Robert B. Hubbell is a daily blogger whose reflections on the news are consistently interesting:

Religious extremists have continued their assault on the status of women as equal citizens under the law and full participants in the liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. After the Supreme Court’s reactionary majority engaged in the charade of “returning the question” of reproductive liberty “to the people’s representatives,” a rogue federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide ban on mifepristone because of his personal disagreement with the FDA’s scientific conclusions regarding safety of the drug. The opinion is equal parts junk science and religious screed. It is an insult to the rule of law and the dignity of women as human beings with control over their bodies and reproductive choices.

The opinion is even more pernicious because mifepristone is frequently prescribed to help women safely manage miscarriages. In the absence of mifepristone and because of dozens of laws criminalizing abortion, a single federal judge with no science or medical training has ordered millions of women to risk infection, sepsis, and death before they can receive medical intervention in a miscarriage.

The DOJ has announced that it will appeal the ruling to the arch-conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which may uphold the ruling. A competing and contrary ruling in Washington state suggests that the US Supreme Court will be forced to intervene soon.

The religious extremists who successfully took down Roe are now using that victory as a roving license to attack fundamental liberties everywhere. They have misread Dobbs, their limited mandate, the will of the electorate, and the rule of law. Whatever Dobbs stands for, it did not convert our democracy into a theocracy—which is the premise of Judge Kacsmaryk’s first in our nation’s history ruling by a federal judge overturning the scientific judgments of the FDA.

Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling is not only wrong, but it is also dangerous in its implications. Under the reasoning adopted by Judge Kacsmaryk, the next logical step is a ruling declaring fetal personhood under the Constitution and an order mandating every state to criminalize abortion. I am not being hyperbolic. I urge you to reach this superb analysis by Mark Joseph Stern in Slate, Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling against mifepristone will force the Supreme Court to act fast. Stern writes:

[Kacsmaryk] deemed fetuses to “arguably” be “people” who are killed by mifepristone, seeking to establish the “fetal personhood” that has always been the end goal of the movement. For support, he cited a brief by anti-abortion advocate Robert P. George asserting that the Constitution compels every state to outlaw abortion. 

There are more dangerous statements in Kacsmaryk’s opinion, which are detailed in Stern’s analysis. While we should not surrender to alarmism (not a comment directed to Stern), we must be realistic about the path to victory. Republican leaders know they have overstepped; editorials in conservative newspapers and conservative commentators are raising the alarm that Republicans have overstepped the advantage granted in Dobbs. See op-ed by Michele Golberg in NYTimes, The Abortion Ban Backlash Is Starting to Freak Out Republicans

But the Republican Party is captive to the religious extremists whose endorsements are now the price of election in Republican primaries. In other words, there is no going back for the GOP, and things may get worse for us before they get better. But Republicans have locked themselves into irreversible losing trajectory and are already paying the price. But we must step our efforts as they ratchet theirs. We can do that; we have begun to do that; we must continue, and most not lose hope. We will win; they will lose. It is just a matter of time.


The anti-democratic, racially based expulsion of two young Black representatives from the Tennessee House by the GOP has attracted worldwide condemnation. People outside of America who had never heard the name “Tennessee” now associate it with the historical birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and the modern home for the most virulent strains of racism in America. A reader (“CC”) posted selected citations in the Comments section, with a brief comment:

Justin Jones told the Tennessee legislature that the whole world was watching. Looks like he could be right.






Should Tennessee legislators care what the world media thinks about Tennessee? Only if Tennessee aspires to be part of the global, interconnected business community that will drive commerce in the future (like Nissan and Volkswagen, which both have plants in Tennessee). If Tennessee wants to rely on its other leading industry—entertainment—for future growth, it should consider whether most performers in the entertainment industry want to be associated with a state whose current top export is hate.

And my apologies and sympathy for Democrats and Independents in Tennessee who are fighting the good fight. We need you and will continue to support you. Everyone understands that the hate is coming from the GOP leadership, not from the good people of Tennessee who are struggling to create a more perfect democracy.

