WeWork Will Accept Payment In Bitcoin As Venmo Start Allowing Customers To Trade Crypto

WeWork Will Accept Payment In Bitcoin As Venmo Start Allowing Customers To Trade Crypto

Remember WeWork? The money-incinerating, coworking giant created by megalomaniac Adam I will live forever, be king of the world and be the first trillionaire Neuman and backed by SoftBank, was the first company to demonstrate just how big the asset bubble is when its IPO spectacularly imploded in late 2019, leading to questions about overvaluation, a bitter and acrimonious legal fight between Neuman and his sponsor, Masa Son (whose business acumen were seriously tarnished), and hammered other similarly overvalued stocks for weeks. Well, after a lengthy hiatus, WeWork decided to give going public a second try by merging with a SPAC.

But more apropos, the company whose entire business model is being “hip” with the “disruptive” zeitgeist even if it means burning even more cash, decided to at least try and capitalize on the latest crypto mania, and this morning WeWork announced that “it will begin servicing a new economy” by now accepting payment in select cryptocurrencies, and that in partnership with BitPay and Coinbase, “the company will expand its flexibility by utilizing cryptocurrency for inbound and outbound transactions.”

Through BitPay, a cryptocurrency payment service provider, WeWork will accept Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos (PAX), and several other cryptocurrencies as payment for its offerings. WeWork will also hold the currency on its balance sheet. The company will pay landlords and third party partners in cryptocurrencies where applicable through Coinbase, a WeWork member and the largest U.S. cryptocurrency trading platform.

WeWork CEO, Sandeep Mathrani, said “WeWork’s strength is in our ability to evolve and best meet the diverse needs of our members around the world. As our member base continues to grow in the fintech sector, so will our ability to adapt to their needs and service a new economy. WeWork has always been at the forefront of innovative technologies, finding new ways to support our members. It only makes sense for us to expand on the optionality we provide by adding cryptocurrency as an accepted form of payment for our members.”

In addition, Coinbase will be the first WeWork member to use cryptocurrency to pay for its WeWork membership, with the company noting that Coinbase’s decision to pay WeWork in cryptocurrency “demonstrates the growing demand for flexible and easy-to-use payment options.”

Understanding this growing demand for optionality and convenience, WeWork has accelerated its focus on leveraging technology to take flexibility to the next level. In 2020, WeWork digitized its real estate portfolio with the release of its WeWork On Demand and WeWork All Access products, enabling members to choose when, where, and how they work.

* * *

And speaking of optionality, as well as the growing acceptance of crypto, on Tuesday morning PayPal said it would begin allowing select Venmo customer to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies as consumers increasingly look for ways to pile into the digital assets. The firm will make it available to all the app’s users, who number more than 70 million, within the next few weeks.

For now, Venmo is allowing customers to trade in just four types of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. Users will also have the ability to share their cryptocurrency purchases on the Venmo feed.

“We do think some customers will certainly want to share this fun experience,” Darrell Esch, senior vice president and general manager of the Venmo app at PayPal, said in an interview. “They can share with their friends and community that they’ve taken the step into this space.”

“We think that the timing is right for this,” Esch said. “Our goal here is to provide customers with a really easy-to-use way to learn about and experience ownership of crypto from a trusted platform.”

PayPal has been adding new features to its PayPal and Venmo apps as the payments giant seeks to become a one-stop shop for consumers’ financial needs. After adding the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency to its PayPal app, the company saw customers who used the feature begin signing into the app at twice the rate they previously did.

Since Venmo’s customer base skews younger than the traditional PayPal user, the company is planning to debut a series of videos with the new offering to make sure clients are educated about their purchases.

“Crypto is volatile — any crypto you buy can rise and fall in value, sometimes pretty quickly,” according to one such video, titled “Crypto vs. Stock.” “It’s important to tread carefully.”

As Bloomberg adds, there are signs Venmo users are already taking the plunge into cryptocurrency trading after the value of many of the biggest digital currencies soared in recent months. In one survey of 2,200 Venmo users, the company found that almost a third have already started purchasing cryptocurrencies or stocks.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 08:20

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The Deeper Problems with Justice Barrett’s Book Deal

Yesterday, I criticized Justice Barrett’s reported book deal with Sentinel, a conservative imprint. According to Politico, she will write about “how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule.” I struggle to understand why a publisher would give Barrett a sizable advance for a book on this topic. She has been a judge for a short time, and has decided very few cases. Perhaps Sentinel predicted that Justice Barrett will generate a lot of buzz. She will go on a splashy book tour. She will speak to a wide range of groups and sell her feelings-free approach to judging, whatever that is. I fear this premature project could be problematic for Justice Barrett’s nascent tenure. Here, I will identify four principal problems.

First, what could Justice Barrett possibly have included in her book proposal about judging? I reviewed her appellate record last fall, and my tentative read was that she didn’t have many tough cases. As the junior judge on the Seventh Circuit, it was unlikely she would even have been assigned any significant majority opinions. On the Supreme Court, Justice Barrett has written two majority opinions, neither significant. Her only important writing to date was to rule that worshippers could not sing in a California church during the pandemic. (I’ll come back to this case later). Perhaps Professor Barrett had long ago worked out a complete theory of judging. If so, that’s news to me. I reviewed her law review articles last year. I didn’t see any evidence of some all-encompassing theory. And we certainly didn’t hear much about that theory during her confirmation hearing. Her testimony was lovely, but she stuck to general platitudes. How deep can this theory be that she worked out in the span of a few months?

Second, my greatest fear for this book is that Justice Barrett will set lofty standards for judging that her detractors will use to criticize, and even pressure her. Let’s say she praises the importance of stare decisis. What better way is there to keep feelings out of law than to stand by precedent? She may even cite her decision not to overrule Smith in Fulton. (She very conspicuously signaled that position during oral argument). Forevermore, if Justice Barrett wishes to overrule some precedent, her book can be used against her. Let’s say she explains why she needs to keep her Catholic thought out of her decisions. In the future, her book will be used against her in abortion and death penalty cases. Let’s say she insists that textualism is not a conservative jurisprudence, but is neutral. Hello Bostock II. (I query whether Justice Gorsuch’s devotion to textualism in his book may have greased the skids for Bostock). Justice Barrett’s job is too damn important to make unnecessary concessions in a book. Anything that can be used to exert influence over her in the future is an unforced error. Why? Why write this book now? Why give Justice Kagan ammunition to cow you into submission?

Third, I worry about the book tour. In my view, one of Justice Barrett’s greatest assets was that she was not from the Acela corridor. She hails from what Justice Scalia called the “vast expanse in-between.” This remove, I hoped, would insulate her from the demands of coastal-people-pleasing. Alas, writing a book–even with a conservative imprint–will force her to embark on a tour of coastal-people-pleasing. She will have to speak to audiences of different ideological perspectives. And she will have to custom-tailor her speech to appeal to those different audiences. Instead of giving a zealous defense of originalism, she will likely discuss some sort of watered-down jurisprudence. I know the switch, because I’ve done it before. I will give a very different accounting of originalism at, say, a Heritage Foundation talk, then I would at a Northeastern law school. Any good speaker knows his audience. Perhaps the only outlier on the Court is Justice Alito. He has an IDGAF approach to speeches. Look no further than his fiery 2020 Federalist Society address. I can’t see Justice Barrett taking this sort of message on the road–at least if she wants to sell some books. I hope she carefully reads Scalia Speaks and uses the Boss’s approach as a model.

Fourth, Sentinel, a conservative imprint, should have waited to see Justice Barrett’s conservative record before forking over two million dollars. My next point is grotesque, but I need to make it. Conservatives will not buy a book written from a disappointing Justice. If Justice Barrett follows the track of Justice Kavanaugh, then conservatives will soon write her off. Look no further than her COVID case. Can Justice Barrett go in front of a religious group, and explain why she ruled against worshipers’ right to sing? Of course, that question will be screened out. But people don’t forget.

