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Morning news brief

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One month ago, Israelis and Palestinians woke up to war. Israeli officials say the Hamas massacre in southern Israel on October 7 killed an estimated 1,400 people.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Authorities in Gaza say Israel's response has killed at least 10,000 people so far. But those numbers, as devastating as they are, cannot fully describe the scope of the suffering.

INSKEEP: NPR's Daniel Estrin has covered this first month of war and joins us now from Tel Aviv. Hi, Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: So arriving back here in Washington from a visit to the region, I'm reminded that not everybody in America has the geography in their heads. So I just want to remind people Israel is attacking this rectangle of land. It's only about 25 miles long, so you could drive it in half an hour if it weren't for the rubble in the way. It runs very roughly north to south. So where does the Israeli offensive on that land stand?

ESTRIN: Well, Israeli troops are still surrounding Gaza City. That is in the northern Gaza Strip. And it's where Israel says Hamas is headquartered. It's also where many Palestinian civilians still are. There's fierce fighting there. And in the last few days, Israel has announced safe passage - what they call - for Palestinians to flee south. But that road where they've been fleeing is so battered that, you know, even elderly people I've spoken with say they've had to walk miles on foot.

INSKEEP: Yeah. We've closely followed your reporting on that. How are Palestinians facing this moment one month in?

ESTRIN: They're really in survival mode, Steve. I mean, even those who have fled south - and this is an area where Israel has declared a safe zone - they, too, have been caught in Israeli bombings. Our producer in Gaza, Anas Baba, rushed to the scene of one of those bombings yesterday. It was at the southernmost edge of Gaza. And he met one woman, Ala Al-Adi (ph), with her young daughter. They were shaking. They were caked in debris from an airstrike. They were sitting on the steps of their home, and the airstrike was just seven buildings down the street.

ALA AL-ADI: (Non-English language spoken).

ESTRIN: She's saying, "the smell is in my throat. It's this terrible smell. It tastes like black. I want to throw up." She says her feet were full of glass. And our producer, Anas Baba, described the woman's little daughter.

ANAS BABA, BYLINE: She's holding her own toy, I do believe a little dinosaur, that's totally colored with pink and some purples, holding it very tightly.

ESTRIN: And, you know, at that southernmost tip of Gaza, the Egyptian border is now open, but very few Palestinians are being allowed to leave Gaza through that border, only those with foreign nationalities or affiliations with foreign institutions.

INSKEEP: How are Israelis across the border reflecting on this month of war?

ESTRIN: This morning there were - radio broadcasts marked a moment of silence, and there's going to be a memorial ceremony with music this evening in Tel Aviv. But this is very not a moment to look back. It's still, for Israelis, an ongoing nightmare. There's Hamas rocket fire ongoing, people running into bomb shelters every day, a nightmare especially for the families of more than 200 hostages held in Gaza. And we met a grandfather, Shmuel Brodutch. He was wearing a T-shirt with the photos of his three young grandkids, who are being held in Gaza. And he thinks Israeli leaders are not prioritizing their release.

SHMUEL BRODUTCH: They don't feel that the children there are their children. That's my problem. I want them to feel that it's their children. I want them to go to sleep with these pictures.

ESTRIN: And meanwhile, Steve, a quarter of a million Israelis have been displaced from their homes.

INSKEEP: How does this war in size and scale and human suffering compare with other wars that you've covered there?

ESTRIN: Well, this is - the magnitude is historic, Steve. This is the deadliest round of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war, which - where Israel was founded, where Palestinians were uprooted from their homes. So Palestinians in Gaza are fearing yet another mass displacement like that formative time. Israelis and Jews are experiencing this as the biggest single day of loss that they've had since the Holocaust.

INSKEEP: And it's nowhere near an end. NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv, thanks so much.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case about gun rights and domestic violence.

INSKEEP: A federal law prevents people from holding firearms if they have a domestic violence restraining order against them. In the case United States v. Rahimi, gun rights advocates asked the court to overturn that law.

MARTIN: Joining us to talk about the case is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Nina, good morning.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Good morning to you.

MARTIN: So could you just set this up for us? Why could this case have such a big impact on other gun laws?

TOTENBERG: You know, Michel, 16 months ago, the Supreme Court broke sharply with the way gun laws had been handled by the courts in the past. In a landmark decision - really a landmark - the conservative court majority ruled that in order to be constitutional, a gun law has to be analogous to a law that existed at the time of the nation's founding in the late 1700s. So today's case tests how far the conservative court wants to go, and it does so in a case with appealing facts for those advocating for gun regulations.

MARTIN: Tell us, what are those facts?

