On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Experts debate how Ketanji Brown Jackson would interpret the Constitution
Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze reports. Plus, Ukraine accuses Russia of forcing Ukrainian civilians to go to Russia, national correspondent Jessica Guynn talks about a group fighting against Russian disinformation, Prince William and Duchess Kate wrap up their Commonwealth trip in the Bahamas amid protests and the U.S. men’s soccer team gets one point closer to World Cup qualification.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 25th of March 2022. Today, a look at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s legal interpretations, plus a look at Russian disinformation, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- Mexican authorities say that four men have been found dead at a beach resort in Playa del Carmen near Cancun. Bodies were dumped together suggesting a gangland-style killing. The area has been hit by several instances of violence, most recently in January, when two Canadians were killed at a local resort. That came because of apparent debts between international drug and weapons trafficking gangs.
- Former President Donald Trump has filed a federal lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and others. He is suing them for accusations of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election.
- And March Madness keeps bringing the upsets. Two number one seeds went down last night. Arkansas beat Gonzaga and Houston toppled Arizona. The Sweet 16 continues today before this weekend’s Elite Eight.
Four days of intense and at times emotional hearings to consider Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court are in the books, but a fundamental question remains open for debate. What kind of justice would she be? Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze has more.
I think the first thing to keep in mind is that it’s unlikely she upsets the 6-3 conservative advantage on the court. The most likely scenario here is that Judge Jackson, in these big cases that deal with political power or hot button issues, Jackson will likely be voting with the other two, we call them liberal justices, they would reject that label, but voting on the liberal wing. There’s this slightly more wonky debate that you saw recurring throughout the hearings about judicial philosophy, and that gets into this idea of how do they view the constitution? As conservatives will know, the Constitution doesn’t include the word abortion. So why is there a constitutional right to abortion? Well, because different judicial philosophies will read things into the constitution differently and conservatives embrace this idea of originalism which means that you look at the words of the Constitution as the Founding Fathers would’ve viewed those words. Then there’s other philosophies. There’s a thing called pragmatism, which is you take other things into account like fairness and intention of congress and their framers and so forth. Republicans really wanted to pin Jackson down on where she was and like a lot of nominees from Democratic presidents, she wasn’t willing to be pinned down. So really what it comes down to is, is that enough to bother Republicans to not vote for her? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly a little bit of an open debate about the big picture philosophy she’ll take to looking at the constitution.
I think the biggest takeaway from these hearings is that Jackson’s very likely to be confirmed. You saw Republicans, even some of her toughest critics, saying things like, “When you get on the court.” So I think that there’s a broad acknowledgment that pending some dramatic surprise, she got through these hearings in pretty good shape. She got a lot of really tough questions. I think even the Republicans who were attacking her, some legitimate criticism about some of these issues, even they were saying, “Look, you’ve been as forthright as you can be.” So I think that in some ways the votes on these nominees are baked-in now to the process. The last several nominees, the party of the President will vote pretty much in lockstep and you might pick up three or four senators from the other party. I think that was the calculation heading into this hearing. I don’t think anything Jackson did changed that. It could have gone worse, right? She could have done something to upset that balance, she didn’t. She didn’t make any major mistakes. I think she gave a lot of people a lot of things to think about, but in the end analysis, I think that the status quo was maintained by her four days, pretty grueling days of questioning.
Check out John’s full piece in today’s episode description.
Ukraine is accusing Russia of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from Ukraine to Russia. Ukrainian officials estimated that more than 400,000 people including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia. The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers but said they were from predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, and that most wanted to go to Russia.
Meanwhile, at an emergency NATO summit in Brussels yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with Western allies by video for air defense systems and other weapons. And in a video addressed to EU leaders, he thanked them for working together to impose stiff sanctions on Russia, but he said he wished those steps were taken earlier so that, as he put it, Russia may have thought twice about invading. The West still seems hesitant to give Zelenskyy everything he wants out of fears of sparking a broader war, but President Joe Biden who’s in Europe this week said that more aid is on the way. He also praised NATO’s unity amid the war in Ukraine.
President Joe Biden:
Putin was banking on NATO being split. In my earlier conversation with him in December and early January, it was clear to me he didn’t think we could sustain this cohesion. NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine. We built that same unity with the European Union and with the leading democracies of the G7.
