MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The Supreme Court considers a law that works to discourage frivolous lawsuits by inmates. But maybe the law goes too far.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also the Monday Moneybeat. Historic job losses in March; we can expect even worse when April’s all counted. But when might normalcy return? Our analyst says, he doesn’t expect it all at once.
Plus the WORLD History Book. Seventy-five years ago, a German theologian executed for his role in a plot against Hitler.
And Trillia Newbell with a salute to medical professionals.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, April 6th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. surgeon general: Week ahead to be Pearl Harbor, 9/11 moment » The nation’s top doctor is warning that for many Americans, the week ahead could be the hardest of their lives. That as the coronavirus crisis could reach its apex over the next week or so. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Fox News Sunday…
ADAMS: This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only, it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country. I want America to understand that. But I also want them to understand that the public, along with the state and federal government, have the power to change the trajectory.
He urged all Americans to follow social distancing guidelines. He said there is light at the end of the tunnel, and noted that Italy and Spain appear to have turned a corner. Italy registered its lowest day-to-day increase in deaths in more than two weeks, 525.
The United States has more than 330,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with more than 9,000 deaths.
New York sees decline in COVID-19 deaths » New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, saw a glimmer of hope over the weekend.
CUOMO: The number of deaths over the past few days has been dropping for the first time. What is the significance of that?
The state reported 594 deaths Sunday—down from 630 on Saturday. Intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes inserted has also dropped slightly. But Cuomo cautioned…
CUOMO: What is the significance of that? It’s too early to tell.
Meantime, the U.S. military is deploying medical personnel to support weary healthcare workers. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday Told ABC’s This Week…
ESPER: We will be sending up over a thousand medical professionals today, tomorrow, and the next day. In a late change as of yesterday, we decided a few hundred of those would be deployed in New York City hospitals to augment the hospitals there.
And the state got a planeload of a thousand badly needed ventilators from China after the Chinese government facilitated a donation from billionaires Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. The state of Oregon also sent more than a hundred ventilators to New York.
Canada won’t retaliate for Trump order blocking N95 mask exports » Canada will not retaliate over President Trump’s decision to block the export of N95 protective masks—also called respirators—to Canada and other countries.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the two countries have had productive talks, and he plans to speak with President Trump soon.
On Thursday, the president used powers under the Defense Production Act to order the government to acquire what he called the “appropriate” number of N95 masks from the Minnesota-based 3M corporation and its subsidiaries.
3M pushed back, arguing that blocking exports could lead other countries to retaliate by withholding medical supplies from the United States. The president responded on Friday.
TRUMP: Well they can push back if they want. We’re not happy with 3M. We’re not happy, and the people that dealt with it directly are not at all happy with 3M.
Trump said the company should not export masks when there is still a shortage within the United States.
British prime minister hospitalized over coronavirus symptoms » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson checked into a hospital Sunday for tests.
Johnson’s office said he was hospitalized because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Downing Street said it was a “precautionary step” and Johnson remains in charge of the government.
Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation on Sunday, seeking to galvanize and encourage Britons.
ELIZABETH: While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advance of science and our instinctive compassion to heal.
Her address came one day after the UK saw its biggest one-day rise in COVID-19 deaths, 708. Nearly 5,000 people have died in the country since the outbreak began. The UK has recorded nearly 48,000 confirmed cases in total.
GOP senators want explanation for Trump’s firing of intel IG » Some Republican senators say President Trump has some more explaining to do after firing the intelligence committee’s inspector general.
Trump issued a statement Friday saying he had lost confidence in Michael Atkinson but gave little detail.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said Congress has been “crystal clear” that it needs written reasons when inspectors general are removed for a lack of confidence. And he said—quote—“More details are needed from the administration.”
And Senator Susan Collins of Main, who serves on the Intelligence Committee said Atkinson’s removal “was not warranted.”
At the White House Saturday, Trump expounded. He said Atkinson did a—quote—“terrible job.”
TRUMP: He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report, right? And he brought it to Congress.
That whistleblower report was at the heart of Trump’s impeachment. The president complained that Atkinson took the report to Congress without ever asking for his version of events.
But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, also a Republican, said—quoting here—“to be effective, the IG must be allowed to conduct his or her work independent of internal or external pressure.”
Bill withers dies at 81 » Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s, including “Lean on Me, ” “Lovely Day,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” died over the weekend.
