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Daily Skimm: SCOTUS's Ruling on Birth Control, Vauhxx Booker, and Oprah's Latest Project

Anti-abortion demonstrators pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on July 08, 2020.
Getty Images
Jul 9, 2020


The Story

The Supreme Court is allowing some employers to refuse to offer birth control coverage.

What happened?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to uphold Trump admin regulations letting employers decline to offer contraceptive coverage to workers, if they have religious or moral objections. It was the latest case in a nearly decade-long fight over birth control coverage, stemming from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Remind me...

The ACA says health care plans have to cover preventive care for free. The Obama admin decided that included birth control, but said houses of worship (churches, temples, and mosques) would be exempt. After some lawsuits, other religious-affiliated orgs (think: schools, hospitals, charities) and some businesses got an exemption, too. But some argued it didn't go far enough. The Trump admin agreed and said any employer with moral objections to birth control shouldn't have to cover it. Yesterday, the Supremes backed that up.

What's the reaction?

The Trump admin and religious groups celebrated the decision. The White House called it a "big win for religious freedom and freedom of conscience." But critics – including women's rights groups and Democrats – said it would deny health care to women and disproportionately affect "low-wage workers, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others who already face barriers to care."

How many will be affected?

Government estimates show up to 126,000 women could lose free contraceptive coverage. But birth control isn't just for...controlling birth. It can be used to treat irregular periods, endometriosis, PCOS, and other health conditions. Without insurance, those patients could end up paying hundreds of dollars a year or more. This was SCOTUS's second ruling of the day that strayed from its previous series of victories for liberals (see: abortionimmigration, and LGBTQ+ rights).


The Supreme Court's made a lot of news with its decisions over the past few weeks – and more could be coming today. This latest ruling has religious groups cheering and could give Trump a boost heading into election season. But it could also leave some women scrambling to figure out how to pay for contraception.

And Also...This

Whose case is getting federal attention...

Vauhxx Booker's. The FBI says it's investigating an alleged racist attack against the Black civil rights activist at an Indiana lake on July 4. Booker said he and his friends were headed to watch the lunar eclipse when a White man stopped him and said he was on private property. Booker said the man – along with at least one other – attacked him as he was trying to leave. Video of the incident shows a group of White men pinning Booker down against a tree. Booker says they shouted racial slurs at him and threatened to "get a noose." His lawyer says the incident was "clearly racially motivated" and wants it investigated as a hate crime.

Who's got a lesson plan in mind...

President Trump. Yesterday, he threatened to cut funding for school districts that refuse to reopen in the fall. This came after he and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suggested the economy would benefit from a return to the classroom by allowing parents to head back to work. Trump also criticized the CDC's nine-page checklist recommendations for reopening schools across the country, saying they would be "tough and expensive" and ask schools to "do very impractical things." The White House is planning to release guidelines of its own.

These schools. Yesterday, Harvard and MIT sued the Trump admin over its new rule. Released earlier this week, the rule bars international students from staying in the US if their school only offers online classes in the fall. The rule also suggests international students – who reportedly make up more than 5% of students in higher ed – leave the country or transfer to a school that offers in-person learning. The admin said it was being "more flexible" than in the past by allowing foreign students to take more online classes. But said that if their school is 100% online they "don't have a basis to be here." Critics called the rule "cruel" and "reckless," not giving a lot of notice. And accused the admin of trying to pressure schools to reopen prematurely amid the pandemic.

...Oh and speaking of schools, the Ivy League is the first Division I conference to suspend this fall's football season.

Who's saying 'I have opinions'…

These people. This week, dozens of artists, writers, and academics signed on to an open letter in Harper's Magazine in a push to cancel 'cancel culture.' It argued that people are not able to freely exchange ideas and information due to an "intolerant climate" within society. And called for an environment where people can agree to disagree without jeopardizing someone's career. People who signed on included Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, and JK Rowling – who's recently been under fire for remarks widely seen as anti-transgender. The letter – and the people who signed it – got lots of criticism online, with the signatories being called things like thin-skinned, coming from a place of privilege, and being afraid of losing their own relevance. And at least one person said she wanted her name taken off the list.

What sounds familiar...

The CAREN Act. Earlier this week, a San Francisco lawmaker introduced the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act that would make false and racially discriminatory 911 calls illegal.

Who's bringing "The 1619 Project" to the big screen…


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