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Florida Supreme Court Destroys Abortion Access in the South

But state voters will have a chance to reinstate it via a ballot initiative in November.

A woman holds a pro-abortion protest sign
The Washington Post/GETTY IMAGES

A radical six-week abortion ban has automatically taken effect in Florida, thanks to a decision on Monday from the Florida Supreme Court—but there’s still a glimmer of hope.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Florida has allowed abortion up to 15 weeks, making the state a major hub for people seeking abortions in the South. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law in April 2023 that would ban abortion after six weeks, before most people even know they are pregnant. That law was put on hold while the state Supreme Court heard a legal challenge against the 15-week ban.

The court ruled Monday to uphold the 15-week ban. As a result, the more radical six-week ban will automatically go into effect. The ruling, which touched on the “right to privacy,” overturns decades of legal precedent. The Florida state Constitution already has explicit privacy protections.

Abortion rights advocates in Florida, though, are hopeful they can win back abortion protections. The high court on Monday also approved a 2024 ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, after hearing arguments for and against the referendum in February. Florida voters will decide whether to protect abortion when they go to the polls this November.

For now, as the six-week ban goes into effect, abortion access will effectively be wiped out throughout the Southern United States. North Carolina Republicans last year forced through a law banning abortion at 12 weeks, and South Carolina Republicans passed a law banning the procedure at six. All three states had become abortion havens in the South after the fall of Roe.

Five of the seven justices on Florida’s Supreme Court were appointed by DeSantis, and two had clear conflicts of interest. Justice Charles Canady is married to Republican state Representative Jennifer Canady, who co-sponsored the six-week ban. He refused to recuse himself from the case. Another justice, Meredith Sasso, is married to DeSantis loyalist Michael Sasso.

There is a strong chance Florida’s abortion referendum will succeed, though. The abortion rights group Floridians Protecting Freedom, which organized the ballot initiative, gathered nearly one million verified signatures to petition for the vote, far more than the minimum required. And many of those signatories were Republican voters.

Trump Supporters Aren’t Even Hiding They Hate the Constitution

Donald Trump’s backers are saying the quiet part out loud now.

Donald Trump stands under an umbrella, surrounded by police officers
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Forget a MAGA takeover in 2024; some conservatives are already looking for ways to get Donald Trump back into the White House four years from now—for a third term.

A feature story in The American Conservative insisted last week that Trump shouldn’t be beholden to the details of the U.S. Constitution, arguing that a win in November could open up the GOP presidential nominee to the possibility of running for another, consecutive term, if the nation repeals the Twenty-Second Amendment.

The amendment, which was ratified in 1951, states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.”

But clearly, Trump is such a unique prospect that the authors of the amendment couldn’t have foreseen the allure of a far-right candidate with a frenetic base. So why not just do away with it?

“As the primary season has shown us, the Republicans have not moved on from Trump—yet the Twenty-second Amendment works to constrain their enthusiasm by prohibiting them from rewarding Trump with re-election four years from now,” American Conservative contributor Peter Tonguette wrote last week.

“The case of Donald Trump, however, makes an even more forceful ethical argument against the Twenty-second Amendment and for its repeal: If a man who once was president returns, after a series of years, to stand again for the office and proves so popular as to earn a second nonconsecutive term—as Trump seems bound to do—to deny him the right to run for a second consecutive term cuts against basic fair play,” Tonguette continued.

“If, by 2028, voters feel Trump has done a poor job, they can pick another candidate; but if they feel he has delivered on his promises, why should they be denied the freedom to choose him once more?”

And, of course, pay no heed to the fact that Trump has promised to be a dictator “on day one,” or his increasingly frequent examples of his cognitive decline. It’s all fair game if it helps secure another four years under the most extreme conservative demagogue in recent history.

Trump’s First Criminal Trial Just Got a New Witness—and She’s a Doozy

Former Trump aide Hope Hicks is expected to take the stand in Trump’s hush-money trial. Buckle up.

Donald Trump points and smiles at Hope Hicks, who is smiling and has bangs covering one of her eyes

Donald Trump’s already star-studded hush money trial just added a new witness to its lineup: former Trump White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

Hicks had previously testified before a grand jury investigating Trump’s 2020 election interference, and she will testify again, reported MSNBC on Monday.

The trial, which is scheduled to begin jury selection on April 15, focuses on accusations against the former president for allegedly using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Hicks was, at the time, serving as Trump’s campaign press secretary.

An attorney for Hicks claimed in 2019 that the ex-aide was unaware of any hush money payments between her boss and Daniels, but an FBI affidavit in Cohen’s federal criminal case cast doubt on that, citing evidence that Cohen had exchanged calls, text messages, and emails with Daniels’s legal counsel, Trump, and Hicks.

