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Abortion rights supporters rally on the floor of the State Capitol rotunda in Austin, Texas, July 12, 2013.

Supreme Court offers reprieve for Texas women's clinics

10/15/14 08:00AM

Two weeks ago, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals delivered a major blow to reproductive rights in Texas, allowing the state to begin enforcing sweeping abortion restrictions. The result, among other things, meant only eight women's health clinics would remain open in the massive state.
Reproductive-rights supporters had one just remaining option: appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a bit of a surprise, as Irin Carmon reported last night, the effort paid off.
The Supreme Court has temporarily reversed the devastating impact of Texas's restrictive abortion law, blocking a law that earlier this month had closed all but eight legal abortion clinics in the second-largest state. The immediate result, a rare victory for abortion rights, is the expected reopening of 13 clinics that closed on October 2. [...]
The main provision the Supreme Court addressed Tuesday requires abortion clinics to spend millions of dollars to turn into mini-hospitals; it has had the most sweeping impact. Combined with an earlier provision requiring abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect.
The Supreme Court's ruling was 6 to 3, with Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the majority, and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas in the minority. The brief court order is available online here (pdf).
For supporters of abortion rights, the fact that Roberts and Kennedy joined the more progressive justices on this came as a very pleasant surprise, and offers  new hope to pro-choice advocates about the future legal fights.
As a practical matter, before Texas' law was approved, the state had more than 40 women's clinics, a total that dwindled to 21, and then just 8 a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday's developments at the high court will mean 13 facilities that recently had to close their doors can begin seeing patients again.
It's worth emphasizing that this is not the end of the legal road for Texas' restrictions. As Carmon's report makes clear, "Tuesday's action is temporary and doesn't bind the justices' votes if and when they hear the case in full. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had waved in the law earlier this month, still will have its say."

New U.S. Ebola case and other headlines

10/15/14 07:59AM

Another health care worker tests positive for Ebola in Dallas. (Dallas Morning News)

Nurses union cites sloppy conditions in Ebola care.  (AP)

The secret victims of Iraq's abandoned chemical weapons. (NY Times)

Senate Democrats' campaign arm has stopped buying ad time in the race for Sen. McConnell's seat. (MSNBC)

Pres. Obama plans campaign push in seven governor's races. (AP)

Forensic evidence shows teen shot at St. Louis officer, police say. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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Smoke bomb thrower an unnerving mystery

Smoke bomb thrower an unnerving mystery

10/14/14 11:15PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a mysterious, disquieting incident in New York City, in which a man emerged from a subway hatch in the sidewalk, threw a smoke bomb at a restaurant, and disappeared back underground. watch

Ebola's rapid spread amplifies urgency

Ebola's rapid spread amplifies urgency of response

10/14/14 11:07PM

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talks with Rachel Maddow about the possibility of exponential growth of new Ebola cases and the importance of speed and quantity of resources to contain the disease. watch

Victory gives hope for Texas abortion rights

Abortion rights victory gives Texas advocates hope

10/14/14 10:59PM

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, talks with Rachel Maddow about the significance of the Supreme Court's ruling to allow Texas abortion clinics to remain open or re-open while the new Texas law is being adjudicated. watch

Ahead on the 10/14/14 Maddow show

10/14/14 06:18PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Women's Health
  • Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Check out a preview of tonight's show after the jump read more

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 10.14.14

10/14/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* CDC: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's moved a team of experienced experts in to help a Dallas hospital where a nurse became infected with Ebola to improve 'every step in the process.' And they'll send in a special response team to help any hospital in the future that gets an Ebola patient."
* This just got more complicated: "Turkish fighter jets struck Kurdish insurgent positions in southeastern Turkey on Monday, shaking the country's fragile peace process with the Kurds and demonstrating the complexities surrounding the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, which Turkey is under heavy pressure to join."
* W.H.O.: "The World Health Organization reported sobering new figures Tuesday about the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa, saying the mortality rate had risen to 70 percent and that the number of new cases could reach 10,000 per week by December."
* Germany: "A United Nations medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died despite 'intensive medical procedures,' a German hospital said Tuesday. The St. Georg hospital in Leipzig said the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight of the infection. It released no further details and did not answer telephone calls."
* Iran: "Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to the nation's airwaves on Monday night to proclaim that a nuclear deal with the West will be signed ahead of a deadline in late November. 'We will find a solution to the nuclear subject and we believe that the two sides will certainly reach a win-win agreement,' said Rouhani, according to Iranian broadcaster Press TV."
* Hong Kong: "Police used chain saws and sledgehammers to clear away barricades around protest sites and reopen several major roads in Hong Kong on Tuesday, appearing to gain the upper hand for the first time since pro-democracy protests began late last month."
* North Korea: "After vanishing from the public eye for nearly six weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back, ending rumors that he was gravely ill, deposed or worse. Now, a new, albeit smaller, mystery has emerged: Why the cane?"
* Good: "Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife announced Tuesday they are donating $25 million to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control foundation to fight the Ebola crisis that has killed more than 4,440 people in west Africa."
* I was looking forward to the lame-duck fight. Oh well: "President Obama has decided to wait until after next month's midterm elections to nominate a replacement for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., White House officials said on Tuesday, effectively ensuring that the choice does not get mired in campaign politics."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. on March 16, 2013.

Walker on minimum wage: 'I don't think it serves a purpose'

10/14/14 04:18PM

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) debated challenger Mary Burke (D) on Friday, and the issue of the minimum wage offered the candidates a chance to highlight their differences. The question posed summarized the situation nicely: can a full-time worker live on $7.25 an hour? And does the state have a responsibility to even set a minimum wage?
Burke "strongly" endorsed a higher legal minimum, but the Republican incumbent largely dodged the question, though he seemed to express opposition to the law itself. "I want jobs that pay two or three times the minimum wage," Walker said, adding, "The way that you do that is not by an arbitrary level of a state."
Daniel Bice at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel followed up on that point in an interview with the governor today, asking Walker whether he believes the law should exist. The governor replied:
"Well, I'm not going to repeal it but I don't think it's, I don't think it serves a purpose. Because we're debating then about what the lowest levels are at. I want people to make, like I said the other night, two or three times that."
It's a striking thing for a governor to say during a tough re-election campaign, especially given his economic record -- Walker promised Wisconsin voters four years ago that he'd create 250,000 jobs in his first term, and he's struggling to get to Election Day with roughly half that total.
Indeed, if the governor doesn't think the minimum wage "serves a purpose," it's not too late for Walker to ask someone to explain the law's rationale.