Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in to supreme court after ruling deals blow to climate crisis – as it happened

a month ago

Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in to supreme court after ruling deals blow to climate crisis – as it happened

The Guardian

Closing summary

Today marked the end an extraordinary term for the supreme court, the aftershocks of which will be felt for years, decades and perhaps even generations to come. From abortion to climate, prayer in school to guns, American life looks differently today than it did just a few weeks ago. The court itself also looks differently. For the first time in its more than 200 year history, a Black women will sit on the court.

Here’s what else happened today.

  • The supreme court sided with conservative states in a ruling with profound implications for the global effort to tackle the climate crisis. In a statement, Joe Biden vowed to find new ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy.
  • In its final decision of the term, a majority of justices agreed that Biden could end his predecessor’s controversial immigration policy.
  • A judge in Florida said he would temporarily block a law banning abortions after 15-weeks from taking effect.
  • New polling by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests that half of all Americans believe Donald Trump should be charged over his actions on January 6.
  • The Justice Department on Thursday announced it was opening an investigation into the New York Police Department’s special victims division after concluding that there was “significant justification” to examine its handling of sex-abuse cases.

In a new piece for the Guardian, climate scientist Peter Kalmus warns that the Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching and devastating consequences for the planet – and humanity.

In an era of crises, global heating increasingly stands out as the single greatest emergency humanity faces,” Kalmus writes. “Global heating is driving extreme heat, drought and flooding in the US and around the world. It’s driving wildfire and ecosystem collapse, and may already be contributing to famine and warfare. Crucially, this is all worsening day by day, and it will continue to worsen until we end the fossil fuel industry.

...

Without a livable planet, nothing else matters. As the Earth’s capacity to support life continues to degrade, millions, eventually billions of people will be displaced and die, fascism will rise, climate wars will intensify and the rule of law will break down. The myth of American exceptionalism will offer no protection from deadly heat and climate famine.

In the US we now live under the sway of robed, superstitious fools hellbent on rolling back basic civil liberties and rejecting scientific facts. Carl Sagan, warning against this sort of anti-science, wrote: “The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.” The consequences of ignoring scientists for too long are coming home to roost.

We desperately need a government working to stop Earth’s breakdown rather than accelerate it, but petitions or pleas to “vote harder” will not make this happen. Due to capture by the ultra-rich, our only option is to fight. To shift society into emergency mode and end the fossil fuel industry, we must join together and do all we can to wake people up to the grave danger we are in. We must engage in climate disobedience. I believe that the tides could still turn, that power could shift suddenly. But this can only happen when enough people join the fight.

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As Democrats search for ways to protect abortion access, a group of liberal senators are calling on the Pentagon to ensure military servicemembers will have access to the procedure regardless of where they are stationed.

In a letter, Senate Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, led by Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono, asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to act to “preserve the health and welfare of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians.”

It asks the Department of Defense to provide a plan that ensures women seeking reproductive care in states where abortion is severely restricted or banned are allowed to travel out of state to seek care, as well as protects their privacy

CNN first reported the letter.

“Entrusted to your care are hundreds of thousands of troops, dependents, and Department of Defense civilians who have lost access to safe abortions and now face threats of criminal prosecution for seeking out those services,” the Democratic senators wrote.

It concludes: “We owe it to these service members to look after them and ensure they have the ability to continue accessing safe reproductive health care no matter where their military service sends them.”

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In a dissenting opinion on Thursday, supreme court justice Clarence Thomas incorrectly suggested that Covid-19 vaccines were developed using the cells of “aborted children”.

Politico spotted the claim from the conservative justice in a dissenting opinion in response to a decision by the court not to hear a challenge to New York’s vaccine mandate.

Over the objection of Thomas and two other conservative justices, the supreme court on Thursday allowed New York to require all healthcare works show proof of vaccination.

“They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children,” Thomas said of the 16 healthcare workers who brought the challenge.

Rumors and conspiracy theories fueled vaccine hesitancy and undermined public faith in public health institutions in the United States, where more than 1 million Americans have died from covid-19.

Here’s Politico correcting the record.

None of the Covid-19 vaccines in the United States contain the cells of aborted fetuses. Cells obtained from elective abortions decades ago were used in testing during the Covid vaccine development process, a practice that is common in vaccine testing — including for the rubella and chickenpox vaccinations.

