By Mark Sherman in Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion, guns and religion — a major change in the law in any one of these areas would have made for a fateful Supreme Court term. In its first full term together, the court’s conservative majority ruled in all three and issued other significant decisions limiting the government’s regulatory powers.
And it has signaled no plans to slow down.
With three appointees of former President Donald Trump in their 50s, the six-justice conservative majority seems poised to keep control of the court for years to come, if not decades.
“This has been a revolutionary term in so many respects,” said Tara Leigh Grove, a law professor at the University of Texas. “The court has massively changed constitutional law in really big ways.”
Its remaining opinions issued, the court began its summer recess Thursday, and the justices will next return to the courtroom in October.
Overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a nearly half-century guarantee of abortion rights had the most immediate impact, shutting down or severely restricting abortions in roughly a dozen states within days of the decision.
In expanding gun rights and finding religious discrimination in two cases, the justices also made it harder to sustain gun control laws and lowered barriers to religion in public life.
Setting important new limits on regulatory authority, they reined in the government’s ability to fight climate change and blocked a Biden administration effort to get workers at large companies vaccinated against COVID-19.
The remarkable week at the end of June in which the guns, abortion, religion and environmental cases were decided at least partially obscured other notable events, some of them troubling.
New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday as the first Black woman on the court. She replaced the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who served nearly 28 years, a switch that won’t change the balance between liberals and conservatives on the court.
In early May, the court had to deal with the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion in the abortion case. Chief Justice John Roberts almost immediately ordered an investigation, about which the court has been mum ever since. Soon after, workers encircled the court with 8-foot-high fencing in response to security concerns. In June, police made a late-night arrest of an armed man near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Maryland home, and charged him with attempted murder of the justice.
Kavanaugh is one of three Trump appointees along with Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett who fortified the right side of the court. Greg Garre, who served as former President George W. Bush’s top Supreme Court lawyer, said when the court began its term in October “the biggest question was not so much which direction the court was headed in, but how fast it was going. The term answers that question pretty resoundingly, which is fast.”
The speed also revealed that the chief justice no longer has the control over the court he held when he was one of five, not six, conservatives, Garre said.
Roberts, who favors a more incremental approach that might bolster perceptions of the court as a nonpolitical institution, broke most notably with the other conservatives in the abortion case, writing that it was unnecessary to overturn Roe, which he called a “serious jolt” to the legal system. On the other hand, he was part of every other ideologically divided majority.
If the past year revealed limits on the chief justice’s influence, it also showcased the sway of Justice Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving member of the court. He wrote the decision expanding gun rights and the abortion case marked the culmination of his 30-year effort on the Supreme Court to get rid of Roe, which had stood since 1973.
Abortion is just one of several areas in which Thomas is prepared to jettison court precedents. The justices interred a second of their decisions, Lemon v. Kurtzman, in ruling for a high school football coach’s right pray on the 50-yard line following games. It’s not clear, though, that other justices are as comfortable as Thomas in overturning past decisions.
The abortion and guns cases also seemed contradictory to some critics in that the court handed states authority over the most personal decisions, but limited state power in regulating guns. One distinction the majorities in those cases drew, though, is that the Constitution explicitly mentions guns, but not abortion.
Those decisions do not seem especially popular with the public, according to opinion polls. Polls show a sharp drop in the court’s approval rating and in people’s confidence in the court as an institution.
Justices on courts past have acknowledged a concern about public perception. As recently as last September, Justice Amy Coney Barrett said, “My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.” Barrett spoke in at a center named for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who engineered her rapid confirmation in 2020 and was sitting on the stage near the justice.
But the conservatives, minus Roberts, rejected any concern about perception in the abortion case, said Grove, the University of Texas professor.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion that “not only are we not going to focus on that, we should not focus on that,” she said. “I’m sympathetic as an academic, but I was surprised to see that coming from that many real-world justices.”
The liberal justices, though, wrote repeatedly that the court’s aggressiveness in this epic term was doing damage to the institution. Justice Sonia Sotomayor described her fellow justices as “a restless and newly constituted Court.” Justice Elena Kagan, in her abortion dissent, wrote: “The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed.”
In 18 decisions, at least five conservative justices joined to form a majority and all three liberals were in dissent, roughly 30% of all the cases the court heard in its term that began last October.
Among these, the court also:
— Made it harder for people to sue state and federal authorities for violations of constitutional rights.
— Raised the bar for defendants asserting their rights were violated, ruling against a Michigan man who was shackled at trial.
— Limited how some death row inmates and others sentenced to lengthy prison terms can pursue claims that their lawyers did a poor job representing them.
In emergency appeals, also called the court’s “shadow” docket because the justices often provide little or no explanation for their actions, the conservatives ordered the use of congressional districts for this year’s elections in Alabama and Louisiana even though lower federal courts have found they likely violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters.
