On This Day: President Obama looks out the window from the cell where Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid legend, was once jailed on Robben Island, on June 30, 2013
Today (all times Eastern)
10:55: The President meets with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile
11:30: Josh Earnest briefs the press
4:30: The President announces the choice of former Proctor & Gamble chief executive Bob McDonald to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
5:25: Hosts a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month, East Room
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 29, 2014
NYT Editorial: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done – The Fate of Syria’s Chemical Weapons
Less than a year ago, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his forces were sporadically using chemical weapons on rebels and civilians in the civil war. Today, the stockpile that he grudgingly admitted to under international pressure is gone.
… Despite the caveats and delays over nine months, the outcome has proved the wisdom of President Obama’s decision to threaten, and then back away from, military strikes against Syrian targets when Russia proposed a negotiated solution after the Syrians were found using sarin gas in August 2013 on the town of Ghouta, killing hundreds of people.
…. President Obama’s critics excoriated the deal, but they have been proved wrong. The chemical weapons are now out of the hands of a brutal dictator — and all without firing a shot.
Full editorial here
— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) June 29, 2014
Salon: Hobby Lobby decision day! Catch up on what it all means
What is Hobby Lobby so mad about?
Hobby Lobby, a for-profit and privately held corporation owned by a family of evangelical Christians, sued the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2012 because it believed that the contraception requirement of the Affordable Care Act was an unconstitutional violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs.
No one has contested the sincerity of the religious beliefs held by Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green and his family, but the Greens are not on the hook to provide their 13,000 full-time employees with contraceptive coverage. In reality, their privately held corporation is responsible for that coverage. Because that’s what it means to be incorporated. So one of the questions before the high court right now is whether or not the company itself can have sincerely held religious beliefs, and — if the court is willing to recognize corporate religion — whether the contraception mandate places an “undue burden” on those beliefs.
And what beliefs are those, specifically?
Hobby Lobby has based its claim in its religious opposition to abortion; according to lawyers for the company, the main issue here is four forms of birth control that it doesn’t want to cover because it believes they are abortion-inducing drugs. This is incorrect.
ThinkProgress: Hobby Lobby Is Only The Second Most Important Decision The Supreme Court Will Hand Down On Monday
From the day the justices agreed to decide whether employers with religious objections to birth control can refuse to follow a federal rule requiring employer-provided health plans to cover contraception, a broad array of Court watchers have treated the Hobby Lobby litigation as the single most important issue facing the justices this term. Indeed, based on the sheer volume of pieces ThinkProgress has published discussing Hobby Lobby, this site has probably given this impression as well.
Hobby Lobby is a major case, with tremendous implications for whether religious conservatives must obey the same rules that apply to the rest of society, but there is another case pending before the Court that has even greater implications for what kind of nation America will become. On Monday, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down two cases, Hobby Lobby and a lesser-known case called Harris v. Quinn. Of the two, more is actually at stake in Harris than in Hobby Lobby.
Harris arises from a group of home-based aides for Medicaid patients in Illinois, a majority of whom voted to unionize.
Mother Jones: Unions Should Brace Themselves for a Major Supreme Court Loss
It’s official: The Supreme Court will wait until Monday, the final day of the current term, to issue its decision in Harris v. Quinn. As I explained in May, Harris is a blockbuster case that could, in a worst-case scenario, wipe public-employee unions such as SEIU and AFSCME off the map. And the chances of a damaging decision in Harris just increased—here’s why.
Heading into Thursday, the Supreme Court had Harris and three other cases left to decide. The justices chose to issue their opinions concerning presidential recess appointments (Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board) and so-called buffer zones keeping protesters at a distance from abortion clinics (McCullen v. Coakley). Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal member of the court, wrote the Canning opinion; Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, took the lead in McCullen.
This makes it more likely that Justice Samuel Alito, who we’ve yet to hear much from, will write the opinion in Harris, which points to bad news for public-employee unions.
In Which Politico Out-Does Itself:
its like everyone writing about iraq has to write this. “besides that mrs lincoln, how was the play?” politico -> pic.twitter.com/MjEtgoeNVh
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 30, 2014
Bob Cesca: GOP Continues to Push Breathtakingly Cynical Lawsuit Against Obama
Last week, we brought you the story of the latest unprecedented congressional Republican weapon against the White House: the frivolous lawsuit. Specifically, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is considering legal action to overturn the president’s executive orders (EOs) in spite of the fact that every president since George Washington has used executive orders to enact policies and implement congressional legislation, among other things.
Since then, there have been a lot of tweets, memes and online discussions about how President Obama has issued considerably fewer EOs than nearly every president since the second Grover Cleveland administration, and in fact the absolute fewest EOs among all two-term presidents, even if he signs 100 more over the next two years. This is empirically true and, as with many of the GOP attacks against this administration, the reality of what happened prior to January 20, 2009 reveals a cynical double-standard, not to mention the existence of mass hypocrisy on behalf of the opposition party.
But the numbers only tell half the story.
The People’s View: Why Democrats are Finally Waking up as Boehner’s Lawsuit Begins to Blow up in GOP’s Face
Earlier this week, I discussed why any serious issue John Boehner can sue the President over spells electoral backlash for Republicans. But the election year political backlash, it seems, has started well before a lawsuit has even been filed.
In a political party, there is nothing more effective in lighting a fire under the bottoms of the rank and file than for them to truly feel like their party is under politically motivated attack from their political nemesis. And when that happens, the attack blows up in the opponents’ face, just as it has begun to do after Boehner unveiled his plan to sue the President over use of executive authority as the DCCC hauled in their largest one-day fundraising total of the year.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) June 30, 2014
Greg Sargent: Trolling of Thad Cochran on voting rights fails to get desired effect
After Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi rebuffed his Tea Party challenger with the help of black Democratic voters, voting rights activists appealed to him with a question: Will you now help southern black voters by supporting a fix to the Voting Rights Act, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision gutting a key provision?
For now, the answer appears to be No, if a statement sent my way by a Cochran spokesman is any indication.
— Kasai™ (@Kahsai) June 27, 2014
On This Day
President Barack Obama listens to former prisoner Ahmed Kathrada as he stands in former South African President Nelson Mandela’s cell during a tour of Robben Island Prison on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama tour the cell block on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held captive near Cape Town, June 30, 2013
President Obama greets Archbishop Desmond Tutu as he arrives at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their family tour a limestone quarry where prisoners would work at Robben Island outside Cape Town, South Africa, on June 30, 2013