Author: Steve Prestegard

Presty the DJ for May 12

The number one single today in 1958:

Today in 1963, the producers of CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Shew told Bob Dylan he couldn’t perform his “Talking John Birch Society Blues” because it mocked the U.S. military.

So he didn’t. He walked out of rehearsals and didn’t appear on the show.

The number one album today in 1973 was Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” which probably didn’t make Zeppelin mad mad mad or sad sad sad:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 12”

Presty the DJ for May 11

The number one British single today in 1958 was a cover of a song written in 1923:

The number one British album today in 1963 was the Beatles’ “Please Please Me,” which was number one for 30 weeks:

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Presty the DJ for May 10

You may remember a couple weeks ago I noted the first known meeting of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Today in 1963, upon the advice of George Harrison, Decca Records signed the Rolling Stones to a contract.

Four years to the day later, Stones Keith Richard, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones celebrated by … getting arrested for drug possession.

I noted the 62nd anniversary May 2 of WLS in Chicago going to Top 40. Today in 1982, WABC in New York (also owned by ABC, as one could conclude from their call letters) played its last record, which was …

Four years later, the number one song in America was, well, inspired by, though not based on, a popular movie of the day:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 10”

The most predictable news of the weekend

WISC-TV in Madison:

Madison police and the Fire Department are investigating a fire at an office building on the city’s north side that they said was arson.

Crews were called to the 2800 block of International Lane Sunday just after 6 a.m. and flames could be seen coming from the facility.

Officers and arson investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, but police confirmed a Molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown at the office during the incident. A separate fire was also started.

Police confirmed that the office of Wisconsin Family Action was damaged in the incident. The group is a PAC that lobbies against abortion rights and gay marriage.

Speaking to News 3 Now, WFA President Julaine Appling said that someone had thrown Molotov cocktails into her office and had burned books. Appling said she did not know the person who would have lit the fire, but said the suspect “left their signature” with graffiti.

“We get veiled and not so veiled threats from time to time,” Appling said. “We’ve never had anything that materialized like this.”

Appling said that she respects people’s right to disagree with her and her organization, but that this incident is taking things too far.

“We can all disagree,” she said. “People disagree with me all the time. I don’t go threaten them.”

Appling said most WFA staff members would be working remotely Monday, though she will need to return to help deal with the insurance company.

The WFA will consider making security-related adjustments going forward, Appling said, but she did not know what those adjustments would be. Right now, the building has now security cameras. She said she was not told to stay away from the office, but felt uncomfortable putting staff members in a tough situation.

“I’m not going to ask my team to be here,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a terribly secure environment right now.”

Madison Fire Department officials said in a statement that investigators believe the fire was intentionally set and that the incident was being investigated as arson.

On Sunday, the Madison Police Department issued a statement regarding their investigation.

The Madison Police Department understands members of our community are feeling deep emotions due to the recent news involving the United States Supreme Court.

Early Sunday morning, our team began investigating a suspicious fire inside an office building on the city’s north side.

It appears a specific non-profit that supports anti-abortion measures was targeted.

Our department has and continues to support people being able to speak freely and openly about their beliefs.

But we feel that any acts of violence, including the destruction of property, do not aid in any cause.

We have made our federal partners aware of this incident and are working with them and the Madison Fire Department as we investigate this arson.

We will provide an update on this case Monday at 2 p.m. Specific details regarding the logistics of this update will be sent at a later time.

Rebecca Downs:

As we’ve been covering at Townhall, pro-abortion activists have taken to threatening and even committing violence, as well as protesting at the homes of Supreme Court justices. Catholic Churches and pro-life organizations have also been targeted in the process, though the Biden administration has failed to sufficiently call it out. Such incidents have been planned and carried out after a draft opinion indicating the U.S. Supreme Court is looking to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked last week.

At some point on late Saturday or early Sunday, the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life organization in Madison, was vandalized, leading “Molotov” to trend on Twitter over Sunday.

Alexander Shur, of Wisconsin State Journal, wrote about the incident, as well as tweeted some footage of the damage. As he explained in his report:

Investigators are calling the fire at the building, on Madison’s North Side near the Dane County Regional Airport, an arson.

