In This Episode
- In the latest in the fight against mifepristone, the Supreme Court has delayed its ruling on the abortion pill until Friday at midnight — extending the continued use of mifepristone for a couple more days.
- In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed in his years-long effort to get post-conviction DNA evidence to try and prove his innocence.
- And in headlines: the mother of Tyre Nichols sued the city of Memphis and its police department over the death of her son, the Florida Board of Education voted to expand the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, and a Twilight TV series is in the works.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, April 20th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where geriatric millennials who were wronged by Netflix’s Love is Blind snafu can relax because the new mighty Morphin Power Rangers has officially debuted on our messiest streaming platform.
Priyanka Aribindi: If I were Rita Repulsa, I’d be shaking in my boots right now. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, three people have been arrested and charged in connection to the shooting at a 16th birthday party in Alabama last weekend. Plus, you might need to send Facebook a Venmo request.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. [laughter] But first, the Supreme Court extended their temporary stay in the abortion pill case yesterday, and thus they have extended the continued use of mifepristone for at least two more days, giving themselves until Friday at midnight to either uphold or overturn that disgusting ruling out of Texas. That means the abortion medication can still be used for abortions up to ten weeks and it can still be accessed by mail without a visit to a doctor’s office. And for once, this is a welcome, though brief respite from the highest court in the land for pregnant people who may be in need of this critical medication. And I am thrilled, Priyanka, that the extremist anti-abortion girlies are fuming.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, I’m only happy if those girls are fuming. That’s how I want them to stay. So I don’t know. I think the court should keep it up, but we should just keep this around.
Juanita Tolliver: We can wish. But of course, this extension doesn’t mean that we can expect a positive outcome here. What it does mean, though, is that the justices are taking additional time to decide whether or not they’re going to effectively implement a national abortion ban by suspending the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, which is used to perform about half of abortions in the United States. And when I say that I’m thinking about the lower income communities, the rural communities, the Black and Brown people, the people living with disabilities, and the migrants who need access to this form of basic health care.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: Not to mention if the Supreme Court institutes a nationwide abortion ban that would fly in the face of all of their justifications of states deciding and states rights that they referenced when they overturned Roe v Wade last year. And y’all may remember us discussing this in recent weeks, but keep in mind that this entire Supreme Court moment stems from a Texas judge that suspended the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, in which the federal judge refused to use the word fetus. Declared it to be unscientific and opted to use anti-abortion phrases instead.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wild.
Juanita Tolliver: Now when it comes to the Supreme Court, I’ll be honest, I’m not confident in how they’ll decide this case, considering that the conservative justices have already overturned Roe and they’ve made it abundantly clear that they will jump at the opportunity to take away even more of our basic rights. But the Biden administration is right to take on this fight for women and pregnant people at the Supreme Court and on the ground. On top of their legal challenge, Vice President Harris recently rallied with abortion advocates in California, and she convened a task force on reproductive rights at the White House. So the energy is there. They’re bringing it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. They’re bringing it. Everyone on the ground is bringing it. It seems like we know where the vast majority of people in this country–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –stand on this. And we have for some time. But in addition to the impending Supreme Court decision, there have been reports that a manufacturer of the generic version of mifepristone has also filed lawsuits. So can you tell us more about what that’s about?
Juanita Tolliver: Look, it’s all thanks to the chaos from the anti-abortion groups that are trying to leverage the courts to get mifepristone taken off the market. GenBioPro, the maker of the generic version of mifepristone has sued the FDA to try to protect nationwide access to the medication and to reaffirm that the FDA alone has the right to revoke access to a medication if it is deemed to be a hazard to the public. Essentially, GeneBioPro is asking the judge to prohibit the FDA from taking any action that would disrupt access to the pills, including suspending its approval along with mifepristone approval. And they’re right to be worried because the FDA interpreted last week’s ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to include the generic medication. It’s also important to note that according to GenBioPro, they’re the ones who produce two thirds of all of the mifepristone sold in the nation. So any change to its FDA approvals will have massive implications.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. So how is the FDA responding to this new lawsuit?
Juanita Tolliver: Radio silence. When I tell you they aren’t saying a thing, their official statement was, quote, “The FDA doesn’t comment on pending litigation.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh.
Juanita Tolliver: Like what?
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay.
