On the menu today: Nancy Pelosi doubles down hard on her decision to spike GOP members of the January 6 investigative panel, Biden finally announces sanctions against the regime in Cuba, and Mississippi officials file a superb brief in the case that could take down Roe v. Wade.
Battle Royale: Pelosi vs. House Republicans
The battle between Nancy Pelosi and the House GOP caucus continues after the House speaker announced that she would block two Republican members from the special commission to investigate the events of January 6. In response, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all five of his nominated members from the commission and threatened to set up the GOP’s own parallel investigation if Pelosi doesn’t backtrack.
But she shows no signs of preparing to do so. In the wake of intense criticism for her decision — including from members of her own party, who say she has given Republicans a gift by allowing them to write off the panel as hyper-partisan — Pelosi has doubled down on her decision, asserting that it was necessary to . . . prevent another riot at the Capitol.
“They wanted to kill her. They were hunting her. I don’t think this is a political calculation at all. You’re talking about the greatest assault on our democracy in over 100 years,” said Representative Karen Bass (D., Calif.), justifying the speaker’s move.
“This is a serious moment. She has to get to the bottom of this so it’ll never happen again,” Representative Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) added. A Politico report offers more insight:
. . . The California Democrat and her allies insist it’s the best way to prevent a repeat of the deadly day when thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol bent on overturning a democratic election and threatened to kill members of Congress.
Members of Pelosi’s inner circle insist that she doesn’t consider the select panel as legacy-defining work during what could be her final turn with the gavel. Instead, her confidants say, Pelosi feels like she was left with no choice after GOP leaders mobilized to block an independent probe and a separate Senate-led investigation was dismissed as too narrow, with virtually no discussion of Trump’s role. . . .
“This is deadly serious,” Pelosi said Thursday, raising her voice and growing unusually animated as she explained her determination to move ahead with the select panel despite Republican protests. “This is about our Constitution. It’s about our country. It’s about an assault on the Capitol.”
But of course, none of this explains why Republican representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio were deemed unfit to serve on the select committee alongside three other Republicans chosen by McCarthy. In defense of that decision, Pelosi has offered little coherent rationale.
Instead, she and her allies have gestured at the ongoing significance of the January 6 riots, implying that allowing these two Republicans on the panel would make it impossible to find out the truth about what happened. Even more egregiously, they seem to be implying that allowing Banks and Jordan on the panel would somehow make it more likely that another such riot would happen again.
Pelosi’s GOP critics have suggested in the wake of her decision that she wanted to remove Banks and Jordan because they were reasonably expected to be the most vocal opponents of the way Democrats wanted to conduct the investigation.
Meanwhile, Democrats are attempting to spin the speaker’s move as a choice to be the responsible grownup in the room. California Democrat and once–presidential hopeful Eric Swalwell offered: “I think she wants to show a clear contrast between a serious leader, a serious party that is serious about governing, and this unseriousness on the other side.”
It remains unclear what exactly is so serious about a supposedly bipartisan panel that features almost no Republicans and a House speaker who sidelines her political opponents by insinuating that their very presence in the room will lead to violence.
Biden Rolls Out Sanctions against Cuban Government
After two weeks of political unrest in Cuba, the Biden administration has finally imposed sanctions on members of the Cuban government for its suppression of dissidents. On Thursday afternoon, the president announced that the U.S. would sanction both Cuban defense minister Alvaro Lopez Miera and the country’s special forces for using violence against peaceful protestors.
The sanctions will prohibit groups in the United States from sending payments either to Lopez Miera or Cuba’s special forces, and will block either of the sanctioned parties from sending money the other way, as well.
“This is just the beginning. The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people,” Biden said in a statement. He then added that, “I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence.”
Shortly after the protests broke out, Biden said that the U.S. stands “with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights,” but his administration had taken no formal action until the announcement of these sanctions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also offered a statement, saying that the Cuban government and security force’s actions against the peaceful protests “lay bare the regime’s fear of its own people and unwillingness to meet their basic needs and aspirations.” And he echoed Biden in saying that the U.S. supports Cubans “seeking a government that respects the human rights and dignity of the Cuban people.”
