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It’s Time To Get Focused on a 2022 Election Pledge - TPM – Talking Points Memo

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Sens. Warren and Smith have an OpEd in the Times today in which they say at the bottom of a lengthy and quite good article …

Ask every Senate candidate to commit to reforming the filibuster rules, so that the chamber can pass federal legislation protecting the right to reproductive freedom. If voters help us maintain our control of the House and expand our majority in the Senate by at least two votes this November, we can make Roe the law all across the country as soon as January.

Great. But for any of this to happen you are going to need at least a few Senators to get the ball rolling. And getting the ball rolling means making a clear bumper sticker like pledge and goading colleagues to sign on. It has to be at the top of the article not at the bottom of a laundry list at the end.

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The Current Court is Sunk in Corruption, Just Like Fox News

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The modern conservative judicial movement always had abortion and the reversal of Roe v Wade as its central empowering goal. Many intellectuals and activists had different political and goals. But those often esoteric and complex goals were never what powered the politics and the appointments. That was always abortion. When white evangelicals made their pact with the scofflaw libertine Trump, it wasn’t about “takings” or delegation or “originalism.” It was about abortion. So today represents a victory for the conservative judicial movement, later embodied in The Federalist Society, that was five decades in the making.

There are many observers who despise the results but yet still grant the legwork. There was a liberal Court that made all sorts of liberal decisions, the story goes. Conservatives didn’t like that. So they got organized and changed it. Liberals did it first and then conservatives did it.

But that story was never really quite right.

We should start by remembering that in the high watermark years of that “liberal” Warren Court in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Court was dominated by five appointees of Dwight Eisenhower. There were three Roosevelt appointees and one Truman appointee. What’s more, a number of the outgoing Roosevelt justices and incoming Kennedy justices were actually more conservative than the Eisenhower appointees. Eisenhower famously said one of his great regrets was appointing Earl Warren. But then you have to deal with the four others, especially William Brennan, but also John Marshall Harlan II and even Potter Stewart.

Certainly the Warren Court was “liberal” by modern standards. But its creation was fundamentally organic. The justices’ positions didn’t clearly line up with those of the parties’ whose presidents nominated them. Indeed, many of the appointments were surprisingly casual and confirmed in much the same way. Brennan’s is a good example of this. Eisenhower picked him on the eve of a presidential election, apparently because he was Catholic and relatively young. He breezed through confirmation and turned out to be one of the most effective and most liberal justices of the century. There are libraries of commentary written about the Warren Court’s triumphs and shortcomings. But it was a product of the mid-20th century and post-war political consensus, which informed an elite consensus within and beyond the legal profession.

The idea that you would create a political movement, harnessed to one political party, dedicated to building up a pipeline of future judges and justices, often all but created in a test tube to overrule specific decisions, was an innovation of the modern conservative judicial movement with no precedent. It had never happened before. And even as judicial liberals have belatedly reacted to that movement, they haven’t replicated it or really even tried. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only modern Democratic appointee who was in any sense an activist or associated with a specific rights focus before joining the Court. Even in her case she wasn’t bred for the purpose or ensconced in anything like the right’s incubators of future judicial talent. Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor are each liberals and have ruled more or less predictably on the Court. But none of them are bred-for-the-purpose ideologues like most recent Republican appointees.

And here is something of the catch. Conservatives really did convince themselves that the Warren Court and to an extent the Burger Court were the handiwork of a liberal political elite. As is the case in other instances, what’s actual belief or pretended belief gets murky. They claimed to set out to duplicate or create an opposite version of something that had never really existed. And in so doing they created the politicization of the federal judiciary that had never existed before, not in the same way.

The evolution of media over the same period provides an instructive parallel. Conservatives saw the national media of the ’60s and ’70s, decided it was liberal and began a long crusade both to force “balance” but also create their own “conservative” media. In a certain limited way they were right. Mid- and late-20th century broadcast media and prestige media was part of the post-War consensus which wasn’t so much liberal as cosmopolitan in its outlook. The default assumption that segregation in the South was on the wrong side of history was a defining one and likely the most important in perpetuating the “liberal” label. But the prestige media wasn’t the creation of Democratic operatives or created for any liberal purpose. And the extent to which it was “liberal” at all was quite limited. But none of that mattered. To the right, it was a machine dedicated to perpetuating liberal ideology, indeed, perpetuating and advancing the interests of the Democratic Party. With these claims it was no surprise that when the Right turned to creating their alternative media, embodied in Fox News, it lived up to this caricature: an avowedly ideological and partisan media operation literally run by Republican operatives in the interests of the Republican Party. In other words, a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of conservative complaints and paranoia.

