Today's politics recap

  • The Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, that could overturn the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade, has officially been submitted to the supreme court following a morning of oral arguments. However, a final ruling is not expected until June 2022. Conservative supreme court justices signaled they support restricting abortion access in their questioning.
  • The first case of the Omicron variant has been identified in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci confirmed. “We knew it was just a matter of time,” Fauci said. The case was identified in California.
  • Stacey Abrams announced she will be running for governor of Georgia once again. “If our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we are going to need leadership,” Abrams said in her announcement video.
  • There appears to be little movement on Republicans and Democrats coming together on an agreement on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown by the 3 December deadline. In particular, a handful of Republicans in both the Senate and the House have been adamant that they will not vote to fund a government with a vaccine mandate
  • The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack recommended the criminal prosecution of former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark for his refusal to comply with a subpoena in the inquiry into the 6 January insurrection. Clark’s lawyers have told the committee that he is ready to appear for a deposition on Saturday. But he is expected to refuse to answer questions and assert his Fifth Amendment rights.

– Vivian Ho, Hugo Lowell, Maanvi Singh

Updated

The committee unanimously voted to recommend Clark be held in criminal contempt of Congress. Next, the House will vote on whether to send the criminal referral to the DoJ.

However, Clark will be given an opportunity to appear in front of the committee on Saturday for a new deposition and could be spared the charge.

Updated

Jeffrey Clark’s lawyers have told the committee that Clark is ready to appear for a deposition on Saturday. But he is expected to refuse to answer questions and assert his Fifth Amendment rights.

“We will not finalize this contempt process if Mr. Clark genuinely cures his failure to comply with this subpoena this Saturday,” Liz Cheney said.

If Clark feels “that answering questions about his discussions with President Trump and others in November and December 2020 and January 2021 could incriminate him, and he, therefore, wishes to invoke privilege on that basis, the committee would certainly consider that”, she added.

Updated

Right now, the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is meeting to take up a criminal contempt referral for former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark, determining whether to punish his refusal to comply with a subpoena in the inquiry into the 6 January insurrection.

If the committee approves the criminal contempt resolution, it will head to the full House of Representatives, which could refer Clark for prosecution in a vote that could come as soon as next week.

Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, indicated that panel was seeking criminal prosecution to demonstrate their resolve in enforcing subpoenas, and to warn other Trump aides about the penalties for non-compliance.

The select committee’s recommendation would bring grave consequences for Clark.

Once passed by the House, the justice department is required to take the matter before a federal grand jury, which last month indicted the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon over his subpoena defiance.

A successful contempt prosecution could result in up to a year in federal prison, $100,000 in fines, or both – although the misdemeanor offence may not ultimately lead to his cooperation, and pursuing the charge could still take years.

Updated

Why the Mississippi abortion rights case is so important

Today, the US supreme court heard oral arguments in what has been called the most important abortion rights case in almost half a century – a case that could redefine reproductive rights across the country and have repercussions abroad for generations.

Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization could lead to weakening or overturning the landmark 1973 supreme court ruling, Roe v Wade, which effectively legalized abortion in the US. If that were to happen, tens of millions people of reproductive age across the country would be affected.

What is happening at the supreme court?

In Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Dobbs refers to Dr Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s health department director, and the official who would enforce the law. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, which is also known as the Pink House.

The highest court in the US will hear from attorneys in the case, which centers on whether Mississippi can outlaw nearly all abortions at and after 15 weeks gestation.

The case directly challenges the precedent in Roe v Wade, which guarantees the right to an abortion in the US.

Roe v Wade protects the right to an abortion up to the point a fetus can survive outside the womb, widely regarded as 24 weeks gestation. A full term pregnancy is 39 weeks gestation.

The court is now dominated by conservatives, with six of the nine justices leaning to the right. Abortion advocates see the Mississippi case as especially perilous for abortion rights because justices could have dismissed Mississippi’s law as unconstitutional under Roe. However, the court chose to take the case, indicating at least four justices see a reason to revisit the historic ruling. A decision is expected in June 2022, but the hearing on 1 December could provide clues as to the justices’ thinking.

What could happen to Roe v Wade?

Congress never enshrined the right to terminate a pregnancy in law. Instead, pregnant people in the US have relied on Roe v Wade for almost 50 years, and the precedent is now considered to be under threat.

