Archives for category: Safety

The Republican Party seems to be descending into barbarism. In New Hampshire, one of the first acts of the new Republican-led legislature was a vote to allow weapons in its meeting place.

CONCORD – The House of Representatives debated a rule that would limit deadly weapons in the crowded Representatives Hall chamber of 400 legislators at the State House.

House Rule 64 failed 177-197 on Convening Day Wednesday of the 2023 legislative session at the State House.

A Democratic leader and a father of a young potential visitor to the State House called the vote “irresponsible.”

Supporters of the rule argued that inadvertently, or in the heat of a debate, a weapon could discharge causing tragedy, noting that often children are in the gallery who could be hurt.

It was further argued that New Hampshire does not allow weapons to be carried into courtrooms and prisons and should not be allowed in these situations.

State Rep. Matt Wilhelm, D-Manchester, the minority leader, said the rule would “restore common sense.”
But opponents noted that when law enforcement is minutes away, a gun could be a way to keep the chamber safe.

Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, asked fellow legislators to imagine if they lived in a country where carrying a weapon was not a right.

“No House rule is going to stop a House member from defending themselves,” Roy said.

For decades until 2010, House Rules prohibited the possession of weapons in the House chamber.

Democrats reinstituted the provision in 2013-14 and again in 2019-20, and Republicans have voted to repeal the restriction in all recent terms that they have held the majority.

After the vote, Wilhelm issued the following statement:

“Prohibiting deadly weapons in the House Chamber is a common-sense policy to keep legislators, staff, and the public safe as we conduct the business of the State of New Hampshire.

“When Republicans have permitted guns in the legislature, there have been numerous incidents of dropped and mishandled firearms on House property. As the parent of a fourth grader, whom I hope will visit the State House on a field trip this spring, the public’s safety is particularly top of my mind,” Wilhelm said.

I asked AFT President Randi Weingarten to respond to David Brooks’s claim that “the teachers’ unions” were to blame for long school closures during the pandemic, which caused grievous harm to students.

She answered with a resounding “NO” and sent me the following timeline. If I had NEA President Becky Pringle’s personal email, I would have asked her the same question. Being that it’s Christmas holidays, it will be several days before I can reach her. I will try.

Meanwhile, Randi sent this comprehensive rebuttal of Brooks’ allegations.

Since the first months of the pandemic, the American Federation of Teachers has worked with parents and communities to safely reopen schools and other institutions vital to the nation’s social and economic health.

Even before COVID-19, educators knew that remote education, relentlessly championed and invested in (https://www.edweek.org/technology/betsy-devos-backtracks-on-remote-learning-options-she-had-championed/2020/07) by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, was only ever a supplement, not a substitute, for in-person learning. Remote learning can serve as a backstop during a public health emergency, but only if we address equity issues, including broadband accessibility, services and support. In-person learning is a prerequisite to fostering the deep social and emotional ties and close relationships with educators that are essential to kids’ development.

Throughout the pandemic, AFT members have consistently (https://www.aft.org/press-release/new-data-shows-majority-educators-willing-go-back-school-if-key-safety) expressed (https://www.aft.org/press-release/new-poll-shows-americas-teachers-want-return-classrooms-amid-growing) support (https://www.aft.org/press-release/americas-educators-are-vaccinated-and-back-person-poll) for in-person instruction with safety protocols in place. Those protocols served as the pathway, not the barrier, to returning to classrooms. The union held (https://www.aft.org/news/latest-town-hall-dives-afts-reopen-plan) numerous (https://www.aft.org/news/member-town-hall-showcases-back-school-all-campaign)town halls (https://www.aft.org/news/words-wisdom-mark-aft-back-school-town-hall) on the crucial importance of face-to-face instruction.

Since April 2020, the AFT has published four proposals for safely reopening schools and addressing the challenges of the pandemic.1 In the fall of 2021, the AFT invested $5 million in 28 states (https://www.aft.org/press-release/major-speech-randi-weingarten-reimagines-public-education-nation-emerges) to get kids back in classrooms, through billboard and radio ads encouraging reopening as well as health fairs and vaccination clinics.

At the same time, parents in major cities often elicited (https://www.chalkbeat.org/2021/2/18/22289735/parents-polls-schools-opening-remote) a strong preference (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/08/world/most-families-of-color-have-chosen-remote-learning-over-an-in-person-return-to-nyc-schools.html?referringSource=articleShare) for remote learning. Charter schools were more likely (https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2022-03-15/how-traditional-public-private-and-charter-schools-responded-to-the-pandemic) than other public schools to shift to remote learning, and stay remote, and private schools were just 4 percentage points more likely than public schools to stay open. In October 2020, Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz said (https://www.chalkbeat.org/2020/10/14/21516486/city-charter-schools-take-reopening-slow-similar-roadblocks-neighboring-school-districts), “The best way for us to protect teaching and learning was to stay remote and have a level of predictability.”

After a year of failed efforts under President Donald Trump, the Biden administration invested in and successfully reopened schools, with 98 percent open in January 2022 (https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-one-year-biden-harris-administration-us-department-education-has-helped-schools-safely-reopen-and-meet-students%25E2%2580%2599-needs), compared with 46 percent a year earlier. Teachers across the country advocated for the American Rescue Plan, which included $126 billion for public K-12 schools and funding specifically to address learning recovery.

Tale of the tape

On Feb. 4, 2020, as Trump downplayed COVID-19’s seriousness (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/20/what-trump-did-about-coronavirus-february/), the union held a press conference (https://www.afacwa.org/aft_afa_join_coronavirus_prevention) with Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson and others to push for a coordinated response to the emerging pandemic.

In April 2020, the AFT launched its landmark plan (https://www.aft.org/press-release/aft-launches-landmark-plan-safely-reopen-americas-schools-and-communities)to safely reopen America’s schools and communities—months before many other groups, including the federal government. In July of that year, the AFT launched its detailed follow-up plan (https://www.aft.org/press-release/aft-launches-landmark-plan-safely-reopen-americas-schools-and-communities)to safely reopen school buildings.

On April 24, AFT President Randi Weingarten wrote an op-ed (https://thehill.com/opinion/education/494521-what-comes-next-for-public-schooling/) with former Education Secretary John King calling out the shortcomings of remote education and pushing for multi-week summer school to deal with learning loss.

In May 2020, Weingarten was appointed to (https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/amid-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-announces-members-reimagine-education-advisory) New York state’s Reimagine Education Advisory Council, which was charged with safely reopening and reinventing schools.