Going forward, Justice Barrett faces perverse incentives. On the one hand, she will be marketing her book to conservative buyers. (Liberals will never forgive her for taking the Ginsburg seat). On the other hand, she will be deciding cases that could alienate conservative buyers. I don’t think the conflict of interest is inescapable, but it is obvious. After some reflection, I no longer think Supreme Court justices should write books, or go on book tours. There is a good reason why judges have limits on outside income. But, for whatever reason, multi-million dollar book advances are exempt.

I hope Justice Barrett takes this criticism in good faith. I had, and have high hopes for her. But so far, I question her judgment on and off the bench.

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“The Reconstruction Amendments: Essential Documents,” Vol. 1: The Antebellum Constitution and The Thirteenth Amendment.

In my last post, I described the general nature and theory behind the collection, “The Reconstruction Amendments: Essential Documents,” (2 volumes) (Kurt T. Lash, ed.) (University of Chicago Press, 2021).

 

In this post, I describe the theory and contents of Volume One, The Antebellum Constitution and the Thirteenth Amendment. This volume presents the antebellum constitutional debates which ultimately inform the framing and adoption of all three Reconstruction Amendments, and the public and legislative debates accompanying the framing and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The two volumes are meant to be read (yes, read) in tandem; the debates and ideas documented in Volume One play key roles in the constitutional debates presented in Volume Two. That said, Volume One stands on its own as a documentary history of the antebellum national debate over whether the original Constitution was pro-slavery or anti-slavery (the current “1619 Project” debate), and the national abolition of slavery through the Thirteenth Amendment.

Volume One begins with documents representing the various theories of constitutional federalism that arose in the period between the Founding and the Civil War. The issue is important because theories of federalism later play key roles in the debates over the shape of the three Reconstruction Amendments (references to the Federalist Papers, for example, occur over and over again during the Reconstruction debates). Documents in this opening section include the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and “the principles of ’98,” the nationalist theories of John Marshall and Joseph Story, the radical state rights theories of John C. Calhoun, and James Madison’s elderly efforts to oppose both John Calhoun and John Marshall.

Readers may be surprised to learn that some of the strongest supporters of constitutional federalism during this period were northern abolitionists who relied on theories of federalism in their resistance to the nationalization of slavery. This is most dramatically illustrated in the state of Wisconsin’s 1850s decision to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act and reject the decisions of the Supreme Court.

Despite the wide-spread embrace of federalism, this same period also witnessed a growing nationalist interpretation of the originally federalist Bill of Rights. For example, the abolitionist Joel Tiffany insisted that the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States included the rights declared in the first eight amendments (Tiffany, “A Treatise on the Unconstitutionality of Slavery”).

A similar example can be found in an 1859 speech by a young Republican congressman from Ohio who declared that the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV impliedly bound the states to respect the federal Bill of Rights (John Bingham, “Speech Against the Admission of Oregon”). Bingham’s speech is critically important for anyone seeking to understand the theoretical roots of Bingham’s later drafts of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Much of the first half of Volume One presents the antebellum debates over slavery and its relationship to the original Constitution. These materials include the debates over slavery in the Philadelphia Convention, the Missouri admission debates, the rise of northern abolitionism, slave state efforts to suppress abolitionist literature, northern resistance to the extension of slavery into the territories and the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott. Although the collection includes key congressional and political debates, the materials also include a vast array of voices from outside the halls of power demanding an end to the practice of chattel slavery. These include black activist David Walker’s “Appeal,” Susan B. Anthony’s “Let’s Make the Slave’s Case Our Own,” and Frederick Douglass’s “The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?”

The Second Half of Volume One documents the country’s remarkable journey from proposing a pro-slavery Thirteenth Amendment in 1861 to ratifying the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. In a last-ditch effort to stanch the secession movement, Congress passed the “Corwin Amendment” which declared that “no amendment shall be made to the Constitution” which would authorize Congress to “abolish or interfere” with slavery in the states. The gambit did not work and, despite being ratified by a number of states, this first Thirteenth Amendment was forgotten with the outbreak of Civil War.

The dramatic framing and passage of the second Thirteenth Amendment takes up the remainder of Volume One. Documents include anti-slavery amendment petitions from the Women’s Loyal National League, Charles Sumner’s failed efforts to broaden the language of the Thirteenth Amendment, Democratic opposition speeches declaring that the proposed abolition amendment was an unconstitutional attempt to alter an irrevocably pro-slavery Constitution, the House of Representatives’ failed first effort to pass the amendment, Frederick Douglass’s “The Final Test of Self-Government, and the dramatic second round of debates and a second vote that turned on the decision of a handful of Democrats who might, or might not, change their original vote.

Volume One closes with the public debates over the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Most of these materials, as far as I know, have never appeared in any prior collection. The proposed amendment raised a host of difficult questions that were discussed in newspapers around the country.

Were the states of the soon-to-be defeated Confederacy still in the Union and, if so, should they be allowed to vote on (and potentially defeat) the proposed amendment? (“Is the Union Destroyed?” New York Times editorial). Would ratification result in Democrats taking control of Congress since the formerly enslaved population of the southern states would now count as a full five-fifths of a person for the purposes of congressional representation (and membership in the electoral college)? (“Dr. Lieber’s Letter to Senator E.D. Morgan,” New York Tribune).

Lincoln’s tragic assassination resulted in Vice President Andrew Johnson taking the lead in securing the abolition amendment’s ratification. Johnson established provisional governments in the south and prodded their governors to ratify the abolition amendment and, perhaps, “extend the elective franchise to all persons of color who can read the Constitution” in order to quell congressional opposition to readmitting the southern states (Pres. Johnson to Provisional Mississippi Governor William Sharkey).

Meanwhile, anti-slavery societies, sensing that ratification was imminent, pivoted to calls for back suffrage, with advocates like Francis W. Harper declaring it would be unpardonable to say to black men “You are good enough for a soldier, but not for a citizen” (New York Times, “Speeches at the 1865 meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society”). Similarly, the signatories of “An Address from the Colored Citizens of Norfolk Virginia to the People of the United States,” demanded the rights of suffrage, not only as protection from discriminatory black codes, but also because “[n]o sane person will for a moment contend that color or birth are recognized by the Constitution of the United States as a bar to the acquisition or enjoyment of citizenship.”

As the above documents illustrate, the drama of the Fifteenth Amendment began even before the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. In the meantime, however, ratification of the Thirteenth remained uncertain. Northern states like Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey rejected the amendment. Provisional state legislatures feared Section Two of the proposed amendment would empower Congress to regulate local civil rights and establish black suffrage (see, e.g., Mississippi Joint Committee Report and Rejection of Proposed Amendment).

In response, Pres. Johnson’s Secretary of State William Seward wrote letters to the southern governors insisting that their concerns were “querulous and unreasonable, since that clause [Section Two] is really restraining in its effect, instead of enlarging the powers of Congress” (“Seward to S.C. Provisional Governor Perry” New York Times). A number of southern legislatures ratified the amendment along with resolutions declaring their understanding that Seward’s construction of Section Two was correct (see, South Carolina, “Ratification and Accompanying Resolutions,” Nov. 3, 1865).

When Secretary of State Seward declared the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865, the question of congressional power under Section Two moved to center stage. In November and December of 1865, multiple national newspapers published editorials with competing interpretations of congressional power to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment. The issue would dominate the early debates of the Thirty-Ninth Congress and ultimately influence their decision to pass a Fourteenth Amendment.

Tomorrow: Documenting the extraordinary drama of the framing and ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

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Montana Becomes Latest State To Protect Free Speech With the FORUM Act


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Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte fortified First Amendment protections at public universities Thursday by signing H.B. 218. This bill designates outdoor spaces at public universities as public forums, eliminates “free speech zones” that relegate open expression to contained areas, and allows a cause of action in court to students whose First Amendment rights are violated.

State Rep. Mike Hopkins (R–Missoula) originally introduced H.B. 218 in 2018, after the University of Montana’s School of Journalism refused to sponsor a speech by the conservative sociologist Mike Adams. The bill passed with broad bipartisan backing in March, with just four votes against it in the House and unanimous support in the Senate. Gianforte praised the legislation, proclaiming, “A university should be a place where the free exchange of ideas is encouraged, without voices silenced.”