The justices could decide to dismiss the Mississippi case, upholding Roe v Wade. However, abortion advocates worry that the court could instead rule in a way that may weaken or even overturn it.

The justices could decide that the 15-week law does not put a significant burden on people in Mississippi, and issue a ruling that would allow abortion to be banned at a much earlier stage of pregnancy. This is would considerably restrict abortion access and weaken Roe v Wade.

If Roe is overturned, 26 states are expected to move to outlaw abortion in various ways, through state constitutional amendments, “trigger” laws which go into effect as soon as possible should Roe be overturned, or limits on abortion beginning at six weeks gestation, before most know they are pregnant.

Read more:

Updated

Julian Borger in Washington and Andrew Roth in Moscow report:

The US says it has evidence Russia has made plans for a “large scale” attack on Ukraine and that Nato allies are “prepared to impose severe costs” on Moscow if it attempts an invasion.

Speaking at a Nato ministers meeting in Latvia, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said it was unclear whether Vladimir Putin had made a decision to invade but added: “He’s putting in place the capacity to do so in short order, should he so decide.

“So despite uncertainty about intention and timing, we must prepare for all contingencies while working to see to it that Russia reverses course.”

He said he had found solidarity among his fellow Nato ministers in the Latvian capital, Riga, saying the alliance was “prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine” and would “reinforce its defences on the eastern flank”.

While repeating the US position that Washington is “unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and committed to our security partnership with Ukraine”, the secretary of state stopped well short of saying the US or the alliance would intervene militarily. “Should Russia follow the path of confrontation, when it comes to Ukraine, we’ve made clear that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past,” Blinken said.

He did not specify the nature of those measures, but most observers believe that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, intended to bring Russian gas to Europe, could be cancelled if there is another invasion. The new German coalition government is already sceptical about the scheme.

Blinken said the US would spell out the consequences to Russia’s leaders “at the appropriate time”. His remarks represent the strongest warning from the Biden administration so far, and were delivered a day before Blinken is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Stockholm under increasingly tense circumstances.

Read more:

‘Deluge of plastic waste’: US is world’s biggest plastic polluter

The US is the world’s biggest culprit in generating plastic waste and the country urgently needs a new strategy to curb the vast amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans, a new report submitted to the federal government has found.

The advent of cheap, versatile plastics has created “a global scale deluge of plastic waste seemingly everywhere we look”, the report states, with the US a leading contributor of disposable plastics that ends up entangling and choking marine life, harming ecosystems and bringing harmful pollution up through the food chain.

Plastic waste has increased sharply in the US since 1960, with the country now generating about 42m metric tons of plastic waste a year, amounting to about 130kg of waste for every person in America. This total is more than all European Union member countries combined. The overall amount of municipal waste created in the US is also two to eight times greater than comparable countries around the world, the report found.

Recycling infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the huge growth in American plastic production. Littering, dumping and inefficient waste disposal in landfills has caused up to 2.2m tons of plastic – including everything from plastic bottles and straws to packaging – to “leak” into the environment each year. The total waste may be even greater than this due to data gaps in tracking it.

Much of this plastic ends up, via rivers and streams, in the world’s oceans.

Worldwide, at least 8.8m tons of plastic waste enters the marine environment each year, the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck filled with plastic into the ocean every single minute. If current trends continue, scientists have estimated this total could leap to 53m tons annually by 2030, which is roughly half of the weight of all fish caught from the oceans globally each year.

Read more:

Updated

Today so far

  • The Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, that could overturn the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade, has officially been submitted to the supreme court following a morning of oral arguments.
  • Conservative supreme court justices signaled they support restricting abortion access in their questioning.
  • The first case of the Omicron variant has been identified in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci confirmed.
  • Stacey Abrams announced she will be running for governor of Georgia once again.
  • There appears to be little movement on Republicans and Democrats coming together on an agreement on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown by the 3 December deadline. In particular, a handful of Republicans in both the Senate and the House have been adamant that they will not vote to fund a government with a vaccine mandate.

Updated

While House Republicans aren’t doing much when it comes to admonishing far-right congresswoman Lauren Boebert for her Islamophobic comments about congresswoman Ilhan Omar, House progressives will be pushing Democrat leaders for action:

House progressives plan to ratchet up calls to strip Lauren Boebert from her committee spots bc of her comments on Ilhan Omar — and will soon go public with a letter to that effect, per two sources

Dem leaders have not made a decision yet on how to proceed.

