The Court may agree to hear one or more abortion cases in its next term. For the most part, these cases have their roots in the Republican landslides in the 2010 midterm elections. At the time, those electoral victories were largely portrayed as being based on economics; the Tea Party was often described as almost libertarian in orientation. But soon after new state legislators took office it became clear that social issues, and especially abortion, were among their highest priorities. In state after state, those Tea Party lawmakers passed new restrictions on abortion, and as the restrictions have taken effect challenges to them have started to work their way through the courts.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, nineteen states passed forty-three new restrictions on abortion in 2012—on top of ninety-two restrictions passed in 2011. The most recent changes came in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. A Guttmacher report states that the restrictions were in four general areas:
Mandating unnecessary medical procedures. The best known of these practices is requiring an ultrasound before any abortion, so that the woman is compelled to listen to a fetal heartbeat. Eight states now require these ultrasounds.
Increased regulation of abortion providers. These rules, notably strict in Michigan and Virginia, require abortion providers to have hospital-like facilities, while leaving other, similar outpatient institutions untouched.
Hospital privileges. Three states—Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee—recently added requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Limits on later abortions. Louisiana and Arizona have banned abortion after twenty weeks, and other states are weighing similar restrictions. In a law scheduled to go into effect this summer, North Dakota effectively banned abortions after six weeks.
The trips highlight inconsistencies in tough ethics rules Congress set for itself. Although registered foreign lobbyists can’t buy a $2 cup of coffee for a congressional staffer in Washington, they are allowed to invite, plan and accompany a staffer on a trip costing $10,000 or more. Nor is there any requirement about how much time is spent on work related to Congress.
Congress overhauled the rules for travel after the 2005 scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had paid for lavish trips for several lawmakers and their families before his 2006 guilty plea on fraud and bribery charges. After Democrats won control of Congress in midterm elections, they passed legislation governing the rules for travel funded by organizations that hire lobbyists, requiring pre-approval of trip itineraries and limiting travel to a single day.
For travel sponsored by companies and other private interests, staffers must submit itineraries to House and Senate ethics committees for approval before departing and also make a full accounting of costs after the trip has concluded. The rules continue to tighten: starting in April, lawmakers and staff will have to submit trips for pre-approval even earlier — 30 days beforehand, up from 14.
By contrast, the costs, itineraries and other details for cultural-exchange trips are not disclosed. When costs are voluntarily added to disclosure forms, they typically run about $10,000 for a week-long trip, including first-class or business-class airfare.
Just 15 months after taking a thumping in the 2010 midterm elections, House Democrats have seized on the current anti-Washington fervor and are confident they can win the 25 seats they need to regain control of the House.
Vice President Joe Biden made a bold prediction on Friday, telling House Democrats at their annual retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, “I really do think we’re going to win back the House.”
To flip control of the House back just one cycle after losing it, the House Democrats’ campaign operation is relying on a class of new recruits, just inducted into its “Red to Blue program” that targets Republican seats.
CNN obtained exclusive access to campaign chief Steve Israel’s briefing for the 18 handpicked candidates earlier this week in Washington.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought them to Washington to hear Israel present the latest polls and his assessment of the political landscape. Israel briefed the group on his “Drive to 25” — the battle plan that banks on their success in defeating Republicans — in a conference room at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, just steps from the Capitol.
Israel, the top strategist for House Democrats, was blunt, telling the group, “We’re not interested in electing you to the minority — been there, done that. It sucks!”
I wish I could say that I have not had the experience of being in a conversation eerily similar to this, but I have.
I made some comments on a thread about the seriousness of the fact that some of these people might get elected, and was shocked to get a lot of pushback and an attitude as though it is not going to be that big of a deal.
I fundamentally and completely disagree on every level.
If the house is indeed lost to the GOP/TEA the next two years are going to be some of the most fucked up in the political history of the US. These people are psychotic, that is not hyperbole, I am judging that based on the words that have come out of their own mouths and their stated intentions as far as the way they want to govern. They are delusional.
They dont understand that the next two years are going to suck for everybody if they win.