TOTENBERG: Well, the defendant here is Zackey Rahimi, and he's sort of a poster child for why Congress in 1994 passed this law on this issue, which makes it a crime for anyone subject to a domestic violence order to have a gun. Rahimi's girlfriend got a court order after he assaulted her in a parking lot and fired his gun at a bystander who saw the attack. After being warned by the judge that it was illegal for him to possess firearms while the court order was in place, Rahimi threatened another woman with a gun and fired a gun in five different locations in a period of a month. When the police searched his home, they found a lot of guns, and he ultimately pleaded guilty to violating the federal law. But he continued to press his challenge to that law, and he found a supportive audience in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the statute unconstitutional.

MARTIN: On what grounds?

TOTENBERG: Remember, the Supreme Court said a gun law is unconstitutional if it doesn't have an analogue to the founding era. But even the law's defenders agree there is no precise analogue to that period. Here, for example, is former Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, who was in charge of the Justice Department's criminal appellate docket for 24 years.

MICHAEL DREEBEN: At the founding, domestic violence was not considered to be a serious problem that warranted legal intervention. Women were viewed more or less as property of their husbands. The second feature of change dynamics is that firearms are now the weapon of choice in domestic violence conflicts, in a way that was not true at the founding.

TOTENBERG: Those realities, the government argues, justify a, quote, "more nuanced" analogue to the 1700s.

MARTIN: OK, so what's the argument from the other side?

TOTENBERG: The other side says that nuance is the government's way of throwing spaghetti at the wall in hopes that something will stick. Here's Jerry Beard, who used to be a public defender in the office that's representing Zackey Rahimi.

JERRY BEARD: They're basically saying, we don't like this test. If they cannot point to an analogue, they're in trouble. The statute is probably unconstitutional.

TOTENBERG: And of course, if this statute is unconstitutional, similar state, local and federal laws, other ones, will be unconstitutional too, and lots of gun laws that don't have a strong analogue to the 1790s.

MARTIN: That is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Nina, thank you.

TOTENBERG: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion rights advocates in many states have brought the issue directly to voters.

MARTIN: Now, in Ohio, voters are deciding whether to establish a constitutional right to abortion in that state. That election ends tonight.

INSKEEP: Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles has been covering this story. Welcome back, Jo.

JO INGLES, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK, so it's Election Day - constitutional amendment on the ballot in Ohio. What would that amendment do?

INGLES: This amendment would guarantee the right to an abortion up to the point of viability and later, if a doctor deems it is necessary for the health or life of the mother.

INSKEEP: OK, up to the point of viability - that is different, of course, in different pregnancies. But we're talking about several months into a pregnancy that you would have a right to an abortion. Correct?

INGLES: Correct.

INSKEEP: OK, so that is what the constitutional amendment would do. What is Ohio's law right now?

INGLES: Well, Ohio has a six-week abortion ban that was in place for 82 days last summer after Roe v. Wade was overturned. But a group of doctors took that to a county court, and the court ruled that the law was vague because it wasn't being applied uniformly. So now that ban is before the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court could reinstate it if this amendment fails. But if the amendment passes, it would no longer be constitutional.

INSKEEP: OK, OK. Let me ask something else. Didn't Ohio already have a vote somewhat on this issue earlier this year?

INGLES: Yes, in August. Republicans had put an issue on the ballot, a constitutional amendment that would have increased the threshold for passing constitutional amendments, including this one, to 60%. But that effort failed.

INSKEEP: Oh, OK. So they were trying to change the rules under which this election would take place. That didn't happen.

INGLES: Correct.

INSKEEP: So a majority gets to decide what the Constitution in Ohio will say. What are you hearing from voters now as Election Day arrives?

INGLES: Well, there are a lot of different opinions. There have been tens of millions of dollars poured into ads here - very contentious issue, highly advertised. The governor and his wife have appeared in an ad saying this amendment, which is similar to the one in Michigan, goes too far. But the polls show that there is very low support for that abortion ban, the six-week abortion ban, and the polls also show that somewhere between 56 to 58% of Ohioans support some abortion rights. Now, Ohio is a red state. You remember that.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

INGLES: But abortion has been on the ballot in several states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and in each instance, in both red and blue states, anti-abortion activists or advocates have lost.

INSKEEP: OK, so a lot of signs pointing to support for abortion rights in Ohio, but people do have to vote. It matters who shows up. So are you hearing last-minute pitches from each side?

INGLES: We're hearing a lot of last-minute pitches from each side. They're even going door to door, and supporters are reminding Ohioans about that story that we all heard last year of the 10-year-old rape victim who had to go to Indiana for an abortion. That didn't play well with the Ohio electorate. And supporters of the amendment are saying, you know, we could go back to that. Governor DeWine, however, is saying that if this amendment fails, he'll do something with lawmakers to include exceptions for rape and incest in the six-week ban. But that's a big if, Steve, 'cause here's the problem. If he tries to do that, he needs the legislature to cooperate. And so far, this General Assembly has not been showing any signs that it wants to change abortion policies.

INSKEEP: Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, thanks for your insights.

INGLES: 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 is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws 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 is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.