Democrats outraged after the FBI said it got more than 4,500 tips about Brett Kavanaugh – and referred the ‘relevant’ ones to the Trump White House

brett kavanaugh
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • The FBI said it received 4,500 tips in 2018 regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
  • The agency said they only interviewed ten people and that “relevant” tips were passed to Trump’s White House.
  • A group of Democratic senators accused the FBI of ignoring the tip line and are demanding more answers.
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A group of Democratic senators is asking for more answers after the Federal Bureau of Investigation shared details on its handling of a supplemental background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee.

Jill Tyson, assistant director of the FBI, said in a letter on June 30 that the agency had received 4,500 tips regarding Kavanaugh and that it turned over “relevant tips” to the White House Counsel, which would have been Don McGahn at the time in 2018. Tyson also said only ten individuals were interviewed, despite thousands of tips.

Tyson’s letter was made public Thursday by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Coons, who said it was a response to a letter they sent in August 2019 asking for answers about the investigation.

“This long-delayed answer confirms how badly we were spun by Director Wray and the FBI in the Kavanaugh background investigation and hearing,” Whitehouse said on Twitter Thursday, taking aim at FBI Director Chris Wray. He said it “confirms my suspicions that the ‘tip line’ was not real and that FBI tip line procedures were not followed.”

Read more: FBI director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. Now he’s working with Biden’s attorney general taking on domestic terrorism and probing Trump allies.

“Wray said they followed procedures, he meant the ‘procedure’ of doing whatever Trump White House Counsel told them to do. That’s misleading as hell,” he added.

A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment when reached by Insider. An email sent to the Supreme Court seeking comment on behalf of Kavanaugh did not receive a response.

According to the FBI’s letter, the FBI passed the tips to the White House because that was the entity that requested the supplemental background check on September 13, 2018. The request was prompted by sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that surfaced around that time. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Tyson said the FBI had already conducted an initial background check that was completed in July 2018 and included interviews with 49 people.

Whitehouse and Coons were joined by Sens. Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, and Cory Booker in requesting more answers from the FBI.

“If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all,” they wrote, saying the agency’s letter confirmed “the FBI was politically constrained by the Trump White House.”

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The fight to protect voting rights at the federal level is dead. But there’s still a glimmer of hope.

voting rights protestor with sign
Activists from various grassroots organizations rally outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California on July 7, 2021, calling on Congress and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to remove the filibuster and pass the “For the People Act” to expand voting rights.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Arizona’s law that makes it harder to vote.
  • Congress has stalled out on advancing legislation to protect voting rights.
  • But while the fight for voting rights may have died on the federal level, there is still hope to drive out people and protect voting at the state level.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court signed the death certificate for voting rights. In a 6-3 decision along ideological lines, the Court decided that Arizona could implement restrictions that hamper the ability of Black and brown voters to cast their ballot.

In essence, more than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act became law, the federal protections against racially discriminatory voting policies have been stripped away. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has given new energy to right wing states that want to keep minority voters away from the polls.

Democrats have the Supreme Court and red states against them. So their only choice left is to go local – and out-organize anyone standing in their way.

The big lie on steroids

While Republican-controlled states have passed onerous voting laws for years, the recent spate of voter suppression tactics all stem from former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie.” The fact that President Joe Biden won the reliably Republican states of Georgia and Arizona sent a shockwave through the GOP. We all know, and perhaps expected, Trump to falsely claim that there was voter “fraud” after his 2020 loss. But now Republicans are falling all over themselves to please the former President by enacting laws to prevent these nonexistent “irregularities” from happening again.

Arizona, where the Supreme Court case originated, prevents friends and neighbors from helping someone turn in absentee ballots. It also allows the state to disqualify voters who accidentally vote in the wrong precinct. Republicans claim they are trying to prevent fraud, but the actual intention is clear when you recognize that local GOP officials routinely shift voting locations in minority neighborhoods – making it easier for these voters to accidentally run afoul of the new law.

