What We’re Following
The issue of racial discrimination in jury selection is at the heart of Flowers v. Mississippi, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. Curtis Flowers, who is black, has been tried six times in two decades in the state of Mississippi, over a 1996 murder of four people. His lawyer is arguing that the white state prosecutor Doug Evans repeatedly, deliberately removed potential black jurors from the case, because of their race. Even if Flowers wins this case, he still might not be freed, Garrett Epps notes: The same prosecutor could try him on the same charges, yet again.
During the hearing, Justice Clarence Thomas made a surprising move: He spoke. Though justices frequently pepper lawyers with questions, Thomas hasn’t said a word in Court since 2016—and before that, he went a decade without speaking.
Who is paying Maria Butina’s legal bills? Butina was the first Russian to plead guilty as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, and new revelations suggest that one of her legal backers is a 30-year-old Russian with ties to the Kremlin. That enigmatic funder, Alexander Ionov, has long been trying to meddle in American politics through an NGO he runs. The news of Butina’s backer adds a wrinkle to the case.