In July 2020, the union joined (https://www.aft.org/press-release/pediatricians-educators-and-superintendents-urge-safe-return-school-fall) with the National Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the School Superintendents Association to commit to doing everything possible to safely resume in-person schooling at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

In November 2020, the AFT launched a new blueprint (https://thehill.com/opinion/education/528004-a-blueprint-to-safely-open-schools/) to reopen schools.

In January 2021, Weingarten joined Rajiv Shah of the Rockefeller Foundation to write an op-ed saying that schools could reopen (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/01/24/re-opening-schools-precautions-and-testing-column/6661567002/) with comprehensive testing, before the vaccine was widely available. In February 2021, Weingarten reiterated her position (https://www.wgbh.org/news/education/2021/02/05/teachers-union-president-weingarten-vaccinations-arent-precondition-for-school-reopening-but-need-to-be-priority) that vaccinations are a priority, but not a prerequisite, for in-person learning.

In February 2021, the New York Times published a profile (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/08/us/schools-reopening-teachers-unions.html) titled “The Union Leader Who Says She Can Get Teachers Back in School.” It reported that Weingarten was calling for schools to reopen, in person, as soon as possible.

Later that month, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Weingarten issued a clarion call (https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/full-interview-teacher-union-pres-there-s-no-perfect-solution-to-reopening-schools-101356613515?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_mtp) for in-person learning, arguing that if the NFL could resume in-person football games, schools could resume in-person classes.

It seemed that the maniacal slaughter of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, did not dampen voters’ enthusiasm for Republican Governor Greg Abbot, who does not believe in gun control. Abbot has pushed through legislation to allow people to carry guns without a permit, whether open or concealed.

I swear I do not understand why voters vote against their best interests.

The Texas Tribune reported:

“The fight goes on”: For several families of the victims killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, the election this year wasn’t like other elections. It was personal.

In May, an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers with a semi-automatic rifle he bought days earlier. The tragedy caused some families to become politically active. They threw their support behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, hoping that he would be the catalyst to change gun laws in the state.

But O’Rourke lost badly on Tuesday. And Uvalde County decisively voted for Gov. Greg Abbott.

John Lira, the Democratic candidate who challenged U.S. Rep. Tony Gonazles for the seat that represents Uvalde, joined families at a watch party Tuesday night. He said that while Abbott’s victory was “crushing,” he was proud of the families for becoming politically engaged after experiencing a tragedy.

“It just means the fight goes on,” said Lira, who also lost on Tuesday.

As the night went on, many families said their effort to force change in Texas isn’t close to being done. Jerry Mata, whose daughter Tess was killed in the massacre, consoled his oldest daughter, Faith, after the election results were announced.

“Five years from now, the media may leave, everybody may leave, but we’re not going to leave. We’re going to continue the fight and get what we deserve for our kids.”

If you visit Texas, be sure to bring or buy a gun for self-protection.

The race for governor in New York State should not be close but it is. Governor Kathy Hochul has been a responsible governor who tries to improve the lives of New Yorkers.

Her opponent Lee Zeldin is a lackey for Trump. He has supported everything Trump advocated. hHecsupports charters and vouchers. He opposes gun control.

The NYC Kids PAC outlined the differences between them:

Dear all:

An important election is happening right now for Governor and other statewide and local races. Early voting is being held today and Sunday, and then election day is Tuesday. You can check out your ballot and your voting sites here.

NYC Kids PAC strongly urges you to vote for Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has fully funded the CFE decision that is sending another $1.3 billion to NYC public schools, signed the class size bill that will lead to smaller class size caps phased in starting next fall, and supports strong gun control measures, including banning guns from schools.

In contrast, her opponent, Lee Zeldin, is an extremist who is a proponent of school privatization, announced his education platform outside of a Success charter school, and supports voucher-like “tax credits” to pay for tuition to private schools. He even opposes “red flag” laws to remove weapons from individuals deemed to be a threat and is against the ban against carrying guns in schools — all of which would make our children less safe.

So please vote for Kathy Hochul, if you haven’t already; the choice between her and Zeldin is crystal clear.

See you at the polls,

NYC Kids PAC

The Republicans have made a big campaign issue of crime. They claim that Democrats are “soft on crime,” while they are “tough on crime.”

Don’t believe it. It’s a bald-faced lie!

Republicans oppose any legislation to limit access to guns. They vote against “red flag” laws, that seek to keep guns away from people who pose a danger to others. They oppose background checks. They oppose raising the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21. They oppose laws that are commonplace in civilized nations.

The United States has the highest murder rate in the world. Could it be because we have so many guns and so few limits on guns?

Texas, for example, now allows anyone to carry a gun without a permit. Let that sink in: anyone can carry a gun without a permit.

Consider this recent story:

Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public

A new law allowing people to carry handguns without a license has led to more spontaneous shootings, many in law enforcement say.

HOUSTON — Tony Earls hung his head before a row of television cameras, staring down, his life upended. Days before, Mr. Earls had pulled out his handgun and opened fire, hoping to strike a man who had just robbed him and his wife at an A.T.M. in Houston.

Instead, he struck Arlene Alvarez, a 9-year-old girl seated in a passing pickup, killing her.

“Is Mr. Earls licensed to carry?” a reporter asked during the February news conference, in which his lawyer spoke for him.

He didn’t need one, the lawyer replied. “Everything about that situation, we believe and contend, was justified under Texas law.” A grand jury later agreed, declining to indict Mr. Earls for any crime.

The shooting was part of what many sheriffs, police leaders and district attorneys in urban areas of Texas say has been an increase in people carrying weapons and in spur-of-the-moment gunfire in the year since the state began allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

Far from an outlier, Texas, with its new law, joined what has been an expanding effort to remove nearly all restrictions on carrying handguns. When Alabama’s “permitless carry” law goes into effect in January, half of the states in the nation, from Maine to Arizona, will not require a license to carry a handgun.

The state-by-state legislative push has coincided with a federal judiciary that has increasingly ruled in favor of carrying guns and against state efforts to regulate them.

But Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.

In the border town of Eagle Pass, drunken arguments have flared into shootings. In El Paso, revelers who legally bring their guns to parties have opened fire to stop fights. In and around Houston, prosecutors have received a growing stream of cases involving guns brandished or fired over parking spots, bad driving, loud music and love triangles.

“Tough on crime?” Hardly.

