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The Supreme Court hands down big rulings on gerrymandering and the census; Brazil’s “tough on crime” president finds himself in the middle of a drug bust.

The biggest Supreme Court rulings of the year

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  • The Supreme Court made two very big decisions today on political gerrymandering and the census citizenship question. [NYT / Michael Wines]
  • The gerrymandering case concerns two congressional maps: one from North Carolina that favors Republicans and one from Maryland that favors Democrats. The question at hand was whether it was unconstitutional to draw maps that would benefit one political party. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • To many activists’ disappointment, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 — with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four conservatives — that federal judges do not have the authority to strike down maps because they are politically motivated. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]
  • Justice Elena Kagan strongly disagreed, writing in her dissent that political gerrymandering violates people’s constitutional rights by watering down the power of their votes. [USA Today / Richard Wolf and William Cummings]
  • The Court also released another highly anticipated ruling: The census cannot add the citizenship question — for now. [WSJ / Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin]
  • All justices agreed that the administration’s reasoning behind adding the citizenship question was “contrived” but did not fully bar the question from being added to the census. Rather, the administration has been given the opportunity to provide a more genuine reason for why the question should be added. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • The administration, however, does not have much time: The census form needs to be finalized by June 30 if they are to be distributed by early spring (though delays may be possible). It remains to be seen whether the administration will make one more attempt to add the citizenship question or simply drop it for now. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • The citizenship question had received fierce pushback because it likely would have discouraged immigrants from answering, leading to inaccurate data. And despite today’s ruling, some experts are concerned that the fear that has spread within immigrant communities is irreversible. [Vox / Dara Lind]

An embarrassing drug bust for Brazil’s president

  • 86 pounds of cocaine were found on a Brazilian presidential plane — a bad look for new President Jair Bolsonaro, who has pledged to crack down on drugs. [Local Spain]
  • Sgt. Silva Rodrigues allegedly smuggled the cocaine into the backup plane that was traveling with the president to the G20 summit in Osaka. The plane had crossed the Atlantic before the drugs were discovered by authorities in Spain during a brief stop. [CNN / Flora Charner]
  • Bolsonaro, who was on a separate plane at the time of the arrest, immediately responded via Twitter, condemning the sergeant and demanding a severe punishment. [Bloomberg / David Biller and Samy Adghirni]
  • The arrest is a blow to Bolsonaro, who was elected in January partly because he advertised himself as the candidate who could tackle Brazil’s cocaine industry. Brazil is currently one of the largest consumer markets for cocaine. [NYT / Ernesto Londoño]
  • Earlier this month, Bolsonaro had backed a bill that would make punishments for drug traffickers stricter and force users to undergo rehabilitation. [Guardian / Sam Jones]
  • The arrest of an air force officer is embarrassing for Bolsonaro, a former army captain who often praises the professionalism of his military. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • It also comes at an inconvenient time: Bolsonaro is about to enter a tense summit that grapples with issues such as trade, poverty, and climate change. A drug bust in front of a global audience doesn’t exactly make him look great. [Washington Post / Damian Paletta, Seung Min Kim, and Terrence McCoy]


  • Starting young: Google is rolling out additional services for its news literacy program that will help children spot “fake news.” [Futurism / Kristin Houser]
  • A Nike designer expressed his support for the Hong Kong protests. Nike is now pulling his designs from China after intense social backlash from the country’s consumers. [CNN / Michelle Toh and Laura He]
  • Intense heat waves have hit Europe, setting record-high temperatures in several countries. Behold: High temperatures created a screaming skull on France’s weather map. [Business Insider / Sinéad Baker]
  • Marshae Jones was shot in the stomach while pregnant. Her child died. Yet Jones is the one indicted for manslaughter, not her shooter. [ / Carol Robinson]
  • Women have been protesting France’s ban on “burkinis,” a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, by flocking to the city of Grenoble in the suit. Unable to handle the crowd the protests were attracting, the city had to close down two of its swimming pools. [AFP]


“Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.” [Chief Justice John Roberts scolding the Trump administration for not providing a legitimate reason to add a citizenship census question]

Watch this: The right way to kill a fish

The most popular way to kill fish isn’t great for the fish — or our taste buds. [YouTube / Bridgett Henwood]

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