Ronald Reagan put Kennedy, 81, on the court in 1988. He got confirmed on a 97-to-0 vote after Robert Bork got rejected and Douglas Ginsburg went down for smoking pot. Since the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, he’s become indisputably the most powerful justice. Attorneys on both sides of every issue have written their briefs with him in mind.
“His departure leaves the future of U.S. constitutional law entirely up for grabs,” said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor who clerked for Kennedy from 1990 to 1991. “In his 31 terms on the court, Kennedy led or tied for the most 5-to-4 cases in the majority a remarkable 20 times, including every term but one since swing justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006.”
Of the 276 majority opinions that Kennedy has written, 92 of them were in cases decided 5 to 4. “In the term just completed, he lined up with fellow conservatives in 13 cases decided 5-4,” notes USA Today’s Richard Wolf. “In the 2014 term, he was with the liberals in eight cases decided 5-4, and the conservatives five times. The following year, he was the only justice to win every 5-4 decision.”
-- He has been more consistently conservative on most issues than his reputation suggests. For example, Kennedy wanted to strike down Obamacare in 2012. (It was Chief Justice John Roberts who saved the Affordable Care Act.)
- Kennedy wrote the 5-to-4 majority opinion in Citizens United in 2010, which opened the floodgates to independent political spending from billionaires and corporations.
- In 2008, 10 years ago this week, Kennedy was the fifth vote to strike down D.C.’s ban on possessing handguns, which changed the court’s reading of the Second Amendment for the first time in more than half a century.
He also cast a pivotal vote that delivered the presidential election to George W. Bush in 2000, narrowed the Miranda rights of defendants facing criminal charges in 2010 and invalidated a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, which paved the way for red states to pass strict voter ID laws.
-- But as a native Westerner — born in California in the 1930s – Kennedy also had more of a libertarian streak than his GOP-aligned colleagues from the East. This made him more moderate on social issues and more amenable to siding with liberals to check the zealousness of social conservatives. The decisions in this arena will ultimately be his legacy.
Here are five big issues on which Kennedy cast at least one decisive vote:
1. Preserving Roe v. Wade:
Kennedy endorsed the “undue burden” standard in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that upheld Roe v. Wade on a 5-to-4 vote.
In 2016, Kennedy was the fifth vote to strike down a Texas law that would have led to the closure of most abortion clinics there. He rejected the state’s argument that the government had a compelling interest in protecting women from making poor choices to justify limiting access to reproductive services.
Trump promised as a candidate he would use his judicial appointments to try overturning Roe, which will be a central issue of the coming confirmation battle to replace Kennedy. “Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen,” the president said in 2016.
- “We trust him to follow through on his promise,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List.
- “That promise should set off alarm bells for anyone who cares about women — and the Constitution,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
2. Championing gay rights:
A century from now, Kennedy will probably be most remembered for his 2015 majority opinion that recognized a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. “The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest,” he wrote, joined by the court’s four liberals. “With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,” he added. “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. … No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”
Kennedy also wrote the majority opinion in three other key gay rights cases. “The first was Romer v. Evans in 1996, when the justices struck down a Colorado law that prevented gay people from being recognized as a protected class,” Jessica Contrera notes. “That ruling paved the way for Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 decision that made sex between gay couples legal across the country, even in those 13 states that still had sodomy laws on the books. Ten years later came United States v. Windsor, the case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act … Kennedy’s record is not spotless in the eyes of advocates. Before he became a Supreme Court justice, he ruled in favor of the Navy being allowed to discharge gays. In 2000, he sided with the conservative justices who held that the Boy Scouts of America could ban gay adults from being scoutmasters.”
3. Curtailing the death penalty:
In 2005, Kennedy sided with liberals to strike down the death penalty for people convicted of committing murders while under 18. “When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the State cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity,” he wrote in the majority opinion.
The opinion was especially controversial because Kennedy also argued, “It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty.”
In 2008, Kennedy was the fifth vote to strike down the death penalty for people who were convicted of crimes other than homicide.
In 2014, Kennedy was again the deciding vote on a ruling that made it more difficult to execute the mentally ill by striking down Florida’s use of an I.Q. test. “The death penalty is the gravest sentence our society may impose,” he wrote. “Florida’s law contravenes our nation’s commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human decency as the mark of a civilized world.”
Kennedy could be unpredictably erratic on this and many other hot-button issues: “The same justice who cast a deciding vote in 2005 to abolish the death penalty for offenders under 18, after voting 16 years earlier to uphold it, and who voted to abolish the death penalty for non-homicide crimes, also voted to uphold California’s draconian ‘three strikes’ law, which put people behind bars for 25 years to life if they committed a third felony, even a nonviolent one. Thereafter, he cast the deciding vote in favor of a lower-court ruling requiring California to reduce prison overcrowding,” The Washington Post’s Editorial Board notes.
4. Blocking prayer in school:
In 1992, George H.W. Bush sought to galvanize the religious right by seizing on a case involving a clergyman who delivered an invocation and benediction at a public junior high school graduation ceremony in Rhode Island. Kennedy, as the decisive fifth vote, rejected the administration’s request to allow religion to play a greater role in public life by loosening the court’s reading of the establishment clause in the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment's religion clauses mean that religious beliefs and religious expression are too precious to be either proscribed or prescribed by the state,” Kennedy wrote. “The lessons of the First Amendment are as urgent in the modern world as in the 18th century when it was written. … To compromise that principle today would be to deny our own tradition and forfeit our standing to urge others to secure the protections of that tradition for themselves.”