Laurence Tribe of the Harvard Law School is a brilliant constitutional scholar. This article, which appeared in the New York Review of Books, is his analysis of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, a fundamental guarantee of women’s reproductive rights. Each state is now permitted to write its own law about access to abortion. Some states protect abortion rights, some totally ban it, some set conditions under which it is legal. Some members of the Republican Party want to pass a national law banning abortion and protecting the right to life of the fetus, beginning at the moment of conception.

I don’t customarily repost entire articles but the New York Review of Books allows the non-scrubber to read one free article. (I am a subscriber.) It is a wonderful publication, and you should consider subscribing because of articles like this one. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and prepare for an important and enlightening read about one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions. This was the first time the Supreme Court withdrew a right that had been established in prior decisions.

Professor Tribe writes:

The chaos and cruelty unleashed in late June by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which wiped out a half-century of constitutional protections for the reproductive rights—and thus the equal citizenship—of women in America, have been well documented. The ruling quickly led to a patchwork quilt of abortion bans differing from state to state and the prospect of new ones throughout the country, transforming what had been hypothetical scenarios into the stuff of nightmares.

They include tragedies like that of the ten-year-old rape victim in Ohio forced to travel across state lines to avoid compelled motherhood. The swarm of lawsuits challenging access to abortion pills by mail. The labyrinth of obstacles confronting those in states where abortion is now banned or heavily restricted who seek safe and legal out-of-state options for terminating pregnancies—for themselves or a patient, friend, or family member—including the knowledge that their travel and medical inquiries might be subject to surveillance and even obstruction or retaliation. The fear of health care professionals and pharmacists that providing treatments to preserve the life of someone undergoing a heartbreaking miscarriage could expose them to criminal prosecution for allegedly terminating a pregnancy. Not to mention the potential crippling of IVF procedures sought by couples who would otherwise remain childless.

As the dissent in the case—written jointly by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—pointedly observed, some states might “criminalize the woman’s conduct too, incarcerating or fining her for daring to seek or obtain an abortion,” and “as Texas has recently shown, a State can turn neighbor against neighbor, enlisting fellow citizens in the effort to root out anyone who tries to get an abortion, or to assist another in doing so.”

Dobbs was in no way the removal of the final brick in a steadily crumbling wall of protections for reproductive autonomy. The course of the law over the half-century separating Dobbsfrom Roe v. Wade (1973) had witnessed no erosion in the principles of personal liberty and equality that had been embodied in pre-Roedecisions. On the contrary, these principles had been continually extended during those years. Roe had built on decisions like Loving v. Virginia (1967), protecting interracial marriage; Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), affirming the right of married couples to engage in sex without risking procreation; and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), extending Griswold from married couples to all individuals, married or single. And Roe had in turn furnished the foundation for decisions like Lawrence v. Texas (2003), upholding the right of consenting adults to have sex with partners of any gender, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), affirming the right of people to marry those they love regardless of sex.

Far from the culmination of a gradual trend toward government control over people’s intimate lives, the decision in Dobbs—no less shocking because a draft of it had leaked nearly two months earlier—felt like a bolt from the blue. “To hear the majority tell the tale, Roe and Casey [v. Planned Parenthood, 1992] are aberrations: They came from nowhere, went nowhere—and so are easy to excise from this Nation’s constitutional law,” the dissent said, but as the cases listed above demonstrate, “That is not true.” Observers had to conclude that only the changed composition of the Court during Donald Trump’s one-term presidency and the formation of a five-justice bloc committed to a religiously inflected political agenda could explain the sudden shift. The dissent’s blunt comment is undeniable: “The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed…. Today, the proclivities of individuals rule.”

The chaos and cruelty unleashed in late June by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v.Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which wiped out a half-century of constitutional protections for the reproductive rights—and thus the equal citizenship—of women in America, have been well documented. The ruling quickly led to a patchwork quilt of abortion bans differing from state to state and the prospect of new ones throughout the country, transforming what had been hypothetical scenarios into the stuff of nightmares.

They include tragedies like that of the ten-year-old rape victim in Ohio forced to travel across state lines to avoid compelled motherhood. The swarm of lawsuits challenging access to abortion pills by mail. The labyrinth of obstacles confronting those in states where abortion is now banned or heavily restricted who seek safe and legal out-of-state options for terminating pregnancies—for themselves or a patient, friend, or family member—including the knowledge that their travel and medical inquiries might be subject to surveillance and even obstruction or retaliation. The fear of health care professionals and pharmacists that providing treatments to preserve the life of someone undergoing a heartbreaking miscarriage could expose them to criminal prosecution for allegedly terminating a pregnancy. Not to mention the potential crippling of IVF procedures sought by couples who would otherwise remain childless.

As the dissent in the case—written jointly by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—pointedly observed, some states might “criminalize the woman’s conduct too, incarcerating or fining her for daring to seek or obtain an abortion,” and “as Texas has recently shown, a State can turn neighbor against neighbor, enlisting fellow citizens in the effort to root out anyone who tries to get an abortion, or to assist another in doing so.”

Dobbs was in no way the removal of the final brick in a steadily crumbling wall of protections for reproductive autonomy. The course of the law over the half-century separating Dobbsfrom Roe v. Wade (1973) had witnessed no erosion in the principles of personal liberty and equality that had been embodied in pre-Roedecisions. On the contrary, these principles had been continually extended during those years. Roe had built on decisions like Loving v. Virginia (1967), protecting interracial marriage; Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), affirming the right of married couples to engage in sex without risking procreation; and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), extending Griswold from married couples to all individuals, married or single. And Roe had in turn furnished the foundation for decisions like Lawrence v. Texas (2003), upholding the right of consenting adults to have sex with partners of any gender, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), affirming the right of people to marry those they love regardless of sex.

Far from the culmination of a gradual trend toward government control over people’s intimate lives, the decision in Dobbs—no less shocking because a draft of it had leaked nearly two months earlier—felt like a bolt from the blue. “To hear the majority tell the tale, Roe and Casey [v. Planned Parenthood, 1992] are aberrations: They came from nowhere, went nowhere—and so are easy to excise from this Nation’s constitutional law,” the dissent said, but as the cases listed above demonstrate, “That is not true.” Observers had to conclude that only the changed composition of the Court during Donald Trump’s one-term presidency and the formation of a five-justice bloc committed to a religiously inflected political agenda could explain the sudden shift. The dissent’s blunt comment is undeniable: “The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed…. Today, the proclivities of individuals rule.”