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

House Republicans went full high school drama yesterday on Twitter, with Majorie Taylor Greene calling Nancy Mace “trash” and Mace calling Greene “batshit crazy” via emojis.

This comes because far-right congresswoman Lauren Boebert made Islamophobic remarks about Democrat congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has since received death threats related to these remarks. Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger called Boebert “trash”, and called out House minority leader Kevin McCarthy for his silence on her remarks.

It appears McCarthy has finally weighed in - but not directly about the bigoted bullying. Instead, he’s just telling everyone in his party to behave.

GOP Rep. Don Bacon paraphrases McCarthy’s message on GOP infighting this AM: “Stop it. Quit acting like you’re in high school.”

If McCarthy’s private talks w/ MTG don’t work, “at some point, the conference as a whole is gonna be frustrated, speak up… I know that’s bubbling.”

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) December 1, 2021

“I’m not here to be a burden, but at some point you have to defend yourself too” - Bacon on attacks from MTG & co.

“We’re not here to get the most clicks, to be TV celebrities. We’re here to govern, and you don’t do that by calling each other names, tearing each other apart.”

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) December 1, 2021

Updated

Stacey Abrams announces that she is running for governor of Georgia

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who many have credited for being among those who helped turn Georgia blue in 2020, has announced that she will be running for governor once again.

“If our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we are going to need leadership,” Abrams said in her announcement video. “Leadership that knows how to do the job. Leadership that doesn’t take credit without also taking responsibility. Leadership that works hard. Leadership that measures progress not by stats but by our ability for everyone to move up and thrive. Leadership that understands the true pain folks are feeling and has real plans. That’s the job of governor.”

I’m running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power. #gapol

Be a founding donor to my campaign:https://t.co/gk2lmBINfW pic.twitter.com/z14wUlo8ls

— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) December 1, 2021

Updated

More on government funding, the continuing resolution and a possible government shutdown: House majority leader Steny Hoyer, who told reporters yesterday that he planned to pass a CR in the House today, now doesn’t think it’s possible.

From colleague Jason Donner. Hoyer when asked if they could pass the CR to avoid a gov't shutdown today: "I don't think so."

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 1, 2021

Hoyer on an interim spending bill to avert a shutdown. Says "Schumer and McConnell are negotiating." He adds "It's incomprehensible today that we can't pass a simple CR."

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 1, 2021

Whew, a lot happening today. Let’s hop back to Congress, where a handful of Republicans are threatening a government shutdown over the vaccine mandate for the private sector.

To recap: In September, Joe Biden announced a federal mandate that all companies in the US with 100 employees or more must ensure either that their workers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or that they test negative for the coronavirus at least once a week. The deadline for this is 4 January.

Conservatives across the country have taken issue with this, ranging the gamut of being fully anti-vax to arguing that vaccinations are a deeply personal issue, one in which the government should not be involved. There have been several challenges in courts that have sided against the mandate - the White House has since been urging private companies to act on their own to set their own vaccine mandates, as many have already.

On top of all this, the federal government runs out of funding on 3 December - yep, two days from now. Congress must pass a stopgap funding bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), to prevent a government shutdown that would put hundreds of thousands out of work right before the holidays.

Since early November, some Republican senators have made it clear that they will not vote for any short-term funding of a federal government with a vaccine mandate. Other conservative members of Congress have since joined in.

Here’s a quick update on the situation:

Here's what Sen. Roger Marshall (one of a handful of conservatives who are threatening a brief government shutdown) want before agreeing to a quick vote on the continuing resolution. He told us he wants language in CR that would prohibit OSHA from enforcing vaccine mandate. BUT

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

Marshall would be OK with a quick final passage vote if there's an amendment to that effect with a 51-vote threshold. But Ds are likely to insist on a 60-vote threshold. So would he object to a quick vote to pass the funding bill if the amendment were set at a 60-vote threshold?

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

"We'll see," he said. "There's a long time between now and Friday. But at a minimum, I think at a minimum it deserves a 50-person vote."
At GOP lunch, a number of senators told Marshall and Lee that their goal won't be achieved if there's brief shutdown. So I asked him about that

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

And he said: "Yeah, I think the folks back home want to know how hard we're fighting for them, that the jobs back home are as important as keeping the federal government open. That's the hypocrisy up here. It just seems like we have rules for back home that don't apply here."

