Three years ago, Republican officials in Texas approved some of the nation's most aggressive restrictions on reproductive rights, which had the effect of closing more than half of the state's clinics where abortions are performed. As of this morning, as NBC News' Pete Williams reported, the law is no more.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down one of the nation's toughest restrictions on abortion, a Texas law that women's groups said would have forced more than three-quarters of the state's clinics to shut down. The decision was 5-3. [...]
[T]he law said clinics providing abortion services must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. And it required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt is online here. Note, Justice Breyer wrote the majority ruling, and he was joined by Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg, who unexpectedly wrote a concurring opinion. Justices Roberts, Thomas, and Alito made up the three-member minority.
While Justice Scalia's death has had a significant impact on a variety of key cases this term, the Texas case doesn't appear to be one of them: facing a five-member majority, the state restrictions were doomed either way.
The legal dispute has been described as "the most momentous abortion case in a quarter century" for good reason.
In mid-January, before any of the Republican presidential nominating contests, columnist George Will speculated about the consequences of a Donald Trump nomination. "[In 1964] I cast my vote for Barry Goldwater who valued that classic, creative defeat of his because he took the Republican Party and said, 'Henceforth it will be a conservative party,'" Will said at the time. "Those of us who feel that way are not about to sit idly and ... let it disappear in 2016."
Five months later, Trump is the GOP's presumptive nominee, and Will, one of the most recognized Republican pundits in the nation, has officially walked away from his party.
Conservative columnist George Will says he's changed his party affiliation, and during a speech urged Republicans not to vote for presumptive party nominee Donald Trump.
"This is not my party," Will reportedly said Friday during a luncheon held by the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian organization.
Will, who added that House Speaker Paul Ryan's endorsement of Trump pushed him over the edge, has changed his Maryland voter registration to "unaffiliated."
Asked to comment on the news during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Will elaborated on his unexpected decision. This was the exchange between Will and host Chris Wallace:
During his trip to Scotland, reporters asked Donald Trump to respond to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's endorsement of Hillary Clinton. "Don't know anything about him," the Republican candidate responded.
As BuzzFeed noted, we know that's not true. During the economic crash in late 2008 ,Trump singled out Paulson for praise. "I would give him an A," Trump told CNN, lauding the Treasury Secretary's response to the crisis. Trump added at the time, "[T]he fact is, [Paulson] came into a mess. He didn't create the mess. And he is helping us get out of the mess."
The admiration is clearly not mutual. Paulson wrote a piece for the Washington Post, published over the weekend, in which the veteran of the Bush/Cheney administration wrote, "Enough is enough. It's time to put country before party and say it together: Never Trump."
The piece reads like a stinging indictment, trashing Trump's business acumen, dishonesty, divisiveness, and temperament.
Simply put, a Trump presidency is unthinkable.
As a Republican looking ahead to November, there are many strong conservative leaders in statehouses across the United States and in Congress, whose candidacies I am actively supporting. They have a big job to do to reinvent and revitalize the Republican Party. They can do so by responding to the fears and frustrations of the American people and uniting them behind some common aspirations, while staying constant to the principles that have made our country great.
When it comes to the presidency, I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will not cast a write-in vote. I'll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I'm not alone.
As striking as this is, let's not forget the degree to which Paulson's announcement is correct: he isn't alone. A separate Washington Postpiece added:
On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, host Chuck Todd asked Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, if he's prepared to acknowledge the fact that the Republican is trailing in the polls. "No," Manafort replied. The GOP operative added, "[W]e're confident that we are not behind the Clinton campaign."
The evidence to the contrary is hard to miss. Yesterday morning, two major national polls were released. First up, is the NBC News/Wall Street Journalpoll:
Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a five-point advantage over Republican Donald Trump after becoming her party's presumptive presidential nominee, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Forty-six percent of registered voters back Clinton, versus 41 percent who support Trump - slightly up from Clinton's three-point lead in May, 46 percent to 43 percent.
Which came out around the same time as the new Washington Post/ABC News poll:
Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail from Scotland this week contending with sweeping unease about his candidacy as a large majority of Americans register their disapproval and see the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee as discriminatory and unqualified, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. [...]