“I have learned that in the days following the Access Hollywood video, Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages and emails with Keith Davidson, who was then [Daniels’s] attorney, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump, and Hope Hicks, who was then press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign,” the affidavit reads.

Trump is facing 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Alongside Hicks, Cohen and Daniels are also expected to be star witnesses in the trial, though Trump had previously attempted to keep both of them far away from it on the basis that the two were “liars.” But last month, a judge nixed that effort, allowing them both to testify.

This story has been updated.

Watch: Far-Right Congressman Suggests Nuking Gaza

Representative Tim Walberg said the U.S. shouldn’t send any aid to Gaza.

Tim Walberg walks through a doorway
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A Republican representative thinks that the U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza brought on by Israel’s bombing campaign should be resolved “like Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”

Michigan Representative Tim Walberg made the horrific comment during a town hall meeting on Friday. In response to an audience question about the United States building a temporary port in Gaza to facilitate aid deliveries, he said that the U.S. shouldn’t be sending any aid to Palestinans in the region.

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid,” Walberg said.

Instead, “it should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,” he said.

Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing a humanitarian crisis including starvation and a lack of medical care due to Israel’s war and invasion of the territory, which Tel Aviv claims is in response to the October 7 attacks. In Walberg’s eyes, any humanitarian aid to the Palestinians would support Hamas, Iran, Russia, and “arguably North Korea’s in there, and China too.”

After receiving criticism from Michigan Democrats over the remarks, a spokesperson for Walberg, Mike Rorke, told the Detroit Free Press that “during [Walberg’s] community gathering, he clearly uses a metaphor to support Israel’s swift elimination of Hamas, which is the best chance to save lives long-term and the only hope at achieving a permanent peace in the region.”

Rorke said that Walberg “has great empathy for the innocent people in Gaza” and noted that “Hamas still is holding hostages, including Americans. Hamas should surrender and return the hostages.”

Walberg’s comments are just the latest in a series of violent and often bigoted comments from right-wing politicians about Palestinians and Israel’s war in Gaza, which is entering its fifth month. Donald Trump said early in March that Israel had to “finish the problem” in Gaza, while Representative Brian Mast compared Palestinians to Nazis in November and even questioned the innocence of Palestinian babies in February. Meanwhile, the U.S. recently approved sending more bombs and fighter jets to Israel.

Trump Wants to Strengthen Anti-Racism Protections … for White People

Donald Trump’s allies are planning to co-opt civil rights protections for white people.

Donald Trump stands under an umbrella
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

If Donald Trump is elected to a second term in November, his allies plan to end this country’s long-standing oppression of a major marginalized group in America: white people.

Trump’s supporters inside and outside his campaign are making plans to use civil rights laws to counter what they perceive as “anti-white racism,” Axios reported Monday. These include programs that seek to combat racism within the government and corporate America, such as those that provide economic opportunities to marginalized and minority groups. Some of these programs began after the pandemic and racial justice protests of 2020, while others go back decades.

”As President Trump has said, all staff, offices, and initiatives connected to Biden’s un-American policy will be immediately terminated,” Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, told Axios.

At the center of this push is former Trump adviser Stephen Miller. Since leaving the White House, Miller co-founded America First Legal as a conservative “long-awaited answer to the ACLU.” The group has spent its time filing legal actions ranging from a civil rights complaint over the NFL’s mandatory policy of having teams interview minority candidates for head coaching positions to another complaint that Kellogg’s allegedly sexualized and politicized Pop-Tarts in a marketing campaign.

If elected, one can only suspect that Miller and his allies would have the full force of the federal government to pursue their racist agenda. And Trump voters would likely welcome this, considering 58 percent of them believe that people of color have advantages over white people, according to a CBS News poll from 2023.

And it’s not just Miller: There are a host of right-wing legal minds preparing for day one of a new Trump administration so they can execute a wish list of horrors. The Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank, already has published Project 2025, a long playbook that includes not only dismantling anti-racism efforts but also taking aim at reproductive and LGBTQ rights. There’s no telling what more damage Trump could do with a Cabinet full of America’s top racist and fascist minds.

Trump Tries to Stop First Criminal Trial for Stupidest Possible Reason

The former president thinks the trial should be postponed because of “pretrial publicity.”

Donald Trump gestures while standing in front of American flags
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump has asked to adjourn his hush money trial indefinitely on the basis of too much “pre-trial publicity.”

The former reality TV host and his legal team are arguing that the nature of his charges is so widely known in New York that it would be impossible for him to get a fair trial. That is, of course, despite the fact that Trump has used practically all the platforms available to him, including his rallies and his social media company, to draw more attention to the proceedings.