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

Updated

The Guardian’s David Smith was out front of the supreme court during the oral arguments in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Anti-abortion supporters waved models of fetuses and held prayer circles, while pro-choice advocates waved signs reading, “abortion is healthcare” and “protect abortion access”.

Read more here:

Updated

Joe Biden smiled wryly earlier when asked by reporters whether he thought the former president, Donald Trump, put him at risk when Trump had received a positive coronavirus test just three days before the first presidential debate in the 2020 election campaign, according to a new book by former chief of staff Mark Meadows, which was reported exclusively by Guardian US this morning.

“I don’t think about the former president,” Biden said. That was his only word on the topic.

Top health official Anthony Fauci said a little later, at the White House briefing, that he had not been aware of that positive test for Trump at that time. Trump subsequently tested negative, according to the Meadows book, but shortly after revealed publicly that he had coronavirus, following which he was admitted to hospital.

Speaking generally, Fauci said: “If you test positive, you should quarantine yourself.”

Trump had not done that and had not only stood a few feet from Biden, in person and unmasked, for that first debate, but he continued to travel and hold events in close proximity to people.

Anthony Fauci is continuing to answer media questions at the White House. The top US public health official and chief medical adviser to Joe Biden, said that the molecular profile of the Omicron variant suggests it might be more transmissible than previous strains - and might have a higher risk of evading vaccine protection.

He emphasized, however, that it is still too early to say what will happen in the pandemic with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Fauci urged those who have consistently adopted protection protocols, such as wearing a face mask in indoor settings with crowds, to continue to do so and said those who have stopped such practices should resume.

Fauci said: “Do the things we have been saying every single day, not just for ourselves but internationally.”

He said, however, that long term he believes there is “an end game” to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no doubt that this will end, I promise you that, this will end,” he said.

Fauci has now finished his section of the briefing and left the media room at the White House.

Updated

Anthony Fauci, the director of the national institute of allergies and infectious diseases and chief medical adviser to the US president, has taken the podium in the White House press briefing room.

He has confirmed what we all just found out - the first case of the omicron strain of coronavirus has been identified in the US.

“We knew it was just a matter of time,” Fauci said.

The case was confirmed moments ago by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal health agency, and was identified in California.

Fauci just said that the case was confirmed by the CDC and the California and the San Francisco health authorities.

“This is the first case of Covid-19 caused by the omicron variant detected in the US,” said Fauci.

He said the case involved an individual who returned to the US from South Africa on 22 November and tested positive for coronavirus on 29 November.

Fauci added that the individual was fully vaccinated but to his knowledge had not received a booster shot. He said the patient has experienced mild symptoms.
“We feel good that this patient had only mild symptoms and seems to be improving,” he said.

He said the patient was isolating and those whom they had come into close contact with had been reached and tested and shown to be negative for coronavirus.

Fauci reiterated that as many people as possible should get vaccinated and, if they have been vaccinated, get boosted if eligible.

He told people not to wait to see if there will be a new vaccination designed to deal specifically with variants.

“Right now I would not be waiting. If you are eligible ... get boosted now.”

It is not yet known for certain if the current vaccines combat omicron, Fauci said. Many experts are optimistic that they provide protection but confirmation of protection or the level of protection are awaited.

Updated

First confirmed case of Omicron Covid variant in US

The federal authorities have identified the first confirmed case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the United States.

We are awaiting a live briefing from the White House from Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Joe Biden and the top infectious diseases public health official in the US, and press sec Jen Psaki. We’ll bring you that.

But meanwhile, this news is breaking across various wires services and TV news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have the first confirmed US case of Omicron, identified in California.

The dominant variant in the US at this point is still the Delta strain, which emerged and spread across the country from the summer.

Updated

Biden reiterates support for the right to abortion in US

Joe Biden gave a simple endorsement of reproductive rights in America moments ago as he remarked after the high-stakes hearing at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, earlier today.

Joe Biden in Washington, DC, today.
Joe Biden in Washington, DC, today. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Asked about the case by reporters, as the US president took a handful of questions after delivering remarks about the economy, Biden said he had not listened to today’s oral arguments in the key case, which were live streamed from the in-person hearing.

“I did not see any of the presentation today,” Biden said.

But he then added: “And I support Roe v Wade. I think it’s the rational position to take.”