H.B. 218 is based on the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act, a model bill developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2017. The FORUM Act protects students and student organizations from disciplinary action for lawful expression. “Free speech is fundamental to American democracy, and FORUM represents a set of best practices for legislators to follow,” says Andrew Handel, director of ALEC’s Education Task Force.

The model bill affirms that the “legislature views the exercise of First Amendment rights on public university campuses in this state as critical components of the education experience for students and requires that each public university in this state ensures free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation.” It urges public universities to inform students of their First Amendment protections and to educate all faculty (including administrators, campus police, residential assistants, and professors) of their responsibilities in upholding a culture of open expression through school websites, handbooks, and orientation programs.

It also eliminates so-called free speech zones, a concept popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. “Having a designated free speech zone sounds like a good idea in theory,” Handel says. “But they tell students that there’s a specific, small area of campus that they can use at a very specific time. They’ve been utilized as a way to chill freedom of expression.”

The legislation also requires institutions to produce annual reports on campus free speech incidents, which will then be submitted to legislators and made available to the public. “A significant amount of taxpayer dollars is appropriated to public institutions of higher education each year,” the model bill reads. “As such, this legislature must ensure that all public institutions…recognize freedom of speech as a fundamental right for all.”

The bill protects the rights of both speakers and students who protest speakers—and unlike other model legislation, it does not recommend particular disciplinary actions for those who obstruct speech. “If students fear their expressive activities could unnecessarily land them in a campus disciplinary hearing, they may choose to sit on the sidelines,” explains ALEC’s Shelby Emmett, “The FORUM Act protects speech. It does not punish speech.”

Upon passage, states also waive their immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, which prevents individuals from filing lawsuits against states in federal court. This enables students whose First Amendment rights were violated to bring a cause of action in court. If their suit succeeds, they are guaranteed an award of at least $5,000.

Montana is the 14th state to adopt a version of the FORUM Act. Others to pass the legislation include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia. Eleven additional states have banned free speech zones on public colleges and universities.

The FORUM Act has predictably drawn opposition. Some critics have objected to a provision saying public universities cannot deny a group funding because of its “actual or anticipated expressive activity,” fearing that this would protect religious organizations that discriminate against gays. “The American ideals of free speech must not be used as a sword for discrimination,” the political director of the Georgia ACLU told Project Q Atlanta last year.

Others say the legislation restates the obvious. In 2019, Montana’s then-Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a similar bill, maintaining that free speech on campuses was already adequately protected by the Constitution. Handel concurs—to a point. “The Constitution is very clear that, regardless of your underlying beliefs, you have the right to speak and be heard,” he says. But as long as institutions have failed to uphold this promise, he feels the FORUM Act is necessary to reaffirm speakers’ First Amendment rights.

As the Supreme Court reminded us in 1957’s Sweezy v. New Hampshire, “Students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.”

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Watch: Protestor At Shanghai Auto Show Climbs On Tesla, Screams “Brake Failure”, In Now-Viral Video

Watch: Protestor At Shanghai Auto Show Climbs On Tesla, Screams “Brake Failure”, In Now-Viral Video

A protestor at the Auto Shanghai expo this week climbed on top of a Tesla Model 3 sedan and screamed in protest while wearing a t-shirt that said “The Brakes Don’t Work” and “Invisible Killer”.

Video of the incident has caught fire in China and ” hit a nerve in China, sending complaints about the company ricocheting across the Chinese internet,” according to the Wall Street Journal

The woman was eventually dragged away by security guards, but not after catching the attention of hundreds in the building – and millions more on the web. The hashtag of the incident was viewed by 150 million people on Weibo, WSJ reported. 

Her plight garnered sympathy online, with one user saying Tesla was “hoodwinking Chinese consumers” and others encouraging people to buy from competitors. Another user with 5 million followers shared their “litany of complaints” about other alleged glitches with their Tesla. 

In a statement, Tesla said the woman’s father was involved in a February accident where his Model 3 crashed into another vehicle. She had demanded a refund from the company, blaming the crash on a “technical problem”. Tesla said that her father had wrecked due to “excessive speed”. A woman who claimed to be the protestor wrote on a Weibo account that she would “seek justice through the legal system” and that the incident “exposed the true face behind Tesla’s vaunted brand”.

Recall, we highlighted another Tesla wreck that took place in Houston just days ago, though the brakes have not been determined to be an issue in that case. 

The woman was “detained for five days”, according to a local police statement provided by Bloomberg on Monday night. 

Even more interesting – as we continue to watch for signs of tumult between Elon Musk and the CCP – was the Global Times’ quick response to the incident, broadcasting it on its Twitter feed the day it happened:

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 08:04

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The Deeper Problems with Justice Barrett’s Book Deal

Yesterday, I criticized Justice Barrett’s reported book deal with Sentinel, a conservative imprint. According to Politico, she will write about “how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule.” I struggle to understand why a publisher would give Barrett a sizable advance for a book on this topic. She has been a judge for a short time, and has decided very few cases. Perhaps Sentinel predicted that Justice Barrett will generate a lot of buzz. She will go on a splashy book tour. She will speak to a wide range of groups and sell her feelings-free approach to judging, whatever that is. I fear this premature project could be problematic for Justice Barrett’s nascent tenure. Here, I will identify four principal problems.

First, what could Justice Barrett possibly have included in her book proposal about judging? I reviewed her appellate record last fall, and my tentative read was that she didn’t have many tough cases. As the junior judge on the Seventh Circuit, it was unlikely she would even have been assigned any significant majority opinions. On the Supreme Court, Justice Barrett has written two majority opinions, neither significant. Her only important writing to date was to rule that worshippers could not sing in a California church during the pandemic. (I’ll come back to this case later). Perhaps Professor Barrett had long ago worked out a complete theory of judging. If so, that’s news to me. I reviewed her law review articles last year. I didn’t see any evidence of some all-encompassing theory. And we certainly didn’t hear much about that theory during her confirmation hearing. Her testimony was lovely, but she stuck to general platitudes. How deep can this theory be that she worked out in the span of a few months?

Second, my greatest fear for this book is that Justice Barrett will set lofty standards for judging that her detractors will use to criticize, and even pressure her. Let’s say she praises the importance of stare decisis. What better way is there to keep feelings out of law than to stand by precedent? She may even cite her decision not to overrule Smith in Fulton. (She very conspicuously signaled that position during oral argument). Forevermore, if Justice Barrett wishes to overrule some precedent, her book can be used against her. Let’s say she explains why she needs to keep her Catholic thought out of her decisions. In the future, her book will be used against her in abortion and death penalty cases. Let’s say she insists that textualism is not a conservative jurisprudence, but is neutral. Hello Bostock II. (I query whether Justice Gorsuch’s devotion to textualism in his book may have greased the skids for Bostock). Justice Barrett’s job is too damn important to make unnecessary concessions in a book. Anything that can be used to exert influence over her in the future is an unforced error. Why? Why write this book now? Why give Justice Kagan ammunition to cow you into submission?

Third, I worry about the book tour. In my view, one of Justice Barrett’s greatest assets was that she was not from the Acela corridor. She hails from what Justice Scalia called the “vast expanse in-between.” This remove, I hoped, would insulate her from the demands of coastal-people-pleasing. Alas, writing a book–even with a conservative imprint–will force her to embark on a tour of coastal-people-pleasing. She will have to speak to audiences of different ideological perspectives. And she will have to custom-tailor her speech to appeal to those different audiences. Instead of giving a zealous defense of originalism, she will likely discuss some sort of watered-down jurisprudence. I know the switch, because I’ve done it before. I will give a very different accounting of originalism at, say, a Heritage Foundation talk, then I would at a Northeastern law school. Any good speaker knows his audience. Perhaps the only outlier on the Court is Justice Alito. He has an IDGAF approach to speeches. Look no further than his fiery 2020 Federalist Society address. I can’t see Justice Barrett taking this sort of message on the road–at least if she wants to sell some books. I hope she carefully reads Scalia Speaks and uses the Boss’s approach as a model.