Led by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, both avowed advocates of overturning Roe, the three justices appointed by Trump—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—followed their marching orders, but with anything but precision. They could claim only that, notwithstanding the importance of respecting the Court’s long-settled precedents, Roe had to be overruled because it was, as Alito put it in his majority opinion, “egregiously wrong from the start.”

What made it wrong, however, was far from easy to say. That “the Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion,” a point made as though it were some sort of discovery, in no way establishes that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of “liberty” from government deprivation “without due process of law” excludes control over one’s own body, not to mention the course—indeed, continuation—of one’s life. On the contrary, the Ninth Amendment’s explicit instruction that the “enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” rules out any claim that the Constitution’s failure to list the right to bodily integrity among its “enumerated” protections excludes that right from those “retained by the people.”

Although many observers criticized Alito’s leaked draft opinion for failing even to mention the Ninth Amendment, the opinion as finally released was almost defiant in its dismissive treatment of that amendment’s rule of construction. The only thing the Court says about it in Dobbs is that “the abortion right” is not itself “founded…in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people.” But that is a wholly irrelevant observation and confuses the category of “rights” with the category of rules about how to read a text dealing with rights. Nobody has ever seriously claimed that the “abortion right,” or indeed any substantive right, could possibly be “founded” in a rule about how to read the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment is not the “foundation” of any group of rights but a directive about how constitutional decisions about rights are to be made. Searching for rights in it is akin to searching for actual pieces of lumber in a manual on how to build a house.

Were the Court’s method consistently applied and unmentioned rights systematically subjected to a more rigorous test for admission into the constitutional pantheon than those enumerated, any number of the rights we all take for granted would be second-class at best. They include the right to decide how to bring up one’s children (including the choice between public and private school) and the right to become a parent.

How would such second-class rights gain admission? By passing the Alito “test”: whether the right, defined at the most specific level (think “right to obtain an abortion,” not “right to bodily autonomy”), although unmentioned in the Constitution, is nonetheless “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” But as many critics and the dissent made clear, that test is plucked from a 1997 precedent, Washington v. Glucksberg, that the Supreme Court essentially jettisoned six years later in Lawrence. Moreover, Alito’s test is notoriously susceptible to manipulation and is calculated to exclude many rights associated particularly with the bodies and lives of women. It is thus unsurprising, but no less horrifying, to see the Alito opinion cite as precedent, without evident embarrassment, Sir Matthew Hale, a seventeenth-century English jurist who not only insisted that a “husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife” but believed in burning women as witches.

Conspicuously absent from Dobbs is any coherent legal analysis—or anything that deserves to be called “analysis” at all—of why someone’s right to avoid compelled pregnancy, involuntary childbirth, and forced parenthood is not an essential part of the “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment (and perhaps even of the freedom from “involuntary servitude” protected by the Thirteenth). As a result, it’s the Alito opinion in Dobbs, and not Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion in Roe, that is “not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Put simply, Dobbs is a fiat issued by five justices simply “because they could.”

There is one straightforward objection Justice Alito might have made to recognizing reproductive choice as essential to the “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. He might have argued, as Justice Thomas did in his Dobbs concurrence, that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Liberty Clause (sometimes called the Due Process Clause) doesn’t protect any “substantive rights”—rights to engage in particular kinds of activity or to be secure from particular sorts of government restriction—but merely ensures that the government will follow fair procedures whenever it deprives persons of “life, liberty, or property.” Purely as a linguistic matter, the answer to that claim has always been that what the Constitution guarantees isn’t “due process” as such, but “due process of law”—with the understanding that government actions aren’t “law” at all if they are in reality just naked power dressed up in legal form.

While taking care not to join Justice Thomas in insisting that there’s no such thing as “substantive due process” that establishes constitutional rights, Justice Alito cites with approval earlier decisions expressing “‘reluctan[ce]’ to recognize [substantive] rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution” and notes how so-called “substantive due process has at times been a treacherous field for this Court.” But his opinion nowhere demonstrates that it has been a more treacherous field than, say, interpreting expressly enumerated First Amendment freedoms like those of speech, press, and religion or Fourth Amendment rights like those “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” He argues that “utmost care” is required whenever the Court is “asked to break new ground in this field, lest the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause be subtly transformed into the policy preferences of the Members of this Court.” But he says nothing to show that this necessary caution supports digging out the ground long built upon by generations of judges, lawyers, and ordinary citizens who have treated reproductive protections and bodily integrity rights as among the most deeply entrenched in our society and culture.

Any argument relegating intimate personal rights to the mercy of political majorities because of their substantive character would have to reject decades of decisions holding that the Liberty Clause does in fact protect at least some substantive rights. Notably, it protects against infringement by the states of most rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, which cannot be infringed by the federal government, including the current Court’s favorite, the Second Amendment freedom to “keep and bear Arms”—a freedom that Justice Alito, writing for the Court in McDonald v. Chicago a dozen years ago, held was part of the “liberty” to defend oneself.

Only Justice Thomas expressed the view that all those decisions (except, apparently, McDonald, on which he built without acknowledgment in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, decided the day before Dobbs) were wrong from the start and should be overruled. These included the rulings on contraception, sexual intimacy, and same-sex marriage—though not, it seems, interracial marriage. However, the decisions could, he suggested, possibly be reinstated (in some undetermined way) by an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities” of American citizens.

Explaining why the Liberty Clause should prioritize, say, the freedom of speech or of religion, or the right to bear arms for self-defense, or the right to exclude the military defenders of the nation from one’s home “in time of peace” over the no less basic freedom to determine what is to become of one’s own body would be no mean task. After all, those rights are protected from infringement by the states not because the text of the Constitution requires it. The Bill of Rights restricts only the federal government. The states cannot infringe those rights because the Supreme Court has said they are fundamental rights whose infringement, like the right to abortion before Dobbs, would violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Liberty Clause.

Particularly puzzling is Justice Kavanaugh’s insistence, in his separate concurring opinion, that the Court’s decision to let each state decide for itself whether and to what degree to protect the right to end a pregnancy will leave individuals who live in states where abortion is criminalized entirely free to travel to other states to obtain abortions without penalty. How does he know that? Because, he says, of “the constitutional right to interstate travel.” But no such right is expressly mentioned in the Constitution, any more than is the right to control what goes on in one’s own body. Both rights are at best implicit in the Constitution, not enumerated anywhere in its text. This is not to denigrate the existence or significance of the right to interstate travel, a long-settled part of what knits the states into an inseverable Union, or to undermine its protections for those helping women escape the clutches of states that ban abortion and make criminals of all those who facilitate it. It is simply to expose the glaring inconsistency in Justice Kavanaugh’s analysis, without whose vote there would have been no majority to overrule Roe.