He didn’t add further details. Biden is the second US president who is a Catholic, following the milestone passed by the first, John F Kennedy.

Conservative Catholic leaders had pushed in vain to ban Biden from being allowed to take communion because of his pro-choice political position, a move opposed by the Pope, whom Biden and his wife Jill Biden met with on his way to the G7 talks and Cop26 climate conference a few weeks ago.

Roe v Wade is the landmark supreme court decision from 1973 that established the constitutional right to an abortion in the US, up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

That precedent is now under direct threat from a case brought by Mississippi, which asks the court point blank to overturn Roe.

Read a timeline of the law here.

Updated

Summary

  • Oral arguments before the supreme court began today in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that is a direct challenge to the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade, which legalized abortions across the US in 1973.
  • Conservative justices signalled their support for overturning the Roe ruling, while justices like Sonia Sotomayor called the law out of Mississippi being argued before them a purely political play.
  • Meanwhile, in Congress, Republicans are threatening to not vote for a stopgap funding bill that would fund the federal government and prevent a government shutdown ahead of the 3 December deadline because of the federal vaccine mandate for private sectors.

US Capitol police arrested 33 people near the supreme court, where widespread anti-abortion and pro-choice demonstrations were taking place during the oral arguments of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

US Capitol Police gave three warnings, now they are beginning to arrest the pro-abortion rights protesters blocking Constitution Avenue. A protester I talked to said she was willing to be arrested. pic.twitter.com/qQWB75qg1B

— Tom Roussey (@tomroussey7news) December 1, 2021

We have given the demonstrators three warnings and are now arresting them for violating DC Code § 22–1307- Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding in an area where protesting is prohibited.

This does not affect the lawful demonstrators who are in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) December 1, 2021

We arrested a total of 33 people for Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding (DC Code § 22–1307). They were blocking traffic on Constitution Avenue.

This does not affect the lawful demonstrators who are in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

We will update this if anything changes. pic.twitter.com/R9qWxFPe9x

— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) December 1, 2021

Updated

Quick update from Congress, and the stopgap funding bill that House majority leader Steny Hoyer hoped would be introduced in the house today:

Reminder that the deadline is 3 December - yep, this Friday:

Still no agreement on bill to fund the government, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy just told reporters that they are still talking about extending funding into late January/early February. Money dries up after 11:59p Friday

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2021

With the oral arguments in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization concluded, reaction seems dejectedly certain that the supreme court will rule to overturn Roe v Wade, therefore putting into question safe abortion access across the country.

Supreme Court abortion arguments have concluded. It seems conservative justices have the votes to uphold Mississippi's 15-week ban but the question is how far will they go in either gutting or completely overturning Roe v. Wade

— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) December 1, 2021

The case is submitted. The Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Half the states will have complete or near-total bans on abortion within six months.

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 1, 2021

“Why is 15 weeks not enough time?” asks a man who has never had a period arrive late, never been an underage victim of rape, never been in impoverished circumstances without access to basic services, never been hundreds of miles from the nearest abortion clinic.

— Alice Driver (@reporterdriver) December 1, 2021

By the end of this Supreme Court term, it will likely be far easier for a teenage boy to acquire a firearm in Michigan than for an adult woman to procure an abortion.

— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) December 1, 2021

Justice Thomas doesn't have a thing to say for decades but this morning he can't stop talking about the justification of banning abortions. Curious.

— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) December 1, 2021

After a quick rebuttal from Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, the supreme court has adjourned for the day. The case is officially submitted.

This was a lot, but a ruling is not expected in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization - which could possibly overturn the landmark ruling in the Roe v Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide - until June 2022.

Updated

Conservative supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett keeps going on about safe haven laws and how all 50 states have safe haven laws which would an unwilling parent to safely give up their child, no questions asked.

This question from Amy Coney Barrett is basically game over for Roe. She says: Now that all 50 states have "safe haven" laws that let women relinquish parental rights after birth, the burdens of parenthood discussed in Roe and Casey are irrelevant, and the decisions are obsolete. pic.twitter.com/omyhGISVmN

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 1, 2021

Amy Coney Barrett is turning to safe haven laws, which allow parents to surrender parental rights. She’s talking about “forced parenting” being something one can opt out of without reckoning with the violations of forced pregnancy or forced birth.

