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The Voting Rights Act Is in Big Trouble

Trump-appointed judges are to blame.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Pro-voting rights protesters outside the Supreme Court in 2022

Two rulings by Trump-appointed judges could gut the Voting Rights Act, dramatically reducing the protections it offers to millions of voters of color.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky ruled in February 2022 that only the U.S. attorney general, the head of the Justice Department, can bring lawsuits about Section 2 of the act, which forbids voting practices that discriminate based on race. Rudofsky, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, dismissed a case brought by advocacy groups on behalf of Black voters in Arkansas.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Rudofsky’s ruling on Monday, with Judge David Stras, another Trump appointee, writing the majority opinion.

“For much of the last half-century, courts have assumed that [Section 2] is privately enforceable,” Stras wrote. “A deeper look has revealed that this assumption rests on flimsy footing.” This suggests that no one had previously bothered to look closely at the Voting Rights Act for more than 50 years, an assertion that simply does not hold up to scrutiny.

Stras was joined by Judge Raymond Gruender, a George W. Bush appointee. Judge Lavenski Smith, another Bush appointee, dissented. He argued that nonfederal individuals should be allowed to bring Section 2 lawsuits until the Supreme Court or Congress formally changes the statute.

If allowed to stand, the two rulings would gut the protections offered by the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights groups, individual voters, and political parties would not be able to challenge discriminatory voting practices. This includes redistricting gerrymandered maps and voter ID requirements.

But Smith’s dissenting opinion pointed to how the case is likely to go. The case is widely expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. While it’s never clear how the conservative-leaning court will land, the nine justices gave a major hint earlier this year.

The high court ruled in June that Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional districts discriminated against Black voters under the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the three liberal justices for the 5–4 decision. It’s possible they could do so again when the Arkansas case comes before them.

No One Wants to Be in Congress Anymore

Ongoing dysfunction is pushing several lawmakers to retirement.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Representative Earl Blumenauer, who announced his retirement last month

A growing number of politicians have decided that the rat race to the highest echelons of government is simply not worth the effort anymore.

Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer announced his retirement last month, joining 28 other members of the House who’ve recently decided to pull the plug on their legislative careers. Other recent evacuees of Capitol Hill include Texas Representative Michael Burgess and Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko.

The mass desertion follows several weeks of chaos, including historic infighting among the Republican caucus that led to the ousting of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as well as actual fighting between McCarthy and Representative Tim Burchett, one of the members who voted for him to lose the coveted position.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol Building, Senator Markwayne Mullin threatened to brawl with a committee witness, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Sean O’Brien.

Amid the high drama, the House has teetered on the brink of a government shutdown several times over the last several months, opting each time to dismiss it with a stopgap spending measure rather than get to work on a bona fide budget. After passing yet another stopgap resolution, parts of the government will run out of funding in mid-January.

So far, 19 Democrats and 10 Republicans have decided to disconnect from the House, though out of that number, 16 members are planning to run for separate offices, reported The Washington Post.

That may not be an atypical resignation number for any year, but some politicians argue that the value of those retirements, which constitute several senior members and signify a sizable loss of expertise, will be felt for years to come.

In 2021, almost 46 percent of House members had served for less than five years, according to data from the Center for Effective Lawmaking—up 12 percent from nearly two decades prior.

“It’s not the quantity of retirements. It’s the quality,” former Representative Steve Israel told the outlet. “These are people who really understand how to get things done.”

But the recent slew of resignations could just be the tip of the iceberg, reported the Post, which hypothesized that another wave could be forthcoming after the holidays.

Happy Birthday to the Oldest President in History

Joe Biden’s birthday is bittersweet, given his struggles connecting with young voters.

Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Joe Biden, the oldest president in American history, turned 81 on Monday. For Biden,  it’s a bittersweet occasion, a birthday that serves as a reminder of his deep struggles with young voters who increasingly view him negatively.

Biden’s mental and physical fitness have been a major issue since his 2020 campaign. Although his predecessor (and likely 2024 opponent), Donald Trump, is only about four years younger, Biden has received far more questions about whether he is capable of being president. 

Younger voters are already dreading a potential second Biden-Trump matchup, with some saying they may just sit out 2024. But the turn against Biden is much more dramatic.

A national NBC News poll that came out on Sunday found that just 42 percent of voters aged 18–34 support Biden. This is a significant drop compared to the 2020 election, when exit polls found that 60 percent of voters aged 18–29 backed Biden. That poll also found Biden trailing Trump with this demographic by four points—an alarming trend, given the president’s success with young voters in the last election. In 2020, 18–29 year olds, for instance flocked to Biden by more than 20 points. 

Multiple polls have found that the majority of voters worry about Biden’s age and how it will affect his ability to work. But younger voters are also concerned that Biden’s age prevents him from understanding their perspective on major issues.

Rachael Carroll, who graduated last year from Clark Atlanta University, told CNN that both Trump and Biden are too old to understand younger voters’ progressive views.

“They don’t understand what we’re going through now because we’re living in two completely different times,” Carroll said.

One crucial issue for young voters is the ongoing war in Gaza. Biden has so far resisted demands from voters to call for a cease-fire there and has provided Israel with significant, unrestricted aid. The outpouring of public support for Palestine has started to wear down Democratic lawmakers, but Biden is holding firm.

That could cost him. Although members of Gen Z are only just reaching voting age, the limited data shows that the majority of Gen Z adults are pro-Palestine.

The (Open)AI Apocalypse is Here

The ChatGPT developer is in chaos after the board dismissed its CEO on Friday.

Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Recently ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

More than 70 percent of OpenAI’s employees signed a joint letter on Monday demanding that the company’s board of directors resign, capping a weekend fracas sparked by the board’s spontaneous decision to oust co-founder and CEO Sam Altman over a video call during lunch on Friday. Company president Greg Brockman quit the following day after discovering he was being forced out of the board.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” wrote 505 employees in a joint statement, notifying company heads that they intend to join Microsoft’s AI division as a fallback. “We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.”

That demand for a mass resignation included the company’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who helped orchestrate the coup against Altman.

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions,” Sutskever posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, shortly after the letter was issued. “I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”

Altman’s dismissal followed a disagreement over the direction of the company’s research division, led by Sutskever, reported CNN. Company heads have denied that narrative. In a Friday letter, the board claimed that Altman had to go because the executive “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

OpenAI has scrambled to replace Altman since his firing, naming several interim CEOs throughout the weekend before landing on ex-Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, who is tasked with the awkward yet tall order of mending the torn relationship between the company’s board, its employees, and its investors.

The company briefly entertained reinstating Altman before the Silicon Valley entrepreneur announced he had taken a job leading the in-house AI division at Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest financial backer.

OpenAI is worth nearly $100 billion. Artificial intelligence’s capabilities are currently more fantasy than reality, and yet programs like ChatGPT could prove to be among the most important technological developments of this era. The mess at OpenAI suggests that the people in charge of A.I. are barely capable of managing themselves, let alone a potentially transformative program.

Ron DeSantis Thinks Elon Musk is the Real Victim

The Florida governor comes to Musk's defense after the X founder agreed that Jews "push hatred" against white people.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022

Asked about X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk’s antisemitic comments, Florida governor and struggling Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis shrugged.

During a Sunday interview on CNN, anchor Jake Tapper asked DeSantis if he condemned Musk’s comments. DeSantis insisted that he “did not see the comment”—despite the fact that Musk’s claim that Jews “push hatred” against white people had sent advertisers fleeing the platform.

“I know that Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter, because I think he’s taking it in the direction that a lot of people who are used to controlling the narrative don’t like,” the presidential hopeful said.

Tapper then read Musk’s tweet aloud, and DeSantis replied that he is concerned about antisemitism “across the board.” He pointed to recent legislation he signed to combat antisemitism on Florida college campuses. His efforts have resulted in a lawsuit for allegedly violating the First Amendment.

