Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rebuked the high court's majority ruling exempting some companies from ObamaCare's contraception mandate, saying the "startling breadth" of the decision would allow business to "opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."
In a scathing 35-page dissent, Ginsburg wrote that the decision would "deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage." And she questioned the potentially wide-reaching ramifications should other businesses seek exemptions for disparate religious objections in the future:
Would the exemption the Court holds RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] demands for employers with religiously grounded objections to the use of certain contraceptives extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others)? […] There is an overriding interest, I believe, in keeping the courts "out of the business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims," or the sincerity with which an asserted religious belief is held. Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be "perceived as favoring one religion over another," the very "risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude. The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield. [Supreme Court] Jon Terbush
President Trump spent the first 10 minutes of his first official meeting with congressional leaders rehashing the campaign and repeating a claim that has been debunked multiple times — that he lost the popular vote by a wide margin because of millions of illegal votes cast against him, several people who attended the closed-door meeting said Monday night.
As they dined on meatballs and shrimp cocktail in the White House State Dining Room, Trump regaled the bipartisan group with the assertion that between 3 million and 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, but won 304 electoral votes, and thus the presidency. Several weeks after the election, Trump tweeted that "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he would have won the popular vote, but officials and several outlets, like ProPublica, have said numerous times there is no evidence that even the tiniest fraction of 1 million people voted illegally.
Those phantom voters aren't the only thing on Trump's mind, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNN. He also remarked on the size of the crowd at the inauguration, Hoyer recalled, telling the congressional leaders, "It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven't seen such a crowd as big as this." Catherine Garcia
As he delivered his State of the State speech Monday night in St. Paul, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) collapsed, hitting his forehead on the lectern.
Immediately, people rushed to help the 69-year-old, including Sen. Dan Schoen, a paramedic, CBS News reports. Schoen said within 20 minutes of the collapse, Dayton was acting normally and poking fun at himself. Dayton was about 40 minutes into his speech when his words slurred, he began to tremble, and he fell forward, witnesses said. The Legislature adjourned following his collapse.
Dayton's chief of staff, Jaime Tincher, released a statement saying Dayton "quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home. EMTs joined the Governor there, and performed a routine check. He is now spending time with his son and grandson." Tincher said Dayton still plans on presenting his 2017 budget on Tuesday morning, and thanks "the people of Minnesota for their outpouring of support and concern." Catherine Garcia
Five days after an avalanche buried the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, Italy, rescuers found three sheepdog puppies alive in the rubble.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) January 24, 2017
Firefighter Fabio Jerman told Agence France-Presse this signals there are still air pockets in the collapsed building. "[This is an] important sign of life, which gives us hope," he said. There are 22 people missing, and seven confirmed dead. On Friday, nine people were pulled out of the rubble alive, telling rescuers they survived by eating dirty snow. "It's a race against time, we know we need to go fast, but it's not an easy working environment," Luca Cari, a fire service spokesman, said.
Local investigators are looking into whether the hotel should have been built in the area and if guests should have been evacuated. The hotel did send an email to local authorities in the hours before the avalanche, which said people were worried because earthquakes were hitting the region and they were stuck in the snow. Catherine Garcia
Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) received four American Library Association awards on Monday, honoring the third installment of his graphic memoir, March.
Written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, March: Book Three won the Coretta Scott King Award for best African-American author; the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults; the Robert F. Silbert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children; and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. This is the first time an author has won so many ALA awards in a single year, NPR reports. March: Book Three also received a National Book Award in November. Catherine Garcia
On Monday evening, the Senate voted 66-32 to confirm Mike Pompeo, a conservative congressman from Kansas, as the CIA director.
His responsibilities will include managing the global spy network and improving the contentious relationship between the agency and President Trump. As a Congressman, Pompeo was a Tea Party Republican who opposed the Obama administration's nuclear accord with Iran and called the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi "worse in some ways" than Watergate, The Washington Post reports. Catherine Garcia
A federal judge on Monday blocked the proposed $34-billion merger of health insurance giants Aetna and Humana on antitrust grounds.
The Justice Department under the Obama administration sued to stop the deal. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said the deal would threaten competition, writing that "federal regulation would likely be insufficient to prevent the merged firm from raising prices or reducing benefits" and there is "valuable head-to-head competition between Aetna and Humana which the merger would eliminate."
Aetna and Humana said that by 2018, they expected to see $1.25 billion in annual cost savings, but Bates wrote "the Court is unpersuaded that the efficiencies generated by the merger will be sufficient to mitigate the anti-competitive effect for consumers" in markets the deal affects, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Justice Department also sued to block Anthem's proposed $48 billion purchase of Sigma Corp on antitrust reasons; another judge is hearing that case. Catherine Garcia
Stephen Colbert will host the 2017 Emmy Awards, CBS announced Monday. The host of The Late Show will be the fourth late-night host this year to emcee an awards ceremony, following Jimmy Fallon for the Golden Globes, Jimmy Kimmel for the Academy Awards, and James Corden for the Grammys.
"This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the globe," said Colbert, taking a shot at President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for their claims about the record attendance at Trump's inauguration.
This will be Colbert's biggest live hosting gig yet; he previously hosted the Annual Kennedy Center Honors on CBS. He has won nine Emmy awards for his writing and for his Comedy Central series, The Colbert Report, which he left in 2014.
The Emmys will air Sept. 17, with nominees to be announced July 13. Becca Stanek