Supreme Court weighs Trump's future and Dems look to scoop George Santos' seat
TODAY'S BIG QUESTION
Why is today's SCOTUS hearing so important?
When the Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing arguments as to why former President Donald Trump should be reinstated onto Colorado's primary ballot, questions kicked off with Justice Clarence Thomas, the only justice who also served in the monumental Bush v. Gore hearing that decided the results of the 2000 election. Like that case, Trump v. Anderson presents an unprecedented legal dilemma that could shift the trajectory of American democracy.
Trump v. Anderson hinges on whether Colorado was right to remove the former president from its Republican ballot under what's widely known as the "insurrectionist clause" of the 14th Amendment. However, the case addresses the broader dilemma posed by Trump's 2024 campaign: Can someone accused of fomenting an insurrection legally run for president?
What did the commentators say? This case will have "major ramifications in other states" grappling with similar efforts to deny Trump a ballot spot, CNN said. At the same time, the arguments were, for some, frustratingly jejune, with The New Yorker's Susan Glaser saying on X this was being treated as "just another ballot access issue" akin to "being the right age or living within a district's lines."
Of particular importance is how the court chooses to define "insurrection." Trump attorney Jonathan Mitchell argued that while Jan. 6 "involved violence," Trump did not "engage in acts that would fall under the term" used in the amendment. Justice Brett Kavanaugh "zeroed in" on the insurrection phrasing, probing "who gets to determine who engaged in" the act, said NBC. This suggests "at least some of the conservative justices are open to the argument that Jan. 6 wasn't an insurrection," The New York Times' Maggie Astor said.
What next? While the case is far from being decided, there are some hints as to where the court might land. Kavanaugh appeared eager to "punt this to Congress and keep the Supreme Court out of it," said Washington Post columnist James Hohmann on X.
Ultimately, Supreme Court inaction is a "recipe for disaster," legal analyst Bradley P. Moss said on X. Imagine Trump wins in November "even as a convicted defendant," forcing the high court to "rule on whether he can actually hold the office" in the stretch from Election Day to inauguration. In a friend-of-the-court brief, a group of legal scholars described any post-election dilemma as a "possibly catastrophic constitutional crisis."
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In the Spotlight
What the Stanley tumbler craze says about the US
Recently, a shopping blitz for the Valentine's Day editions of the chunky, insulated Stanley tumbler rolled across the internet into big-box stores and across middle schools. What this says about America is, well, sizable.
Background For the last few years, Stanley, the 100-plus-year-old company behind those green thermoses from camping trips of yore, has been invading the consumer consciousness. First, the company's Quencher tumbler was featured on an affiliate marketing site run by a gaggle of mom influencers. Social media influencers soon hopped aboard, and Stanley sales catapulted.
The latest Fast forward to early 2024, when Stanley released a Valentine's Day edition of the Quencher tumbler. Consumerist mayhem ensued. Some cultural critics were blinkered. "There is no real reason any of this happened or at least no reason that will feel satisfying to you," said Amanda Mull in The Atlantic. As if these things just happen — not, rather, because there are forces that obligate such trends.
"What might appear to be an organic phenomenon … is actually an engineered corporate crossover," said Kyle Chayka, writing about the boardroom calculations behind Stanley's rise, in The New Yorker.
The reaction One aftereffect Stanley likely did not forecast was the supervening middle school bullying. Batches of preteens across the country became obsessed with Stanley tumblers and, in January, broadcasted their new scores when they returned from holiday break.
A powder keg of class tensions then detonated when kids without Stanleys or with knockoff versions started being bullied. And so began a moral struggle across a variety of social media platforms over whether parents should buy a tumbler for their Stanley-less child or let that child deal with the bullying.
Cultural critic Ashtin Berry gathered the threads on Instagram. She tied together capitalism, white supremacy, resource-hoarding and weaponized incompetence in a series of posts. In particular, she had words for those parents who threw their hands in the air, defeated, and bought their child a Quencher. "Everyone's parenting or lack thereof affects other children, Berry said. "It's wild to act as if adults have no power to guide and push against the harms of consumption."
Statistic of the day
93: The percentage by which Kansas lawmakers voted to raise their pay next year. For the average state legislator, this results in a $28,000 increase from $30,000 to $58,000, nearly doubling their salaries. The Kansas House speaker and Senate president will also have their salaries nearly doubled from $44,000 to $85,000. The Associated Press
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Of all the honors I've received, this has meant the least. I am not thrilled, I am not delighted, and I'm not even grateful."
Actor Annette Bening jokingly accepts Hasty Pudding Theatricals' 74th Woman of the Year award at Harvard
Dems battle to flip George Santos' old House seat
When former GOP Rep. George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives for ethics violations, it appeared an optimal chance for Democrats to flip his seat in New York's 3rd Congressional District. However, what once seemed like an easy Democratic victory has turned into a neck-and-neck battle ahead of the special election on Feb. 13.
The fight pits Democrat Tom Suozzi against GOP candidate Mazi Melesa Pilip. Suozzi is a Democratic journeyman who has won the seat three times before. Pilip is a relative newcomer to the national stage who serves in the Nassau County Legislature.
A race complicated by the migrant crisis Santos' expulsion "looked like everything Democrats could have asked for," Nicholas Fandos said for The New York Times. However, a "suburban wave of discontent fueled by the crush of migrants arriving at the southern border and in New York City has helped transform a potential Democratic pickup into a statistical dead heat."
