weather, says man whose state is living under an air quality warning.

Marc Molinaro
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

More than 100 million people are under air quality alerts, with numerous American cities experiencing among the worst air quality in the world, as heavy, hazardous smog from raging Canadian wildfires swallows much of the United States. And while people are putting their masks on to navigate their new reality, a Republican has come out to bravely say it’s too soon to talk about climate change.

“AOC can save her lecturing for the floor of the House,” New York Republican Marc Molinaro said on Fox. “Right now, there are countless firefighters, there are families being impacted, senior citizens, folks with respiratory issues,” he continued, listing off a laundry list of people his party has left behind by not caring about environmental protection. “There is little question that Canada obviously needs to focus on forest management, but this isn’t the moment to start lecturing people about the science of climate change. Right now it’s about putting out a fire and keeping people safe,” he finished, as if honoring the science of climate change is not intrinsically part of keeping people safe.

Note that Molinaro’s own state, New York, has among the worst air quality in the world right now. His district (one that Biden won) also includes much of the state’s most beautiful areas: the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson Valley, and parts of the Finger Lakes. And yet voicing concerns about how we are degrading these landscapes, and harming our people’s health, is “lecturing” to this New York Republican.

It’s almost comical the extent Republican politicians will go to deny reality. It’s not enough to cast doubt on the broader scientific fact about human-induced climate change—and all the subsequent effects, like wildlife and habitat loss, or the upending of our food and water systems—and how expensive that all is. While nearly a third of the country is at risk of breathing in a dark haze straight out of dystopia, Republicans are still lecturing us for having the nerve to say enough is enough.

There has been a great deal of focus on how Republicans, in their vicious agenda against education, LGBTQ people, and immigrants, are massively out of touch with most of America. It’s high time we externalize the fact that they are just as out of touch when it comes to climate and the environment. Pretty much everyone enjoys or appreciates our natural world: aesthetically, spiritually, recreationally, or simply by virtue of its being where their food and water comes from. But the conservative movement has no answer to protect it all—and wants to blame those of us who are trying to find one.

A Compendium of Statements That St. Peter Might Be Asking Pat Robertson to Explain

Farewell to a man who blamed LGBTQ people and people of color for virtually everything.

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Pat Robertson

Televangelist Pat Robertson, who founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, died Thursday at age 93.

Robertson was one of the main drivers behind Christian conservatism’s entry into mainstream politics, introducing what would become some of modern Republicans’ favorite talking points, including blaming LGBTQ people and people of color for pretty much everything.

Here are nine statements Robertson made that he will probably have to explain at the pearly gates.

1. Gay people and abortion caused 9/11

Robertson hosted fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell on his show The 700 Club just days after the 9/11 attack. At one point, Falwell said, “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”

Robertson replied, “I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.”

2. Haitians deserved the earthquake in 2010

Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in January 2010. The death toll is still uncertain, but potentially half a million people died. Robertson said that Haitians had made a “pact with the devil” and have been “cursed” ever since.

3. Feminists are evil

In a 1992 fundraising letter, Robertson wrote: “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

4. Abortion caused Hurricane Katrina

Robertson said Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 because God was angry about abortion. “I was reading … a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood,” he said. “Have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected?”

5. God won’t bless America because of gay people and abortion

Robertson said at the start of 2010 that God wouldn’t bless America that year because there was too much abortion and homosexuality and not enough prayer.

“Fifty million babies slaughtered,” Robertson said God told him. “You can’t have legislation that is anti-God. You can’t foster in your midst things that I call an abomination.… If you do, sooner or later judgment’s going to come.”

6. Gay people are Nazis

In March 1990, Robertson referred to homosexuality as a “pathology” that needed to be treated. “Many of those people involved with Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals,” he said on The 700 Club. “Those two things seem to go together.”

7. Muslims are also Nazis

In 2011, Robertson compared Islamophobia to being anti-Nazi. “I was thinking, you know, if you oppose Muslims, what is said?” he asked on The 700 Club. “Well, you’re a bigot, right? Terrible bigotry. I wonder, what were people who opposed the Nazis? Were they bigots?”

8. God would overturn the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump

Robertson told 700 Club viewers that the lawsuit filed by Texas’s then–Attorney General Ken Paxton challenging the results of the 2020 election was a “miracle.”

“They’re going to the Supreme Court to say, ‘This election was rigged and you’ve got to overturn it,’” Robertson said, pushing Trump-backed falsehoods. He also said God would intervene.

