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SCOTUS Swing Vote Kennedy Retires

Kennedy’s retirement could open the door to new attack on legal abortion. NBC: “President Donald Trump has long vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. He now has his chance. The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote who sometimes sided with his liberal colleagues on contentious social issues, sets up what is likely to be a bitter political fight over abortion heading into the fall midterm elections. Abortion rights advocates issued dire warnings. The ‘right to access abortion in this country is on the line,’ the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said. And Trump’s pledge “should set off alarm bells for anyone who cares about women,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group.”

Kennedy Upheld Gay Rights, Also Guns, Big Money

Kennedy’s legacy: gay rights, unbridled money in politics. The Intercept: “While appointed by Ronald Reagan, and quite conservative, Kennedy has occasionally been a wild card. For instance, he wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. He likewise authored the majority decision in Boumediene v. Bush, where the Court held that prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay had the right to habeas corpus review. But Kennedy’s greatest legacy will likely be writing the notorious 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which declared that the First Amendment prohibits restrictions on so-called “independent expenditures” by corporations and unions. Kennedy’s ruling contains some of the silliest, wackiest, most preposterous pronouncements in the tens of millions of words extruded by the Supreme Court in its 229-year history.”

Unions Gird For Fight After Janus

After Supreme Court loss, school-employees unions gird for fight to keep their members. LA Times: “Leaders of school employee unions in California and nationwide know the future after Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision to strike down mandatory union fees: They’ll have to fight hard in faculty lounges, custodial offices and school bus depots to hold onto each member as anti-union forces try to pull them away. The battle over school employees will be intense in California, where their unions, fueled by member dues, have long been a political force. Their strength has helped the state remain a bastion of liberalism and labor-friendly policy even as labor’s fortunes have suffered elsewhere. Declining enrollment and the growth of mostly non-union charter schools has already made inroads on membership of local unions, including United Teachers Los Angeles. Teachers union membership in L.A. Unified has dropped from 42,000 to 31,000 since 2007, according to the school system. Now anti-union forces funded by conservatives and corporate interests plan an aggressive campaign to reduce union clout, even to “deliver the mortal blow” as one fundraising appeal put it.”

Fed Inspectors Audit Trump Family Separations

Federal officials launch two reviews into Trump’s handling of migrant children. Politico: “The GAO and the Health and Human Services inspector general both launched reviews Wednesday into the Trump administration’s handling of thousands of migrant children separated from their families at the border. The GAO told Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) that it will audit the systems and processes used to track families as they were separated, including how the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement monitored each minor in its care, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO. Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, last week urged GAO to audit HHS and the Department of Homeland Security as the agencies work to reunite children in their custody with their parents. President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week purporting to rescind the separation policy, but agencies said they lacked the authority to put families back together. Meanwhile, the HHS inspector general announced that it will review the safety and health protections in the agency’s shelters for migrant children. Senate Democrats last week called for the review, citing reports that some children were receiving substandard care.”

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New York, New York, What a Less than Wonderful Town. Sam Pizzigati:
“The ultimate real-life test of “trickle down” — the notion that we all prosper when the rich get richer — may well be New York. The Big Apple, after all, certainly abounds in rich getting richer. No city in the world now hosts more of humanity’s super rich. Researchers at Wealth-X last month put the New York billionaire total at 103, ten more than Hong Kong. Top 1 percenters in New York overall are now taking in over 40 percent of the city’s income, about double the top 1 percent’s income share nationally in the United States. Numbers like these don’t happen by accident. Local and state officials in New York have worked diligently for decades to make their city as attractive as possible to the ten-digit set. But there are toxicities we inevitably nourish when we set no limits on how much our awesomely affluent can grab and pocket. Ever-widening gaps between our richest and everyone else, the story of contemporary New York helps us see, stretch our social fabric. At some point, that fabric will tear. Can’t we just mend any torn social fabric? Easier said than done when the rich hold most all the thread.”

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