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Wake Up To Politics - April 8, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: Biden to unveil gun control actions
Wake Up To Politics - April 8, 2021

Good morning! It’s Thursday, April 8, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 579 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,307 days away.

Quick note: The first half of the top story in Wednesday’s newsletter got accidentally deleted and the second half was shown twice. I’m sorry for the mistake and any confusion it might have caused. On to the news:

Biden to unveil gun control actions hours after latest mass shooting

At least five people were killed in a mass shooting at a home in York County, South Carolina, on Wednesday evening. The victims included a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old, as well as their two grandparents and someone working at the home. A sixth person was also shot and has serious injuries. The suspect has been apprehended, according to authorities.

That shooting had not yet taken place when the White House announced that President Joe Biden would be speaking about gun control today, an accident of timing that underlines the frequency with which mass shootings have rocked the United States in recent weeks.

According to Gun Violence Archive, a non-partisan research group, there have been 133 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first four months of 2021, counting any incident in which four or more people (excluding the perpetrator) were shot. Those incidents, including recent shootings at a California office building, a Colorado supermarket, and three Georgia spas, have left a combined 160 Americans dead and injured 524 more.

Biden is sure to cite similar statistics in his remarks on gun violence today, his first extended speech on the issue since taking office. Here are the six executive actions he is expected to unveil:

  • Within 30 days, the Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to curb the proliferation of “ghost guns,” firearms that are assembled at home using kits, which lack serial numbers and are therefore untraceable.
  • Within 60 days, the Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to clarify the regulations for pistols that can be transformed into AR-15-style weapons when coupled with arm braces and shorter barrels. The alleged gunman in the Boulder shooting last month used an AR-15-style pistol with an arm brace, according to police.
  • Within 60 days, the Justice Department will publish proposed “red flag” legislation that it will encourage states to adopt. Such laws allow courts to temporarily bar an individual from accessing firearms if family members or law enforcement present concerns that the person could endanger themselves or others.
  • The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking, the illegal trade of weapons. The agency has not released a gun trafficking report since 2000.
  • The administration will increase funding for community violence intervention programs, boosting 26 different programs at five federal agencies. These changes will take place as Congress considers the president’s proposed American Jobs Plan, which includes a $5 billion investment in community violence intervention programs over eight years.
  • Biden will nominate gun control activist David Chipman to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Chipman, who served as an ATF special agent for 25 years before joining the gun control group Giffords, would become the first permanent director of the agency since 2015 if he is confirmed.

The Rundown

CORONAVIRUS: “UK variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in the US, says CDC chief” CNN

FILIBUSTER: “Manchin says there is ‘no circumstance’ where he would vote to get rid of or ‘weaken’ the filibuster in blow to Biden agenda” Washington Post

  • “Biden says compromise ‘inevitable’ on infrastructure plan” The Hill

2022 CENTRAL: “GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin announces run for governor of New York” NBC News

2024 CENTRAL: “Pence announces advocacy group, plans for book” Associated Press

  • “Trump relaunches his fundraising machine after months of quiet” Politico

Legal Roundup
Contributed by Anna Salvatore

In a decision that could have “major implications for the future of telemarketing,” the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that Facebook can send automated texts to its users. Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained that federal law forbids calls by “automatic telephone dialing system[s],” which are devices that randomly or sequentially generate phone numbers. Because Facebook doesn’t use number generators — which are a now-obsolete technology — it can continue sending auto-messages. The ruling will pave the way for Americans to receive more robocalls and unsolicited texts.

On Monday, the justices also sided with Google in an important copyright case. The question was whether Google violated federal law when it copied 11,500 lines of code written by Oracle — another technology company — in order to create software for Android. Six justices agreed that Google had fairly used the code. There are exceptions to copyright law, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion, when applying it “would stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster.” Experts said that if the Supreme Court had ruled against Google, then there would be a “tsunami of litigation” over companies’ copying each other’s codes.

President Biden released his first list of judicial nominees last week. One notable inclusion is Ketanji Brown Jackson, a trial judge and leading Supreme Court contender whom Biden nominated to the D.C. Circuit. NPR observes that the list is diverse in terms of race and gender, as three Black women are tapped for circuit court vacancies and one candidate — Zahid N. Quraishi — would be the first-ever Muslim federal judge. Nevertheless, many expect the nominees to face concerted Republican opposition in the Senate. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told reporters that he wanted to “do a couple of weekends and grind them out and demonstrate enthusiasm for filling vacancies.”

More legal headlines:

  • In a deeply divided ruling, the 5th Circuit overturned parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act which gave preference to Native American couples in the adoption of Native children. Tribal leaders may appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
  • Two lower courts have blocked Tennessee’s two-day waiting period before abortions, calling it “yet another unnecessary, unjustified, and unduly burdensome state law that stands between women and their right to an abortion.” Tennessee is now asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the waiting period.
  • Religious freedom is an increasingly politicized issue at the Supreme Court, according to the New York Times — and it has an “extraordinary winning streak.”
  • A few Michigan parents are seeking to overturn a state order that requires student-athletes to be regularly tested for COVID-19, the Associated Press reports.
  • After a long period of litigation, the creators of the Oscar-winning movie “The Shape of Water” will no longer have to defend themselves against a copyright lawsuit. Both parties agreed to dismiss the case this week.


All times Eastern.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:45 a.m. Then, at 11:45 a.m., they will deliver remarks in the Rose Garden to announce the new gun control actions; Attorney General Merrick Garland and First Lady Jill Biden will also attend. At 1 p.m., Biden and Harris will have lunch together. At 4:15 p.m., they will receive a COVID-19 briefing.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas will travel to the U.S.-Mexico border today amid the ongoing migrant surge. He will meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations and law enforcement officials in El Paso, Texas, and meet with frontline DHS employees in McAllen, Texas.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press briefing at 12:30 p.m. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will also participate.
The Senate will meet for a brief pro forma session at 5:30 p.m.

The House will meet for a brief pro forma session at 3 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold a virtual press conference at 2 p.m.  

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise will lead a delegation of 10 House Republicans to visit the southern border. They will meet with Border Patrol agents and participate in a ride-along tour with the National Border Patrol Council.  

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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