Supreme Court preserves access to abortion medication mifepristone | The Excerpt

On Friday's episode of The Excerpt podcast: USA TODAY Supreme Court Correspondent Maureen Groppe discusses the high court's decision on mifepristone, as well as a pair of other cases. President Joe Biden signs a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine. President Joe Biden says he won't commute any sentence given to his son Hunter Biden over gun felonies. USA TODAY Congress Reporter Ken Tran discusses former President Donald Trump's return to Capitol Hill. A shift in global climate patterns - from El Niño to La Niña - is unfolding.

Hit play on the player below to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript beneath it.  This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

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Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I'm Taylor Wilson, and today is Friday, June 14th, 2024. This is The Excerpt. Today, a look at several Supreme Court decisions, including one over a widely used abortion drug. Plus, Biden signs a security agreement with Ukraine. What's it actually mean? And why Trump returned to Capitol Hill this week.

The Supreme Court yesterday preserved access to the abortion medication, Mifepristone. I caught up with USA TODAY Supreme Court correspondent, Maureen Groppe, to look into the decision, as well as a pair of other cases the High Court ruled on dealing with a labor dispute and an insult about Donald Trump.

Maureen, thanks for making the time.

Maureen Groppe:

Happy to be here.

Taylor Wilson:

So Maureen, what did the court decide here over the abortion pill, Mifepristone?

Maureen Groppe:

The court found that the anti-abortion doctors who were challenging the FDA's loosened restrictions to Mifepristone did not have a legal basis to do so. They hadn't shown that they'd been harmed by the FDA's decisions, and those decisions included that the drug can safely be prescribed through a telehealth consultation and sent through the mail, and it can also be prescribed by pharmacists.

Taylor Wilson:

How are critics and supporters of this decision responding?

Maureen Groppe:

Well, both sides say the fight isn't over. This case was decided not on the merits, but on what the anti-abortion groups are calling a technicality. Though, it's not clear exactly how a similar case could get back to the court that would survive the same technicality. But anti-abortion groups say they're going to keep looking for ways to restrict Mifepristone, and abortion rights advocates say they're going to keep trying to block those efforts.

Taylor Wilson:

Meanwhile, Maureen, in another case, the Supreme Court sided with Starbucks yesterday in a high-profile labor dispute. What's this decision center on?

Maureen Groppe:

This was about how judges decide whether to require a company like Starbucks to rehire workers or undo other actions that the National Labor Relations Board said probably violated labor laws. Starbucks wanted judges to consider more factors before granting injunctions like this, and the Supreme Court sided with them.

Taylor Wilson:

The Biden administration has pushed to strengthen unions. What does this decision mean for those efforts, and what are the broader implications here?

Maureen Groppe:

It could make it harder for the National Labor Relations Board to get courts to intervene in disputes between companies and their workers. Under Biden, the agency has been aggressive about seeking injunctions when it thinks companies are unfairly trying to stop organizing efforts. But the NLRB also said that they've had success getting injunctions even when judges have used the tougher standard that Starbucks and now the Supreme Court has said all judges must use.

Taylor Wilson:

And in another decision, the court said a Trump insult cannot be trademarked. What's at stake here, Maureen? And what does this functionally mean?

Maureen Groppe:

Well, this case was about a man who wanted to sell T-shirts with the phrase "Trump too small." You can still sell them, but he can't trademark that phrase. The government's trademark office said, "You can't trademark a living person's name without written consent." The man argued that that was a violation of his free speech rights, but the Supreme Court did not agree.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. Maureen Groppe covers the Supreme Court for USA TODAY. Thanks Maureen.

Maureen Groppe:

Thank you.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden signed a 10-year security agreement yesterday with Ukraine. It pledges military support for the next decade in its war with Russia. Though, the measure could unravel with the possible election of Donald Trump and without continued backing from a divided Congress. The agreement, which Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed at a Group of Seven Summit in Italy, establishes a framework for long-term US assistance for Ukraine forces. It also signals solidarity with 15 other nations that have signed similar pacts in support of Ukraine. The US and other G7 leaders also agreed to provide Ukraine a $50 billion loan to rebuild damaged infrastructure and purchase weapons that will be backed by interest from Russian assets that were frozen after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. You can read more with a link in today's show notes.

President Joe Biden said yesterday that he won't commute any sentence given to his son Hunter Biden for three federal gun felonies. His comments came after a White House official did not rule out the possibility of a reprieve the previous day. In his first public remarks on his son's guilty verdict, Biden also reiterated that he won't pardon Hunter. His son was found guilty of falsely filling out a federal form denying he was addicted to drugs when he purchased a firearm, lying to a gun dealer, and knowingly possessing the revolver despite restrictions against people addicted to drugs owning firearms. He faces up to 25 years in prison for the three charges. Though, first-time nonviolent offenders typically receive shorter sentences. Many legal experts do not believe prison time is likely for the President's son. While a Presidential pardon exonerates a convicted individual of all guilt in their crime, a commutation keeps the conviction intact, but typically reduces or removes the punishment.

