Abortion providers are at risk for all kinds of violence for doing their jobs and making sure that women have access to safe, legal abortions. We often hear about the fanatical pro-lifers who protest, stalk and harass people who work at clinics that provide reproductive health services for women. We know that they make these workplaces incredibly unsafe for these employees. But we don’t ever hear about how that work also targets them for sexual assault and abuse. Calla Hales is the director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, which operates abortion clinics in North Carolina and Georgia. In 2015, she went on a second date with a guy who wanted to know the specifics of her work in what she described as “women’s health.” She got a strange feeling from him during their date. After he abruptly ended their dinner, and asked her to go home with him, she declined. That’s when he walked her to her car and proceeded to rape her. “He said things like I should have expected this and that I deserved it. He asked how I could live with myself and said I should repent. That I was a jezebel. That I was a murderer. That he was doing no worse to me than I had done to women. He said he would make me remember him.” Hales was targeted by an anti-abortion extremist. Unfortunately, what happened to her is not an isolated incident. Anti-abortion activists are known for their violent behavior directed at abortion providers and volunteers and it has dramatically escalated over the last several years. It’s not enough that they disagree with a woman’s legal right to have an abortion. Some of them believe that murder, rape, and arson are acceptable tactics in their war to preserve fetal rights. In its 2016 report, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which monitors clinic harassment and violence, found that picketing, vandalism, obstruction, invasion, trespassing, burglary, stalking, assault and battery, and bomb threats are all on the rise. Clinics reported 60,000 incidents of picketing that year, an all-time high since the NAF began tracking these statistics in 1977. The report also documented a five-fold increase in hate speech and internet harassment, which escalated after the election. The 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey, published by the Feminist Majority Foundation, found that the percentage of clinics reporting the most severe types of anti-abortion violence and threats of violence has dramatically increased from the first six months of 2014 to the first six months of 2016 — from 19.7 percent to 34.2 percent. Hales was raped in November 2015.
Unions fought hard to pass healthcare reform in 2009 and 2010 (and before) and they’re part of the fight against Republican efforts to take us back to the bad old days by passing Trumpcare with a campaign targeting Republican senators in five states: [AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the bill would deprive millions of working people of health insurance. The federation is running thousands of ads to pressure Senate Republicans in Alaska, Ohio, West Virginia, Nevada and Maine. He is urging Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to join other Republicans in opposing the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will spend his recess working to get the votes needed to pass Trumpcare. The resistance needs to be working to kill it dead, and America’s largest union federation is obviously doing just that. Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to ripping health care away from millions of Americans. No on Trumpcare. Then, tell us how it went.
Black folk across the country are well familiar with the notion of “40 acres and a mule.” Referring to the federal government’s promise of reparations in the form of land to newly freed slaves, it was a promise that was short-lived. The idea was born out of a discussion between General William T. Sherman, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and 20 leaders in the black community in Savannah, Georgia, during January of 1865. The proposal was the idea of those black leaders who, when asked what they wanted for their people following the war, responded that having land, maintaining it, and laboring on it was the best way that they could provide for themselves. They wished to have this land and live away from whites. Their desire was granted as Special Field Order No. 15 on January 16, 1865, and later approved by President Lincoln. And by June, “40,000 freedmen had been settled on 400,000 acres of ‘Sherman Land.’ ” By the way, Sherman later ordered that the army could lend the new settlers mules; hence the phrase, “40 acres and a mule.” The order was rescinded by Andrew Johnson in the fall of 1865. But the story is relevant today more than ever, as black people in the south continue to fight for their 40 acres and a mule, so to speak. In the 45 years following the Civil War, freed slaves and their descendants accumulated roughly 15 million acres of land across the United States, most of it in the South. Land ownership meant stability and opportunity for black families, a shot at upward mobility and economic security for future generations. The hard-won property was generally used for farming, the primary occupation of most Southern blacks in the early 20th century. By 1920, there were 925,000 black-owned farms, representing about 14 percent of all farms in the United States.[...] By 1975, just 45,000 black-owned farms remained. “It was almost as if the earth was opening up and swallowing black farmers,” writes scholar Pete Daniel in his book Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights. Implicit in the decline of black farming was the loss of the land those farmers once tilled. Today, African Americans compose less than 2 percent of the nation’s farmers and 1 percent of its rural landowners.