The University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine announced last week that it is suing DeSantis and university leaders for shuttering the group. University Chancellor Ray Rodrigues claimed that SJP provides “material support” to a “terrorist organization,” which the chapter says is untrue.

Later in Sunday’s interview, Tapper pointed out that DeSantis still hadn’t actually condemned Musk’s comments. DeSantis hedged once more.

“I know you tried to read it, I have no idea what the context is,” he said. “I know Elon Musk. I have never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I have never seen him indulge in any of that. So it’s surprising if that’s true, but I have not seen it. So I don’t want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly.”

An X user posted last week that Jewish communities have pushed “diabolical hatred against whites,” a neo-Nazi talking point. Musk replied, “You have said the actual truth.” About an hour later, he tried to claim he was only criticizing the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish nonprofit Musk has threatened to sue for monitoring hate speech on X. (ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt came to Musk’s defense over the comments, thanks in large part to his support for Israel.)

The next day, a report published by Media Matters found that X has been placing ads for brands including Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to posts that promote Hitler and Nazi beliefs.

Advertisers have fled the site in the wake of Musk’s comments and revelations that ads have been displayed on hateful, antisemitic posts.

Meanwhile, marketing leaders have started to urge X CEO Linda Yaccarino to resign. Yaccarino, who used to chair NBCUniversal’s global advertising division, was hired to help steady X from Musk’s tumultuous reign and woo advertisers back to the platform.

But now her former peers are warning her that she risks doing permanent damage to her reputation if she stays on.

“The issue is no longer about content adjacencies or content moderation,” Lou Paskalis, the founder and CEO of marketing firm AJL Advisory told Axios. “It’s simply that the owner is not someone marketers can do business with.”

“He’s F*cked”: Republicans Predict the End of George Santos

After the damning House ethics report, Republicans are finally turning against George Santos.

George Santos
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A new survey of House members indicates that at least 60 Republicans intend to vote to expel Santos, Politico reported. That’s more than double the number who voted against him in another expulsion attempt earlier this month.

The sudden change of opinion follows the release of a scandalous, 56-page ethics report on the New York Republican, which found that he blew campaign funds on personal expenses, including Botox injections, trips to Atlantic City with his husband, and subscriptions on OnlyFans, an online content service primarily used by sex workers.

In order to remove him for good, Democrats will need to rally a unanimous vote from their party along with roughly 80 Republican votes. And that is looking increasingly likely, as right-wing opinion of Santos continues to sour, flipping more Republican votes by the day.

“He’s fucked,” one GOP leadership aide told Politico under the condition of anonymity.

Other Republicans took to social media to express their frustrations, believing that they had given Santos enough time following initial reports that found the freshman congressman lied about almost every detail of his life, including obtaining a college degree, working on Wall Street, and his alleged Jewish heritage.

“I gave Rep. George Santos the time needed for an ethics report following his indictments,” said Iowa Representative Randy Feenstra in a statement.

“Rep. George Santos has proven that his ethics do not align with what we expect from our leaders. In light of the Ethics Committee report, I will vote to expel him from Congress for his illegal and unethical behavior should he choose not to do the right thing and resign,” Feenstra added.

Santos has been indicted on 23 charges related to wire fraud, credit card fraud, money laundering, falsification of records, and identity theft.

How Many Advertisers Can X (Twitter) Lose in One Day Thanks to Elon?

Elon Musk’s rampant antisemitism is causing advertisers to flee in droves.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Advertisers have fled X, formerly Twitter, in droves in the last 24 hours due to owner Elon Musk endorsing and promoting antisemitic beliefs on the platform.

An X user posted on Wednesday that Jewish communities have pushed “diabolical hatred against whites,” a neo-Nazi talking point. Musk replied, “You have said the actual truth.” About an hour later, he tried to claim he was only criticizing the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish nonprofit Musk has threatened to sue for monitoring hate speech on X.

The next day, a report published by Media Matters found that X has been placing ads for brands including Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to posts that promote Hitler and Nazi beliefs.

