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Newsletter: Barrett vs. her past words

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Barrett sidestepped questions about that landmark case from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as the panel held a second day of hearings on Barrett’s nomination.

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett says her past criticisms of rulings on abortion and Obamacare don’t signal how she would vote now.

TOP STORIES

Barrett vs. Her Past Words

Judge Amy Coney Barrett will face another day of questioning today during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing. And if it’s like the previous session, we probably won’t find out much more about her views on a variety of issues, even though she has expressed them in the past.

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On Tuesday, Barrett spent most of the day batting away Democrats’ predictions that she would provide the final votes needed to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and substantially rein in abortion rights, but she struggled to reconcile assurances that she had an open mind with her past writings that demonstrated strong opinions.

As most other Supreme Court nominees have done, the judge consistently refused to comment about her views on issues that were likely to come before the court. “I am standing before the committee today saying that I have the integrity to act consistently with my oath and apply the law,” she said.

But unlike most other recent high court nominees, Barrett has an unusually long record of public writings and letters on hot-button issues such as abortion.

While a Notre Dame law professor in 2013, Barrett signed a public letter criticizing the landmark abortion ruling Roe vs. Wade and calling for “the unborn to be protected in law.” In 2006, she signed on to an ad that called for an “end to the barbaric legacy of Roe vs. Wade.”

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Barrett said Tuesday that she signed on to the ad on the “way out of church,” as a private citizen, and that it was “consistent” with the church’s views and a “pro-life” viewpoint. While she said she has “personal feelings about abortion,” she told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman, that she would set aside her Catholic beliefs on the bench.

Trump’s Tailspin

A new USC Dornsife poll shows that President Trump has not recovered from the self-inflicted wounds of his first debate with Joe Biden and, instead, has sunk further behind his challenger.

“The damage the debate did to Trump’s standing has persisted through his bout with COVID-19, leaving him with a deep deficit and little time to recover,” writes Washington bureau chief David Lauter.

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The debate in Cleveland was dominated by Trump’s repeated interruptions and his cryptic statement that seemingly welcomed a right-wing extremist group.

Notably, Trump lost ground, and Biden gained, on the question of which candidate is more mentally fit for the presidency. Since the debate, roughly half the voters polled said they do not believe Trump is mentally fit.

More Politics

— With Trump’s campaign in trouble, he’s relying on his 2016 playbook and hoping for another upset victory.

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— The counting of mail ballots will be slow in Pennsylvania, a state that could decide the presidential race. Election experts are alarmed by the threat of civic unrest as Trump tries to undercut public faith in the result.

— Authorities said an accidentally severed fiber-optic cable shut down Virginia’s online voter registration system for several hours Tuesday, the last day to register before the November general election.

A Different Kind of Halloween

California health officials are advising people to skip trick-or-treating this year, though their new guidelines stop short of prohibiting the activity amid concerns that Día de los Muertos and Halloween celebrations will lead to people interacting with those from outside their households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Instead, they’ve suggested that some activities such as costume contests and pumpkin carving move online, and that families go on a walk while dressed up but forgo going door-to-door for candy. Still, they say it is a recommendation and will not be enforced.

The state on Friday released holiday guidelines prohibiting gatherings among more than three households and urging residents who choose to socialize with other families to do so with a consistent group to reduce the risk of transmission. But in Los Angeles County, all Halloween gatherings with people outside of a household, including haunted houses, have been barred.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— L.A. County public health officials said that an uptick in coronavirus cases linked to social gatherings and workplace outbreaks is largely keeping the area from moving out of the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening.

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— When will schools reopen? There’s no simple answer in L.A. County.

Eli Lilly & Co. said enrollment of participants in a clinical trial of its antibody treatment for COVID-19 has been paused due to a potential safety concern.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

‘One Post Can Become a Movement’

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Across California and the United States, law enforcement agencies are grappling with how to balance free-speech protections for police officers on social media with the potential for commentary that can trigger explosive responses.