To be sure, there are some spheres of activity where American law once insisted, in the Constitution’s name, on a hands-off policy, but that we no longer regard as presumptively off-limits for government regulation. For example, in the early 1900s judicial decisions treated “liberties which derive merely from shifting economic arrangements” involving the legal institutions of property and contract as basically immune from legislation restricting exploitation—primarily minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws.

Since the mid-1930s, however, these decisions have been very widely, if by no means universally, regarded as deeply mistaken. They were gradually eroded and essentially overruled by a series of decisions beginning in 1937 with West Coast Hotel v. Parrish and continuing through the 1950s (Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 1955) and 1960s (Ferguson v. Skrupa, 1963) right up to the present, although some have noted the stirrings of a retreat from the post-1930s understanding in decisions using the freedom of speech to dismantle campaign finance regulation (Citizens United v. FEC, 2010) and to overturn other attempts at leveling the economic playing field.

The Court in Dobbs lumps the corpus of decisions repudiated as of the mid-1930s under the rubric of “discredited decisions such as Lochner v. New York,” the 1905 ruling striking down the New York law limiting the number of hours bakers could work. As the dissent puts it, the Court treats the rejection of those decisions as somehow justifying the repudiation of “a broad swath of this Court’s precedents,” beginning well before Roe and extending right up to the day Dobbs was decided.

The comparison is inapt. When the Court demoted the contractual freedom treated as foundational in Lochner from a fundamental right to just another interest to be resolved by political forces, it was building on cases decided earlier in the 1930s. These cases, notably Home Building & Loan v. Blaisdell (1934), viewed government’s power to revise contractual arrangements to meet changing social and economic conditions as implicit in every privately negotiated contract. No remotely comparable shift underlay the sudden upheaval in legal understandings and social expectations brought about by Dobbs, which the dissenters eloquently denounced as a radical setback for the equal status of women in America.

To the suggestion that its decision had any implications for the equal protection of the laws for women and men, the Dobbs majority responded with no attention whatever to the importance Roe had come to have in the lives of generations of women. Indeed, the Alito opinion gave the entire matter of gender equality the back of its hand, dismissing its relevance to the rightness or wrongness of Roeand Casey. The Court treated the very idea that rules limiting options for “pregnant persons” might be viewed as forms of “sex-based classification” and thus subject to “heightened scrutiny” as barely worth discussing. Oblivious to the irony, it claimed that the idea was in any event “squarely foreclosed by our precedents,” citing a widely reviled 1974 ruling about discrimination based on pregnancy, and not pausing to explain why that decision was entitled to greater respect than Roe, decided a year earlier, or why the 1974 ruling should not be deemed so “egregiously wrong” from the day it was decided that any respect it might have deserved as precedent was overcome by its manifestly erroneous character.

To support the idea that Roe and the 1992 reaffirmation of its core holding in Casey had no “sound basis in precedent” and could thus be safely overruled without causing damage to the fabric of the law or undoing the web of other decisions on which people had come to rely, the Court in Dobbs simply listed a series of rights, as though it was self-evident that they bore no similarity to the right to decide whether and when to terminate a pregnancy. These included the rights “to marry a person of a different race,…to marry while in prison,…to obtain contraceptives,…to reside with relatives,…to make decisions about the education of one’s children,…not to be sterilized without consent,…and in certain circumstances not to undergo involuntary surgery, forced administration of drugs, or other substantially similar procedures,” as well as the right “to engage in private, consensual sexual acts” and “marry a person of the same sex.”

But merely noting, as the Court did, that those rights did “not concern abortion” obviously fails to establish that they are not analogous to the right to reproductive autonomy. It is thus difficult to take seriously the statement by the Dobbs majority that its repudiation of the right to abortion will not ultimately serve as a precedent to rescind some or all of these seemingly similar rights, especially given the explicit statement in Justice Thomas’s concurrence that they are without foundation and that future litigants should attack them on the basis of Dobbs.

The Alito opinion concedes, as it must, that the majority cannot “pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to [its] decision overruling Roe and Casey.” But the well-organized, heavily funded, decades-old movement that brought about that decision is already turning to the other decisions, like Obergefell, that justices in the Dobbs majority have long denounced as without constitutional basis. We should take their persistence seriously: these are cases that that movement has attacked from the day they were decided. Moreover, insisting that the reasoning underlying Dobbs will not be extended to cases that some view as closely analogous—much as Bush v. Gore (2000) was said to be “limited to the present circumstances”—puts the Dobbsmajority in the awkward position of either being duplicitous or conceding that its overruling of Roe was an arbitrary exercise of power, as the dissent noted: “Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other.”

The Court comes closer to explaining itself when it says that none of the other threatened decisions involve the same “critical moral question” as that “posed by abortion.” But that “explanation” merely restates the question. It does nothing to explain why the manifestly controversial and obviously “critical moral questions” that each of those other decisions involved were better suited than abortion to be resolved by courts instead of legislatures—that is, by judicially withdrawing the answers from the “vicissitudes of political controversy” and placing them “beyond the reach of majorities.”

The Court’s final reason for insisting that abortion is critically different bears close examination: “What sharply distinguishes the abortion right” from all those others is that abortion “destroys what [other] decisions call ‘potential life’ and what the [Mississippi] law at issue in this case regards as the life of an ‘unborn human being.’” But given such decisions as Griswold and Eisenstadt, which protect the right to use contraception, it must be not just the involvement of “potential life” but the survival of a particular “potential life” that marks the right protected by Roe as singularly vulnerable to the Court’s analysis. It’s the supposedly unique status of the fertilized ovum, its transformation into what some insist is a new human being, that must account for the Dobbs holding if it is to have the distinctive character that the majority opinion claims for it.

That “the States’ interest in protecting fetal life,” as the Dobbs majority describes it, deserves judicial respect isn’t the issue: both Roe and Casey acknowledged as much in expressly upholding a range of state measures embodying and implementing that pro-life interest. Nor is the question of whether the Constitution “permit[s] the States to regard the destruction of a ‘potential life’ as a matter of any significance.” Of course it does. Nothing in the Constitution prevents states from regarding everything that has the potential to become a specific sentient creature, let alone a particular human being, as worthy of concern and protection—but only up to a point.

