This week’s Jan. 6 hearings illustrated the potentially historic legal jeopardy faced by Donald Trump given revelations of how far he and his aides allegedly went to stay in power. But Trump’s legacy, whatever the result of investigations into the insurrection, has arguably been secured by his three picks for the US Supreme Court, who together made possible a giant leap to the right on two of the most divisive issues facing an already riven nation: guns and abortion.
Demonstrations erupted outside the US Supreme Court in Washington on Friday after the 6-3 conservative majority struck down the 50-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade, erasing the federal right to an abortion. Photographer: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Neil Gorsuch took his seat in 2017 only after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, then Majority Leader, refused for an unprecedented eight months to let the Senate consider President Barack Obama’s nominee. McConnell said at the time that the nomination should be held in abeyance since it was an election year. Four years later, McConnell jettisoned his rule and rushed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, confirming her just days before Trump lost to Joe Biden. In between, Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate that he considered Roe v. Wade settled precedent. This week, the three justices were integral to the court (through opinions written by fellow Republican-appointees Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) handing a huge victory to the gun industry and, in the Dobbs decision today, effectively eliminating abortion access for tens of millions of women.
Brett Kavanaugh, left, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch Photographer: Erin Schaff/The New York Times
As protests and celebrations erupted in front of the Supreme Court over the demise of the 50-year-old right, abortion opponents were being urged by former Vice President Mike Pence to seek a national ban. President Joe Biden attacked the court ruling, and the Justice Department said it will protect the right of women in GOP-controlled jurisdictions to seek abortions out-of-state. But the legal reasoning behind the Dobbs opinion might augur a broader rollback of federal rights in the future. A reading of the concurrence by Thomas reveals his advocacy for a widespread review of long-settled constitutional doctrine—a review he argues is required given today’s ruling. At risk, Bloomberg Opinion writers warn, could be federal protections for same sex marriage and even contraception.
Clarence Thomas Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP
As for the court itself, some legal observers contend a new day has dawned, one in which a right-wing supermajority no longer seeks consensus or to acknowledge popular opinion, but instead follows political dogma. “It is no exaggeration to say that the Dobbs decision,” Noah Feldman writes in Bloomberg Opinion, “is an act of institutional suicide for the Supreme Court.”
Bloomberg is tracking the coronavirus pandemic and the progress of global vaccination efforts.
Markets rallied Friday as new data poured some water on the wildfire of recession panic among Wall Street talking heads. The University of Michigan’s final June reading of longer-term US consumer inflation expectations pulled back from earlier forecasts of a 14-year high, potentially reducing the urgency for steeper Fed interest-rate hikes. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said fears of a recession are overblown, as consumers are flush with cash built up during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over at Goldman Sachs, Chief Economist Jan Hatzius was similarly sanguine. “We do have significantly below-trend growth,” he said. “That rebalances the imbalance in the labor market and that ultimately helps bring inflation back down.” Here’s your markets wrap.
About 15% of US renters aren’t caught up with their payments. That represents 8.4 million Americans who were struggling to pay their monthly rents during the June 1 to June 13 period. The share was markedly higher for Black Americans, with almost one-quarter behind, and for people age 40 to 54, an age when many are at their earnings peak. And it’s all about to get worse: many leases come due in summer and landlords are eager to boost prices.
Deutsche Lufthansa is canceling a total of 3,100 flights after a wave of coronavirus infections worsened staffing shortages, adding to Europe’s travel chaos as the crucial summer vacation period gets under way. United Airlines pilots tentatively agreed to a new contract that gives them 14.5% raises, increased overtime pay and other benefits, setting the standard as other major carriers negotiate deals with aviators at a time of rebounding travel demand.
Three days after Afghanistan’s 6.1-magnitude earthquake, which killed at least 1,000, injured at least 1,500 more and left thousands homeless, the humanitarian response is in trouble. Efforts have lagged in both size and speed due to the lack of pre-positioned supplies and the level of hunger and poverty that already exist in the devastated nation. Heavy rains and winds have also hampered rescue efforts.
Afghan men look for their belongings amid the ruins of a house damaged by an earthquake in Bernal district, Paktika province, on June 23. Desperate rescuers have been racing the clock amid heavy rain to reach cut-off areas in the east. Photographer: Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP
Covid infection rates are rising again in the UK and across much of Europe, driven by newer versions of the omicron variant, amid concerns that another wave will disrupt businesses and add to pressure on health systems. Sanofi and GSK have reportedly stated that a new vaccine confers protection against the omicron variant, the latest in efforts to combat the highly contagious strain.
Ukrainian troops will pull back from Sievierodonetsk, according to a senior local official, as Russia concentrates its forces to capture a key target in the Kremlin’s war. The advance means Vladimir Putin will have close to total control of a key eastern region.
Smoke billows over an oil refinery outside the town of Lysychansk on June 23. It’s one of the last strongholds for Ukrainian forces in the region. Photographer: Antoli Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images
With Putin’s war plunging more of the world into a food crisis, Africa is pivoting to indigenous crops as substitutes for imported wheat. Food stress is expected to affect more than 60 million people in eastern and southern Africa by next month, with 43 million West Africans at risk from nutritional insecurity.
It’s scary out there. Investors trying to cut through the market noise face immense challenges. Inflation is stoking fears and stock and bond markets are in turmoil, with the S&P 500 down more than 20% from its peak and US Treasury prices plunging. That’s all against the global backdrop of Russia’s war and the continuing threat from Covid. It’s enough to make you long for the safety of cash—if inflation wasn’t sure to eat away at cash’s purchasing power over time. So what to do?