The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in Moore v. Harper, a case with far-reaching implications for voting rights. During three hours of debate, justices considered a bid by North Carolina Republican lawmakers to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that redrew North Carolina’s congressional map due to partisan gerrymandering. The plaintiffs want the Supreme Court to embrace the independent state legislature theory, which would hand state lawmakers sweeping authority to override courts, governors and state constitutions. Lawyer Neal Katyal argued against the theory on behalf of North Carolina voting rights groups.
Neal Katyal: “I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a theory in this court that would invalidate more state constitutional clauses as being federally unconstitutional, hundreds of them, from the founding to today. The blast radius from their theory would sow elections chaos, forcing a confusing two-track system with one set of rules for federal elections and another for state ones.”
In Peru, President Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested Wednesday after he attempted to dissolve Congress and install an emergency government. Lawmakers accused Castillo of attempting a coup, and Peru’s top court declared the move unconstitutional. The dramatic turn of events came as Castillo faced his third impeachment vote since taking office just a year and a half ago, vowing to tackle poverty and heal the wounds of colonialism. Castillo’s Vice President Dina Boluarte has been sworn in as Peru’s first woman president.
Interim President Dina Boluarte: “As we all know, there has been an attempted coup d’état, an attempt pushed by Mr. Pedro Castillo, which has not found backing in the institutions of democracy and in the streets. This Congress of the Republic, per the constitutional mandate, has taken a decision, and it is my duty to act accordingly.”
Ahead of his impeachment, Castillo, a former union leader and teacher, accused lawmakers of trying to “blow up democracy” and disregarding the will of the people.
Ukraine’s government says Russian artillery fire killed 10 people and wounded many others Wednesday in the eastern Donetsk region. The killings came as Ukraine’s electrical grid operator announced new emergency power cuts to try to repair infrastructure damaged by Russia. This week, the United Nations reported more than 17,000 civilians have been killed since Russia’s invasion, including 419 children. Matilda Bogner, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, released a report Wednesday documenting summary executions of civilians by Russian troops in northern Ukraine during the first six weeks of the war.
Matilda Bogner: “Russian soldiers brought civilians to makeshift places of detention and then executed them in captivity. Many of the victims’ bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs and gunshot wounds to their heads. Some victims were summarily executed on the spot. Civilians were targeted on roads while moving within or between settlements, including while attempting to flee the hostilities.”
The U.N. report also documented torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and sexual violence committed by Russian forces. In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Wednesday that Russian forces may be fighting in Ukraine for a long time to come. His comments came as Ukraine’s military claimed more than 93,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion in February.
In Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping received a lavish welcome from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wednesday as Xi arrived for a three-day visit to Riyadh. China is Saudi Arabia’s top oil importer, and Saudi media report the two nations are expected to sign agreements worth $30 billion, including on information technology, transportation and construction.
Here in the U.S., over 100 groups urged Congress on Wednesday to vote for Bernie Sanders’s Yemen War Powers Resolution to end U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia’s war and blockade in Yemen. On Tuesday, Sanders said he now has enough support to pass a resolution in the Senate and he plans to bring his measure to a floor vote as early as next week.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinians during an early-morning raid on the city of Jenin and its refugee camp. Two others were wounded by gunfire, one of them critically. It was the latest in a series of near-daily raids by Israel on Palestinian communities. A local official accused Israeli snipers of firing indiscriminately.
Atta Abu Rmeileh: “Snipers were all over the buildings and on rooftops inside the city and the refugee camp. They were targeting anything that moved. Also soldiers in military vehicles were shooting. Even an ambulance was targeted.”
The Red Crescent showed reporters several bullet holes in an ambulance they said had been used to transport a wounded person. Schools, businesses and stores have shut down across Jenin today in a general strike to protest the killings.
In Iraq, two people were killed and at least 16 others wounded after soldiers opened fire with live ammunition on a crowd of protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah. About 300 people joined Wednesday’s protests, demanding freedom for a young activist who was sentenced to three years in prison for a social media post that mocked the commander of a Shiite paramilitary group. He was convicted on charges of publicly insulting a government institution or official.
Iran’s government has announced the first execution of a protester who was sentenced to die for joining anti-government protests. Mohsen Shekari was hanged early this morning after a Revolutionary Court found him guilty of “enmity against God,” accusing him of rioting during a demonstration in Tehran in September. The protests erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Amnesty International has condemned death sentences handed down to protesters, saying they followed “grossly unfair trials marked by summary and predominantly secret processes.”
A Guatemalan court has sentenced former President Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president, Roxana Baldetti, each to 16 years in prison, after they were found guilty on fraud and conspiracy charges. The pair stepped down in 2015, accused of benefiting from a customs graft scheme known as “La Linea” which stole some $3.5 million in state money. The ex-leaders have vowed to appeal.
In labor news, over 1,100 New York Times writers and other employees are on a 24-hour walkout to demand the newspaper bargain in good faith after their last contract expired in March 2021 amid disputes over pay. It’s the largest labor action The New York Times has seen since the 1970s. Unionized workers are asking New York Times readers to respect the digital picket line and instead use local news sources for information.
Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has revealed he was in possession of confidential documents containing evidence of U.S. war crimes, leaked by former military analyst Chelsea Manning and given to him as backup by WikiLeaks.
Daniel Ellsberg: “I had possession of all the Chelsea Manning information before it came out in the press.”
Stephen Sackur: “Did you?”
Daniel Ellsberg: “I’ve never said that publicly. Julian Assange had conveyed to me as a backup; in case his was — you know, they caught him and they got everything, he could rely on me to find some way to get it out, if I felt. So, I had all that. And when I say that, I’m saying that by the current standing of the Department of Justice, I am now as indictable as Julian Assange and as everyone who put that information out.”
Julian Assange has been jailed in Britain since his arrest in April of 2019. The Biden administration is asking the U.K. government to extradite him to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years in prison on espionage and hacking charges. WikiLeaks fears his extradition could happen in the next few weeks.
CBS is reporting WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released by Russia in a one-for-one prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death.” Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for bringing a small amount of cannabis oil into Russia.