Julaine Appling, president of the lobbying and advocacy organization, said she and events coordinator Diane Westphall were getting ready for a Mother’s Day brunch in Watertown when a building staff member informed her of the break-in. A person on the way to the airport before dawn saw smoke rising from the building and called police, Appling said.

Police said flames were seen coming from the building shortly after 6 a.m. Nobody was hurt.

Arriving at the office at 2801 International Lane at the same time as a reporter, two staff persons from the group found shattered glass from a broken window covering a corner office riddled with burned books. The smell of smoke persisted for hours after the fire, which damaged the corner office carpet and the wall beneath the window.

The outside of the building was also sprayed with graffiti depicting an anarchy symbol, a coded anti-police slogan and the phrase, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”

“What you’re going to see here is a direct threat against us,” Appling said. The incident comes just days after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion revealed a majority of the high court had agreed to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion across the country. “Imagine if somebody had been in the office when this happened. They would have been hurt.”

Appling said police found remnants of at least one Molotov cocktail.

Police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown inside the building but did not ignite. It appears a separate fire was started after that, police said.

Madison Police Department Chief Shon Barnes said in a statement that the department is working on the arson investigation with federal officials and the Madison Fire Department.

Andy Ngô replied to Shur’s thread, pointing out that some of the graffiti is consistent with Antifa symbols.

He also posted from his own Twitter account that we can expect more attacks from Antifa when it comes to targeting pro-life groups and pregnancy resource centers. This is consistent with threats that pro-abortion groups have been making.

Many were quick to reply in the comments with delight about the act of violence, which is consistent with other tweets encouraging or celebrating violence. This is from random Twitter users and verified accounts alike.

Others claimed the pro-life group faked the attack, in part due to the handwriting.

To his credit, Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers, a pro-abortion Democratic, quickly released a statement, condemning the violence.

Other state officials and candidates are cited in Shur’s report, with Republicans and Democrats alike condemning the violence. Democrats still stressed their support for Roe, though, and the city’s mayor couldn’t help herself from engaging in whataboutism.

From Shur’s report:

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she understands that people are afraid and angry in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft but said violence isn’t an acceptable response.

“Madison believes strongly in the right to free speech, but it must be exercised nonviolently by all sides in this increasingly contentious debate,” she said.

Rhodes-Conway also said pro-abortion rights groups have also been targeted, and she called for Congress to pass a bill codifying the protections guaranteed under Roe v. Wade.

President Joe Biden has yet to address such vandalism, despite repeated calls for him to do so, and this most recent example was no different.

More violence and acts of vandalism is likely to follow. Lila Rose, president and founder of the pro-life group Live Action, tweeted out a call for people to report examples of pro-abortion violence, which her team will track.

Presty the DJ for May 7

The number one single today in 1966 was presumably played on the radio on days other than Mondays:

Today is the anniversary of the last Beatles U.S. single release, “Long and Winding Road” (the theme music of the Schenk Middle School eighth-grade Dessert Dance about this time in 1979):

The number one album today in 1977 was the Eagles’ “Hotel California”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 7”

The end of Roe v. Wade is not the end of abortion

Jacob Sullum:

Last year, based on a scenario in which 22 states banned abortion, Middlebury College economist Caitlin Knowles Myers projected that the annual number of abortions in the U.S. would fall by about 14 percent. In Texas, which banned the vast majority of abortions last September and avoided early judicial intervention by restricting enforcement to private civil actions, the net impact seems to have been a drop of about 10 percent.

Americans should keep those surprisingly modest estimates in mind as they try to predict what will happen after the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as a leaked draft of the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests it will soon do. While many states are expected to respond by imposing severe restrictions on abortion, most probably will not. And even in states that ban elective abortions, workarounds will mitigate the impact of those laws.

Those options, which include traveling to clinics in other states and obtaining pills for self-induced abortions, will entail additional time, effort, cost, and in some cases legal risk. The new burdens will be prohibitive for many women, especially those with low incomes, inflexible work schedules, or pressing family responsibilities. But the net effect will not be nearly as dramatic as pro-life activists might hope or pro-choice activists might fear. “A post-Roe United States isn’t one in which abortion isn’t legal at all,” Myers observed in an interview with The New York Times. “It’s one in which there’s tremendous inequality in abortion access.”

