10 Things in Politics: SCOTUS OKs Texas’ antiabortion law

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Here’s what we’re talking about:

With Phil Rosen.

Protesters against abortion restrictions gathered at the Texas State Capitol on May 21, 2019.

Eric Gay/AP

1. MAJOR LEGAL NEWS: The Supreme Court is letting the nation’s strictest antiabortion law stand for now. In a 5-4 ruling announced last night, most of the court’s conservative justices ruled in an unsigned opinion that Texas’ law banning abortions after roughly six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest should stand while the legal fight over it continued to play out. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberal justices in dissent.

Here’s what the decision means:

This isn’t the end of Roe: The five conservative justices, who included all three of President Donald Trump’s appointments, wrote in their unsigned opinion that they were not weighing in on the law’s constitutionality, including whether it violated Roe v. Wade, the court’s landmark privacy decision that protected abortion rights.

But as legal experts point out, Roe is effectively moot in Texas: The deadline under the new law comes before many people know they are pregnant. In her blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the law “flagrantly unconstitutional” and accused her colleagues of burying “their heads in the sand.”

Steve Vladeck is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law:

Steve Vladeck/Twitter

This gray area is exactly what the law’s proponents wanted: The five conservative justices wrote that their hands were procedurally tied in stopping the law since it’s not designed like any antiabortion law before it. As its authors intended, this makes it more difficult to challenge.

  • Here’s how the law is different: Texas explicitly prohibits state officials from enforcing the six-week ban. Instead, enforcement is left to civil suits that could be filed by any citizen, including from outside the state, who can sue anyone who “aids and abets” an unlawful abortion. People who file suit could then win up to $10,000 and have their attorney fees paid for by the losing side. This vague definition means even an Uber driver could be sued for taking someone to a clinic, The New York Times reports.

Read more about why opponents fear the law creates a “vigilante” economy.

People making their way in rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 1 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

2. Massive flooding in New York as Ida tears through Northeast: New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency, with officials warning people to stay home. At least four people were killed in the massive floods that blanketed large swathes of New York, trapping people in basements and causing structures to collapse. A tornado barreled through a New Jersey suburb. Here’s the latest on the devastating storm, which triggered New York City’s first flash-flood emergency ever issued by its local National Weather Service office.

3. Most Afghan allies who sought a special US visa may have been left behind: A senior State Department official estimated to NBC News that an overwhelming number of Afghans who worked for the US military and who applied for Special Immigrant Visas were not evacuated before US forces left. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the military’s mission didn’t mesh well with the SIV program’s slow process.

4. Things are “not working well” for the Trump-picked pandemic-relief watchdog: Brian Miller is feeling squeezed out of the oversight effort and complaining to Congress. He’s clashed with the Treasury Department over the extent of his independent watchdog office’s oversight duties — a legal squabble the Justice Department ultimately stepped in to resolve. Miller now has considerably less work to do as taxpayers spend $25 million on his efforts.

5. Two top FDA officials reportedly resigned over Biden’s booster-shot stance: The pair led the Food and Drug Administration office in charge of approving vaccines. Reports said Dr. Marion Gruber, the director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and her deputy, Dr. Philip Krause, were leaving in anger over the Biden administration’s plan to roll out COVID-19 booster shots before officials had a chance to approve it. More on the news.

  • Joe Rogan says he has COVID-19 and is using unproven treatments: Rogan, the UFC commentator with a large podcast following, said one of those drugs was ivermectin, a dewormer that is used largely in horses and that the CDC recently issued an advisory against using to treat COVID-19. Rogan has spread COVID-19 misinformation in recent months.

6. A Trump Org. exec is expected to testify before a grand jury: Matthew Calamari Jr., who serves as the Trump Organization’s corporate director of security and is the son of the company’s chief operating officer, is expected to testify in front of a grand jury this week as part of the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the company’s finances. More on where the investigation into the former president’s company stands.

7. McConnell squashes Biden impeachment talk: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told supporters in Kentucky that President Joe Biden would not be impeached, pointing to the obvious fact that Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. Some Republican lawmakers have floated impeaching Biden over the Afghanistan withdrawal. McConnell pointed out that the GOP was poised for big gains in the 2022 midterms.

  • Republican lawmaker wants to force Liz Cheney out of House GOP: Rep. Andy Biggs, the head of the House Freedom Caucus, is planning to push House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to change the rules to force Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference for serving on the select committee investigating the Capitol riot. This is just the latest effort to punish Cheney.

8. Fuel shortages are sweeping gas stations across Louisiana: More than one in 10 gas stations across the state were out of fuel as of Tuesday, suggests data from GasBuddy, a tech company that tracks real-time fuel prices. That’s about 13% of the state’s gas stations. Baton Rouge was the city worst affected, with more than half of stations thought to be without gasoline on Tuesday.

9. GameStop’s soaring market value has it big enough to enter the S&P 500. Even though the original meme-stock favorite meets numerous S&P parameters for admittance, obstacles remain before it could be included on the index. The gaming company’s market capitalization is about $16 billion — well above the required floor of $13.1 billion — but questions about its lack of sustained profitability could prevent approval. Get the full scoop on the Reddit darling.

Marianne Ayala/Insider

10. If your texts resemble your email spam, you’re not alone: Text-message marketing is the new frontier after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Facebook this past spring, and consumer advocates predicted a “tsunami of spam texts” would follow. Experts expect automated robotexts to become increasingly normal. Here’s how you can stop them.

Today’s trivia question: Today marks the anniversary of the first ATM in the US. In 1969, which state first had the then-groundbreaking technology? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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bgriffiths@insider.com Brent D. Griffiths