(At least on this point, Robertson seemed to correct himself, saying two weeks later that Trump was living in “an alternate reality.”)

9. Towels in Kenya transmit AIDS

In 2014, a 700 Club viewer asked whether an upcoming trip to Kenya was risky.

“You might get AIDS in Kenya,” Robertson warned on air. “The people have AIDS in Kenya. The towels could have AIDS.”

Lauren Boebert Blows by Gun Violence Survivors, Not Even Making Eye Contact

The Republican representative cannot be bothered by things like kids surviving guns.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Lauren Boebert doesn’t have the time of day for people who survived mass shootings.

On Tuesday, as gun violence survivors visited Washington, D.C., to lobby for action, they ran up against some elected officials who wouldn’t even look them in the eye, including one Republican Representative Boebert.

“Hey, there’s a lot of survivors over there if you want to …,” one young visitor started to Boebert.

“Survivors of gun violence if you want to talk to them,” another finished. “Survivors from Uvalde, Parkland.… You don’t really care?”

“It’s alright. My son died for you to just go do that,” said Brett Cross, whose son was shot and killed at the Uvalde elementary school shooting, as Boebert walked by without even looking at him.

“I heard you’re gonna be a grandmother!” the first young individual called out as Boebert and her aides marched away toward the people’s house.

Numerous other members of Congress did take time out of their equally busy days to meet with the student and parent organizers, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Summer Lee, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Mike Thompson. Senator Jon Ossoff even came out as another co-sponsor of a bill to ban assault weapons.

Also on Tuesday, when asked about gun violence by a school shooting survivor, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene simply said she supports the Second Amendment before turning her back and walking away from a child who survived a gun killing.

Republican Infighting Is So Bad They’re Messing Up Their Own Fake Biden Probe

Republicans are eating themselves from the inside out after the debt ceiling debacle.

Representatives Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Representatives Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz

Republican infighting over the recently passed debt limit law has gotten so bad that they’re undermining their own investigation into President Joe Biden to get back at each other.

Some of the most conservative House Republicans, furious that Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to raise the debt ceiling, blocked a bill on Tuesday that would have prevented gas stoves from being banned (another one of their fake culture wars). But now, Republican leadership may respond by blocking a vote, set for Thursday, to hold CIA director Christopher Wray in contempt for not complying with the Oversight Committee’s holey Biden investigation.

“I have been told that leadership teams are meeting right now,” Representative Matt Gaetz told Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. “And they’re thinking about punishing House conservatives and just sending everybody home this week, and canceling the committee work and the contempt work as a way to stick it to us for making demands that they keep their promises.”

Members of the Freedom Caucus, the farthest-right wing of the House, accuse McCarthy of reneging on several promises he made to them when he was elected speaker. In fact, those promises were what got him elected speaker in the first place.

McCarthy apparently also promised to slash government spending and cap the debt ceiling. Instead, McCarthy negotiated with Biden to pass a deal to raise the debt ceiling (after a GOP-manufactured crisis that brought the U.S. to the brink of default).

The Freedom Caucus has been a thorn in McCarthy’s side since the very beginning. They’re the ones who made us sit through 15 rounds of votes for the speakership. And now, they’ve dragged the Republican Party into a weird game of tit for tat that is preventing them from actually achieving any of their goals.

Considering one of those goals is an investigation based on seemingly no evidence, maybe we should let them keep going.

Mike Pence Finally Slams Trump on January 6 and the Constitution

Could it be? A Republican criticizing someone who was impeached twice, criminally indicted, and found liable for sexual abuse?

Mike Pence
Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Don’t blink, you might miss it: a Republican actually criticizing twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former President Donald Trump.

During his presidential campaign announcement on Wednesday, Mike Pence did not shy away from the bare minimum of saying that Trump’s actions related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol disqualify him from the White House.

“My former running mate continues to insist that I had the right to overturn the election. But President Trump was wrong then, and he’s wrong now,” Trump’s former vice president said.

“Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States, and anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president again.”

Pence’s remarks come while he’s also aiming to position himself as the most conservative candidate in the race—looking to ban abortion outright, openly calling for cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare, and embracing military hawkishness. Pence conceptualizes it all as a resurgent “Reagan coalition,” a plan that may only somewhat work at chipping away at Trump, who has commanded a lead over many conservatives who romanticize Reagan’s destructive legacy.

In the past, Pence has maintained some posture of benevolence toward Trump, reiterating his commitment to honoring the Constitution rather than focusing directly on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He has also written glowing anecdotes about the former president, called Trump’s indictment “political persecution,” and repeatedly refused to testify in the House investigation against Trump.