MUSIC: [Ain’t No Sunshine]
The three-time Grammy Award winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died in Los Angeles from heart complications. Bill Withers was 81.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a Supreme Court case involving frivolous lawsuits.
Plus, Trillia Newbell on the pandemic’s toll on healthcare workers.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning and a brand new work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 6th of April, 2020. Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The Supreme Court is at a virtual standstill, just like much of the rest of the country. The justices still have 20 cases scheduled for argument but postponed because of coronavirus-related shut-downs.
In a press release on Friday, the court said it will consider rescheduling some cases to later this term, if circumstances allow. And one of those cases is a challenge to the way in which we elect our presidents. That is, whether presidential electors must vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their states.
EICHER: I’ll mention we do expect rulings from the high court this morning: rulings from among cases already heard to this point, but no telling how many. So tomorrow we’ll plan to report and analyze those.
And before we get to our case today, let’s run down our list of legal developments related to the coronavirus crisis.
REICHARD: Right, first one concerns vendors who jack up prices on essential goods. I’m talking about things like hand sanitizers and face masks. Attorneys general around the country are investigating complaints.
Now, most states ban price gouging during emergency declarations. So when you see a convenience store in Massachusetts selling milk for $10 a gallon or a shop in Minnesota charging $80 for 36 rolls of toilet paper, that’s price gouging.
Different states use different definitions, but a common one is a price spike about 20 percent above what’s typical.
EICHER: Here’s another: lawsuits asking courts to clarify what counts as “acts of God” in insurance policies. Boilerplate language in insurance contracts usually exclude coverage for these acts: defined as earthquakes, tornadoes, and flooding. Native American tribes that operate casinos want to know whether their insurance policies cover losses related to their closing during this pandemic crisis.
Another interesting development: a proposed class action lawsuit filed last month against the government of China by American small businesses. The group accuses Beijing of covering up the extent of COVID-19 that in turn led to their economic devastation.
REICHARD: A few others of interest: several lawsuits filed against politicians accused of selling off their stocks after receiving a confidential briefing about COVID-19. These were governmental briefings that the general investing public was not privy to.
And lawsuits by business owners whose operations were deemed nonessential and had to close. In essence, they argue the government took their property without just compensation.
EICHER: All right, well, we have covered all the argued cases at the Supreme Court so far, with the exception of just two. So we’ll do one this week and one next.
The legal question in today’s case is one in which the circuits are in disagreement. That’s one of the criteria by which the Supreme Court grants review of a dispute.
REICHARD: Let’s begin with definitions of key terms.
When courts dismiss lawsuits, they dismiss with prejudice or without. Strange phrase, but here’s what it means: If a court dismisses a case with prejudice, it means you can’t bring it back to court later. That’s it.
A case dismissed without prejudice means just the opposite. You retain the right to sue the same party on the same issue at another time.
Changes in circumstances might lead courts to dismiss without prejudice. Example: Say someone beats up another person so the prosecutor charges assault. Suppose later the victim dies. The court may choose to dismiss the assault case without prejudice to allow the prosecutor to bring a murder charge instead.
EICHER: Something else you need to know: the Prison Litigation Reform Act. This 1996 law aimed to stop inmates from filing lawsuits that are frivolous or malicious, or that do not state a proper claim. Generally, prison inmates can sue without paying the filing fee. It’s a legal right called in forma pauperis. That’s Latin for “in the manner of a pauper.” The doctrine protects the right of indigent persons to proceed in court when they have no money.
REICHARD: But the Prison Litigation Reform Act says that if a prisoner files three lawsuits that courts dismiss, then that inmate doesn’t get to continue to file additional cases for free. Three strikes, you’re out.
But the question is, what’s a strike?
In this case pending before the Supreme Court, the inmate argued that some of his cases were dismissed without prejudice. So, they ought not to count as strikes under the law.
Here’s how U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen put it: the law makes no distinction between cases dismissed with or without prejudice. “Dismissed” is the only part that matters.
And, he added, even though different circuit courts of appeal have taken different positions, the majority of them take the government’s view.
ROSEN: At its zenith, 25 percent of the civil docket of the federal courts were prisoner filings, and it is now down to about 10 percent. It’s still a very large number, approximately 29,000 a year ago, but it’s from… 25 percent to 10 percent. And in the majority of circuits, I think it’s six of eight that have ruled on this, the rule is both with and without prejudice count.
