The Supreme Court Hands Down a Surprise

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A historic court ruling, and a halting reopening. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet.

  • Until yesterday, it was still legal in more than half of American states to fire someone for being gay, bisexual or transgender. But in a surprise 6-to-3 ruling, announced yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects L.G.B.T.Q. people from workplace discrimination.

  • Written by Neil Gorsuch — among the more conservative jurists on a court that tilts to the right — the ruling was the latest in a string of legal victories for supporters of gay and transgender rights. It reflects the leftward shift in public opinion on the issue in recent years; 82 percent of Americans said that lesbian and gay people should be protected under federal civil rights laws, according to a CBS News poll this month.

  • Liberals also had reason to be happy about what the court did not decide. The justices announced yesterday that they would not hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower-court ruling upholding California’s so-called sanctuary law. That prevents local law-enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities when detaining undocumented people.

  • The court also declined to hear appeals in a range of cases related to gun rights, dealing a blow to activists who had hoped that the conservative majority would help broaden the interpretation of the Second Amendment. That announcement came just two weeks after the court also declined to issue a sweeping opinion in a separate gun-related case, its first in almost a decade.

  • Americans are losing confidence in the country’s ability to rein in the impact of the coronavirus. That is among the findings of a Monmouth University poll released yesterday. Just 43 percent of respondents described themselves as at least somewhat confident that the United States could limit the outbreak’s effects in the coming weeks; earlier this spring, a majority did.

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans described themselves as very hopeful that they would be able to get their lives back to normal after the outbreak was over, a 16-point drop since April, according to the poll.

  • Indeed, reopening has been a halting and imperfect process across the country. Over a dozen states that had begun to reopen their economies have had spikes in cases this month.

  • In one of those states, South Carolina, the virus has even reached the congressional delegation. Tom Rice, a House Republican who represents the Myrtle Beach area, said on Monday that he had tested positive for the virus.

  • New York State began rolling back social-distancing measures last week, but on Monday its Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, threatened to reinstate restrictions after receiving thousands of complaints about safety violations at newly reopened bars and restaurants.

  • In other virus-related news, the Food and Drug Administration yesterday revoked its emergency authorization of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two anti-malaria drugs that President Trump had promoted as possible treatments for Covid-19. Trump said last month that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, even after the F.D.A. had warned that the drugs could cause heart problems.

  • In other New York-related news, Hillary Clinton announced her first endorsement in a 2020 House primary race on Monday, throwing her support behind Eliot Engel, an establishment Democrat from the Bronx and Westchester County. He is facing a tough challenge from Jamaal Bowman, a middle-school principal, who has been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, as well as a range of progressive organizations.

  • Engel is white but represents a constituency made up mostly of people of color; Bowman, who is African-American, has criticized him for staying away from his district throughout much of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Engel was caught on a hot microphone this month telling a colleague why he wanted the chance to speak at an event: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” he was heard saying. Engel’s opponent pounced on the remark, and has used it in ads and fund-raising materials. In the first two weeks of June, Bowman’s campaign said it had taken in $750,000.

  • Joe Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced on Monday that they had raised over $80 million in May, a new high for the Democrats this year. It was a big improvement on the already solid $60 million that Biden’s campaign raised in April.

  • May was the first full month in which Biden and the D.N.C. were able to raise money in tandem. For the first time, wealthy donors could give more than $620,000 to support the Biden Victory Fund, which circumvents donation limits by splitting gifts among state and national Democratic groups.

  • A 2014 court ruling opened the door to such techniques, greatly expanding the role of national committees in fund-raising. Trump and the Republican National Committee used the maneuver this year when they charged $580,600 per couple at a Mar-a-Lago campaign event.

  • Trump and the R.N.C. have not yet released their totals from May, but they did announce that they had raised $14 million on Sunday, which was the president’s birthday. Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said it was the campaign’s largest single-day haul so far.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

People waved pride flags after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday.

It can be hard to remember just how drastically the Republican Party has shifted since Donald Trump’s ascent four years ago. To regain your perspective, consider a control factor: the politics of Lindsey Graham.

Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, had historically couched himself as a common-sense conservative, unafraid to go his own way — much like his late friend John McCain. Then, after Trump effectively took control of the G.O.P. in 2016, Graham pulled off a swiveling 180.

As our reporter Astead W. Herndon observed in a recent article, Graham’s full-on embrace of the president has made him more popular than ever in some of the state’s most conservative areas. A turning point, some say, was Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, when Graham mounted a furious defense of Kavanaugh, who was facing accusations of sexual assault.

Now Graham is up for re-election for the first time since buddying up with Trump, and he will have to face the tape.

A political group run by Republicans who oppose Trump released an ad on Friday that makes use of the archive to show how anti-Trump Graham once was — and how much affection he said he had for Joe Biden. The 60-second spot, which is set to run on TV in South Carolina, uses recordings of Graham from 2015 in which he calls Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” and suggests the Republican Party would lose its “moral authority” if it nominated him for president.

In a video clip from a separate 2015 interview, Graham praises Biden. “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you’ve got a problem,” he tells an off-camera interviewer. “You need to do some self-evaluation, ’cause what’s not to like?”

The ad has the potential to sway some Republicans and conservatives to Biden’s cause, while possibly cutting into Graham’s support among staunch backers of the president. Perhaps anticipating this line of attack, Trump went on Twitter this month to offer Graham his “Complete and Total Endorsement.”

The group behind the ad, Republican Voters Against Trump, said the spot would air on Fox News in the Charlotte, N.C., and Greenville, S.C., markets, as well as in Washington.

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