Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Protesters flooded Liberty Plaza in May after the draft U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Another milestone

Another milestone in the national battle over abortion occurs tomorrow, with the expiration of a U.S. Supreme Court injunction that bars restrictions on access to a drug used in medical abortions from going into effect.

With access to abortion now looming as a top issue in next year’s presidential election, it isn’t surprising that members of U.S. Congress have entered the fray over the drug, mifepristone.

Last week, 253 Democrats — including Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief condemning a lower court ruling by Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk earlier this month that voided the FDA’s approval of mifepristone in 2000.

Within days, an appellate court allowed the FDA’s authorization to stay in place but ordered restrictions on the drug’s use, pending a Supreme Court hearing on the whole issue.  

As Democrats moved to ensure that access to mifepristone is fully restored, 69 Republicans in Congress, including 58 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, signed onto another friend-of-the-court brief supporting Kacsmaryk’s ruling.

Notably missing from signatories to that brief was Georgia First District Rep. Buddy Carter, a longtime opponent of abortion, The Current’s Craig Nelson writes.

Carter’s office didn’t return a phone call requesting comment on the congressman’s apparent reluctance to sign on to the Republican-led brief.

Partisan politics could be a factor. A recent public opinion survey suggests that banning medical abortions could hurt GOP chances in next year’s elections.

Besides political and electoral considerations, another consideration at play may be Carter’s longtime ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

More than 400 executives from Pfizer, Biogen and other pharmaceutical companies last week signed an open letter condemning Kacsmaryk’s ruling, saying it “ignores decades of scientific and legal precedent.”

Gov. Brian Kemp Credit: GPB News

‘Not a single swing voter’

The state GOP is set to convene its annual convention in Columbus in June and if Brian Kemp’s weekend speech to Republican donors in Nashville is any indication, it should be some get-together.

Georgia’s governor told the donors Saturday morning that voters don’t want “months and months of debate over whether the 2020 election was stolen.”

Without mentioning Trump by name, Kemp called 2020 “ancient history,” adding that “not a single swing voter” will vote for a GOP nominee talking about election fraud.

At the 2021 state GOP convention on Jekyll Island, Kemp was showered with such a din of boos by attendees angered by his refusal to overturn the results of presidential voting in Georgia the previous year that the governor’s speech was barely audible.

Kemp’s landslide reelection victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams last year may inoculate him from a similar reception in Columbus, but he probably shouldn’t count on it.

Leadership of GOP committees in Chatham and counties elsewhere has shifted to more hardline conservatives. And although Kemp and other state GOP leaders are tepid, if not downright acerbic, about Trump’s reelection bid, the feeling isn’t shared through all the ranks.

A poll released in January by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed nearly three-quarters of Georgia Republicans have a positive view of Trump — slightly higher than DeSantis and far surpassing Pence’s favorability rating.

That gap — both in popularity and campaign contributions — has widened since the former president was indicted by Manhattan District Alvin Bragg on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.

georgia ballot box vote

Money, money, money

The latest filings to the Federal Election Commission are in.

They show that during the period covering last year’s primaries on May 24, the Democratic primary runoff on June 21, and the general election on Nov. 8, incumbent Coastal Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter reported expenditures of $2,015,646.01, out of receipts totaling $2,127,328.91.

Lagging behind were Carter’s unsuccessful Democratic challengers Wade Herring ($1,391,152.16 out of $1,395,014.76), Michelle Munroe ($88,178.66 out of $88,178.66) and Joyce Griggs ($45,326.45 out of $40,517.58).

In the general election, Carter defeated Herring by 18.3% of the vote, or 48,291 of the 263,965 votes cast.   At the end of the reporting period on Dec. 31, Carter reported having $1,817,608.24 cash on hand.

dominion ballot scanner
A Dominion ballot scanner sits at the Chatham County polls during early voting in May 2022. Credit: File/The Current


  • What to know about the Fox News and Dominion trial” (CNN, April 16, 2023) and “Fox News, Dominion Defamation Trial Delayed Amid Network’s Push to Settle” (Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2023) “The trial is ‘a once-in-a-generation defamation case that could have broad ramifications for the network and test the contours of modern media law.'”
  • Biden’s poll numbers look grim as he preps for reelection bid” (Politico, April 15, 2023) “A deep dive into the numbers reveals Biden isn’t just struggling with independents and near-unanimous disapproval among Republicans. He’s also soft among Democrats and left-leaning demographic groups, a weakness that suggests a diminished enthusiasm for his candidacy — though something that could be papered over by partisan voting patterns in the general election.”
  • Party gap on environment-economic growth tradeoff widens to record in Gallup survey” (The Hill, April 13, 2023) “Gallup reported on Thursday that 78 percent of Democrats believe the country should prioritize the environment over economic growth, while only 20 percent of Republicans do. The 58-point gap between those two figures is the largest since the polling firm began tracking responses to the question in 1984.” 
  • “If you believe that today’s ‘climate change’ is caused by too much carbon, you have been fooled. We live on a spinning planet that rotates around a much bigger sun along with other planets and heavenly bodies rotating around the sun that all create gravitational pull on one another while our galaxy rotates and travels through the universe. Considering all of that, yes our climate will change, and it’s totally normal!” (Tweet, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, April 15, 2023)
  • Billionaire Harlan Crow Bought Property from Clarence Thomas. The Justice Didn’t Disclose the Deal.” (ProPublica, April 13, 2023) “In 2014, one of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s companies purchased a string of properties on a quiet residential street in Savannah, Georgia. It wasn’t a marquee acquisition for the real estate magnate, just an old single-story home and two vacant lots down the road. What made it noteworthy were the people on the other side of the deal: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives.”
  • How a Campaign Against Transgender Rights Mobilized Conservatives” (New York Times, April 16, 2023) “Defeated on same-sex marriage, the religious right went searching for an issue that would re-energize supporters and donors. The campaign that followed has stunned political leaders across the spectrum.”
  • Survey: 1 in 6 Americans have witnessed a shooting” (Axios, April 11, 2023) “People of color in the U.S. are disproportionately affected by gun-related injuries and deaths, as well as worries about gun violence, according to the survey. 31% of Black adults said they have personally witnessed someone being shot, as did one-fifth of Hispanic adults (22%).”

Georgia Power, PSC staff agree on fuel costs rate hike

The commission approved a $1.8 billion rate increase for Georgia Power in December, which raised the average residential customer’s monthly bill by $3.60 effective last Jan. 1. The utility then filed for the fuel costs recovery in February.

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U.S., Georgia face another milestone in battle over abortion right

Carter hasn’t signed court brief condemning federal judge’s ruling but hasn’t joined GOP effort in support of it.

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Kemp signs 5 school-based bills into law 

School systems will also be required to amp up training of teachers in “the science of reading” – a method of teaching reading that draws on evidence from psychology and neuroscience and includes phonics instruction.

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Covid’s over but county jails still profit from virtual communication

Jails run by Coastal Georgia sheriffs collect more revenue from detainees trying to stay in touch with loved ones over phone, video or text messaging, while they still ban in-person visitation after Covid. Jails in Chatham and Glynn counties were the biggest earners on the coast.

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Military, conservation groups join to transform Ceylon tract

By partnering, the bases here have helped protect more than 150,000 acres in the state and could help Georgia get its first national park. Conservation advocates and military base officials say their counterparts in other states could do more of the same.

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Craig Nelson is a former international correspondent for The Associated Press, the Sydney (Australia) Morning-Herald, Cox Newspapers and The Wall Street Journal. He also served as foreign editor for The...