According to a tally by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), “abortion will remain legal” without Roe in 21 states where abortion rights are protected by statute or by judicial interpretations of state constitutions. Bans seem unlikely in another seven states. While the CRR classifies 25 states as “hostile” to abortion rights, that list includes Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of which have pro-choice governors.

CRR says “Michigan lawmakers will likely try to prohibit abortion” and “Wisconsin lawmakers may try to prohibit abortion.” But in both cases, they would need a two-thirds majority to overcome a veto. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where the CRR concedes “abortion will likely remain accessible.”

Myers’ projection was based on the assumption that 22 states will quickly move to ban elective abortions. (Her list includes Michigan but omits Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, another state that the CRR classifies as “hostile.”) That would make abortion illegal in large swaths of the South and Midwest, plus several states in the West. Myers calculated that the average distance to an abortion clinic for women of childbearing age affected by the bans would rise from 35 to 279 miles. The upshot, according to her model, would be a nationwide reduction in legal abortions of “at least 14 percent.”

One reason that number is lower than you might expect: The states that are likely to ban abortion already have relatively low abortion rates. But it is also true that increasing the distance to the nearest clinic, even as dramatically as Myers expects, will deter some but not all of the abortions that women would otherwise obtain. As Myers emphasizes, the burden will fall heaviest on women of modest means with the farthest distances to travel.

When Texas banned abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected (which typically happens about six weeks into a pregnancy), the number of abortions performed by clinics in that state fell by half. But many women traveled to clinics in other states or used pills to perform self-induced abortions. The upshot, judging from studies of both workarounds, was that the net reduction in abortions obtained by Texas women was roughly one-fifth the apparent decrease.

That experience may be misleading as an indicator of what will happen even in Texas after the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma—all of which saw influxes of Texas women seeking abortions—are likely to ban the procedure once they are free to do so. But abortion is expected to remain legal in three other nearby states: Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico. Women who live far away from such options—in southeast Texas and Louisiana, for example—will face the biggest obstacles.

The other major workaround is abortion pills. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of mifepristone and misoprostol up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. The method has potentially broad appeal in the United States, where four-fifths of abortions are performed at nine weeks or earlier.

Last December, the FDA permanently lifted a longstanding requirement that abortion pills be dispensed in person, opening the door to prescriptions via telemedicine and home delivery. That decision is apt to accelerate a preexisting trend: Based on preliminary data, the Guttmacher Institute (which supports abortion rights) reports that “medication abortions” accounted for 54 percent of the U.S. total in 2020, up from 39 percent in 2017.

Texas and 18 other states already have restricted the use of abortion pills, requiring clinic visits and banning mail delivery. Texas recently went further, making it a felony to supply the drugs for unsupervised use. But enforcement of such bans will face obstacles even more daunting than the difficulties encountered by the war on drugs, since abortion pills will remain legal in most states.

Aid Access, which enables women to obtain abortion pills from abroad based on prescriptions written by a doctor in Austria, saw a huge increase in requests from Texas after that state’s ban took effect. And Aid Access is by no means the only source of abortion pills, which can be obtained through various websites, purchased over the counter in Mexico, or received in states that allow delivery by mail after an online or phone consultation. Organizations such as Hey Jane and Abortion on Demand facilitate that last option.

There is no question that overturning Roe will reduce access to abortion. The obstacles created by state bans will impose real, sometimes prohibitive hardships on many women. But given the inevitability of those bans, abortion rights supporters who are venting their rage at the Supreme Court’s expected decision would have a bigger impact by focusing their energy and resources on alleviating those hardships.

A constitutional lesson for those who need it

For those who think Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey must not be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court because they’re settled law, the National Constitution Center presents a list of Supreme Court decisions that were overturned by the Supreme Court:

In 1992, an opinion from three justices in the Casey decision reinforced the role of stare decisis, or precedent, in the court’s proceedings. “After considering the fundamental constitutional questions resolved by Roe, principles of institutional integrity, and the rule of stare decisis, we are led to conclude this: the essential holding of Roe v. Wade should be retained and once again reaffirmed,” wrote Sandra Day O’Conner, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter.