Fourth, Sentinel, a conservative imprint, should have waited to see Justice Barrett’s conservative record before forking over two million dollars. My next point is grotesque, but I need to make it. Conservatives will not buy a book written from a disappointing Justice. If Justice Barrett follows the track of Justice Kavanaugh, then conservatives will soon write her off. Look no further than her COVID case. Can Justice Barrett go in front of a religious group, and explain why she ruled against worshipers’ right to sing? Of course, that question will be screened out. But people don’t forget.

Going forward, Justice Barrett faces perverse incentives. On the one hand, she will be marketing her book to conservative buyers. (Liberals will never forgive her for taking the Ginsburg seat). On the other hand, she will be deciding cases that could alienate conservative buyers. I don’t think the conflict of interest is inescapable, but it is obvious. After some reflection, I no longer think Supreme Court justices should write books, or go on book tours. There is a good reason why judges have limits on outside income. But, for whatever reason, multi-million dollar book advances are exempt.

I hope Justice Barrett takes this criticism in good faith. I had, and have high hopes for her. But so far, I question her judgment on and off the bench.

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Futures Slide For Second Day Amid Renewed Virus Worries

Futures Slide For Second Day Amid Renewed Virus Worries

S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 stock futures extend declines for a second day, with both down about 0.5% as of 7:00 am in New York as travel and leisure stocks led the move, indicating fresh concerns over reopenings. US futures tracked Europe’s Stoxx 600 index which was 1.1% lower, its biggest drop in a month as a growing tally of virus cases primarily in emerging markets tempered enthusiasm for a global growth rebound. Bond yields fell. 

Some notable premarket moves:

  • United Airlines dropped 2.1% after the carrier booked a bigger-than-expected loss for the first quarter.
  • IBM gained 2.8% as it reported its biggest revenue gain in 11 quarters boosted by its bets on the high-margin cloud computing business.
  • Johnson & Johnson, whose COVID-19 vaccine was put on pause last week to review reports of rare blood clots, tightened its forecast for profits this year. Its shares slipped 0.2%.
  • Altria extended Monday’s declines, British American Tobacco shares tumbled as much as 7.3% in London, while Imperial Brands also drops as much as 7.3%, after Dow Jones reported the Biden administration is considering only allowing cigarettes with non-addictive nicotine levels, as well as a possible ban on menthol cigarettes. Analysts noted regulatory pressures in the past, and said any new policies may take years to implement.  Altria extended Monday’s declines spurred by a Wall Street Journal report saying the U.S. government may only allow cigarettes with non-addictive nicotine levels.

After blockbuster earnings from major U.S. banks last week, analysts expect first-quarter profit for overall S&P 500 firms to jump 30.9% from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Investors are now turning to results from Netflix which reports after the close and other major technology-related companies this week to sustain the positive start to the earnings season. The streaming giant which thrived during last year’s lockdowns will be the first among the FAANG group to report quarterly numbers. NFLX shares slipped about 0.5% in pre-market trading, ahead of its results after markets close. Chipmaker Intel Corp is slated to report results on Thursday.

“Optimism is running very high and the earnings outlook has likely been priced to perfection at these levels, so anything less than absolutely stellar results might be seen as a negative surprise,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at online broker XM in Cyprus, echoing what we said last week.

Even with this week’s pullback, global stocks are just inches away far from record highs. That’s prompting concern markets may be overplaying bets on economic reopenings as countries in the developing world – India and Brazil in particular – struggle to contain a rising tide of infection.

We do think the market is a little overextended here,” Dave Sekera, chief U.S. market strategist at Morningstar Investment Services, told Bloomberg TV, adding that broad U.S. equities look about 5% overvalued.

European shares extend declines to session-low as all industry groups within the regional equities benchmark drop; tobacco stocks were among the hardest hit by a report that the U.S. government is considering a rule to strip cigarettes of addictive levels of nicotine. British American Tobacco Plc plunged 6.6%. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index falls 1.2%, the sharpest intraday drop since March 19. Travel and leisure and banking stocks are worst perfomers. Here are some of the region’s biggest movers today:

  • Elementis shares rise as much as 22% after Sky reported that the company had received takeover interest from Innospec.
  • Nordic Semiconductor gains as much as 8.1% after 1Q earnings, with DNB saying 2Q sales guidance was “massively ahead” of consensus and the bank’s estimate
  • Jenoptik climbs as much as 7.9%, the most since Jan. 25, after HSBC upgraded the optical systems and lasers company to buy from hold, saying risks look limited and opportunities are underappreciated.
  • EQT falls as much as 12%, the most in eight months, after TA Associates exited its remaining stake in the private equity firm.
  • AMS slides as much as 12% in Zurich following Manager Magazin report that Apple has begun including Face ID sensors from rival companies in the iPhone 12. This is one of the reasons AMS division head Ulrich Huewels lost his job, the German magazine says.
  • Juventus declines as much as 9.3% while Borussia Dortmund falls as much as 5.3% after both soccer clubs rallied in the previous session on plans for a European Super League.

Asian stocks also fell, set to end a five-day winning streak. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.6%, poised to snap its longest winning streak in more than two months. Industrials and health care shares led losses on the gauge. Japanese shares were the worst performers in the region. The blue chip-heavy Nikkei 225 fell 2% as Tokyo and Osaka moved closer to declaring states of emergency amid rising Covid-19 infections. A strengthening yen hurt demand for Japan’s exporters. In Hong Kong, Meituan was the biggest contributor to the Hang Seng Index’s advance, which closed up 0.1%. The Chinese delivery giant’s shares rose 1.5% after it raised $9.98 billion from a record top-up placement and a convertible bond sale. Other tech stocks slipped, with Alibaba down 1.6% while Baidu fell by 2.6%.

Chinese stocks erased an earlier gain to close slightly weaker, snapping a two-day gain as foreign investors trimmed holdings. The benchmark CSI 300 index edged down less than 0.1% to 5,083.37 points, joining broad declines among Asia equities after U.S. stocks fell from a record overnight. Telecommunication services led the drop in the index, with a sector subgauge losing 1.2%. The key equities gauge has traded mostly sideways in recent weeks following its tumble into a technical correction last month, with analysts citing that investors are waiting for a catalyst for the next big move. The main investment theme in China’s stocks is mixed currently “as it lacks additional money flows,” Li Lifeng, an analyst at Huaxi Securities, wrote in a note. Foreign investors net sold almost 500 million yuan worth of A shares via the mainland-Hong Kong stock link, after buying in the previous two sessions. Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said Monday that the watchdog is paying “high attention” to hedge fund inflows through the Stock Connect program. Sentiment in the broader market held up, with the turnover in Shanghai and Shenzhen coming in at 803 billion yuan, just 2.4% less than Monday’s figure that was a one-month high.

India’s benchmark equity index fell, after swinging between gains and losses, led by software exporters and lenders. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.5% to 47,705.80, its lowest since end-January, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped 0.4%. Both measures had risen as much as 1% earlier in the session as the government said it will allow citizens over the age of 18 years to be vaccinated against coronavirus from next month, a step toward controlling a spread that’s led to more lockdown-like curbs in the country. Twelve of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of healthcare companies. “Market sentiment depends on the success of the move, which can only be determined after some time,” said Gaurav Garg, head of research at CapitalVia Global Research Ltd. “We expect the Indian market to continue trading in a small range.”