Inside Ukraine, there are worries of a growing humanitarian crisis in Chernihiv in north-central Ukraine near the border with Belarus. A Russian airstrike destroyed a crucial bridge there this week and city officials say Russian forces are targeting food storage places. About 130,000 people are estimated left in the city, about half its pre-war population.
In Belarus, pro-Moscow leader, Alexander Lukashenko, warned that a proposal by Poland to deploy a Western peacekeeping force in Ukraine will mean World War III. Elsewhere in Russia, Moscow is sending signals that Western sanctions have not completely brought it to its knees. The country has reopened its stock market but is only allowing limited trading to prevent mass selloffs. Foreigners have been banned from selling and traders were prohibited from short selling.
Disinformation is a critical part of Russian military doctrine and has been since the Soviet era. National Correspondent Jessica Guynn, says that a group calling themselves cyber elves is going after Russian trolls on social media to fight their misinformation.
There was a group of folks in Lithuania in 2014, at the time of the uprising and invasion, who spotted a bunch of Facebook groups that had the same administrators and the same Russian talking points. And they realized that this was Kremlin propelled propaganda and disinformation designed to boost support for the war, and they saw that it was effective. So they decided to form a group of ordinary citizens who come together and hunt for these Russian efforts and disclose them and expose them to the world. And because they were hunting Russian trolls, they decided to call themselves elves.
They started in Lithuania and then they spread to 13 other countries in Europe. I spoke with an elf in the Czech Republic, for example. That chapter was created in 2018, and there they use very highly-skilled professionals who know what they’re doing to analyze disinformation, try to determine where it’s coming from, combat it. They also produce reports that are often shared with intelligence officials in the government or with journalists. So they’re a fairly sophisticated operation.
They are definitely on the Kremlin’s radar. I talked to the Czech elf yesterday and she told me that they had a DDoS attack on their website and they must keep their identities anonymous, except for their spokespeople because they could be in danger from Russian forces.
Prince William and Duchess Kate are in the Bahamas today for the final leg of their week-long trip to Central America and the Caribbean. The trip has been designed to strengthen relations with the so-called Commonwealth Nations, countries that were once territories of the British Empire and remain politically associated. It comes as Queen Elizabeth II marks 70 years on the throne. But protests have clouded the visits. Demonstrations in Kingston came after well-known Jamaican leaders demanded in a letter that Britain pay reparations for slavery to its former colony. Demonstrator, Staceyann Chin said that many Jamaicans want to move past ties to the monarchy.
They shouldn’t be welcomed as leaders of the country, as representatives of the head of state. How are these two young white people now going to be here saying we are going to kowtow to them and we are going to bend and bow and kneel to them as if they are gods. Those days are done. The monarchy is a relic. We should leave it behind. It’s time for us to move forward and talk about the democratic process.
The Royal couple are scheduled for a dinner with community leaders in the Bahamas tonight. Another demonstration will be held by Rastafarian groups demanding reparations. Local opposition also forced the couple to cancel a visit to a cacao farm in Belize. William expressed his profound sorrow for slavery this week, but he stopped short of offering the official apology that many protestors demanded.
The United States men’s national soccer team tied Mexico last night 0-0 in Mexico City. The stars and stripes managed the result without several key players, namely Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, and Brenden Aaronson. But they welcomed back teenage midfielder, Giovanni Reyna, who dazzled with a number of runs after coming on as a substitute following missed time because of injury. The son of former US great Claudio Reyna had not played a qualifier for the US in September because of hamstring problems. The United States only had 37% possession last night but outshot Mexico on target 4-2. The US missed huge chances though, with both Christian Pulisic and Jordan Pefok, unable to score right in front of goal. As for the atmosphere last night, it wasn’t a typical game at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca. The stadium officially seats 87,000 but has regularly packed in more than a 100,000 people at times. Last night, though, that number was estimated closer to 20 or 30,000. Capacity was cut as part of crowd control measures in response to fans continuing to use homophobic chants at games, but the actual attendance was even far below that capacity limit. After recent violence left fans dead at a Liga MX game, fans were getting scanned for facial recognition at the gates, something that may have kept thousands from deciding to enter the stadium, according to Sporting News. The atmosphere was so bizarre that at various points, the visiting, chanting US fans made the most noise inside Azteca. Ahead of the final two games, the US is tied with Mexico, but ahead on goal difference in second place. They’ll need top three to avoid an intercontinental playoff to qualify for the World Cup. Next up, Panama on Sunday in Orlando.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us wherever you’re listening right now, seven mornings a week. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.