The decisive issue is whether that interest in a fetus’s life can properly be made by judicial decree into an interest so absolute that it completely eclipses the undeniably enormous interest of a pregnant woman in what goes on in her own body and what becomes of her own life. The latter is a secular interest that both the states and the federal government are bound to respect as a fundamental right. To deem the interest in “fetal life” as transcendent to the point of being sacrosanct in any jurisdiction that opts to elevate it above all concern for the bodily self-determination of the woman—if it does not demote her to the status of an involuntary vessel entitled to no more respect than other forms of collectively owned property—surely entails a most peculiar mix of the sacred and the profane: sacred in its unavoidable derivation from particular religious traditions, profane (or at least secular) in allowing each state to strike its own balance between the conflicting values of the survival of the fetus and the bodily integrity of the mother.

The Dobbs majority insists that its opinion isn’t based on any “particular theory about when the rights of personhood begin.” Accordingly, it leaves open the possibility that a fetus might not be “entitled to…the rights enjoyed after birth.” What strikes me as most alarming is the Dobbs majority’s insistence that, even if it is not yet deemed a legal “person” for constitutional purposes, the fetus—from the supposed “moment” of its conception—should be given federal judicial recognition as something (one might as well say “someone”) that any state may treat as entitled to more protection than the woman who gestates it.

Whatever anyone might have thought in 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, it has since become clear that “conception,” as I wrote in 1973 when defending Roe v. Wade,is “a complex and continuous process” of cell division followed by chromosomal recombination and in no sense “an objectively definable event”:

Although none [can] deny that the developing fetus, and indeed the unfertilized ovum, represent[s] “potential human life,” and while all [can] agree that the infant at birth [is] fully and independently a human being and entitled to treatment as such, the question of when the mysterious discontinuity [is] crossed—when the embryo or fetus “bec[omes] fully human”—[cannot] be discussed in secular terms at all. In fact, the only bodies of thought that have purported in this century to locate the crucial line between potential and actual life have been those of organized religious doctrine.

The attribution of metaphysical and legal status to a developing embryo from some particular point in time represents not a discovery of an empirical datum about reality but a choice, all but invariably grounded in one or another religious tradition or teaching, about what signals the creation of an individual human soul.

I continue to believe that any liberty as basic to our secular constitutional order as a woman’s right to decide whether to use her body to deliver a new person into the world can be overridden only by countervailing social interests grounded, as John Rawls put it in A Theory of Justice, in secular “ways of reasoning acceptable to all” and resting on “a common knowledge and understanding of the world,” not on any inherently sectarian view. Think of this as part of what differentiates the “Republican Form of Government” guaranteed by Article IV of our Constitution from a theocracy in which divine edicts or biblical injunctions can supply conversation-stopping justifications for government restrictions on basic liberties.

The second-century theologian Tertullian told women: “You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of the (forbidden) tree,…the first deserter of the divine law;…she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack.” A parallel theological teaching is that the presence of a new human life transforms a woman’s body from Satan’s gateway into a holy vessel akin to Mary, Mother of Jesus. It is little wonder that justices who view every instance of conception as a holy event would be inclined to treat the “moment” a new life is present in a woman as the moment from which any state is entitled to criminalize the termination of that life. It is but a short step from such a view to the dogma that the “moment of conception” marks the point at which any state may be constitutionally obligated to treat that life’s termination, whatever the reason, as a terrible crime. The Dobbs “compromise” making it a matter for each state to determine is no more consistent and stable than the 1857 Dred Scottcompromise making the status of slaves and their descendants a matter for states to decide.

It is a fair inference from the First Amendment’s ban on “establishment of religion” that the Constitution should not be hijacked by any primarily religious movement or by a political movement that exploits religion as a Trojan Horse. Yet Dobbs followed—and embodies the approach of—a series of Supreme Court decisions systematically eroding the sometimes-maligned “wall” of separation between church and state. The current Court’s unmistakable determination to breach that barrier to government endorsement of particular religious beliefs reached its apex this past term in a ruling that treated a government employee’s “proselytizing on government property during a public school function” as “private, personal and quiet” when it was anything but, and was indeed highly coercive.

The theocratic movement to advance religiously based governance—the antithesis of genuine religious freedom—has installed as the law of the land the essentially unreasoned position advanced in Dobbs, replacing the compromise between life and liberty embodied in Roe and Casey with the absolutist claim that the presence of a potential life instantly and automatically transforms a woman’s body into a vessel that governments are free to regulate as they see fit. This is unlikely to be the final step on the treacherous path the Court has chosen.

Whether or not one sees Dobbs as barely concealed theocracy, what seems plain is that the opinion fails to provide any clear secular support for its conclusion that Roe was wrongly decided, much less that it was so demonstrably wrong that the reliance of generations of Americans on its basic outlines should have been all but entirely disregarded. That degree of certitude and hubris can only contribute to the growing lack of respect for the current Supreme Court and feed the mounting conviction that it is not a body composed of fair-minded jurists to whom we should entrust these kinds of questions.

Our government is one in which the views of the majority are supposed to resolve policy disputes subject only to the antimajoritarian protection of beleaguered minorities and fundamental personal rights. Add to that the fact that three fifths of the far-right Dobbsmajority consists of appointees nominated by a president who lost the national popular vote and confirmed by senators representing distinct minorities of the nation’s population, and a picture emerges of a ruling clique assiduously pursuing a religiously imbued and highly partisan agenda imposing its ideological commitments upon a vast majority who have a very different view of the competing rights and interests involved. At its essence, that is tyranny by the minority.

This pattern, although without its obvious religious roots, was replicated in the Court’s ruling the day before Dobbs in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. BruenBruendramatically expanded—as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Liberty Clause, no less—the right to carry concealed firearms of a kind unknown to the Second Amendment’s authors and ratifiers, in the name of a tendentious set of claims about the amendment’s text and its original meaning. Justice Thomas’s majority opinion—which managed to invoke the authority of the infamous Dred Scott decision, of all things—was studiously inattentive to the dangers to public safety posed by the decision, dangers the six-justice majority swatted away as constitutionally irrelevant.

