What is she thinking?
"An unforced error" from the Biden White House over the weekend. Another Jan. 6 Committee hearing on Tuesday. And, Texas is scheduled to kill someone.
It’s Monday, July 11. It’s been more than 17 days since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
In that time, many women and others seeking abortion themselves are facing constant uncertainty about whether and how they can get an abortion — and supporters of abortion rights have been hit by a car and threatened with criminal prosecution — but, to some, the big offense of the post-Roe era was that Justice Brett Kavanaugh chose not to have dessert this past Wednesday night.
The civility police were out in droves to support Kavanaugh’s “right to … eat dinner,” as the Morton’s spokesperson laughingly told Politico Playbook, when a group of protesters — who Kavanaugh never heard or saw, per Politico — led him to decide to skip dessert and leave the steakhouse through a side door.
I am still awaiting the civility police’s focus on people being hit by cars in Iowa and businesses in Texas being threatened with criminal prosecution for helping their employees get the health care they need.
Meanwhile, on Friday, President Biden did finally respond to the crisis created by the five-justice reactionary majority on the Supreme Court with some action. He issued a limited executive order that, primarily, focuses on protecting access to medication abortion and contraception and ensuring that patient privacy is protected.
Remarkably, however, Friday’s actions by Biden were quickly overshadowed by a surprise White House statement early Saturday evening.
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield decided to attack activists for no apparent — and certainly no specific — reason. In a statement to the Washington Post, she actually said:
“Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party.”
It’s an unbelievably offensive quote that both undermines and dismisses the work of so many people — so many activists — who are fighting to help those worried about the Dobbs ruling and how it’s going to upend their lives.
There certainly are times — as I noted on Twitter over the weekend, I was a gay man living in DC during the Clinton administration — when Democratic leaders make a point of distancing themselves from “activists” or “the left” or some group in order to draw themselves out as the ~reasonable~ party. While there are many questions that can be raised about that approach in any circumstance, it’s not even clear what Bedingfield meant here. She doesn’t say what she’s upset with the unnamed activists about, and the Post doesn’t either.
What’s further, although Biden wasn’t asked about the quote, he did issue a somewhat conflicting statement to reporters on Sunday, when asked about protesters:
“Keep protesting,” Biden said. “It’s critically important.”
Biden’s engaging comments make Bedingfield’s dismissive statement all the more confounding.
As Ashley Allison — who ran the Biden 2020 coalitions operation — said on Sunday of Bedingfield’s statement, “I think it was an unforced error. I hope they address it. I’m not sure they will, but. I took offense to it, and a lot of people have.”
So, that’s where we are going into this week.
IN RELATED NEWS: When I launched this newsletter, I said that my writing would still be appearing some other places as well. On Friday, Bolts announced that they are one of those places: I will be writing a regular column for the digital magazine as a special legal correspondent. Later Friday, they also published my first column, which I encourage you to check out.
Also, a story from Ruby Cramer. Ruby and I worked together at BuzzFeed News back in the day, and she is a gifted reporter and fantastic storyteller. Now at the Washington Post, her first story is on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, her family, and the end of Roe.
TWO BIG THINGS THIS WEEK:
On Tuesday, the Jan. 6 Committee is back for another hearing, this one, as CNN reported, on the role of extremist groups in the insurrection and attack on the Capitol. As with the other hearings, expect a mix of live testimony, earlier recorded testimony, and documentary evidence that the committee has collected over the course of its investigation. The importance of the committee, its work, and these hearings cannot be overstated. The hearing will start at 1 p.m.
On Wednesday, Texas is scheduled to execute Ramiro Gonzales for a murder he committed months after turning 18. He’s asked for clemency, seeking a commutation on the basis of his age when the murder was committed as well as the fact that the state’s expert who testified as to his “future dangerousness” at trial — a necessary finding in Texas to sentence someone to death — “has disavowed his trial diagnosis.” Alternatively, Gonzales’s lawyers have asked Gov. Greg Abbott to grant Gonzales a 30-day reprieve so that he can donate a kidney before his execution. [UPDATE, 4:30 pm. June 11: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Gonzales so that a trial court can review a claim that part of the “future dangerousness” trial testimony was false.]
Law Dork, with Chris Geidner, is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
CHECK THESE OUT:
Liliana Segura writes at The Intercept about how we got to the point where Oklahoma is planning a killing spree over the coming years, with 25 execution dates being set between now and the end of 2024.
Follow Radley Balko to keep track of the horrifying things that law enforcement do in our names: