UPDATE: Justice Gorsuch Still Maskless, Still A Dick

Earlier this week, Nina Totenberg, the grande dame of Supreme Court reporters, came out with a hot scoop. Apparently, every justice but one had agreed to mask up for the comfort and safety of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is diabetic and at elevated risk due to the latest coronavirus surge. Only that asshole Neil Gorsuch refused, according to Totenberg's reporting.

Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up.

They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices' weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.

Wow, pretty shocking that a guy who ruled that a company had a right to fire a trucker for refusing to freeze to death in an unheated truck doesn't believe in workplace safety, right?

But then the Court issued a rare public statement purporting to be from Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch saying, "Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends."

As all of law Twitter immediately noted, this was not a denial of the story as written.

So much for textual originalism.

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Fascist Goons In 'RINO Hunter' Tees Bring Post-January 6 Civility To Orange County GOP Meeting

A bunch of rightwing fartsmellers, not having any national Capitol buildings handy, stormed a meeting of the Republican Party of Orange County (California) Monday night instead. The resulting fracas led to police being called to remove the uninvited tourists, who wore orange shirts reading "RINO HUNTER," with a gunsight cleverly replacing the "O."

The Orange County Register reports the band of merry orangeshirts were led by Nick Taurus, a "self-proclaimed American Nationalist," who last year led a group of like-minded assholes in disrupting an outdoor town hall held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in July. Taurus, who at the time was running against Porter, led about 30 followers in heckling Porter; the protesters clashed with Porter supporters, one of whom was arrested for punching one of Taurus's crowd.

There were no arrests or fisticuffs at Monday's event, fortunately.

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TN Law Meant To Let Christians Discriminate Against Gays Being Used To Discriminate Against Jews

Back in January of 2020, Tennessee GOP Governor Bill Lee excitedly signed a law meant to allow Christian adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples looking to adopt and, we guess, boost the self-esteem of people who for some reason just can't be happy unless they get to be legally superior to some other group of people.

“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty," a spokesman for Lee said at the time. "This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it."

Because the bill was technically supposed to be about "protecting religious liberty" and not explicitly about legislating homophobia -- a common trick with laws like these -- the wording of it was vague. Religious adoption agencies were given the right to refuse to place children with those who "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies," as opposed to just giving them license to discriminate against gay people.

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Jan. 6 Committee Passes Out Subpoenas, Collects Court Wins, Kicks Ass

The January 6 Select Committee has been a bunch of busy bees this week!

On Tuesday it issued subpoenas to Trumpland lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell to discuss their role in the lead-up to the Capitol riot. Although the three were nominally acting as lawyers during the whole sordid affair, their loose lips may go some way to eroding whatever privilege claims they might have made. For instance, the Committee letters to Giuliani and Powell refer to reporting by Axios that they "urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country after being told that the Department of Homeland Security had no lawful authority to do so." Powell wasn't the president's lawyer, and, even if undertaken at the president's behest, Giuliani's conversation with acting DHS head Ken Cuccinelli is probably not covered by privilege either.

The Committee also subpoenaed Trumpland sycophant Boris Epshteyn, who was hanging out at the Willard Hotel with that hive of vipers and is "reported to have participated in a call with former President Trump on the morning of January 6, during which options were discussed to delay the certification of election results in light of Vice President Mike Pence’s unwillingness to deny or delay certification."

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Arizona Democrats Give Kyrsten Sinema A Big Thumbs Down

Sinema has officially been censored by her own party.

Last week, with a trembling voice, Arizona Senator and sentient ukulele cover of "Gin and Juice" Kyrsten Sinema did her darned best to make a compelling case for why the country so desperately needs the filibuster that is currently preventing the Democratic Party from passing literally any legislation that Republicans don't want, despite having earned a majority in the Senate. She did not succeed, largely because her whole point — that the filibuster prevents things from getting too radical one way or another, and could hypothetically help Democrats when they are the minority — was undermined by the fact that being unable to pass voting rights legislation now means that there will no longer be any back and forth in terms of which party is the minority and which is the majority. And then Republicans can do whatever the hell they want, including getting rid of the filibuster.