Georgia’s new laws, the cause of much outcry earlier this year, not only tighten voter ID requirements – a dog whistle for preventing Black folks from voting – but also make it a crime to pass out water to voters in line. Considering there are generally longer lines where Black voters vote, the water bottle law is designed to force Black voters out of line before making it to the front.

These laws aren’t just in swing states, either. States like Arkansas, Alabama, and Oklahoma have all passed laws making it harder to vote by mail, on top of many other voting restrictions. This is an epidemic, and Democrats must use every means at their disposal to fight back before it’s too late.

Filibustering the filibuster

The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats’ most effective response to voter suppression is to pass a new federal voter protection law. Indeed, some of the very first bills put forth in the US House and Senate this year were to protect voting rights, like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The bills have not seen much success because of Republican intransigence.

The most common solution to move past the GOP is changing the filibuster, which prevents any bill from moving forward in the Senate unless it has 60 supporters. Given the 50-50 split in the chamber, this effectively gives the Republican minority veto power over almost every bill brought to the Senate floor.

After the Supreme Court decision, Democrats are calling again for an end to the filibuster so that the voting rights law can pass. But that ship has sailed. The Democrats in the ideological center of the Senate, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have not moved on changing the filibuster. And with their stubbornness on the filibuster goes any chance of a new federal voting law.

Democrats across the country need to stop hoping that Congress or the courts will fix this problem. They won’t. Democrats need to take charge themselves.

Voter suppression boomerang

While efforts may be stymied at the federal level, Democrats do have a chance to harness the energy and outrage around voter suppression to increase voter turnout at the state and local level.

To start, they need to let Black, brown, and younger voters know that Republicans are trying to prevent them from voting, and inform them of how to stay on top of their right to vote. Major Democratic Super PACs are already investing in this kind of work, but more funds and more people will be necessary to make a real difference.

In Arizona, where casting a ballot in the wrong place can lead to disqualification, voter education campaigns are essential. The GOP technique only works to suppress the vote when voters don’t know their polling location. With solid organizing, Democrats can ensure every single voter knows where to cast their ballot.

In Georgia, ground zero for many false claims of election fraud, Democrats have already shown what it takes to fight back. Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight has been on the front lines of combating voter suppression. As a result, Georgia Democrats helped flip the White House and Senate in 2020. If Democrats are serious about combating voter suppression, they should set up a Fair Fight in every single state.

Perhaps the single largest step that Democrats can take to fight suppression and increase turnout is to invest in year-round organizing. In too many places, young Democratic staffers parachute in for one campaign cycle and then leave, forgoing the ability to forge the deep connections it takes to win over and help voters.

The chair of the Wisconsin Democrats credits year-round organizing for the slim wins in both Wisconsin and Georgia, and the Democratic state party in Texas is already investing in this. It gets results. Texas Democrats managed to defeat an earlier attempt to pass draconian voter suppression laws, although the governor is still trying.

For the time being, Democrats can’t do anything about the Supreme Court. But the right to vote is precious, and we can use the threat of these new laws to inspire people to hold onto what’s theirs and fight back against Republican attempts to subvert democracy.

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11 things that date back to 1982, the year by which Supreme Court says courts should weigh new voting rules

The cast of "Cheers"
Friends, Romans & Accountants” Episode 7 — Pictured: (l-r) Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli, Nicholas Colasanto as Ernie ‘Coach’ Pantusso, Ted Danson as Sam Malone-

  • The Supreme Court recently said that judges should consider voting rules in place in 1982 in certain cases.
  • The Court applied that new “guidepost” to cases under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Here are 11 things that date back to 1982 to show how much time has passed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Classic movies “ET” and “Tootsie.” Staple 80s hit songs “Come On, Eileen,” “Eye of the Tiger,” and “I Love Rock and Roll.” These are all things from 1982, the year that the Supreme Court majority said that courts should take into account when weighing whether voting restrictions violate the Voting Rights Act.

In the case Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the court ruled 6-3 to uphold two Arizona voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act – and set five new “guideposts” for how courts should approach Section 2 vote-denial cases that make it harder for litigants to prove voting discrimination in court.

One of the new guideposts for courts to consider is how much a given election law “departs from what was standard practice” when Congress last amended Section 2 in 1982.