This case comes from Colorado, so the state solicitor general, Eric Olson, argued for a bright line rule to strike a balance between reducing inmate litigation and making it easy to manage.
OLSEN: The text is straightforward. If a case was dismissed for failure to state a claim, it meets the statutory definition regardless of whether that dismissal was with or without prejudice because, in either circumstance, that case was dismissed, which is what the statute looks to.
But Justice Brett Kavanaugh could see a scenario that would be unjust to inmates.
KAVANAUGH: Suppose a prisoner files a suit and the district judge … dismisses without prejudice; the prisoner corrects the error, fixes the defect, files a suit and prevails. Not only is it sufficient to state a claim, prevails in the case. You would still say that that prisoner has a strike even though they won the case?
OLSEN: Well, if it was — we look at the statutory text, which says an action was dismissed.
KAVANAUGH: … Doesn’t that strike you as odd, that you have a winning case and you get a strike under the PLRA?
What he means by that is a strike under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act.
Lawyer for the inmate, Brian Burgess, agreed with Kavanaugh’s skepticism, that we shouldn’t restrict meritorious claims from inmates. That would be unjust for sure.
It’s hard to read how this one’ll turn out. The chief justice was worried about overwhelming the courts with inmate litigation. But the tenor of most questions leaned in favor of the inmate.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: That the jobs numbers for March were fully expected doesn’t make them any less dismal: Employers shed 700-thousand jobs last month. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Labor Department on Friday reported that the unemployment rate leapt to 4.4 percent, almost a full percentage point higher than February and the worst single-month rise since January 1975.
Adding insult to injury, the job losses last month brought an end to a streak of jobs growth at 113 consecutive months.
Here now to bring some context and depth is David Bahnsen, financial adviser and analyst with offices in New York and California. He’s kind to join us regularly during what’s now become an economic crisis.
David is at home this morning in Southern California. Good morning.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.
EICHER: Well, I want to mention one other staggering number, David, and that’s the 6.6 million filings for unemployment benefits last week. Politico, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, among others took that number and added it to the previous week’s 3.3 million, and so we see headlines of 10 million workers filing for unemployment.
You indicated you thought last week was the low point, but now the hole is deeper. What do you know this week that you didn’t know last week?
BAHNSEN: Well, first of all, it’s not 10 million. The 3.3 is part of the 6.6. They’re not additive. And so the unemployment claims are basically two different things that happened. You had—in the week of 3.3— an under-reporting of the numbers. We now know there were approximately a million applicants that couldn’t get through or couldn’t get processed.
And I do believe a pretty high number, apparently, that were waiting for the stimulus bill. You recall it was not passed until Friday. And so I think you were spending a lot of that week as Pelosi and crew were kind of dinking around, with people waiting to see what was going to be exactly unveiled there.
And then the following week, I think you ended up getting a little bit of an over-reporting because of the fact that the small business owners then got the bill and said, OK, we know it’s going to be a week or two or so until we’re able to get to the bottom of this. It’s a lot easier just to have employees go out, start taking unemployment, and we’ll figure out from there.
But, no, my position’s exactly the same as it was. The number can say 3 million or 10 million. It is all very much in the bucket of awful. And it’s awful because we shut down the American economy.
I think this is extremely expected in this awful but hopefully very short-lived period.
EICHER: Now April’s sure to be part of this awful period …
BAHNSEN: Of course. I mean, in March it wasn’t even shut down in most of the country until the very end of the month. And even in the peak areas of shut down, which were New York and California—which are heavy jobs states—that really sort of took place in the middle of the month.
And so ground zero for everything will be April.
This is exactly why they were passing a $2 trillion stimulus bill and why hopefully most of us have held up the economy and people in vulnerable job positions in our thoughts and prayers because I’m pretty sure this is what we were expecting when we shut down the American economy for what’s already been a couple weeks and we have several weeks to go.
EICHER: You’ve no doubt seen all kinds of predictive economic models, David.
And D.C. policymakers have been looking at pandemic models that have forced the choice to shut down the economy.
And we’re taking this bitter pill, reasoning that this terrible economic news is preferable to the kind of health news that we were warned about had we not taken drastic measures.
But what do the economic models say about month after month of this? How much can we take?