— Irin Carmon (@irin) December 1, 2021

US solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar is now before the supreme court:

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar: "The Court has never revoked a right that is so fundamental to so many Americans and so central to their ability to participate fully and equally in society. The Court should not overrule the central component of women's liberty." pic.twitter.com/x0ZB8XDj4k

— CSPAN (@cspan) December 1, 2021

Kavanaugh signals support for curbing abortion rights

Questioning from conservative supreme court justice Brett Kavanuagh is signalling that he might be open to curbing abortion rights.

“The Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice ... and leaves the issue to the people to resolve in the democratic process,” he said.

He asked if the court should be neutral on abortion rights, which would require overturning Roe v Wade. He argued that if Mississippi wins, overturning Roe wouldn’t prohibit abortion nationwide, but would just let states regulate abortion themselves as they want (though at least 26 states are poised to outright ban abortion if Roe fails).

24. Kavanaugh now returns to his extremely worrisome line of questioning. Isn’t it better for supreme Ct not to pick sides and leave it up to states and people.

Challenger makes great point that roe and Casey decided exactly that issue. And that constitution guarantees liberty

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 1, 2021

25…. And so a decision to overrule roe and Casey isn’t neutral.

Kavanaugh now has list of major cases where scotus overruled past decisions. What’s difft about this, he asks? This is a very very bad sign for those who hoped Mississippi law might get struck down. He has said…

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 1, 2021

26. …nothing so far sympathetic to the challengers. And a lot that has been very hostile.

Again, must take w a grain of salt as scotus questions often are just trying to understand a lawyer’s position. But the tea leaves here are ominous.

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 1, 2021

During his heated confirmation hearings in 2018, Kavanaugh said he considered Roe v Wade to be settled law. This appears to be quite a turnaround.

Updated

Supreme court justice Clarence Thomas asked attorney Julie Rikelman about the constitutional right that protects abortion.

Thomas asks Rikelman to identify the constitutional right that protects abortion. "Is it privacy? Autonomy? What would it be?"

"It’s liberty," she says. "It’s the textual protection in the 14th Amendment that the state can’t deny someone liberty without the due process of law."

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Rikelman, in response to questions from Alito: “Allowing a state to take control of a woman’s body" and force her to bear the burdens of pregnancy "is a fundamental violation of her liberty.”

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Updated

ABC and Washington Post conducted a poll and found that the majority of Americans support maintaining Roe v Wade and oppose state legislation making it harder for abortion clinics to operate.

Per this @ABC News/WaPo poll, majorities of Americans:

- Support maintaining Roe v. Wade
- Oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate
- See abortion primarily as a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor, not lawmakers.https://t.co/NkCRPVtEG1 pic.twitter.com/jPiUrF5qdI

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 1, 2021

According to the poll, 60% wanted the supreme court to uphold Roe v Wade, 58% opposed state legislation that made it harder for clinics to operate and 75% believe that the decision of whether a woman can have an abortion should be left to the woman and her doctor.

Julie Rikelman, representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization - the only abortion clinic in Mississippi - is now before the supreme court.

Rikelman begins by saying that stare decisis presents “an especially high bar here” because Casey rejected “every possible reason” for overturning Roe.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Roberts asks what the effects would be of moving the Roe/Casey viability line back earlier in pregnancy. (As a reminder, viability is at around 24 weeks. Mississippi's law would nearly all abortions after 15 weeks.)

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Roberts: "If you think that the issue is one of choice ... viability, it seems to me, doesn’t have anything to do with choice. If it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?"

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

This is a very significant line of questioning from Roberts that suggests he is at least mulling the possibility of a ruling that would not formally overturn Roe & Casey but would discard the viability line -- opening the door to prohibitions on abortion earlier in pregnancy.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Quick update on government funding: House majority leader Steny Hoyer told reporters yesterday that he planned to bring a stopgap funding bill - also known as a continuing resolution (CR) - to the house floor as early as Wednesday - leaving enough time before the 3 December deadline.

Well. It appears Republicans - in particular senate minority leader Mitch McConnell - have an issue with how long the funding will extend to.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in the caucus meeting moments ago Dems will not vote for a CR today bc McConnell will not agree to a funding date.

— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) December 1, 2021

Supreme court justice Elena Kagan jumped in to talk about stare decisis - a Latin term that means “to stand by things decided”.

Elena Kagan says a major goal of stare decisis is "to prevent people from thinking that this court is a political institution that will go back and forth" depending on the court's changing membership or who "yells the loudest."