5. Extending habeas corpus:
In 2008, Kennedy was the fifth vote that gave terrorism suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. He pointedly rejected Bush’s claim that the military prison was outside the reach of federal courts because it was technically located in Cuba.
“It is true that before today the Court has never held that noncitizens detained by our Government in territory over which another country maintains de jure sovereignty have any rights under our Constitution,” Kennedy wrote. “But the cases before us lack any precise historical parallel. They involve individuals detained by executive order for the duration of a conflict that, if measured from September 11, 2001, to the present, is already among the longest wars in American history.”
WHO WILL TRUMP PICK?
-- Trump confirmed yesterday that he will pick from among the 25 judges who he floated during the 2016 campaign. Every person on the list has a record that suggests they are further to the right than Kennedy. Sources tell us that seven should be considered the front-runners:
- Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, who is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Raymond Gruender of Missouri (8th Circuit)
- Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania (3rd Circuit)
- Raymond Kethledge of Michigan (6th Circuit)
- William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama (11th Circuit)
- Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana (7th Circuit)
- Amul Thapar of Kentucky (6th Circuit)
“With the exceptions of Barrett and Thapar, all are George W. Bush appointees,” Felicia Sonmez, Devlin Barrett, Amber Phillips and Robert Barnes report. (They handicap the selection process here.)
-- Celebrating Kennedy’s announcement during a rally in North Dakota last night, Trump told the crowd that he is looking to choose a reliable conservative who can serve on the court for 40 to 45 years. “I’m very honored he chose to do it during my term in office because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his legacy,” the president said.
-- Neil “Gorsuch’s appointment returned the court to the status quo that existed before Scalia died in 2016. But a court without Kennedy will be a different place,” writes Robert Barnes. “Many, if not all, of Kennedy’s decisions will be at risk in a court with five consistent conservatives, the oldest being Justice Clarence Thomas, 70.”
THE CONFIRMATION BATTLE:
-- Senate Republicans said they plan to hold a confirmation vote in the fall before the November elections. “Democrats have little recourse when it comes to blocking consideration of Trump’s nominee,” Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report. “Senate Republicans voted last year to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for Supreme Court nominees, meaning the GOP will not need Democratic votes to confirm Kennedy’s successor unless some Republicans defect. But moderate Republicans have been reliable votes for Trump on judicial nominees.
“Three of the Democrats up for reelection in states Trump won in 2016 — Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — voted last year for [Gorsuch]. On Wednesday, none of them gave any indication of being interested in a fight over Kennedy’s replacement, even as other Democratic senators and party activists ratcheted up pressure to oppose the pick.
“McConnell’s push to move quickly angered Democrats who remain furious with the Republican leader for refusing in 2016 to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of that year.”
-- “McConnell could barely hide his glee,” Sean Sullivan reports: “On Wednesday, in an interview with Politico hours before Kennedy’s announcement, McConnell, 76, said keeping the seat vacant was the ‘most consequential decision I’ve ever made.’ [Chuck] Schumer suggested following the McConnell model and waiting until after voters have had their say in the midterm elections. McConnell dismissed that notion. ‘There’s no presidential election this year,’ he told reporters.”
-- Watch retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. “After more than a week of concealed motives, Flake made clear over the weekend that his objection earlier this month to a circuit-court nominee from Georgia was indeed part of his new policy to block these appellate judges from confirmation. In exchange, he wants a Senate vote on an amendment to rein in Trump’s power to impose tariffs on foreign goods,” Paul Kane reports. “Flake is using a basic tool to block the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of circuit-court judges — his vote. He is a member of the committee, which is divided between 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, sharply along conservative and liberal ideological lines. So he has informed Grassley he will vote no on any Trump circuit-court nominee, in committee and on the Senate floor. Assuming all Democrats vote no, the result would be a negative vote in the committee, all but guaranteeing the nomination dies there.
“With Supreme Court nominations, tradition dictates the full Senate gets to cast a vote even if the committee has a negative recommendation. But, if Flake wanted to go fully nuclear, he might be able to hold a high-court nominee hostage, because the current Senate makeup has 50 Republicans and 49 members of the Democratic caucus — as Sen. John McCain (R) remains home in Arizona battling brain cancer. … Flake [said he] is not sure whether his judicial-tariff blockade applies to the Supreme Court.”
THE IMPACT ON THE MIDTERMS:
-- “The already-ferocious nomination battle is likely to clarify the choices for voters in Senate races across the country, strategists said, and affect other contests down the ballot. And even if Republicans install a replacement for Kennedy before the November election, the debate is still likely to thrust to the forefront issues that have been largely overlooked on the campaign trail until now,” Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan report. “Suddenly, everything seems at stake, according to the messages party leaders delivered on Wednesday, and both parties saw an advantage in boosting voter turnout. Democrats said no less than the future of abortion rights, health care, collective bargaining and same-sex equality is in peril, while Republicans claimed a seminal opportunity to shift the high court’s ideological orientation solidly to the right for a generation or more.”
- “There’s nothing like a Supreme Court debate to energize partisans,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “Whatever advantage Democrats had in terms of voter energy may have just been negated. This is like giving our GOP base voters a shot of adrenaline.”
- “The stakes for Democratic voters in this election already were extremely high, and the Supreme Court vacancy supercharges all of that,” said Democratic pollster Geoff Garin.
“Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Indiana looks to be ‘ground zero’ for the political fight over the Supreme Court. Trump won the Hoosier State by 19 percentage points, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) is up for reelection there this fall. ‘It’s a socially conservative state that does vote for moderate Democrats,’ Luntz said of Indiana, where Mike Pence was governor before becoming vice president. ‘But if you don’t get behind Trump’s nominee, they will punish you. And if Donnelly does say he’ll support Trump’s nominee, he’ll have Democrats stay home in protest.’ Donnelly was careful with his words on Wednesday, saying in a statement, ‘I will thoroughly review the record and qualifications of any nominee presented to the Senate.’”
-- George F. Will, the conservative columnist who urged readers to vote for Democrats in his column last weekend, believes this vacancy will definitely help the GOP in 2018: “It is arguable, indeed plausible, that Trump would not have won if Scalia had not died. And it is likely that Kennedy’s retirement, by focusing attention on the Supreme Court and hence on the Senate, will redound to the benefit of Republicans this autumn. Religious conservatives will consider this providential and will, for perhaps the first time, thank God for Kennedy.”
-- On the other side, Post columnist E.J. Dionne urges liberals to fight with everything they have: “All the recent talk about civility should not stop opponents of a right-wing court from doing everything in their power to keep the judiciary from being packed with ideologues who behave as partisans. There is nothing civil about rushing a nominee to replace Kennedy before the midterm elections. And no rule of civility demands the confirmation of justices who would leave an abusive president unchecked and use raw judicial power to roll back a century’s worth of social progress.”
-- “The Supreme Court will now fall to chaos,” frets Joshua Matz, publisher of the Take Care legal blog and a law clerk to Kennedy from 2014 to 2015. “Many have lost faith in their institutions of government. … Yet even in this cynical age, the court has maintained formidable public support. Kennedy is an essential part of that story. … As a result, his retirement will spark chaos. … Accordingly, the court’s very legitimacy is now up for grabs. Signs suggest that President Trump aims to move the court so far to the right that half the nation will inevitably deem it an avowed enemy. The confirmation battle ahead will place the court under crushing pressure. And if the result is a muscular, immodest conservative majority, the center will not hold.”
HOW IT’S PLAYING:
-- Time Magazine cover story: “With Justice Kennedy Gone, It’s Trump’s Court Now.”
-- SCOTUSblog’s Thomas Goldstein: “An already right-leaning Supreme Court is poised to become the most conservative institution in the entire history of America’s government.”
-- New York Times: “In Influence if Not in Title, This Has Been the Kennedy Court.”
-- FiveThirtyEight: “John Roberts Will Probably Be The Supreme Court’s Next Swing Justice.”
-- The Atlantic: “The Last of the Small-Town Lawyers.”
-- Daily Beast: “Kennedy’s Retirement Has Sparked a Push to Get IUDs.”
-- Slate: “The End of Roe.”
-- Daily Mail: “'We have a chance to take down Roe v. Wade!' Iowa evangelical kingmaker predicts Trump's next Supreme Court pick will 'revert' federal law to ban gay marriage and abortion.”
-- Washington Examiner: “Kennedy got cold feet and kept abortion legal.”
-- Reuters: “In Supreme Court pick, Trump can push conservative social agenda.”
-- BuzzFeed News: “Kennedy’s Retirement Hands Conservatives Their Best Shot To Weaken Same-Sex Marriage Rights.”
-- The New Yorker: “Kennedy's Travel-Ban Opinion, in Light of His Retirement.”
-- HuffPost: “This Has Been The Best Week For Trump But The Worst Week For America.”
-- Austin American-Statesman: “Will it be Willett? Supreme Court vacancy puts Texan in play again.”
-- KCCI (Des Moines CBS affiliate): “Iowans could play key role in Kennedy's replacement.”
-- KSL (Salt Lake City NBC affiliate): “Sen. Mike Lee and his brother on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist.”
-- The Hill: “Ted Cruz: Mike Lee best choice to fill Supreme Court vacancy.”
-- New Orleans Times-Picayune: “On Trump's Supreme Court list are 3 judges with Louisiana ties.”
-- Bloomberg’s Mark Gongloff: “Kennedy Hands Trump the Keys to the Future.”
-- Bustle: “Will Ruth Bader Ginsburg Retire Soon? Kennedy's Announcement Is Making People Worry.”
-- San Francisco Chronicle: “Liberals freak out over … Kennedy's retirement.”
-- GQ Magazine: “Why Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Is Even Worse Than You Think.”
-- AOL: “Donald Trump Jr. says having Jeanine Pirro on the Supreme Court would be 'awesome.’”
-- National Review’s David French: “Kennedy Retires, and the Legal and Political Ramifications Are Immense.”
-- Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “The consequential jurist has done the country a favor by retiring.”
-- Daily Caller: “Trump Reveals the Real Reason Why Kennedy Retired — He Had Faith In POTUS.”
-- The New Republic: “Kennedy’s Greatest Legacy: His Exit. The timing of the Supreme Court justice's retirement will shape policy for a generation.”