In rates, Treasuries rose after spending much of the London morning lower and were last trading near session highs after erasing earlier Asian session declines, gaining as U.S. stock futures followed European bourses lower. 10Y Treasury yields traded around 1.59%, richer by 1bp vs Monday’s close after peaking at 1.631% in early European session; 2s10s and 5s30s curves are flatter by ~1bp; bunds and gilts lag Treasuries slightly. Weakness during Asia session was guided by USD/JPY and Australian bond market.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell a seventh consecutive day and the greenback fell against most of its Group-of-10 peers as commodity currencies lead gains; the euro advanced to $1.2080, the highest level since March 3, and breaching the 100-DMA. The pound traded in a narrow range despite an unexpected weakening of the jobs market. The yen reversed a gain against the dollar as Japan’s coronavirus infections climbed and consolidation set in. Australia’s yield curve bear steepened further after the release of minutes from the latest central bank meeting while the Aussie touched a one-month high amid broad greenback weakness and a rally in commodities. The Reserve Bank of Australia said its policy settings were helping hold down the currency, while surging property prices meant it needed to monitor trends in home borrowing, according to minutes of its April meeting. China’s yuan advanced past 6.5 per dollar for the first time since March 18 amid broad weakness in the greenback.

In commodities, oil traded near $64 a barrel, a year to the day after futures for the U.S. benchmark collapsed below zero, with the world’s most important commodity extending a powerful rally on bets for better demand.

After a slide in early overnight trading, bitcoin rebounded and was last trading just shy of $56,000.

Looking at the day ahead now, and there are a number of further earnings releases including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, Abbott Laboratories, Philip Morris International and Lockheed Martin. Otherwise, data releases include UK unemployment for February and German PPI for March, while the ECB’s Hernandez de Cos will be speaking. There is no economic data in the US.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,158.25
  • Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.8% to 438.78
  • Brent Futures up 1.2% to $67.84/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,767.70
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.14% to 90.94
  • MXAP down 0.4% to 208.24
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 698.69
  • Nikkei down 2.0% to 29,100.38
  • Topix down 1.5% to 1,926.25
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 29,135.73
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.1% to 3,472.94
  • Sensex little changed at 47,971.27
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.7% to 7,017.77
  • Kospi up 0.7% to 3,220.70
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.3 bps to -0.232%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.2069

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Dollar bears are making a comeback as falling Treasury yields shackle the reserve currency. Technical indicators suggest the decline may extend. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is on track for its longest losing streak since June after Treasury 10-year yields dropped almost 15 basis points since the end of March. Leveraged traders have slashed bullish positions, according to the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • The U.K. labor market weakened unexpectedly, with company payrolls falling for the first time in four months and more people dropping out of the workforce
  • The aggressive rebound in global economic growth still isn’t enough for most of the world’s central banks to pull back on their emergency stimulus. In Bloomberg’s quarterly review of monetary policy covering 90% of the world economy, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan are among the 16 institutions set to hold interest rates this year
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia said its policy settings were helping hold down the currency, while surging property prices meant it needed to monitor trends in home borrowing, according to minutes of its April meeting
  • Justin Trudeau’s government released a budget that promises big spending on new social programs and a return to small deficits by 2025, setting the stage for a possible election in Canada this year
  • Oil edged higher toward $64 a barrel as traders monitored a patchwork recovery in demand from the coronavirus pandemic a year to the day since futures for the U.S. benchmark went negative OPEC and its allies are discussing downgrading next week’s full-scale ministerial meeting, delegates said, a signal the coalition may stick with plans to gradually revive oil production

A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets traded mixed with risk appetite dampened following the losses on Wall Street where most majors retreated from their recent record highs with the declines led by tech and growth amid a rise in yields and bond selling. ASX 200 (-0.7%) was subdued with nearly all sectors in the red following the headwinds from US peers and as participants digested quarterly updates including Rio Tinto which posted lower iron ore production although its shipments increased Y/Y. Nikkei 225 (-2.0%) underperformed as the recent detrimental currency flows reverberated across Japanese stocks in which exporters took the brunt after USD/JPY briefly gave up the 108.00 handle. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.1%) were indecisive after a lack of surprises from the PBoC which maintained the status quo on rates for a 12th consecutive month as expected with the 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates kept at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively. Focus was also on Chinese President Xi’s keynote speech at the Boao Forum where he stated that China has continued deepening reform and opening up, as well as called for countries to join hands in dealing with the pandemic but also reiterated the view for countries to not meddle in the internal affairs of others. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lacklustre after the recent weakness in USTs and slightly lower demand at the 20yr JGB auction, while 10yr yields in Australia and New Zealand were higher by around 4-5bps as they tracked the upside in global counterparts.

Top Asian News

  • Goldman Names Sean Fan Co-Head of China Investment Banking
  • Japanese Stocks Slide After Gain in Yen as Virus Concerns Grow
  • RBA Sees Policy Helping Stem Aussie, Monitors Home Borrowing
  • Bank Indonesia Holds Key Rate Steady While Lowering GDP Outlook

Major bourses in Europe saw another lacklustre cash open before a downside bias solidified (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.1%) within the first hour of trade, as sentiment sullied following a mixed APAC handover and amid a lack of fresh catalysts. US equity futures, meanwhile, have extended losses with the RTY underperforming vs peers with no particular trigger for the move lower. Back to Europe, sectors are primarily in the red with shallower losses seen for the Energy and Materials sectors on the back of firmer price action for oil and copper prices. The downside meanwhile sees Personal and Household Goods as the laggard amid disappointing metrics from AB Foods (-2.0%) coupled with hefty losses in tobacco names Imperial Brands (-6.2%) and British American Tobacco (-6.7%) following reports that the US is seeking to lower the nicotine level in cigarettes sold in the US. Travel & Leisure also resides towards the foot of the Stoxx 600 amid the rising COVID cases across some significant economies, whilst Air France-KLM (-3.8%) adds to the glum tone in the sector after a capital increase and as the French government raised its stake in the Co. to tighten its control. The IT sector has failed to gain upside impetus from IBM’s (+3% pre-mkt) numbers. In terms of individual movers, BMW (+0.7%) trades firmer after its prelim Q1 figures exceeded market expectations, with growth reported in all significant regions and in particular China. ASM (-10.8%) plumbed the depths amid reports from German press that the Co. is “massively” losing Apple business.

Top European News

  • Credit Suisse Prime-Brokerage Heads to Leave After Archegos
  • AMS Falls After Report Apple Has Started Using Rival Sensors
  • DWS, CDPQ Said Near 3 Billion-Euro Deal for France’s Ermewa
  • U.K. Reaches $2 Billion Deal to Buy Boeing’s Chinook Helicopters

In FX, the Antipodean Dollars are taking full advantage of their US counterpart’s ongoing demise, with Aud/Usd and Nzd/Usd both extending rebounds to top round numbers at 0.7800 and 0.7200 respectively. The Aussie has not really been hampered by RBA minutes reaffirming dovish policy guidance overnight given some external impetus from a firmer PBoC Cny fixing, but has lost a bit of momentum in Aud/Nzd cross terms from 1.0820+ towards and through 1.0800 as the Kiwi eyes NZ Q1 CPI tonight for some independent direction. Moreover, Aud/Usd could still be drawn to hefty expiry options sitting below 0.7800 between 0.7795-65 in 1.2 bn for the NY cut.

