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Two in-depth CNN reports tell the story of a rightward lurch in about half of the country.
The first, from CNN’s legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic, is a behind-the-scenes account of Chief Justice John Roberts’ attempt to convince his fellow conservatives not to overturn Roe v. Wade. Read the full report.
Biskupic’s sources describe a dogged and ultimately unsuccessful private lobbying campaign by Roberts to change the mind of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and, to a lesser extent, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Biskupic describes a court on edge:
- The leak of the draft Roe opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito undercut Roberts’ efforts to find middle ground.
- The internal investigation of clerks and professional staffers at the court created a difficult atmosphere.
- The erection of barricades and fencing caused friction.
- Normal end-of-term parties and gatherings were canceled.
But it’s the rightward tilt Biskupic describes as “the emerging force of the court’s right-wing supermajority” that is most important to everyday Americans.
Roberts, the institutionalist, was unable to convince fellow conservatives that a national right should be kept, even after nearly 50 years.
But abortion is only one signpost for the court’s rightward turn.
The supermajority often includes Roberts and has, according to Biskupic, also “ruled boldly to enhance gun rights, favor religious conservatives, and diminish regulatory authority over the environment.”
‘Red states are building a nation within a nation’
There’s a direct line between the right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court and the next story that caught my eye, from CNN’s senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.
He starts by looking at the Supreme Court’s decision last week to agree with red state governments to block the Biden administration from altering federal immigration policy away from a more aggressive approach undertaken by the Trump administration.
Red states and Republican-appointed judges, per Brownstein, are “engaging in a multi-front offensive to seize control of national policy even while Democrats hold the White House and nominally control both the House and Senate.”
The red states are moving social policy sharply to the right within their borders on an extremely wide range of issues – from abortion and LGBTQ rights to classroom issues, climate change and immigration.
He describes “a flurry of red state laws that advance the cultural priorities of the GOP’s predominantly White Christian electoral base; and a steady flow of red state statutes blocking Democratic-leaning large cities and counties from setting their own policies on everything from police budgets to recycling.”
Different parts of the country, as a result, are diverging in ways that weren’t imaginable a few years ago.
“This is a direct threat to the nation as a unified entity,” David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and legal adviser to the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, told Brownstein. “This is one step closer to the country dividing into two separate countries.”
Now expect some disunity at the national level
The end result might seem like a coordinated effort, as conservatives see a new vision enacted at the state level. But divides within the GOP at the national level are about to become more pronounced as former President Donald Trump loses some ground.
CNN’s Michael Warren writes about the return to the nation’s capital of both Trump and his former vice president, Mike Pence.
Pence looks very much like a man plotting his own run for president. He’s publishing a memoir in November in which he describes his break with Trump on January 6, 2021.
In Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Pence laid out what he called a “freedom agenda” that plays to conservative priorities on the economy, immigration and cultural fights over education. Read more from Warren.
Pence is finding his distance from Trump without actually criticizing the former President.
At the same time, Pence’s former staffers, including chief of staff Marc Short and chief counsel Greg Jacob, have both testified to a federal grand jury related to January 6.
Would Liz Cheney leave the GOP?
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was excised from Republican leadership for opposing Trump and is now vice chair of the House select committee investigating January 6 – which could cost her during the GOP primary for her House seat in August.
“If I have to choose between maintaining a seat in the House of Representatives or protecting the constitutional republic and ensuring the American people know the truth about Donald Trump, I’m going to choose the Constitution and the truth every single day,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday.
What an independent bid could accomplish
CNN’s Chris Cillizza heard the makings of a different kind of presidential campaign in those words, with Cheney perhaps running as an independent.
“Cheney would function as a spoiler, trying to keep Trump from the White House, rather than as a viable candidate to be elected president herself – which, given what she told Tapper Sunday, might be enough for her,” Cillizza said.
She may not have to run for president. The hearings Cheney helped lead have had some effect on impressions of Trump.
Some erosion in Trump’s support among Republicans
In a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, conducted after eight public January 6 hearings, majorities across party lines agree that Trump’s conduct in trying to remain in office was at least unethical and that he could have done more to stop the attack.
A majority of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters now say they do not want Trump to be their party’s nominee in 2024.