BAHNSEN: Well, I’m not sure if it’s true necessarily that the health data forced it. It was the health data that precipitated it and caused the powers that be to make the decision.
But I certainly believe that adjudication of whether or not the actions taken were warranted is going to have to be made in hindsight, not in the middle of everything. And I remain very uncertain as to whether or not we’re going to judge that to have been warranted or not.
But, to your point on the economic side, this is really important. No economy is sustainable with nobody working for months on end. Nobody consuming or producing for months on end.
The idea even from those who are most in favor of all of the government actions is that we would have to go through a brutal but very short-lived shut down plugged in with significant amount of both fiscal and monetary aid. And then be able to move forward with greater momentum and normalcy. That certainly remains the hope of policy makers.
I suspect that what we’re facing right now is the month of April really being the lost cause and then a kind of tethered re-opening of the American economy. Certain pockets that have no risk or very little risk would be at a fuller reopening and other pockets that maybe have higher density or different demographics and different health data might have a more muted reopening.
And so I expect to see it in waves.
EICHER: You’re pretty well politically connected. You talk with people in the White House and the economic shop. What are you hearing from your policy friends about whether things might change anytime soon?
BAHNSEN: As far as the reopening, what we do know—and this is reasonably public, the president was really leaning towards rhetorically talking about Easter as a reopening date and after last week he had pivoted to saying we’re going to go through the month of April with federal guidelines. And my belief is that the powers that be have pretty much convinced POTUS that the risk-reward of reopening too early is not in his favor. That at this point, the damage has already been done. The economy’s already been shut down, the unemployment rate has already skyrocketed. And they’ve already created the aid to try to plug that back in.
But that if, God forbid, they reopen and then all the sudden we still get this other surge or a curve that begins to re-escalate instead of bend and flatten, then all the sudden you risk actually having to shut down for many more months.
But I do think that not only because of logical intuition, but what policy makers are hinting and things I’m hearing from very connected sources, that what they will do is allow for a bit of, dare I say, federalism to be on the back end of this. When the federal guidelines come off you will end up seeing the governor of Indiana and the governor of California and the mayor of Los Angeles and county supervisors outside of El Paso all kind of have different stipulations and requirements.
And that hopefully will all take place in an environment which we’re dealing with the rearview mirror of peak cases and peak deaths—most of which is indicating is going to take place here in the next 10-15 days.
EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. David, thanks.
BAHNSEN: Thank you again, Nick.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, April 6th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.
Today, the resignation of one of Britain’s most beloved prime ministers. Plus, 75 years ago, the Nazis execute German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
But first, the effectual end of the American Civil War. Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Starting in the summer of 1864, Union forces under the direction of General Ulysses S. Grant corner the Army of Northern Virginia. General Robert E. Lee and his men are pinned down, in and around Petersburg and Richmond.
Confederate forces hold their ground for 10 months, but on April 1st, Major General Philip Sheridan gains control of a major supply line 15 miles away. A day later, Grant penetrates the defenses around Petersburg—forcing Lee and his army to retreat.
On April 6th, 1885, Grant’s forces surround and capture 6,000 Confederate troops. Lee realizes continued resistance is pointless, and the two generals agree to a truce. They arrange to meet at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox, Virginia.
On April 9th—wearing a dress uniform and golden sash—General Lee arrives first. General Grant shows up in his field uniform. The two respected rivals awkwardly make small talk for about 15-minutes before settling down to business. Then Lee asks for Grant’s terms.
PRICE: Confederates are to lay down all their military equipment.
Ernest Price is the chief of education and visitor services at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park:
PRICE: He also provides that Confederate officers would be allowed to keep their sidearms. And he also says they can keep their animals if they are privately owned…
That means returning troops will have animals available for Spring planting after heading home. The terms also stipulate that as long as Confederate soldiers honor their parole, they will be unmolested—meaning military men won’t face trial.
Additionally, the Union army provides immediate rations for the starving Confederate troops. Lee and Grant stand and shake hands.
PRICE: At 3 o’clock, they’ll come out of the McClean House.
Grant salutes and Lee returns the gesture.
PRICE: It’s a very solemn moment. A powerful scene.
A Union army band begins to play in celebration, but Grant motions them to stop. He reportedly tells his officers: “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.”
