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Wake Up To Politics - May 18, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: The future of Roe v. Wade
Wake Up To Politics - May 18, 2021

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 539 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,267 days away.

Today’s top story comes from Wake Up To Politics legal contributor Anna Salvatore:  

Supreme Court to hear landmark abortion case

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a case next term that could roll back Roe v. Wade, the famous 1973 opinion that established women’s abortion rights in the first six months of their pregnancy.

The new case comes from Mississippi, where state legislators passed a law in 2018 banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, about two months earlier than the stage that abortions were allowed by Roe and other rulings.

Various courts have overturned several similar bans in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, and South Carolina in recent years, and the Supreme Court also struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law last summer. But Mississippi’s case might turn out differently, with a new six-justice conservative majority shifting the balance of power on the bench.

The key to the dispute, some experts say, is a 1992 decision known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Supreme Court ruled then that states cannot ban women from obtaining abortions before viability, the point at which fetuses can survive outside the womb (after around 24 weeks of pregnancy). The question is, will the Supreme Court affirm, roll back, or even entirely overturn Casey?

Abortion rights protesters outside the Supreme Court in 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

With the arrival of Trump-appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, many court-watchers expect an anti-abortion ruling next term.

“I think they’ll uphold Mississippi’s law, or [send the case down] for a court of appeals to re-decide whether to uphold Mississippi's law under some other standard,” Leah Litman, a progressive law professor at University of Michigan, told Wake Up To Politics.

Anti-abortion groups are also preparing for an opinion chipping away at Casey and Roe, which they have long sought. Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the conservative Susan B. Anthony List, cheered the court’s decision to hear the case: “This is a landmark opportunity for the Supreme Court to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children from the horrors of painful late-term abortions,” she told CNN.

Given the high stakes and partisan nature of this case, the Supreme Court isn't likely to issue a ruling until next summer.

The Rundown

ISRAEL-GAZA: As fighting between Israel and Hamas stretched into its second week, President Biden publicly expressed support for a ceasefire for the first time on Monday in a readout of his call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden also “reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” according to the White House.

  • However, the violence has shown no signs of abating since Biden’s statement: Israeli airstrikes toppled a six-story building this morning, while rocket fire from Gaza killed two Thai workers in Israel. Biden is facing growing criticism from congressional Democrats over his support of Israel and a recent $735 million weapons sale to the country.

2022 CENTRAL: “Florida Rep. Val Demings is planning to run for the U.S. Senate, rather than governor, providing Democrats with a big-name candidate to take on Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next year.” Politico

  • “Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announced Tuesday that he’s officially running for governor of the state in 2022.” NBC News
Val Demings at a congressional hearing in 2020. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

AT THE WHITE HOUSE: “The White House released the 2020 tax returns for both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday, restoring a presidential tradition that had been ignored under former President Donald Trump.”

  • “The Bidens filed their federal tax return jointly, reported a federal adjusted gross income of $607,336 and owed $157,414 in federal income tax, according to a summary of their taxes released by the White House. According to the first family's 1040 form, they paid $162,063 and received a refund of $4,649. Their 2020 effective federal income tax rate is 25.9%.” CNN

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Policy Roundup: Education

The week’s top education policy news, by Kirsten Shaw Mettler.

The CDC recommends continued mask-wearing in K-12 schools. Although the CDC has announced that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most settings, the guidance continues to require mask use in classrooms through the end of the 2021 school year. Already, some states are considering banning masks in schools.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children over 12 years old. Last Wednesday, the CDC recommended that 12- to 15-year-olds receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, despite this announcement, many parents are hesitant, with only 30 percent of those surveyed saying they would vaccinate their children right away. It is still unclear how many K-12 schools will require COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall, although some school districts are getting creative with shot incentivization programs.

Undocumented and international college students can now recieve pandemic relief funds. In spring 2021, Congress passed $35 billion in emergency aid for college students; at the time, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a rule barring undocumented and international students from this relief. The Biden administration issued a new rule last week, revising the policy to remove those limitations.

 A Pennsylvania mother helps her son with his mask before he heads into school. (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP)

More education policy headlines, via Kirsten:

  • Republican-controlled states across the country are taking stances against the Biden administration’s free community college and universal pre-K proposal.
  • Some schools are hoping to offer summer opportunities in order to address pandemic learning loss, but they are facing large teacher shortages.
  • K-12 schools currently have varying COVID-19 testing protocols, with some districts even reluctant to test symptomatic children.


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)

President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9 a.m. before traveling to Dearborn, Michigan. At 12:45 p.m., he will tour the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. At 1:40 p.m., he will deliver remarks there. Biden will then depart Michigan and return to the White House.

  • Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Annapolis, Maryland. At 9:30 a.m., he will participate in a listening session with small business owners to discuss the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He will also tour a museum that received support from the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold a press gaggle aboard Air Force One during the flight to Michigan.
  • U.S. public health officials will hold a press briefing at 10:15 a.m. on the Covid-19 response effort. Participants will include Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, among others.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. Following Leader remarks, the chamber will resume consideration of S.1260, the Endless Frontier Act, a bipartisan measure which would invested $110 billion in technology research over five years in an effort to compete with China.

The chamber will adjourn for weekly caucus meetings from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. After returning, the Senate may also  hold votes on the nomination of Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and on S.J.Res.13, which would invoke the Congressional Review Act to overturn a Trump-era regulation that changed the “conciliation” process of how workplace bias claims are resolved.

The House will convene at 10 a.m. Following one-minute speeches, the chamber will consider 26 pieces of legislation, including S.937, the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. The measure, which passed the Senate in a 94-1 vote last month, would fast-track Justice Department review of Covid-related hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on “the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship following the military withdrawal.” Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative on Afghanistan reconciliation, will testify.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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