However, the court doesn’t always follow its precedents. In 1932, Justice Louis Brandeis explained stare decisis in his dissent in Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co.  “Stare decisis is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right,” Brandeis wrote. “But in cases involving the Federal Constitution, where correction through legislative action is practically impossible, this Court has often overruled its earlier decisions.”

The Library of Congress tracks the historic list of overruled Supreme Court cases in its report, The Constitution Annotated. As of 2020, the court had overruled its own precedents in an estimated 232 cases since 1810, says the library. To be sure, that list could be subject to interpretation, since it includes the Korematsu case from 1943, which justices have repudiated but never formally overturned. But among scholars, there are a handful of cases seen as true landmark decisions that overturned other precedents.

Here is a short list of those landmark cases, as reported by the Congressional Research Service and Library of Congress:

West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish(1937). In a 5-4 decision, the Hughes court overturned a decision from the previous year, now stating that the establishment of minimum wages for women was constitutional. The decision was seen as ending the court’s Lochner era.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court overruled Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940). Justice Robert Jackson’s majority opinion affirmed that forcing public school students to salute the American flag was unconstitutional. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,” Jackson famously wrote.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). A unanimous Warren Court (pictured above) decided that a separate but equal policy of educational facilities for racial minorities, consistent with Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Mapp v. Ohio(1961). Overruling Wolf v. Colorado (1949), the court said in a 6-3 decision that evidence gathered by authorities through searches and seizures that violated the Fourth Amendment could not be presented in a state court—otherwise known as the “exclusionary rule.”

Gideon v. Wainwright(1963). Justice Hugo Black’s unanimous opinion invalidated Betts v. Brady (1942) and required state courts to appoint attorneys for defendants who cannot afford to retain lawyers on their own.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966). In a 5-4 opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded that police violated Ernesto Miranda’s rights by not informing Miranda that he could remain silent and also ask for an attorney during interrogations. The ruling invalidates two court rulings from 1958: Crooker v. California(1958) and Cicenia v. Lagay(1958).

Katz v. United States (1967). In a 7-1 decision (Justice Thurgood Marshall did not take part in the case), the court determined that a man in a phone booth could not be wiretapped by authorities without a warrant from a judge. The decision overturned two prior Supreme Court decisions: Olmstead v. United States (1928) and Goldman v. United States (1942.)

Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). The court decided that Ohio’s criminal syndicalism law, barring public speech calling for illegal activities, was unconstitutional on First and 14th Amendment grounds unless the speech incited “imminent lawless action.” The decision overruled Whitney v. California (1927).

Gregg v. Georgia(1976). In a 7-2 decision from Potter Stewart, the court ruled that Georgia’s capital punishment laws didn’t violate the Eighth and 14th Amendment’s prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment. The court invalidated McGautha v. California(1971), a prior death-penalty case.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Case(1992). A divided court invalidated parts of two prior decisions, Thornburghand Akron I, as inconsistent with Roe v. Wade.

Atkins v. Virginia (2002). The Supreme Court held that executions of intellectually challenged criminals were “cruel and unusual punishments” barred by the Eighth Amendment. The decision overturned Penry v. Lynaugh (1989).

Lawrence v. Texas (2003). Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in a 6-3 ruling,  cited the Due Process Clause and invalidated a Texas law making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in sexual conduct.  The decision overturns Bowers v. Hardwick (1986).

Citizens United v. FEC (2010). By a 5-to-4 decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writes for the majority and says the First Amendment did not permit the government to ban corporate funding of independent political broadcasts during election cycles. The decision overturned Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce(1990) and parts of McConnell v. FEC(2003).

Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).  In a 5-4 opinion, Justice Kennedy said the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause guaranteed the right to marry as a fundamental liberty that applied to couples regardless of their sex. The decision overruled a one-sentence ruling in Baker v. Nelson (1972).

South Dakota v. Wayfair (2018). In another 5-4 decision from Justice Kennedy, the court said sellers who engage in significant business within a state may be required to pay taxes, even if the business does not have a physical presence in the taxing state. The ruling overturned Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992).

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (2018). In a 5-4 opinion from Justice Samuel Alito, the court said the state of Illinois violated the First Amendment by extracting agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees. The decision overturned Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Education(1977).

Anyone think “separate but equal” is acceptable?