A federal judge in Texas blocked U.S. government approval of a key abortion medication Friday, siding with abortion foes in an unprecedented lawsuit and potentially upending nationwide access to the pill widely used to terminate pregnancies.
In a competing opinion late Friday, a federal judge in Washington state ruled in a separate case involving mifepristone that the drug is safe and effective. U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice ordered the Food and Drug Administration to preserve “the status quo” and retain access in the 17 states — along with D.C. — that are behind the lawsuit seeking to protect medication abortion.
It seems inevitable the issue will move to the Supreme Court, and the dueling opinions and appeals could make that sooner rather than later.
The highly anticipated ruling from Texas puts on hold the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a medication first cleared for use in the United States in 2000. It was the first time a court ordered the FDA to remove a medication from the market despite opposition from the agency and the drug’s manufacturer. The ruling will not go into effect for seven days to give the government time to appeal.
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, a nominee of President Donald Trump with long-held antiabortion views, agreed with the conservative groups seeking to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone as safe and effective, including in states where abortion rights are protected.
“The Court does not second-guess FDA’s decision-making lightly,” Kacsmaryk wrote in the 67-page opinion. “But here, FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.” He added that the agency had faced “significant political pressure” to “increase ‘access’ to chemical abortion.”
Biden administration officials said they were reviewing both decisions Friday to determine next steps. The pair of lawsuits followed the Supreme Court’s elimination of the constitutional right to abortion last June, which allowed states to outlaw or sharply restrict the procedure.
The dueling and complicated rulings would put pressure on the FDA and the Biden administration on how to enforce the new mandates set by these rulings.
Medication-induced abortion — the most common method of abortion in the United States — has become increasingly contentious since the high court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Friday, April 7, 2023
Nonfarm payrolls rose about in line with expectations in March as the labor market showed increased signs of slowing.
The Labor Department reported Friday that payrolls grew by 236,000 for the month, compared to the Dow Jones estimate for 238,000 and below the upwardly revised 326,000 in February.
The unemployment rate ticked lower to 3.5%, against expectations that it would hold at 3.6%, with the decrease coming as labor force participation increased to its highest level since before the Covid pandemic.
Though it was close to what economists had expected, the total was the lowest monthly gain since December 2020 and comes amid efforts from the Federal Reserve to slow labor demand in order to cool inflation.
Along with the payroll gains came a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings, pushing the 12-month increase to 4.2%, the lowest level since June 2021.
It was midway through Representative Kevin McCarthy’s drawn-out battle for the House speakership when Representative Jodey C. Arrington of Texas, one of his public supporters, began quietly approaching colleagues to see whether they would be open to backing his No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, instead.
The support was not there. When Mr. Arrington, a fourth-term Republican who chairs the Budget Committee, floated the idea with Representative Jim Banks of Indiana, for instance, the answer was a hard no. Mr. Banks promised to lead the opposition if Mr. Scalise tried to mount a serious challenge to Mr. McCarthy, according to two people who said Mr. Banks told them about the incident. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Mr. McCarthy eventually won the speakership and promised not to bear grudges against the right-wing holdouts, who extracted major policy and personnel concessions in exchange for their votes. But the suspicions and divisions exposed during that process remain and are spilling out into the open as Mr. McCarthy faces his most consequential test: reaching a deal with President Biden to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt as soon as this summer.
Mr. McCarthy has told colleagues he has no confidence in Mr. Arrington, the man responsible for delivering a budget framework laying out the spending cuts that Republicans have said they will demand in exchange for any move to increase the debt limit.
Aside from the perceived disloyalty, Mr. McCarthy regards Mr. Arrington, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, as incompetent, according to more than half a dozen people familiar with his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
The tension has burst into public view, contributing to confusion and mixed messages from Republican leaders about what their plan is and when they might be ready to share it.
In a sign of how difficult things could get for GOP leaders, members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus are already talking about the cudgels they have at their disposal to use in those upcoming fights – namely, the power of any single member to force a floor vote on ousting the speaker. Restoring the procedural tool, known as the “motion to vacate,” was one of the key concessions Kevin McCarthy made in his bid to become speaker.
“It hasn’t come up as far as in a serious conversation, as this needs to be enacted. But as we look at these issues … It does come up from time to time, as we game plan and we look at all of the alternatives and contingency plans that could play out over the next two years,” said freshman Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona, one of the McCarthy holdouts who ended up voting “present” on the last ballot.
In an extraordinary move, Tennessee's Republican-led House voted Thursday to expel two of three Democratic lawmakers who recently led a raucous protest from the House floor calling for gun law reforms.
Reps. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, were both removed from the body with votes falling along party lines, in a disciplinary measure that's only been used twice since the 1800s. The votes were 72 - 25 and 69 - 26 respectively. Together, they represent a combined constituency of about 130,000 people.
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, who represents about 70,000 Tenneseans, escaped the same fate by a single vote, with a final count of 65 - 30.
Following the failed vote, Johnson was asked by reporters if she thought there was a reason she'd had a different outcome. "I'll answer your question," she said. "It might have to do with the color of our skin."
Both Jones and Pearson are Black and Johnson is white.
The expelled lawmakers conceded they didn't follow decorum by walking on the floor — what is called the well — and speaking without being formally recognized.
Republicans said the trio's actions amounted to an insurrection.
The trio, whom supporters call "The Tennessee Three," have already been stripped of their committee assignments.
I'm thinking this was done not only because of the fact these were the two youngest members of the Tennessee House, Black, Democrats, and willing to speak out, but as retribution for a Black DA in Manhattan daring to charge Donald Trump. The justification was of course "insurrection", and the message is pretty clear, that Republicans will do what they can to hurt Democrats that speak out now because it's "worse than January 6th".
This is petty, openly racist retribution and naked authoritarianism, and more of it is coming, because these assholes will not stop until they have complete power.