  • CAD/EUR/DXY – 1.2500 is still proving to be a sticking point for the Loonie vs its US peer, but Usd/Cad has pulled back from circa 1.2535 against the backdrop of firmer crude prices and the Canadian budget that was mixed in terms of 2020/21 and 2021/22 fy deficit forecasts vs prior projections, though pretty neutral on balance, awaiting CPI and the BoC on Wednesday. Conversely, the Euro has breached 1.2050 that held on Monday and key technical resistance in the form of the 100 DMA that comes in at 1.2058 today on the way up to 1.2080 before stalling, as the Greenback tries to regroup or contain further losses to keep the index within sight of 91.000 between 91.101-90.856 parameters.
  • GBP/CHF – Both narrowly mixed vs the Buck having probed more psychological levels, but not sustaining sufficient thrust or garnering enough follow-through buying to clear 1.4000 and 0.9150 convincingly. However, Cable could get another fillip from UK inflation data tomorrow following somewhat mixed labour and earnings given the consensus for a rise in headline CPI.
  • JPY – Almost all change for the Yen that seemed set to overcome 108.00 against the Dollar after scaling the 50 DMA, but Usd/Jpy has bounced firmly to 108.50+ alongside Jpy crosses, such as Eur/Jpy beyond 130.50 and almost reaching 131.00 in what appears to be a technical correction rather than something fundamental, aside from a resumption of US Treasury bear-steepening.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are on the rise amid supply disruptions in Libya, whereby the NOC declared a force majeure on crude exports from its Hariga port, whilst Agoco was forced to reduce output amid a lack of funding. These developments would see Libya’s output drop below 1mln BPD for the first time since October vs the 1.3mln BPD production Libyan press reported in early April. This, alongside the Dollar softness, have taken WTI back above USD 64/bbl (vs low 63.38/bbl) and Brent to around USD 68/bbl (vs low 67/bbl). Elsewhere, reports suggest that next week would only see a JMMC meeting with no OPEC+ confab to follow. This indicates that the policy agreed upon last month will not be tweaked as the JMMC does not carry out policy decisions but instead offers recommendations. Energy journalists have noted that the Islamic period of Ramadan could be a reason not to hold two meetings in a short time frame. Turning to metals, spot gold and silver have remained around recent ranges and have been mainly moving in tandem with the Buck in early European hours amidst a distinct lack of catalysts – with spot gold hovering around in a tight range around USD 1,770/oz and spot silver visiting levels on either side of USD 26/oz. Over to base metals, LME copper continues to climb to near 10-year highs as a function of the Dollar, whilst overnight Dalian iron ore futures were bolstered amid improved Chinese steel margins and lower output from the mining giant Rio Tinto. On the recent commodity rise, Chinese Industry Ministry said China will actively take measures to stabilise raw material prices. The Ministry added that the current round of commodity price increases will impact manufacturing, but is overall controllable.

US Event Calendar

  • Nothing major scheduled

DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Henry and Apurv are finishing off this morning as I’m having a rare lie-in to coincide with my vaccine appointment yesterday. To be honest I was really bunged up with hay fever before I had the jab and on passing this over late on Monday night after watching another demoralising football display from Liverpool I feel the same as I did earlier. Virtually everyone I know has had some kind of noticeable 12-72 hour cold/flu type reaction to the AZ vaccine so I await that. Maybe the next injection I get will be the hay fever one as this season has been near intolerable. If anyone has had that I’d love to hear about its success.

Global equities saw the mildest of side effects to Friday’s fresh record highs as sovereign bond yields shifted higher and investors struggled to find a catalyst that could justify further gains, particularly amidst a global rise in Covid cases that is one of the fastest since the pandemic began. By the close of trade, the S&P 500 (-0.53%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (-0.07%) had both lost ground, and the VIX index of volatility ticked up +1.04pts in its biggest daily increase in 3 weeks. That said, this pullback still leaves the S&P and the STOXX at their 3rd and 2nd highest ever levels respectively, so let’s not get too carried away.

Looking at the sectoral moves, tech stocks underperformed on both sides of the Atlantic, with the NASDAQ (-0.98%) and FANG+ (-1.33%) both struggling, though it was a fairly broad-based decline with 334 in the S&P 500 ending the day lower, the largest so far this month. 20 of the 24 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell back yesterday with only Real Estate (+0.29%), Technology hardware (+0.27%), Biotech (+0.11%) and Telecoms (+0.01%) seeing marginal gains. As well as that, small-cap stocks were another underperformer, with the Russell 2000 index falling -1.36% with c.80% of the index falling back.

Earnings could be a catalyst to give the overall market a sense of direction. After the close, IBM reported its first revenue gain since mid-2018 as cloud-service demand, which has been a key focus for the new CEO, exceeded expectations. The stock rose +3.06% in after-market trading as three of the five business segments showed sales growth, led by Cloud and Cognitive Software – the biggest unit. United Airlines (-2.16% post-market) also reported after the close last night, indicating that quarterly losses would continue until air travel returns to 65% of 2019 levels. In terms of 2021 Q1, the airline posted a larger-than-expected loss (-$7.50/share loss vs. -$7.02/share expected) and expects yet another loss this upcoming quarter. This came after reports earlier in the day that the airline was going to add three new US-Europe flights this July to Croatia, Greece and Iceland, all of which have reopened to vaccinated travelers. Meanwhile of some note was Tesla (-3.40%) which fell after two passengers died in a Tesla car that local authorities in Texas said that no-one appeared to be driving. Nevertheless, Elon Musk has tweeted overnight that data logs recovered so far indicated the car didn’t have its Autopilot driver-assistance technology enabled. Separately Bitcoin (-0.14%) lost ground for a 4th day running, and this morning is down a further -3.02% to take the cryptocurrency to $54,511, more than $10,000 beneath its all-time intraday high last week.

Elsewhere, sovereign bonds had a pretty eventful day, and at one point yields on 10yr bunds traded just above -0.22%, on track to close at their highest level in over a year. Though they pared back some of those losses towards the end of the session, yields on bunds (+2.7bps to -0.24%), OATs (+2.2bps) and BTPs (+4.3bps) all closed higher, and 10yr OATs were back in positive territory once again. Over in the US, 10yr UST yields were up +2.5bps to 1.605%. The driver was a pickup in real yields (+4.1bps), while inflation expectations (as approximated by the 10yr breakeven) are still within 2bps of 8-year highs. The dollar index fell -0.53%, for the index’s sixth straight decline and now sits at its lowest levels since March 3. Likewise, the euro traded above $1.20 for the first time since then as well.

Overnight in Asia, markets are trading mixed with the Nikkei (-1.80%) down, Hang Seng (-0.01%) stable, and the Shanghai Comp (+0.29%) and Kospi (+0.59%) moving higher. We also received the Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest policy minutes which highlighted members agreed on monitoring surging house prices as a potential risk and added that “it would be important to watch carefully for increased risk-taking by lenders.”The Australian dollar is up +0.53% this morning, although part of that strength is down to the dollar’s general weakness (-0.18%). Outside of Asia, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.23% and European ones are somewhat more subdued with Stoxx 50 futures down -0.13% as those on the DAX and FTSE 100 point to little change.

Though equities more broadly fell back from their all-time highs, one of the few winners yesterday were publicly-traded elite football clubs, as the prospect of participating in a European super league sent their share prices substantially higher. The Italian club Juventus (+17.85%) had its best day since 2013, while Manchester United (+8.81%) had its best day since November, back when we got the initial results from the Pfizer vaccine trial. However, the proposals have come under sustained criticism since their release, and even politicians have stepped in, with UK PM Johnson tweeting that the plans “would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.” A fascinating period awaits as we see how this develops.

In Germany, there were further developments ahead of September’s federal election as the Green party selected co-leader Annalena Baerbock as their chancellor candidate. In past elections this wouldn’t have got a mention in the EMR, but the German Greens have surged in the polls lately, and are currently set to beat the centre-left Social Democrats into second place. Indeed, it’s no longer implausible to suggest that there could even be a Green chancellor, particularly given the recent decline of the CDU/CSU in the polls, albeit with them still in first place. Baerbock is from the more moderate, so called “realo-wing” of the Greens, and the pretty smooth process of nominating her as the candidate contrasts with the current infighting within the CDU/CSU bloc. Speaking of which, late last night the CDU’s Armin Laschet overcame the CSU’s Markus Soeder in a vote among the CDU leadership, with a 31-9 vote with 6 abstentions. Though Laschet lost support since the committee unanimously backed him a week ago, Soeder has previously said he would accept a clear CDU vote for his opponent. Nevertheless, Laschet still requires the CSU’s support in order to confirm his nomination as the joint chancellor candidate.

Turning to the pandemic, the global case count is continuing to increase rapidly, with a record number of weekly cases recorded around the world. A number of countries including India, Japan and Argentina have seen a sharp increases in cases of late. In the US, the numbers continue to be fairly stable in terms of the overall growth, but this masks some noticeable divergences between states. On the one hand, Michigan in particular has seen a very rapid increase, as have others including Pennsylvania and Maine. On the other hand, New York City’s positivity rate fell beneath 5% for the first time in months yesterday, according to Mayor de Blasio. New York State continues to reopen the economy with indoor capacity increased to 50% at museums and 33% at theatres. Meanwhile in Europe, UK PM Johnson cancelled his planned visit to India next week, and India was added to the UK’s travel ban list in light of the surging growth in cases there. Elsewhere France has started to refocus efforts on educating the country about the AstraZeneca vaccine with a government spokesman saying that confidence “must be rebuilt”, while citing studies that show that for those over 55 “there aren’t any risks and the vaccine is safe and effective”. Finally, the EU yesterday exercised an option for a further 100mn doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the option was built into the original purchase agreement from February. The plan is for all doses to be delivered this year.