No one is buying her act, including the Arizona Democratic Party, which announced on Saturday morning that they are formally censuring Sinema for, well screwing the entire country.

Via CNN:

"While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the ADP Executive Board has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy," Arizona Democratic Party Chair Raquel Terán said in a statement, following a meeting of the executive board Saturday morning.

"I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear," Terán said. "In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans' right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will."

That's fair! And pretty smart, given that Arizona is one of the 19 states where Republicans have enacted voter suppression laws designed to disproportionately impact the ability of minorities and the poor to vote and have their votes counted. The inability to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act will directly impact the ability of Democrats to win elections in the state.

Sinema's office responded to the censure by essentially saying that Sinema isn't a Democrat to begin with anyway:

"During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state -- not for either political party. She's delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands," Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley said.

Except the reason she was elected to the Senate in the first place was due to the efforts of Arizona Democrats, who were understandably under the impression that since she was running as a Democrat, she would bear some resemblance to one. One would also imagine that if Arizonans wanted a Republican to represent them, they would have voted for Martha McSally instead of her.

Sinema, unbelievably, still claims that she supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and that she supports the Women's Health Protection Act — and yet, she can't manage to say exactly how it is that these things would get passed, doing things her way. Does she only like them in the hypothetical?

On Wednesday, Sinema explained, again, that she simply cannot support "actions that would deepen our divisions and risk repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty and further eroding confidence in our government." It's not clear what it is she thinks would be more radical than abortion becoming illegal or people of color being disenfranchised en masse. What would that even be? And what erodes "confidence in government" more than people feeling like their votes don't count and that they have no hope of ever changing anything through the electoral system?

Because that's what's going to happen.

Arizona Democrats are not the only ones telling Sinema to take a hike. This week, both Emily's List and NARAL, two very mainstream Democratic organizations, rescinded their support for her as well. Various groups in Arizona are looking for a Democrat to primary her, with many looking at Rep. Ruben Gallego as a potential option.

Anyway, you're all gonna wanna kill me for this, but this is now your OPEN THREAD. See you tomorrow!


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Please Don't Mark The Anniversary Of Roe By Buying A $75 Gwyneth Paltrow Vagina Candle

Donate to some clinics and abortion funds.

Today is the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It's hard to know what to say.

It's hard because I feel like I'm supposed to say "Hey! Welcome to the last year that we will have safe and legal abortions for everyone in the United States!" or something like that, but the truth is that we are already well past that. The truth is that everyone in the United States does not currently have the ability to get a safe and legal abortion, and that's been the case for some time now. Not only do we have states like Texas essentially outlawing abortion by allowing private citizens to sue anyone who helps anyone get an abortion, we have six states — Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia — that have only one abortion clinic left.

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Class War

Super Bowl Offers To Pay Halftime Dancers In Exposure Bucks

The Super Bowl is not exactly strapped for cash.

The Super Bowl, traditionally, is a massive moneymaking venture for all involved. The NFL, the station that broadcasts it, the cities that host it, the players who play in it, the celebrities who appear in advertisements that play during it ... there's a lot of cash to go around.

Notably, artists who perform during the Super Bowl halftime show don't get paid to do so. They do it for free because, more often than not, the performance results in them subsequently raking in a ton of money from music sales. Unless they're Janet Jackson and their entire career gets derailed because oh no, people accidentally saw a nipple and are for some reason scarred for life. A nipple that is no different from the many, many male nipples regularly broadcast on screens across America.

But I digress. It's one thing for performers like J.Lo, Shakira, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and whoever the hell else to do the Super Bowl for free. They're already extremely rich and actually are getting something tangible out of it.

However, veteran dancer and choreographer Taja Riley shared on Instagram this week that she's received several messages from other dance artists asking them to dance in this year's Super Bowl halftime show, starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, for free.

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