Juanita Tolliver: But you know who is speaking up? Other pharmaceutical companies who recognize that this case will also have an impact on the FDA’s ability and sound standing to approve medications that they manufacture. Scores of companies have reportedly signed on to an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that called the Texas ruling, quote, “an unprecedented assault on the FDA’s approval decisions.” So that bit of support goes to show that this impending ruling will have far reaching impact that extends well beyond abortion access. So buckle up, y’all. They might be coming for it all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I mean, the abortion access, like, we can’t overstate how important that is. Like we have said it so many times on this show, You know how we feel. But this also threatens so much more than just this issue like–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: This threatens all the medications in the United States like it really is monumental. So we hope, knock on everything that they make the right decision. Staying on the topic of the Supreme Court, I want to talk about an update in the case of Rodney Reed. Rodney Reed is a death row inmate in Texas whose case we’ve talked about on this show previously. Yesterday, in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with Reed in his yearslong efforts to get post-conviction DNA testing to try and prove his innocence. Before this, Texas had argued that Reed waited too long to bring his challenge to the federal court, but the Supreme Court disagreed. So now Reed can go back to a federal court to make his claim for DNA testing.
Juanita Tolliver: Texas is really just following up with these court rulings. But–
Priyanka Aribindi: Big time.
Juanita Tolliver: Let’s rewind for a second. Can you give us a refresher on the details of this case? Because it’s pretty wild.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is truly wild. So back in 1996, a 19 year old white woman, Stacey Stites, was raped and murdered in Bastrop County, Texas. A year later, sheriffs arrested Rodney Reed, a then 29 year old Black man. At first, Reed denied knowing her, but later revealed that they were having an affair. His sperm was found inside her, but he has maintained his innocence. He said that her fiancee, a local police officer, was the last person to see her alive. As time has gone on, the fiancee’s proclivity for violence against women, threat against Stites, etc., have come out. This is not a good guy.
Juanita Tolliver: Sickening.
Priyanka Aribindi: But the all white jury at the time did not believe Reed and for this and on the basis of being suspected of other rapes, not proven in any way, he received the death penalty. Reed was set to be executed back in November of 2019, but a lot of people became very invested in his case. It got a lot of attention from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. The fact that he was denied DNA testing previously raised a lot of eyebrows, got a lot of people making calls and really angry and upset. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ended up halting his execution and sent his case back to the lower courts.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay, look, we can all recognize the ridiculousness of denying this man DNA testing, but also an all white jury just decided to lock him away and throw away the key like it’s dripping in racism. But–
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly.
Juanita Tolliver: Alas. So how did we get to the Supreme Court on this?
Priyanka Aribindi: For years, Reed has been trying to get crime scene evidence tested for traces of DNA, including the belt that Stites was strangled with. Texas has a law that lets people obtain post-conviction DNA testing under certain circumstances, but his request was denied by a state judge in 2014. They claimed that the crime scene items were stored improperly. They could be contaminated, gave a bunch of excuses. He tried to challenge that, but Texas’s highest criminal court upheld that ruling and ended up denying him a rehearing in 2017. So then in 2019, two years later, Reed sued in federal court. But when he got there, they told him that he waited too long, that he should have sued within two years of being denied testing back in 2014 rather than within the two years of being denied the rehearing in 2017, which is what he did. So the issue of whether or not Reed had actually waited too long to go to the federal court is why this got up to the Supreme Court in the first place. You know, they’re not talking about is he guilty, is he innocent? Like they are talking about this time frame, the statute of limitations. And ultimately, they sided with Reed. They said that the statute of limitations, quote, “begins to run when the state litigation ends.” In this case, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Reid’s motion for a rehearing. So they are team Reid and he can go ahead and re request this testing.
Juanita Tolliver: Well, color me surprised because that’s not what I was expecting.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Break down the final decision vote count on how the justice ended up ruling for us.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally so it was a 6-3 decision. Brett Kavanaugh surprise surprise actually wrote the majority opinion. Broken clock. We’re not giving him credit. But he was right in this case. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Justices Alito and Gorsuch maintained that Reed had missed the deadline, but in completely batshit lala land, you have Clarence Thomas, who–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh God.
Priyanka Aribindi: –embroiled in scandals of his own right now, as if there isn’t enough going on to talk about. He actually wrote a separate dissent not only, you know, disagreeing with the majority opinion, He said that there is no doubt that Reed did it, did the crime.
Juanita Tolliver: Huh?