Because every voting law imposes some burden, the Court reasoned, “the burdens associated with the rules in widespread use when [Section 2] was adopted are therefore useful in gauging whether the burdens imposed by a challenged rule are sufficient to prevent voting from being equally ‘open’ or furnishing an equal ‘opportunity’ to vote in the sense meant by [Section 2].”

This new condition came somewhat out of left-field, and puzzled legal experts. In 1982, very few states offered voting options commonplace today, including no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, or automatic and same-day registration.

In her scathing dissent, Justice Elena Kagan called the new 1982 standard “the oddest part” of the majority opinion, writing, “Section 2 was meant to disrupt the status quo, not to preserve it-to eradicate then-current discriminatory practices, not to set them in amber.”

Harvard Law professor Nick Stephanopoulos, writing in the Washington Post, called it the “most astonishing extra-textual move” in the entire decision, wondering, “Why on earth would that be?”

Here are 11 things from 1982 to put the amount of time that’s passed since then – and how different the world is – in perspective:

Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller.”

Michael Jackson

The Survivor hit “Eye of the Tiger.”

survivor eye of the tiger

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and wife Princess Diana take home their newborn son Prince William
In this June 22, 1982, file photo, Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and wife Princess Diana take home their newborn son Prince William, as they leave St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

The sitcom “Cheers.”

The cast of "Cheers"
Friends, Romans & Accountants” Episode 7 — Pictured: (l-r) Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli, Nicholas Colasanto as Ernie ‘Coach’ Pantusso, Ted Danson as Sam Malone-

The first episode of “Late Night” with David Letterman.

David Letterman at reception in NBC's Studio 6A January 19, 1982
David Letterman at reception in NBC’s Studio 6A January 19, 1982 at the announcement of new NBC comedy show “Late Night With David Letterman”.

“ET: The Extraterrestrial.”

The Extra-Terrestrial and Steven Speilberg poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California
The Extra-Terrestrial and Steven Speilberg poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California

“The Princess Diaries” and “The Devil Wears Prada” actress Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway

Singers Kelly Clarkson and LeAnn Rimes, actresses Jessica Biel and Kirsten Dunst, and Olympic athletes Tara Lipinski and Apolo Anthon Ono were also born in 1982.  

The Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Falkands War Argentina
Falklands residents look at an Argentine armored vehicle, in Port Stanley, April 1982.

The teen comedy film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

fast times at ridgemont high

Science fiction classic “Blade Runner.”

Blade Runner
Directed by Ridley Scott.

Police drama “Cagney and Lacey.”

Actors Sharon Gless (L) and Tyne Daly, both wearing police badges, lean against a police car in a promotional portrait for the television series, 'Cagney & Lacey,' c. 1982.
Actors Sharon Gless (L) and Tyne Daly, both wearing police badges, lean against a police car in a promotional portrait for the television series, ‘Cagney & Lacey,’ c. 1982.

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Moderate Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. says GOP-led restrictive voting bills ‘are about white supremacy’

Bob Casey Jr.
Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania.

  • Sen. Bob Casey Jr. criticized the raft of GOP-led voting laws being pursued across the country.
  • “We’re at a point of no return,” he said after the Supreme Court upheld two restrictive Arizona laws.
  • Casey said the GOP has concluded that it “can only win by voter suppression bills.”
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Saturday blasted the Republican Party for endorsing restrictive voting bills across the country, describing the push for such legislation as forms of “white supremacy.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Velshi,” the moderate lawmaker issued a dire warning about the state of elections in the US, just days after the Supreme Court upheld two restrictive voting laws in Arizona that had been challenged for violating Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Casey expressed that the Senate would likely have to alter its rules to move voting rights legislation through the chamber with 51 votes.

“We’re at a point of no return,” he said. “We’re either going to preserve our democracy, and thereby protect voter rights to preserve the democracy, or we’re not. Democrats have to stand up and get something done. I think we can do that, because it’s apparent to me that Republicans are just going to endorse these voter suppression bills.”

He added: “At its core, we should just be blunt about this, these voter suppression bills are about white supremacy.”