In the current Court majority we have something very similar. A corrupted, Frankenstein’s monster creation. At one level, give them their due. They had a goal. They worked tirelessly for half a century, building organizations, think tanks, chapters at every law school, political alliances and more all to get to this one day. And they got there. But it is a legitimate Court or judicial body as much as Fox News is a real news organization. And that’s no accident since they are the creation of the same political movement, often literally the same people and the same ideology and mindset.

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Truck Driver Rams Into Abortion Rights Demonstrators At Roe Rally In Iowa | HuffPost Latest News

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Biden officials to keep private the names of hospitals where patients contracted Covid - POLITICO

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“Not knowing what the likelihood of getting transmission in the hospital really impacts an individuals’ ability to quote unquote ‘make a personal decision’ on their risk levels,” said Mia Ives-Rublee, a disability rights advocate who has a lung condition that makes her more susceptible to Covid.

Over the four weeks ending June 19, U.S. hospitals reported an average of 1,457 patients per week had caught Covid during their stay, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services. That follows a record month in January when more than 3,000 patients each week were infected while in the hospital.

Though the higher numbers have subsided, the risk remains real for a subset of the population with compromised immune systems who must weigh getting check-ups and treatments for potentially serious issues “versus maybe getting Covid and ending up on the ventilator,” Ives-Rublee said.

In a March meeting with the CDC, Ives-Rublee and other patient advocates requested more transparency on hospitals’ transmission, but the conversations went nowhere, she said.

“We are frustrated with the lack of progress that we’ve seen in terms of addressing concerns for folks who are extremely at risk for Covid,” Ives-Rublee said.

Other advocates told POLITICO they intend to keep pressing the administration ahead of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts could be another fall surge in Covid cases.

“A majority of voters want HHS to level with us – tell us how much coronavirus is spreading in the particular hospital we go to,” said Matthew Cortland, an immunocompromised disability rights activist who ran a recent poll on the issue for Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “But that transparency is inconvenient for the powerful hospital lobby.”

The American Hospital Association wants facilities’ infection numbers to stay private. “Reporting aggregate data is the most appropriate approach given the very low occurrence of hospital onset COVID-19,” Nancy Foster, an executive with the AHA, said in a statement.

Throughout the pandemic, many hospitals chose not to implement measures that could have dramatically decreased transmission, according to workers, health executives and patients around the country.

Many facilities no longer require masks for visitors or staff, despite CDC recommendations. Even where masks are required, workers and visitors usually don surgical masks, among the least protective ones available, instead of N95s. Hospitals follow CDC guidelines, which allow Covid-positive staff to return while infectious. Industry executives insist their protocols are adequate and that some Covid transmission is inevitable; the AHA says hospitals’ measures are generally safe.

U.S. health officials have debated the merits of identifying hospitals’ infections since the Trump administration began collecting the information in 2020, according to three current and former officials who were granted anonymity to speak candidly about internal deliberations.

The figures only include patients who test positive after a minimum hospital stay of 14 days to ensure a patient didn’t contract the virus before admission. The government’s tallies are likely less than the total because hospitals don’t report people who test positive after being discharged.

Trump-era officials decided to keep hospitals’ names private, fearing that outing them might discourage people from seeking health care, according to two former health officials, one of whom worked in the Trump and Biden administrations. Also, a Trump HHS spokesperson confirmed the thinking.

But more than two years into the pandemic, with the availability of vaccines and treatments, Biden officials no longer worry that most patients are avoiding care, according to one of the people involved in more recent discussions. Some U.S. health officials want the same kind of transparency that exists for other hospital-acquired infections, they say. For years, the U.S. government has collected patient infection rates for various pathogens and published scores for each hospital on a website for patients.

Yet the CDC and Office of the Assistant Secretary Preparedness and Response, the two agencies that could make the data public, have declined to release it. POLITICO filed freedom of information requests in April but federal officials have not yet provided the records.

A HHS spokesperson said in a statement the agency wouldn’t release the names for “privacy concerns” but declined to specify what the privacy concerns were.

One concern held by some federal health officials is that the disclosure could embarrass hospitals and lead them to stop reporting their information, according to one U.S. health official who has discussed the matter with the CDC and CMS. But, that concern isn’t universally held.