Still, Trump was quick to place blame on practically everyone else for the widely circulated news. In court documents, which were filed last week but released Monday, Trump blamed the district attorney of New York for the “manufactured timing of Weisselberg’s plea,” referring to former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleading guilty to perjury.

Trump also claimed that his former fixer Michael Cohen would “spew vitriol” to “anyone who will listen,” and slammed porn actress Stormy Daniels’ latest documentary about her legal saga with the former president, claiming it was filled with “prejudicial, false commentary about this case.”

After surveying 400 residents from New York, Orange, Richmond, Rockland, and Suffolk Counties, Trump’s legal team determined that “many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty.”

The team also pointed to a “media study” finding, claiming that they had found 1,223 online news articles published between January and February that “included prejudicial discussion of other proceedings involving President Trump and inaccurate and irrelevant discussions of alleged sexual misconduct, including false claims regarding ‘rape.’”

The tactic is, most likely, another attempt to delay the only one of Trump’s criminal trials currently on the docket, with jury selection scheduled to begin April 15.

Judge Juan Merchan has so far batted away several other delay tactics by the GOP presidential nominee, resulting in a ruling last week that Trump’s legal team must first ask for permission to make future filings in an effort to avoid more delays.

Last month, the court overcame a brief delay in the trial after the Southern District of New York offloaded 100,000 pages worth of documents mere days before the trial was scheduled to begin.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He faces 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

This story has been updated.

Texas GOP Wants a Horrifying Punishment for Abortion, IVF Patients

State Republicans think the medical procedures should be considered homicide.

A woman holds up a pro-abortion protest sign
Sergio Flores/Getty Images

The anti-abortion movement in Texas has adjusted course—and it’s headed toward putting abortion and IVF patients on death row.

Leaked video footage of an Abolish Abortion Texas function shows Hood County Republican Party officials in attendance at a meeting supporting the death penalty for women and minors who seek out either procedure. The meeting took place in January, but the video was only shared to X (formerly Twitter) last week.

“There’s no difference in the value of born people and preborn people,” said Paul Brown, the group’s director. “In short, abortion is murder. And that’s starting at the moment of fertilization even prior to implantation. So that Plan B pill, or what’s known as the morning-after pill, which is used to terminate or kill a baby prior to implantation, that is an abortion.”

This is false. Emergency contraception such as Plan B prevents fertilization from occurring.

“Other forms of abortion in this category include what happens in IVF, when a fertilized egg is created and is oftentimes destroyed,” Brown continued. “Those that do are terminating or destroying human life.”

Brown also added that abortions provided for victims of incest or rape will “never be OK,” noting in his speech that “[women’s] lives don’t matter any more than the babies’ they are killing.”

Hood County Constable Scott London, Hood County GOP Chair Steve Biggers, and Hood County GOP chair candidate Greg Harrell attended the meeting, but many more GOP hopefuls have signed a pledge with the anti-abortion group and received its endorsement. That includes state Representative Jay Dean and former Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, as well as more than a dozen Texas state House candidates.

“The fact that Texas Republicans are meeting with people willing to send pregnant women and doctors to Death Row should terrify every person in Texas. Make no mistake: Texas Republicans will strip women of their basic healthcare rights and will not stop at just banning abortion,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa in a statement.

“They will punish women and doctors for seeking and performing basic health care, they will ban IVF and they will create a hostile and inhumane state. All of these candidates should be ashamed of themselves. This isn’t Texas, but this is the Republican party of Texas.”

The Right Has a Crazy New Conspiracy…About Easter

The GOP is blaming Joe Biden for a coincidence with the holiday’s date.

Joe Biden points while standing next to an Easter Bunny, who is waving
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The White House recognized Transgender Day of Visibility on Sunday, which should be pretty innocuous—except it fell on Easter Sunday this year. And, as one might expect, the right was outraged.

The White House released a statement Friday calling on Americans to “join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity.”

The Trump campaign responded the following day, calling the declaration “blasphemous” and demanding Joe Biden “issue an apology to the millions of Catholics and Christians across America who believe tomorrow is for one celebration only—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

On X (formerly Twitter), Speaker Mike Johnson, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and Chaya Raichik (a.k.a. Libs of TikTok) all blasted the declaration as attacking Christianity and a conspiracy.

Screenshot from Mike Johnson's Twitter

The International Transgender Day of Visibility has taken place on March 31 every year since 2009. The fact that it fell on the same day as Easter this year is a coincidence. To Fox News’s credit, host Howard Kurtz did point this out Sunday, noting that “Biden didn’t pick the date.”

Of course, hours earlier, Fox News was up in arms over the White House allegedly promoting paganism during its annual Easter egg roll, specifically for prohibiting overtly religious designs.

In a statement to the Associated Press, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates reminded everyone that “as a Christian who celebrates Easter with family, President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American.”

