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The Supreme Court triggers war at the ballot box next year

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There is no video when the Supreme Court sits to hear cases before it. An inherently conservative institution, the presence of cameras is too jarring for most of the justices, who serve life terms

However, the audio quality is really excellent – and everyone following the abortion case in the US Supreme Court last week was rapt. 

Was Mississippi’s law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy constitutional? 

Could it be squared with two crucial precedents:  the ruling, now almost 50 years old, in Roe v Wade, that established a constitutional right to abortion, and a 1992 ruling,

In Planned Parenthood v Casey that affirmed Roe and admonished that undue burdens in state laws could not impede access to abortion services.

What almost everyone listening in to the Court’s questioning of the lawyers heard was that the conflict between the Mississippi law and Roe was a direct one; that at least five justices felt that Roe should yield to Mississippi; that there was little appetite for a proposition from Chief Justice Roberts that the Court could uphold Roe and still permit the 15 week abortion ban to stand, as it just meant a shift of Roe’s window for abortion services from 24 weeks to 15; and that for perhaps the five most conservative justices – Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett – there was an all-but-explicit sentiment that Roe had been wrongly decided, and that the precedent should fall.

In other words, it appears from how the justices reacted last week was that there is a clear majority to at the least affirm the Mississippi law and likely to completely overturn Roe – that after 50 years of being on the books, a constitutional right to abortion will be severely limited if not eliminated.

If that happens, what happens next?

If the Court does overturn Roe, it would likely rule that abortion is not a constitutional right and that it is up to the political process to authorize it – or not.  This would make the 50 state legislatures – and Congress – the ultimate arbiters of the availability and scope of abortion services.

That would mean that it would be up to Congress to pass a law for abortion services to be available uniformly across the country.

Eliminating a constitutional right that has been in effect for 50 years will be devastating to tens of millions of women across the country.  This will provoke a most explosive reaction.

Aside from civil rights and racial justice, abortion is the most significant social issue in the country

The ruling in Roe was sought for decades by abortion supporters, and the repeal of Roe by the Court has been sought by abortion opponents for decades. 

Every Federal spending bill has language in it over how Federal dollars can or cannot be spent on abortion services. 

Every judicial appointment to the Federal courts is scrutinised and vetted for their position on abortion. 

Especially over the last 30 years, this issue has dominated the confirmation process for those nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Trump was resolute in championing his appointment of anti-abortion justices to the Court. 

Trump got three of them approved by the Republican-controlled Senate – upending the Supreme Court’s political balance just so the Court would get to this day.

Since the Court will have shifted the abortion debate from the judicial branch to legislatures across the country, there will be an immense political reaction from coast to coast, and that reaction will be nationalized and carry over into the midterm elections for Congress next November.

Why? Because a state-by-state approach can be transcended if Congress passes a national law to protect abortion rights

While the Supreme Court might strike down Roe by finding there is nothing in the Constitution that provides a right to abortion services, it is not unconstitutional for Congress to pass a law protecting the provision of abortion services to all women in the United States.  

Indeed, in anticipation of what the Supreme Court is deciding now, the House of Representatives in September passed, by a party-line vote of 218-211, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, which provides:

“Congress finds… Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States. Abortion access allows people who are pregnant to make their own decisions about their pregnancies, their families, and their lives,

“A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services, and may provide abortion services, and that provider’s patient has a corresponding right to receive such services …”

The Senate could pass it too – if there are enough Democrats to vote to change the Senate rules to end the filibuster and allow a simple majority vote on this legislation.

As abortion rights are supported by 60 per cent of voters, suddenly Democrats have a huge accelerator of support in the midterms next November. The message: elect Democrats to Congress if you want to protect abortion rights.

If the Supreme Court overrules Roe, it will be war over abortion at the ballot box.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Are U.S. lawmakers more worried about protecting gun rights than children? | ticker VIEWS

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Yet another mass shooting in America, and the world is reeling because change is unfortunately unlikely

As a human being, as a woman, as a Journalist, as a daughter, and as a friend, I was wholeheartedly saddened to hear of the Texas mass shooting in Uvalde, at Robb Elementary School.

I was, and still am angry, sad, and horrified, but unfortunately, not surprised.

Guns are woven into the fabric of America, in particular, Texas.

It’s becoming clearer after each senseless murder, that lawmakers are more worried about protecting their gun rights than they’re innocent people.

Enough is enough.

It’s almost ten years since the Sandy Hook mass shooting where 20 children were murdered.

You would assume that particular massacre would’ve been enough to ignite change in American gun rights, but it wasn’t.

Now, another group of children has been slaughtered in their classrooms. So what is the threshold before something is done?

Children shouldn’t have to live in fear. The kids of Uvalde were just two days out from summer vacation, where they should be just that- kids.

Now, the selfish and barbaric actions of one 18-year-old individual, who had easy access to an assault rifle, stole their futures away.

Moments of silence are not enough, condolences are not enough.

This does not happen as frequently in any other country in the world. So why is the political appetite for change in America so low?

“You cannot separate the fabric of gun ownership from the reality of being American”

megran pratz, cheddar
Megan pratz, cheddar

Gun law overhaul

Here’s what’s being discussed in Congress, in regards to making a change to gun rights.

