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Morning news brief


Arizona lawmakers have repealed an abortion law from the Civil War.


That 1864 law is older than the state of Arizona and bans almost all abortions. It became a center of national debate when Arizona state Supreme Court said it was still in effect. The Arizona Legislature has narrowly voted to repeal it. A few Republicans joined all Democrats to make a majority, but the law is not quite entirely dead.

INSKEEP: Ben Giles with member station KJZZ in Phoenix is covering this. Hey there, Ben.


INSKEEP: How'd it go yesterday in the Arizona state Senate?

GILES: Oh, it was feisty. The gallery was packed with abortion rights supporters and lots of opponents. Debate was interrupted at times by cheers and jeers. Republicans hold a narrow one-vote majority in that chamber, but two Republicans bucked that majority, joined all of Senate Democrats to repeal the territorial ban 16-14. Democrats, like Senator Eva Burch, said it's archaic and it's not what the majority of Arizonans want.


EVA BURCH: I don't want us honoring laws about women written during a time when women were forbidden from voting because their voices were considered inferior to men.

GILES: Similar legislation also passed the House last week, another close vote in a chamber controlled by Republicans. And Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs' office says she'll sign that bill this afternoon.

INSKEEP: Ben, I'm interested that the vast majority of Republicans stuck with this 1864 ban, even though many national figures in their party had said this is too extreme, it's not a political winner, we should get rid of it.

GILES: Yeah, this has really revealed a schism in the Republican Party in Arizona. You saw national leaders, like former President Donald Trump - they've called on Republican state lawmakers to fix the law, to repeal it. But rank-and-file Republicans, like Senator Jake Hoffman - he leads the local version of the Freedom Caucus - they weren't listening to Trump. He said the 1864 ban was great.


JAKE HOFFMAN: Our job as humans, our job as people is to defend and protect the most vulnerable, to defend and protect those who can't speak for themselves.

INSKEEP: Well, if he likes the 1864 law, I should note that we said it's not quite entirely dead. So what law does apply in Arizona from now on?

GILES: Well, the intent of repealing the 1864 ban is to let another 15-week law passed in 2022 stay in effect. But the law that Governor Hobbs is about to sign, it won't take effect for more than 90 days, so the near total ban could at least temporarily be in place. Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes and Planned Parenthood Arizona have both asked the state Supreme Court to prevent that from happening.

INSKEEP: OK, so the almost total ban might take effect for a minute. Eventually, it becomes a 15-week ban. And that sets the stage for the fall campaign, which will partly be about abortion, won't it?

GILES: Right. There's an effort in the field in Arizona. Folks are gathering signatures for a ballot measure to allow abortion to the point of fetal viability, up to roughly 24 weeks. That's similar to Florida's November ballot measure that was covered here yesterday. The Arizona measure has already got more than enough signatures to qualify, but complicating things are Republican state lawmakers, who may refer other questions about abortion, like a 14-week ban, to the ballot. A leaked memo from GOP legislative staff here said that's all part of an effort to dilute support for the proposed 24-week ban.

INSKEEP: OK, Ben Giles of KJZZ, thanks so much.

GILES: Thank you.


INSKEEP: The police clearing college campuses of protesters are doing their jobs under intense scrutiny.

MARTIN: Yes. The authorities have arrested more than a thousand people over the last two weeks, including dozens more in the last few hours at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., and at Stony Brook on New York's Long Island. In Los Angeles, law enforcement and protesters are currently in a standoff at UCLA.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: No more money for Israel's crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No more money for Israel's crimes.

MARTIN: In what may be the most prominent case, police cleared protesters from a building at Columbia University in New York.

INSKEEP: The Columbia protesters against Israel's war in Gaza have made frequent references to protests from 1968, one of many past years when police confronted demonstrators.

So what has law enforcement learned from all that experience? NPR law enforcement correspondent Martin Kaste is with us. Martin, good morning.


INSKEEP: OK, so when do police go onto campuses?

KASTE: Well, this isn't following a single script around the country. It kind of depends on the location. In New York, for example, NYPD has gone out of its way to tell everyone that it's going in when the universities call them in. At the University of Texas, though, it's kind of a contrast. The state troopers have the support there of Governor Greg Abbott, who's been quite vocal about the need for police there. Generally speaking, though, I think what we can say here is these police departments are definitely waiting for someone else to tell them to go in.

INSKEEP: Once they have the request, what tactics do they use?

KASTE: Well, again here, it varies. The lay of the land matters a lot. If it's tents in an outdoor area, the police have a lot more leeway to arrest people peacefully if people want to give themselves up peacefully or vacate the premises. If you have groups fighting each other, though, as we saw at UCLA early yesterday morning - there's this video that The Associated Press has.


KASTE: That kind of a fight calls for cops to be more aggressive. Then you have the striking image of Hamilton Hall in Columbia, which was a very specific tactical situation 'cause it's a building in which the protesters had barricaded doorways with big piles of furniture.


