Wednesday morning news – November 11, 2020

Supreme Court again considers fate of Obamacare » The Supreme Court is once again considering the fate of Obamacare. 

Eighteen Republican-led states want the high court to overturn the law. 

Their argument centers on the so-called individual mandate, which levied a tax penalty on Americans who don’t buy health insurance. Two years ago, a GOP-led Congress lowered that tax to zero

And Republicans say you can’t separate the rest of the law from the now-defunct mandate, so it’s time to strike down the law. But Chief Justice John Roberts replied… 

ROBERTS: I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down. 

He said that’s because Congress could have nixed the entire law but didn’t. 

In 2012, Roberts cast the deciding vote—upholding Obamacare. He said the law’s mandate was constitutional under Congress’ powers to tax. 

Technically, the mandate to buy insurance is still part of the law, but there’s no more tax. So Texas solicitor general Kyle Hawkins argued…

HAWKINS: The mandate as it exists today is unconstitutional. It is a naked command to purchase health insurance, and as such, it falls outside Congress’ enumerated powers. 

But conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to agree with Roberts that the law could stand without the individual mandate. If they joined the court’s three liberal justices, they could rule against the GOP plaintiffs with at least a 5-4 majority. 

Cunningham concedes to Tillis in N.C. Senate race » Republicans moved one step closer to retaining control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. 

Democrat Cal Cunningham has conceded the North Carolina Senate race to incumbent Senator Thom Tillis. 

Republicans will now have at least 49 of the 100 Senate seats in the next Congress. And GOP Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan holds a 22 point lead with 75 percent of the votes counted. 

That likely means to hold the Senate, Republicans need only win one of the two Senate seats in a double runoff election in Georgia on January 5th.

Barr conditionally authorizes DOJ voter fraud probes » Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the United States to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if or where they exist. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Barr’s action comes days after major networks called the presidential race for Joe Biden. But the Trump campaign says the election is not settled.  

Biden’s margin of apparent victory in several key swing states is very slim and President Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud. But the Trump campaign has yet to provide evidence of large scale fraud.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys, Barr wrote that they may conduct investigations—quote—“if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual state.”

Otherwise, investigations must wait until after the election is certified. 

States have until Dec. 8th to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results. Members of the Electoral College meet Dec. 14th to finalize the outcome.

For President Trump to win reelection, court action or recounts would have to erase a Biden lead in several key swing states.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

Vatican releases report on accused cardinal » The Vatican has released a 400-plus-page report on the handling of sexual abuse allegations against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Pope Francis escaped most of the blame for ignoring allegations. But the report on the Vatican’s internal investigation named a series of former and current bishops, cardinals, and popes who it said turned a blind eye to the alleged crimes.

McCarrick served as a priest, bishop, and archbishop in New York and New Jersey from the 1950s until becoming archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000.

The report places most of the responsibility on the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick as archbishop of Washington after an inquiry confirmed his misconduct with seminarians. The investigation found Francis continued the policies of previous popes until choosing to defrock McCarrick last year after a Vatican investigation.

Russian peacekeepers arrive Nagorno-Karabakh amid ceasefire » More than a dozen planes carrying Russian peacekeepers arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday. That after Moscow helped broker a deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan to halt fighting over the disputed region. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The ceasefire came after Azerbaijani forces made big gains that the Nagorno-Karabakh leader said made it impossible for their side to carry on. 

But that angered many Armenians, who stormed government buildings, demanding the parliament invalidate the agreement. Dozens of protesters gathered again Tuesday in front of the parliament building in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. The region lies within Azerbaijan but ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia have controlled the region since a separatist war there in 1994. 

Heavy fighting erupted in late September, leaving hundreds, possibly thousands, dead.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Palestinian spokesman and negotiator Saeb Erekat dies » Longtime Palestinian spokesman and negotiator Saeb Erekat died Tuesday after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 65 years old. 

The American-educated Erekat was at the table for nearly every round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians dating back to 1991. Over the years, he was a constant media presence. 

He tirelessly argued for a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old conflict. But he consistently defended Palestinian leaders and blamed Israel for the failure to reach an agreement.

Erekat received a lung transplant in 2017 and was at especially high risk from the coronavirus.

(AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File) In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, speaks during a press conference at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

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