1/ The Supreme Court rejected a legal theory that state legislatures have the power to decide the rules for federal elections and draw partisan congressional maps. The justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that the North Carolina Supreme Court was acting within its authority when it struck down a congressional districting plan as excessively partisan under state law. In doing so, the court rejected the so-called “independent state legislature” theory, a fringe legal theory that Republicans claims limits the authority of state courts to question state legislatures on election laws for federal contests. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that “state courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the Elections Clause. But federal courts must not abandon their own duty to exercise judicial review.” Roberts added: “The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.” Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Trump and his allies used the now-rejected “independent state legislature” theory to justify their attempts to overturn the 2020 election. (Washington Post / NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / CNN)

  • 💡 Why should I care? The “independent state legislature” theory is the idea that only state lawmakers can set voting rules for federal elections. If accepted, state legislature could drastically change voting rules and limit your ability to participate in elections by, for example, limiting mail-in voting or reducing the number of polling places to make it harder for you, your family, or your neighbors to vote. It’s not just about legal rules – it’s about who gets a say in the future of our democracy. If fewer people can vote, fewer people will have a say in our government, what laws get made, and how our lives are impacted by those laws.

2/ Special counsel Jack Smith’s office will interview Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In January 2021, Trump called Raffensperger and pressed him to “find” the votes needed to win Georgia – a state that Biden won by nearly 12,000 votes. Trump told Raffensperger: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Trump has repeatedly defended the call, calling it “perfect.” (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News / CNN)

3/ The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies downplayed or ignored “a massive amount of intelligence information” ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a Senate Homeland Security Committee report. The 105-page report, entitled “Planned in Plain Sight,” details how the FBI and DHS “failed to fully and accurately assess the severity of the threat identified by that intelligence, and formally disseminate guidance to their law enforcement partners with sufficient urgency and alarm to enable those partners to prepare for the violence that ultimately occurred on January 6th.” The report faults the agencies for downplaying the known dangers, being reluctant to issue warnings, and hesitating to share the intelligence. “At a fundamental level, the agencies failed to fulfill their mission and connect the public and nonpublic information they received,” the report concludes. (Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press / New York Times)

4/ The audio recording of Trump discussing a “highly confidential” document he kept with an interviewer after leaving office leaked. In the two-minute recording, Trump states that “these are the papers […] This was done by the military and given to me. See as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.” Trump describes his “big pile of paper,” which he referred to as “highly confidential,” to the people in the room and says: “Isn’t it amazing? […] They presented me this – this is off the record.” His staffer responded: “Now we have a problem.” The recording is from a July 2021 interview Trump gave at his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort for people working on a book about Mark Meadows. The recording appears to undermine Trump’s claims that he had declassified documents before leaving office or didn’t have any restricted documents. Hours after the release of the tape, Trump – in an all-caps post on his personal social media site – acknowledged keeping classified documents he didn’t declassify while attacking special counsel Jack Smith and accusing the Justice Department and FBI of having “illegally leaked and ‘spun’ a tape and transcript of me which is actually an exoneration.” (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / Associated Press)

5/ The current record heatwave across the U.S. South was made at least five times more likely due to human-caused climate change, scientists from Climate Central, a nonprofit science communication organization, have found. The Climate Shift Index, which estimates how much climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme heat, is currently at Level 5 over southern portions of Texas. Level 5 indicates that human-caused climate change made the current excessive heat at least 5 times more likely. The historically intense heat dome responsible for the current heat wave is expected to persist through at least next week and into the following week. Scientists have found that heat domes are becoming larger, more frequent, and more intense with human-caused climate change, which increases the risks of heat-related illnesses, deaths, droughts, and wildfires. (The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Climate Central)