Aaron Tang | Maine’s End Run Around the Supreme Court Is an Example for Other States – The New York Times

Mr. Tang is a law professor at the University of California, Davis, and a former law clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“What a week so far for conservatives. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a Maine law that prohibited religious private schools from receiving taxpayer dollars. And on Thursday, it invalidated a New York State gun safety law limiting the public carry of firearms. The outcome in these cases was not surprising. The court has ruled in favor of religious litigants in an overwhelming number of cases, and the gun case’s outcome was clear from the oral argument before the justices in November.

What is surprising is how little the 6-to-3 decision in the Maine case, Carson v. Makin, will matter practically. And the reason offers a glimpse of hope for those who worry about a future dominated by the court’s conservative supermajority — including the many Americans troubled by the court’s decision in the gun case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Let’s start with the Carson case. Anticipating this week’s decision, Maine lawmakers enacted a crucial amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law last year in order to counteract the expected ruling. The revised law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and it applies to every private school that chooses to accept public funds, without regard to religious affiliation.”

Thomas B. Edsall | Why Conspiracy Theories Flourish in Trump’s America – The New York Times

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

“Whether he is out of power or in office, Donald Trump deploys conspiracy theory as a political mobilizing tool designed to capture anger at the liberal establishment, to legitimize racial resentment and to unite voters who feel oppressed by what they see as a dominant socially progressive culture.

The success of this strategy is demonstrated by the astonishing number of Republicans — a decisive majority, according to a recent Economist/YouGov survey — who say that they believe that the Democratic Party and its elected officials conspired to steal the 2020 election. This is a certifiable conspiracy theory, defined as a belief in “a secret arrangement by a group of powerful people to usurp political or economic power, violate established rights, hoard vital secrets, or unlawfully alter government institutions.”

Not only do something like 71 percent of Republicans — roughly 52 million voters, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll released on Jan. 6, 2022 — claim to believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, but the Republican Party has committed itself unequivocally and relentlessly to promoting this false claim.”

Jack Goldsmith | Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes – The New York Times

Mr. Goldsmith served in the George W. Bush administration as an assistant attorney general, office of legal counsel, and as special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense.

“The evidence gathered by the Jan. 6 committee and in some of the federal cases against those involved in the Capitol attack pose for Attorney General Merrick Garland one of the most consequential questions that any attorney general has ever faced: Should the United States indict former President Donald Trump?

The basic allegations against Mr. Trump are well known. In disregard of advice by many of his closest aides, including Attorney General William Barr, he falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen; he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes for Joe Biden during the electoral count in Congress on Jan. 6; and he riled up a mob, directed it to the Capitol and refused for a time to take steps to stop the ensuing violence.

To indict Mr. Trump for these and other acts, Mr. Garland must make three decisions, each more difficult than the previous, and none of which has an obvious answer.”

 Alex Kingsbury | Who Is Financing Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Caucus? Corporations You Know. – The New York Times

Mr. Kingsbury is a member of the editorial board.

“Immediately after the Jan. 6 attack, hundreds of corporations announced freezes on donating money to Republican lawmakers who had voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory. “Given recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria,” a spokesperson for Toyota said a week after the attack.

For many corporations, that pause was short-lived.

“By April 1, 2021, Toyota had donated $62,000 to 39 Republican objectors,” the journalist Judd Legum wrote in his newsletter, Popular Information. That included a donation of $1,000 that Toyota gave to Representative Andy Biggs, a Republican from Arizona who is a close ally of Donald Trump and a fervent devotee of the “big lie.”

In July 2021, Toyota reversed course and announced another hiatus from donating to lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results. Six months later, the money started to flow again. The company, in a statement to The Times, said it donates equally to both parties and “will not support those who, by their words and actions, create an atmosphere that incites violence.” (Corporations aren’t allowed to give directly to campaigns but instead form political action committees that donate in the name of the company.)”