The justices will hear arguments in the Alabama case in October, among several high-profile cases involving race or elections, or both.
Also when the justices resume hearing arguments the use of race as a factor in college admissions is on the table, just six years after the court reaffirmed its permissibility. And the court will consider a controversial Republican-led appeal that would vastly increase the power of state lawmakers over federal elections, at the expense of state courts.
These and cases on the intersection of LGBTQ and religious rights and another major environmental case involving development and water pollution also are likely to result in ideologically split decisions.
Khiara Bridges, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, law school, drew a link between the voting rights and abortion cases. In the latter, Alito wrote in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that abortion should be decided by elected officials, not judges.
“I find it to be incredibly disingenuous for Alito to suggest that all that Dobbs is doing is returning this question to the states and that people can battle in the state about whether to protect fetal life or the interest of the pregnant person,” Bridges said. “But that same court is actively involved in insuring that states can disenfranchise people.”
Bridges also said the outcomes aligned almost perfectly with the political aims of Republicans. “Whatever the Republican party wants, the Republican party is going to get out of the currently constituted court,” she said.
Defenders of the court’s decisions said the criticism misses the mark because it confuses policy with law. “Supreme Court decisions are often not about what the policy should be, but rather about who (or which level of government, or which institution) should make the policy,” Princeton University political scientist Robert George wrote on Twitter.
For now, there is no sign that either the justices or Republican and conservative interests that have brought so many of the high-profile cases to the court intend to trim their sails, Grove said.
That’s in part because there’s no realistic prospect of court reforms that would limit the cases the justices could hear, impose term limits or increase the size of the Supreme Court, said Grove, who served on President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Supreme Court commission on court reforms.
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.
United Nations Now Claims to “Own the Science”
The United Nations claims that they ‘own the science.’ For this reason, they have partnered with the Big Tech platforms to manipulate search results, and they are pouring vast quantities of money into globalist media outlets to ensure their version of “the science” is the one that we get to read.
A transcript of that clip reads:
We partnered with Google, for example. If you Google climate change, at the top of your search, you will get all kinds of UN resources. We started this partnership when we were shocked to see that when we’d Googled climate change, we were getting incredibly distorted information right at the top.
We are becoming much more proactive. We own the science and we think that the world should know it, and the platforms themselves also do. But again, it’s a huge, huge challenge that I think all sectors of society need to be very active.
The thing is – when you listen to the full panel discussion linked above, the UN speaker -Ms. Fleming is not just saying that the UN is censoring speech on climate change. She also suggests that the UN with the WEF is censoring many scientific discussions, such as the topic of COVID-19, and the UN is in the process of setting up the tools to censor ALL misinformation that the UN deems unhelpful for a “stable, peaceful, harmonious and UNITED world.”
Moderating the “Tackling Disinformation” panel was the WEF managing director Adrian Monck. He states that there has been “professionalization of disinformation” including “COVID-19 state-sponsored actors engaged in that.” What does that even mean? That somehow those of us critical of the COVID-19 policies are “state-sponsored” actors? Frankly, his statements during the discussion were bizarre and paranoid.
This is what is clear. The measures of the UN, acting with its strategic partner the WEF, to stifle free speech have created a dangerous situation for our country and the world. The United Nations is engaging in psyops operations, on information control on all of us. This is beyond anything we all could have imagined ten years ago. We all used to joke about “1984;” now it just seems like a cliche. Because that future is here. This is a situation that only Congress can rectify.
Melissa Fleming’s remarks in this discussion were astounding. Here are a few examples:
“We partnered with Google. For example, if you Google ‘climate change,’ you will, at the top of your search, you will get all kinds of UN resources” — Melissa Fleming
“Another really key strategy we had was to deploy influencers […] and they were much more trusted than the United Nations.” — Melissa Fleming
“We trained scientists around the world and some doctors on TikTok, and we had TikTok working with us.” — Melissa Fleming
“Own nothing, be happy. You might have heard the phrase. It started life as a screenshot, culled from the internet by an anonymous anti-semitic account on the image board 4chan. ‘Own nothing, be happy – The Jew World Order 2030’, said the post, which went viral among extremists.” — Adrian Monck, WEF, 2022
This statement of course, is completely false. One could say that it is disinformation even. In other words, this is pysops from the WEF. The phrase didn’t “start life as a screenshot…culled from the internet by an anonymous anti-semitic account on the image board 4chan” as the WEF director states.
The phrase came directly from a video on the WEF’s own website and social media channels in 2016. The WEF still has it on their own website and it is still part of their agenda!
“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy.” — 8 Predictions for the World in 2030, WEF, 2016 (from the WEF website)
The UN, with its strategic partner the WEF, wants to own more than “The Science,” they want to own and control what is published on the Internet in total. They want to own “The Politics,” “The World Agenda,” and “The Narrative.”