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Kagan: For the court to overturn a prior precedent, "usually there has to be a justification, a strong justification," beyond the fact that some people think the precedent is wrong.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

“Not much has changed since Roe and Casey,” Kagan said. “People think it’s right or wrong, for the same reasons they’ve always thought it was right or wrong.”

Supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor has been strong in her questioning of Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi

“How is your interest anything but a religious view?” she asked. “It’s debated in religions, so when you say this is the only right that takes away from the start the ability to protect the life, that’s a religious view isn’t it?”

She continued: “Where does the life of a woman and putting her life at risk enter the calculus?”

Supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett, who had advocated against abortion rights and publicly supported the reversal of Roe v Wade before her nomination to the court, has sounded in with her first question:

Amy Coney Barrett, another key vote, asks Stewart whether a ruling in favor of Mississippi would endanger other constitutional rulings on issues like the right to use birth control and the right to same-sex marriage.

Stewart says no, abortion is different.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi: Undue burden is “perhaps the most unworkable standard in American law”.

He’s talking about how in Planned Parenthood v Casey, the supreme court upheld the essential ruling in Roe v Wade but allowed states to pass more abortion restrictions as long as they did not pose an “undue burden”.

What does that mean now? That means that Texas was allowed to ban abortions at six weeks of gestation, which reproductive right advocates say constitutes pretty much a full abortion ban - most don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks.

Conservative justices allowed Texas to undermine Roe within its borders by arguing that the law’s unusual enforcement mechanism, which allowed private citizens to sue anyone who helped a pregnant person obtain an abortion after six weeks, made it difficult to block.

More than 6 million women of reproductive age reside in Texas.

Updated

Supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor comes in hot, asking Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, about the politics around this case.

Fifteen justices over 30 years have reaffirmed that basic viability line,” she said, alluding to how Roe v Wade has been upheld since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision. “Four have said no, two of them members of this court. But fifteen justices have said yes, of varying political background.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, this house bill in Mississippi, are saying, ‘We’re doing this because we have new justices on the supreme court’. Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?

Sotomayor continued with the question: “If people believe it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?”

The first question was from supreme court justice Clarence Thomas:

Clarence Thomas asks the first question. He notes that the court's abortion cases have generally focused on "privacy and autonomy" rather than abortion specifically. "Does it make a difference that we focus on privacy and autonomy, or more specifically on abortion?"

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

For those listening live to the oral arguments, you’ll hear some mentions of “Casey”. This is in reference to the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v Casey, in which the court upheld the essential ruling in Roe v Wade but allowed states to pass more abortion restrictions as long as they did not pose an “undue burden”.

For more background on abortion access in the US, read more here:

Oral arguments have begun before the supreme court in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case with the potential of overturning the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade.

The court's marshal has gaveled in today's session, and the chief justice has called the case.

Arguing first: Scott Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Stewart begins by saying that Roe (which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973) and Casey (which re-affirmed Roe's core holding in 1992) "damaged the democratic process" and "poisoned the law."

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) December 1, 2021

Listen to the arguments live here.

Updated

Republicans threaten government shutdown over vaccine mandate

Over at Capitol Hill, several important deadlines continue to loom: Congress has until 3 December to fund the federal government and prevent a government shutdown and 15 December to raise the debt limit and prevent the US from defaulting on its debts, causing global economic catastrophe. No pressure.

Add to that the ambitious Build Back Better ActDemocrats have set a 25 December goal of passing it through the Senate – and it’s a full wish list for the holiday season.

We started off the week with pundits predicting low drama around both government funding and the debt limit. On Tuesday, senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told reporters:

McConnell says the US won’t default on its debt and says the government won’t shut down on Friday

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 30, 2021

Well, it’s now Wednesday, so that has completely changed. Republicans are now discussing forcing a government shutdown in an effort to foil the federal vaccine mandate on the private sector.

“I’m sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the CR (continuing resolution), but I can’t facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates,” senator Mike Lee told Politico Playbook in a statement. “Given that federal courts across the country have raised serious issues with these mandates, it’s not unreasonable for my Democratic colleagues to delay enforcement of the mandates for at least the length of the continuing resolution.”

Congressmen Chip Roy and Matt Rosendale appear to also be taking a stand against the National Defense Authorization Act because it would require women to register for the draft as well as men.