A HUGE BLOW TO ORGANIZED LABOR:
-- The Supreme Court ruled public-employee unions could not require nonmembers to pay collective-bargaining fees. Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow report: “The court, in a 5-to-4 decision, overturned a 40-year-old precedent, arguing that the rule could require workers to give financial support to public policy positions they oppose. ‘States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees,’ Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority. ‘This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue.’ Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the dissenting liberals, objecting to a decision that she said would ‘wreak havoc’ by undoing labor agreements throughout the country. …
“It was a devastating, if not unexpected, loss for public-employee unions, the most vital component of organized labor and a major player in Democratic Party politics. Major public-employee unions pour millions into independent campaigns, largely to bolster Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, and their members are steadfast participants in sophisticated get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. Now their resources will be diminished. … The ruling capped a years-long effort by conservative legal activists to forbid states from authorizing the fees. It is a major success for well-financed groups on the right such as the Koch network, which have battled public-employee unions in Wisconsin and other states. The case concerns only public-sector unions, but union officials said that because those make up such a large percentage of the labor movement, the impact of the decision is great.”
-- Major unions are now bracing for a significant financial hit as public employees drop their memberships. Moriah Balingit and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel report: “The National Education Association — the nation’s biggest union, with more than 3 million teachers — said it fears losing about 200,000 members this year and possibly 100,000 more next year. It, along with other public-sector unions, has worked to aggressively recruit and retain members, sometimes by having them sign pledge cards and providing professional development for new teachers. Lily Eskelsen García, the union’s president, said her union is preparing to cut about $28 million from its budget and about 40 people from its 400-person staff.”
-- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees believes just over than a third of its members are guaranteed to continue paying dues now that they can choose to opt out, per Bloomberg News.
-- The court also issued a decision in a long-running water dispute between Florida and Georgia, sending the case back to a special master who previously ruled in Georgia’s favor. Robert Barnes reports: “[The two states] have been fighting for three decades over the waters in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin, which covers more than 19,600 square miles in three states. The current Supreme Court battle has eaten up a combined $100 million in legal fees. At stake is whether the flow of water will favor Atlanta and the farmers of southwestern Georgia or the seafood producers of Apalachicola Bay in the Florida Panhandle, who say the environment and their livelihoods have been harmed.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The White House and the Kremlin announced Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet on July 16 in Helsinki. John Wagner, Anton Troianovski and Philip Rucker report: “The meeting, planned in recent days, signals a growing rapprochement between the United States and Russia. Both men have pursued the tete-a-tete in hopes of soothing tensions over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere, despite retaliatory actions taken by both governments this year. ‘The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“Finland, officially neutral during the Cold War and not a NATO member, shares a border with Russia, and its president, Sauli Niinisto, has fostered a relationship with Putin. The date falls after previously planned stops during a trip to Europe by Trump for a NATO summit meeting July 11-12 in Brussels and a visit to Britain on July 13. It also allows Putin to be in Moscow for the World Cup final on July 15. Plans for the Trump-Putin summit were finalized on Wednesday by national security adviser John Bolton, who held marathon meetings in Moscow that included talks with Putin himself at the Kremlin.”
GET SMART FAST:
- An East Pittsburgh police officer was charged with criminal homicide after he fatally shot unarmed black teenager Antwon Rose three times in the back last week. “We think we should have the right to argue murder in the first degree,” the local D.A. said. Such a charge would carry with it a life sentence in prison. “It’s an intentional act, and there is no justification … You do not shoot somebody in the back if they are not a threat to you.” (Amy B Wang and Alex Horton)
- The Ohio man accused of running his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was charged with multiple hate crimes. They are connected to the death of Heather Heyer, as well as to the injuries of dozens of others in the vehicular attack. (Joe Heim, Devlin Barrett and Hannah Natanson)
- North Korea continues to expand one of its nuclear facilities. Some experts argue the ongoing work at the Yongbyon facility indicates North Korea has no intention of disarming. (NBC News)
- A Libyan militia leader and suspected “ringleader” of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Abu Khattala, was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He was convicted in November on charges including conspiracy and providing material to terrorists ahead of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission. (Spencer S. Hsu)
- Virginia’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against an OxyContin producer. Mark Herring accused the company, Purdue Pharma, of creating the opioid epidemic through “false claims about the purported safety, efficacy and benefits of its opioids, including OxyContin.” (Laura Vozzella)
- A group of Notre Dame students is suing the school for restricting their access to certain types of birth control after the contraception was deemed to be “abortion-inducing” and thus excluded from the Catholic university's health-care coverage. The new rule is expected to impact 8 percent of undergraduates and 60 percent of graduate students, the university said. (Erin B. Logan)
- Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin sued two of his children, who sought a court order to oversee the 88-year-old’s finances. Andy and Jan Aldrin claimed the order was meant to protect their father, who is showing “increased confusion and memory loss,” but the elder Aldrin accused them of taking advantage of him. (Christian Davenport)
- A new AAA study found that “distracted drivers” in the U.S. kill more than 3,500 people and injure 390,000 others each year. According to researchers, new technology-equipped vehicles could be to blame; boasting touch screens, voice commands and “infotainment” centers that shave off response time and heighten the likelihood of a crash. (Ashley Halsey III)
- Despite losing 3-0 to Sweden, Mexico will advance to the next round of the World Cup due to Germany’s shocking 2-0 loss to South Korea. Germany, the defending World Cup champions, went home. (Chuck Culpepper and Cindy Boren)
- Jayson Werth, a longtime fixture of Nationals baseball, has retired from the sport at 39. Werth, who spent this season playing for the Seattle Mariners’ AAA team, said he now plans to coach his kids and take up tennis. (Adam Kilgore)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The House soundly rejected an immigration bill that tried to reconcile the differences between conservatives and moderates. Mike DeBonis and John Wagner report: “The bill failed on a vote of 301 to 121 despite a last-minute tweet — in all-capital letters — of support from Trump, the backing of GOP leadership and weeks of negotiations . . . But the GOP has been unable to bridge the divide between hard-liners aligned with Trump and moderates intent on addressing the fate of [‘dreamers’]. Highlighting the GOP’s failure to achieve consensus on any immigration-related legislation, Republican aides said the House would not vote this week on a narrower measure aimed squarely at the separation policy, thanks to disputes between Congress and the White House on how far such a bill should go.”