A group of doctors, nurses and other health care workers brought the case, suing the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in an objection to the state’s vaccine mandate on religious grounds. The district court issued a preliminary injunction, but the Court of Appeals reversed it and the Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear the challenge on Thursday.

Conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his dissenting opinion. And some Thomas defenders noted that he was simply reciting the allegations made by those refusing to get the vaccine.

Read the full story here.

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The Justice Department on Thursday announced that it had opened a civil rights investigation into the New York City police department’s special victims division after concluding there was “significant justification” to examine its handling of sex-abuse cases.

In a press release, federal prosecutors said the department had received reports of deficiencies dating back more than a decade.

The investigation will look at whether the division has engaged in a pattern of gender-biased policing, examining allegations that include “failing to conduct basic investigative steps and instead shaming and abusing survivors and re-traumatizing them during investigations,” the department said.

“Victims of sex crimes deserve the same rigorous and unbiased investigations of their cases that the NYPD affords to other categories of crime,” Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

“Likewise, relentless and effective pursuit of perpetrators of sexual violence, unburdened by gender stereotypes or differential treatment, is essential to public safety. We look forward to working with our partners in EDNY and the Civil Rights Division to assess the NYPD’s practices in this area.”

As abortion clinics shutter around the country and providers navigate a fast-changing legal environment, a judge in Florida said he would temporarily block a 15-week ban from taking effect in the state.

The decision comes in response to a court challenge by reproductive healthcare providers who argued that the Florida state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure.

According to the Associated Press, the judge, John Cooper, issued the ruling from the bench, but it does not take effect until he signs a written order. The law, passed earlier this year by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Republican governor Ron DeSantis, goes into effect Friday.

Cooper said Florida’s ban was “unconstitutional in that it violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.”

DeSantis’ office said it would appeal the ruling.

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In a new statement, Biden vowed to press forward with executive actions to combat climate change despite what he called the supreme court’s “devastating” ruling on Friday that significantly hobbles the government’s ability to limit carbon gas emissions.

“While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis,” Biden said in the statement.

Biden said he has directed federal agencies to review the decision in search of ways the administration might still be able to limit pollution.

We cannot and will not ignore the danger to public health and existential threat the climate crisis poses. The science confirms what we all see with our own eyes – the wildfires, droughts, extreme heat, and intense storms are endangering our lives and livelihoods.

I will take action. My Administration will continue using lawful executive authority, including the EPA’s legally-upheld authorities, to keep our air clean, protect public health, and tackle the climate crisis. We will work with states and cities to pass and uphold laws that protect their citizens. And we will keep pushing for additional Congressional action, so that Americans can fully seize the economic opportunities, cost-saving benefits, and security of a clean energy future. Together, we will tackle environmental injustice, create good-paying jobs, and lower costs for families building the clean energy economy.

Our fight against climate change must carry forward, and it will.

A new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that nearly half of US adults believe Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, compared with 31% who say he should not be.

Nearly 6 in 10 US adults say he “bears a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility” for the violence that unfolded at the Capitol, it found.

The survey was conducted after the first five public hearings held by the House committee investigating the attack but before Tuesday’s hearing, which featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Unsurprisingly, views of Trump’s culpability varied widely along party lines. Nevertheless, it is perhaps a sobering data point for the former president as he toys with a second bid for the White House.

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Today so far

It’s been a busy morning in Washington. Here’s where things stand.

  • The supreme court ended a monumental session with another pair of consequential decisions. In a 6-3 decision, the court’s conservative majority sided with Republican officials and fossil fuel companies in a ruling that curbs the administration’s ability to combat global warming.
  • In a second ruling, the court agreed 5-4 that Biden had the authority to end a controversial immigration policy enacted by his predecessor, known informally as the “Remain in Mexico” program.
  • During a press conference in Madrid, Joe Biden said he supported changing the Senate rules to pass abortion and privacy protections. But Democrats do not have enough votes to alter, much less eliminate, the filibuster.And as long as the filibuster remains in place, they lack the Republican support to pass legislation that would codify Roe into law.
  • Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the 116th supreme court justice. She is the first Black woman to serve on the court.

For this history books. Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as the 116th supreme court justice and the first Black woman to serve on the court.

ketanji brown jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as the newest associate justice of the US supreme court. Photograph: Reuters

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Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as first Black woman Supreme Court justice

History made.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the newest associate justice of the supreme court on Thursday, becoming the first Black woman in history to ascend to the nation’s highest bench.

