A majority of Supreme Court justices are prepared to overturn abortion rights, according to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion published by Politico. The document is an internally circulated majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
In the draft, Alito also moves to overturn Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the 1992 decision that upheld Roe v Wade. The draft majority opinion reads, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” The leaked opinion suggests five conservative justices would vote to overturn Roe, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joining Alito.
Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Supreme Court Monday evening after news of the court’s draft opinion broke.
Protester: “This is really just tearing apart everything that we’ve worked for and everything — all the change that we’ve worked for to happen. You know, it really just feels like all the work we put into was just torn up and thrown in the garbage. And it’s honestly ridiculous to me, because of how far we’ve come, for it to just be set back in time. Like, it feels like I jumped in a time machine and went back.”
If Roe is overturned, 13 states have so-called trigger laws that would make abortion illegal as soon as the court rules.
Ukrainian officials are attempting to resume the mass evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, after the mayor of the besieged city said more than 200 civilians — including about 20 children — remained trapped by Russian strikes in a shelter under a massive steel plant. In Odessa, a 14-year-old boy was killed in Russian missile strikes that also hit a strategically important bridge in the Black Sea port city. Elsewhere, Ukrainian officials said at least nine civilians were killed by Russian fire in the Donetsk region. The U.N. Human Rights Office said Monday the number of confirmed civilian deaths since the start of Russia’s invasion has topped 3,000 — though the real death toll is likely much higher.
Today President Biden is visiting a Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles that the U.S. is supplying to Ukraine. His trip comes after the Pentagon said Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9 — the Russian holiday known as “Victory Day,” which commemorates the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. A declaration of war would further free up Putin to mobilize Russia’s reserve forces and draft more conscripts. So far Putin has only referred to the invasion as a “special military operation.” We’ll have the latest on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine later in the broadcast.
The European Union’s top energy official has rejected a scheme by foreign companies to convert their payments for Russian oil and gas into rubles. EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said Monday the arrangement violates European Union sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kadri Simson: “Paying rubles through the conversion mechanism managed by the Russian public authorities and a second dedicated account in Gazprombank is a violation of the sanctions and cannot be accepted.”
In Berlin, two government ministers said Monday Germany was prepared to reverse its opposition to a ban on Russian oil and is prepared to suffer the economic shock of an EU oil embargo. Germany continues to import about a quarter of the oil it consumes — and more than a third of its natural gas — from Russia.
Human rights groups say there is mounting evidence El Salvador’s authorities have been committing serious violations since a state of emergency was imposed in late March in response to rising homicides attributed to gangs. Human Rights Watch and the Salvadoran-based Cristosal say at least two people have died in custody, while Salvadoran media is reporting the death of at least three others. Over 22,000 people have been arrested in just over one month, with many relatives saying they aren’t informed of their loved ones’ whereabouts. There’s also evidence of police and soldiers beating people in custody. Thousands remain in pretrial detention, including dozens of children.
The Biden administration said Monday it is “disturbed” by reports that a prominent critic of Egypt’s government died in the custody of security forces after he was forcibly disappeared in February. Ayman Hadhoud died a month after his arrest, but his family only learned of his death in mid-April when they were asked to collect his body from a psychiatric hospital in Cairo. Authorities claimed he died of a chronic heart condition, but leaked photos of the body suggest Hadhoud had a broken skull and showed signs he was tortured before his death. On Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded to the reports.
Ned Price: “We are deeply disturbed by reports surrounding the death in custody of Egyptian researcher Ayman Hadhoud and allegations of his torture while in detention. The circumstances of his detention, of his treatment, of his death, we think, require a thorough, transparent and credible investigation without delay. We have made clear with — including with our Egyptian partners, that human rights are a priority.”
In January, the Biden administration said it would cancel $130 million in military aid to Egypt over human rights concerns. However, it made the pledge just days after the U.S. approved a far more massive weapons sale to Egypt worth $2.5 billion.
