And of course the first major GOP idiot to run afoul of the new metal detector rules in the House is Louie Gohmert of Texas.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Following the recent Roberts Court New York church decision in November, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strip California of the ability to close churches for pandemic health reasons, decreeing instead that the state can continue to limit attendance capacity.
The court ruled in cases brought by South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena. The churches said restrictions imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, violated the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion.
The restrictions set varying limits on attendance at religious services by county, depending on infection rates. With the pandemic raging, in-person worship services were entirely barred in Tier 1, which covers almost all of the state.
In a brief, unsigned opinion, the court blocked that total ban but left in place a 25 percent capacity restriction and a prohibition on singing and chanting. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have blocked all of the restrictions. Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left all of the restrictions in place.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in a concurring opinion, explained why a middle ground was appropriate. He said that the court should generally defer to public health experts but that there were limits to that deference.
“The state has concluded, for example, that singing indoors poses a heightened risk of transmitting Covid-19,” he wrote. “I see no basis in this record for overriding that aspect of the state public health framework.”
“At the same time,” the chief justice continued, “the state’s present determination — that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero — appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, in her first opinion, wrote that she would not have blocked the restrictions on singing and chanting based on the available evidence. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joined her opinion.
Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said the state had favored its entertainment industry over worship services.
“If Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues and mosques,” Justice Gorsuch wrote, “something has gone seriously awry.”
In dissent, Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, said the majority had intruded into matters best left to public health officials.
“Justices of this court are not scientists,” Justice Kagan wrote. “Nor do we know much about public health policy. Yet today the court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic.”
“The state is desperately trying to slow the spread of a deadly disease,” she wrote. “It has concluded, based on essentially undisputed epidemiological findings, that congregating together indoors poses a special threat of contagion. So it has devised regulations to curb attendance at those assemblies and — in the worst times — to force them outdoors.”
“In the worst public health crisis in a century,” Justice Kagan wrote, “this foray into armchair epidemiology cannot end well.”
The Roberts Court has yet to make any sweeping national rulings on COVID-19 restrictions on churches and definitely has the votes to do so if they wanted to, but for now they are settling on what their usual strategy is: begging for someone to send them a case where they can make a federal precedent, which is why Biden has been careful to restrict mask mandates to interstate transportation and why he hasn't made any capacity mandates at all for indoor gatherings in offices, even federal ones.
We're going to find out though that should a national ruling come down that keeps open all churches, that it's going to extend the pandemic by months or more.
I like the fact that President Joseph R. Big Effin Deal Biden recognized that Donald Trump should never be allowed near an intelligence briefing again, ever, period, because he's a damn Russian asset.
President Joe Biden said Friday that Donald Trump should not be allowed to receive classified intelligence briefings, a courtesy that historically has been granted to outgoing presidents.
Asked in an interview with CBS News what he feared if Trump continued to receive the briefings, Biden said he did not want to “speculate out loud” but made clear he did not want Trump to continue getting them.
“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden said. “What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this week that the issue of granting Trump intelligence briefings was “something that is under review.”
Some Democratic lawmakers, and even some former Trump administration officials, have questioned the wisdom of allowing Trump to continue to briefed.
Susan Gordon, who served as the principal deputy director of national intelligence during the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019, in a Washington Post op-ed last month urged Biden to cut off Trump.
“His post-White House ‘security profile,’ as the professionals like to call it, is daunting,” Gordon wrote days after a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers sought to certify his defeat in last November’s election. “Any former president is by definition a target and presents some risks. But a former president Trump, even before the events of last week, might be unusually vulnerable to bad actors with ill intent.”
Whether to give a past president intelligence briefings is solely the current officeholder’s prerogative. Biden voiced his opposition to giving Trump access to briefings as the former Republican president’s second impeachment trial is set to begin next week.
I'm glad that Biden is making it clear it's not happening, for America's sake.
Iowa's GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds is essentially dropping all state COVID-19 regulations for schools and businesses and letting the virus fall where it may.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will lift the state's limited mask requirement on Sunday, along with the social distance and other limitations she had in place for businesses and social gatherings.
Her latest coronavirus emergency proclamation, issued Friday afternoon and effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, instead "strongly encourages Iowans, businesses and organizations to take reasonable public health measures consistent with guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health," Reynolds' spokesperson, Pat Garrett, said.
Since mid-November, Reynolds has required Iowans two years of age and older to wear masks if they were in indoor areas and spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of a person not in their households. The rule carried several exceptions.
Her previous proclamation also required social distancing between groups at bars, restaurants, casinos, fitness centers and other establishments, as well as at social gatherings and sporting events.
"I strongly encourage that all businesses or other employers remaining open with in-person operations take reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment to ensure the health of employees, patrons and members of the public, including social distancing practices, increased hygiene practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health," Reynolds' latest proclamation states.
I can't think of any scientific, medical, or public health reason to lift masking and social distancing right now in any US state, and it's clear Reynolds is going to blame Joe Biden when the state's COVID-19 numbers skyrocket by March 1. I fully expect businesses will begin to refuse to serve people with masks very soon.
Watch this space, because Iowa is going to become a death zone within weeks, and it all could have been avoided.