Protesting Roe v. Wade
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last week that the state constitution guarantees abortion rights, creating a set of protections that are potentially broader than federal ones and would survive changes to the standards set in Roe v. Wade. In a 6-to-1 ruling, judges found that the “right of personal autonomy” laid down in the state constitution implies the right “to control one’s own body,” including for pregnant women. The case stemmed from a 2015 Kansas law banning the abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, used in about 95 percent of second-trimester abortions. Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner, a Republican, said the decision marked “one of the darkest days in our state’s history.” Nine other states have found their constitutions protect abortion rights. Kansas abortion opponents are now working to follow the lead of Tennessee and West Virginia, which passed anti-abortion amendments in response to similar rulings.
Long Beach, Calif.
The U.S. arrested an Army veteran allegedly plotting to bomb a white nationalist rally in self-styled “jihad.” Mark Steven Domingo, 26, was detained after obtaining what he thought was an explosive device from an undercover FBI agent and buying hundreds of nails to be used as shrapnel to replicate the gruesome injuries inflicted by the Boston Marathon bomber. A recent Muslim convert, Domingo spoke of “retribution” for the March 15 attacks on New Zealand mosques, saying he aimed to give Americans “a taste of the terror they spread all over the world.” According to the FBI, he considered targeting political activists, plus Jews, churches, and police, before settling on a white nationalist rally that never materialized. Domingo allegedly told an FBI informant that he expected to die in the attack, casually dropping that he was seeking “Martyrdom, bro.”
Political hit job
South Bend, Ind.
A recent college graduate said two conservative hoaxsters manipulating him into falsely accusing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg of rape. Right-wing social media antagonists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman reportedly spent a week searching for young gay Republicans who would level an accusation against Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, before finding Hunter Kelly, 21, and flying him to Washington from his home in Grand Rapids, Mich. Kelly, a supporter of President Trump, said he spent a night discussing the allegations before going to sleep in Burkman’s home. He woke up to see allegations written by Wohl posted under Kelly’s name from fake accounts online. Several conservative outlets reported the charges before Kelly apologized and said he was duped. Burkman stood by his charges, claiming the mainstream media bullied Kelly into recanting.
A gunman killed two students and injured four others this week on the last day of classes at the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte campus. Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, was promptly charged with murdering Ellis Parlier, 19, and Riley Howell, 21. While being escorted into police headquarters, Terrell appeared to smirk and say, “I just went into his classroom and shot the guy.” Yet police say they’ve yet to identify what could have motivated Terrell, who dropped out of UNC Charlotte this semester, to open fire in an anthropology class during final presentations; it doesn’t appear he knew the victims. As many as 50 students raced to escape through two classroom doors before campus police disarmed Terrell, who wielded a handgun. University Chancellor Philip Dubois called it “the worst day in the history of UNC Charlotte.”
Released on bail
Hasson’s gun stockpile
A Coast Guard lieutenant who was allegedly planning a white supremacist attack is entitled to be released before his trial, a federal magistrate ruled last week. Christopher Hasson was arrested in February on weapons and drug charges, but prosecutors have not charged Hasson with terrorism. Hasson, a self-described white nationalist, was arrested after authorities seized his arsenal of 15 firearms, 1,000-plus rounds of ammunition, and tactical gear. Authorities say he’d created a spreadsheet hit list of prominent Democrats, Supreme Court justices, media personalities, and social media executives. He allegedly searched on his computer for justices’ home addresses and whether they were “protected,” drafting an email that said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth.” Hasson’s attorney argues such drafts amount to “private thoughts,” not chargeable offenses.
Working with Trump
President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to spend $2 trillion rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, though both sides said they anticipate a fight over how to pay for it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they were surprised by Trump’s eagerness to fund upgrades to U.S. highways, railroads, bridges, and broadband. “I’ll lead on this,” Trump reportedly said during their White House meeting. “I would like to do something. It may not be typically Republican.” Indeed, GOP members of Congress scoffed at the plan and its price tag. Trump and the Democrats said they’ll meet in three weeks to discuss funding. Both parties rejected Trump’s plan early in his presidency to fund infrastructure projects with public-private partnerships. Democrats sought the meeting to show that some bipartisan initiatives could be pursued despite investigations of the president. ■