Some CDC officials have argued internally that the information — as hospitals currently provide it — is not a good measure of risk, according to two CDC officials who have reviewed the data, who were granted anonymity to speak about internal debates. That’s because facilities report snapshots each day of the number of patients who currently have hospital-acquired Covid, meaning some patients are counted again in the following days as they remain in the facility.

The CDC didn’t respond to comment requests.

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Shane Lamond, MPD Lieutenant Under Investigation For Ties to Proud Boys, Accused of Time Theft Two Years Ago

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About two years before D.C. Police Lt. Shane Lamond was suspended, in February 2022, for accusations of improper communication with the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys, he was accused of time theft, according to information provided to City Paper and confirmed by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Director Carolyn Montagna, Lamond’s direct supervisor, was also accused of approving overtime for him, according to information from multiple sources familiar with the allegations, who provided details on the condition that they not be named. These sources also allege that Montagna and Lamond were in a romantic relationship at the time.

Internal Affairs Division Sergeant David Chumbley investigated some, but not all, of these allegations and left several key questions unanswered, according to the sources’ information. Chumbley, one of the officers involved in a separate complaint around a t-shirt with racist implications, requested that his superiors “cancel” the inquiry. It is unclear from the information provided to City Paper whether Chumbley’s supervisors agreed with his recommendation and what, if any, further investigation occurred.

MPD spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck confirms that MPD opened an investigation and says it is now closed. Sternbeck would not provide any further details. Chief Robert Contee did not respond to an email that requested an interview and contained a list of the details City Paper intended to publish. The department generally does not provide the public with details of personnel matters, which can be embarrassing for individual officers and for the department. Neither Lamond nor Montagna responded to City Paper’s emails seeking comment.

Contee’s silence stands in stark contrast to the special access to investigatory details MPD recently gave to the Washington Post. In May, the Post published a detailed account of MPD’s search for the person who fired more than 200 rounds at Edmund Burke School and the surrounding area. Post reporter Peter Hermann was granted early and exclusive access to MPD’s investigation, according to the article, a move that angered members of the local press corps.

***

In June of 2020, four MPD employees noticed an irregularity in the department’s timekeeping database with Lamond’s overtime. They reported to the internal affairs division that Montagna and Lamond were “stealing time,” according to the sources’ information. Montagna is Lamond’s supervisor and the civilian director of MPD’s Joint Strategic and Tactical Analysis Command Center, a hub of information responsible for providing crime alerts to MPD’s command staff and to the public. The center also gathers and analyzes information, including from social media, to assist MPD investigators and coordinates with federal agencies.

The four MPD employees alleged that Montagna entered 99 hours of overtime for Lamond—an excessive amount compared to others in his unit, the four employees told MPD’s internal affairs division. The four employees also alleged that Lamond and Montagna consistently left work for long periods of time while on duty and that their relationship was “common knowledge” among command center staffers, according to information from City Paper’s sources.

The complainants told an internal affairs agent they suspected Montagna had abused her authority by entering Lamond’s overtime given their alleged relationship.

Screenshots of MPD’s internal timekeeping database, which another source shared with City Paper, indicate that for the pay period ending June 6, 2020, Lamond was paid for 80 hours of regular work, 99.99 hours of overtime, and eight hours of “CT” or comp time. The screenshots show one other employee with 99.99 hours of overtime, but most others range from 20 to 45 hours.

The timekeeping database tracks which employees enter or alter overtime, and the screenshots provided to City Paper indicate that over the course of five days, from June 3 to 7, Montagna modified Lamond’s timesheet 14 times.

About a month after the internal affairs division received the complaints, Chumbley requested the investigation be “canceled” and “that no further action be taken,” according to the sources.

In his request, Chumbley described the investigative work he did to arrive at his conclusion. According to sources, Chumbley only interviewed two of the four complainants, who were unable to provide direct evidence to support their allegations of time fraud other than the outsized overtime.

Chumbley then reviewed Lamond’s overtime hours and noted that for the pay period in question, Lamond was paid for 87.9 hours of overtime related to the George Floyd protests, 26.6 hours of overtime for “callback for intelligence cases,” and 11.3 hours of overtime for COVID-19 screening, according to information provided by City Paper’s source.

Chumbley noted that Lamond’s 125.8 overtime hours “was consistent with other members of the department who were integral in the response to the George Floyd protests” and he found “nothing suspicious or irregular,” according to the source. He also noted that it is within MPD policy for supervisors to enter subordinates’ time and attendance.