But Tennessee Republicans have not learned their lesson. Despite universal condemnation, major media outlets are reporting that Republican leaders are threatening the county commissions that might re-appoint Justin Pearson and Justin Jones—as they are legally entitled to do. Worse, Republicans are threatening not to seat Jones and Pearson if they are re-elected. It simply doesn’t get more totalitarian than that.

The reaction from the business community has been muted because the events occurred late in a week that included observances for Easter and Passover. But it is hard to fathom that the Memphis Grizzlies NBA playoff games next week will not be affected by Black athletes speaking their views on the events of Thursday. It is difficult to see why a nearly all-Black University of Tennessee football team would play in the face of such blatant racism. It is difficult to see why FedEx, Jack Daniels, Tractor Supply, and Nissan would want to support GOP legislators who committed one of the most overtly racist acts in a generation.

The state of Tennessee has yet to feel the business backlash that will follow the legislature’s action on Thursday. When it does, Tennessee Republicans will realize they have roused a sleeping giant.

Clarence Thomas.

Clarence Thomas issued a dissembling non-denial of his grotesque violation of judicial norms over two decades. Let’s set the quibbling aside and focus on the essence: The scale of Thomas’s corruption shocks the conscience. It appears that in some years, Thomas received more free travel by jet and luxury yacht that exceeded his salary by a significant percentage. Whatever the rules are, when someone is bestowing economic benefits on you that exceed your salary, it does not matter whether those benefits are hospitality, gifts, travel, or bribes—the amount of the benefit is corrupt. Period.

Thomas’s evasive non-denial studiously avoided any mention of free travel on a private jet—the clearest violation of the pre-existing rules. Despite his denial, Thomas was dishonest when he claimed that he understood—based on conversations with others—that he was not required to report “hospitality” in the range of a half-million-dollars. Thomas did not believe his own denial because in 2004, he was reporting “hospitality” in the from Harlan Crowe—and then suddenly stopped reporting gifts from Crow after the LATimers article. See After an L.A. Times story on Thomas’ gifts, he stopped disclosing – Los Angeles [Behind a paywall.]

In other words, when Thomas’s compliance with the rules attracted attention from the media, he simply stopped reporting. There was no “misunderstanding,” just an intent to conceal corrupt benefits from a conservative mega-donor. Thomas’s flouting of the rules and norms of judicial conduct is entirely out of step with the conduct of most judges in the federal judiciary.

Here’s a personal story: I clerked for a federal court of appeals judge before cell phones were widely available. The federal court system participated in the federal WATS phone utility (“wide area telephone system”) that effectively allowed you to call toll-free anywhere in the US. At the time most landline calls outside of the immediate exchange area cost a dime for the first ten minutes, and then a nickel for each five minutes thereafter. Because the federal WATS system effectively conferred an economic benefit, personal use was prohibited.

The judge for whom I clerked was married to a leader in the civil rights community. Because of that fact and to avoid any appearances of impropriety by using the WATS line for personal communications, the judge installed a personal land line in chambers at great cost to him (about which he complained vociferously; he was complainer by nature).

Having spent countless hours in the judge’s interior office helping to draft opinions, I can attest that 99% of his conversations on his personal land line went something like this: “I’ll be working late again, tonight. . . . I love you, too.”

I don’t mean to hold up my judge as a hero; I mean to say that his attitude about avoiding the appearance of conflicts is emblematic of the high ethical standards followed by most federal judges. Against that backdrop, Thomas’s manifest disregard of judicial ethics is shocking.

You undoubtedly noticed that the federal judicial center issued guidelines a few weeks ago that now explicitly require Thomas to report most of the largesse he received from Crow. As Yogi Berra never said, “That’s too much of coincidence to be a coincidence.” Thomas (or Roberts) obviously got wind of the investigative work by Pro Publica and decided to provide a fig leaf of deniability for Thomas. There is more to this story. It will only take enterprising journalists and Supreme Court practitioners to speak up for the full story to emerge. It won’t be pretty. It isn’t now.