Speaking of blasphemy, the Trump campaign has little room to talk, as over the weekend the former president claimed on Truth Social he was being crucified like Jesus, and invoked the holiday to attack his political and legal enemies. This follows his desperate attempt to raise money by selling “God Bless the USA” Bibles for $60 each.

Nancy Mace Has a Wild New Defense for Endorsing a Rapist for President

The Republican representative says she’s being “rape-shamed” for supporting Donald Trump.

Nancy Mace talks
Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Representative Nancy Mace is still defending Donald Trump—but won’t parse out her reasoning in the wake of the GOP presidential pick’s judgment in his E. Jean Carroll trial saga.

Instead, the South Carolina Republican took to Fox News on Sunday to defend a viral interview she gave last month with ABC’s This Week, which went south when anchor George Stephanopoulos prompted her to explain a contradiction: How could she, a rape victim, support the presidency of someone who had been found liable for sexual abuse?

Explaining to Fox News host Howard Kurtz, Mace branded the line of questioning as “10 minutes of rape-shaming” and accused the network of flagrantly bringing up the issue while her “underage daughter” was with her.

Except Stephanopolous’s question was based on Mace’s own account, which she brought up during an abortion debate while serving as a lawmaker in South Carolina’s legislature in 2021. Mace said that the video clip This Week played of her own story had “sabotaged” her.

“But at the same time, it really exposed the left because if you don’t succumb to their ideology or prescribe to the way that they think, if you don’t think the way they want you to, they will bully you,” Mace said. “They will shame you. They’ll shame you over being raped.”

“As a man, George Stephanopoulos tried to mansplain rape to me,” she continued. “I don’t need some man telling me how I should feel about rape. I don’t need some man telling me as a rape victim that I can’t vote Republican and vote for the man I believe that can save our country.”

Trump filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC last month to prove that he was just a sexual abuser—not a rapist, as Stephanopoulos had said during the viral interview. Mace also insisted Sunday that Trump “never was” found guilty of rape.

It’s unclear how Trump’s verbiage suit will play out in court, though his unexpected specificity flies in the face of another precedent set by the court. In July, Judge Lewis Kaplan clarified that although New York penal law has a “far narrower” definition of rape, the jury still found Trump to have raped Carroll in the modern sense of the word.

A Desperate Trump Appeals Fani Willis Decision as Georgia Case Looms

Donald Trump is once again trying to get Fani Willis tossed from his criminal trial.

Alex Slitz/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump on Friday asked a Georgia state appeals court to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from his election interference case, the former president’s latest attempt to delay legal proceedings.

Judge Scott McAfee ruled two weeks ago that Willis could remain on the case she built against Trump if her special prosecutor resigned. Nathan Wade submitted his resignation that same day, and the case could once again proceed.

Trump and eight of his 18 co-defendants in the case filed an application Friday with the Georgia Court of Appeals asking it to reconsider McAfee’s decision. They argued that Willis had a personal stake in the election interference case and should step down.

While the trial court factually found DA Willis’s out-of-court statements were improper and Defendants proved an apparent conflict of interest, the trial court erred as a matter of law by not requiring dismissal and DA Willis’ disqualification,” the court filing said. “This legal error requires the Court’s immediate review.”

“If this law means anything, the trial court’s actual findings here establish an actual conflict.”

Willis’s office has 10 days to respond to the appeal application.

Trump and several of his co-defendants accused Willis of having an improper relationship with Wade, who has billed her office—and thus county taxpayers—for more than $728,000 in legal fees. Trump’s team alleges that Willis and Wade began dating in 2019 and that, over the course of their romantic relationship, the couple took extravagant vacations that Wade supposedly paid for in part by billing Willis’s office.

Willis and Wade, who are no longer together, say they didn’t start seeing each other until 2022, after Willis hired Wade for the Georgia case. Willis also says they each paid their own share of the vacation bill.

During the hearings, the key witness against Willis crumbled on the stand, admitting he didn’t know when Willis and Wade began dating, how their relationship began, or even what trips they took together. But the most important thing to remember, Willis has stressed, is that Trump and his co-defendants are currently on trial for “trying to steal an election.”

McAfee chastised Willis for what he described as a “tremendous lapse in judgment.” But he ultimately refused to throw her off the case, saying she must resolve the “appearance of impropriety” by either recusing herself or removing Wade. And again, Wade has already stepped down.

The former president’s strategy has been to delay every single one of his legal battles as long as possible, in the hopes that he is reelected in November and can use his newfound presidential powers to shield himself from prosecution. His accusation against Willis dragged out the Georgia proceedings for weeks, and if the appeals court accepts his application, legal proceedings could take even longer to get going. A trial date has not yet been scheduled.

This story has been updated.