Priyanka Aribindi: He actually ended up appearing to urge officials in Texas to execute Reed, despite the fact that the court is allowing him to go forward and request this post-conviction DNA testing. It is just totally unfathomably crazy. Like, you can’t overstate how nuts that is. Clarence Thomas is just like, yeah, actually he’s guilty and you should kill him. I don’t care that the rest of his court is like, you know, maybe he should have gotten DNA tests.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you that someone like Clarence Thomas, who wallows in self-loathing about waking up with melanated Black skin every day, this type of behavior is par for the course for him. And I think a lot of Black people listening to this will understand that explicitly. Because he is never going to miss an opportunity to condemn another Black person like come through Clarence Thomas continuously doing the absolute worst but–
Priyanka Aribindi: He’s disgusting.
Juanita Tolliver: Here we are. Obviously, this ruling is huge for Rodney Reed, but can we also talk about the broader implications of this case?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So this case really draws attention to the matter of timing, like when an inmate can make a claim to get DNA testing and use technology to bolster their pleas of innocence. According to the Innocence Project, which represents Reed and others who are seeking post-conviction DNA, 375 people in the U.S. have been exonerated from wrongful convictions because of DNA testing, including 21 people who were on death row. So in states that were fully ready to execute these people, I mean, we’ve been talking about DNA for a long time, but this is bringing a whole new light to the matter of like when, and the timing, and the statute of limitations and how that works in these cases for these inmates who are potentially facing really dire consequences, you know, being executed by their states. So this is a huge deal. We’ll obviously continue to follow any updates in Rodney Reed’s attempts to get post-conviction DNA testing. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Speaker [sung] Headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Alabama authorities have arrested and charged three people with murder in connection to the shooting that left four people dead and dozens of others injured at a birthday party last weekend. Two teenagers who are 17 and 16 years old, respectively, and a 20 year old man were each charged with four counts of reckless murder. And the two teenagers are set to be tried as adults per the state’s laws. Authorities didn’t mention anything about a motive, citing their ongoing investigation into the shooting, but authorities did say that the boys would likely face more charges as they gather more details about those who were injured. The suspects will appear for bond hearings in the coming days. State prosecutors planned to ask the judge to hold them without fail.
Juanita Tolliver: Two cheerleaders were shot Tuesday morning in Elgin, Texas, after one of them mistakenly entered the wrong car after a late night practice. The shooting happened in a grocery store parking lot that the girls say they used for carpooling. Cheerleader Heather Roth says she got into a car she believed to be her friends, saw a man sitting in the passenger seat and quickly got out. She then got into her friend’s car and when she saw the man approaching rolled down the window to apologize. That’s when he started shooting. Roth was grazed by a bullet. But 18 year old Peyton Washington, her teammate, was shot in the back and leg and is currently hospitalized in critical condition. The incident comes after two year old Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed Saturday when the car she was in accidentally turned into the wrong driveway in upstate New York. And after 16 year old Ralph Yarl was shot twice after he mistakenly rang the wrong doorbell in Kansas City, Missouri, last Thursday. And if you haven’t seen a fucking trend here, it’s all about gun access. And that is the underlying problem here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. And these kids made such an innocent mistake. Like it’s not that they did anything wrong. It’s a–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –mistake that anyone could make. You know, turning into the wrong driveway thinking someone else’s car is your own because you have the same car. It looks really similar. Like these are such run of the mill things and that this happens to them just like makes you scared to just function in society. Like if that’s how it’s going to be. It’s so sad and it’s really scary. Yesterday, the mother of Tyre Nichols sued the city of Memphis and its police department over the death of her son. 29 year old Tyre Nichols died after five police officers brutally beat him during a traffic stop in January. The lawsuit said that the beating was, quote, “the direct and foreseeable product of the unconstitutional policies, practices, customs and deliberate indifference of the city of Memphis.” The 139 page civil lawsuit is asking for $550 million dollars. Here’s what his mother, RowVaughn Wells, had to say during Wednesday’s news conference.
[clip of RowVaughn Wells] This has nothing to do with the monetary value of this lawsuit, but everything that has to do with accountability.
[unspecified news conference attendee] Amen.
[clip of RowVaughn Wells] Those five police officers who murdered my son, they beat him to death and they need to be held accountable along with everyone else that had something to do with my son’s murder.