To the day ahead now, and there are a number of further earnings releases including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, Abbott Laboratories, Philip Morris International and Lockheed Martin. Otherwise, data releases include UK unemployment for February and German PPI for March, while the ECB’s Hernandez de Cos will be speaking.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 07:52

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“The Reconstruction Amendments: Essential Documents,” Vol. 1: The Antebellum Constitution and The Thirteenth Amendment.

In my last post, I described the general nature and theory behind the collection, “The Reconstruction Amendments: Essential Documents,” (2 volumes) (Kurt T. Lash, ed.) (University of Chicago Press, 2021).

 

In this post, I describe the theory and contents of Volume One, The Antebellum Constitution and the Thirteenth Amendment. This volume presents the antebellum constitutional debates which ultimately inform the framing and adoption of all three Reconstruction Amendments, and the public and legislative debates accompanying the framing and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The two volumes are meant to be read (yes, read) in tandem; the debates and ideas documented in Volume One play key roles in the constitutional debates presented in Volume Two. That said, Volume One stands on its own as a documentary history of the antebellum national debate over whether the original Constitution was pro-slavery or anti-slavery (the current “1619 Project” debate), and the national abolition of slavery through the Thirteenth Amendment.

Volume One begins with documents representing the various theories of constitutional federalism that arose in the period between the Founding and the Civil War. The issue is important because theories of federalism later play key roles in the debates over the shape of the three Reconstruction Amendments (references to the Federalist Papers, for example, occur over and over again during the Reconstruction debates). Documents in this opening section include the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and “the principles of ’98,” the nationalist theories of John Marshall and Joseph Story, the radical state rights theories of John C. Calhoun, and James Madison’s elderly efforts to oppose both John Calhoun and John Marshall.

Readers may be surprised to learn that some of the strongest supporters of constitutional federalism during this period were northern abolitionists who relied on theories of federalism in their resistance to the nationalization of slavery. This is most dramatically illustrated in the state of Wisconsin’s 1850s decision to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act and reject the decisions of the Supreme Court.

Despite the wide-spread embrace of federalism, this same period also witnessed a growing nationalist interpretation of the originally federalist Bill of Rights. For example, the abolitionist Joel Tiffany insisted that the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States included the rights declared in the first eight amendments (Tiffany, “A Treatise on the Unconstitutionality of Slavery”).

A similar example can be found in an 1859 speech by a young Republican congressman from Ohio who declared that the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV impliedly bound the states to respect the federal Bill of Rights (John Bingham, “Speech Against the Admission of Oregon”). Bingham’s speech is critically important for anyone seeking to understand the theoretical roots of Bingham’s later drafts of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Much of the first half of Volume One presents the antebellum debates over slavery and its relationship to the original Constitution. These materials include the debates over slavery in the Philadelphia Convention, the Missouri admission debates, the rise of northern abolitionism, slave state efforts to suppress abolitionist literature, northern resistance to the extension of slavery into the territories and the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott. Although the collection includes key congressional and political debates, the materials also include a vast array of voices from outside the halls of power demanding an end to the practice of chattel slavery. These include black activist David Walker’s “Appeal,” Susan B. Anthony’s “Let’s Make the Slave’s Case Our Own,” and Frederick Douglass’s “The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?”

The Second Half of Volume One documents the country’s remarkable journey from proposing a pro-slavery Thirteenth Amendment in 1861 to ratifying the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. In a last-ditch effort to stanch the secession movement, Congress passed the “Corwin Amendment” which declared that “no amendment shall be made to the Constitution” which would authorize Congress to “abolish or interfere” with slavery in the states. The gambit did not work and, despite being ratified by a number of states, this first Thirteenth Amendment was forgotten with the outbreak of Civil War.

The dramatic framing and passage of the second Thirteenth Amendment takes up the remainder of Volume One. Documents include anti-slavery amendment petitions from the Women’s Loyal National League, Charles Sumner’s failed efforts to broaden the language of the Thirteenth Amendment, Democratic opposition speeches declaring that the proposed abolition amendment was an unconstitutional attempt to alter an irrevocably pro-slavery Constitution, the House of Representatives’ failed first effort to pass the amendment, Frederick Douglass’s “The Final Test of Self-Government, and the dramatic second round of debates and a second vote that turned on the decision of a handful of Democrats who might, or might not, change their original vote.

Volume One closes with the public debates over the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Most of these materials, as far as I know, have never appeared in any prior collection. The proposed amendment raised a host of difficult questions that were discussed in newspapers around the country.

Were the states of the soon-to-be defeated Confederacy still in the Union and, if so, should they be allowed to vote on (and potentially defeat) the proposed amendment? (“Is the Union Destroyed?” New York Times editorial). Would ratification result in Democrats taking control of Congress since the formerly enslaved population of the southern states would now count as a full five-fifths of a person for the purposes of congressional representation (and membership in the electoral college)? (“Dr. Lieber’s Letter to Senator E.D. Morgan,” New York Tribune).

Lincoln’s tragic assassination resulted in Vice President Andrew Johnson taking the lead in securing the abolition amendment’s ratification. Johnson established provisional governments in the south and prodded their governors to ratify the abolition amendment and, perhaps, “extend the elective franchise to all persons of color who can read the Constitution” in order to quell congressional opposition to readmitting the southern states (Pres. Johnson to Provisional Mississippi Governor William Sharkey).

Meanwhile, anti-slavery societies, sensing that ratification was imminent, pivoted to calls for back suffrage, with advocates like Francis W. Harper declaring it would be unpardonable to say to black men “You are good enough for a soldier, but not for a citizen” (New York Times, “Speeches at the 1865 meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society”). Similarly, the signatories of “An Address from the Colored Citizens of Norfolk Virginia to the People of the United States,” demanded the rights of suffrage, not only as protection from discriminatory black codes, but also because “[n]o sane person will for a moment contend that color or birth are recognized by the Constitution of the United States as a bar to the acquisition or enjoyment of citizenship.”

As the above documents illustrate, the drama of the Fifteenth Amendment began even before the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. In the meantime, however, ratification of the Thirteenth remained uncertain. Northern states like Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey rejected the amendment. Provisional state legislatures feared Section Two of the proposed amendment would empower Congress to regulate local civil rights and establish black suffrage (see, e.g., Mississippi Joint Committee Report and Rejection of Proposed Amendment).

In response, Pres. Johnson’s Secretary of State William Seward wrote letters to the southern governors insisting that their concerns were “querulous and unreasonable, since that clause [Section Two] is really restraining in its effect, instead of enlarging the powers of Congress” (“Seward to S.C. Provisional Governor Perry” New York Times). A number of southern legislatures ratified the amendment along with resolutions declaring their understanding that Seward’s construction of Section Two was correct (see, South Carolina, “Ratification and Accompanying Resolutions,” Nov. 3, 1865).

When Secretary of State Seward declared the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865, the question of congressional power under Section Two moved to center stage. In November and December of 1865, multiple national newspapers published editorials with competing interpretations of congressional power to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment. The issue would dominate the early debates of the Thirty-Ninth Congress and ultimately influence their decision to pass a Fourteenth Amendment.

Tomorrow: Documenting the extraordinary drama of the framing and ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

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Montana Becomes Latest State To Protect Free Speech With the FORUM Act


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Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte fortified First Amendment protections at public universities Thursday by signing H.B. 218. This bill designates outdoor spaces at public universities as public forums, eliminates “free speech zones” that relegate open expression to contained areas, and allows a cause of action in court to students whose First Amendment rights are violated.

