Leaked SCOTUS opinion on Roe v. Wade, Teacher Appreciation Day: 5 Things podcast

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On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Leaked draft Supreme Court opinion suggests majority may overturn Roe v. Wade

The future of abortion in the United States is in doubt. Plus, money and tech reporter Terry Collins talks about starter homes becoming a thing of the past, Russia may abduct Ukrainian mayors, investigative reporter Gina Barton talks about racial disparities in covering missing children and Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Podcasts:True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

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.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 3rd of May 2022. Today the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe V. Wade, plus disappearing starter homes, and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. Ukraine’s ambassador-designate said yesterday that Russian military troops have committed sex crimes there, including against children. Yulia Kovaliv said Russia has used sexual violence as a weapon of war, and that rape and sexual assault should be investigated as war crimes.
  2. A severe heat wave is baking parts of India, along with widespread power outages affecting millions. Coal supplies at many thermal power plants are running low, sparking criticism of India’s reliance on coal, which produces 70% of the country’s electricity.
  3. And Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended for violating the NFL’s rules on performance enhancing drugs. He’ll miss the first six games this season.

A leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion published by Politico yesterday suggests that the court is considering overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. In the draft obtained by Politico, but not independently verified by USA TODAY, Associate Justice Samuel Alito writes, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” If the opinion is actually what the High Court hands down, it would represent a deep change in how reproductive rights have been understood in the US for decades. That outcome would likely hand abortion over to individual states. About half of them are expected to ban or put severe limitations on the procedure. A recent USA TODAY Ipsos poll showed about 49% of the country saying abortion should be legal and accessible. Only about a third of Republicans felt that way, compared with 73% of Democrats. So what happens now? Associated Press Supreme Court reporter Jessica Gresko gives some perspective.

Jessica Gresko:

Politico’s document that they published of the draft opinion says that this was a version circulated in February. And obviously, votes may have changed since then. And a draft opinion is just that, a draft opinion. And so those could change, wording can change, all of those things could change before the court issues an opinion. The Supreme Court is known as an institution that does not leak. The clerks who work with the justices sign an oath that promises that they won’t divulge secrets of the process. And there is a very, very small group of people that would be in a position to see a draft opinion and leak it.

Taylor Wilson:

The report drew a strong reaction from both sides of the abortion debate. American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero said, “If the Supreme Court does issue a majority opinion along the lines of the leaked draft, authored by Justice Alito, the shift in the tectonic plates of abortion rights will be seen as significant as any opinion the court has ever issued.” Anti-abortion groups praised the draft, Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life said, “We are encouraged by the categorical boldness of the draft that corrects the erroneous precedent of Roe. We prayerfully anticipate the complete reversal of Roe.” There were also protests on the Supreme Court’s steps last night.

[Sounds of protests]

Taylor Wilson:

It was not clear based on the document Politico posted, alone, how much support Justice Alito’s writing currently has. But Politico reported citing a person familiar with the liberations that four of the other Republican appointed members had voted with Alito during Justices’ private discussion after oral arguments in the case in December.

For first-time homebuyers, steep housing prices are making it hard to buy starter homes. And inflation and rising mortgage rates may make things even worse. Money and tech reporter Terry Collins has more.

Terry Collins:

So right now, well, the US is having a major affordable housing crisis. It’s really tough for those first-time homebuyers looking to purchase a home ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet, I guess, it’s the typical size of a starter home, experts say. But right now, with the housing market just becoming really still, staying hot, and then also with the high interest rates, it just begs the question, are starter entry level homes on the verge of extinction? But I posed that question to Robert Dietz, the Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders. And he said, “They’re not extinct, but they are endangered.” And when he said that, that just went into overdrive in terms of, well, I guess there is a bigger problem, and probably what we could imagine. It’s harder to find and build homes in smaller quantities. Hard to even find them because those things, they’re coming off the market as well.

And there’s also a supply issue right now, with lumber and all the kind of supplies, ratching up high in price right now. Builders, they want to get a profit, and what’s happening right now is that they’re foregoing smaller homes, and shooting big for larger homes since that’s in big demand. And they also want to get a profit. Home prices have increased nearly 20% in major cities across the country in February, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. And also, the National Association of Home Builders research found that the cost of building materials had increased 33% since the start of the pandemic. So over the past two years, we’ve seen this huge increase in building materials by a third now, because it goes back to what we had been noticing in a trend.