Complaining (without foundation) that the rights of gun owners protected by the Second Amendment had hitherto been relegated to second-class status, the Court gave no reasons for suddenly elevating those rights above all others protected by the Constitution, insisting that no countervailing considerations could be taken into account once a firearms regulation flunked the Court’s new purely historical test for Second Amendment rights. It is a test that automatically invalidates any regulation not closely analogous to one the framing generation supposedly would have deemed consistent with the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” But the “Arms” to which the new test applies are, needless to say, analogous to nothing that existed in 1787 or, for that matter, in 1868 (when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, resulting in the application of the Second Amendment to the states through the Liberty Clause). Seemingly unnoticed was the surreal nature of finding in the Constitution a fundamental liberty to carry a concealed instrument of mass slaughter in order to defend one’s body from attack, but no such liberty to defend one’s body from involuntary pregnancy.

The same pattern was replicated in the decision a week after Bruen in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. In that case, the majority held—gratuitously, given the absence of any actual regulation to which its analysis might be concretely applied—that the EPA is powerless to regulate greenhouse gases under the particular provision of the Clean Air Act at issue in the case. According to the majority, the problem wasn’t that the provision Congress enacted in 1970 didn’t literally authorize such regulation (it indisputably did). The problem was that the consequences to the economy of any regulation requiring a change in the mix of fuels the regulated industry used to generate electrical power would be too “major” for a mere administrative agency to impose without more specific (indeed, implausibly prophetic) congressional authorization.

It’s hard not to see this rogues’ gallery of decisions as reflecting little beyond the political party platform of the justices comprising the majority with respect to abortion, religion, guns, climate change, and the administrative state rather than any coherent constitutional philosophy. Indeed, when one juxtaposes the Court’s green light to government intrusions into the most intimate spheres of personal and spiritual life with its red light to government regulation of firearms, the energy industry, and presumably other areas of social life that its majority would prefer to see unregulated, what emerges is a lethal mix of regulation and deregulation that makes the Court’s pre-1937 laissez-faire stance look entirely reasonable by comparison.

At least the Supreme Court’s decisions of the early twentieth century were relatively consistent, including rulings in the 1920s that recognized the unenumerated rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, such as what languages to teach them (Meyer v. Nebraska, 1923) and whether to send them to private rather than public schools (Pierce v. Society of Sisters and Oregon v. Hill Military Academy, both 1925). The rulings of that time embracing the now-discarded “liberty of contract” and other doctrines restricting government’s ability to protect workers and consumers from exploitation were at least matched by rulings recognizing a private realm almost entirely beyond the reach of the state. Thus the cloud of judicial doctrine that hung over economic regulation a century ago at least had the silver lining of liberating personal life.

Today’s cloud has no such lining. The Court’s perverse decisions, without a hint of irony, allow government to intrude into the bedroom and invade the integrity of the body while holding government at bay with respect to regulating the boardroom and, for that matter, limiting corporate expenditures to influence political campaigns.

Especially concerning is the degree to which this topsy-turvy judicial approach—arrogantly heedless of the human and environmental consequences of the jurisprudence it so ruthlessly imposes to turn the world upside-down, and seemingly insensitive to the erosion of public respect for its judgments and integrity—has come close to ensuring its self-perpetuation. It has done so through a jurisprudence that recklessly trashes bipartisan federal laws dating to the mid-1960s protecting voting rights, while systematically looking the other way as partisan gerrymandering makes state legislatures less and less representative of their populations as a whole and of minority populations in particular.

And it has amplified the threat to fair representation by announcing, on the final day of its latest term, that it will hear arguments this fall in a case from North Carolina, Moore v. Harper, that invites the Court to embrace a radical and constitutionally dubious theory that would liberate state legislatures from being tethered to their own constitutions by the states’ highest courts. As such prominent conservative jurists as former federal judge J. Michael Luttig have warned, the result would be to transform the already antidemocratic electoral college system into one that essentially invites gerrymandered state legislatures to substitute their preferred presidential candidate for the one chosen by the majority of the state’s people.

If this were to happen—and it would take but one justice in addition to the four (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh) who have already signaled their acceptance of this theory—future Supreme Court nominees would likely be as reactionary as those of the recent past rather than offering at least the hope of some ideological balance over time. And as the Court continues on the path of replacing long-settled individual rights with religiously inspired mandates, the odds would increase that the rules under which we live will reflect the preferences of ever smaller minorities.

It is this bleak picture that has led me and some others who, like me, participated in the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States to see this as a “break the glass” moment. Some of us have reluctantly advocated enlarging the Court from nine to thirteen and appointing four new justices to redress the extreme and seemingly self-perpetuating imbalance resulting from the way it was stacked during the four years of the Trump presidency—a step we realize has little chance of being enacted in the current political environment. But the current political environment might not be permanent. Or at the very least we must not, as the midterm elections approach, treat it as though it were. The unprecedented level of public outrage at recent trends in the Supreme Court’s decisions could upend political expectations in ways none of us can foresee.

A telling example, and perhaps a harbinger of things to come, was the overwhelming rejection on August 2 by the voters of as conservative a state as Kansas of a referendum measure that would have repealed a state constitutional right to bodily integrity that its highest court had interpreted in 2019 as protecting a right to abortion. The contrast between that unanticipated result—which Justice Alito would doubtless insist was wholly consistent with his expressed desire to return the issue to “the people and their elected representatives”—and the barely concealed belief of the majority in Dobbs that they were doing the Lord’s work by protecting unborn human life was impossible to miss.

It came starkly into view when Justice Alito, in a speech to the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome, tastelessly mocked the world leaders and others who had criticized his Dobbsopinion, describing their reactions as proof that Christianity was under assault throughout the world and treating them as evidence that “religious liberty is worth special protection.” It will be interesting to see how much protection he is prepared to give the claims to religious liberty of litigants like the seven Florida clergy members—three Jews, two Christians, one Unitarian Universalist, and one Buddhist—who are arguing in recently filed lawsuits that their ability to practice their faiths is violated by the state’s new abortion ban.

We might dare to hope that a political alignment will emerge that makes it possible for Congress to enact a nationwide codification of Roe and Casey. When such a law is challenged before the Supreme Court, as it no doubt would be, we must hope that one or more of the radical jurists who currently control its decisions—despite their pious insistence that the public’s aversion to their interpretations of the Constitution are of no proper concern to them—will rethink their willingness to ravage the social and legal landscape and wreak carnage on widely shared cultural expectations, lest they invite outright rebellion against their tyrannical rule. Until they do, the Court they steer risks becoming not what Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78 called our government’s “least dangerous branch,” but the most dangerous.

After the murder of a recreation worker at a city center, Mayor Jim Kenney issued an executive order banning guns at playgrounds and recreation centers. A local judge overturned Mayor Kennedy’s order, because it violates state law.