-- Moderate House Republicans felt betrayed by the Freedom Caucus, who helped craft the compromise measure and then opposed it. Politico’s Rachael Bade reports: “[O]n the morning of a scheduled June 21 vote, moderates got their hands on an explosive missive from the Freedom Caucus’ top staffer: an email warning group members that voters would punish them for backing any bill with a whiff of ‘amnesty.’ ‘This is bull—-,’ Rep. Tom MacArthur scolded [Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)] at a meeting in [Paul Ryan’s] office that day. The New Jersey Republican, who had worked closely with Meadows in the past and wanted a deal, demanded to know why Meadows appeared to be backing away from a bill he helped craft. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a leader of the pro-immigration reform centrists, read the Freedom Caucus email aloud, as Meadows insisted he had no knowledge of it. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said he’d been warned not to trust the Freedom Caucus, seething that he’d never make that mistake again.”
-- Between the House vote and a federal judge’s decision to bar family separations at the border, Trump’s immigration crackdown appears to be at a standstill. Devlin Barrett, Mike DeBonis, Nick Miroff and Isaac Stanley-Becker report: “The judge’s ruling ordering the government to give migrant parents their children back could mean the vast majority will be released with an ankle monitoring device or some other alternative to detention, because the government’s capacity to hold families together in custody is limited. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has two large ‘family residential centers’ in Texas and a smaller one in Pennsylvania, with a combined capacity of about 3,000 beds. But those facilities are nearly full, and DHS officials acknowledge that the practical implication of the judge’s ruling ordering the migrant children’s return will be something akin to ‘reunite and release.’ One glimpse into the government’s expansion plans came Wednesday evening, as the Defense Department notified lawmakers of a formal DHS request to house migrant families at military installations that could hold up to 12,000 migrants.”
-- Federal officials have launched two reviews of the Trump administration's handling of migrant children separated from their parents. From Politico’s Dan Diamond: “The GAO told Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) that it will audit the systems and processes used to track families as they were separated, including how the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement monitored each minor in its care … Meanwhile, the HHS inspector general announced that it will review the safety and health protections in the agency's shelters for migrant children. Senate Democrats last week called for the review, citing reports that some children were receiving substandard care.”
-- Protesters gathered at ICE headquarters in Washington. Marissa J. Lang reports: “Wednesday’s protest was the latest in a series of anti-ICE demonstrations around the country, calling for the disbandment of the organization and the immediate return of migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border. Activists in cities around the country — including Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego — over the past few weeks have disrupted operations at ICE facilities, part of an effort dubbed ‘Occupy ICE.’”
-- Demonstrators in Portland, Ore., have even set up a camp outside the city’s ICE building. Leah Sottile reports: “The makeshift city outside the [ICE] building here has swelled to more than 90 tents, and protesters appear to be willing to dig in for the long haul. It’s been 10 days now, and ‘Multnomah Camp’ is fortified with a wall made of wood and blue tarps and is adorned with signs declaring a simple message. ‘Abolish ICE.’ In chalk, the protesters have written ‘Nazis Inside,’ and those inside have looked down on the din from top-floor offices. Thus far, it has been boisterous but peaceful.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- A newly unsealed court document found that Paul Manafort obtained a $10 million loan from Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch and Putin ally who was offered private briefings by Manafort during the 2016 campaign. (The Guardian reported last week that a longtime U.S. lobbyist for Deripaska had visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange nine times last year). “In an affidavit, [an] FBI agent said he had reviewed tax returns for a company controlled by Manafort and his wife that showed [the $10 million loan],” Reuters reports. Special counsel Robert “Mueller also has indicted [lobbyist Konstantin Kilimnik], who sometimes served as an intermediary between Manafort and Deripaska. In court filings Mueller’s prosecutors have said Kilimnik has ties to Russian spy agencies, which Kilimnik denies. The affidavit unsealed . . . also disclosed that Deripaska had financially backed Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine [between 2005-2006.]” That information was cited from a redacted source — a sign that one of Manafort’s former employees could be cooperating in the probe. The search warrant application also confirmed that Mueller has been investigating Manafort’s role in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
-- Former FBI official Peter Strzok told lawmakers his decisions were not swayed by his political beliefs. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees interviewed Strzok for 11 hours Wednesday, the last 90 minutes of which were in a classified setting. Emerging from that classified portion, [Rep. Meadows] said that he remains ‘unconvinced that political bias did not have a factor in some of the decisions’ Strzok played a role in — referring specifically to those ‘on ongoing investigative decisions,’ such as the Russia probe.”
-- The House is slated to vote on a measure today that would effectively “chastise” DOJ for failing to provide it with sensitive documents connected to Mueller’s probe. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and John Bresnahan report: “The resolution is unenforceable but would for the first time put the Republican-led House on record demanding sensitive DOJ documents, escalating a confrontation that has so far been confined to a handful of powerful House committees. The resolution repeatedly accuses the DOJ of 'non-compliance' with House subpoenas — including several issued by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And it demands the agency turn over all requested documents by July 6.”