[I]n a head-to-head general election matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 39 percent among registered voters nationwide, the poll found. This is Clinton's largest lead in Post-ABC polling since last fall.
Obviously, there's quite a bit of difference between a 12-point deficit and a 5-point deficit, and Republicans are eager to point to the latter. Trump himself, using his trademark eloquence, dismissed the Washington Post/ABC News survey, saying, "Other polls good!"
But therein lies the point: the other polls aren't good. Literally every national poll conducted over the last month has shown Clinton ahead, and polling averages give her an advantage of about seven points. The fact that the Republican candidate and his team are eagerly touting the NBC results as good news tells us something important: for Team Trump, a poll showing him losing by five percentage points is what passes for great news right now.
On Friday, as the world learned of the United Kingdom's "Brexit" results, Donald Trump held a truly bizarre press conference in Scotland, where he spoke in great depth about the golf resort he's eager to promote. Eventually asked to comment on the more relevant subject, the Republican presidential hopeful said the crisis "could turn out to be positive" -- for his profit margins.
Later, NBC's Katy Tur had this exchange with Trump at the 18th hole.
TUR: The global markets are down and people are worried.
TRUMP: My timing was great because I was here, right at the epicenter of the crisis.
Given what Tur said, Trump's response was effectively gibberish. The fact that Brexit is causing global financial unrest is unrelated to Trump's sense of "timing." And Trump's trip to Scotland was itself unrelated to Brexit. And being physically located in Scotland as part of a promotional event is unrelated to being "at the epicenter" of a crisis.
And yet, as the weekend progressed, Trump's message became increasingly incoherent. The GOP candidate, for example, said the result of the Brexit vote proved that Hillary Clinton made a "bad judgement [sic] call" -- as if Clinton being correct on the substance is less important than her powers of prognostication. He added that he made the "correct call" -- as if Trump being wrong on the substance is less important than his powers of prognostication.
The Republican presidential hopeful has also insisted, over and over again, on putting the word "BREXIT" in all-caps, as if Trump believes it's an acronym. (If some reporter who travels with Trump would ask him what he thinks "Brexit" stands for, I'd certainly appreciate it.)
Perhaps best of all, Trump boasted late Friday, "What has happened in the UK in the last 12 hours is exactly what will happen in November" if he wins the presidential election. That may be true, but isn't that a message better suited for Trump's critics? Why would he brag, on purpose, about causing economic and financial unrest around the world?
First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected development in the 2016 presidential race: one of the cycle's most secular candidates keeps questioning other candidates' religious beliefs.
As we discussed a few days ago, Donald Trump spoke to a group of far-right evangelical Christian leaders on Tuesday, where he expressed his doubts about Hillary Clinton's faith, insisting Americans "don't know anything about Hillary in terms of religion." He added, "Now, she's been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there's no – there's nothing out there. There's like nothing out there."
The criticism was substantively bizarre -- Clinton has spoken many times about being a Methodist -- but just as important, NBC News reported, "[A]ttacking other people's faith appears to be a favorite move in Trump's playbook."
The pattern looks to have begun with President Obama.... Since running for president, Trump has also raised similar faith-based concerns about his fellow Republicans.
In October, retired neurosurgeon and devout Seventh-day Adventist Ben Carson was the target: "I'm Presbyterian. Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness," Trump told voters in Florida. "I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
In January, lifelong Southern Baptist and son of a pastor Ted Cruz was in the crosshairs: "Just remember this," Trump said, "in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, okay?"
Ben Carson, apparently trying to mount some kind of defense of his ally, said this week that Trump went after Carson's faith because "he didn't know what to do and he was getting kind of desperate."
But that's not much of an explanation. Presidential candidates aren't supposed to use religion as a campaign weapon whenever they're worried about losing. This is especially true of secular candidates who don't appear to have any real understanding of, or interest in, matters of faith.
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. explained this week, "Absent anything substantive to say about his belief system, Trump lashes out at others. And lacking an affirmative vision, he plays on fears and tells evangelicals, as he did Tuesday, that our nation's leaders are 'selling Christianity down the tubes.' Well. If religion is being sold out, it's Trump who is orchestrating the deal."
Rachel Maddow looks back at the devastating effects of two world wars in Europe and Winston Churchill's call for a "United States of Europe" that was eventually followed by the United Kingdom's participation in what would become the European Union. watch
Rachel Maddow explains how the U.K.'s exit from the E.U. could add restrictions to the movement across the border from Northern Ireland to Ireland, and Northern Ireland's support for staying in the E.U. could bolster consideration of reunification to regain E.U. membership. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on Donald Trump's bizarre press conference from his gold course in Scotland in which he didn't seem to grasp the significance of the Brexit vote that had just taken place, and definitely didn't realize that Scotland had voted against the referendum. watch
David Miliband, former UK foreign secretary, talks with Rachel Maddow about why the U.K. vote to leave the European Union caught so many people by surprise and the potential fallout not just for the E.U. but for Scotland and Northern Ireland within the U.K. watch
* West Virginia: "Fourteen people were killed in flooding in West Virginia on Thursday and Friday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a news conference this afternoon, as rescuers and residents continued to feel the effects of Thursday's torrential rains."
* Not a good day for investors: "The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 600 points on Friday as markets around the world reacted to a vote by citizens of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union."
* Too late: "[I]t seems many Britons may not even know what they had actually voted for.... Google reported sharp upticks in searches not only related to the ballot measure but also about basic questions concerning the implications of the vote. At about 1 a.m. Eastern time, about eight hours after the polls closed, Google reported that searches for 'what happens if we leave the EU' had more than tripled."
* It almost certainly won't happen, but I love the online activism: "A petition calling for a second EU referendum has been launched -- and is proving so popular the page keeps crashing."
* A worthy monument: "President Obama on Friday officially designated the Stonewall Inn a national monument, making it the first in the country to honor LGBT equality. Obama made the announcement in a YouTube video, saying 'our national parks should reflect the full story of our country -- the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.'"
* On a related note: "Ban on transgender service members expected to end in July, defense officials say."
* And then there were 79: "The Pentagon delivered a Yemeni captive to Montenegro Wednesday after he spent 14 years at Guantanamo as a suspected Osama bin Laden bodyguard, leaving 79 captives at the U.S. Navy base detention center in Cuba."
* VW: "Volkswagen has agreed to pay $10.2 billion to settle its U.S. emissions scandal case, according to the Associated Press, citing two anonymous people briefed on the matter, in what would be one of the largest payouts by an automaker in history."
The parallels are not precise, but they exist. In the Brexit vote in the U.K., younger voters overwhelmingly voted "Remain," while older voters voted "Leave." The more education a British voter had, the more likely he or she was to want to stay in the European Union. Voters in urban areas generally backed remaining in the E.U.; voters in rural areas did not.
You probably see where I'm going with this: the demographics of the Brexit vote had some noticeable similarities to the kind of left-right divide we see in the United States. It's contributed, as we discussed earlier, to observers drawing a nationalistic line between Brexit supporters in the U.K. and Donald Trump supporters in the U.S.
The Washington Post had a good piece on domestic Republicans joining the Brexit celebration, even as global markets suffered a sharp slide.
Today, while stock markets careened and media coverage has asked whether British voters just sparked a "DIY recession," a few conservatives have embraced the vote. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), one of the critics of the president's remarks, told supporters on Facebook that Americans needed to heed Brexit.
"The results of the #Brexit referendum should serve as a wake-up call for internationalist bureaucrats from Brussels to Washington, D.C. that some free nations still wish to preserve their national sovereignty," Cruz wrote. [...]
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an occasional Cruz ally who has become the Senate's biggest booster of Donald Trump, had an even more supportive reaction.
He did, indeed. The far-right Alabaman, arguably Trump's closest congressional ally, issued a lengthy statement with an all-caps headline that read, "Now it's America's turn." Sessions applauded Britons who cast a "strong vote ... not out of fear and pique but out of love for country and pride of place."
Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) published a bizarre online harangue that began, "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. The UK knew -- it was that time. And now is that time in the USA. The Brexit referendum is akin to our own Declaration of Independence. May that refreshed spirit of sovereignty spread over the pond to America's shores!"
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.