President Biden met Monday with the parents of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former U.S. marine abducted in Syria nearly a decade ago. In a statement, the White House said Biden pledged to Tice’s family he would continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s release. Tice was working as a freelance journalist in 2012 when he was abducted while covering Syria’s civil war. Later that year, a video posted to a pro-government website showed Tice blindfolded, looking distressed, and surrounded by men armed with machine guns. Earlier this month, his mother, Debra Tice, told Houston Public Media the biggest roadblock to securing her son’s release is no longer the Syrian government. She said, “It breaks my heart to tell you, the Syrians are not the obstacle now. The obstacle is really in Washington, D.C.” Click here to see our interview with the Tice family.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding the release of Ethiopian journalists Dessu Dulla and Bikila Amenu. The pair face the death penalty on charges of “outrages against the constitution” after they documented wars and human rights abuses committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Oromia regions. The call for their release came ahead of World Press Freedom Day, which is being observed today.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis paid tribute to journalists during his weekly address on Sunday.
Pope Francis: “On May 3, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated. I pay homage to journalists who pay in person for this right. Last year 47 journalists were killed and more than 350 were jailed around the world. A special thanks to those who, with courage, keep us informed about humanity’s wounds.”
Reporters Without Borders has ranked the United States 42nd out of 180 nations in its annual Press Freedom Index, warning violations in the U.S. are increasing at a troubling rate. It cited “the disappearance of local news, the polarization of the media [and] the weakening of journalism and democracy caused by digital platforms and social networks.”
Hong Kong’s Press Freedom Index ranking plummeted to 148th as China’s central government adopted a national security law aimed at silencing independent voices.
Meanwhile, Russia’s press freedom ranking fell to near the bottom, as the Kremlin launched a massive disinformation campaign to support its invasion of Ukraine, where officials say at least 20 journalists and media workers have been killed or injured.
Much of New Mexico is under a critical fire alert today after gusty winds and dry conditions pushed a massive wildfire toward the town of Las Vegas, home to 13,000 people. The fire is already on track to become the largest and most destructive in New Mexico’s recorded history. Some 90% of the western United States is in drought, with officials warning of an extended wildfire season due to the worsening climate emergency.
Tennessee has halted five executions through the end of the year while an investigation is underway into the state’s failure to properly test its lethal injection drugs. The execution of 72-year-old Oscar Smith was stopped yesterday — an hour before Smith was scheduled to be killed — because the drugs hadn’t been tested for contaminant endotoxins, which could trigger respiratory failure or other distressing symptoms if injected.
Here in New York, Amazon workers at a second Staten Island warehouse have voted against forming a union. There were 380 votes in favor with over 600 opposed. This comes a month after an adjacent Amazon warehouse in Staten Island successfully formed Amazon’s first union in the United States. Organizers vowed to keep fighting. This is Derrick Palmer, Amazon Labor Union’s vice president of organizing.
Derrick Palmer: “We’ve been organizing and campaigning for a long time, put in a lot of work. So, you know, we shouldn’t be discouraged at all. You know, we have other buildings. We have over 100 buildings throughout the U.S. that want to organize, and they want to unionize. You know, we already set the tone with JFK. So, we’ve just got to continue. That’s all it’s about.”
Click here to see our interview with Derrick Palmer and Christian Smalls. Eric Milner, an attorney representing the Amazon Labor Union, accused Amazon of illegal union-busting tactics and promised to appeal the election’s results to the National Labor Relations Board.
Eric Milner: “Unfortunately, Amazon really stepped up the pressure here in the last couple of weeks. They engaged in a lot of unlawful behavior, just constant coercive meetings with employees. They disciplined the organizers. They disciplined other workers for engaging in coercive activity. And they really made it as difficult as possible.”
An Oklahoma judge has ruled that a lawsuit seeking reparations for the 1921 Tulsa race massacre can proceed. Tulsa County District Court Judge Caroline Wall made the ruling Monday in a packed courtroom as survivors Lessie Benningfield Randle, Viola Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis looked on. All three survivors are over 100 years old. Over a span of 18 hours beginning on May 31, 1921, a white mob burned down what was known as “Black Wall Street,” the thriving African American neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa. An estimated 300 African Americans were killed.