The Paper Trail: March 5, 2024

SCOTUS Disqualification Clause Ruling; Government Downplaying Syphilis Crisis; Sweeping Changes Coming to FARA; and More. 

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Top stories for March 5, 2024

Supreme Court rules states can’t remove Trump from presidential election ballot: The Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Colorado court’s removal of Donald Trump from the state’s Republican presidential primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that responsibility for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates rests with Congress. (Dan Mangan, CNBC)

🔎 See Also: Top Democrat “working on” bill responding to Trump ballot ruling (Andrew Solender, Axios)

Racial turnout gap has widened with a weakened Voting Rights Act, study finds: The Black share of the electorate had been on the rise for decades. The Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 changed that, according to a new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice. (Nick Corasaniti, New York Times)

Meet Biden’s stopgap energy and climate team: The Biden administration is stocking key energy and environment posts with temporary, acting officials as the president’s term winds down and prospects for Senate confirmations grow dimmer. (Hannah Northey and Robin Bravender, E&E News)

Thousands of millionaires haven’t filed tax returns for years, IRS says: Thousands of high-income earners haven’t filed tax returns for several years, and the cash-strapped IRS did nothing to get them to pay what they owe — until now. (Julie Zauzmer Weil, Washington Post)

Foreign agent law faces sweeping changes: Experts say the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) hasn’t kept up with societal changes in recent years, including the rise of social media and multinational corporations. (Taylor Giorno, The Hill)

U.S. Supreme Court seeks security funding to protect justices, homes: Serious threats against federal judges rose to 457 in fiscal year 2023, from 224 in fiscal 2021, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. There has also been a sharp rise in threats and intimidation directed at judges who have been criticized by Donald Trump. (Nate Raymond, Reuters)

Opinion: Joe Biden must focus on accountability at Border Patrol: The push to add more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to the southern border ignores the crisis of misconduct that has enveloped the agency and will lead to more harm to employees and the public. (Sarah Turberville and Lilian Serrano, Austin American-Statesman)

Israel-Hamas War

The improbable U.S. plan for a revitalized Palestinian security force: The Palestinian security forces — regarded by Washington as central to its plans for a strengthened Palestinian Authority that can help stabilize postwar Gaza — remain chronically underfunded and ill-equipped to take on the responsibilities that their Western backers are envisioning. (Miriam Berger et al., Washington Post)


Newly released messages detail roots of the “fake electors” scheme: A trove of text messages and emails between James Troupis, who oversaw the Trump fake elector scheme in Wisconsin, and Kenneth Chesebro, a chief architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, show in new detail how their strategy was not designed to win in court as much as create “a cloud of confusion” to help keep Donald Trump in office. (Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, New York Times)

Appeals court ruling means over 100 Jan. 6 rioters may be resentenced: A federal appeals court overturned a sentencing enhancement used against January 6 defendants charged with felony obstruction, a decision that could lead to resentencing for many defendants. (Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post)

Dobbs Aftermath

CVS and Walgreens will begin selling abortion pills this month: As the availability in retail pharmacies expands, they may become a more popular alternative, and depending on the outcome of a case the Supreme Court will hear later this month, the pharmacy option could take on more importance. (Pam Belluck, New York Times)

Russia-Ukraine War

Air Force employee charged with sharing classified info on Russia’s war with Ukraine on dating site: A civilian Air Force employee assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base was charged with transmitting classified information about military targets and Russian capabilities on a foreign online dating platform. (Associated Press)

Police Misconduct

Mississippi police unconstitutionally jailed people in majority-Black city for unpaid fines, Justice Department says: The announcement comes amid a DOJ probe into alleged civil rights violations by police in Lexington, Mississippi, including the use of excessive force, discriminatory policing, and First Amendment violations. (The Grio)


Paid family caregivers in Indiana face steep cutbacks: Now that federal pandemic funds are drying up, states are ending or curtailing caregiver programs that finance home care by relatives of seriously ill children and adults. (Ted Alcorn, New York Times)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

U.S. military to resume V-22 Osprey operations after safety grounding: While the U.S. military is set to lift the ban on the Ospreys, it remains unclear when they’ll be commandeered back into the skies. There have been more than 40 accidents involving Ospreys worldwide since the aircraft entered into service in 2007, resulting in more than 30 deaths. (Rodney Young and Alexa Liacko, Scripps News)

Skyrocketing cost of U.S. nuclear missile program spurs reckoning: The actual cost of the effort to modernize the nuclear triad of land-based ICBMs, submarines, and bomber planes could far exceed the estimated trillion-dollar price tag. (Brad Dress, The Hill)

Pentagon inspector general to assess Navy’s suicide prevention efforts: The review follows an internal Navy audit spurred by two clusters of suicides within the same command in 2022. (Meghann Myers, Navy Times)

Analysis: Why the A-10 Warthog retirement is a disaster: With the move to get rid of the A-10, Air Force leaders are not simply ridding themselves of an aircraft — they are essentially abandoning the close air support mission entirely. This is a recipe for disaster. (Dan Grazier, The National Interest)

Business and Finance

White House announces “strike force” on unfair and illegal prices ahead of State of the Union: The White House’s plan to rein in anti-competitive and unfair practices and lower prices in key sectors comes as lawmakers are poised to make steep cuts to the budget of the DOJ’s antitrust division as part of the government funding deal announced Sunday. (Josh Sisco, Politico)

House Oversight chair launches probe into USTR digital pivot: In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Rep. James Comer complained of a “lack of adequate” consultations with Congress prior to the White House’s decision to withdraw its support for a trio of World Trade Organization e-commerce proposals that previous administrations had backed. (Ari Hawkins, Politico)

Health Care

Syphilis is killing babies. The U.S. government is failing to stop the disease from spreading: Physicians, clinic staff, and public health experts say the shortage of a drug that treats syphilis during pregnancy is preventing them from reining in a surge of the disease and that the federal government is downplaying the crisis. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, ProPublica)

Yogurt can lower diabetes risk, FDA allows makers to claim, with caveats: Critics say these claims, which are based on lesser evidence than “authorized health claims,” serve as “wishy-washy health advice.” (Andrew Jeong, Washington Post)


Immigration and Border Security:

Supreme Court temporarily blocks Texas law that allows police to arrest migrants

Texas Gov. Abbott defends controversial effort to deter illegal border crossings

Arizona Governor vetoes bill allowing police to arrest migrants

Other News:

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira pleads guilty in federal court

Biden’s plan to increase educator pay could mean fewer kids in class

Trump’s White House was “awash in speed” — and Xanax

A new watchdog satellite will sniff out methane emissions from space

Upcoming Events

📌 Reducing Mismanagement: GAO Recommendations for Improving the SBA. House Committee on Small Business. Wednesday, March 6, 10 a.m., 2360 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 Panel Discussion: Artificial Intelligence: The Intersection of Public Access and Open Government. National Archives and Records Administration. Thursday, March 14, 1:00 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives.