In summary

With a leaked draft opinion showing the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade, California vows to strengthen abortion rights.

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“California will not sit back. We are going to fight like hell.”

That was Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initial response to Politico’s explosive Monday night publication of a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion that suggests justices are poised to strike down Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the federal constitutional right to an abortion.

Hours later, Newsom and the Democratic leaders of the state Legislature announced plans to introduce an amendment “to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution so that there is no doubt as to the right to abortion in this state.” For the amendment to be incorporated into the constitution, it would need to be passed by two-thirds of lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate and approved by voters.

Politico acknowledged the draft opinion has many caveats: It represents only the opinion of Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the draft for the majority. It’s far from final — the draft was written in February, and the court isn’t expected to issue a final ruling until June or July. And vote breakdowns can change: Although four other Republican-appointed justices reportedly voted to back Alito in private conferences while three Democratic-appointed justices are working on dissents and Chief Justice John Roberts remains undecided, that lineup could shift in the final opinion.

The draft ruling — which is the first to be released in the court’s modern history while a case is still pending — could supercharge an election season that’s getting into full swing with the June 7 primary just a month away, raising the stakes in already competitive seats.

In his first campaign video of 2022, released Monday, Newsom strolls through a redwood forest while pledging to “always lead the California way.”

As the news sank in Monday night, some prominent California Republicans slammed the leak — California Republican National Committee member Harmeet Dhillon deemed it “terrorism against the Court and against our nation” — while Democrats promised to defend abortion rights.

  • U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla: “It’s time for Congress to get off the sidelines. We must protect the fundamental right to choose.”
  • Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California: “This is the nightmare scenario we in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space have been sounding the alarm about. … To Californians, and people who may seek care here due to hostile bans in their home state, know this: Planned Parenthood health centers across California will remain open.”
  • Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California: “There is nothing five or six justices can do to stop people from needing and seeking abortion care. What they can do — and what overturning Roe will do — is cost people their lives and livelihoods. … We must organize, mobilize and vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,605,663 confirmed cases (+0.2% from previous day) and 89,582 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 75,037,284 vaccine doses, and 75.4% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

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1. CA’s population shrinks — again

People enjoy the beach in Santa Monica on Feb. 12, 2022. California's population continued to shrink in 2021 as the nation's most populous state posted its second consecutive decline, state officials said Monday, May 2, 2022. Photo by Mike Stewart, AP Photo
People enjoy the beach in Santa Monica on Feb. 12, 2022. Photo by Mike Stewart, AP Photo

California’s population fell by 117,552 between Jan. 1, 2021 and Jan. 1, 2022 — the second straight year of decline, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Finance. Although the 0.3% dip is smaller than the 0.6% decrease California logged between April and December 2020, the data is nonetheless concerning for a state whose slowing population growth recently caused it to lose a U.S. House of Representatives seat for the first time in history. Some key takeaways:

  • Every coastal county except three (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz) saw population declines, while growth remained strong in the Central Valley and Inland Empire.
  • 34 of 58 counties saw population declines, and only two (Yolo and San Benito) logged growth higher than 1%.
  • Six of California’s 10 largest cities notched population declines, excepting San Diego, Fresno, Long Beach and Bakersfield. Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Anaheim all lost residents.

So why is California’s population declining? The Department of Finance identified several factors: declining birth rates, increased deaths due to the pandemic, federal laws restricting and slowing down international immigration, and an increase in Californians moving to other states.

  • But the report also highlights internal migration patterns that suggest many Californians fled expensive, dense, coastal cities for cheaper suburban enclaves as COVID upended work and life patterns and supercharged an already competitive housing market.
  • Indeed, experts say California’s shortage of affordable housing is one of the main factors driving residents to move.
  • Case in point: San Francisco’s planning department processed applications for just 62 units during the first four months of 2022 — down from 891 at the same time last year and 2,084 in 2015. “There is nothing that is better than right now than it was two years ago,” Ross Edwards, CEO of Build Group, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Projects are just dying of their own weight.” 