The floodgates opened soon after. IBM announced Thursday evening that it had paused advertising on X in light of the Media Matters report. The next morning, the European Commission said it had frozen ads on X.

“We have seen an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech on several social media platforms in recent weeks, and X is certainly quite effective of that,” European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke said at a Friday press conference. “We have therefore advised services to refrain from advertising at this stage on concerned social media platforms.”

Just hours later, Lionsgate Entertainment suspended all ads on X. Apple announced it was following suit less than an hour afterward.

Musk has owned X for little more than a year, and this is now the second time he has sent advertisers running. Hundreds of companies pulled ads from X when Musk first took over, promising to restore free speech to the platform.

Instead, hate speech has flourished during his reign. The social media research group National Contagion Research Institute found that in the 12 hours after Musk bought X, use of the n-word increased almost 500 percent.

And Musk is often a major source of that hate speech and disinformation. In addition to aggressively antisemitic posts, Musk also regularly lets Nazis back on X, shares transphobic content, and spreads conspiracy theories.

Most Americans Want a Cease-Fire in Gaza. Most of Congress Still Doesn’t.

Here is a very short list of every member of Congress who has called for a cease-fire amid Israel’s war on Gaza

Celal Gunes/Anadolu/Getty
Several representatives open a banner demanding a cease-fire and condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza, in front of the Capitol on November 8.

Public support for Israel’s military barrage of the Gaza Strip is crumbling. The vast majority of Americans believe that their country should support a cease-fire in the escalating conflict, which so far has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians—more than half of them women and children—and 1,200 Israelis.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed that Israel should call for a cease-fire and try to negotiate, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted between November 13 and 14.

Meanwhile, just 32 percent of respondents said that the “U.S. should support Israel,” a 9 percent drop from October’s polling results.

But do U.S. politicians agree with the American people?

So far, only 55 representatives out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and four senators out of 100 Senate members have called for a cease-fire. They include:


  1. Representative Alma Adams (D-NC)
  2. Representative Becca Balint (D-VT)
  3. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA)
  4. Representative Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA)
  5. Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)
  6. Representative Cori Bush (D-MO)
  7. Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
  8. Representative André Carson (D-IN)
  9. Representative Troy Carter (D-LA)
  10. Representative Greg Casar (D-TX)
  11. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX)
  12. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA)
  13. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
  14. Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
  15. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
  16. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
  17. Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX)
  18. Representative Valerie Foushee (D-NC)
  19. Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL)
  20. Representative John Garamendi (D-CA)
  21. Representative Jesús García (D-IL)
  22. Representative Robert Garcia (D-CA)
  23. Representative Al Green (D-TX)
  24. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
  25. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA)
  26. Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA)
  27. Representative Jonathan Jackson (D-IL)
  28. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
  29. Representative Henry Johnson (D-GA)
  30. Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA)
  31. Representative Daniel Kildee (D-MI)
  32. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  33. Representative Summer Lee (D-PA)
  34. Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)
  35. Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA)
  36. Representative Kweisi Mfume (D-MD)
  37. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
  38. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
  39. Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ)
  40. Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN)
  41. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI)
  42. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
  43. Representative Delia Ramirez (D-IL)
  44. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
  45. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)
  46. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  47. Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL)
  48. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
  49. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
  50. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL)
  51. Representative Gabe Vasquez (D-NM)
  52. Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)
  53. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA)
  54. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
  55. Representative Nikema Williams (D-GA)


  1. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  2. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  3. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  4. Senator Peter Welch (D-VT)

The joint statement signed by Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman, Bennie Thompson, Nikema Williams, Valerie Foushee, Sanford Bishop, Jr., Donald Payne, Jr., André Carson, Lloyd Doggett, and Terri Sewell on Friday means that 9.2 percent of Congress have now called for a ceasefire.

“We urge you to use your immense influence and the full power of your office to continue negotiations and extend the bilateral pause beyond tomorrow so that both sides can build towards a bilateral ceasefire and, ultimately, a two-state solution,” they wrote, one day before the truce was set to expire. “Too many innocent lives have been lost already. The bloodshed must end.”