Former President Donald Trump returned to Capitol Hill yesterday for the first time since leaving office nearly four years ago and when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021. In Washington, Trump talked through GOP priorities with Republicans from the House and Senate. I spoke with USA TODAY Congress reporter, Ken Tran, for more.

Ken, thanks for hopping on.

Ken Tran:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

So Ken, Donald Trump returned to Capitol Hill for the first time since his presidency yesterday. What did this trip entail?

Ken Tran:

It's normally common practice for presumptive presidential nominees to visit Capitol Hill and meet with lawmakers of their own party to discuss and highlight the agenda should they get control of Washington. But because it's been so long since Trump was here, this had notability also because Trump is still a polarizing figure in the party and there are still some that are averse to him.

Taylor Wilson:

And Trump laid out a kind of conservative wish list as part of these meetings, Ken. What issues did he and Republicans focus on?

Ken Tran:

Because this was a meeting with Trump, it was a policy meeting, but there was little policy discussed. Amongst some of what was brought up was about tariffs, tax law possibly, and abortion rights was something that he brought up specifically. According to people in the room, Trump told members with his meeting with House Republicans to really message abortion how they want to message it, and that he thinks, while he has his own opinions about abortion, it is something that they have to be more careful about in the election.

Taylor Wilson:

And Ken, I got to ask you about this. We're also hearing that Trump, at one point, called Milwaukee a horrible city. I'm curious, this is of course where the Republican convention will be taking place next month. What do we know about these comments, and how did lawmakers respond?

Ken Tran:

Yeah. So I have sources that do tell me that this is what Trump said. Trump did say Milwaukee was a horrible city, but there is a lot of pushback and different explanations for what that could have meant. Wisconsin Republican Derrick Van Orden said he was referring to the crime rate in Milwaukee. Bryan Steil, another Wisconsin Republican, said Trump did not make those remarks at all. Trump later clarified that, "Yes, this did happen." But again, it was about the crime rate. There's a lot of varying explanations about it, but it did happen and it's something that did quickly become news of the day from that meeting.

Taylor Wilson:

And Ken, just broadly speaking, what is Trump really hoping to gain out of this Washington visit this week, and what were Congressional Republicans hoping to get out of it?

Ken Tran:

A big part of this was a way to portray unity in the party that has often become fractured, especially on Capitol Hill. House Republicans have fought in between themselves a lot on different issues. They have been divided, they've been at each other's throats since they ever took control of the 118th Congress. So this meeting was very important to building unity and portraying that. And most of the members leaving the meeting said it was more of a pep rally, a way to hype themselves up ahead of election.

Taylor Wilson:

Did Trump's legal issues come up during this trip? And how are Republicans in Congress addressing those?

Ken Tran:

Sure. So Trump did bring up, of course, his conviction. It was the familiar talking points, that Republicans are accusing the Department of Justice of unfairly targeting Conservatives. On Capitol Hill there is some action that could be taken. Whether or not that could actually pass is unclear. This freshman representative from South Carolina, Russell Fry, is leading a bill that would allow Presidents and Vice Presidents to move civil and criminal state cases to Federal Court instead. And this is very obviously a move that was done as retaliation after Trump got convicted by a New York State Grand Jury. Johnson City supports the proposal, and leadership is trying to gather support among members, but there are a number of lawmakers that are skeptical about possibly doing something like that. So it's unclear whether or not that could even make it to the floor.

Taylor Wilson:

And Ken, on the other side of the coin here, are we hearing from Democrats at all about these meetings?

Ken Tran:

Democrats are giving their standard. They're saying that Trump should not be here. They're saying Trump instigated January 6th. So it's something that the Biden campaign has really been seizing on. For example, the morning of Trump's visit to Capitol Hill, the Biden campaign released a new ad specifically highlighting his role in the January 6th Capitol attacks. Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Trump's coming back to the scene of the crime. So it's no secret that Democrats dislike Trump. They were making it very well-known yesterday.

Taylor Wilson:

Ken Tran covers Congress for USA TODAY. Thanks Ken.

Ken Tran:

Thanks.

Taylor Wilson:

What had been a strong super El Nino is now officially over, federal forecasters announced yesterday. They also said the hurricane-boosting La Nina climate pattern is expected to begin over the next few months. La Nina often creates weather patterns that increase hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin, which includes storms that form in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. It also affects winter weather in the US and around the world. In contrast, the outgoing El Nino pattern usually helps suppress Atlantic hurricane activity, experts say.

Meanwhile, thunderstorms re-emerged over South Florida yesterday, further slamming the region with floodwaters, forcing road closures and disrupting hundreds of flights as a daylong stretch of severe weather continues. The storms, which began on Tuesday and are the result of a slow-moving low pressure system, pummeled South Florida with upwards of 20 inches of rain in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

And today is Flag Day, celebrating the symbolism and history of the American flag.

Thanks for listening to The Excerpt. We're produced by Shannon Rae Green, and our executive producer is Laura Beatty. You can get the podcast wherever you get your pods. And if you're on a smart speaker, just ask for The Excerpt. I'm Taylor Wilson, and I'll be back tomorrow with more of The Excerpt from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court preserves access to mifepristone | The Excerpt