KASTE: They brought this giant truck in with the elevated ramp and went in in a second-story window. People watching that kind of expressed shock at the scale of that operation and the number of officers who were involved in this. But lots of officers is something police say is important for safety here. Russ Hicks, a longtime police academy trainer in Washington State, told me that more officers on the scene is actually safer both for the law enforcement and for the protesters.

RUSS HICKS: What you don't want is a handful of five officers managing a large crowd because that's when things get out of control. Those are the videos that, you know, stick in people's minds. You know, there's these officers maybe using too much force because they don't have enough people.

INSKEEP: This was one of the first things that came to my mind when I heard about the massive presence at places like Columbia. It may be safer if done properly. How have their tactics changed over the years?

KASTE: Well, I think in the case of Columbia, for instance, the police action in '68 was just more chaotic. There was tear gas. More than a hundred students were injured. One officer suffered a broken back.

Operations today tend to be a little more planned, more disciplined. And I talked about some of these differences with Chuck Wexler, who runs the Police Executive Research Forum. He thinks that in most cases today, protesters are getting more careful treatment by the police.

CHUCK WEXLER: They're given warnings, you know, given the opportunity to leave. Generally speaking, there's been a lot of lessons from the '60s and '70s, but most recently from the summer of 2020, of how you diffuse demonstrations that are illegal.

INSKEEP: Hasn't there been some violence anyway, Martin?

KASTE: Oh, for sure. I mean, we've seen people tackled to the ground. There have been reports of injuries. That police trainer we heard from a little bit ago, Russ Hicks, he says he's been watching some of the coverage of what's going on. He's definitely seen cops losing their cool in a way that a trainer would not want to see.

And the police are definitely sounding more willing to get into the fray now. The NYPD put out sort of a triumphant video after the operation at Columbia with kind of dramatic music. And it ends with this stark warning for protesters. In the video there, they say if protesters try this kind of thing again, they will be extracted and taken to jail.

INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Martin Kaste, thanks for the insights.

KASTE: You're welcome.


INSKEEP: On Wednesdays, former President Donald Trump's hush money trial in Manhattan goes into recess. That's the one weekday when he can campaign.

MARTIN: Yesterday, he devoted that free time to swing states. He held an afternoon rally in Wisconsin and an evening rally in Central Michigan.

INSKEEP: And NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben was at the Michigan rally. Danielle, good morning.


INSKEEP: OK, so what are you hearing from the former president?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, a lot of his speeches yesterday were the standard Trump fare that is nevertheless still shocking. He is very much still spreading the lie, saying that he won in 2020. He also did a lot of casting undocumented immigrants as dangerous yesterday.

But he did have a couple newer notes he hit on. One is Gaza. In his Wisconsin speech, he addressed some reports that the Biden administration is considering allowing some displaced Palestinians into the U.S. as refugees. Now, Trump didn't exactly cast it that way. He turned it into a string of falsehoods. He told the crowd that Biden is allowing those people in already. And he cast those Gazans as threats to the rallygoers. As Trump put it, Biden is creating the conditions for another October 7 here in the U.S.

INSKEEP: I notice he's also complaining that he can't campaign as much as he would like, given that he's in court so many days, which is true. So how is he focusing when he can campaign?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, you did see one new focus yesterday. This is a focus on a program called Protect the Vote. It's something that the Trump campaign and the RNC announced late last month. The goal is to get a massive force of poll watchers, of people to go out and watch poll workers, letting people in line in to vote and also counting ballots just to make sure that everything goes correctly in the Trump and RNC campaign's eyes.

Now, they were really pushing this yesterday. There was Pete Hoekstra. The head of the Michigan GOP went ahead of Trump with his own speech about this. Trump mentioned it. There were signs up on every porta-john, people with clipboards signing up volunteers in line.


KURTZLEBEN: So this is really a new big Republican push.

INSKEEP: So that's what he wants to focus on. Democrats would like the focus to be on something else - abortion, which is in the news once again this week out of Arizona and elsewhere. How is he addressing what Republicans do see as one of his weaknesses?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, he's addressing it really by being very nonspecific. In both speeches, he reiterated what he seems to have settled on as his line on abortion - that Roe allowed abortion to be left to the states, which are just deciding what they want to do on their own. And here he was in Michigan talking about that.


DONALD TRUMP: The votes are coming up now in certain cases, and it's all starting to work out, and it's going to ultimately bring our country together. It gets the vote down to the people.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, in that clip and also in the speeches writ large, he didn't bring up any specific states or instances. He didn't mention any policies he likes or doesn't like. And that's just what he does on abortion right now. It really allows him to just not take a position and to just say states can do what they want.

Now, Democrats smell weakness here. They put up billboards in Wisconsin and Michigan near these rally sites yesterday attacking Trump on abortion. And you can bet that they'll be doing that a lot more.

INSKEEP: NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben with the sounds and sights at a Trump rally. Thanks so much.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin
Michel Martin is a host of Morning Edition. Previously, she was the weekend host of All Things Considered and host of the Consider This Saturday podcast, where she drew on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member stations.
Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.