10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2023

The Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action in college admissions, jury acquits deputy who failed to confront Parkland school shooter, and more

Protesters supporting affirmative action hold signs saying 'protect diversity'
The Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action will force universities to change how they pursue racial diversity
(Image credit: Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

1. Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action in college admissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, saying it was unconstitutional to consider race in college admissions. The high court's six conservative justices were in the majority, with its three liberals dissenting. "The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. The decisions will force universities to change how they pursue racial diversity. It is the second time in two terms the conservative majority has thrown out longstanding precedents, after last year's overturning of Roe v. Wade. President Biden blasted Thursday's ruling, saying, "This is not a normal court."

The Washington Post Politico

2. Jury acquits deputy who failed to confront Parkland shooter

A Florida jury on Thursday acquitted former Florida sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson of child neglect and culpable negligence for failing to confront the gunman who killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a Parkland high school five years ago. Peterson wept, saying, "I've got my life back." The former Broward County deputy also was found not guilty of perjury for telling police he only heard a few gunshots and didn't see students fleeing the attack. Police officers and victims' relatives harshly criticized Peterson, who was the only school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when reports of his actions were made public. One victim's father told him to "rot in hell."

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The New York Times CNN

3. France deploys 40,000 officers in 3rd night of protests

French authorities imposed curfews in Paris suburbs on Thursday as France endured a third night of violence over the fatal police shooting during a traffic stop of a French-Algerian 17-year-old identified as Nahel M. Protesters clashed with police in Nanterre, the working-class suburb where the teen was killed earlier this week, and in the southern port city of Marseille. Rioters burned public buildings and looted a Nike store in Paris. France's Interior Ministry said it deployed 40,000 police officers around the country, including 5,000 in the capital city, to contain the violence. On Wednesday, rioters set police stations, schools, and city halls on fire, and police arrested more than 600 people.

CNN France24

4. Russian general linked to Prigozhin detained

Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a top Russian commander in Ukraine with ties to Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been detained, several news outlets reported Thursday, citing U.S. and Ukrainian officials. There were reports earlier in the week that Surovikin had advance knowledge of Prigozhin's plan to stage a rebellion against Russia's defense minister and other top military leaders. Surovikin released a video early in the 24-hour mutiny, urging Wagner troops and leaders to abandon their march toward Moscow. Satellite images appeared to show construction at a military base near the Belarus capital, Minsk, that could become Wagner's new headquarters. Belarus agreed to grant Prigozhin exile in negotiations that ended the mutiny.

NPR Reuters

5. Ex-Ohio House speaker sentenced to 20 years for bribery scheme

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to the maximum of 20 years in prison for his conviction in a $60 million bribery scheme, the biggest in Ohio history. Jurors found that Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, a former Ohio GOP chair, arranged for FirstEnergy Corp. to provide money to secure Householder's power so he could push through a $1 billion bailout for two old FirstEnergy nuclear power plants, then undermine a ballot effort to overturn the maneuver. U.S. District Judge Timothy Black told Householder he deserved stiff punishment, calling him a "bully with a lust for power" who committed an "assault on democracy, the betrayal of everyone in Ohio."

The Columbus Dispatch The Associated Press

6. Supreme Court says devout postal worker can demand Sundays off

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian postal worker, Gerald Groff, who wanted to take Sundays off for church and rest but was told he had to work. The government argued Groff's demands caused scheduling conflicts and burdened his colleagues after the Postal Service started delivering Amazon packages on Sundays. The unanimous ruling could have broad impact on U.S. workplaces. Groff's lawyers wanted the court to throw out a 1977 precedent that made it easier for employers to deny such requests. Instead, the court defined "the contours" of the law in a way more favorable to employees, saying employers had to show "granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs."

USA Today

7. Virgin Galactic sends its first paying customers to edge of space

Virgin Galactic launched a rocket plane with three Italian passengers to the edge of space, more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert on Thursday. It was the first flight with paying customers by British billionaire Richard Branson's company, which he founded in 2004. The passengers on the flight were two Italian air force officers and an aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy. Three Virgin Galactic crew members, including two pilots, were also on board the brief sub-orbital flight on the VSS Unity, which launched at high altitude from the belly of a carrier plane. Virgin joins Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX in a growing space tourism industry catering to wealthy adventurers.


8. Fugitive Jan. 6 suspect arrested near Obama's home

Police arrested a fugitive accused in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack on Thursday near former President Barack Obama's home. Officers found weapons, ammunition, and materials that could be used in an explosive device inside the van that doubled as the home of the man, Taylor Taranto, 37. Before the arrest, Taranto livestreamed himself driving through the neighborhood, saying at one point, "I'm outside Barack Obama's house." Taranto also talked about wanting to talk to John Podesta, a Democratic official mentioned in far-right conspiracy theories. Earlier Thursday, "a Truth Social account" believed to be Taranto's "re-posted a Trump post that included what is alleged to be the address of Obama's home in Washington," noting it is near a mosque, NBC News reported.

The New York Times NBC News

9. Trump says he might skip the 1st GOP primary debate

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said in an interview Reuters published Thursday that he might not participate in the GOP's first primary debate in August. Trump said he might hold his own alternative event. He also said Fox News, which is hosting the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee, is a "hostile network," and he didn't see any reason to attract viewers by appearing on the stage with candidates like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who are way behind him in opinion polls. "Why would I give them time to make statements?" Trump asked. "Why would I do that when I'm leading them by 50 points and 60 points."


10. MLK sister Christine King Farris dies at 95

Christine King Farris — the last living sibling of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — died Thursday in Atlanta, her niece, the Rev. Bernice King, announced. She was 95. Farris worked with her brother's widow, Coretta Scott King, to promote his legacy in the decades following his 1968 assassination, although her activism was less publicized than her sister-in-law's. "Because of the luminescence of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, Christine kind of got dimmed by that, but she was no less important," Marcellus Barksdale, a history professor at Morehouse College, told The Associated Press in 2009. Farris also wrote two children's books on Martin Luther King.

The Washington Post

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.