Interestingly, Blinken also pushed back against the narrative — coming both from the Cuban government and from segments of the progressive movement in the U.S., including the Black Lives Matter movement — that the U.S. is somehow responsible for the unrest in Cuba.
The Cuban people are “tired of the mismanagement of the Cuban economy, tired of the lack of adequate food and, of course, an adequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Blinken told reporters. “That is what we are hearing and seeing in Cuba, and that is a reflection of the Cuban people, not of the United States or any other outside actor.”
Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, responded to the sanctions on Twitter, calling them “baseless and slanderous” and asserting that President Biden should apply the sanctions on himself “for acts of everyday repression and police brutality.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the State Department announced that the government is working to find ways to make the Internet accessible in Cuba so that the people can communicate more effectively with one another. The move follows the advice in a letter earlier this week from nearly 150 congressional Republicans to the Biden administration and international organizations, asking for greater aid for the Cuban people.
In addition to requesting more help in getting Internet usage to Cubans, the Republicans called for an international criminal tribunal to deal with the Cuban government and an end to financial support for the regime. These sanctions might not be everything Republicans were hoping for, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction and a necessary response to a democratic uprising larger than anything Cuba has seen in decades.
It’s Long Past Time for Roe to Go
Yesterday afternoon, Mississippi officials filed their opening brief in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the first case in decades that holds the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion jurisprudence.
As NR’s editors noted yesterday, Mississippi deserves a great deal of praise for going straight for the jugular in this case, tackling Roe head-on and demanding that the justices overturn their ruling and every subsequent ruling that attempted to prop up a house of cards on its shaky foundation.
Not only does Mississippi defend its ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, but the brief opens by insisting that “nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.” State officials are far from alone in that assessment; in the decades since Roe, legal scholars on both the right and the left have criticized the ruling as poor constitutional law.
Mississippi’s brief is especially admirable because it takes square aim at each of the most common arguments in favor of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, arguments that we hear often not only from abortion providers and abortion-rights activists, but also from the justices themselves.
For instance, the brief seems to be looking at Chief Justice John Roberts when it declares, “The stare decisis case for overruling Roe and Casey is overwhelming. Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong. The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition.” It goes on to note the many ways in which the Court’s repeated attempts to clarify its abortion jurisprudence have created a regime that is “hopelessly unworkable.”
In last summer’s June Medical Services v. Russo, Roberts wrote a baffling majority decision seeming to diverge from the Court’s holding in the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, yet that still struck down Louisiana’s health and safety regulations on abortionists. Roberts insisted in his opinion that he had to do so on the proper understanding of stare decisis, an assertion the brief seems to be contesting.
The brief also confronts what is perhaps the Left’s most popular argument for abortion, the so-called reliance-interest rationale offered by justices in Casey: that women in the U.S. have come to rely on legal abortion and will suffer significant harm, to the point of lacking basic equality, if Roe is overturned. As Mississippi points out, there is little evidence that this will be the case, and in fact a great deal of evidence that the opposite is true.
Legal abortion has not been a boon to women, and it is insulting to suggest that female success and progress necessitate a fictitious constitutional right allowing them to do away with inconvenient unborn children.
Women deserve better than abortion, and the American people deserve better than a Supreme Court too obsessed with its own status and too afraid of controversy to correct one of the most unjust, anti-constitutional decisions in its history.
ADDENDUM: Nancy Pelosi invoked her Catholic faith yesterday while defending her opposition to the Hyde amendment, which prohibits direct taxpayer funding of elective abortion.
Pelosi called herself a devout Catholic and said she feels blessed to have had a “beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day.” But the House speaker went on to add that excising Hyde “is an issue of fairness and justice for poor women in our country.”
Children for me but not for thee, I suppose. How very Catholic.