10 things you need to know today: June 16, 2020

The Supreme Court rules it's illegal to fire workers for being gay or transgender, the projected COVID-19 death toll rises, and more

A rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

1. Supreme Court: Civil Rights Act protects gay, transgender workers

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. The decision marked a major victory for LGBT rights. The Trump administration and employers accused of discrimination argued that Congress never intended Title VII to apply to gay and transgender people. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion that an employer who fires someone for being gay or transgender "fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."


2. New projection: 201,129 COVID-19 deaths in U.S. by October

The U.S. could see its COVID-19 death toll rise to 201,129 by early October, according to a new estimate released Monday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The IHME previously projected that 169,890 people would die from coronavirus infections by then. It raised the estimate largely due to decisions by states to start lifting lockdowns and reopen their economies, although Vice President Mike Pence on Monday urged governors to attribute surging infections in some states to increased testing. Florida is expected to be one of the states that will be hit hardest in coming months, with deaths there rising to 18,675, up from the previous estimate of 6,559. As of early Tuesday, there have been more than 116,000 COVID-19 deaths nationwide.

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The Washington Post

3. Minneapolis dispatcher voiced concerns over force used against Floyd

A Minneapolis 911 dispatcher who saw George Floyd's arrest in real-time surveillance video became so concerned about police officers' use of force that she alerted a supervisor, according to an audio recording the Minneapolis Police Department released on Monday. "You can call me a snitch if you want to," the dispatcher said, "but we have the cameras up for 320's call and ... I don't know if they had to use force or not, but they got something out of the back of the squad, and all of them sat on this man." Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The city also released transcripts of two 911 calls about the incident. In one of the calls, an off-duty firefighter said the officers did nothing to save Floyd. "They (expletive) killed him," he said.

Star Tribune

4. FDA revokes approval of emergency hydroxychloroquine use

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday rescinded its authorization of the emergency use of the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19. President Trump has advocated using the drugs, but the FDA said it had determined that they were "unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19." The agency also said that due to "ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects" the potential benefits of using the drugs "no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use." The FDA had approved the emergency use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19 even though the drugs had not gone through the approval process for that purpose.


5. Supreme Court declines to consider challenge to California 'sanctuary' laws

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge of California's "sanctuary" laws protecting immigrants from deportation by federal authorities. One of the laws bars police from sharing information about immigrants with federal immigration officials unless the immigrants have been convicted of serious crimes. The Trump administration sued California in an attempt to get the law struck down, saying it interfered with federal efforts to uphold immigration law and violated a constitutional provision giving federal laws precedence over state laws. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, has said the laws are necessary to prevent the federal government from making states enforce federal immigration policies. Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying they supported considering the challenge.

The Mercury News The Washington Post

6. Trump to sign executive order on policing

President Trump plans to sign an executive order on police reform Tuesday. Trump said Monday the policies would be "pretty comprehensive." The order comes as Democrats and Republicans in Congress draft legislation to respond to protests against police brutality prompted by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white officer in Minneapolis. Several cities, including Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and New York, have announced their own reforms. New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced Monday that the city would disband its plainclothes anti-crime units, which have been disproportionately linked to officer-involved shootings. Shea said the unit's 600 officers would be reassigned to other jobs, including detective work and community policing.

The Washington Post New York Daily News

7. Biden campaign fundraising surges in May

Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign fundraising surged in May, the campaign announced Monday. The campaign and the Democratic National Committee brought in $81 million last month, a record for the campaign and a $20 million increase from their joint haul in April. Much of the May fundraising came from big donors, although the campaign said it also received support from 1.5 million new backers "in the last few weeks," and that the average individual contribution was $30. The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee haven't released their May numbers yet, but raised a bit more than Biden in April at $61.7 million, and brought in $14 million alone on President Trump's birthday, which was Sunday.

Politico Bloomberg

8. Trump warns Bolton could face 'criminal problem' over memoir

President Trump said Monday that former National Security Adviser John Bolton could face a "criminal problem" if he releases his new book detailing what the publisher described as Trump's "inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process" during Bolton's time in the White House. Trump said Attorney General William Barr would decide whether to file charges over the book, which the Trump administration says did not go through a full pre-publication review for classified material. "We'll see what happens," Trump said. "They're in court — or they'll soon be in court." Bolton's attorney, Chuck Cooper, says Bolton worked with White House classification specialists for months to make changes to prevent the release of any government secrets in his book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.

The Associated Press

9. North Korea destroys liaison office as tensions mount

North Korea on Tuesday demolished a liaison office it jointly ran with South Korea in the latest sign of rising tensions between the two countries. The destruction of the facility in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, which was opened in 2018 as a de facto joint embassy, came after weeks of threats from Pyongyang to end a period of outreach following the stalling of denuclearization talks that have involved direct meetings between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, who recently assumed a more public role in the regime, recently called the liaison office "useless," and said she had asked her country's military to prepare a "hostile action" to rattle South Korea.

The Washington Post

10. 2021 Oscars postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced the 2021 Oscars ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now air on April 25, 2021, instead of Feb. 28, 2021. Additionally, the eligibility period for the 93rd Academy Awards has been extended so that films released through February 2021 can compete. "Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone's control," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said. The Academy previously said movies that skip a theatrical release and debut at home during the pandemic can be eligible for this year's Oscars only.

Variety Deadline

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