In a brief ceremony at the supreme court, Chief Justice Roberts administered the Constitutional oath. Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired at noon, delivered the judicial oath. She is the court’s 116th justice.

“Are you prepared to take the oath,” Roberts asked. “I am,” Jackson said, raising her right hand.

The 51-year-old Jackson joins the court at an extraordinary moment, after one of the most consequential terms in modern memory. The court’s 6-3 conservative supermajority handed down a slew of decisions that expanded gun rights, eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion and, just today, curtailed the government’s ability to fight climate change.

Her confirmation was the fulfillment of a promise Joe Biden made to supporters during the 2020 presidential campaign, when he vowed to nominate a Black woman justice if a vacancy arose. Earlier this year, Breyer announced he would retire at the end of the term, paving the way for her elevation to the court.

A former public defender, she brings a unique background. Her arrival is expected to do little to change the court’s ideological composition as she views herself in the mold of her predecessor, one of just three liberals on the court.

Roberts said there would be a formal investiture in the fall.

Updated

Senator Patrick Leahy, the 82-year-old Democrat from Vermont, will undergo hip surgery today after falling in his Virginia home, his office said in a statement.

The statement notes that Leahy, a skilled photographer, was born blind in one eye and has had a “lifelong struggle” with depth perception. “He has taken some remarkable dingers over the years but this one finally caught up with him,” it said.

The statement said Leahy is expected to make a full recovery but did not offer any timeline for his return. In a Senate divided 50-50, his absence could delay Democrats plans to confirm a host of judicial nominations and a new director to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It may also imperil negotiations over a reconciliation bill, that may be the vehicle for Democrats’ scaled-back climate proposals, all the more urgent in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling today.

Biden reiterates his support for changing the filibuster rules to pass abortion protections.

Democrats and environmental groups are fuming over the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which has dramatic consequences for the administration’s climate ambitions but also for the world’s ability to cut emissions at the speed and scale scientists say are needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

A sampling:

From the liberal justices’ dissent:

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The session may have ended, but that’s not all from the Supreme Court today. Our Sam Levine notes that the Supreme Court has announced that it will take up a “hugely consequential” case related to redistricting and other election law disputes next term.

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The Supreme Court decided 5-4 that Biden had the authority to terminate the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy that forced asylum seekers mostly from Central America arriving at the US southern border to await approval in Mexico.

The decision was written by chief justice John Roberts and joined by justice Brett Kavanaugh and the court’s three liberals. The program, known formally as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was established by the Trump administration as a means to stem immigration at the southwestern border. Under the policy, tens of thousands of migrants have been returned to Mexico, where they await consideration of their cases in squalid and dangerous encampments along the border.

Here’s more from yours truly on what the decision means.

Biden can end Trump-era 'Remain in Mexico' policy, supreme court rules

In its second and final decision of the day, the Supreme Court on Thursday said Biden can terminate a controversial Trump-era immigration policy, known as Remain in Mexico. The ruling affirms a president’s broad power to set the nation’s immigration policy.

The ruling concludes the most consequential supreme court term in recent memory.

“I am authorized to announce that the Court has acted upon all cases submitted to the Court for decision this term,” Roberts writes in his end of term statement. The court will now recess from “today until the first Monday in October 2022.”

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Supreme Court limits federal power to regulate carbon emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday sharply curbed the federal government’s authority to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, dealing a major blow to the administration’s climate goals.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court’s conservative supermajority sided with conservative states and fossil fuel companies in a move that will hobble efforts to move the US away from coal-burning power plants and toward sources of renewable energy.

The decision will have “profound implications for the government’s overall regulatory power” and will “seriously hinder America’s ability to stave off disastrous global heating,” writes Oliver Milman, the Guardian’s environment reporter.

Here’s more from Oliver:

The case, which was backed by a host of other Republican-led states including Texas and Kentucky, was highly unusual in that it was based upon the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants that never came into effect. The Biden administration sought to have the case dismissed as baseless given the plan was dropped and has not been resurrected.

Not only was this case about a regulation that does not exist, that never took effect, and which would have imposed obligations on the energy sector that it would have met regardless. It also involves two legal doctrines that are not mentioned in the constitution, and that most scholars agree have no basis in any federal statute.

However, the supreme court has sided with West Virginia, a major coal mining state, which argued that “unelected bureaucrats” at the EPA should not be allowed to reshape its economy by limiting pollution – even though emissions from coal are helping cause worsening flooding, heatwaves and droughts around the world, as well as killing millions of people through toxic air.

