National News Roundup: Week 32 (August 27-September 2)

What happens when your favorite news compilation service gets drafted while the author has a fever? LET’S FIND OUT! But on the plus side, other than my ridiculous week-long fight with The Superflu That Just Won’t Quit, this wasn’t an especially terrible week. Or at least, I don’t think it was. Let’s hope that’s not the fever talking.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not an FBI agent — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

A lot happened on the Bill of Rights front this week, between the nurse in Utah arrested for doing her job and the United Nations’s (justifiable) attention on domestic media attacks. In particular, I want to pay attention to that brave nurse in Utah — this is the first documented instance we’ve seen, to my knowledge, of police arresting (white) professionals because they refused to cooperate with illegal searches. (But more about that below.)

  • Nurse Arrested for Refusing to Illegally Search Patient. So, by now I’m guessing many of you have seen some variant on this headline: “Nurse . . . Arrest[ed] for Doing her Job.” That’s, unfortunately, a completely accurate headline as far as I can tell, but an incomplete one — in this case, “doing her job” means “complying with federal and constitutional law.” Folks, a thing I really want to stress is that this story is weird. Like, “woman arrested for laughing at Jeff Sessions” fascist-weird. It’s basic (and extremely settled) constitutional law that taking someone’s blood is a form of Fourth Amendment search, which means ordinary Fourth Amendment search rules apply — the police need consent, or a warrant. A patient in a coma can’t give consent, so that leaves a warrant as the only valid reason to ask for a sample, and guess what these police didn’t have? And, more importantly, they have to have known they didn’t have the right to ask for a sample. It’s honestly not even clear why the police wanted the dude’s blood in this instance, but arresting an ordinary nurse for following what appears to be standard hospital procedure, and for good reason, is really bad optics. I honestly don’t know if the new behavior in this instance is the arrest or the body cam video documenting it, but against our larger national backdrop, it’s worth paying attention to these kinds of casual police abuses either way.
  • We Continue to Concern the United Nations. The United Nations human rights division issued another statement about the United States this week, this time about the current administration’s open derision for the American free press. It’s not exactly news to most people that Trump’s attacks on the free press have a purpose, but it is interesting that the United Nations is publicly speaking about it. (And, for the record, the human rights chief is absolutely right that incitement to violence is a real danger for the press as well as marginalized groups, as the media itself is starting to report.) I can’t decide if it’s ultimately good or bad that we appear to have landed on the UN’s human rights radar.

As predicted last week, we saw several forms of real progress in The Russia Collusion Investigation, perhaps in reaction to last week’s news.

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

And that’s what I got this week — hopefully, without typos or fever dreams. I’ll do my best to keep touching on all the key points each week, but the news is still moving really fast, and we’re also increasingly seeing announcements at odd times. Daily news summaries like WTFJHT remain an excellent resource until we meet again. We’ll try again next week, hopefully with fewer flu symptoms!