The United States as a country, and the free people who are citizens of the United States, cannot let the United Nations and their World Economic Forum strategic partners control what we write and publish, what we get to read, and even what we think. We must elect leaders who are willing to stand up to the UN. Congress must become engaged – the UN is out of control, and the President of the United States is acting like a captured ally of the Globalists.
Let’s be clear about this.
The United Nations’ global communications representative Melissa Fleming is explicitly stating in this interview that the United Nations and their World Economic Forum partners are intentionally training and creating controlled opposition scientists, physicians, and social media influencers to assist in their global propaganda campaigns managed via partnerships with corporate media and Big Tech.
Reposted from Substack
OPEC+ weighs large oil cutback to boost sagging prices
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The OPEC+ alliance of oil-exporting countries on Wednesday will debate a potentially large cut in the amount of crude it ships to the global economy — a move that could help Russia weather a looming European ban on oil imports and raise gasoline prices for U.S. drivers just ahead of national midterm elections.
Energy ministers from the OPEC cartel, whose leading member is Saudi Arabia, and allied non-members including Russia are meeting in person at the group’s Vienna headquarters for the first time since early 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who has been sanctioned by the U.S., was attending the meeting in Austria’s capital.
A production cut could benefit Russia by establishing higher prices ahead of a European Union ban on most Russian oil imports, a sanction over the invasion of Ukraine that takes effect at the end of the year, analysts at Commerzbank say.
Russia “will need to find new buyers for its oil when the EU embargo comes into force in early December and will presumably have to make further price concessions to do so,” the analysts wrote in a note. “Higher prices beforehand — boosted by production cuts elsewhere — would therefore doubtless be very welcome.”
Moscow also faces a separate push by the U.S. and the other Group of Seven wealthy democracies to impose a price cap on Russian oil by Dec. 5. The EU agreed Wednesday on new sanctions that are expected to include a price cap on Russian oil, an EU official said.
Oil prices surged this summer as markets worried about the loss of Russian supplies from sanctions over the war in Ukraine, but they slipped as fears about recessions in major economies and China’s COVID-19 restrictions weighed on demand for crude.
The fall in oil prices has been a boon to U.S. drivers, who saw lower gasoline prices at the pump before costs recently started ticking up, and for U.S. President Joe Biden as his Democratic Party gears up for congressional elections next month.
It’s unclear how much impact a production cut would have on oil prices — and thus gasoline prices — because members are already unable to meet the quotas set by OPEC+. Yet Saudi Arabia may be unwilling to strain its relationship with Russia even if the world’s largest oil exporter had any reservations about cutbacks and has recently has drawn leaders from Biden to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to talk about energy supplies.
The Commerzbank analysts said a small trim would likely see oil prices fall further, while the group would need to remove at least 500,000 barrels day from the market to bolster prices.
Such a production cut “would undoubtedly signal to the market the determination and resolve of the cartel to support oil prices,” said UniCredit economist Edoardo Campanella. But supply would drop by less than announced.
“If the group cuts target production by 1 million barrels per day, actual output would likely drop by about 550,000 barrels per day — as countries like Russia or Nigeria that are producing below quota would see their formal target decline but remaining above what they can currently produce,” Campanella said.
At its last meeting in September, the group reduced the amount of oil it produces by 100,000 barrels a day in October. That token cut didn’t do much to boost lower oil prices, but it put markets on notice that OPEC+ was willing to act if prices kept falling.
International benchmark Brent has sagged as low as $84 in recent days after spending most of the summer months over $100 per barrel. U.S. oil prices fell below $80 per barrel Friday. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. crude traded at $86.38 and Brent at $91.66.
The White House declined to comment before OPEC leaders made a final decision on oil production, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. would not extend releases from its strategic reserve to increase global supplies.
“We’re not considering new releases,” Jean-Pierre said.
Biden has tried to receive credit for gasoline prices falling from their average June peak of $5.02 — with administration officials highlighting a late March announcement that a million barrels a day would be released from the strategic reserve for six months. High inflation is a fundamental drag on Biden’s approval and has dampened Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections.
Gasoline prices recently turned up because of refinery outages in California and Ohio, and vary widely, from over $6 per gallon in California to under $3 in some parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast, according to motoring club federation AAA. The national average of $3.80 is up slightly but down from a record high on June 14.
One major factor weighing on oil prices has been fears of recessions in places like the U.S. and Europe and slowdowns due to China’s strict COVID-19 measures.
Higher inflation is sapping consumer purchasing power, while central banks are raising interest rates to cool off overheating prices, a step that could slow economic growth. Oil prices at their summer highs, and higher natural gas prices boosted by Russian cutbacks to Europe, helped fuel inflation.
Associated Press reporter Josh Boak contributed from Washington.
David Mchugh, The Associated Press
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