It is the most important climate change case to come before the supreme court in more than a decade.

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Liz Cheney, the Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, said her party had a choice to make: it could be loyal to Donald Trump or the Constitution, but not both.

In scathing speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, she assailed Republicans who have ignored or downplayed revelations about Trump’s attempts to overturning the 2020 election, accusing them of being “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”

“We have to choose, because Republicans cannot be loyal to Donald Trump and to the Constitution,” she said, according to the LA Times.

The daughter of Republican vice president Dick Cheney, her name was once synonymous with the small-government conservatism that defined the party. But now she finds herself ostracized, a lonely Trump critic determined to break his grip on her party, even if it costs her her political career.

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Biden supports changing filibuster rules to codify Roe

Biden said he would support changing the Senate filibuster rules to codify abortion rights nationally.

“We have to codify Roe v Wade in the law and the wya to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, ... we should require an exception to the filibuster for this action,” he said.

The filibuster requires 60 votes to advance most legislation in the evenly-divided Senate. All 50 Democrats and two Republicans say they would support, in theory, legislation codifying abortion, which leaves them 8 votes short of the 60-vote threshold. However, Democrats lack the necessary 50 votes to eliminate or change the filibuster rules.

Under pressure from pro-choice advocates for not doing enough, Biden said he would meet with a group of governors on Friday to discuss abortion rights. He told reporters he would announce long-promised actions by the federal government to protect abortion access at the event.

Given his evolution on abortion, Biden is asked if he is the party’s best messenger on the issue.

He let out a chuckle: “Yeah, I am.”

“I’m the president of the United States of America. That makes me the best messenger,” he said. “I’m the only president they got. And I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to everything in my power which I legally can do in terms of executive orders as well as push the Congress and the public.

The bottom line here is, if you care, if the polling data is correct, and you think this decision by the court was an outrage or a significant mistake: VOTE. Show up and vote. Vote in the off-year and vote vote vote. That’s how we’ll change it.”

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Biden insisted that not one single world leader believes the US is going “backward” amid decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion, expanding weapons, soaring inflation and near-daily revelations about the shocking efforts by his predecessor to cling to power.

In Madrid, he said he’s only heard world leaders thank him for the US leadership on Ukraine.

“The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United in overruling not only Roe v Wade but essentially challenging the right to privacy,” he said.

Of its decision on Roe, Biden said: “It is a mistake in my view for the Supreme Court to do what it did.”

Asked whether there will come a day when the US will no longer be able to support Ukraine, he said no. He said he doesn’t know how or when the war will end but vowed that it would “not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”

“The reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia,” Biden says. “Russia, Russia, Russia.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, he said, “is getting exactly what he did not want. He wanted the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland”

Biden is holding a press conference in Madrid.

“This summit was about strengthening our alliance, meeting the challenges of our world as it is today, and the threats we’re going to face in the future,” Biden said. He noted that the world has changed since Nato last drafted its mission statement, which considered Russia an ally and made no mention of China.

He also applauded the decision to welcome Finland and Sweden joining the Nato alliance.

He accidentally said “Switzerland” instead of Sweden and, catching himself, joked: “Switzerland. My goodness.I’m getting really anxious here about expanding Nato. Sweden!”

He again declared that the US was prepared to defend “every inch” of Nato territory. “The United States is rallying the world to stand with Ukraine.”

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Supreme court to issue final decisions of blockbuster term

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the day in politics.

Today Americans are bracing for two major decisions that will conclude what has been among the most consequential supreme court terms in recent decades. From abortion to guns, the rulings by the 6-3 conservative supermajority have dramatically reshaped American life. Now we await for their opinion on two cases that could have significant consequences for the executive branch’s ability to make policy.

  • Following the end of this blockbuster session, Justice Stephen Breyer will officially retire at noon and Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in as the newest associate justice in a small ceremony. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the constitutional oath and Breyer will administer the judicial oath.
  • Meanwhile, Joe Biden is concluding his trip to Europe, where he met with European and Nato allies. He will deliver remarks and take questions from reporters at a press conference in Madrid at some point this morning.
  • Last night, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol has issued a subpoena for former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Donald Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, testified Tuesday that Cipollone insisted Trump not go to the Capitol with his supporters as Congress certified Biden’s electoral victory on January 6. He also sought to have Trump urge his supporters to leave the Capitol after the riot began, according to Hutchinson.