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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Wonkette’s Weekend Live Chat Predicted That The GOP Would Obstruct Biden’s Every Move

We’re like Kreskin that way.

During his press conference last week, President Joe Biden claimed he "did not anticipate” that Republicans would make it their mission to keep him from doing anything. This probably was a surprise considering how quickly Republicans accepted his victory and welcomed him to the White House without even the slightest coup attempt.

I’m reminded of a scene from the 1992 “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode, “I, Borg.” The Enterprise senior staff has an opportunity to go scorched earth against the Borg, but Dr. Crusher is concerned because there’s been “no formal declaration of war.” Counselor Troi reminds everyone who remembers past episodes that this is the fricking Borg we’re talking about and “they've attacked us at every encounter.”

So, as much as I adore Dr. Crusher, Biden needs to get real like my girl Deanna.

We will probably not discuss "Star Trek" directly during the live chat because Robyn will have no idea what I’m saying, but we will talk about we all should’ve expected Mitch McConnell to Mitch McConnell. See you at 12 pm PT/3 pm ET. Watch, like, subscribe and all that that implies.


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Right Wing Extremism

Feds May Stop DeSantis From Loading Up On Monoclonal Antibody Treatments Ineffective Against Omicron

They really don’t help against Omicron.

Republicans have always loved to complain about "tax and spend" liberals, but the fact is, both parties like to spend — Democrats just usually like to spend money in ways that benefit regular Americans and Republicans like to spend money on things that either benefit rich people or involve messing with other countries in some capacity. When they do want to spend money on things that supposedly help people, those things are traditionally the least effective way to reach a particular goal. Taking funds from struggling schools in order to partially pay for a few kids to go to private school is not a particularly constructive use of tax dollars. Tax breaks for rich folks don't do a ton to stimulate the economy. Let's not even get started on trying to spend money on border walls when planes exist.

And yeah. It is completely ridiculous to spend as much money as we do on defense when we don't have universal healthcare. Like we have to spend 40 percent of the entire world's military spending to "protect American lives," supposedly, even when no one is trying to attack us, but we're totally fine if people die because they can't afford health care. I'd say this makes no sense, but I suppose it does make sense if you only care if rich people live or die.

Speaking of health care — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has gone balls to the wall when it comes to monoclonal antibody treatments. This initially made a little bit of sense, despite the high price tag, given that these treatments are the only treatments that are known to be both effective and accepted by the kind of people who would elect Ron DeSantis to do anything.

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Arizona Democrats Give Kyrsten Sinema A Big Thumbs Down

Sinema has officially been censured 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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