1/ The Supreme Court restricted the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, dealing a major blow to Biden’s efforts to fight climate change and shift the nation’s energy production toward renewable sources. In its 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act doesn’t give EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming, writing that “a decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.” In dissent, the court’s three liberal justices wrote that the majority had stripped the EPA of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.” Congress, meanwhile, hasn’t passed major climate legislation since the cap-and-trade bill, which died in the Senate in 2010. Biden called the ruling “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards,” accusing the court’s conservative majority of siding “with special interests that have waged a long-term campaign to strip away our right to breathe clean air.” Biden came into office with the most ambitious climate agenda of any president, pledging to cut the country’s pollution in half by 2030 and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035. The Supreme Court decision, however, will likely limit Biden’s ability to use other departments and regulators to address climate change. The U.S. is the world’s largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, and fossil fuel-fired power plants are the second-largest source of pollution in the U.S. behind transportation. Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard, said “the court’s ruling is a major setback for EPA’s ability to address climate change, and it could hardly have come at a worse time,” and that the Biden administration is “running out of options right now.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NBC News / CBS News / CNN / CNBC)
2/ Biden called for eliminating the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade into law and federally protect access to abortion. “We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that,” Biden said. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, we provide an exception for this, or an exception to the filibuster for this action.” Biden condemned the “outrageous behavior” of the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked the constitutional right to abortion last week, saying the decision is “destabilizing” the country. The filibuster rule could be changed with a simple majority vote, but two Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – remain opposed to eliminating or making an exception to the Senate’s rule. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, publicly praised his decision to block Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, calling it his “single-most consequential decision.” McConnell’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination 11 months before Trump took office cleared the way for Trump put Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench – his first of three conservative appointees to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)
3/ Clarence Thomas cited a debunked claim that all Covid-19 vaccines are derived from the cells of “aborted children.” To be clear, none of the Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses. Thomas nevertheless made the baseless assertion in a dissenting opinion in a case that the Supreme Court declined to hear regarding New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health care workers that doesn’t include a religious exemption. (Politico / NBC News)
4/ The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case promoting a controversial legal theory that state legislatures – not state courts – have the authority to decide how federal elections are conducted. Republican legislators in North Carolina are challenging a state Supreme Court ruling that threw out a voting map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature that would give Republicans 10 safe seats out of 14 total. The court said the map was excessively partisan and violated the state constitution. At issue is a legal theory, known as the “independent state legislature theory,” that would give state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for federal elections – even if their actions violated state constitutions. Under the strongest form of this doctrine, state constitutions would cease to provide any constraint on state lawmakers, state courts would lose their power to strike down anti-democratic laws, and state governors would lose the power to veto new state election laws. The outcome could fundamentally change the way federal elections are conducted and have enormous impact on the 2024 election. (NPR / Washington Post / Politico / Vox / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
5/ The Jan. 6 committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify. Cipollone has been mentioned in each of the Jan. 6 committee’s six hearings often at key moments before, during, and after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Earlier this week, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about efforts to stop Trump from making a planned trip to the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of ‘Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.’” (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
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