Everyone and their maw found a way to celebrate Texas Independence Day on Tuesday (happy 180th!), with numerous listicles, articles, pictures and the like. But this might’ve been the most precious of them all. Mark Cuban has never looked happier.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 2, 2016
Tough Decision — So, how goes one of the biggest abortion fights the country has ever seen? The magic eight-ball says “ask again later.” On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning Texas’ controversial abortion law, and the justices suggested they might actually send it back to Texas. “Such a move, Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested, would allow abortion providers more time to gather evidence about the impact of the 2013 law and whether the few clinics in compliance with its regulations could handle an increase in women seeking the procedure,” writes the Houston Chronicle. It’s Justice Kennedy who is expected to be the swing vote for the court, which has an even number of black robes after the death of Antonin Scalia in Texas last month. “Even a 4-to-4 tie would have enormous consequences because it would leave in place the appeals court decision, which challengers say could drive down the number of abortion clinics in Texas to about 10 from roughly 40,” according to the New York Times. “On the other hand, Justice Scalia’s death means the court is very unlikely to weaken constitutional standards affecting abortion in the rest of the nation, as the four liberal justices would not go along.” The Justices took exactly the kind of sides you expect them to, and arguments centered on whether the state’s uber-restrictive requirements for abortion clinics creates an “undue burden” on providers.
The Big (Circus) Tent Party — Republican politics this year has been absolutely bonkers. And it’s even more concentrated the more local it gets. The latest craziness comes from the Travis County GOP: The newly elected chairman Robert Morrow made headlines after sending out a series of tweets on Super Tuesday insulting pretty much every politician on a very personal level (he called Hillary Clinton a “bull dyke,” and talked about Rick Perry’s sexual orientation, just for starters). In an wild interview with the Texas Tribune, he called his critics within the local GOP “douchebags,” got angry because the reporter refused to quote a racial slur, revealed himself to be a huge Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist, and—perhaps worst of all (or most telling)— referred to himself in the third person. “Unhinged” doesn’t really seem to come close to describing Morrow’s general life philosophy. Some prominent members of the local chapter of this sideshow are publicly trying to get him removed, though the keywords are trying and some. “Some pledge mass mutiny, but others embrace him as an agent of change,” writes the Tribune in a follow-up story (even those kinda OK with Morrow called him “whacked out a little bit”). Morrow is no stranger to, er, “tellin’ it like it is,” but this latest incident has gotten the attention of numerous national publications. Although one GOP party member “has pledged to take any action possible to remove Morrow from office, those efforts will likely come to naught, according to ethics expert Buck Wood, an attorney familiar with county bylaws,” writes the Statesman. “Unless Morrow resigns or commits a felony, Wood said, the position is his to hold.” Texas politics really is the best.
Festival-Goer-In-Chief — It had already been revealed that President Barack Obama was going to be in Austin right when SXSW kicked off, but it turns out that wasn’t the whole story. Organizers announced on Wednesday that President Obama and Michelle Obama would deliver keynote speeches at SXSW. President Obama will be speaking for the interactive portion, while Michelle will be the headliner for music. “At the conference, Obama will sit down with Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith March 11 for a conversation about civic engagement, the White House and conference organizers said Wednesday. First lady Michelle Obama will also attend to discuss her Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to help girls around the world who don’t have access to formal schooling,” writes USA Today. As the story notes, he will be the first U.S. president to attend the festival, or, as Gawker put it, the “annual vanity carnival.” For those interested in how SXSW organizers got their massive “get,” the Austin Chronicle has a behind-the-scenes look/interview with SXSW Director Roland Swenson.