TPM Cafe: Opinion

When Supreme Court announces which cases it will take up for review, pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion activists alike hold their breath. This time, those who support the right to legal, safe abortion are sighing with relief now that the court has announced it will not take up the Arizona law that banned abortion after 20 weeks — but really 18 weeks post fertilization — leaving it blocked and unenforced.

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Who knows how the “Bridgegate” scandal is going to work out? Maybe Chris Christie will turn out to be a blast from the Nixonian past and his career is already circling the drain. Perhaps his effort to straddle wounded victimhood and brave responsibility will work out and staunch the bleeding.

The one thing we do know, however, is that Christie’s already suffered enough high-profile damage that it’s very unlikely he will offer Republicans in 2016 the devilish temptation of invincible electability. And that’s a real problem for those in and around the Republican Party who are determined to save the GOP from itself.

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Over the last three years, anyone who has followed the pitched battle over letting eligible American citizens vote or not should be familiar with the political dynamic behind it. Following the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans made major gains across the country, a tsunami of bills were introduced that were clearly designed to throw up obstacles to voting for traditionally Democratic constituencies: African Americans, low income people, immigrants, among others. Remarks made by a number of Republican officials — like Pennsylvania state House Republican leader Mike Turzai who came straight out and said the state’s voter ID law would “allow” Mitt Romney to win in 2012 — hardly helped make the objective behind these laws a secret.

Important new empirical research published in December in the journal Perspectives on Politics by Keith G. Bentele and Erin E. Obrien at the Univeristy of Massachusetts-Boston, however, shines a bright light on just how crass this effort has been and how clear the motives of the Republican state lawmakers have been in proposing and passing laws that would deny eligible citizens the right to vote.

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This morning I was a guest on MSNBC’s “Up With Steve Kornacki” where Steve Kornacki offered up some new reporting on the September 2013 George Washington Bridge closures. (See segment #1 and segment #2) After that segment Steve had me offer some context regarding the politics of real estate development in New Jersey in general and in this case in particular.

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In January 2006, I was a student at NYU School of Law, home for holiday break. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out. I remember that, because I was on a lot of painkillers, and I kept thinking that maybe my cloudy brain just wasn’t comprehending what I was reading on an anonymous message board created for law students, called AutoAdmit. There were hundreds of threads about me, with comments including:

"Official Jill Filipovic RAPE thread"

"I want to brutally rape that Jill slut"

"I'm 98% sure that she should be raped"

“that nose ring is fucking money, rape her immediately”

“what a useless guttertrash whore, I hope that someone uses my pink, fleshy-textured cylindrical body to violate her”

“she deserves a brutal raping”

“Legal liability from posting pic of Jill fucking?”

“she’s a normal-sized girl that I’d bang violently, maybe you’d have to kill her afterwards”

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Fights over the laws governing voting rights are nothing new – but 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for court decisions that will determine whether millions of Americans will face new and unnecessary barriers at the polls.

Since the disputed 2000 elections, states have increasingly moved to change voting rules, and litigation on these issues has more than doubled.

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As Congress confronts the Jan. 15 deadline to extend the United States’ spending authority, members should prioritize addressing the nation’s youth unemployment crisis. Monday, Young Invincibles released a report that for the first time puts a price tag on the country’s millions of unemployed young people. The numbers are staggering. In the United States, chronic youth unemployment results in a net $8.9 billion annual loss. That breaks down to $53 per taxpayer. Lost tax revenue accounts for nearly all of it. The takeaway is clear: youth unemployment is a problem that affects not just one generation, but the entire economy.

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At some point in 2014, many members of the punditocracy will tire of writing about the same handful of competitive congressional seats and notice elections are occurring in the several states. Let’s give them a head start, because the dynamics of gubernatorial and legislative races this year are a bit of a fascinating mystery.

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It is easy to believe now that in a short period of time same-sex marriage will be legal throughout the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), followed by the recent decision by the federal District Court in Utah, Kitchen v. Herbert, holding that Utah’s prohibitions of same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, may make it seem inevitable that federal courts throughout the country will eliminate all barriers to same-sex marriage. That view, however, puts too much faith in the idea that our courts – particularly the Supreme Court – are governed by logic and precedent. They are not. Admittedly, they are influenced by logic and precedent. We might even say they are constrained by those factors. But they are political institutions. There is no guarantee that they will resist popular sentiment in states where legislators and voters oppose same-sex marriage.

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As if we needed any more proof that a war is being waged on reproductive freedom in the United States, a new report from the Guttmacher Institute definitely answers yes. According to the report, more abortion restrictions were enacted from 2011-2013 than in the entire preceding decade. From 2000-2010, 189 abortion restrictions were enacted. From 2011-2013, that number jumps to 205. Two hundred five abortion restrictions in three years isn’t just a trend; it’s a crisis.

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