When we think about racial injustice in this country, much of our attention is drawn specifically to the plight of black boys and men. Statistics are repeatedly cited to drive home how police violence and mass incarceration disproportionately impact them and efforts to improve socio-economic disparities are hyper-focused on what is needed from the perspective of making things right for boys and men in order for black people to overcome the legacy of racial oppression. This is not new. The entire civil rights movement was built around black men as its voice and face (remember the images of men holding “I am a man” placards from the 1968 sanitation workers strike?), even though black women did the silent and unrewarded labor of organizing, feeding and caring for the movement and its activists. But it’s worth asking, what about the black girls and women? No matter what we may believe, the girls are not all right. In fact, a recently released study indicates that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls—beginning at age 5. “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” released on Tuesday by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, shows that society’s perception of black girls leads to their “adultification.” The report shows that adults believe that black girls seem older than white girls of the same age, and think that black girls need less nurturing, protection, support and comfort than white girls. It also found that people assume black girls are more independent, know more about adult topics and know more about sex than young white girls. This “adultification” has tremendous implications for the life experiences of black girls that go beyond childhood and the impact can be felt well into their adolescence and even into their actual adulthood. It is rooted in racist stereotypes about black women that served to erase black girls’ innocence and, as a result, is likely to put them into contact with the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems.
Dean Baker at Jacobin magazine writes—A Job-Killing Robot for Rich People: A financial transactions tax would attack income inequality by attacking the finance industry. Some excerpts: In the last couple years, the financial transactions tax (FTT) has moved from a fringe idea to a policy proposal treated seriously by even the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The decision by Senator Bernie Sanders to make it a central part of his presidential campaign certainly helped, but a number of members of Congress, including Keith Ellison and Peter DeFazio, have also pushed FTT proposals for many years. The FTT is also gaining momentum overseas. There’s a push to enact an FTT in the eurozone. And in England, an expanded FTT — the London stock exchange has long levied a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades — was included in the Labour Party’s platform in the recent election. But while the idea of taxing financial transactions is growing more popular, even many of its proponents don’t realize its full benefits. An FTT is usually seen as a way to raise large amounts of revenue (in the US, it could possibly generate as much as $190 billion a year, or 1 percent of GDP). Or it is viewed as a means to limit speculative trading in the financial sector, potentially making markets less volatile. The best argument for an FTT, however, is that it can sharply reduce some of the highest incomes in the economy by curtailing the trading that makes those incomes possible. As a result, it can play a large role in reversing the upward redistribution of income that we’ve seen over the last four decades. [...] Of course, the attack on the financial sector can and should go beyond imposing an FTT. Much of the profit in private equity stems from tax gaming and abusing bankruptcy law. If we eliminated the opportunities for gaming (most importantly, the tax deduction for corporate interest payments), the high earners in private equity would take a big hit. There are other areas in which the financial sector is purely predatory, such as the excessive fees charged on retirement accounts or the management fees charged to public pension funds. If these avenues for getting rich were closed off, the opportunities for very high-paying jobs would be substantially reduced. While this would not directly fix a broken corporate governance structure that allows for outlandish CEO pay or address the arcane licensing rules and immigration restrictions that allow many medical specialists to earn more than $500,000 a year, whacking the financial sector would be a very good start in reversing rising inequality. And as a bonus, we could use the money raised to pay for free college or other good things — rather than letting it continue to line the pockets of investment bankers. • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES TWEET OF THE DAY xStop saying millions of people will die if they pass this bill - they donÃ¢ÂÂt care. Tell them a bank will die— Hippo (@InternetHippo) June 27, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—Campaign Finance Reform: Moving Forward: On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, we don’t let Medicaid repeal distract us from Syria, nor let Syria distract us from Medicaid repeal. Armando joins in to round up the recent SCOTUS activity and comment on the procedure & the chaos, which he does entirely without resort to emojis of any kind. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash
The BBC and other outlets are reporting street to street fighting may finally be nearing an end in Northern Iraq. ISIS militants over ran Mosul in 2014 and enjoyed a brief period of rule until government led forces with the help of US airpower moved to retake the ancient city last fall. A few groups of fighters are said to be holed up in a small region that is eroding beneath them: We have witnessed a clear change in the tempo of military operations since IS blew up the famed al-Nuri mosque last Wednesday. The push against the militants has gained momentum - with increased ground operations and air strikes. We counted about 20 air strikes through the day on Sunday, with helicopter gunships pounding IS targets and a great deal of mortar fire. IS fighters are pinned down in a corner of the Old City, where the narrow streets favour the insurgents. The Iraqis believe the numbers are relatively small - about 300 to 450 - but these are battle hardened jihadists, most of them foreign. Regardless, ISIS forces counter-attacked, which has reportedly been addressed, and now the remaining fighters are said to be huddling awaiting doom. In an article just out, CNN puts the number of those last few ISIS fighters at around 200 hundred, but keep in mind earlier this week Al-Jazeera was saying there are thousands of innocent civilians potentially still in the deadly crossfire. Any guesses on who will take credit for victory, assuming that’s where this soon goes, after a solid year or more of careful planning and execution?