Pence’s comments today portend some more awareness that his best shot at losing less badly, if not somehow winning, is by actually going after Trump. Time will tell whether he’ll stick to his guns or balk at the first sign of adversity.

Saudi Arabia’s Sportswashing With the PGA-LIV Golf Tour Merger Isn’t a Done Deal

Here are the ten people who could stop this merger, if they wanted to.

Rob Carr/Getty Images`
Members of Torque GC celebrate after winning the team portion of the LIV Golf Invitational–DC at Trump National Golf Club on May 28 in Sterling, Virginia.

The PGA Tour and its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf, have unveiled a plan to merge, but it’s not yet a done deal—and it can still be stopped.

The two golf tours have been at each other’s throats for months, with LIV offering massive paychecks to lure golfers away from PGA. PGA, meanwhile, slammed Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. LIV sued the PGA Tour for antitrust law violations, and the Tour countersued, accusing LIV of using players “and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities.”

Then PGA and LIV suddenly announced Tuesday that they would drop all lawsuits and merge operations, a plan that came as a huge shock even to the players. As it turns out, none of the PGA’s top players were consulted about the deal.

But the PGA Tour’s policy board has to approve the deal first—and it hasn’t yet. Here are the names of the 10 people who could stop the merger:

  1. Ed Herlihy
  2. Jimmy Dunne
  3. Mark Flaherty
  4. Mary Meeker
  5. Randall Stephenson
  6. Patrick Cantlay
  7. Charley Hoffman
  8. Peter Malnati
  9. Rory McIlroy
  10. Webb Simpson

It’s also possible that if a group of the world’s top players spoke out against the deal, then it might not move forward. McIlroy and Tiger Woods were both vocal in condemning LIV, but McIlroy said Wednesday he is “resigned” to the fact of Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in sports.

He also seems to feel that the merger will happen. “I still hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does,” McIlroy said Wednesday during a press conference at the Canadian Open. “Whether you like it or not … the Saudis want to spend money in the game of golf, and they weren’t going to stop. This is the one thing that I’ve always thought about, how can we get that money into the game, but use it the right way?”

Another option would be for the Department of Justice to block the merger by arguing it violates antitrust laws. The department is already investigating the PGA Tour over LIV’s allegations of antitrust violations. But it’s unclear if the department will step in or how long that could take.

Atlanta Activists Want to Let the People Decide on Cop City

Organizers are pushing a referendum to let the public vote on whether their tax dollars should be used for a massive police facility.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images
Environmental activists reoccupy a preserved forest in Atlanta that is scheduled to be developed as a police training center, on March 4.

Protesters against Cop City are not backing down.

The Atlanta City Council on Tuesday voted to approve $67 million in taxpayer money for a massive police training facility—all after police officers indiscriminately arrested protesters and even killed one in cold blood.

And the very next day, organizers announced a public referendum campaign to demand the city repeal the lease agreement for the forest land set to be razed to construct the massive $90 million police training facility.

Organizers need at least 75,000 signatures from registered voters in the next 60 days to make it on the ballot this November.

“The Atlanta City Council has again turned its back on working class, particularly Black, Atlantans,” said organizer Kamau Franklin. “The overwhelming majority of people opposed Cop City but the city council chose again to side with the police & corporations to continue to criminalize our community—which is why it is time for the people of Atlanta to decide.”

Organizers’ decision to move this to a public vote comes after hundreds of Atlantans flooded City Hall to protest the approval of the Cop City funding.

“Viva viva, Tortuguita!” the crowd chanted, early Tuesday morning, in reference to Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita, who was shot and killed by Atlanta police in January. Contrary to police claims that the officers only shot after being shot at first, an independent autopsy found Tortuguita’s hands were raised during the shooting. Even worse, police shot Tortuguita at least 57 times.

“The Atlanta community has repeatedly drawn attention to the serious harms posed by Cop City, including environmental damage and the dangers of a militarized police force that have the potential of impacting the everyday lives of Black Atlantans,” said R. Gary Spencer, senior counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “But instead of addressing these concerns, Georgia officials have responded with police violence, targeted arrests, and unduly harsh charging decisions. As a result, Atlantans have witnessed the police killing of Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Esteban Paez Terán, domestic terrorism charges against activists based on tenuous evidence, and felony charges against protestors for simply distributing flyers.”

