SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS OBAMACARE AGAIN: The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — for a third time yesterday (June 17th), rejecting the latest Republican argument to kill the more than decade-old health care law. The justices ruled 7-2 that Republican-led states and two individuals had no standing to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The challenge had argued that after Congress reduced the penalty for not having health insurance to zero, essentially eliminating it, that the entire law should be wiped away because the mandate was a pillar of the law when it was passed. The ruling didn’t weigh in on the merits of the argument, since it dismissed the case based on the plaintiffs not having standing.
AVERAGE DAILY U.S. COVID DEATHS BELOW 300 FOR FIRST TIME SINCE MARCH 2020: The average daily deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19 has fallen below 300 for the first time since March 2020, in the early weeks of the pandemic. That seven-day average is now 286 daily deaths. The last time it below 300 was March 27, 2020. Case numbers are also down to numbers not seen since March 2020. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said yesterday (June 17th), “These numbers make it clear. Getting vaccinated gets us back to normal.” At the same time, experts are worried about the Delta variant, which emerged in India, and is spreading in the U.S. It’s more infectious than even the U.K. variant, and may be more severe. There’s concern it could cause outbreaks in areas where the vaccination rates are low.
BIDEN SIGNS LEGISLATION MAKING JUNETEENTH FEDERAL HOLIDAY: President Biden signed legislation Thursday (June 17th) making Juneteenth, which is June 19th, a federal holiday. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. The Senate passed the bill via unanimous consent on Tuesday and the House passed it with just 14 Republicans voting against it on Wednesday. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., marking when the last slaves learned they were free on June 19, 1865. Union soldiers brought the news of the Confederate surrender two months earlier to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas.
ONE DEAD, 13 INJURED IN ARIZONA DRIVE-BY SHOOTINGS: One person was killed and 13 others injured in what appeared to be a series of drive-by shootings yesterday afternoon (June 17th). Police had a suspect in custody. There were eight separate incidents within about an hour and a half in the shooting spree, which officials believe began at around 11:10 a.m. At least four of the victims were shot, and others were injured either in car accidents caused by the rampage or by shrapnel. The wounded are all expected to survive. Peoria police Sergeant Brandon Sheffert said, “We don’t know what the motive was. We don’t have an idea of what this person was thinking when he went out and did this.” A man who was not identified was taken into custody after he pulled into a parking lot and didn’t try to fire at police.