by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Thursday, March 24, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 229 days away. Election Day 2024 is 957 days away.
For the second day in a row, today’s top story comes from one of WUTP’s talented contributors: legal writer Anna Salvatore, a Princeton freshman, is here with the highlights from the Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
If you want to support WUTP and the contributor team (all of whom are compensated for their work), you can click here to make a donation — or to set up a monthly donation, similar to a subscription to another news outlet. Your generosity is so appreciated, and it makes this newsletter possible.
Key moments from KBJ’s confirmation hearing
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson underwent her third and final day of questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
In case you weren’t able to tune in, WUTP legal contributor Anna Salvatore is here with Wednesday’s highlights:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continued to press Jackson on her ruling in a 2013 child pornography case, where she opted against giving the maximum prison sentence to 18-year-old offender Wesley Hawkins. “Your view of how to deter child pornography is not my view,” Graham told her, after Jackson explained that she saw certain aspects of the guideline as outdated. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) later referred to the heated exchange and repeated interruptions as “beyond the pale.”
- “On the internet, with one click, you can receive, you can distribute tens of thousands [of images]. You can be doing this for 15 minutes, and all of a sudden, you are looking at 30, 40, 50 years in prison,” said Jackson. “Good, good! I hope [child sex offenders] go to jail for 50 years,” Graham replied. (Watch the exchange with Graham)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) picked up the discussion of child pornography rulings where Graham left off, accusing Jackson of giving Hawkins a “slap on the wrist” sentence of three months for distributing child porn. “Do you regret it?” he asked.
- “Senator, what I regret is that in a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences,” Jackson responded. (Watch the exchange with Hawley)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Jackson if she would recuse herself from the Supreme Court’s upcoming case about affirmative action policies at Harvard, given that she serves on the school’s Board of Overseers and may be privy to its litigation strategies.
- “That is my plan, senator,” she confirmed. As CNN notes, Jackson might still be able to rule on affirmative action if the Supreme Court separately considers a challenge to the University of North Carolina’s policy. (Watch the exchange with Cruz)
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) made an impassioned speech about the “joy” he felt seeing a Black woman nominated to the nation’s highest court. “You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American,” he told Jackson, calling her a “harbinger of hope” for him and other African-Americans.
- “When I look at you, this is why I get emotional,” he added as Jackson wiped away tears. (Watch Booker’s comments here)
One month of war
Exactly one month from the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war on Ukraine, Western leaders will converge on Brussels, Belgium today for an emergency NATO summit to discuss their response.
Here’s the latest news you should know about Ukraine and the U.S. response:
- The Ukrainian military is claiming this morning that it destroyed a Russian ship stationed in southern Ukraine, which would be a success for Ukrainians as they continue to stall Russia’s advances and blunt their rival’s momentum.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the U.S. has formally assessed that “Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.” Meanwhile, the Biden administration is quietly crafting contingency plans for if Russia uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to the New York Times.
- There have been some attempts at backchanneling between the U.S. and Russian militaries. According to CNN, a rare face-to-face meeting last week between officials from the two countries ended in a Russian “outburst.” Per the Washington Post, America’s top general has been calling his counterpart in Russia — but the Russian general is refusing to pick up, shutting off a key line of communication that could prevent accidental nuclear war.
Also, while the eyes of the world are on Ukraine, here’s another global threat you should be paying attention to:
- North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this morning for the first time since 2017. Analysts believe this could be the longest-range missile tested by North Korea yet and that it would have been potentially capable of reaching the U.S.
- This was North Korea’s 11th missile launch of the year, a sign that the rogue nation is attempting to re-assert itself even as attention drifts to Russia.
What else you should know this morning.
Madeleine Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton as the first female Secretary of State in U.S. history, died of cancer on Wednesday at age 84. Albright came to the U.S. at age 11, fleeing Nazis in Czechoslovakia, and went on to become a fixture of Washington’s foreign policy establishment.
The Supreme Court is declining to tell reporters whether Justice Clarence Thomas is still in the hospital. Thomas, 73, was hospitalized last week after experiencing “flu-like symptoms”; he was supposed to be released on Tuesday, but the court has refused to say whether he was or not.
Two Republican governors have vetoed bills this week that would have barred transgender girls from competing in female sports. Govs. Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Spencer Cox of Utah both said the bills were aimed at addressing a non-existent problem. “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few,” Cox said.
- In Idaho, Republican Gov. Brad Little followed Texas by signing a law on Wednesday that will ban abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. Similar to the Texas law, the Idaho statute allows relatives of the fetus to sue medical providers who preform abortions after that cut-off.
As public health officials gird themselves for a possible new wave of Covid cases, the Biden administration is considering granting approval “within weeks” for a second booster shot for those 65 and older, according to Politico.
- Meanwhile, Moderna announced on Wednesday that its first two Covid vaccine doses were safe for children 6 months to 5 years old, although efficacy for the age group was only about 40 percent.
Former President Donald Trump rescinded his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks in the Alabama Senate race on Wednesday, declaring Brooks had gone “woke” by urging Republicans to move on from the 2020 election. Brooks responded by claiming that Trump had wanted Brooks to call for Trump to be re-installed as president last year.
- In other Trump news, a Manhattan prosecutor who abruptly stepped down last month wrote in his resignation letter that he believed Trump was “guilty of numerous felony violations,” according to the New York Times. The prosecutor left after his boss expressed hesitance about indicting Trump for allegedly falsifying business records.
What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
- President Biden is in Brussels, Belgium for the emergency NATO and G7 summits to discuss Ukraine. Earlier this morning, he greeted with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, took a family photo with the NATO leaders, and delivered remarks at the NATO summit.
- At 9:10 a.m., Biden will take a family photo with the G7 leaders. At 9:15 a.m., he will deliver remarks at the G7 meeting. At 11:30 a.m., he will meet with European Council President Charles Michel. At 12 p.m., he will deliver remarks at a European Council summit to discuss Ukraine.
- Finally, at 3 p.m., Biden will hold a press conference.
- The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the America COMPETES Act, the House-passed bill to increase funding for domestic production of semiconductors and boost U.S. competitiveness with China.
- At 11 a.m., the chamber will vote to confirm Andrew Luger as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. The chamber may also vote on a House-passed bill to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, which has been stalling in the Senate.
- The House will convene at 1 p.m. for a brief pro forma session. No debate or votes are held in such sessions, which are attended by few members and held only to satisfy the constitutional requirement that each chamber of Congress gavel in at least once every three days.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene at 9 a.m. for the final day of its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. The judge herself will not appear today; instead, three panels of outside witnesses will weigh in on Jackson’s nomination.
- Each witness will give five-minute opening statements, and then each senator on the committee will have five minutes to question each panel. The three panels will include representatives from the American Bar Association (ABA), witnesses chosen by Democrats, and a group chosen by Republicans.COURTS
- The Supreme Court will release opinions at 10 a.m.
Before I go...
A story of human goodness: Leisa Orshoko, one of the millions of refugees escaping Ukraine, has found a home in Israel — with Sharon Bass, whose Jewish grandmother was rescued and given shelter in Ukraine by Orshoko’s grandmother during the Holocaust.
Read the full story here, via the Washington Post.
This story was sent to me by several WUTP readers who spotted it in the news. If you see a positive news sotry you want to share, send it my way to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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