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Gay workers not covered by civil rights law, Trump admin tells Supreme Court

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The Trump administration Friday filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that gay workers are not protected by federal civil rights law. The filing came exactly one week after the administration argued the same for transgender workers.

The brief was submitted in combined cases concerning Gerald Bostock, a gay man fired from his job as a child welfare services worker by Clayton County, Georgia, and the late Donald Zarda, a gay man fired from his job as a skydiving instructor by New York company Altitude Express. The Bostock and Zarda cases are two of three cases concerning LGBTQ workers’ rights that the Supreme Court is expected to hear this fall.

Julie Moreau contributed.



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After El Paso shooting, Latino lawmakers slam Texas governor for ‘dangerous’ tweets about immigrants

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AUSTIN, Texas — In the wake of the El Paso domestic terror attack, lawmakers and Democrats, many of them Latino, are slamming language used by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a tweet and a fundraising letter as anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant.

On Friday, members of the state’s El Paso legislative delegation and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus condemned Abbott’s language on a Twitter thread in which Abbott said the state has been forced to pay for the education of “illegal immigrants.”

“Our community is trying to heal from racially driven violence. This hurts. It is dangerous,” the El Paso state lawmakers tweeted individually from their accounts.

The caucus went further, saying the “attack on a child’s right to an education is immoral and infuriating, regardless of citizenship status”, and said Abbot has “demonized” the immigrant community “since day one” and “fueled the widespread hate towards our Latino family.”

The backlash over Abbott’s tweet comes the day after the governor held a roundtable on the El Paso attack that left 22 people dead. Abbott said helping El Paso heal, particularly its children, is a priority. It also comes amid outrage over a fundraising letter dated the day before the Aug. 3 attack. In it, Abbott decries illegal immigration and calls on supporters to “DEFEND Texas.”

In the United States, children cannot be turned away from schools based on their immigration status after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe, which Abbott mentions in his tweet. The case originated in Tyler, Texas.

El Paso sits on the Texas border and some of its students come legally from its adjoining city Juarez, Mexico. Not all are undocumented.

Abbott’s office did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment. In public comments after Thursday’s roundtable, Abbott struck a different tone. He said the roundtable in Austin and another planned Aug. 29 in El Paso are intended to find ways for “rooting out hateful ideologies.”

“We know you feel you are attacked as human beings. We want you to know that we as Texans come shoulder to shoulder and side by side with you, as one family working together,” he said.

James Dickey, Republican Party of Texas chairman, said it’s an “absurd stretch to argue that language like ‘defend Texas’ can be construed by any sane person to mean ‘go murder people.'”

Political mailing stirs controversy

Abbott’s political mailer, which was provided to NBC News by the Texas Democratic Party, told supporters that “if we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.”

After citing immigration apprehension statistics and criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Abbott warned of a plan by liberals to “transform Texas — and our entire country — through illegal immigration.”

Police said the gunman who opened fire on an El Paso Walmart told them his target was “Mexicans,” and that he posted an anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant screed that stated the attack was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The screed also states Democrats are trying to “enact a political coup” by opening borders and legalizing millions of new voters to transform Texas from a Republican-controlled to a Democratic-controlled state.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose district is El Paso, criticized Abbott for his letter in a tweet Thursday.

“If Greg Abbott ever wonders why there is so much hate and anger toward Mexicans and immigrants, he should take a long look at his rhetoric, policies and now his mailer,” she said.

Texas Democrats blasted the governor’s letter Thursday in a news release that was issued while Abbott was holding the roundtable. They said the language in Abbott’s letter is the sort that fueled the hatred of the suspected shooter.

“It’s long past time for Republicans to eradicate white supremacist language from their discourse — people are dying,” Democrats said in the statement.

Rep. Rafael Anchía, chairman of the MALC, listed actions Abbott has taken as governor and the state’s attorney general regarding immigrants, including supporting Arizona laws that give law enforcement officers more power to investigate individuals’ citizenship status.

Anchía called on the governor to end the rhetoric, his mailers and “anti-immigrant policies.”

“All Texans, including the Latino community, should feel safe in their home. Governor Abbott is instead doing the exact opposite by promoting fear,” Anchía said in a statement.

Members of El Paso’s delegation said they raised the issue of anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric with the governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and other participants in the Austin roundtable.

Texas Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, said after the meeting there was consensus that the El Paso attack was an atrocity that happened to Latinos, that it was racially based and that “a racist white nationalist” did the attack.

State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, the House Speaker pro tem, said Thursday there was a “very poignant” moment during the discussions when a participant said that “language matters and it matters more when it’s (from) leaders in our state.”

“I think that point was made very clearly,” he said.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent treatment for tumor on pancreas, Supreme Court says

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently underwent a fresh round of treatment for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas, the high court said in a statement Friday.

The three-week radiation treatment, performed at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, was administered after doctors discovered a “localized malignant tumor” on her pancreas on July 31, the statement said.

The treatment — called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy — was administered in an outpatient setting for a three-week period that began Aug. 5. Doctors also inserted a bile duct stent as part of the treatment, which Ginsburg completed Friday, the court said.

In the statement, the court said that Ginsburg “tolerated treatment well” and that “no further treatment is needed at this time.”

“The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court said. “Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans.”

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The tumor is the 86-year-old justice’s latest cancer scare. She has suffered a number of health setbacks in recent months, including a fall that fractured three ribs in November followed by surgery to remove two cancerous growths from her lung at the end of December. She missed oral arguments for a case in January, the first time she had missed courtroom arguments in 25 years.

Ginsburg had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed at later stages of the disease, because its earliest symptoms can be quite vague, including loss of appetite, depression, jaundice, fatigue and abdominal pain.

The vast majority of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. Just 9 percent are expected to survive more than five years.

By all accounts, Ginsberg has tolerated this most recent radiation treatment well.

“A three-week course of radiation for pancreas cancer is moving into the standard of care,” said Dr. Kenneth Merrell, a radiation oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Merrell has not treated Justice Ginsberg.

“We are finding that this is a very tolerable course of treatment with little impact on the patient’s quality of life,” Merrell told NBC News.

Affectionately known as “RBG,” Ginsburg is the court’s oldest serving justice and was nominated in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton.

If the liberal Ginsburg were to step down from the bench, that would enable President Donald Trump to name her replacement. The nine-person court is currently made up of five justices nominated by Republican presidents and four nominated by Democratic presidents. Trump has so far nominated, and seen confirmed, two of the justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that if a Supreme Court vacancy were to emerge next year, he would act to fill it quickly — a stark divergence from his decision in 2016 to block the consideration of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier that year.

Ginsburg, however, has vowed to stay on the court for several more years, if possible.

Last August, she told CNN that she had no intention of retiring in the near future.

“My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, stepped down when he was 90, so I think I have about at least five more years,” she said.

Erika Edwards contributed.



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