Amy Coney Barrett
The Supreme Court has a new justice on the bench.
Yep. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left open after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. It wraps up an extremely divisive Senate confirmation battle, which Democrats decried as a "sham" for taking place so close to the general election. And that division showed in the final 52-48 vote tally. It was the first time in modern history that a nominee received zero votes from the minority party. No other SCOTUS confirmation has ever been so close to a presidential election. At 48, Barrett will be the youngest justice on the court in a position she could hold for life. Her confirmation is seen as a huge win for Republicans and for President Trump – who has now appointed three Supreme Court justices.
It is. And it means that even if President Trump doesn't win another term, he will have cemented his legacy through these appointments. Barrett's confirmation shifts the Supreme Court to a 6-3 conservative majority. The high court hasn't been this solidly conservative in decades – which could have a large impact on our country's future. Barrett could get to work as soon as today, and people are already watching how she'll handle the following:
Pre-election cases...The justices are expected to weigh in on emergency requests involving North Carolina and Pennsylvania (aka swing states). Barrett could be a deciding vote on whether the states can extend their deadlines for accepting absentee ballots – a move that could affect the presidential election results.
Health care…A week after the election, the court is expected to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The Trump admin wants to strike down the Obama-era law that provides coverage to over 20 million Americans. Barrett hasn't said how she'd rule, but she was critical of previous SCOTUS decisions that kept the law in place. Democrats are fearful she'll help overturn it in the middle of a pandemic.
Abortion...If any of the multiple abortion cases making their way through lower courts reach SCOTUS, many believe a conservative-majority court could overturn Roe v Wade. As a law professor, Barrett signed an ad that called for overturning Roe. In her confirmation hearings, she didn't say how she'd vote on the issue but said she doesn't have a judicial "agenda" against abortion.
The election itself...Part of the reason Republicans pushed to get a new justice on the court was so there would be nine to weigh in (think: no 4-4 tie votes) if there's a contested election. Something Trump thinks could happen.
The confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice is a big deal whenever it occurs. For it to happen about a week before Election Day is monumental. And both parties are hoping that it'll galvanize voters to the polls.
We are a week away from Election Day. One week. And like everyone else in America, we've got Big Election Energy. So, we recently surveyed theSkimm audience to check in on how they're feeling about Nov 3.
Here's what we heard:
Almost everyone said they're likely to vote – or already have. (Well done, team.)
Most people we surveyed (88%) said they're supporting former VP Joe Biden while 6.5% are backing President Trump.
No matter who they supported, most said they weren't happy with the state of the country.
For more on why and what issues are driving Skimm'rs to the voting booth, check out our full breakdown here.
NASA. Yesterday, the agency announced that it found water on the sunlit part of the moon for the first time ever. Now, before you pack your space suit, know this: scientists already knew the moon had "some kind of hydration." But their only proof was ice that was found in shadowed craters. This new discovery shows that water exists on the lunar surface outside of cold, shadowed places. Future astronauts could use it as a source of water to drink and oxygen to breathe (if they break the H2O down to hydrogen and oxygen atoms). Don't get too thirsty for moon water though – scientists still have to figure out if they can access it.
Keith Raniere. Today, the leader of Nxivm – the self-help org slash "sex cult" that people may have heard about thanks to HBO – is expected to be sentenced in court. In 2017, The New York Times reported that women in an inner circle of Nxivm (pronounced "nexium") were treated as sex slaves. They were forced to have sex with Raniere, branded with his initials on their pelvises, and had strict 500-calorie-a-day diets. In 2019, Raniere was convicted of various crimes including sex trafficking. Victims are expected to speak at his sentencing today. Raniere still maintains his innocence and his lawyer has said he's not sorry. He faces up to life in prison.
Pakistan. Today, a bomb went off at a religious seminary located in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least seven and injuring over 110 people. About 500 students about 20 to 30 years old had gathered to hear a lecture before the blast. Police said over 11 lbs of explosives were used in the attack. It's not clear who's behind it but the region has seen militant and sectarian violence in the past. The Pakistani Taliban reportedly denied their involvement. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave his condolences to families affected by the blast and is calling for justice.
El Paso, Texas. Earlier this week, a county judge issued a stay-at-home order with a daily curfew from 10pm to 5am to combat the area's COVID-19 outbreak – saying it's in a "crisis stage." Coronavirus cases in El Paso County have soared and hospitalizations have gone up 300% in the last three weeks. Infections are also rising in over 30 states.
That's not all: As case numbers hit new records, people are concerned about a second wave of COVID-19. But Dr. Anthony Fauci says 'not so fast' – this is still the first wave. And continues to stress the importance of social distancing, covering your face, and washing your hands.
Japan. Yesterday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the country's plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 – just weeks after regional rival China said it'll do the same by 2060. Environmental groups have criticized Japan, the world's fifth-biggest emitter of CO2, for its slow progress on cutting greenhouse gases. Now, Greenpeace says the country's taking "precisely the kind of action the world needs."
Skimm’d by Maria del Carmen Corpus, Mariza Smajlaj, Ellen Burke, Niven McCall-Mazza, and Clem Robineau
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Jul 31 | Election Day is still on for November 3rd.
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Aug 19 | The US Postal Service is suspending its controversial changes.