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Why the reaction to the Supreme Court’s emergency medication abortion ruling was so measured
Most focused on the temporary relief the ruling offered and their belief that the lower court overreached by ruling to block the drug in the first place. Plus: Updates on the GOP’s debt ceiling plan.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would block two lower court rulings restricting access to the abortion drug mifepristone while the Biden administration appeals the decisions.
Below, you’ll find some fresh reporting on what’s next in the legal battle, the bellicose dissent from Justice Samuel Alito and why Democrats and abortion rights advocates were so measured in their reaction to SCOTUS’s decision.
But first, let’s quickly level-set the stakes for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he’s set to bring a bill to the floor to lift the debt ceiling and slash social programs later this week — despite currently lacking the votes to pass it.
••• McCARTHY’S MOMENT OF TRUTH: McCarthy on Sunday morning expressed confidence he’ll whip his conference into line before the moment of truth. But with just a four-vote margin and a far-right flank of members who seem hellbent on getting what they want no matter the political or economic cost, it’s hard to know if he’s projecting genuine optimism or manifesting a result that doesn’t yet exist. What complicates matters is that different factions want competing concessions so it’ll be hard to please one group without pissing off another.
“I cannot imagine someone in our conference that would want to go along with Biden’s reckless spending. This is responsible. This is something that we have sat down for months that everybody’s had input in,” McCarthy said. “It’s not where everybody gets 100 percent of what they want, but when we send this to the Senate, we’re showing that, yes, we’re able to raise the debt ceiling into the next year.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has said the plan is dead on arrival in the Senate even if it passes the House.
As I reported last week, House Democratic leadership is confident none of their members will give McCarthy any votes to pass the bill despite some becoming antsy about the public standoff between the speaker and President Joe Biden as the so-called “X date,” when the government runs out of money to cover all the country’s bills, which would lead to the first-ever US default unless Congress allows it to borrow more.
The White House is focused less on the politics of if and when Biden and McCarthy will speak again and more on hammering House Republicans on the real-world impact of their proposals on veterans, women, kids, older adults and beneficiaries of President Biden’s student loan relief program.
See also: “Why Republicans want to keep free money out of their districts” (Kate Aronoff / TNR) … “I warned Republicans about their debt ceiling bill. I was right.” (Rosa DeLauro / MSNBC)
••• What’s next in the medication abortion case: Now that the Supreme Court has decided to uphold the FDA’s approval of mifepristone for now, The Fifth Circuit will hear the appeal from the Biden administration and Danco, the pharmaceutical company that distributes the drug under the brand name Mifeprex.
The loser of the case will ask the Supreme Court to hear the facts and evidence of the case and apply them to the law. The court up to this point has decided the case on procedural grounds while the Fifth Circuit considers the appeal.
The Supreme Court can decline to take up the case or give it a full review.
The bottom line: It’s significant that the Supreme Court maintained the status quo on medication abortion because this case could take a while to untangle.
••• The pro-abortion-rights reaction: As I read statements from the White House, congressional Democrats and abortion rights advocacy groups, what struck me is how measured their responses to the court’s decision were.
Almost all focused on the temporary relief the ruling offered and their belief that the district court demonstrated a gross judicial overreach by ruling to block mifepristone in the first place.
A source at a national abortion rights group told Supercreator on Sunday that the movement’s sober response is because the threat to medication abortion and all abortion care remains real.
“This is about how threats to abortion rights (including this baseless case attacking mifepristone) are ongoing and anti-choice extremists will pursue any avenue necessary to take away our reproductive freedom,” the source said. “They will not stop coming after our health and our rights.”
••• Alito is big mad: Because the decision came from the Supreme Court’s so-called shadow docket, which results in emergency orders and summary decisions without oral arguments, the ruling was short and unsigned so it’s unclear on which side of the case the justices sit.
Justice Alito, who wrote the opinion for Dobbs, which overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, attached a bristling dissent to tell us how he really felt about the decision:
He called out Justices Elana Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett for their recent criticisms of the shadow docket and said that while he didn’t agree with them then, they should apply to the case now.