SONG: “My Love is a Band Boy”
Next, April 9th, 1945. The Nazi Gestapo hang German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer for his role in plotting against Adolf Hitler. Biographer Eric Metaxas:
METAXAS: It’s really tempting for us to look at this as a tragedy, but I think that Bonhoeffer himself would rebuke us for having that view…
Bonhoeffer was a member of Abwehr, a German military intelligence organization. He was also a covert courier for the German resistance movement. Through his many ecumenical contacts, Bonhoeffer tried to raise the Allies’ awareness of internal forces working against Hitler. He lobbied for Allied support for a replacement government if they were successful in overthrowing or assassinating Hitler from within. But U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused.
In 1943, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for assisting Jews. A year later, his name was discovered on a list of Abwehr agents involved in the failed assassination plot against Hitler. Bonhoeffer was sentenced to death.
METAXAS: I’m convinced he went to the gallows with peace, and even with joy. In fact, someone who observed him—a doctor who had seen many, many deaths, said he had never seen anyone go to his death with peace and submission to God than he saw in Bonhoeffer.
His last recorded words were: “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.”
And finally, April 4th, 1955. Winston Churchill resigns as England’s Prime Minister:
NEWSREEL: That morning, crowds gathered on Downing Street to try and catch a glimpse of a great Englishman…
Churchill began his political career at age 25 as a Member of Parliament. First as a Conservative, then a Liberal, and then as a Conservative once again. His decorated career in British government spanned more than half a century—most notably as prime minister from 1940 to 1945 during the difficult years of World War II. He returned as Prime Minister in 1951 but resigned four years later due to poor health.
NEWSREEL: The man who in 1940 had said he had nothing to offer except blood, toils, tears, and sweat, has paid his part of the bargain in full.
Churchill suffered many strokes in his later years—the last occurring on January 15th, 1965. He died nine days later.
NEWSREEL: Here lay a man, remarkable in stature…
In 2002, a BBC poll of a million British subjects ranked Sir Winston Churchill as the most important British historical figure of all time.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, April 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Medical professionals who show up day after day to care for others even in these times are inspirational figures, to say the least. Here’s WORLD commentator Trillia Newbell to say so much more.
TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: Right before my father was taken off of his ventilator, we were all given a chance to say goodbye. I walked around his hospital bed slowly kissing his forehead, arms, hands, and face.
That day is forever etched in my mind. I was 19 years old, and like many little girls, I was a “daddy’s girl.” My father was my best friend. My heart was broken.
But something else stood out to me as I said my final goodbyes. As I rounded the edge of his bed to reach his right hand, I looked up and caught the eye of the nurse. He was crying.
I don’t know why I had this impulse, but I almost paused to hug the nurse. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to tell him that it would be okay and that I had the best time with my dad, although it was cut short. I’ve heard before that often grieving people end up caring for those around them. My heart hurt for him as I thought how he may have to see a scene like mine every day—sometimes multiple times a day.
During this coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people are not getting the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. That’s tragic. I’m so grateful that I had that chance.
Right now nurses and doctors, like the one who cared for my dad, are seeing death every day, multiple times a day, in ways many have never experienced before. According to recent White House projections, guided by infectious disease experts, the COVID-19 outbreak could kill some 240,000 Americans. And that’s assuming we adhere to recommended guidelines, including social distancing. Should we rebel against these guidelines, medical experts say the loss of life could number in the millions.
As I’ve watched this outbreak unfold, my mind continues to drift back to that moment I caught eyes with that nurse who felt my pain. I can’t imagine the emotional and mental toll this pandemic will have on those on the front lines—for years to come. I can’t stop thinking about them and praying for them.
These medical workers are the heroes of this pandemic. But when all of the dust settles and COVID-19 is far behind us, the mental health work for the medical community may just be beginning. For some the weight of this tragedy has already been too much. But I imagine the trauma will be longer lasting than the disease.
We will find a vaccine. I believe that. But when the 24-7-news cycle of this season eases, are we going to forget about those who served on the front lines? I hope not. Right now we can begin to think of ways we can serve our neighbors who are nurses, doctors, EMTs, police officers, military, hospital cleaning crews, and all those who are rising to the challenge of this pandemic.
To those in this category: we thank you, now. We are praying for you. We will never forget your service to our nation.
I’m Trillia Newbell.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Churches are preparing for virtual Easter celebrations. We’ll tell you what some congregations have planned.
And, COVID-19 could have long-term effects on the grocery business. We’ll explain why.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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