2. AG candidates home in on domestic violence

No party Candidate for Attorney General Anne Marie Schubert during an interview by CalMatters reporters on April 19, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters
Attorney general candidate Anne Marie Schubert during an interview with CalMatters reporters on April 19, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

California should examine why it classifies domestic violence as a nonviolent crime — and not as a violent felony that would make perpetrators ineligible for the higher credit earning rate and parole consideration granted to nonviolent offenders under Proposition 57, Attorney General Rob Bonta told the Los Angeles Times editorial board. The Times, which endorsed Bonta for reelection, cited that stance as an example of his “particularly impressive” approach to “temper(ing) his (pro-reform) ideology with a healthy dose of pragmatism.”

In a 75-minute interview with CalMatters, Sacramento County District Attorney and attorney general candidate Anne Marie Schubert also singled out California’s domestic violence policies. “We can be the most progressive state you want to say we are,” she said. “But when we continue to tell our community that domestic violence is a nonviolent crime … I find that atrocious.”

2022 Election

Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California

In other law enforcement news: Newsom, Bonta, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and other top state officials joined hundreds of law enforcement officers and their family members at the Capitol Monday to honor 36 California officers killed in the line of duty. The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation also unveiled a new statue of a woman police officer. Today, the California Highway Patrol is slated to hold its own memorial ceremony.

3. State poised to audit CSU

The California State University, Fresno sign on Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela for CalMatters

From CalMatters College Journalism Network Fellow Zaeem Shaikh: The California State University system could soon find itself under state scrutiny. On Monday, a bipartisan group of 43 lawmakers submitted a request for a state audit into CSU’s handling of sexual harassment investigations — a move that comes less than three months after former Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned following reports that he mishandled complaints against a senior administrator while president of Fresno State. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is scheduled to vote on the audit request on June 27.

  • Assemblymember Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican and committee member, said the audit will focus on the Chancellor’s Office and Fresno State, plus San Jose State for its investigation into a former athletic trainer and Sonoma State for complaints against the husband of the university’s president
  • The audit, if approved, would likely take place after an outside law firm completes its own investigation into CSU’s policies surrounding Title IX, a federal law protecting against sex-based discrimination. Victims and others “have said that the Title IX operation is really flawed,” Patterson said.
  • Patterson said the state auditor would review, among other things, CSU’s response to sexual harassment complaints over the past five years and its retreat rights policy, which allows some high-ranking administrators — including Castro — to collect hefty paychecks and return to a faculty position after leaving their post.
  • Patterson: “We would not be here asking for this kind of audit if there wasn’t more to it than just the three most infamous actions in these three universities.”

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: After decades of political war over damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, the contending factions have negotiated a peace treaty.

Don’t rein in social media by crimping free speech: Assembly Bill 2408 is well-intended, aiming to promote young people’s mental and emotional health on the internet. But it violates fundamental rights and must not become law, argues Adam Sieff, a law lecturer at the USC Gould School of Law.

Other things worth your time

Opinion: California wants to keep $300 billion in spending a secret. // Orange County Register

Newsom expected to issue cryptocurrency order. // Politico

No four-day work weeks yet. California bill mandating overtime stalls in the Legislature. // Sacramento Bee

Nurses ratify agreement with Stanford, putting an end to weeklong strike. // Mercury News

Can California build its way out of the homelessness crisis? // New York Times

L.A.’s crackdown on homeless camping off to slow start with little enforcement. // Los Angeles Times

San Francisco can’t ban suspected drug dealers from Tenderloin, court rules. // San Francisco Chronicle

Inside the nation’s first supervised drug use sites: ‘Let’s go save some lives.’ // San Francisco Chronicle

LASD Deputy shot off another deputy’s gang tattoo, received promotion. // Knock LA

California couple sentenced to prison for using ‘coercive means’ in forced labor case. // Sacramento Bee

Yolo County DA candidate under scrutiny for suspicious donations. // FOX40

Santa Clara County candidate says DA tripped him at debate. // San José Spotlight

Oakland school board member who supported school closures slams teachers union in fiery resignation letter. // San Francisco Chronicle

Is California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival still canceled? // Modesto Bee

Who will build California’s electric vehicle charging stations and why it matters. // Capital & Main

Ag well drilling still under a cloud of confusion from Newsom’s drought order. // Bakersfield Californian

Did California actually hit 97% renewables in April? Yes and no. // Canary Media

Want to beat Bay Area traffic? Get ready to pay. // Mercury News

Rare fossil of ancient dog species discovered by San Diego paleontologists. // San Diego Union-Tribune

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...