🚨🚨🚨
“Continuing to fund this kind of garbage is inexcusable and is precisely what our constituents want us to oppose, and oppose loudly ... we should never vote to fund immoral, unlawful, and repugnant policies.”#DefundTheMandates #DontDraftOurDaughters
More below: pic.twitter.com/PZQrUEa6s4

— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) December 1, 2021

I will not vote for a NDAA that forces America’s daughters to enter the draft and I will not vote for any government funding bill that allows Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates to stand.

Proud to join @RepChipRoy to oppose these immoral and misguided policies. https://t.co/b8JcOCbECL

— Matt Rosendale (@RepRosendale) December 1, 2021

Unfortunately, this is not a new strategy. In early November, senator Roger Marshall spearheaded a letter to Joe Biden saying he would not vote for government funding that “enables the enforcement of President Biden’s employer vaccine mandate”. The letter was signed by senator Lee, as well as senators Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, Cynthia Lummis, Rick Scott, Tommy Tuberville and Rand Paul.

Updated

With arguments set to begin before the supreme court momentarily, scenes outside the courthouse grew lively and, at times, heated, with supporters from both sides of the issue of abortion rights gathering.

Now: Outside the Supreme Court where supporters and opponents of abortion rights are awaiting the start of arguments over the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in generations. At least a dozen different groups have plans for a presence out here all morning. pic.twitter.com/OivffPDv6Z

— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) December 1, 2021

Abortion rights protesters dance to Cardi B’s “WAP” blasting from speakers outside the Supreme Court. An anti-abortion protester calls them “wicked murderers.” pic.twitter.com/wk0u6gKU1m

— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11) December 1, 2021

Energy heated as some of the pro-life demonstrators shifted over to the pro-choice side of the barricade pic.twitter.com/JLUEKTFrkO

— Joe Khalil (@JoeKhalilTV) December 1, 2021

With the landmark Roe v Wade ruling being directly challenged today by Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the supreme court, endangering this country’s access to safe abortions, here are some stats from the Guardian’s Jessica Glenza:

  • If Roe v Wade were overturned, 26 states are expected to move to make abortion illegal.
  • About 40 million women of reproductive age, or about 58% of the people who can get pregnant in the US, live in states considered hostile to abortion rights.
  • Pro-choice advocates and legal experts warn that fetus-related prosecutions that over-criminalize women – in particular poor women of color – will increase should Roe be overturned. Already, Alabama has prosecuted nearly 500 women since 2006 for allegedly exposing a fetus to a “controlled substance” in the womb, even including prescription painkillers.
  • Six of the nine supreme court justices learn to the right, meaning the court is now dominated by conservatives. Abortion advocates see the Dobbs case as especially perilous for abortion rights because justices could have outright dismissed law as unconstitutional under Roe. But the court chose to take the case, indicating at least four justices see a reason to revisit the historic ruling.

Updated

Good morning...

Greetings, live blog readers. We’re in for a busy day today.

The supreme court is set to begin hearing oral arguments today in a case that could reverse the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade, which effectively legalized abortion across the US.

In the 1973 Roe decision, the court affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion was a constitutional right. The court ruled that states could not ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb – 24 weeks gestation (a full term pregnancy is considered to be 39 weeks).

Now, with this direct challenge of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, the supreme court justices must consider whether the state of Mississippi can ban nearly all abortion from 15 weeks.

Ahead of today’s hearing, more than 250 doctors and medical professionals across the country signed an open letter organized by the Committee to Protect Health Care, urging the courts and policymakers to uphold to uphold Roe v Wade.

“Patients may need an abortion because of pregnancy complications that endanger their health,” the letter reads. “Forcing people with chronic illnesses, following a miscarriage, or after a serious medical condition diagnosis to carry a pregnancy to term against their will could have life-threatening consequences.”

If the supreme court were to overturn Roe v Wade, at least 26 states hostile to abortion would outlaw abortion either immediately or as quickly as possible, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization. For example, Louisiana has passed a “trigger law” designed to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned, meaning a person from Louisiana seeking an abortion would need to travel as far as Kansas to obtain one legally.

The Guardian’s Jessica Glenza and David Smith will be bringing in live reports from the scene all day. For more information on what’s at stake, read more here:

Contributors

Maanvi Singh (now) and Vivian Ho and Joanna Walters (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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