But nowhere in Chumbley’s request to cancel the investigation does he say that he looked into the allegations that Montagna and Lamond are in a romantic relationship or that they regularly disappeared for extended periods of time while on duty, according to the source.

There is also no indication that Chumbley interviewed Lamond or Montagna.

Multiple sources familiar with MPD’s internal investigations say that the request to “cancel” an investigation is unusual, especially without speaking to the accused or interviewing all complainants. It’s unclear what steps MPD took after Chumbley passed the case to the assistant chief, whether there was further investigation, or how the case was resolved. MPD will not provide those details. Chumbley did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Lamond is still suspended while he’s under investigation by MPD, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly communicating with former Proud Boys leader HenryEnrique” Tarrio. The Post quoted Tarrio saying he communicated with Lamond when the Proud Boys planned to be in D.C. Tarrio told the Post that his contact with Lamond was “professional” and that Lamond would tell him where counterprotesters were located in order to avoid conflict. But, the Post noted, a night of violent confrontations involving the extremist group in 2020 calls that into question.

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Not dealing with the culture of corruption in American police departments has nasty ripple effects
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What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe - POLITICO

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Here’s what’s new in Alito’s final draft:

‘Serious problems’ with Roberts’ approach

Roberts in his concurring opinion attempted to stake out a middle ground for the court, arguing that it didn’t need to end Roe in its entirety and instead could have upheld upheld Mississippi’s 15-week limit on abortion.

Alito in his final opinion takes issue with Robert’s reasoning — in which the chief justice supports leaving the constitutionality of tighter abortion restrictions to future cases — claiming there are “serious problems with this approach.”

Alito blasts Roberts for attempting to find a “middle way” in the contentious decision, which Alito claims will only “prolong” the “turmoil” of Roe. Alito argues that by only ruling that Mississippi’s 15-week law is constitutional, the high court would soon be called upon to decide the constitutionality of other states’ laws with shorter or longer deadlines for obtaining an abortion.

“The concurrence’s quest for a middle way would only put off the day when we would be forced to confront the question we now decide,” Alito writes. “The turmoil wrought by Roe and Casey would be prolonged. It is far better—for this Court and the country—to face up to the real issue without further delay.”

‘Reasonable opportunity’ is not constitutional

Alito also took aim at the argument Roberts laid out for giving people seeking an abortion a “reasonable opportunity” to obtain one, such as in Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Alito said there are no constitutional grounds for upholding that rule, and that since Roberts made no claim that the right to an abortion is constitutional, his proposal to uphold the Mississippi limit would also not be supported by the Constitution.

“If the Constitution protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, the opinion does not explain why that right should end after the point at which all ‘reasonable’ women will have decided whether to seek an abortion,” Alito writes.

Dissent can’t show ‘constitutional right to abortion’

Alito’s final opinion also differs from the draft document because it adds a rebuttal to the three liberal justices’ dissent.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan delivered the scathing dissent that rebuked the court for upending the “balance” Roe had cemented for nearly 50 years between “respecting a woman as an autonomous being” and protecting the life of a fetus.

But Alito undermined the justices’ argument in his final opinion, claiming they failed to show that a constitutional right to abortion exists or identify any pre-Roe authority that supports the right.

Roe can’t be defended on ‘prior precedent’

Alito also shot down the dissenters’ argument that Roe could be defended on prior court precedent, since none of the precedents the case was based on “involved the destruction of what Roe called ‘potential life.’”

The justice also argued that “adherence to precedent is not ‘an inexorable command.’” He went on in his opinion to name instances in which the court did overrule prior precedents, such as overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine in both Brown v. Board of Education and Plessy v. Ferguson.

Dissent ignores ‘states’ interest in protecting prenatal life’

The liberal justices highlighted in their dissent the potential fallout the decision could have, such as states using the newfound power to impose criminal penalties on abortion providers or people seeking abortions.

Alito slammed the justices on this point, claiming they have no “regard for a State’s interest in protecting prenatal life.” He said their implication in their dissent is clear — that the liberal justices believe the Constitution doesn’t permit states “to regard the destruction of a ‘potential life’ as a matter of any significance.”

He also took aim at the justices for their praising of the “balance” that a viability line for abortion can strike between a woman’s autonomous being and the state’s interest in protecting the life of a fetus. Alito instead argued that a viability line “makes no sense.”

“It was not adequately justified in Roe, and the dissent does not even try to defend it today,” Alito writes.

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