Mark Meadows told reporters that if the department “fails to comply with the resolution,” Congress should either impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who is overseeing the special counsel investigation — or hold him in contempt of Congress. (Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray are on Capitol Hill this morning to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.)
-- Nancy Pelosi is fighting off reinvigorated calls for her to step aside after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory over Joe Crowley. Paul Kane and Erica Werner write: “[Pelosi] deflected questions Wednesday about the generational divide that is shaping up ahead of the November elections, as her party has nominated dozens of younger newcomers to politics, energized in reaction to [Trump], who are preaching a new brand of politics. ‘Well I’m female, I’m progressive,’ Pelosi told reporters at a Wednesday morning news conference, vowing to stay in office. ‘What’s your problem? Two out of three ain’t bad.’ More than a dozen of these Democratic candidates have joined Ocasio-Cortez in suggesting Pelosi, 78, should move aside for the next generation of leaders. … However, the Crowley loss produced a countervailing defense from Pelosi’s top lieutenants, who now see a slew of Democratic understudies who have little experience on Capitol Hill. Now, with no experienced people next in line, Pelosi’s and [Steny] Hoyer’s steady hands are needed more than ever against such a fierce opponent as Trump, her defenders say.”
-- “The worst thing to be in many Democratic primaries? A white male candidate,” by Michael Scherer and David Weigel: “Given an option, Democratic voters have been picking women, racial minorities, and gay men and lesbians in races around the country at historic rates, often at the expense of the white male candidates who in past years typified the party’s offerings. The divide is more stark than any other so far in the primary season, and it reflects the party’s growing dependence on female and minority voters. … The tribal trend has implications for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, where a historic number of nonwhite and female candidates are considering launching campaigns … [and] will likely face off against a cadre of more traditional white male candidates.”
-- The next Ocasio-Cortez? Vanessa Williams reports: “[Massachusetts congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley] is hoping to become the next giant-slayer in this year’s midterms. The first black woman to serve on the Boston City Council, Pressley, 44, is challenging Rep. Michael Capuano, 66, a 10-term incumbent in Massachusetts’ 7th District. In the same way that Ocasio-Cortez defied the odds to defeat Crowley … Pressley is looking to prove political handicappers wrong by defeating Capuano in the Sept. 4 primary. … [But] Pressley has struggled to make the case for why voters should replace Capuano with her, as both have similar positions on economic and social issues and have been vocal critics of the Trump administration’s policies.”
-- “An Upset in the Making: Why Joe Crowley Never Saw Defeat Coming,” by the New York Times’s Shane Goldmacher: “No single factor led to Mr. Crowley’s defeat, more than a half-dozen officials inside and close to his campaign said in interviews . . . It was demographics and generational change, insider versus outsider, traditional tactics versus modern-age digital organizing. It was the cumulative weight of them all …”
- “To prepare for the race, Mr. Crowley’s campaign commissioned its first poll early in 2018; the results showed him far ahead. But the poll also had some worrisome numbers: He was remarkably little known back home, despite his many years in office, and his favorability rating was also low …”
- “By early June, the Crowley campaign was already on high alert. He had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers and voter outreach, but Mr. Crowley remained mired in the low 50s in the head-to-head matchup — a danger zone for any incumbent. … Still, few expected Mr. Crowley would be felled, as his family and staff filed into his headquarters on Tuesday evening . . .
- “Two officials in the Crowley camp said turnout had been only slightly higher than expected. Either she had turned out different voters, or they voted the other way. It was too early to tell. The result was the same. … People were crying. Mr. Crowley was consoling them. ‘I’m sorry,’ he apologized to some.”
-- Barack Obama plans to campaign for Democratic candidates this fall. CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports: “The timeline is fluid but the former president is expected to start making an impact in September, according to two sources familiar with his team's plan. One source close to Obama said his team has not decided when the former president will start campaigning or which districts he will focus on.”
-- The DNC voted to curb the power of superdelegates for the 2020 convention. David Weigel reports: “At the end of a three-hour conference call, which was opened to the public, the Rules and Bylaws Committee adopted a compromise that grew out of lengthy negotiations between supporters of [Clinton’s] 2016 campaign and supporters of [Bernie Sanders]. In the past, superdelegates were able to vote on the first ballot at the convention, for any nominee. The new rule would prohibit superdelegates from voting until a second ballot, or in the event a candidate arrived at the convention with enough pledged delegates — earned in primaries and caucuses — to secure the nomination.” Sanders applauded the change, calling it a “major step forward in making the Democratic Party more open and transparent.”
-- “Voters in three key Senate battleground states prefer the next Congress to be a check on [Trump] rather than a booster for his policy priorities, and only about a third say Trump deserves to be re-elected, according to new polls of Arizona, Florida and Ohio conducted by NBC News and Marist College,” NBC's Carrie Dann reports: “In Arizona, 52 percent of registered voters say they’ll use their vote to send a message that the country needs more Democrats to serve as a check on Trump, while 36 percent said the nation needs more Republicans to pass his agenda. In Florida, another key swing state … 49 percent of voters favor a Congress that serves as a check on Trump … And in Ohio, 51 percent want more Democrats in Congress in order to counter Trump’s efforts.”
-- Why Rushern Baker fell to Ben Jealous in Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, via Arelis R. Hernández: “The 59-year-old political veteran had the support of almost every major elected official in the state. But he failed to capture attention and generate excitement from voters, finding himself attacked by unions and political enemies and lacking the money to effectively communicate his message.”