“. . . . In the year and a half since the attack, rivers of cash from once skittish donors have resumed flowing to election deniers. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes just a thousand. But it adds up. In the month of April alone, the last month for which data is available, Fortune 500 companies and trade organizations gave more than $1.4 million to members of Congress who voted not to certify the election results, according to an analysis by the transparency group Accountable.US. AT&T led the pack, giving $95,000 to election objectors.”

“. . . . All told, as of this week, corporations and industry groups gave almost $32 million to the House and Senate members who voted to overturn the election and to the G.O.P. committees focused on the party’s congressional campaigns. The top 10 companies that gave money to those members, according to CREW’s analysis of campaign finance disclosures, are Koch Industries, Boeing, Home Depot, Valero Energy, Lockheed Martin, UPS, Raytheon, Marathon Petroleum, General Motors and FedEx. All of those companies, with the exception of Koch Industries and FedEx, once said they’d refrain from donating to politicians who voted to reject the election results.

Of the 249 companies that promised not to fund the 147 senators and representatives who voted against any of the results, fewer than half have stuck to their promise, according to CREW.

Kudos aplenty to the 85 corporations that stuck to their guns and still refuse to fund the seditious, including Nike, PepsiCo, Lyft, Cisco, Prudential, Marriott, Target and Zillow. That’s what responsible corporate citizenship looks like. It’s also patriotic.”

Neal K. Katyal | The Future Criminal Case Against Donald Trump – The New York Times

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“Congress and the Justice Department now find themselves in a complex dance, set to the tempo of the Jan. 6 hearings. The House select committee has already uncovered evidence suggesting that former President Donald Trump committed serious federal crimes.

Congress cannot bring criminal charges; the Justice Department must do so. And critics of the department are asking why it does not appear to be investigating these allegations. The hearings point to a potential answer: The committee is laying a foundation upon which prosecutors can build in a subsequent investigation.

And a subsequent investigation is virtually inevitable, given the evidence generated by the committee. How could Attorney General Merrick Garland ignore the facts the American people are now learning about?”

Michelle Cottle | Jan. 6 Committee Hearing: Heroes and Villains – The New York Times

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“It turns out that not even Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka bought into the former president’s toxic fantasies about the 2020 election having been stolen from him. She came to understand pretty quickly after the election that there was no evidence of a plot by Democrats, accepting the assessment of Bill Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general at the time, that the game had not been rigged. Mr. Trump had lost, and all the wild claims to the contrary, as Mr. Barr says he told Mr. Trump, were “bullshit.”

Snippets from Ms. Trump’s and Mr. Barr’s recorded testimonies were among the many engrossing bits of evidence to emerge Thursday evening during the Jan. 6 House committee’s first public hearing. The grainy video clips somehow fit the somber mood of the proceedings and fueled the sense that dark dealings were at last coming to the light for inspection by the American people.

It is a heavy lift to get people to pay attention to a story that they think they already know — and that many have grown exhausted hearing about. And Democrats, bless their hearts, are often lousy storytellers, too focused on dry data or policy rhetoric or high-minded ideological ideals to weave a strong narrative or make a gut-level connection.

But in their opening argument to the American people, the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 committee presented a story that was both informative and resonant — by turns heartbreaking, hair-raising and infuriating. Fact by fact, clip by clip, the committee laid out the contours of its case that the president of the United States spearheaded a monthslong, multifaceted effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, culminating in the violent attack on the Capitol. More details will come in later hearings. But the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, captured the crux of the story in her opening remarks: “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

Frank Bruni | Liz Cheney Will Not Tolerate Trump’s Lies – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“I keep waiting for Liz Cheney to flinch.

I keep looking for some sign that her nerve is faltering, that the attacks are getting to her and that the loneliness of her situation — unconditionally contemptuous of Donald Trump, emphatically committed to a Republican Party beyond him — has become unbearable.

