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D.C. Memo: What comes first, the leak or the egg?

Minnesota delegation responds to the SCOTUS draft, a sprint to the finish in CD1 and Rep. Dean Phillips fights for elderly entrepreneurs. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaking during a protest on Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court building.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaking during a protest on Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court building.
REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me trying to navigate an absolutely hectic period in the District — a scientist set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court to protest judicial and federal inaction on climate change, students finally return to a school that was the target of a mass shooter, District bus drivers went on strike and protests broke out in front of the Supreme Court following a leaked opinion on abortion rights. I’m just trying to keep up with it all! Here’s what else happened in Washington this week: Minnesota delegation responds to the SCOTUS draft, a sprint to the finish in CD1 and Rep. Dean Phillips fights for elderly entrepreneurs.

The leak heard ’round the world

Late Monday night, someone with inside access to Supreme Court private documents leaked a draft opinion of the Court’s decision that would overturn Americans’ constitutional right to abortion and give the power to decide abortion’s legality to individual states.

Almost as soon as Politico published the leak, people started streaming to the Supreme Court to protest the opinion. Since then, around the nation protesters on either side of the abortion debate have gathered to express shock, outrage or delight.

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Walking past the Supreme Court this morning, I felt like I was back in January 2021 — although no National Guard troops were standing on my street corner, similar fencing had been erected outside the Supreme Court. Some protesters were there, but it was nothing like the presence on Monday and especially Tuesday night.

“This leak is a seismic and foundational compromise of the independence of the Supreme Court,” Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-07) said in a press release. Fischbach has historically been a loud voice on the anti-abortion side of the debate. “If the Supreme Court does decide to overturn Roe v. Wade (the landmark ruling that legalized abortion), it will put the laws back in the hands of the states to be debated and decided by the American people and their elected representatives, not by unelected judges. This is a deeply needed step to protect the most precious and basic right, the right to life.”

“The far-reaching implications of this draft opinion are incredibly ominous for the future of our nation,” said Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum (D). “Justice Alito’s warped and twisted reasoning in this draft will all but destroy stare decisis. This sets new precedent that will have a chilling effect on basic freedoms, from civil rights and voting rights to marriage equality and protections for marginalized communities.”

As McCollum stated, overturning Roe v. Wade does not only affect abortion rights, though that is the first and most prominent right that would be revoked if the current draft opinion is accurate. Justice Samuel Alito tried to make it clear in his draft opinion that overturning Roe would not necessarily impact other things like the right to marry a person of a different ethnicity or same sex and the right to contraception, which rely on some of the same legal reasonings provided by Roe’s precedent.

“None of the other decisions cited by Roe and Casey, involved the critical moral question posed by abortion,” Alito wrote. “They do not support the right to an abortion, and by the same token, our conclusion that the Constitution does not confer such a right does not undermine them in any way.”

Still, critics of the draft opinion believe that if Alito’s opinion becomes the final version, it will provide an opening to target other rights grounded in privacy and liberty that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, especially contraception and same sex marriage.

And regardless of the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision, the right to an abortion is codified within Minnesota’s state constitution. Although it’s possible that this could be reversed, it would be difficult to change, especially with a Democratic governor.

Once a marathon, CD1 race is now a sprint

A note from Ashley: MinnPost reporter Walker Orenstein has been covering the special election race for Minnesota’s First Congressional District’s for the past several months, and contributed the following report to this week’s Memo.

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There’s now less than three weeks until the May 24 primary in southern Minnesota’s First Congressional District. It will be a sprint to the finish.

In mid-April, I asked all the GOP candidates to answer 11 questions about various things like their views on how to increase the availability and affordability of child care and whether they thought former Vice President Mike Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6 when certifying the election. We published their responses on Tuesday, and there were some interesting differences.

Three leading candidates didn’t say whether Pence did the right thing. And there were some splits on child care and broadband policy. The candidates were pretty similar on other issues though, like reducing government spending as a balm for inflation and boosting domestic oil and gas production in response to gas prices.

This week, at least two candidates have new commercials up: Democrat Jeff Ettinger and Republican Jennifer Carnahan. (If you missed our profile of Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel, you can read it here.) MPR News’ Brian Bakst also reported that a GOP-aligned Political Action Committee has placed a big six-figure advertisement buy tied to the race. The group has been associated in the past with supporters of Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who endorsed Minnesota Rep. Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal.

Two other candidates have dropped out of the crowded primary race. Republican Ken Navitsky, a former kicker for the Minnesota State University Mavericks and monster truck rally emcee, is now running for state Senate in a district that includes much of Rochester and now leans towards Democrats after redistricting. Navitsky hopes to replace the retiring longtime Republican Sen. David Senjem of Rochester.

On the Democratic side, Red Wing independent bookstore owner Rick DeVoe has left the race, citing some headaches at his business and saying he wasn’t as competitive as he would have liked. Both DeVoe and Navitsky will remain on the May 24 ballot, however.

On Tuesday, five of the remaining seven DFL candidates will be at a forum in Mankato. The forum itself starts at 7 p.m., but the hosts say there will be “candidate meet and greet” starting at 6:30 p.m.

Golden age

Third District Rep. Dean Phillips introduced this week a bill that would help older small business owners continue to compete in local, national and global economies.

Phillips is leading the bill along with Reps. Young Kim (R-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Kim and Crow serve as ranking member and chair of the Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development.

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The bipartisan bill would create a new “Golden Entrepreneurs” training program at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to equip older entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow their business, create jobs and bring capital to communities around the country.

“Entrepreneurship empowers those from all walks of life to take ownership of their work. Unfortunately, some of our most experienced entrepreneurs – our nation’s seniors – face unique barriers to starting or growing their businesses,” Phillips said. “We must pave the path for individuals of all ages to pursue their dreams of starting businesses by providing the necessary tools and resources to adapt to an ever-changing economy. With more entrepreneurs reaching their full potential, we can strengthen our vibrant small business ecosystem, create more jobs, and keep small businesses in local communities.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Special Committee on Aging Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

What I’m reading

  • “How women are talking about the possible end of Roe,” Washington Post. Some worry; others are celebrating. Read the words of women across the country.
  • “Met Gala 2022 red carpet fashion,” Vogue. Yes, I know this isn’t my usual newsy recommendation. No, I didn’t even watch the Met Gala this year. However, I love judging people, and that includes celebrities and their glamorous outfits, especially at the Met Gala where the more grandiose the better. And honestly, this week needed a little levity. My favorite looks were Nicki Minaj and Blake Lively.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or your favorite Met Gala look to ahackett@minnpost.com.