Juanita Tolliver: Look, my heart breaks for RowVaughn Wells and her family, and I completely understand what she’s saying. And the heartbreaking reality is that she fully understands that this monetary suit is not going to bring her son back. And that’s the ultimate injustice to all of this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: The Florida Board of Education voted on Wednesday to expand the state’s so called don’t say gay law, effectively banning discussions of gender and sexuality at all grade levels in public schools. You may recall that Governor Ron DeSantis signed the notorious legislation last year. At the time, the rule only applied to grades K through three. Now it goes all the way up to 12th grade. Like what the actual fuck is the goal here to just harm LGBTQ kids and their families as much as possible because that’s all I–
Priyanka Aribindi: Clearly.
Juanita Tolliver: –can glean.
Priyanka Aribindi: Clearly.
Juanita Tolliver: To absolutely no one’s surprise, Governor Ron DeSantis was the one who requested the change. The board held a public hearing about the proposal ahead of yesterday’s vote, and LGBTQ+ advocates were quick to criticize the measure for how it will further marginalize queer and trans youth in schools. The amended rule will go into effect after a procedural notice period that lasts about a month. I need Florida residents to speak up during this notice period because get on the record about how wrong this is and how harmful it’s going to be to LGBTQ people statewide.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. [?] It makes no sense. Like, why is Ron DeSantis doing this? Is there support for this anywhere? Is anybody asking for this?
Juanita Tolliver: Here’s the thing. Within the Republican Party, the cruelty is the point. So he’s literally flexing how cruel he can be yet again.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s disgusting. If you or someone, you know, listlessly scrolled a Facebook feed sometime between May 24th, 2007 and December 22nd, 2022, you may be entitled to just compensation. A $725 million dollar settlement was tentatively approved last month against Facebook’s parent company Meta as a penalty for allowing third party organizations like Cambridge Analytica access to users personal data without their consent. You may remember Cambridge Analytica as the consulting firm that aided Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign using that very data. How could any of us forget? And while final legal approval won’t come until September, Facebook users can officially stake their claim to part of that settlement. Now, through August 25th by going to Facebookuserprivacysettlement.com, whether or not their data was proven to be compromised, you may never get back the time you spent looking through the vacation photo album of someone you haven’t spoken to since high school. All the [?] loads as we called them in my day, but Facebook might give you five bucks for their wrongdoings. And uh that’s a little something sure.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s not nothing. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s a black coffee in L.A.. No milk. You can’t afford milk on that. [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Dust off those Converse. Grab the team Edward shirt from the attic and hold on tight, spider monkeys. Lionsgate announced yesterday the studio is in the early stages of developing a Twilight television series based off of Stephanie Meyer’s book series turned hit teen trilogy. The original Twilight films were a massive success, collectively grossing over $3.4 billion dollars worldwide. This is just the latest popular genre film of the early aughts to get a television rehashing as the network formerly known as HBO Max recently announced they would be adapting the Harry Potter books into a Multi-season series with anti-trans author J.K. Rowling attached as an executive producer. Who would have thought the series about the teenage girl with 104 year old boyfriend who watches her sleep every night would be shaping up to be the less problematic adaptation. I am gagged. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly, I mean no one that was not what our money was on. They pulled off the impossible. Congratulations to them. I see no issue with theirs, I guess.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m very, very excited and I hope that they do the entire Twilight series with that blue hue [laughter] that all the movies were.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. I don’t think either of these will be good.
Juanita Tolliver: What? You don’t think Twilight will be decent, not necessarily good, but decently entertaining.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, I feel like [laughter] no remake is ever better than like the original, except maybe Parent Trap and we don’t have to get into that debate again.
Juanita Tolliver: Not today.
Priyanka Aribindi: On the show, [laughter] triggering.
Juanita Tolliver: Bring on Twilight for me. You can keep the Harry Potter because I’m not giving that anti-trans woman any coins. So let’s do it. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Juanita Tolliver: [AD BREAK].
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, get that Facebook money and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just young adult novels about elderly vampire boyfriends like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And 4/20 responsibily.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like it’s a holiday for a lot of folks out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: It is a holiday. It’s a holiday for this whole town here in L.A.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. West Coast doesn’t differ from East Coast.
Priyanka Aribindi: My yoga studio has a 420 themed yoga class. I was like–
Juanita Tolliver: What!
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, okay.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m into it. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lantz. Our producers are Itxy Quintanilla and Raven Yamamoto. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.