More than 500 political appointees and members of President Joe Biden’s staff have signed a joint letter calling for an immediate cease-fire.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans support a cease-fire. Furthermore, Americans do not want the U.S. military to be drawn into another costly and senseless war in the Middle East,” read the letter.

This article was updated on December 4.

Pro-Palestine Protesters Disrupt Fox News, Demand End to Propaganda

“Fox News, Fox News, you can’t hide, your lies cover up genocide.”

Logo at the main entrance to the FOX News Headquarters (FOX)
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images

A group of pro-Palestine protesters entered the New York headquarters of Fox News’s parent company on Friday, accusing the network of covering up “genocide.”

The activist organization ANSWER Coalition organized the demonstration. The protesters gathered in the lobby of the News Corp building, waving Palestinian flags and holding a banner that read, “Fox News’ lies cover up genocide.”

The protesters clapped and chanted, “Fox News, Fox News, you can’t hide, your lies cover up genocide.”

ANSWER coalition wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “hundreds” of people attended the protest. But a spokesperson for the New York Police Department told The Hill that there were only about 30 protesters. The NYPD took 16 people into custody, the spokesperson said.

More than two-thirds of Americans support a cease-fire in Gaza, where fighting has continued relentlessly since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. The death toll has now passed 12,000 civilians, the Gaza government said Friday, and more than two-thirds of those casualties are women and children.

Slowly, calls for a cease-fire are growing in the halls of Congress too. A total of 34 lawmakers have called for an end to fighting: 33 representatives, including the first Jewish lawmaker, Becca Balint, and one senator, Dick Durbin.

Congress has been overwhelmed by the outpour of public support for a cease-fire. Democrats reportedly are telling their staff to let calls from voters go to voicemail while the party forms an official opinion.

President Joe Biden has so far resisted calls for a cease-fire, though, telling reporters last week that there was “no possibility” of one. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer participated in a March for Israel rally on Tuesday.

One of the speakers at the rally was far-right evangelical Pastor John Hagee, a known antisemite who once claimed Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who last month suggested that civilians in Gaza are legitimate targets, also attended the rally.

On Wednesday, Democratic Representative Brad Sherman spread dangerous misinformation when he described a protest calling for a cease-fire “pro-terrorist.”

Trump’s Own Witness in Fraud Trial Admits He Knows Nothing About Finances

Donald Trump’s legal team somehow keeps making things worse for him.

Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s expert witnesses in the New York business fraud trial admitted Friday that he is not, in fact, an expert.

Steven Laposa first took the stand Thursday to discuss the valuation of Trump’s real estate holdings. The New York attorney general has accused Trump and his allies of fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans.

Laposa said the attorney general’s approach to valuation was “flawed” because it relied on a market value analysis of Trump’s properties. He argued it should have been based on the investment value, which takes into account the owner’s investment requirements.

When Laposa returned to the stand Friday, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office asked him if he had any experience reviewing personal financial statements. Laposa said no.

The lawyer, Louis Solomon, then asked if Laposa is or has ever been a certified appraiser. Again, Laposa said no.

Solomon cited Laposa’s initial deposition from July, in which he said that when “disparate valuations exist, it is prudent and common practice to examine the underlying assumptions.” Laposa admitted he had not done so with Trump’s valuations.

Laposa also revealed he had never seen the financial statements for Trump’s property at 40 Wall Street, which might make it difficult to value the property accurately. (On the stand Thursday, Laposa said that 40 Wall Street in Manhattan was also undervalued.)

It’s unclear what Trump’s legal team sought to accomplish by bringing in Laposa as an expert witness. His disastrous testimony reflects how much of the trial has gone for Trump.

The current trial is just to set damages. Presiding Judge Arthur Engoron determined in September that Trump had committed fraud. Engoron ordered that all Trump’s New York business certificates be canceled, making it nearly impossible to do business in the state and effectively killing the Trump Organization.

During the trial, Trump and his family members have all testified, and they have all made major mistakes. Trump’s lawyers also shared faulty evidence, undermining their own case.