And of course, since the pandemic is, people were making their homes more into somewhat of a sanctuary where they’re doing everything. In other ways, they’re making their homes into not only a place to live, but also to work, play, and the like. So there’s much more of a heavy investment now into homes these days, in, say, where we were possibly around 10 years ago.

Taylor Wilson:

Check out Terry’s full story in today’s episode description.

The British military said earlier today that it believes the Russian military is now weaker, after major losses during its invasion of Ukraine. Britain’s statement comes amid the possibility that Russia might abduct Ukrainian mayors in the country’s East and install Kremlin puppets in the latest phase of the war. A top State Department official said yesterday the strategy would be part of a push toward annexing the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, and to engineer a referendum about having those areas join Russia. Some analysts believe this could be the final phase of the war for some time, and may end in the next month.

Today marks 20 years since the disappearance of 7-year-old Alexis Patterson in Milwaukee. A month after Alexis went missing, another child disappeared – 14-year-old, Elizabeth Smart, from Salt Lake City. Elizabeth’s case attracted almost immediate attention from national media and law enforcement, and she was found nine months later. But the response to Alexis’s case was much softer and she has never been found. Alexis is Black, Elizabeth is white. USA TODAY is looking into how much racial bias plays into missing children’s investigations and coverage. Investigative reporter Gina Barton has more.

Gina Barton:

We are working on an investigation of racial disparities in the cases of missing children. And it started 20 years ago with the differences in the investigations between Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City, and Alexis Patterson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So the first story is about those two cases. And then from there, we’re looking for readers and audience members to send us tips. We’re also going to be able to get information from police departments about their investigations, and we’re going to analyze it, to try and figure out a reason for these racial disparities.

The differences in the investigations between Alexis Patterson and Elizabeth Smart came up almost immediately after Elizabeth disappeared. She disappeared about a month after Alexis. And it was one of the first times that the national media took serious notice of the disparities. Two years after that, the journalist Gwen Ifill coined the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome.” And that’s, of course, the concept that the media latches onto the stories of beautiful, young, blue-eyed, blonde women when they go missing, and not as much with other people, and particularly with Black women in similar circumstances.

I think that it’s pretty clear that there are racial disparities when white children go missing versus Black children. What we’re really trying to figure out is why. And we’re hoping that people who have had experience with missing Black children and disparities in their cases, whether it’s parents, law enforcement, advocates, we’re hoping that they will get in touch with us, and let us know if there are particular cases we should examine.

Taylor Wilson:

For more of Gina’s work, head to USATODAY.com/news/investigations.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day. Also known as National Teacher Day, the National Education Association says it’s meant for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives. The NEA is a labor union that represents educators around the country. It asks teachers what things make them feel appreciated. Camille from California said it’s the simple things like hugs. Quentin from Minnesota wants deeper investment.

Camille:

I love the heartfelt thanks of my students when they write me that special letter or draw me a picture or give me a hug. And that’s also been lacking during COVID. We haven’t been able to give hugs and that would make my day, make my year, to be able to hug all my kiddos and just hold them tight.

Quentin:

I think what we really want instead of coupon codes and snacks and break rooms, is we want the investment in our schools. We want staff to have living wages. We really want what’s best for our students, best for our families, best for our community.

Taylor Wilson:

You can listen to more teachers on the NEA YouTube. We’ll link to it in today’s show description. National Teacher Day started as an idea by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1953. She pleaded to Congress that there needs to be a day where teachers are recognized. But despite receiving congressional support, the first National Teacher Day didn’t actually happen until March 7th, 1980. This year, the non-profit Council of Chief State School Officers named Ohio history instructor Kurt Russell as the Teacher of the Year. He was honored last week at the White House.

Kurt Russell:

Each student needs a champion no matter what the circumstances are. Each morning, parents give us their most precious gifts, their children. Parents have placed trust that we nurture, cultivate and help students find personal meaning and purpose in their lives. School is where dreams come alive. It has been teachers who have laid the foundation of possibilities.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden also spoke, giving a thank you to teachers who helped him overcome a childhood stutter.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us on whatever your favorite podcast app is seven days 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.