Both parties "see echoes of , when Republicans were able to harness fears about crime to defy national trends and sweep congressional swing seats across New York," Fandos said. Now, "voter anger over the handling of the southern border has become a central issue," Manu Raju and Haley Talbot said for CNN, especially since many of the migrants sent to New York "now live in this district."
A preview of November The 3rd District is "replacing George Santos — and maybe picking the next president," Mark Chiusano said for Politico. The district has often previewed national trends. Santos' expulsion and the "refocusing of attention beyond the borders of the district put Nassau County in position to once again serve as a suburban crystal ball," Chiusano said.
While the district has voted blue in the last four presidential elections, it was "once so deeply red that Ronald Reagan claimed that when a Republican goes to heaven, it looks a lot like Nassau," Chiusano said.
However, Suozzi "has more money and is much better known than his GOP opponent," Russell Berman said in The Atlantic. The polls swing slightly in his favor. If he wins, it could "point the way for Democratic candidates to redirect attacks on Biden's record and ease fears that the border impasse could be an insurmountable liability this fall."
Good day 🫀
… for a record-breaking heart transplant patient.The Guinness World Records recognized Bert Janssen from the Netherlands as the longest-surviving heart transplant patient. He has lived nearly 40 years since receiving the donor heart in the '80s. Janssen said he was "still grateful for the incredible gift" his donor gave him.
Bad day 🤳
… forTikTok influencers. Dozens of content creators said the new TikTok search suggestions prompts are "manufacturing controversy, affecting their reputations and harming their businesses and personal relationships," The Washington Post said. TikTok has acknowledged the issue and removed some of the offending search suggestions but declined to comment.
Picture of the day
A volcano in Iceland has erupted for the third time since December and sent molten lava flowing toward the Blue Lagoon, in Grindavik, Iceland. Marco Di Marco / AP
Newport Beach is likely what comes to mind when you close your eyes and daydream of California. It has those postcard-worthy views and miles-on-miles of pristine coastline. Taking a Duffy electric boat for a spin and enjoying a Balboa Bar are just part of the glory of the sunny Newport experience.
From water Sea Señorita has two Duffy boats in its fleet, both adorably decorated with striped covers, twinkling lights and tassels. You only need to bring snacks and drinks or have a provisions shopper pick up some goodies. From there, a driver navigates the boat; all you have to do is relax and enjoy the scenery. The cruise goes through Newport Harbor, passing by homes once owned by celebrities like Nicolas Cage, Shirley Temple and John Wayne. From land For more than 100 years, Balboa Island has been charming visitors with its boutiques and restaurants. Stop for a meal, then walk down Marine Avenue and peek inside the shops. While there, go to Dad's Donut & Bakery Shop or Sugar 'n Spice for a ubiquitous frozen banana or Balboa Bar. If you have kids, head down to the ferry ($1.50 for adults, $.50 for children) and go across to the Balboa Fun Zone. This small amusement park on Balboa Peninsula has a Ferris wheel and arcade.
About 94% of transgender Americans are happier after transitioning, according to results from the 2022 U.S. Trans Survey. More than 90,000 respondents were polled in the largest-ever survey of transgender Americans, and 79% were "a lot more satisfied" with their post-transition life while 15% were "a little more satisfied."
Today's best commentary
'Welcome back to the chaos of the Trump era' David A. Graham in The Atlantic America just got a "preview of what life will be like if Trump is reelected in November," says David A. Graham in The Atlantic. House Republicans' tried but failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Senate Republicans defeated the bill they negotiated after tying Ukraine aid to an immigration crackdown. And Trump appeared poised to promote an election denier to become Republican National Committee chair. This "wild carnival" was just the start of the madness.
'Biden makes Americans targets in the Middle East, then campaigns on their deaths' Doug Bandow in The American Conservative President Joe Biden left thousands of military personnel "needlessly scattered about the Middle East" facing regular militant attacks, says Doug Bandow in The American Conservative. Now that some are being killed, he's campaigning on their deaths. That's a "new low." America has 2,500 troops in Iraq. They're "not promoting freedom." Instead of deterring Iran-backed militias, they're becoming "targets." It's time to bring them home instead of leaving them to "risk their lives for nothing."
'When the IRS are the good guys: Increased capacity means the rich pay fair share' New York Daily News editorial board The Internal Revenue Service will collect billions from rich tax cheats thanks to the IRS funding boost in Biden's 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, says the New York Daily News editorial board. House Republicans' desperation to claw back the funding shows they're "quite uninterested in the rich paying their taxes." Democrats should take credit for their "historic" IRS investment and explain to the public how it makes the wealthy subsidize health care, roads and more.
WORD OF THE DAY
Smaller, more specialized chips that are "cheaper to manufacture and less likely to malfunction" are a "relatively new technology" that could allow China to circumvent export bans on some chipmaking technologies, said the MIT Technology Review.
Evening Review was written and edited by Theara Coleman, Nadia Croes, Catherine Garcia, Harold Maass, Scott Hocker, Justin Klawans, Kelsee Majette, Joel Mathis, Summer Meza, Devika Rao, Rafi Schwartz, Anahi Valenzuela and Peter Weber, with illustrations by Stephen Kelly and Julia Wytrazek.
Image credits, from top: Illustration by Julia Wytrazek / Getty Images; Justin Sullivan / Getty Images; Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Visit Newport Beach