But no. She’s all in and she’s all steel. It could well be the political death of her. Or it could give her a kind of immortality more meaningful than any office.

Cheney, who represents Wyoming in the House, is front and center this week, with a starring role as the vice chair of the House committee whose investigation into the Jan. 6 riot has reached a dramatic culmination in prime-time television hearings. She’s one of just two Republicans on the nine-member panel.

But while the other, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, isn’t running for re-election, Cheney is in the middle of a furiously contested primary battle against a prominent Wyoming Republican official who has welded herself to Trump. Just two weeks ago, Trump traveled to the deep red state, which he won by more than 40 percentage points in 2020, to command his supporters to oust Cheney when they vote on Aug. 16. He said that she had “thrown in her lot with the radical left.”

From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the Violent Images Never Seen – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — After Lenny Pozner’s six-year-old son Noah died at Sandy Hook, he briefly contemplated showing the world the damage an AR-15-style rifle did to his child.

His first thought: “It would move some people, change some minds.”

His second: “Not my kid.”

Grief and anger over two horrific mass shootings in Texas and New York only ten days apart has stirred an old debate: Would disseminating graphic images of the results of gun violence jolt the nation’s gridlocked leadership into action?

From the abolition movement to Black Lives Matter, from the Holocaust to the Vietnam War to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, photographs and film have laid bare the human toll of racism, authoritarianism and ruinous foreign policy. They prompt public outcry and, sometimes, lead to change. But the potential use of these images to end official inertia after mass shootings presents new, wrenching considerations for victims’ families — many of whom adamantly reject such an idea.

“It is true that shocking photos of suffering occasionally do make an imprint,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, citing the photographer Nick Ut’s famous photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack in 1972.”

Cihan Tugal | Turkey Shows What NATO Really Is – The New York Times

Dr. Tugal is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, who writes frequently on Turkey’s politics and society.

“In April, as the world was occupied with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a NATO member launched an attack on two of its neighboring territories. In a bombing campaign, Turkey targeted the camps of Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria, inflicting damage on shelters, ammunition depots and bases.

The irony went largely unnoticed. That’s hardly a surprise: For a long time, the Western world has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s heavy-handed treatment of the Kurds. Across decades, the Turkish state has persecuted the Kurdish minority — about 18 percent of the population — with devastating zeal. Thousands have perished and around a million have been displaced in a campaign of severe internal repression. But Western nations, except for a brief spell when Kurdish resistance was holding back an ascendant Islamic State, have rarely seemed to care.

Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds is now center stage — but not because allies have woken up to the injustice of Kurds’ systematic oppression. Instead, it’s because Turkey is effectively threatening to block the admittance of Finland and Sweden to NATO unless they agree to crack down on Kurdish militants. For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeing an opportunity to further cement his nationalist agenda, it’s a bold gambit. The tepid response from NATO allies so far suggests he might be successful.”

Margaret Renkl | In the Culture Wars, Teachers Are Under Attack – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — My grandmother was still a teenager when she started her teaching career. She went to college for a year and then taught for a year to save money for tuition. After another year of college and another year of teaching, she married my grandfather. The wedding, everyone assumed, marked the end of her career. She was 21 years old.

Down here we call someone like my grandmother a natural-born teacher. She loved her job. The family desperately needed her income, too, but the country was in a Great Depression by then, and there weren’t enough jobs to go around. Women in her Lower Alabama school district — as in many others around the country — weren’t allowed to work for pay once they married.

As discriminatory policies so often do, this one backfired. There weren’t enough licensed teachers to staff the schools, especially in deeply rural areas. From time to time, the superintendent would beg my grandmother to come back and finish out the school year for a teacher who was leaving, and my grandmother always did. When her youngest child was old enough for school, she was offered a permanent job teaching in the two-room schoolhouse in her tiny farming community. Years later, she went back to college to finish her four-year degree. She finally retired from teaching in 1970, more than 40 years after she taught her first class.”