The words and images have sometimes included serious misconduct, such as violent threats, misogyny and racism. Officers have also found themselves facing public scrutiny and department ire for political messages that crossed lines, comments on high-profile and contentious cases and vulgar images that offend average sensibilities. “It’s bigger than insensitivity,” said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

Multiple law enforcement leaders across the state said the public nature of social media misconduct makes it one of the most urgent disciplinary matters when it happens, often necessitating action quicker than for other types of misconduct that may be more serious. “One post can become a movement,” said Wally Hebeish, assistant chief of police in Long Beach.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On Oct. 14, 1964, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial oppression through nonviolent resistance. At age 35, he became the youngest person honored with the prize to that point.

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He got the news by phone while in an Atlanta hospital room for a routine check-up. Only months earlier, his activism had led to Congress’ passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, and only months later, he would organize the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights for Black Americans.

He would donate the Nobel prize money to the movement.

Feb. 24, 1965: The Rev. Martin Luther King receives a warm welcome on his arrival in Los Angeles.
Feb. 24, 1965: The Rev. Martin Luther King receives a warm welcome on his arrival in Los Angeles.
(Jack Carrick / Los Angeles Times)

Want more of the Los Angeles Times archives? We’re on Instagram.

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CALIFORNIA

— The California Republican Party is pushing back against a cease-and-desist order from the state against the party’s deployment of unofficial ballot boxes.

— The L.A. Times has asked a judge to order the disclosure of records pertaining to sexual harassment and misconduct in the L.A. County district attorney’s office, claiming the county is obstructing the release of newsworthy information before the November election.

— A group of care providers and activists gathered outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to protest police violence in hospitals after a patient was shot there last week by a L.A. County sheriff’s deputy.

— Veterinarians say a 10-year-old black bear burned in the North Complex fire has been released back into the wild after an innovative treatment helped heal his scorched feet.

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NATION-WORLD

— The Supreme Court ruled for the Trump administration and upheld its decision to halt the collection of census data now, rather than continue until the end of this month as originally planned.

— Members of antigovernment paramilitary groups discussed kidnapping Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified during a court hearing for a group of men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

— Asylum seekers from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo raised the alarm that U.S. immigration officials planned to deport them on a chartered flight to countries where they believe they will be immediately arrested and killed.

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— Governments across Europe are ratcheting up restrictions to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus that has sent new confirmed infections on the continent to their highest weekly level since the start of the pandemic.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The Billboard Music Awards tonight will feature performances from John Legend, Demi Lovato, BTS and more. COVID-19 protocols have changed the way the show comes together, as this photo essay shows.

— Netflix’s Blackpink documentary offers a surprisingly intimate look behind the K-pop curtain, pop music critic Mikael Wood writes.

— Here are the best new crime books this fall: four thrillers you won’t forget.

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L.A. Comic Con announced that it will not move forward with its planned in-person event at the L.A. Convention Center in December.

BUSINESS

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest movie theater chain, says it could run out of cash by the end of this year or early 2021, the latest sign of how badly the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked the film industry.

— Eight members of Congress are calling on the Small Business Administration to investigate whether the operator of a luxury Santa Monica hotel and dozens of other properties properly spent tens of millions of dollars in pandemic relief funding.

SPORTS

— The Dodgers made a spirited comeback, but it wasn’t enough, as they lost 8-7 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. They now face a daunting 0-2 series deficit.

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LeBron James and the Lakers didn’t just win a championship. They took the lead in NBA activism for social justice.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— Trump’s demonization of his political opponents is not normal, and it’s dangerous, columnist Doyle McManus writes.

— The new equity metric California has added to its pandemic reopening plan will ensure everyone shares in counties’ progress and will boost consumer confidence, business vitality and all neighborhoods, write Angela Glover Blackwell and Manuel Pastor, members of the governor’s recovery task force.

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Sources say an investigation commissioned by Atty. Gen. William Barr into alleged “unmasking” by Obama-era officials is concluding without charges. (Washington Post)

— A deep dive on how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is loved and hated. (The New Yorker)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

This house is on fire! Well, not really. As part of a “Pirates of the Caribbean"-themed Halloween motif, a family in Riverside created a realistic flame display for their house, including smoke, billowing orange curtains and sound effects. The decor is so realistic that the Riverside Fire Department said it has received five calls about the display since Oct. 3. A spokesman for the department said it has since made a note in its dispatch system for future calls, so that officials will know it’s “the house that everybody thinks is on fire but actually is not.”

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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