Republican voters, this message is for your eyes only. I grew up with so many of you. I’ve lived next door, played with your kids, cheered alongside you for our favorite sports teams, eaten delicious burgers and hot dogs at your backyard party, I even call some of you “family.” Because we are family. How did we grow so far apart when it comes to politics? I know you hated Obama because he was probably going to come for your guns. You hated Hillary because something, somethinghazi. We don’t like Trump because we view him as an incompetent con man. We can agree to disagree when it comes to the leaders of our parties. But, let’s keep it real for a minute: Cancer does not care who you voted for in the last election. Alzheimer’s and dementia are not checking to see whose side you are on. Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t give a hoot whose yard sign you stuck in your manicured lawn. And pediatric cancer treads on whoever the hell it wants to tread on. You are healthy … until you aren’t. When one of these things comes for you or a loved one, you will want to be covered. You’ll want to know that if it is your child or grandchild who is disabled, they won’t face lifetime limits. You’ll want to know you can’t be refused coverage because of a pre-existing condition. You’ll want your parent, even yourself, to get quality nursing home care if Alzheimer’s comes a-knockin’. The Republican bill on the verge of a Senate vote is a disaster for all of us. Don’t you remember only a few short years ago when families regularly went bankrupt directly due to healthcare debts? When people were denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions? Even for minor things like a bum knee? Because that happened and it wasn’t so long ago. Check out this chart detailing the decline in personal bankruptcies. xThis graph on bankruptcy is amazing. pic.twitter.com/rGQxDZ3slkÃ¢ÂÂ NYEMSMom (@rehtaeh1628) June 27, 2017 That is a huge, huge change. Those families saved from bankruptcy weren’t divided into Republicans or Democrats. They’re American families whose lives were changed for the better because of the Affordable Care Act. And the bill under consideration right now would take us back to those golden days of personal bankruptcy and debt.
In a country where hate crimes are on the rise, partly due to the xenophobic rhetoric of racist-in-chief Donald Trump, it appears that we have no idea how extensive and widespread hate crimes really are. This is because the federal government is incredibly negligent in keeping accurate records. Despite a legal mandate to do so, it appears that more than 100 federal law enforcement agencies regularly fail to submit statistics on hate crimes to the national hate crimes database run by the FBI. The FBI has identified at least 120 federal agencies that aren’t uploading information to the database, according to Amy Blasher, a unit chief at the CJIS division, an arm of the bureau that is overseeing the modernization of its information systems. The federal government operates a vast array of law enforcement agencies—ranging from Customs and Border Protection to the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Amtrak Police—employing more than 120,000 law enforcement officers with arrest powers. The FBI would not say which agencies have declined to participate in the program, but the bureau’s annual tally of hate crimes statistics does not include any offenses handled by federal law enforcement. Indeed, the problem is so widespread that the FBI itself isn’t submitting the hate crimes it investigates to its own database. “We truly don’t understand what’s happening with crime in the US without the federal component,” Blasher said in an interview. The FBI itself isn’t even in compliance with the law. How much more absurd can this get? Clearly, it’s not a priority for our government to prioritize who is being impacted by hate crimes. So much for keeping citizens safe. Likewise, agencies don’t feel a need to press state and local police departments (the majority of the organizations supplying the information) to submit these statistics. And why bother? There doesn’t seem to be any accountability for them violating the law, anyway.
