Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Last Call For The Last Clinic In Bevinstan

Kentucky's last abortion clinic in Louisville is now deep into a legal battle to stay open after Gov. Matt Bevin ordered it closed earlier this week due to state TRAP laws passed during the General Assembly session earlier this year.  Should the lawsuit against the state fail, Kentucky would become the first US state with zero abortion access.

Gov. Matt Bevin's administration is seeking to shut down Kentucky's only abortion provider, prompting a federal lawsuit by the clinic to block the move it says would have “a devastating impact on women.”

Bevin’s administration has ordered the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville to stop providing abortions starting Monday, claiming it lacks proper agreements for patient care in the event of a medical emergency.

EMW's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville, calls the order "blatantly unconstitutional" and asks a federal judge to bar the Bevin administration from revoking the EMW clinic's license.

"They've made it clear they won't stop until no woman can get an abortion in Kentucky," said Donald L. Cox, a lawyer for EMW. "It's just an attempt to ban abortion in Kentucky."

The state's announcement in a March 13 letter that it is revoking the license makes the EMW clinic the latest enforcement target of the administration of Bevin, an anti-abortion Republican who has called himself an “unapologetically pro-life individual.”

Over the past year, the Bevin administration has blocked abortions at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky's Louisville clinic and at an EMW clinic in Lexington over licensure disputes, leaving EMW’s downtown Louisville clinic as Kentucky’s sole abortion provider.

Officials with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which licenses abortion clinics, has argued its actions are based on patient safety.

But EMW, joined in its lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said the clinic already complies with the law and says that if the state succeeds in forcing it to close, “abortion will be effectively banned in the commonwealth.”

This is the first major TRAP law legal test in the Trump era, and once again for those of you playing at home, TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, swamping clinics with burdensome regulations and laws that make it impossible for clinics to stay open in the name of "patient safety".  So far the courts have stopped red states short of getting rid of their last provider, but that was before the Trump regime assumed control of the Justice Department.

Now there's a very real possibility that nationwide TRAP laws could be passed, even for blue states. As it is, abortion clinics are being closed too in states like California because of economic reasons.

Still, Kentucky's last clinic is, for now, remaining open.  For how long, is anyone's guess.

Dark Money Isn't Funny

Making America Great, a nonprofit run by Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s most influential donors, will begin airing $1 million in television ads on Wednesday, coupled with a $300,000 digital advertising campaign. The TV ads will run in the District of Columbia, along with ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania. The digital campaign also will focus on voters in those states.

“Our group will be a conduit to highlight President Trump’s achievement to the rest of the country,” says Emily Cornell, who is moving from the Mercer-funded data firm Cambridge Analytica to run Making America Great’s day-to-day operations. “We are here to promote successes and hold accountable broken promises -- not just to those who voted for Trump, but to all Americans.”

Trump can use the PR boost. On March 27, Gallup reported his job approval rating fell to a new low of 36 percent, two points lower than his predecessor, Barack Obama, ever reached during his eight-year tenure in the White House.

The president could soon face added difficulties from House Republicans in passing legislation to keep the government running. Current funding runs out later this month. He’ll also have to contend with Democratic opposition to his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Trump donors, including Mercer, were upset that the Trump-backed Republican health care bill did not receive more outside support to counter its critics.

“Over the last couple weeks, we’ve aggressively tried to launch Making America Great,” says David Bossie, the group’s chief strategist. “We have the full support of the White House, and our effort is proud to be stepping up to help President Trump move his agenda forward.”

It's probably the only strategy the GOP has at this point.  Ruining the Democrats' chances to take back the Senate by putting the Dems on permanent defense for 20 months is a tactic that works.  Another midterm with record low turnout, depressed by "but the Dems are just as awful if not worse!" ads for the next year plus is just what the GOP needs to stay in power.

And of course these donors have unlimited funds for "advocacy" like this.  Thanks, Supreme Court!

No Gorsuch Thing As A Free Lunch, Con't

It's becoming readily apparent that enough Democrats will stand together in the Senate to filibuster Trump regime Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch over Merrick Garland's stolen seat and Trump being under investigation.  GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is warning once again that Republicans will deploy the "nuclear option" to remove the ability to filibuster Supreme Court picks if necessary, but unlike the Democrats who need only 41 of 48 votes to sustain a filibuster, the GOP may not have the 50 of their 52 Senate votes required to change the rules.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday left Judge Neil Gorsuch with two roads to the Supreme Court: winning over all of the party’s remaining swing votes, or relying on the so-called nuclear option.

The five Democratic senators up for reelection next year in states where President Donald Trump won by single digits have all endorsed a filibuster of Gorsuch, while the five facing voters next year in states Trump won by double digits all remain undecided. Gorsuch would have to carry all five of those fence-sitters to overcome a Democratic filibuster — plus his home-state Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Maine independent Sen. Angus King, and another more surprising senator.

But after liberals raised the pressure on Democrats to oppose Gorsuch and the National Rifle Association targeted four red-state Democrats with $1 million in pro-Gorsuch ads, Trump’s nominee ended the day with his chances at beating a filibuster lower than ever.

“The issue is whether Gorsuch has earned 60 votes, which according to our Republican friends, has always been the standard for a significant decision by the Senate — and at present, I don’t think they’re even close,” liberal Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told Politico. “So I don’t see this as being a make-or-break determination for any of those red-state Democrats.”

On Tuesday alone, nine Democrats came out against the nominee — although one, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, has not clarified his decision on a filibuster. The flurry came as liberal activists dug in their heels further ahead of a series of nationwide protests that the anti-Gorsuch “People’s Defense” coalition has planned for Saturday.

And that leaves the nuclear option on the table...if the GOP can trigger it.

Mitch McConnell told his leadership team in private this week what’s becoming increasingly obvious on Capitol Hill: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch probably won’t get 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.

But the Senate majority leader had an equally pressing message: Republicans should have no compunction about pulling the trigger on the “nuclear option” — with Democrats resisting a high court nominee as well-pedigreed as Gorsuch.

“Feel no guilt,” McConnell said, according to attendees.

McConnell’s attempt to buck up his GOP ranks, relayed by three sources in attendance, underscores the high stakes of the Gorsuch battle as the Senate barrels toward a likely nuclear showdown next week: His confirmation is, to put it mildly, a can’t-lose for Republicans.

That was true after Senate Republicans waged a yearlong blockade of Merrick Garland that positioned the GOP to pick someone else now. But the spectacular collapse of the Obamacare repeal effort last week makes Gorsuch all the more urgent for President Donald Trump and reeling Hill Republicans.

McConnell is so confident that Republicans will win the Gorsuch fight that the Kentucky Republican predicted he’ll be confirmed by a week from Friday.

Do we really think the GOP has its act together enough now to pull this off?  Besides, where will we be next week on Russia?

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