State Rep. Mike Hopkins (R–Missoula) originally introduced H.B. 218 in 2018, after the University of Montana’s School of Journalism refused to sponsor a speech by the conservative sociologist Mike Adams. The bill passed with broad bipartisan backing in March, with just four votes against it in the House and unanimous support in the Senate. Gianforte praised the legislation, proclaiming, “A university should be a place where the free exchange of ideas is encouraged, without voices silenced.”

H.B. 218 is based on the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act, a model bill developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2017. The FORUM Act protects students and student organizations from disciplinary action for lawful expression. “Free speech is fundamental to American democracy, and FORUM represents a set of best practices for legislators to follow,” says Andrew Handel, director of ALEC’s Education Task Force.

The model bill affirms that the “legislature views the exercise of First Amendment rights on public university campuses in this state as critical components of the education experience for students and requires that each public university in this state ensures free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation.” It urges public universities to inform students of their First Amendment protections and to educate all faculty (including administrators, campus police, residential assistants, and professors) of their responsibilities in upholding a culture of open expression through school websites, handbooks, and orientation programs.

It also eliminates so-called free speech zones, a concept popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. “Having a designated free speech zone sounds like a good idea in theory,” Handel says. “But they tell students that there’s a specific, small area of campus that they can use at a very specific time. They’ve been utilized as a way to chill freedom of expression.”

The legislation also requires institutions to produce annual reports on campus free speech incidents, which will then be submitted to legislators and made available to the public. “A significant amount of taxpayer dollars is appropriated to public institutions of higher education each year,” the model bill reads. “As such, this legislature must ensure that all public institutions…recognize freedom of speech as a fundamental right for all.”

The bill protects the rights of both speakers and students who protest speakers—and unlike other model legislation, it does not recommend particular disciplinary actions for those who obstruct speech. “If students fear their expressive activities could unnecessarily land them in a campus disciplinary hearing, they may choose to sit on the sidelines,” explains ALEC’s Shelby Emmett, “The FORUM Act protects speech. It does not punish speech.”

Upon passage, states also waive their immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, which prevents individuals from filing lawsuits against states in federal court. This enables students whose First Amendment rights were violated to bring a cause of action in court. If their suit succeeds, they are guaranteed an award of at least $5,000.

Montana is the 14th state to adopt a version of the FORUM Act. Others to pass the legislation include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia. Eleven additional states have banned free speech zones on public colleges and universities.

The FORUM Act has predictably drawn opposition. Some critics have objected to a provision saying public universities cannot deny a group funding because of its “actual or anticipated expressive activity,” fearing that this would protect religious organizations that discriminate against gays. “The American ideals of free speech must not be used as a sword for discrimination,” the political director of the Georgia ACLU told Project Q Atlanta last year.

Others say the legislation restates the obvious. In 2019, Montana’s then-Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a similar bill, maintaining that free speech on campuses was already adequately protected by the Constitution. Handel concurs—to a point. “The Constitution is very clear that, regardless of your underlying beliefs, you have the right to speak and be heard,” he says. But as long as institutions have failed to uphold this promise, he feels the FORUM Act is necessary to reaffirm speakers’ First Amendment rights.

As the Supreme Court reminded us in 1957’s Sweezy v. New Hampshire, “Students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.”

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Weed Salvaged the Lost Year


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The last time I was out at a dive bar was March 6, 2020. The SXSW music and cultural festival was canceled, wrecking Austin’s tourism economy. A sense of chaos and impending doom hung in the air. I went home somewhat aware of how the world was about to change. 

And, for the next month, all I did was smoke weed, cook Italian food, and watch The Sopranos. My social life evaporated. I spent a lot of time on my back porch, dogs and chickens frolicking in the distance, rolling joints, listening to Blondie and Destroyer, refreshing the New York Times “coronavirus live updates” tab, as if that would do much of anything.

I wasn’t the only one. At the beginning of the pandemic, the City of L.A. declared dispensaries essential businesses. Actor Seth Rogen announced to the world that he was smoking “truly ungodly” amounts of weed to endure quarantine, prompting headlines aplenty. Leafly reported that national pot sales boomed throughout 2020.

Amid an impressive amount of worldly despair, smoking weed made our lost pandemic year not good exactly, but more joyful for many people—myself included. Minimizing the role weed played in helping people endure the pandemic would be letting the drug warriors win.

Weed wasn’t just part of a smorgasbord of things I looked forward to; it was sometimes the only weekend plan I had. As any devoted stoner will tell you, it’s not just about watching Pineapple Express or The Big Lebowski or any of the other great movies in our esteemed canon; getting really stoned is a way of exploring your own mind when other forms of adventure are verboten. People need play, and when that’s been taken away from you, you must make do with the plaything of your own mind.

I was able to easily smoke with little fear of consequences because the two places I lived during the pandemic (Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York) have chosen not to lock people up for possession of small amounts—a trend even conservative places like South Dakota and Mississippi have embraced.

When I first moved to Austin, this wasn’t the case; in fact, City Council unanimously voted to end arrests for possession of small amounts of weed in January 2020. If I’d chosen to live a few miles south, in Hays County, the risk of severe consequences would have been much higher: Hays still technically treats marijuana possession under two ounces as a misdemeanor that carries the threat of up to six months of jail time, though the county has announced plans to experiment with a “cite-and-divert” program for low-level offenses.

In the short time I’ve lived in New York, weed possession has gone from a tolerated but not technically permissible act to one that’s finally legal, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 31. Soon I will be able to grow up to 12 cannabis plants in my house; visit dispensaries to buy and cafes to imbibe; and have the peace of knowing I live in a place where the authorities have decided I ought to have more ownership over my body and mind.

For those who don’t get high, it’s hard to understand why others do. Some people have eaten an edible before and had a Maureen Dowd-esque encounter with the gates of hell, scaring them off for good. Others have tried but nothing’s happened, and they haven’t persisted in their pursuit. Others are understandably too content with booze to experiment with the range of possible delights.

But smoke a joint and taste a lime curd tart or my famous goat milk pie; it will taste 30 times better than it did before. Turn on a Frank Ocean album. Lounge in chairs in the yard, on a crisp fall night, passing a joint around with friends. Marvel at the stars, noticing the cold air sliding across your nose and cheeks.

Some people toke because they enjoy becoming more attuned to sensory joys. Others do it for the heightened relaxation—a little block of time at the end of your day when you can truly calm down and forget about the mounting to-do lists. And, for those with social anxiety, who may have to work a little harder to enjoy even small gatherings, smoking with others can give you a deeper appreciation of other people’s weird quirks, vulnerability, humor, and fascinating backstories.

The pandemic brought personal, social, and economic pain. Some people lost family members and weren’t able to attend their funerals. Others found themselves facing job loss, credit card debt, debt, dashed dreams, and stalled careers. For families spread across the globe, border restrictions and the unpredictability of travel have taken an enormous toll.

But throughout that heaviness, my ability to roll a joint and go out onto my patio and gaze out at other people’s fire escapes and newly minted home-office spaces and planes landing at LaGuardia, increasing in volume as the months skate by, has added happiness where it felt like there was none.

For just a few minutes of the day, I would allow myself to forget about the pandemic and the lockdowns, the pace of vaccinations, the uncertainty of when I would see my family again. I’d allow myself to really enjoy that Blaze Foley song I’d heard years ago. Reclining into the comfort and dimensions of my own mind always felt like a restorative function, a good use of my time—time that seemed to stretch on and on with very little to distinguish it from what had come before.

For decades, drug warriors not only denied people this escape and enjoyment, but they patted people down, locked them up, and separated them from their families over pot offenses. President Joe Biden, who opposes federal legalization (unlike much of the rest of the country), still can’t quite wrap his head around the idea that actually, weed has enormous benefits that people ought to be free to reap.

I could write a paean to my bike or to cocktails, both of which made the pandemic less awful. But a paean to the act of getting high feels more fitting since this private, peaceful, solitary act is still one that some people still seek to condemn, as if this little bit of respite in a time of hardship is any business of theirs at all.

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