Casey said Republicans seemed to be working as “a one-or two-issue agenda party where they seem to be only interested in stopping [President] Joe Biden’s programs, especially on these caregiving issues and supporting voter suppression bills.”

Read more: Meet 7 BidenWorld longtime consiglieres and a couple relative newcomers who have access to exclusive White House meetings

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled 6-3 to keep in place Arizona laws that toss provisional ballots filed at the wrong voting precinct and prevent third-party groups from returning mail ballots.

The former Arizona law was previously struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in January, with the judge ruling that it disproportionately affected Black, Latino and Indigenous voters.

Last week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a GOP-backed voting overhaul bill that would have changed election deadlines and strengthened voter identification requirements, among other measures.

During the MSNBC interview, Casey said that Republicans would continue to push similar pieces of legislation.

‘This is agenda item number one for the Republican Party,” he said. “This is going to be the norm, because Republicans have concluded that they can’t win by getting more votes. They can only win by voter suppression bills.”

Democrats have seen their legislative push for voting rights languish in recent months.

The For the People Act, the party’s marquee voting rights legislation, would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other things.

The bill would also mandate that states offer mail-in ballots and same-day voter registration, which Republicans have long resisted in many states.

In March, the House passed the legislation in a near party-line 220-210 vote.

However, late last month, an attempt to advance the legislation failed in the Senate, with all Republicans opposed to the bill.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, an elections bill which would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder, also faces a difficult path forward, with GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky opposed to the legislation.

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Trump mocks army generals who care more about being ‘woke’ than ‘fighting enemies’

Trump at Ohio rally
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, on on June 26, 2021.

  • Trump said military leaders were more concerned about being “woke” than “fighting enemies.”
  • In his first rally post-White House, Trump branded military leaders as “weak and ineffective.”
  • His comments come after top military officials voiced their support for critical race theory.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Donald Trump mocked “woke” military generals and critical race theory on Saturday as he addressed thousands of supporters at this first post-White House rally in Wellington, Ohio.

The former president accused the country’s “weak and ineffective” military of becoming more concerned about being politically correct than they are about “fighting their enemies,” the Telegraph reported.

“The Biden administration issued new rules pushing twisted critical race theory … into our military,” Trump said, according to the Telegraph. “Our generals and our admirals are now focused more on this nonsense than they are on our enemies.”

Read more: How Trump could use his relationship with Putin and Russia to skirt prosecution back in the USA

“You see these generals lately on television? They are woke,” he continued. “Our military will be incapable of fighting and incapable of taking orders.”

Trump’s comments come in the same week the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley, defended the study of critical race theory in the military, saying he wanted to “understand white rage,” the Guardian reported.

“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military … of being ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” Miley told the House armed service committee on Thursday, according to the Guardian. During the remarks, was joined by the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin.

Critical race theory is an academic field that seeks to understand systemic racial prejudice and combat it.

In recent weeks, it has become a lightning-rod issue for some conservatives, who claim that it is divisive and presents a distorted picture of American history.

Trump made an appearance at Saturday night’s rally to show support for Max Miller, his former aide who is now challenging Republican incumbent Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio’s 16th congressional district.

He also used the opportunity to bash President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, hint at his 2024 presidential run, and to (once more) criticize the Supreme Court for not supporting his claims of election fraud.

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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the NCAA’s limits on compensation for student athletes

NCAA logo
  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of college athletes in the Alston vs. NCAA supreme court case.
  • Justices ruled that the NCAA can’t limit education-related benefits for college athletes.
  • The ruling did not address whether athletes can be paid directly or profit from endorsements.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

ON MONDAY, the US Supreme Court ruled against the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the Alston vs. NCAA case about limitations on compensation for student-athletes.

In an opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling, saying the NCAA can no longer ban colleges from providing student-athletes with education-related benefits.

“By permitting colleges and universities to offer enhanced education-related benefits, its decision may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools,” the decision read. “The national debate about amateurism in college sports is important. But our task as appellate judges is not to resolve it. Nor could we. Our task is simply to review the district court judgment through the appropriate lens of antitrust law.”

