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    Rights group calls for Samuel Alito to be investigated after claims of leaked 2014 ruling

    Rights group calls for Samuel Alito to be investigated after claims of leaked 2014 rulingAnti-abortion activist said supreme court justice revealed the landmark ruling on contraception and religious rights weeks earlier A civil rights group issued a call Saturday for US supreme court justice Samuel Alito to be investigated over allegations that the judge leaked a 2014 landmark ruling involving contraception and religious rights at a private dinner with wealthy political donors.The claim was contained in a New York Times article in which minister Rob Schenck, an anti-abortion activist, said he was told of the decision weeks before it was announced and had used the information to prepare a public relations push.Samuel Alito assured Ted Kennedy in 2005 of respect for Roe, diary revealsRead moreSchenck also claimed he tipped off Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain owned by Christian evangelicals that brought and won the case allowing privately-held, for-profit businesses to be exempt from regulations to which its owners religiously object, in this case requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees.“The Senate judiciary committee should immediately move to investigate the apparent leak by Justice Alito,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice.“This bombshell report is the latest proof that the Republican justices on the court are little more than politicians in robes. It’s no wonder trust in the court has hit a record low. Structural reform of the court, including strict new ethics rules, is needed now more than ever.”Fallon added that Schenck “should be called to testify about both the leak and the years-long lobbying effort he once led to cultivate Alito and other Republican justices”.Claims of the judicial leak, potentially for political purposes, comes six months after a draft opinion of the Dobbs decision overturning the nationwide abortion rights established by the 1972 case Roe v Wade was leaked ahead of its June publication.In a letter to supreme court chief justice John G Roberts Jr dated 7 June, Schenck wrote that he was reaching out to the judge “to inform you of a series of events that may impinge on the investigation you and your delegates are undertaking in connection with the leak of a draft opinion”.He described a dinner at which an unnamed political donor invited to dine at the home of Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann, had offered to try to glean information about the pending decision in the Hobby Lobby case.The next day, the Times reported, the dining guest called Schenck and told him Alito had written the majority opinion in the case and that Hobby Lobby would win. That exact decision was publicly announced less than a month later.Schenck concluded the letter to Roberts by saying he “thought this previous incident might bear some consideration by you and others involved in the process”.How that directly reflects on the current investigation into the leak of the Dobbs decision is not clear, but it arrives at a time of concern for the court’s legitimacy as it works under the sway of a conservative supermajority. Polls show that a majority of Americans are losing confidence in the supreme court.After the leak in May of the Dobbs decision draft, Alito called the unauthorized disclosure “a grave betrayal” and ordered an investigation by the supreme court’s marshal.The Times noted that Schenck’s account has “gaps”. But the newspaper’s examination of the claim uncovered emails and conversations that “strongly suggested” that Schenck knew of the decision before it was made public.TopicsUS supreme courtAbortionRoe v WadeContraception and family planningReligionUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Who were the big winners and losers of the US midterm elections?

