Pluribus AM: SCOTUS becomes a social media influencer

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, February 27, 2024. In today’s edition, SCOTUS hears social media cases; Florida lawmaker pulls ‘personhood’ bill; New York Dems shoot for the moon in redistricting case:

Top Stories

SOCIAL MEDIA: U.S. Supreme Court justices lobbed sharp questions at both attorneys for the tech industry and attorneys for Florida and Texas over laws that seek to prevent large social media sites from deplatforming politicians and political speech. Tech companies, joined by the Biden administration, argue the laws violate the First Amendment. (Pluribus News)

This is just the first in a series of social media-related cases on which the justices will be asked to rule in the years to come, as states zip ahead of Congress in seeking to place new restrictions on tech giants.

ABORTION: Florida Sen. Erin Grall (R) has pulled her legislation that would have given any “unborn child” new protections after opponents raised concerns that it would impact IVF treatments, in the wake of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling. The bill was on track to pass, but Grall said she knew there was still work to be done to protect IVF procedures. (Washington Post)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Tennessee House voted along party lines for a bill that would effectively bar pride flags from school classrooms. The bill would allow parents of a school student to bring lawsuits challenging the display of flags by a school or employee. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: A bipartisan group of California lawmakers introduced a package of bills meant to address the fentanyl crisis and organized retail thefts. The measures would increase access to treatment and penalize criminal trafficking of xylazine, and tighten regulations to help prevent stolen goods from being sold online. (Los Angeles Times)

MORE: Vermont lawmakers are finalizing a bill that would add new felony offenses to a list of crimes for which juveniles could be tried as adults: Using a firearm while committing a felony, trafficking drugs and aggravated stalking. The bill contains a new felony charge for dispensing or selling xylazine, the powerful animal sedative that has been mixed with drugs across the state. (VT Digger)

EVEN MORE: The West Virginia Senate approved legislation that would allow married people to be charged with some sexual assault acts against their spouses. The bill would remove marriage as a defense in first- and third-degree sexual assault cases. (Associated Press) Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed legislation creating mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl possession. (Idaho Press)

AGRICULTURE: Iowa lawmakers have given final approval to a measure cracking down on foreign ownership of farmland. The bill requires foreign landowners to provide details about their holdings in other states if they own more than 250 acres. Failing to register or report would carry fines. (Des Moines Register)

ENERGY: The South Dakota House Commerce and Energy Committee approved legislation providing new regulation requirements for carbon pipelines. The bill would allow the state to overrule local county ordinances over issues like setback requirements. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

MORE: The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved legislation to create a Nuclear Energy Development Authority aimed at promoting nuclear plants in the state. The bill would create a site suitability study to identify good locations for future plants. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

NEW YORK: Legislative Democrats rejected new U.S. House maps drawn by the bipartisan redistricting commission, seizing control of a process that could net them extra seats in Congress. Democrats are likely to target sitting Republican members of Congress on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley and around Syracuse. (New York Times)

TENNESSEE: The state House advanced legislation preventing local governments from reappointing state lawmakers who have been expelled over bad behavior. The measure is aimed at Reps. Justin Jones (D) and Justin Pearson (D), who were expelled last April for protesting the lack of gun legislation on the House floor. Their local county boards returned them to the legislature to fill their own vacancies. (Associated Press)

DELAWARE: A state Superior Court judge struck down statutes allowing for early voting and permanent absentee voting status as unconstitutional. Delaware Democrats tried to amend the state constitution to allow both early voting and permanent absentee voting, but that measure fell apart when they lost GOP support in 2020. (Delaware Public Media)

PEOPLE: Utah Rep. Dan Johnson (R) was wheeled off the House floor on Monday after experiencing a medical emergency. Rep. Ray Ward (R), a physician, began giving Johnson medical attention. Johnson was conscious and sitting up on a gurney as paramedics took him to an ambulance. (Salt Lake Tribune) Our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

By The Numbers

More than 1 million: The number of Michigan voters who had voted early as of Monday morning, the day before today’s Michigan presidential primary. That’s up 13% from pre-Election Day turnout in 2020. (Michigan Advance)

Chaser: “Primary apathy in Michigan: Democrats, GOP struggle as supporters mull whether to vote.” (Associated Press)

$2,075: The amount California made from auctioning off property seized from Los Angeles-area marijuana dispensaries to pay off delinquent tax bills. That amount won’t quite cover the $14.4 million in back taxes those companies owe. (Los Angeles Times)

Off The Wall

A 71-year old Michigan man is $4.37 million richer after winning a lottery prize last week. The man told lottery officials that a clerk from the store called him to tell him to check his tickets, after the store was notified it had sold a winner. (UPI)

Give that clerk a tip!

A long-time winter sled dog race in Northern Maine has been canceled over warm temperatures and a lack of snow. The Can-Am Crown is a qualifier race for Alaska’s Iditarod. (Maine Public Radio)

Quote of the Day

“We don’t know what [lab-cultured meat] does. It’s grown in a big tub from cells, and it creates this big ol’ piece of meat.”

Alabama Sen. Jack Williams (R), on his legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of lab-grown meat. Bills restricting the sale of lab-created meat are working their way through half a dozen states this year. (Pluribus News)