The benefits include computers, paid internships, tutoring, study abroad programs, musical instruments, etc.

The case was led by former West Virginia University football player Shawne Alston and former University of California women’s basketball player Justine Hartman.

The court found the limits violated “anti-trust principles,” with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing in a concurring opinion that the NCAA’s business model would be “flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”

The case was brought by former Division I men’s and women’s college athletes, who had accused the NCAA of violating anti-trust laws through its eligibility rules regarding compensation for student-athletes.

The NCAA previously had a $5,000 cap on what schools could provide above and beyond free tuition, room, and board, but now all schools can and likely offer more educational resources to their athletes.

One of the most significant education-related benefits that lawmakers and activists, including senator Cory Booker and ESPN college sports analyst Rod Gilmore, have been pushing for is unlimited tuition money for student-athletes that extends past their athletic eligibility.

Previous NCAA policy forbade universities from offering further scholarships to college athletes once their eligibility to play a sport ended, which resulted in lower graduation rates among athletes than the average student body at most universities.

The Supreme Court’s decision now opens the door for other anti-trust lawsuits that former and current athletes may choose to file against the NCAA for capping their education-related benefits. That would also include paying student-athletes.

Black college football players, in particular, could have the makings for a class-action lawsuit, as graduation rates among that group have steadily declined to record-low numbers over the past three years, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

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Supreme Court unanimously rules in favor of Catholic foster agency in case that pitted religious freedom against LGBTQ rights

Supreme Court building
The US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, is seen at sunset.

The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday in favor of a Catholic child welfare organization, saying the charity has a right to decline to place foster children with same-sex couples.

Catholic Social Services sued the City of Philadelphia after it informed private agencies that provided foster care services that it would not refer children to the agencies unless they agreed to nondiscrimination requirements.

Catholic Social Services argued that it had the right to opt-out of the nondiscrimination requirement, citing the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Philadelphia cannot force the charity to work with same-sex couples, saying the rule violated their First Amendment rights.

The case marks a major win for religious groups in a case that pitted religious freedom against the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Supreme Court upholds the Affordable Care Act, ruling that Texas doesn’t have standing to challenge Obama’s signature healthcare law

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, saying that the red states challenging the law in the case lacked standing.

The 7-2 ruling leaves the Obama-era healthcare law intact and preserves healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barret, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor, and Clarence Thomas.

The case, California v. Texas, was the third challenge of the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court had heard.

Filed by a coalition of states led by Texas, the case challenged the “individual mandate” provision, in which people without health insurance face a tax penalty.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Trump’s 3 Supreme Court appointees joined the 3 liberal justices to limit a landmark federal cybercrime law

Supreme Court
In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo an American flag waves in front of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Supreme Court punted on a case over whether the Trump administration can exclude people in the country illegally from the count used for divvying up congressional seats.

An unusual majority of the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act doesn’t cover cases in which a person accesses a computer system they are authorized to use.

Former President Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court nominees – Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – joined liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan to impose limits on the landmark cybercrime law.

The case, Nathan Van Buren v. United States, involved a former Georgia police officer who was accused of looking up a license plate number in the state’s database in exchange for money. The court found that though Van Buren accessed the system for improper reasons, he was authorized to use the computer database.

Civil liberties groups had argued that widening the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could criminalize mundane things, like checking social media at work, according to Politico.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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Supreme Court sends 3 climate change cases against oil and gas companies back to lower courts

Supreme Court
In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo an American flag waves in front of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Supreme Court punted on a case over whether the Trump administration can exclude people in the country illegally from the count used for divvying up congressional seats.

  • The US Supreme Court asked lower courts on Monday to reconsider three climate change cases filed against oil and gas companies.
  • The request was made in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on BP PLC v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Supreme Court sent three climate change cases filed against oil and gas companies back to lower courts on Monday.

In an opinion shared by SCOTUS Blog, the Supreme Court asked lower courts to reconsider the cases in the wake of its decision on BP PLC v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.

Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of BP and other oil and gas companies in a lawsuit filed by the city of Baltimore that sought monetary damages for the cost global climate change, Reuters reported.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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