WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up a dispute over a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, potentially setting the 6-3 conservative majority court on a collision course with the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
The move was announced in an unsigned order, with the justices indicating the dispute would be limited to the major issue of the constitutionality of pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions.
The case was brought on appeal by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) after a federal appeals court sided with challengers to the state’s restriction.
The Supreme Court has undergone a dramatic conservative shift since last year when Mississippi first asked the justices to take up its appeal.
Last term, a bare 5-4 majority voted to block a Louisiana abortion limit, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote alongside Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the court’s three other more liberal justices.
But the late Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart, has since been replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, cementing a 6-3 conservative court and throwing the future of longstanding abortion protections into question.
At least four justices must agree to hear a case for an appeal to be granted.
Abortion rights advocates expressed concern over Monday’s development.
“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
The Mississippi law is among hundreds of abortion restrictions that have been introduced recently in state legislatures across the country. In 2021 alone, more than 500 abortion restrictions, including nearly 150 abortion bans, were introduced in 46 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Of those, just over 60 measures have been enacted.
The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) hailed the Supreme Court’s move on Monday as a chance to give states more latitude.
“This is a landmark opportunity for the Supreme Court to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children from the horrors of painful late-term abortions,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Mississippi’s appeal comes after losing two rounds in the lower courts. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that the state’s restriction placed an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy before viability.
“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” reads the opinion of a three-judge panel. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.”
The Hill’s John Kruzel contributed to the contents of this report.
NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell is unlikely to cooperate with authorities by naming other high profile members of Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile ring, says victims’ rights lawyer, Lisa Bloom. Instead, Maxwell will likely move to have the case against her dismissed.
“Ninety-five percent of cases end in plea bargains, so that would not surprise me, but I don’t think at this stage, prosecutors would give her a deal if it did not include very serious prison time, and I don’t think she would accept that at this point,” said Bloom.
“I know a lot of people think Ghislaine Maxwell is going to ‘sing like a canary’, and talk about other powerful people, and that that’s why she was arrested, Bloom added. “I don’t agree with that, I think she was the primary target, she was arrested for her own actions, she may have information about others but I don’t think that would give her much lighter a deal.”
Legal analysts say that means there’s no real incentive for Bloom to cooperate with prosecutors to expose the names of other powerful members of Epstein’s pedophile ring. That, they say leaves many other children at high risk for molestation.
As previously reported, Maxwell is said to be in possession of a secret stash of sex tapes that would expose many of Epstein’s acquaintances.
The now deceased billionaire pedophile was known to have his mansions filled with hidden surveillance cameras as a means of collecting blackmail material for use on his guests.
“The secret stash of sex tapes I believe Ghislaine has squirreled away could end up being her get-out-of-jail card if the authorities are willing to trade,” one of Maxwell’s former friends told The Daily Mail. “She has copies of everything Epstein had. They could implicate some twisted movers and shakers.”
Maxwell faced her first court appearance on four counts of sex trafficking and two counts of perjury this week. She was denied bail. Her trial is scheduled for July, 2021.
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for President Donald Trump on Wednesday told a federal judge that they intend to fight a subpoena ordering Trump turn over his private tax returns.
In a status report filed with a federal district court in New York, the president’s attorneys said they had multiple objections to the district attorney’s subpoena aside from the one struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this month and argued that District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s subpoenas are “overly broad.”
“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the 7-2 decision. “Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”
Roberts also wrote that a “President may avail himself of the same protections available to every other citizen, including the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth.”
“The President should not be required, for example, to litigate the subpoena’s breadth or whether it was issued in bad faith without understanding the nature and scope of the investigation and why the District Attorney needs all of the documents he has demanded,” Trump’s lawyers argued in their status report.
A status conference in the case is scheduled for Thursday.
WASHINGTON– A federal judge on Monday challenged President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence ofRoger Stone.
Stone, a long time ally of Trump, was convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted of multiple charges, including making false statements, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The 67-year-old received notice Friday evening that his 40-month prison sentence was commuted by Trump, just days before he was scheduled to report to prison.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson — who presided over Stone’s trial last year, issued order that a copy of Trump’s executive order commuting Stone be provided to her no later than Tuesday.
She also asked for clarification as to the scope of the clemency, including whether Trump’s order was specific to Stone’s prison sentence or also includes the two-year period of supervised release that was ordered as part of his sentence.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday ordered a federal judge to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn effective immediately.
Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had been accused of lying to the FBI about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration, who had sought to prevent U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from exercising his discretion on whether to proceed with the case.
“In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao. “The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He had twice plead guilty to the charge.
In his dissent, Judge Robert Wilkins, an Obama administration appointee, said the Justice Department’s handling of the case raised questions that merited further scrutiny by the District Court.
“In 2017, the then-Acting Attorney General told the Vice President that Flynn’s false statements ‘posed a potential compromise situation for Flynn’ with the Russians,” Wilkins wrote. “Now, in a complete reversal, the government says none of this is true.”
“This is no mere about-face; it is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier.”
When reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson said the agency was “happy” with the court’s decision.
WASHINGTON — In an effort to prevent mobs from destroying statues they deem to be ‘racist’, President Trump says he will issue an executive order that would force cities to protect historical monuments.
In an interview with EWTN, the president called the destruction of such monuments by Black Lives Matter activists a “disgrace” and vowed to protect them from further damage.
“You saw Ulysses S. Grant, where they want to take him down. He’s the one that stopped the ones that everybody dislikes so much. It’s a disgrace.”
“Also, remember, some of this is great artwork. This is magnificent artwork, as good as there is anywhere in the world, as good as you see in France, as good as you see anywhere.” Trump added.
“It’s a disgrace. Most of these people don’t even know what they’re taking down.” the President declared.
When asked if he had any plans to stop it, , Trump replied “We’re going to do an executive order, and we’re going to make the cities guard their monuments. This is a disgrace.”
President Trump followed the interview by taking to twitter where he wrote, “Ten years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act! Beware!”
“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent,” Trump wrote. “This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”
WASHINGTON — Administration officials announced Monday that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order suspending the issuance of certain temporary worker visas through the end of 2020, in an effort to prioritize American workers and slow down immigration.
The order applies to H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas, which relate to skilled and seasonal workers and spouses of H-1B visa holders.
The restrictions are set to remain in place for the rest of the calendar year and administration officials say they be extended beyond the end of the year.
The move comes in response to complaints that American born workers should be prioritized when it comes to jobs, especially in light of the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
A senior administration official said the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for American workers. The order will also close loopholes that allow companies to outsource labor to foreign workers, the official said.
Two months ago the president signed an initial executive order which temporarily suspended the issuance of new green cards, citing the need to protect American jobs amid widespread unemployment caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.
“I think it’s going to make a lot of people very happy,” Trump said of the order Sunday during an interview with Fox News. “And it’s common sense, I mean, to be honest with you. It’s common sense.”