-- Many Democrats who cast ballots in Maryland’s primary said they either intend to vote for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan (R) or are strongly considering it, a sign of how difficult it will be for Jealous to topple the popular incumbent. From Steve Thompson and Fenit Nirappil: “Seventy-one percent of Marylanders approve of Hogan’s job performance, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released three weeks before the primary. In a head-to-head matchup, 29 percent of registered Democrats said they would vote for Hogan, while 60 percent would vote for Jealous. That Democratic support gives Hogan a strong initial advantage as the general-election campaign begins.”
-- “The general-election contest will ask voters to choose between starkly different visions for Maryland’s future: Jealous’s ambitious plans to offer debt-free college, reduce the prison population and provide universal health care, and Hogan’s proposals to control spending, reduce taxes and draw new businesses to Maryland,” Ovetta Wiggins and Robert McCartney note.
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Former Fox News president Bill Shine, who was forced from the company in 2017 after he was accused of enabling the alleged sexual misconduct of then-Fox chairman Roger Ailes, is in “advanced talks” with Trump to become the next White House communications director. Josh Dawsey reports: “The negotiations remain fluid, administration officials said, but Shine is viewed inside the White House as the front-runner for the post, which has been vacant for several months since communications director Hope Hicks left the administration. Shine is expected to visit the White House this week, officials said, and has met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.”
-- Trump’s nominee to head the IRS failed to disclose his financial stake in a Trump-branded resort. Bloomberg News's Lynnley Browning and Laura Davison report: “[Charles] Rettig, a tax lawyer from Beverly Hills, reported on a [Senate Finance Committee] questionnaire about assets and income that he had 50 percent ownership in two rental units in Hawaii. But he didn’t include that they were located in the Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk … Rettig’s ownership stake and his omission of the Trump connection likely will lead to pointed questioning from members of the Finance Committee when he testifies Thursday at his confirmation hearing.”
-- The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing on Robert Wilkie, Trump’s pick to lead VA. Lisa Rein reports: “Wilkie, 55, tried to reassure the committee that he would stand up to the White House and VA’s political leadership to improve veterans’ care even if it meant disagreeing with Trump on occasion.
“He was pressed by some committee Democrats to explain his past embrace of divisive cultural issues during a long career working for polarizing political figures. … ‘I will say, and I say it respectfully, I welcome the scrutiny of my entire record,’ he told Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). He said that an article published this week in The Washington Post ‘seemed to stop at my record about 25 years ago.’ … As for his attendance at ceremonies honoring Confederate figures until the mid-2000s, he said, ‘those events in those days were big events’ attended by senators and House members and accepted by Republican and Democratic administrations. ‘I stopped doing many of those things at a time when that issue became divisive,’ he said.”
-- The HUD official who first raised concerns about Secretary Ben Carson’s office redecoration said she was forced to resign. Jack Gillum and Juliet Eilperin report: “Helen Foster, in a sharply worded letter to Carson and HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude, said she was demoted as chief administrative officer and called a liar by the secretary on social media after criticizing his redecorating expenses and saying that more than $10 million in taxpayer funds had been ‘grossly mismanaged.’ ‘Even though I reported all of these issues appropriately, through the HUD chain of command, and with documentation, I was demoted into a made-up ‘do-nothing’ job with no duties or responsibilities by your direct reports,’ Foster wrote. ‘A full year has [passed] since, and I remain in the same spurious position with no official duties.’”
THE REST OF TRUMP’S AGENDA:
-- Scott Pruitt is seeking to limit the EPA’s ability to halt projects due to concerns over water pollution. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “The instruction, which Pruitt outlined in a memo to the EPA’s office of water, takes direct aim at the authority the agency used in 2014 to block construction of a massive gold and copper mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay because it could cause “significant and irreversible harm” to a wild salmon habitat. The new approach would bar the EPA from invoking its power under the Clean Water Act before a permit application has been filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or a state, as well as after the corps or state authorities have issued a permit.”
-- Under an Interior Department proposal, private landowners in North Carolina would be able to kill critically endangered American red wolves if the animals stray from a nearby wildlife refuge onto their property. From Darryl Fears: “U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials who presented the proposal in a news conference said the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, which supports about a dozen of the 35 red wolves that roam a five-county area in eastern North Carolina, would be the only place where they would be safe. … If the proposal goes into effect in November . . . up to two dozen red wolves outside the refuge would be left to survive on their own or potentially be legally shot by property owners who have long been hostile to their presence.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) says he's open to serving on the Supreme Court (I wrote about a Big Idea about this possibility in April 2016):
The New Yorker's legal correspondent made this stark prediction:
A CNN reporter summed up the state of affairs:
From a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute:
One of Trump's hometown tabloids played Kennedy's retirement this way:
This 2016 message from Mitch McConnell recirculated on Twitter:
Mused the host of “Meet the Press”:
Todd then got into a back-and-forth with one of The Post's congressional reporters:
A former spokesman to Harry Reid advised Democrats to embrace the "new rules":
Trump tweeted about the Russia investigation several times this morning:
And last night, he accused "Leftwing Activists" of seeking anarchy:
Fact-check: WikiLeaks published the personal information of ICE employees, as Meagan Flynn reported Friday.