An undocumented man who may have been mistakenly arrested by federal immigration agents is the tenth immigrant to die while under ICE custody this fiscal year. Rolando Meza Espinoza was arrested at work at the end of March and had been under federal custody since. On June 8, Meza Espinoza—who suffered from anemia, cirrhosis of the liver, and diabetes—was hospitalized due to "gastrointestinal bleeding,” according to an ICE statement. When Meza Espinoza died in intensive care two days later, ICE never bothered to inform the family, instead letting them find out on their own when they called to check in on him the next day. During a rally protesting the treatment of detainees, Meza Espinoza’s advocates called for justice: The Rev. Eugene P. Squeo, pastor at St. Patrick and Assumption All Saints in Jersey City, called for an end to the "cruelty of the detainment and deportation system." "What care was provided" for Meza Espinoza, Squeo asked today. "What care was denied? Why does ICE not treat people with dignity?" Making this immigrant man’s death even more senseless is that ICE allegedly misidentified their target, claims attorney Manuel Portela.
An internal fight is holding up the House Republican effort to pass a budget that would inflict the maximum possible pain on working Americans, Politico reports in an article that would have to work hard to get in one more piece of Republican messaging. House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black found a way to get in the military spending to make “defense hawks” happy, But several committee chairmen are now balking at the second part of the deal: a promise of about $50 billion in additional cuts to mandatory programs to make those very defense increases more digestible for conservatives. [...] At the crux of the hold-up are chairmen like [Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike] Conaway and [Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg ] Walden who don’t want to slice billions of dollars from programs in their own jurisdiction. Some don’t want to give away valuable offsets that could be used for their other legislative priorities, like Conaway’s upcoming farm bill. It takes nearly 30 paragraphs of references to “mandatory programs” and “entitlements” and “programs” and lamentation from far-far-right sources about how the committee chairs “that are kind of stonewalling” need to “be part of the team here” before we learn what is at stake for the American people, and one of the reasons this is so fraught for Republicans: It would hew closely to conservative budgets of years past, including the Medicare premium support model popularized by now-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). It would also roll back huge sums of Medicaid spending while stripping hundreds of billions from anti-poverty programs. Like past GOP budgets, big federal programs like food stamps, agriculture subsidies and Medicaid would be on the chopping block. But this time, those mandatory cuts could go into effect if the budget plan is adopted by Senate Republicans as well.
Foreign-born recruits who signed up for the military with the promise of U.S. citizenship in exchange for their service are finally getting their thanks in the form of deportation. MAGA. According to a new report, the Pentagon is considering ending the contracts of a large number of foreign-born recruits in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program—which puts service members with foreign-language and other speciality skills on an expedited path to citizenship—due to an “overtasked vetting process and heightened security risk.” But according to one former official, this can be something as innocuous as having a foreign relative, which would be expected of a foreign-born applicant in the first place. And due to the fact that the federal government already has so much of their personal information on file, many of these recruits would be “prime targets” for immediate deportation. Basically, “Thank you for your service. Now get out”: Last year, officials heightened security screenings specifically for MAVNI recruits, diverting “already constrained Army fiscal and manpower resources,” the memo said. The overtasked vetting process and heightened security risk led officials to recommend canceling enlistment contracts for all 1,800 awaiting orders for basic training, and halting the program altogether, according to the memo. Those recruits are in what the military calls the delayed-entry program, a holding pool of recruits assigned training dates in the future. About 1,000 of them have seen their visas expire while waiting for travel orders, which would put them at risk of deportation if their contracts are canceled. “It’s terrible,” said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who actually helped implement the program in 2009. “You trusted the Army, who delayed the process, and now they’re going to cancel your contract and have you deported.”
With enough probable or even possible defections from Republican senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told senators he will delay the Trumpcare vote until after the July 4th recess. xMcConnell, two sources told @mkraju & @Phil_Mattingly, told senators he wants to make changes to the bill and get a new CBO score. https://t.co/gyaDgAtbeD— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) June 27, 2017 The other big breaking news of the last half hour is that popular vote loser Donald Trump has invited all the Republican senators to the White House for a meeting this afternoon. This doesn’t mean it’s over, by any means, because this is what happened in the House, too. But it gives us another week to raise some hell. All we need is 3 Republican Senators to block Trumpcare. If you have a GOP Senator, we need you to call their office at (202) 224-3121. Demand that they put their constituents above their party. After the call, tell us how the call went.
What happens if Republicans can’t get enough Republicans to vote for their all-Republican bill? The greatest horror imaginable. Mitch McConnell is delivering an urgent missive to staffers, Republican senators and even the president himself: If Obamacare repeal fails this week, then the GOP will lose all leverage and be forced to work with Chuck Schumer. Yes. If Republicans don’t pledge allegiance to Trump and sign on to condemn millions of Americans, they could be forced to talk to Democrats. That doesn’t mean Democrats will get anything they want, but … they’d have to talk to them. They might even get some of that democracy all over their tax cut plan. Voters expect Republicans to deliver on their long-held promise to repeal the law, McConnell said, according to those people. And failing to repeal the law would mean the GOP would lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite of the law that could scale back Medicaid spending, cut Obamacare’s taxes and repeal a host of industry mandates. Instead, Republicans would be forced to enter into bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to save failing insurance markets. It takes a very special kind of mind to think that “lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite” is a problem that should make people scramble. Of course, there’s only so long Republicans can keep maintaining the fabrication that the Affordable Care Act is dead. “Of course, it’s also a big week for healthcare with an anticipated vote in the Senate later this week on the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Trump administration is holding events around the country highlighting the failure of Obamacare and what that failure has cost American families. ”
The bad news? The evaluation of the new Senate Republican health care bill by the Congressional Budget Office shows that 22 million people will lose their health care over the next decade, most of those in the next year. But there’s good news. Stripping Americans of their health care turns out to be more lucrative than expected. With the massive cuts to both individual subsidies and even more massive cuts to Medicaid, the Republicans looked into the bottom of the their plan and found some change left over. Republicans in the White House and in Congress were pleasantly surprised that the bill included more savings than they expected — and are trying to figure out if they can dole it out for votes. The Senate has about $188 billion to play with $188 billion represents a fraction of the cost of the plan. It’s not enough to reverse the cuts to Medicaid. It’s not enough to reverse the increase in what individuals would pay. It’s not enough to stem the bleeding, figurative and literal, that the bill will create. But while it won’t buy Americans health care, it can buy Republicans some votes. White House and Capitol Hill officials are exploring potential deals to divvy up billions of dollars to individual senators’ priorities in a wide-ranging bid to secure votes for the imperiled GOP health care bill. That makes today officially “side deal Tuesday,” as Mitch McConnell goes from senator to senator, offering to sweeten the deal. Which means that Republicans are moving toward a place where the bill not only puts 22 million Americans lives on the line, it does it to buy a few Republican senators something nice.
Higher deductibles? Check. Millions more uninsured? Check. Unaffordable plans that offer skimpy coverage? Check. Skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs? Check. The Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the Senate’s version of the House’s “mean” bill (to use Trump’s own description) is still a policy and political nightmare. We begin today’s roundup of the reaction to the CBO score with Michael Tomasky at Newsweek: The bill is a policy monstrosity. A health-care monstrosity. It will dramatically increase the number of uninsured, by 22 million over 10 years, as you’ve heard. But it will also increase premiums for most people, at least at first. [...] All the cable networks on Monday night led with the 22 million uninsured, because it’s the biggest number and because it’s the “out-year” projection, which is what these reports always emphasize. But politically, the far more important number is 15 million. The CBO projects that the Senate bill would create 15 million more uninsured in 2018. That’s next year. An election year. That is to say that 68 percent of those expected to lose their coverage are going to lose it in the bill’s first year. The Republicans are gonna throw 15 million Americans off the insurance rolls in an election year? That’s a lot of people. Divided by 435, it’s around 34,000 people per congressional district, but of course the distribution won’t be even, and there will be many districts—toss-up districts—where 60,000 or 80,000 people will stand to lose their coverage. And states where half a million will lose coverage. How’d you like to be a Republican incumbent House member or senator defending that next fall? John Cassidy at The New Yorker highlights the toll the bill will take on the working poor: Whatever Trump and the Republicans might say, these figures make it very clear that the working poor would be huge losers under the bill. One of the progressive innovations of the A.C.A.’s expansion of Medicaid was that it allowed working families who subsisted just above the poverty line to get access to health care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about sixty per cent of the people who enrolled in the program were employed. Under the Senate bill (and the House bill), many of these workers, some of whom could be earning as little as fifteen thousand dollars a year, would no longer be eligible for Medicaid in a few years, and they would have to take their chances in the open market. For them and anybody else who buys individual insurance, the outlook would be grim. The C.B.O. analysis said that premiums in the private market would rise by about twenty per cent next year, on average, because of the elimination of the individual mandate. After that, price premiums would start to fall relative to the current law, but so would the quality of insurance plans. Plans would offer fewer health services, and deductibles would rise even further. All this would happen by design. Here’s Eugene Robinson’s take: Republicans have no great political options here, so maybe they should just do what is right: stop sabotaging Obamacare and start working with Democrats to make it better.
Hi. We’re back again with another couple dozen accidental shootings. Because time marches on, and the same things keep happening over and over again, but to a mostly different set of people. Fifteen people accidentally shot themselves during the week, and two people were accidentally shot by family members or significant others. And one man, out target shooting with his son, either accidentally shot himself or was accidentally shot by his son, but we don’t know which. Unless he was accidentally shot by someone else, entirely, which I guess is a possibility. But hey, guns! So LOL YOLO ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ! “Only” five kids were accidentally shot this week. And one injured himself by getting pinched by the slide of the semi-automatic handgun he accidentally fired. The recurring theme for this week seemed to be the guns that are fired accidentally while their owners (or bearers, anyway) are out and about among the rest of us, while we’re shopping, dining, or otherwise going about our daily business. Four people were accidentally shot during the week—three fatally—by guns brought to the workplace. Several states now prohibit businesses from banning their employees’ guns from their property, so long as they’re stored in their (locked) personal vehicles. In Daviess County, Kentucky, a man who’d brought his gun with him to work decided, for whatever reason, to handle the weapon while sitting in his truck during his lunch break, and ended up shooting himself in the upper leg/pelvic area. I imagine he required family/medical leave, at least for the afternoon. It’s a good thing Democrats fight for such benefits. I hope it was there for him to take advantage of. There are certainly some businesses where there’s some reasonable expectation of danger, and the management and employees there often choose to keep firearms on site for their own safety. But sometimes it doesn’t work out as planned. In Dalton, Georgia, a man was fatally wounded by a gun kept in a desk at the auto towing & recovery lot where he worked. And in West Palm Beach, Florida, a man working at a strip club was killed when a fellow employee moved and accidentally fired a gun on a shelf in the storage room. (This story gained some additional notice because the man killed was the father of a NFL football player.) And in Rainbow City, Alabama, the manager of a local bank, who carried a gun for protection when he opened the branch early in the morning, was found dead by the next employee to arrive, having accidentally shot himself. In Columbia, South Carolina, a man shopping at the Dutch Square mall dropped the bag in which he was carrying his concealed firearm. It discharged and fired a round through the shop window. Thankfully, no one was injured. And churchgoers in Gladeville, Tennessee, likewise lucked out when a concealed carrier, for the second time in our GunFAIL history, accidentally discharged a firearm during Easter services. What a time to be alive.
One more big fissure has been opened up in the wall of separation between church and state. As Justice Sotomayor (for herself and Justice Ginsburg) wrote in dissent today: This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government—that is, between church and state. The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both. For generations, the basic rule when it came to the separation of church and state was that the government could not fund any religious entities or programs. That wall developed some cracks over the years, with decisions holding that a school district had to provide a sign language interpreter to a deaf student at a Catholic high school as part of a federal aid program, or that governments could choose to fund religious programs as part of an overall school tuition voucher scheme. In the latter case, the court reasoned that it was effectively the parents, not the government, choosing to fund these schools, and government’s purpose in having the voucher program was not the advancement of religion. Two years later, though, the court again recognized that there was “play in the joints” between the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses, holding in a 7-2 decision that states could choose to not fund students pursuing devotional theology degrees as part of a neutral aid program, to avoid advancing religion. Today, the court went one step further, constraining the reach of that 7-2 precedent and instead holding that the State of Missouri is required to include religious schools in a state program which provides grants to nonprofits to allow them to resurface their playgrounds with recycled tires. Missouri’s objection was rooted in a state constitutional provision, passed in 1875 as part of a general anti-Catholic wave across the country, which stated that no money from the state treasury could go “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.” The chief justice wrote for the court, joined by Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Kagan in full; by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch for the most part (and get to used to hearing this: “though they would have gone further”), and Justice Breyer for separate reasons. In addition, the court announced today that they are taking up the case of whether Colorado can compel a bakery to make a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.