CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,422,310 and the death toll stands at 124,416, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that at least 23 million people may have been infected, based on findings that there are actually 10 other infections for every one that’s reported. Officials in Texas announced yesterday that the state is halting any further phases to re-open amid recent increases in cases and hospitalizations. Public-health officials at Johns Hopkins University released a statement declaring they were “stunned and troubled” that West Virginia’s health commissioner, Dr. Cathy Slemp, was asked to resign. Her departure came a day after Governor Jim Justice blamed Slemp for using outdated numbers on active coronavirus cases in some areas of the state.
SUPREME COURT ALLOWS DEPORTATIONS… The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Trump administration can deport some people seeking asylum without allowing them to appeal before a federal judge. The 7-2 ruling applies to people who fail their initial asylum screenings, making them eligible for quick deportation, or expedited removal. The case stemmed from a ruling in the case of a man who said he fled persecution as a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority but failed to persuade immigration officials that he faced harm if he returned to Sri Lanka.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SEEKS TO INVALIDATE ACA… The Justice Department last night filed its opening brief asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration argues in the brief that “the remainder of the ACA cannot survive” because the law’s individual mandate is no longer operative. Justices will hear arguments in the case sometime next term, possibly after the November election.
HOUSE PASSES POLICE REFORM BILL… The House voted 236-181 yesterday to pass a police reform bill. Democrats got support from three Republicans in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would weaken “qualified immunity” and make it easier for abuse victims to sue police officers and for officials to fire and prosecute officers over misconduct. It would also ban chokeholds and “no-knock” search warrants at a federal level by basing funding to state and local governments on whether those tactics are banned and would require bias training and more data sharing regarding police use of force. On Wednesday, Democrats in the senate blocked a Republican-backed police reform package.
BORDER MILITARIZATION EXTENDED… The Pentagon announced yesterday that it plans to continue the formal militarization of the southern border through September 2021. Some 2,600 active-duty and 2,400 National Guard personnel are currently deployed at the border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized 4,000 troops to continue “detection and monitoring, logistics, and transportation support” missions for Customs and Border Protection forces.
THE DIXIE CHICKS DROP ‘DIXIE’ FROM NAME… The Dixie Chicks announced yesterday that they are dropping the “Dixie” from their name and will be known simply as The Chicks. The name change is being made to disassociate the band from the Confederacy amid a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice. The band’s website and social media channels have all been updated to include the new name.
BIEBER FILES DEFAMATION SUIT… Justin Bieber has filed a defamation lawsuit against two social media users who accused him of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The 26-year-old pop star is seeking $10 million each from the two defendants for making “malicious” claims. Lawyers for Bieber say they have “indisputable documentary evidence” that proves the accusations to be “outrageous, fabricated lies.”
NFL PREPARES FOR TRAINING CAMPS… NFL executive vice president/general counsel Jeff Pash announced yesterday that the league has advised teams to expect training camps to start next month. Most teams will require players to report by July 28. The league has canceled its annual Hall of Fame Game, which was originally scheduled for August 8. League officials are considering the preseason prior to the September 10 regular-season opener.