A CBS News reporter shared this moment from North Dakota:
A Post reporter noted this of Trump's national security adviser:
And fans of Mexico's World Cup team celebrated South Korea's victory over Germany:
-- “Inside Facebook and Twitter’s secret meetings with Trump aides and conservative leaders who say tech is biased,” by Tony Romm: “Twitter and Facebook are scrambling to assuage conservative leaders who have sounded alarms — and sought to rile voters — with accusations that the country’s tech giants are censoring right-leaning posts, tweets and news. … The complaints have come from the upper echelons of the GOP, including top aides to [Trump]. The chief executives of Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, have both admitted in recent months that Silicon Valley’s ranks are dominated by liberals, which has only fed accusations of bias from the right. … From secret dinners with conservative media elite to private meetings with the [RNC], the new outreach reflects tech giants’ delicate task: satisfying a party in power while defending online platforms against attacks that threaten to undermine the public’s trust in the Web.”
-- Vanity Fair, “‘This One Is Going to Stick’: Behind Ivanka’s Silence on the Border Crisis,” by Emily Jane Fox: “People who know the First Daughter — who are by now familiar with her cycle of silence and closed-door entreaties to her father — were baffled as to how she botched her messaging in such a major way. ‘She had a free pass on this one in particular, for two reasons,’ one adviser told me. ‘For one, her dad was obviously going to change the policy anyway, because it was so unsustainable. But more importantly, Melania had already said something, so she was covered.’”
-- New York Times Magazine, “A Spymaster Steps Out of the Shadows,” by Mattathias Schwartz: “John Brennan quietly ruled the national-security state under President Obama. Now he’s coming forward to rail against Trump — and to defend his own legacy.”
-- New York Times, “How to Survive When Money is Worthless,” by Nicholas Casey and Brent McDonald: The Times’s former Venezuela bureau chief returns to the country — a year and a half after being kicked out — to report on how residents are coping with spiking inflation rates and President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian government.
-- Politico, “New Fox chief cracks down on inflammatory statements,” by Jason Schwartz: “Amid growing backlash against inflammatory statements by Fox News commentators, network CEO Suzanne Scott summoned top show producers to a meeting last week and delivered a clear message: They need to be in control of their hosts and panelists. Scott told the producers that they would be held accountable for anything said on their air, and that it was their job to head off any inappropriate remarks, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Minnesotans Rally Around Mosque Allegedly Vandalized With Bacon,” from HuffPost: “Minnesota’s interfaith community is standing in solidarity with a Rochester mosque after reports that the Islamic center was vandalized with bacon over the weekend. Nearly 80 people gathered outside the Masjid AbuBakr Al-Seddiq Islamic Center early Sunday with handmade signs rally around their Muslim neighbors … Another show of support was held later that afternoon. On Saturday, a mosque official said, members found strips of bacon by the center’s front door and in its parking lot. Islam generally prohibits Muslims from eating pork. Dee Sabol, the executive director of the Diversity Council in Rochester, which helped organize the morning vigil, said she believes it was important to show up for the Muslim community.” “I think when these small, petty things happen …, it’s easy to say, ‘What’s the big deal?’” she said. “But all of these things that push people to the outside, they hurt us as a community.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Bernie Sanders: Sarah Sanders has the right to 'go into a restaurant and have dinner'” from The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday came to the defense of [Sarah Huckabee Sanders], saying individuals should ‘have the right to go into a restaurant and have dinner.’ The Vermont senator made the comments while speaking … about the recent uptick in public confrontations Trump Cabinet officials have faced. On Friday, [the White House press secretary] was asked to leave a small Virginia restaurant because of her role in the administration. ‘I’m not a great fan of shouting down people or being rude to people,’ Bernie Sanders said. ‘People have a right to be angry when Congress gives tax breaks to billionaires and then wants to cut nutrition programs for low income pregnant women.’ But he said that anger needs to be taken out in a ‘constructive way’ and that people should not be kicked out of restaurants over political differences.”
Trump is in Wisconsin today. He will first attend a fundraiser in Milwaukee, where he will participate in a roundtable and give a speech. He will then travel to Mount Pleasant, Wis., for the groundbreaking of a new Foxconn campus. He arrives back in Washington this evening.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“They’ve been stone-cold losers, the elite. So let them keep calling themselves the elite … Let’s call ourselves from now on the super elite.” — Trump, speaking at a rally in North Dakota last night. (“I'm smarter than anybody!” he later told the crowd.)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Temperatures will rise in D.C. today and continue to heighten through the weekend. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “The chance of a shower today is minimal, but you know if I don’t mention it, we will get a downpour. Clouds should gradually break up, allowing for more heating. Highs top out in the mid- to upper 80s. Humidity is high enough to add to the discomfort with no help from a weak west wind.”
-- Capitals right wing Devante Smith-Pelly is on the verge of signing a one-year contract extension. Smith-Perry’s strong performance in the playoffs could have netted him a more lucrative contract as a free agent, but a source said he chose to stay in Washington out of emotional attachment. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- Young Washingtonians testified in favor of the D.C. Council bill that would lower the voting age to 16. Reis Thebault reports: “If passed, the bill would enfranchise up to 10,600 16- and 17-year-olds, according to Census Bureau data. It would also be historic. The nation’s capital would become the first municipality in the country to allow minors to vote for president, and the biggest city to let them vote in local races.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Fallon tried to convince Anthony Kennedy to stay on the bench:
Stephen Colbert marveled at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's primary victory:
MSNBC's Chris Matthews encouraged Democrats to play — well, hardball:
Trump joked with Portugal's president about whether his country's most famous soccer player would ever run for president:
Mexican soccer fans even went to the South Korean Embassy to celebrate the country's World Cup victory over Germany: