Millions of women lost their constitutional right to abortion on Friday after America’s highest court overturned a near 50-year-old ruling and other precedents enshrining that right, leaving only 25% of Americans with confidence in the institution.
The decision, though widely expected after a draft opinion was leaked last month, was nevertheless a stunning aftershock of Donald Trump’s presidency and sure to inflame America’s divisions. It also cemented the supreme court’s emergence as an alternative centre of power that threatens to rupture the delicate governing balance of executive, legislature and judiciary.
Just 24 hours earlier, the justices had struck down New York state’s limits on carrying concealed handguns in public, potentially opening the way to fresh legal challenges to other state-level gun laws despite recent mass shootings in California, New York and Texas. It was a triumph for the gun lobby and a blow to Joe Biden’s efforts to curb violence.
Simon Schama, a leading historian, tweeted on Friday: “American democracy is in deep trouble. It can’t survive in its present form if the constitution is manipulated to impose minority rule.”
What are leading Democrats saying? “They have burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had,” Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren said of the supreme court. “They just took the last of it and set a torch to it.”
What else are politicians saying? Several senators who recently approved justices responsible for this decision said they felt deceived. These politicians pointed to prior statements from Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch; both male judges had claimed they would not overturn Roe. “I feel misled,” Susan Collins said.
Are there any options to overturn the decision? Options to challenge the court ruling are limited. Legal scholar Lawrence Tribe said: “We’re in for a long, tangled, chaotic and, in terms of human suffering, horribly costly struggle.”
Capitol attack hearings: if Republicans did nothing wrong, why were pardons sought?
When the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack revealed evidence showing Republican members of Congress had sought preemptive presidential pardons after January 6, one of the most striking requests came from congressman Mo Brooks.
The request from Brooks to the Trump White House came in an 11 January 2021 email – obtained by the Guardian – that asked for all-purpose, preemptive pardons for lawmakers involved in objecting to the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.
Brooks in the first instance sought preemptive pardons for “every Republican who signed the Amicus brief in the Texas lawsuit” that sued then-vice-president Mike Pence to unilaterally decide whether to certify Biden’s win in certain battleground states.
The Alabama congressman also recommended in the email to former Oval Operations coordinator Molly Michael that Donald Trump issue pardons for “every congressman and senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania”.
Why does the request from Brooks stand out? It’s because he explicitly outlines two groups for whom he was seeking preemptive pardons, opening a window into his thinking and potentially revealing for what conduct he worried that they might have been guilty of a crime.
Uvalde anger grows over bungled police response
Ruben Ruiz, a school district police officer in Uvalde, Texas, was standing in a hallway outside the classroom where his wife taught fourth-graders a couple of days before summer break. His wife, Eva Mireles, had just called his cellphone, begging for help after an intruder had shot her and her students.
Ruiz was among 18 officers who had rushed over to his wife’s school, Robb elementary, in response to reports of an active shooter. He was ready to charge in with a few of his fellow law enforcement officers, battle the 18-year-old rifleman who had invaded the campus, and hopefully save his wife and her students.
But Ruiz’s fellow officers didn’t back him up when he began advancing toward Mireles’s classroom door. They stopped him, stripped him of his service gun and made him leave the campus.
“She had been shot and was dying,” Texas’s public safety chief, Steve McCraw, said of Mireles while speaking earlier this week to a panel of state lawmakers investigating the attack at Robb elementary on 24 May. “And what happened to [Ruiz] is he … was detained and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene.”
What happened after Ruiz was escorted away? Ultimately, his wife, a co-worker and 19 students – 10- and 11-year-olds – were murdered by the intruder at Robb elementary. Another 17 people at the campus were wounded before, 77 minutes after the first call to emergency operators reported the intrusion, police stormed Mireles’s classroom and killed the murderer.
In other news …
Russia is poised to default on its debt for the first time since 1998, further alienating the country from the global financial system after sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine. The country missed a deadline last night to meet a 30-day grace period on interest payments of $100m (£81.2m).
Guards at the federal prison where Ghislaine Maxwell awaits her sentencing for her role in an elaborate child sexual abuse case have placed her on suicide watch, though she isn’t suicidal, according to court record. The move prompted the British socialite’s attorney to write a letter telling the judge in the case that Maxwell would seek to postpone her sentencing tomorrow.
At least four people were killed and hundreds injured in Colombia yesterday after spectator stands at a bullfight collapsed, authorities said. The bull reportedly escaped from the plaza hosting the spectacle and was causing panic in the streets of Espinal, Tolima.
Fatal shootings at a gay bar in Oslo would not halt the fight against “discrimination, prejudice and hate”, Norway’s prime minister has said, as the country paid tribute to the victims of the attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Stat of the day: Shipwreck of US destroyer ‘Sammy B’ becomes deepest ever discovered
A US navy destroyer that engaged in the largest sea battle of the second world war in the Philippines has become the deepest shipwreck to be discovered, according to explorers. The USS Samuel B Roberts, popularly known as the Sammy B, was identified on Wednesday, broken into two pieces on a slope at a depth of 22,916ft (6,985 metres), or about four miles. That puts it 1,400ft deeper than the USS Johnston, the previous deepest wreck discovered last year in the Philippine Sea.
Don’t miss this: should you teach your children about racism? Of course – here’s how
Instead of restricting and banning ammunition and guns, Ibram X Kendi writes, it is antiracist books and education that are banned, particularly in the US. Instead of arming teachers with expertise on how to teach about racism, teachers are being asked to arm themselves with guns. Fears of dark bodies over the last few decades have, in the US and the UK, also justified the accumulation of police and prisons, which has contributed to the defunding of public safety nets, public health, public libraries, public schools relied on by children and families.
Climate check: viruses survive in fresh water by ‘hitchhiking’ on plastic, study finds
Dangerous viruses can remain infectious for up to three days in fresh water by hitchhiking on plastic, researchers have found. Enteric viruses that cause diarrhoea and stomach upsets, such as rotavirus, were found to survive in water by attaching to microplastics, tiny particles less than 5mm long. They remain infectious, researchers found, posing a potential health risk. “We weren’t sure how well viruses could survive by ‘hitchhiking’ on plastic in the environment, but they do survive and they do remain infectious,” Prof Richard Quilliam, lead researcher, said.
Last Thing: G7 leaders mock Putin’s bare-chested horse riding
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations have mocked Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Germany dominated by the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. As the leaders sat down for their first meeting of the three-day G7 summit in the sweltering Bavarian Alps, Boris Johnson asked if their jackets should come off – or if they should even disrobe further. “We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” Johnson said, to laughter. Johnson suggested the leaders “show them our pecs”.
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