Alito said that there was no reason to block the lower court rulings because the appeal was put on a fast track with oral arguments scheduled in a few weeks.
The justice also questioned if the Biden administration would enforce the ban on mifepristone if its appeal failed without citing any meaningful evidence to support his claims.
“For these reasons, I would deny the stay applications. Contrary to the impression that may be held by many, that disposition would not express any view on the merits of the question whether the FDA acted lawfully in any of its actions regarding mifepristone,” Alito wrote in closing. “Rather, it would simply refuse to take a step that has not been shown as necessary to avoid the threat of any real harm during the presumably short period at issue.” Read the full dissent
••• FRESHMAN PROGRESSIVES CHECK-IN: At the start of the new Congress in January, I listed the four storylines Supercreator would be tracking on Capitol Hill over the next two years.
Among them is the impact of the 16 first-term House progressives on the Democratic Caucus and broader institution.
At the time, I wrote:
“It’s unlikely that many progressive policies will make it out of the House over the next two years. Still, it will be interesting to see how the new members ingratiate themselves within the caucus and which battles they choose to fight with Republicans — and, perhaps at times, the new Democratic leaders — and if they win enough public opinion to energize turnout among young voters and people of color in 2024.
And to mark them reaching the 100-day milestone last week, I spoke with a few freshmen members and reported out what I learned in a deep dive that paid subscribers received over the weekend.
••• A few essential takeaways:
They’re a tight-knit class. “We all feel this deep, deep belief in each other that we are going to make positive changes,” Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont told me. “And it may take a long time, but there is an optimism and a joy about our ability to get work done.”
They’ve won the support of leadership. House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar described the freshman as an incredible group of leaders who put people over politics in the legislation they advocate and their commitment to their constituents back home. “The future of our party is incredibly bright,” Aguilar told me in a statement.
They count AOC as a mentor. Several freshmen serve on the Oversight Committee and mentioned the mentorship of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and the second-ranking Democrat on the committee as pivotal to helping them learn the ropes. Ocasio-Cortez told me that when she first came in mentorship was hard to come by beyond a few members and she didn’t want the freshmen to experience the same.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Monday, April 24.
HARRIS GRABS SOME AREPAS ••• Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday afternoon made a surprise stop at Doggi’s Arepa Bar in Miami after speaking about coastal resilience earlier in the day.
“I’ve been reading about your arepas forever and I wanted to come and get some,” Harris said of the common street food in Venezuela, Colombia and other parts of South America.
She was greeted by owner Giovanni Estes who said his business is an example of an immigrant success story.
“This is America,” Estes said. “That is why we came to this country — to work hard.”
LOFGREN APPLAUDS NEW DHS AI TASK FORCE ••• Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and the top Democrat on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, called the Homeland Security Department’s announcement of its first-ever Artificial Intelligence Task Force a positive step forward to mitigating risks that arise from the technology.
“The pace of change for AI development has been incredible, helping to improve our national security while also dramatically changing the nature of the threats we face,” Lofgren said in a statement.
The task force will focus on four priority initiatives:
Integrating AI to enhance American supply chains, including screening cargo and identifying imported goods produced with forced labor
Countering the flow of fentanyl into the US
Identifying, locating, and rescuing victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse and identifying and apprehending the perpetrators
Assessing the impact of AI on our ability to secure critical infrastructure
The task force will be required to provide Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas with a concept of operations and milestones for advancing these priorities within 60 days.
EYE ON THE WORLD ••• BIDEN EVACUATES SUDAN EMBASSY: President Biden on Saturday ordered the successful evacuation of the US diplomats in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum amid a violent power struggle within the northeastern African country’s military leadership.
The US is also temporarily suspending operations at the US Embassy in Sudan.
“I am relieved that the Biden administration safely evacuated all US government personnel in Sudan,” Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “I commend the steadfast work of US diplomats and military professionals, as well as the support of partner nations in the region, that made the evacuation mission a success.” (The White House mentioned Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia as countries that were critical to the success of the evacuation).
