Supreme Court Justice sworn in
Judge Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House on Monday, as part of President Donald Trump’s ceremony to celebrate the confirmation of his third justice to the high court, according to the Washington Times.
The president’s nomination to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a 52 – 48 senate vote.
The Associated Press reported that later on Tuesday, the new justice was formally sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, who issued the official oath, in private at the Supreme Court.
The new justice will face immediate political pressure after taking her seat, as the first two cases she will sit for are both pleas from the president who appointed her, and his reelection campaign, according to the Associated Press.
The Supreme Court is currently considering a request from Trump to stop a Manhattan public prosecutor, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., from accessing eight years of the president’s tax returns.
The other case that is currently pending on the Supreme Court is a request from the Trump Campaign to shorten the deadline for the counting of absentee ballots in the states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Luzerne County of Pennsylvania formally requested that the new justice recuse herself from the vote, deciding the fate of the absentee ballots given the “unprecedented” proximity of the justice’s confirmation to the Nov. 3 presidential election, according to The Hill.
“What’s even more concerning is the language he has used in the consideration of this nomination, linking it directly to the electoral season at hand, with implications for his own reelection,” the Luzerne Board of Elections wrote.
Whether or not Justice Barrett will step back from the controversial decisions is up to her.
Hurricane Zeta makes landfall with nearly 110 mph sustained winds
Zeta, the 27th named storm to hit the Gulf of Mexico this year, made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a category 2 hurricane, just south of New Orleans, Louisiana according to the Associated Press.
The New York Times reported that just before reaching shore, the storm intensified over the Gulf of Mexico, almost becoming a category 3 storm with 110 mph sustained winds.
According to the Times, the storm moved swiftly over the southern United States, and residents benefited from its quick 20 mph pace inland. Before Wednesday night, state officials were already out in coastal areas assessing the damage from the storm.
“We definitely made it through,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Wednesday.
Though residents did not have to endure the storm for long, there was plenty of damage. In Louisiana alone, 400,000 people were without power on Thursday and more than 200 downed trees. In Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas, well over 1 million people were without power, and three deaths have been attributed to the storm across three separate states.
On Sunday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement urging residents to prepare for the storm to reach the coast as a record-breaking hurricane.
“It is unfortunate we face another tropical threat this late in a very active season,” said Gov. Edwards. “We must roll up our sleeves, like we always do, and prepare for a potential impact to Louisiana.”
According to an article by The Hill, Hurricane Zeta was the fifth named storm to make landfall over Louisiana this year, setting a record for the most in the state for a single season.
From the storm’s winds, 10 early voting locations west of Atlanta, Georgia were without power on Thursday — the second to last day of early in-person voting. Some locations in the Atlanta area were temporarily without power, which impacted wait times for voters.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger reported that early voting locations were affected in 15 counties across the state on Thursday, with at least one county shutting down early voting completely.
According to the Associated Press, civil rights organizations, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Georgia and Fair Fight Action, petitioned the Governor of Georgia, Brain Kemp, to extend the deadline for early voting through 9 p.m. on Friday.
As the hurricane made its way further inland, it weakened into a tropical storm with no more than 50 mph sustained winds. On Thursday evening, the National Hurricane Center reported that the storm was “zooming” out to sea, 25 miles south of Cape May, New Jersey.
Water on Earth’s moon
On Monday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed the existence of water on a sunlit part of the Moon’s surface for the first time.
“This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places,” according to a NASA press release.
The discovery was made by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy when astronomers detected 1/100 the amount of water that’s in the Sahara Desert in one of the Moon’s largest visible craters from Earth.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”