    Who were the big winners and losers of the US midterm elections?Biden and DeSantis are on the up, but Donald Trump and some of the Republicans’ more unhinged candidates flopped After months of campaigning and billions of dollars spent on advertising, the message from America’s midterm elections could essentially be boiled down to: “Not as bad as Democrats feared.”There were big wins for Republicans in Florida, and the party still seems likely to take the House, but elsewhere candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump flopped, and there were key victories for supporters of reproductive rights.As Trump licks his wounds after being compared to an egg on legs by a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, and as Democrats celebrate avoiding a predicted “red wave”, here’s a look at who did well, and who suffered.WINNERSJoe Biden, US presidentMuch of the talk ahead of last Tuesday’s elections was about how Biden might tank the Democratic party’s candidates. Republicans across the country ran ads tying their opponents to Biden, banking that the unloved president would turn off voters. It didn’t work, as Democrats performed much better than expected across the board. Biden remains very unpopular – his approval rating dropped to 39% in a Reuters poll this week – but that doesn’t seem to be hindering his party. The results prompted Biden, who turns 80 later this month, to repeat his recent assertions that he will run for a second term as president in two years’ time.Ron DeSantis, Republican Florida governorIt’s not just that the Florida governor won re-election, in what is supposed to be a swing state, by almost 20 points. In the process, DeSantis, 44, has also found himself anointed by the rightwing media as the future of the Republican party – in the case of the New York Post, quite literally: “DeFuture”, blasted the front page of the tabloid on Wednesday morning. DeSantis, an anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ rights Republican, is seen as a more palatable, less hysterical version of Donald Trump. He has been cagey about whether he will run for president in 2024, but if DeSantis does want to launch a campaign, then this was a pretty good way to start.John Fetterman, Democrat Senate candidateThree years ago John Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, a town of fewer than 2,000 people. On Tuesday he was elected to the US Senate, and will represent 13 million Pennsylvanians. It has been a remarkable rise, made all the more astonishing by the fact Fetterman had a stroke days before the Democratic primary in May. The 6ft 8in, tattooed, permanently hoodie-clad senator-elect is still recovering – he relied on closed captioning to process questions in a debate in October – but overcame a stiff challenge from Trump-backed Mehmet Oz to win relatively easily on Tuesday. Fetterman, who has previously said he owns only one suit, is going to have to do some clothes shopping.Reproductive rightsAway from the noise and intrigue about Republican and Democratic candidates and races, Michigan voters approved a ballot measure to secure a constitutional right to abortion, blocking the imposition of a 1931 abortion ban in the state. In Kentucky, voters rejected a measure which would have denied constitutional protections for abortion. North Carolina Republicans failed to secure a majority which would have enabled them to ram through restrictive abortion bans, and it was a similar story in Wisconsin, where the re-elected Democratic governor, Tony Evers, will have the power to veto abortion laws proposed by the state legislature.LOSERSDonald TrumpThe one-term, twice-impeached president had a shocker of an evening, as one after another, many of his endorsed candidates flopped in key races across the country. The fact that many of the Republicans Trump had backed lost isn’t the only thing that will sting. Several of Trump’s people underperformed in states – including New Hampshire and Georgia – where Republicans who had not been anointed by Trump triumphed. To top it all off, Rupert Murdoch seems to have turned on Trump. On Thursday the New York Post, a Murdoch-owned tabloid, mocked up an image of Trump as Humpty Dumpty. “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall – can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” read the accompanying text.Republicans – outside Florida and New YorkWith an unpopular Democratic president, soaring inflation, high gas prices and widespread doom and gloom about the economy, this was supposed to be the night that Republicans swept through Congress in a “red wave”. They didn’t. By Friday, with votes still being tallied in some states, the Republican party was still short of a majority in the House and the Senate, as Democrats out-performed expectations across the country. There were some exceptions. In Florida both DeSantis and Marco Rubio, the state’s incumbent senator, cruised to victory, and Republicans flourished in state-level races too. It was, the Tampa Bay Times declared, “an electoral catastrophe for Democrats”.(Some of) the unhinged candidatesIn Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano, a Christian nationalist state senator who paid for buses to take people to what became the January 6 insurrection and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was swept away in the governor’s race. Matthew DePerno, a fellow election conspiracy theorist who had branded Democrats “radical, cultural Marxists” lost his bid to be Michigan’s attorney general, and his ideological counterpart Kristina Karamo failed to become secretary of state. Tina Forte, a Republican who attended the January 6 rally and has dabbled in QAnon conspiracy theories, was crushed in her attempt to defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman, in New York.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022Donald TrumpUS politicsRepublicansDemocratsAbortionJoe BidenfeaturesReuse this content More

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    4 Takeaways From the Elections

    Doug Mills/The New York TimesKevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, announced a run for speaker as his party edged toward a majority. Republicans wrested seats from Democrats in New York, Florida, Virginia and elsewhere, while Democrats flipped districts in Michigan and Ohio. Whichever party claims a majority, it will be narrow. More

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    How the fall of Roe shattered Republicans’ midterm dreams

    How the fall of Roe shattered Republicans’ midterm dreamsWomen and young people, furious over losing federal abortion protections, helped Democrats defy expectations This summer, after a tectonic decision by the supreme court to overturn Roe v Wade eliminated the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion, Joe Biden predicted American women would revolt. Republicans, however, saw a “red wave” brewing, fueled by widespread economic discontent.On Thursday, after Democrats defied historical expectations in the first major election of the post-Roe era, Biden effectively declared: “I told ya so.”Young voters hailed as key to Democratic successes in midtermsRead more“Women in America made their voices heard, man,” the president told a crowd of supporters at the Howard Theater in Washington on Thursday. “Y’all showed up and beat the hell out of them.”The 2022 midterm elections were expected to usher in staggering losses for Democrats. The party in power typically fares poorly, and with Biden’s approval ratings mired in the low 40s, Republicans were expected to make significant gains.That is not how the results unfolded. As the vote count continues in several key races, Republicans appear on track to win a far narrower House majority than they hoped, while Democrats may retain control of the Senate.As a fuller portrait of the results emerges, advocates, Democrats and even some Republicans say one thing is clear: abortion proved a defining issue. Fury over the loss of federal abortion protections galvanized women and young people and delivered a string of unexpected victories for Democrats and new protections for reproductive rights.“You cannot have half of the population have their body autonomy put under threat and not expect it to be mobilizing,” said Heidi Sieck, the CEO and co-founder of #VoteProChoice. “And that’s what we saw across the board with young people showing up, women showing up, newly registered women being more than two- thirds of the newly registered voters.”Exit polls conducted for news networks by Edison Research showed that abortion was the top issue for many Americans, especially people under the age of 30. And about 60% of voters said they were dissatisfied or angry with the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe, according to exit polls conducted by AP Votecast.In every state where an abortion-related measure was on the ballot, voters chose either to enshrine protections or reject new limits. And it was a decisive issue in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the future of abortion access was at risk.In Michigan, voters decisively approved a ballot initiative establishing a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, effectively stopping a 1931 abortion ban from ever taking effect.They also lifted Democrats to power at all levels of government, re-electing Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel and wresting control of the state legislature from Republicans for the first time in decades. Whitmer defeated Tudor Dixon, a Trump-backed Republican who said she opposed abortion in nearly all cases, including when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.Before the election, the Michigan congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats, told the Guardian that she believed her political fate was tied to the result of the state’s abortion proposal. On Tuesday, she held on comfortably.In Pennsylvania, where exit polls showed that abortion was the top issue on voters’ minds, Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor, won in a landslide. He defeated Doug Mastriano, a far-right Republican and one of his party’s most strident opponents of abortion rights.The Democrat John Fetterman won Pennsylvania’s race for Senate against Republican Mehmet Oz, after seizing on a remark that Oz made during a debate in which he appeared to suggest that the decision to have an abortion should rest with women, doctors and “local political leaders”.The issue resonated in red states and blue ones. Like Michigan, California and Vermont approved ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights in their state constitutions. Meanwhile, in deep red Kentucky, voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have explicitly denied constitutional protections for abortion, even as they granted the Republican senator Rand Paul another term. And in Montana, another reliably conservative state, an attempt to impose new restrictions on the procedure failed.David Shor, a Democratic data analyst, told the Guardian’s Politics Weekly America that abortion had been “absolutely instrumental” in Democrats’ successes this cycle.“Abortion really up until very recently was a pretty neutral issue for Democrats – that didn’t mean it was bad, but it wasn’t necessarily a vote-getter in most of the country,” he said. But following the the supreme court decision, he said, abortion suddenly became “the single best issue for Democrats”.“The extent to which voters cared about abortion also skyrocketed,” he said. “Out of the 33 issue areas that we track, abortion went from being the 30th out of 33 most important issues to being the 12th basically overnight.”In the wake of Roe’s fall, Democrats took every opportunity to highlight their support for abortion rights and contrast it with their opponents’ views. They flooded the airwaves with nearly half a billion dollars on abortion-related ads.Voters gave Democrats a wide advantage on the issue, as debates over the loss of abortion rights raised new questions about miscarriage care and exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Republicans, on the defensive, sought to avoid the issue. In several instances, Republican candidates removed references to abortion from their campaign websites.But months later, as the campaign season came to a close, Democrats were second-guessing the strategy. Many pre-election polls showed voters worried more about inflation and crime than abortion. These surveys prompted a bout of angst and finger-pointing. Some Democrats argued that the party had focused too singularly on reproductive rights at the expense of offering a clear economic message.But abortion rights advocates say that logic is flawed – that abortion is an economic issue.“If you’re saying inflation, if you’re saying economy, you’re saying reproductive freedom as well,” Sieck said. “We absolutely miss that connection at our peril.”After Tuesday night, there was little doubt that the issue had been decisive in key races.“For everyone who said abortion was a losing issue; for everyone who said abortion is controversial; for everyone who said abortion is a fringe concern and not the meat-and-potatoes kitchen table problem Michiganders care about: you’re wrong, and the ‘yes’ votes prove it,” said Mini Timmaraju, the president of Naral Pro-Choice America.Even some Republicans conceded the issue may have cost them electorally.“If we lost because of abortion, an issue that was not on the ballot, if we lost because I’m pro-life, because I believe every life has dignity, I’m OK with that,” Matt Birk, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Minnesota said in a concession speech.The string of victories for supporters of abortion rights followed an August vote in Kansas, when voters overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to remove abortion rights from its state constitution. The result underscored the political potency of an issue Democrats had long tiptoed around.On Tuesday, Laura Kelly, the state’s Democratic governor, held off a Republican challenge as did Democratic congresswoman Sharice Davids. With the veto pen, Kelly, like Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, who also won re-election in a closely watched race, can block any potential legislation that would impose new restrictions on the procedure.In Wisconsin and North Carolina, Democrats kept Republicans from winning a supermajority in their state legislatures, meaning lawmakers will not have the power to override a Democratic governor’s veto and pass new abortion restrictions.There were some bright spots for anti-abortion advocates. Conservative judges were elected to the state supreme courts in Ohio and North Carolina, an encouraging sign for proponents bracing for a barrage of challenges to new laws restricting the procedure. Though Democrats may keep the US Senate, they failed to win 52 seats, enough to overcome the resistance in their party to eliminating the filibuster and codifying Roe.And key races have yet to be called, including in Arizona, where the Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, has backed a territorial-era abortion ban temporarily halted by a judge.None of what unfolded this election cycle surprised longtime supporters of reproductive rights, but they hope the results will finally convince Democrats that abortion is not only a winning political issue, but a foundational one that should be central to their campaign strategy and governing agendas at the state and federal level.“Abortion is a winning issue and will continue to be in elections to come,” Timmaraju said on Friday. “That means Democrats need to keep reproductive freedom at the top of their policy agenda and fight to not only codify Roe but expand access to abortion and birth control.”TopicsUS midterm elections 2022US politicsAbortionWomenUS supreme courtDemocratsRepublicansfeaturesReuse this content More