Currently, federal law does not require unlicensed gun sellers to conduct background checks prior to the purchase of arms. 

Dubbed the H.R. 8 bill, it would step up the required background checks before a gun is purchased.

However, it continues to be stalled in the Senate, where it needs ten Republican votes to get through.

It’s now in the process of getting on the upper chamber’s calendar, with many pushing for an urgent vote, even if it’s doomed to fail by Republicans.

They argue that background checks tarnish gun rights and will take away guns.

“You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,”

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will also push for a gun safety bill to be voted on in June.

The proposed bill would “allow family members and law enforcement to obtain an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or to others by a federal court.”

Red flag laws are also in place, but they prove ineffective far too frequently.

They only alert a problem if someone has a criminal history or has been previously deemed mentally ill.

Meaning cases like the 18-year-old suspect in the Uvalde mass shooting slipped through the cracks.

Most regulations on gun rights vary from state to state, because gun regulation cannot pass at the Federal level, with no majority support.

Therefore, it leaves gun use and availability up to the leaders of each state.

At this point in time, gun control will not stop every horrific attack, but it will make a difference.

If you keep doing the same process in life, you will get the same outcome. A mass shooting nearly every week in America is surely enough reason to make a change?

“The President should demand that the Senate meet right now on the gun control bill and let the votes fall where the children die”

Bruce wolpe, U.s studies centre

National Rifle Association meeting

And most distastefully, the National Rifle Association convention is scheduled for this weekend in Houston, Texas.

Attendees at this convention are prohibited from “bringing firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items.”

So no guns are allowed at the NRA meeting but an 18-year-old can walk into an elementary school with an assault rifle and massacre innocent people.

The irony in that. As the NRA essentially continues to hold America hostage.

“You’ll see a very paradoxical messaging strategy, where NRA will talk about guns for everyone, everywhere, all the time, while not allowing guns in its own events”

mega pratz, cheddar
megan pratz, chedda

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Ticker Views

Joe and Albo already talk the same language | ticker VIEWS

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The morning after the election here, President Joe Biden, in Seoul on the first leg of his first major trip to Asia to engage with the US’s principal allies in the Indo-Pacific, was on the phone to Anthony Albanese:

“President Biden spoke with Australian Prime Minister-Designate Anthony Albanese to congratulate him on his election as Australia’s 31st prime minister. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ steadfast commitment to the U.S-Australia alliance and his intent to work closely with the new government to make it stronger still. President Biden expressed deep appreciation for the Prime Minister-Designate’s own early commitment to the alliance, reflected in his decision to travel almost immediately to Tokyo to attend the Quad Summit—a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. President Biden looks forward to a close partnership between our administrations that will benefit the American people, the Australian people, and the world, starting with consequential meetings in Japan this week.”

Bruce Wolpe on ticker NEWS

The foundations of the alliance are exceptionally strong, capped last year with the announcement of the AUKUS strategic partnership.  

AUKUS ALLIANCE

At any summit meeting between leaders, or when they get on a video call, what becomes so important is the resonance, the chemistry between them. 

That deeper personal chemistry has informed the quality of the ties between several prime ministers and presidents:  Bob Hawke and George H W Bush in the first Gulf War to liberate Kuwait; Paul Keating and Bill Clinton to establish APEC; John Howard and George W Bush on 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US-Australia free trade agreement; Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama to get Australia into the G20;  Julia Gillard and Obama stationing Marines in Darwin and the pivot to Asia; Scott Morrison and Donald Trump in alliance against China and exempting Australia from Trump’s trade wars.  

Tony Abbott and Barack Obama

It has not been all sweetness and light:  Tony Abbott and Barack Obama famously disagreed on global warming, especially on its endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef.  Their discussions were chilly while the globe warmed.

The new PM’s relationship with Biden will have a special dimension.

In Anthony Albanese, Biden will see someone very close to his life experience and values

  • They both come from poorer backgrounds, and they know what it means for families to pull themselves up. 
  • They are both Catholic.
  • They both strongly support unions and good union jobs. Biden is pro-union, pro-worker and pro-manufacturing.  So is Albanese.
  • They are both huge on infrastructure.  It is Biden’s strongest achievement in Congress so far, and Albanese served as Infrastructure Minister for 6 years.  They can talk planes, trains and broadband.
  • Albanese has taken a Biden-style agenda to his campaign.  Biden won office with Build Back Better and Albanese’s hopes are with A Better Future.  
  • They both support policies that have at their core helping working families not only with higher wages and good jobs, but also helping them shoulder the cost of living for childcare, education, medicines, and care for seniors.
  • Labor is simpatico with Biden on climate, electric vehicles and renewable energy.  In fact, an Albanese government can get more enacted on climate than Biden can in this or the next Congress.

Joe and Anthony will find themselves talking the same language.  They already do. When they shake hands, the Prime Minster will say, “Everyone calls me Albo.” And Joe will.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a ‘Quad nations’ meeting at the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein – RC2IWP9759ZQ

At the end of the Tokyo talks, we should expect Biden to invite Albo to Washington, and for the PM to invite the President to come to Australia.  They will want to spend more time together.

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Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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