Jul 1, 2018

What we're watching: Abortion rights the focus of Trump's SCOTUS pick

As President Trump gears up to announce his nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, the court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which overturned many state and federal restrictions on abortion rights, is in the spotlight.

The big picture: There's debate about whether the next Supreme Court justice would vote to overturn Roe, given the court's shift to a stronger conservative majority. Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who is pro-choice and one of the Senate's key swing votes in the SCOTUS confirmation process, told CNN's Jake Tapper that she would not vote for a nominee who "demonstrated hostility" toward the decision.

Trump said he won't ask nominees how they'd vote regarding Roe in an interview with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo. "I'm told I probably shouldn't," he said.

The backdrop:

  • On the campaign trail, Trump suggested he would use Roe as a litmus test for nominees. And Vice President Mike Pence famously declared in 2016 that a Trump win would mean that the decision would be "consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs."
  • Trump met with Collins and Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — all of whom could be a defining vote given their views on abortion and commitment to precedent — as well as red-state Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) at the White House last week to gauge the qualities they're looking for in a potential nominee.
  • Collins told Martha Raddatz on ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning that the President assured her he would not ask potential nominees about Roe.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) told Raddatz about the red-state senators: "These are senators who are going to do the right thing. Yes, they have bucked our party time and time again ... They do what they feel is best for their state."

  • She added that Democrats can make a case to hold the confirmation vote until after the midterm elections, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did in 2016, blocking President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" that legal precedent is what matters to him the most on the issue of abortion rights:

"Well, I'm pro-life. And the job of a judge is to call, decide cases before the court. But one of the concepts that really means a lot in America is stare decisis. That means you don't overturn precedent unless there's a good reason. And I would tell my pro-life friends you can be pro-life and conservative, but you can also believe in stare decisis. Roe v. Wade, in many different ways, has been affirmed over the years. But I would hope the justice that sits on the Court, all of them, would listen to the arguments on both sides before they decided. But stare decisis is a well-known concept in our law."

Go deeper: How SCOTUS could start rolling back abortion rights.

Go deeper

Trump slams Dems as GOP sues California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump accused Democrats of trying "Rig" November's general election as Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California Sunday in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.