This is madness. People will die. Are guns in schools okay too?

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge on Monday blocked the city from enforcing an executive order Mayor Jim Kenney signed last week banning guns at recreation centers and playgrounds following the fatal shooting of a Parks and Recreation employee last month.

The Gun Owners of America, on behalf of several state residents, filed a lawsuit last Tuesday, the day Kenney signed his order. After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Joshua H. Roberts issued his ruling siding with the plaintiffs and ordering Philadelphia to be “permanently enjoined” from enforcing Kenney’s ban.

The lawsuit cited Pennsylvania state law that prohibits any city or county from passing gun-control measures. The preemption law, which the city has repeatedly sought to overturn, bans local government from passing gun-control measures that are stricter than state gun laws.

Andrew B. Austin, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in an emailed statement: “For my part, I am gratified that the Court of Common Pleas was able to so quickly resolve this suit, but that was in large part because the law is so explicit: The City is not allowed to regulate possession of firearms in any manner.”

The Miami Herald wrote about the numerous security breaches at Trump’s resort home, Mar-a-Lago, where he decided to store hundreds of classified and top-secret documents.

The club was the site of numerous trespassing incidents while Trump was in office. In 2017, a woman named Kelly Ann Weidman crept through the bushes on the northern side of the luxurious resort smeared banana on the windows of cars in the employee parking lot, typed “F**kUTrumpB” on a computer in the club’s Cloister Bar, and snatched balloons from the Grand Ballroom. She was loose on the property for roughly an hour.

The following year, a college kid visiting his grandparents in Palm Beach over Thanksgiving snuck through a tunnel that connects Mar-a-Lago’s beach club with the main property. “I wanted to see how far I could get,” he told a judge.

In March 2019, Mike Tyson wandered onto Mar-a-Lago through the same beachfront tunnel as a guest of billionaire Jeff Greene. Tyson entered the president’s estate without even presenting an ID, according to The Grifter’s Club, a book by Miami Herald reporters about Mar-a-Lago.

On the same day as Tyson, a Chinese businesswoman named Yujing Zhang entered Mar-a-Lago from the front, saying she was there for a charity event that she knew had been canceled. She was convicted of trespassing, although no espionage charges were brought against her, despite speculation that she was a foreign agent.

It was only after the Zhang incident that the Secret Service held mandatory sessions for club employees on counterintelligence.

In late 2019, a Chinese tourist named Lu Jing wandered onto Mar-a-Lago to take pictures. She was arrested for trespassing — but was acquitted on that charge after her lawyers pointed out that the club did not have “no trespassing” signs and that the entrance she accessed wasn’t guarded. Her trial revealed various details about security at Mar-a-Lago, including the location of several security cameras, the total size of the club’s security staff (13 guards), its apparent lack of a secure perimeter and the fact that staffers maintain daily lists of members and approved guests on digital tablet devices.

In 2020, opera singer Hannah Roemhild had a psychiatric episode and drove her rented SUV through security barriers outside Mar-a-Lago (she did not enter the property), leading Secret Service agents and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies to open fire. She was charged but found not guilty by reason of insanity. Beyond physical security, the club’s cyber security raised concerns during Trump’s presidency.

In 2018, anti-Trump activist Claude Taylor chartered a boat to take him and a giant, inflatable rat off the shores of Mar-a-Lago. They got close enough that Taylor said he could log onto the Palm Beach club’s unsecured WiFi network. That followed reporting in 2017 by ProPublica and Gizmodo that the club’s lightly secured WiFi networks could be easily penetrated by a hacker….

Trump was hosting Shinzo Abe for dinner at Mar-a-Lago in February 2017 — with members and guests present — when word broke that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. A singer performing for Trump near his table seemed to get the sense something was wrong. “Mr. President, I shouldn’t know this,” someone heard the performer say. Trump shrugged. “It’s just nukes,” the president said. “Sing us a song.”

At that same dinner, member Richard DeAgazio posted a photo to Facebook identifying the Trump aide carrying the so-called “nuclear football,” the briefcase that serves as a mobile command center from which the president can launch a nu­clear attack.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article264450116.html#storylink=cpy

Idaho should hold a referendum and let its people speak on the subject of abortion. The state has one of the strictest bans in the nation.

The Idaho Supreme Court said late Friday that the state’s strict antiabortion laws can take effect while it reviews legal challenges against the restrictions. The near-total ban on abortions is scheduled to kick in Aug. 25.


The court also lifted a stay on a separate law that allows potential relatives of a fetus to sue a provider who carries out an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. That law becomes effective immediately.


The decision was made in response to lawsuits from a Planned Parenthood chapter and a local doctor challenging laws such as Idaho’s near-total abortion trigger ban, which was designed to become enforceable shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The petitioners had asked the judiciary to suspend enforcement of the abortion restrictions until it reached a final decision.


But Idaho’s highest court denied the requests in a split decision, saying that the petitioners had failed to show that they were likely to prevail in overturning the state’s antiabortion laws.


Idaho’s abortion restrictions have exceptions for rape, incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk. Abortion rights supporters had previously argued in court that the medical exceptions were written so vaguely that they were impossible to follow, the Associated Press reported.
The court also noted that the petitioners had raised “serious issues” about the “lack of clarity” regarding Idaho’s medical exceptions, particularly relating to treatment for conditions such as ectopic pregnancies — when a fetus grows outside the uterus, making the pregnancy unviable — and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication associated with dangerously high blood pressure…

The Idaho Republican Party, which calls abortion “murder from the moment of fertilization” on its platform, didn’t immediately issue a statement in response to the ruling. Its Twitter account retweeted and liked a local reporter’s update on the court’s decision.

The sheriff of Madison County, North Carolina, reacted to the massacre of students in Uvalde, Texas, by putting an AR15 in every one of the six schools in the district. The guns will be locked in a safe, and breaching tools will be nearby. So don’t come into one of those schools to kill little children!

Imagine the scenario. A gunman with an AR15 shoots his way into the school, as the deranged killer at the Sandy Hook school did a decade ago. He blasts through the door, kills everyone he sees. Meanwhile, the designated defender goes to the safe, breaks it open with the breaching tool, and takes out the AR15.

By that time, the killer has had enough time to mow down the children in at least two classrooms.

The problem in Uvalde wasn’t the lack of weapons. Dozens of heavily armed officers hung out in the corridor outside the classrooms for over an hour. They had guns. What they lacked was courage, brains, and leadership.