The administration defended its decision not to coordinate an evacuation of American citizens and pointed to warnings from the State Department since last year against traveling to the region. The White House also mentioned that the US government didn’t provide large-scale evacuations for American citizens in Libya, Yemen and Syria as those governments collapsed.
President Biden called for an end to the violence in the country that has already killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
“The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access and respect the will of the people of Sudan.”
2024 WATCH ••• BIDEN MAY ANNOUNCE HIS RE-ELECT BID THIS WEEK: President Biden is notorious for slow-walking big decisions and the official announcement of his re-election campaign is no different.
For the past week, White House reporters have been engaged in a game of will-he, won’t he? as conflicting information out of Bidenworld indicates an announcement is as imminent as Tuesday or as far off as this summer.
••• Here’s what’s been reported so far:
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, director of the White House office of intergovernmental affairs, is expected to be tapped as campaign manager, Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer of WaPo reported last week.
Michael Tyler, a former senior advisor to Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s 2020 presidential campaign, is under consideration for the role of communications director, Christopher Cadelago and Sam Stein at Politico report. This is noteworthy because Tyler isn’t known as a part of Biden’s inner circle, an indication that the president is expanding his orbit in 2024.
Biden recorded the re-election launch video at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware over two days after returning from a four-day trip to Ireland. The video is expected to be between 90 seconds and two minutes, per Pager and Scherer.
President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden met with senior aides once they got back to the White House to finalize the details of the launch, which set off a dash to coordinate a summit with top donors and set up a website to receive donations, they also report.
The campaign is expected to be headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Philadelphia was mentioned as a possible site for the campaign's HQ.
Senior advisor Anita Dunn and Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon will have a significant influence on the campaign from the White House. MSNBC host and former press secretary Jen Psaki describes Dunn as one of the “key strategic brains behind nearly everything that happens in the White House. Dillon, who was Biden’s 2020 campaign manager, “is tough, strategic and has an encyclopedic knowledge of districts and turnout operations”
The Democratic National Committee will support Biden’s re-election and has announced it won’t hold any primary debates. The party’s national convention will be in Chicago next August.
••• AZ DEMS PLEDGE SUPPORT TO STATE PRIMARY WINNER: The Arizona Democratic Party on Saturday passed a resolution to support the winner of the 2024 Arizona Democratic primary for the US Senate to replace incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Rep. Ruben Gallego is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Arizona Democrats are calling on President Biden, Vice President Harris, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and congressional Democratic leaders to do the same.
Sinema, who switched her party affiliation from Democratic to Independent last December, hasn’t announced if she will seek re-election.
••• JUSTICE PLANS MANCHIN CHALLENGE: Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia is expected to launch a campaign for the Republican nomination for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s seat.
Justice has been a top recruit for the Republican establishment as they look to flip the seat in the deep-red state.
Manchin has repeatedly said he will not announce his future plans until the end of the year. Senate Democrats view holding their seats in West Virginia, Montana and Ohio as critical to protecting their majority as they face a tough map next year.
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All times Eastern:
President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am). This afternoon, he will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris (12 pm) before honoring the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2023 Teachers of the Year with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona (2 pm). Biden will also meet with state Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson of the “Tennessee Three” (3:15 pm).
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will speak about American manufacturing at the North America's Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference. He and Dr. Biden will also participate in a visit to the Korean War Memorial with President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kim Keon Hee of South Korea.
Wednesday: The president and first lady will host President Yoon and Kim for a state visit at the White House.
Friday: Biden will present the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy to the Air Force Falcons.
Saturday: The president will speak at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Vice President Harris, Dr. Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also attend.
Harris’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The vice president and President Yoon will tour NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and speak to the press. She will also speak about reproductive freedom at Howard University.
Wednesday: Harris and the second gentleman will join the president and first lady to greet President Yoon and Kim for the official arrival ceremony for the state visit. She and Emhoff will join the Bidens for a state dinner in the evening.
Thursday: The vice president will preside over a joint session of Congress and co-host a luncheon for President Yoon and Kim with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The first lady will host a media preview of South Korea’s official state visit (4 pm).
The House and Senate are out.
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