In March, dozens of people were indiscriminately arrested at a music festival organized by protesters. They were detained on accusations of participating in vandalism and arson at a construction site that was over a mile away from where the music festival was being held, some even charged with domestic terrorism. Worse, many were arrested and denied bond on the grounds of having muddy shoes (they were all in a forest, where it had rained), or being “part of the team” because they were wearing black.

Last week, Atlanta police used a heavy-duty police truck and hordes of riot police to arrest just three individuals who had been helping organize bail funds and legal support for protesters. The trio were arrested on flimsy charges of “money laundering” and “charity fraud.” Even the presiding judge seemed uncompelled by the prosecution. “I don’t find it very impressive,” he said. “There’s not a lot of meat on the bones.”

“The Atlanta community has repeatedly drawn attention to the serious harms posed. Cop City symbolizes the failures of a public safety system that continues to weaponize law enforcement against communities rather than invest in resources that would actually produce the safety and stability they need,” Spencer said. “The voice of the people has been repeatedly ignored, so it is time for the residents of Atlanta to exercise their political will and decide the fate of Cop City. This referendum does just that.”

Well, Well, Well: Republicans Suddenly Care About Early Voting

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel wants to make this a big part of Republicans’ 2024 strategy.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel speaks at a podium
David McNew/Getty Images
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel

With the 2024 election cycle kicking off, Republicans have announced a new strategy: early voting.

The GOP has vehemently opposed early voting, and expanded voter access in general, for some time, with former President Donald Trump renewing the charge. Republicans across the country moved to restrict access to early voting after a surge during the pandemic.

But on Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel revealed the party’s new plan for the upcoming election cycle. “In addition to protecting the vote, we need you to bank your vote,” she said in a video message.

“To win close elections, we need to close the gap on pre–Election Day voting,” she said.

The shift in favor of early voting began in December, following Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s loss in Georgia (as well as a series of other embarrassing losses in the midterms). McDaniel also began pushing back on party members who opposed early and mail-in voting.

“There were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early,’” she told Fox News after Walker’s defeat. “And we have to stop that and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day.”

McDaniel’s staff insisted she wasn’t referring to Trump, but it’s hard to think who else she could have been talking about. Trump is one of the leading voices still falsely claiming that mail-in voting leads to fraud. He has repeatedly urged his supporters to watch ballot boxes, leading to multiple accusations of voter intimidation during the 2022 election.

Early voting is important, and a useful tool in elections, but the bigger issue is that Republicans aren’t focusing on policies that people actually care about. For instance, they have embraced extreme stances on abortion that most people oppose. The GOP also talks a lot about fighting “wokeism,” when many voters want politicians to focus on the economy or climate change.

It’s similar to the time after the 2022 midterm elections, when record-high numbers of young voters turned out for Democrats. The Republican response was to demand raising the voting age, instead of looking at the issues important to Gen Z.

In Sign That Biden Probe Is Going Great, GOP Senator Begs for More Whistleblowers

The Republican Party is grasping for straws in its “investigation” of Joe Biden.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
STR/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Who ever said Republicans were cynical? After all, the way they’re treating the throw-it-all-at-the-wall investigation into Joe Biden’s family is in fact quite optimistic. Take, for instance, Senator Ron Johnson, who, on Wednesday, tried to put a positive spin on what sounds like a chase with no end in sight.

“Investigations are hard; it’s a tough, hard slog, but we’re getting—we’re getting more and more pieces of information, and we need more whistleblowers,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox.

Johnson, who on Tuesday called the January 6 attack on the Capitol just “pockets of rioting,” is not alone in his glass-half-full demeanor about the amorphous investigation into Biden’s family.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, pack leader of the Biden probe, has assured a wide range of outlets that there is a laundry list of informants who have evidence pinning the Bidens to crimes. The problem is that he keeps changing the number of informants he apparently has, and has shared little to no information with Democrats, let alone the public.

One informant apparently even went poof. “Well, unfortunately, we can’t track down the informant,” Comer told Fox host Maria Bartiromo last month. “We’re hopeful that the informant is still there. The whistleblower knows the informant. The whistleblower is very credible,” he insisted.

Bartiromo was confused by the statement, and her colleague Steve Doocy even pressed him on it earlier that week. “You don’t actually have any facts to that point. You’ve got some circumstantial evidence,” Doocy said to Comer live on air. “And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is—there’s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”

All of these media mishaps follow a House GOP report published in May that detailed a sprawling investigation into Biden and his family; but in all 65 pages of the report, hard evidence linking Biden to any misdeeds was notably absent. Comer himself admitted they had none.