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VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: I do believe that there is a national movement afoot to attack hard-won and hard-fought freedoms.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Vice President Kamala Harris is talking there with our colleague Michel Martin. Harris was referring to several big Supreme Court decisions.

HARRIS: The court took rights from the people of America. Congress can put those rights back in place. We cannot through executive action, Congress can.

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

And with that remark on NPR's MORNING EDITION, Harris pointed to the next election. Americans will vote for president and Congress. So how will the candidates use the court rulings as a pitch to voters?

INSKEEP: NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is here. Domenico, good morning.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so the court said President Biden overreached when he forgave more than $400 billion worth of student loans. Biden says he's going to try to forgive them in some other way. But what happens now?

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, Biden's going to try another path, you know, through the Education Department and the Higher Education Act. But a lot of legal scholars thought that how Biden went about this originally was not going to hold up in court, especially with this conservative majority court, and it did not. Some are blaming Biden for what they see as overpromising and under-delivering. The White House hopes to blunt that by blaming Republicans and the court. Here was the president speaking about this decision.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: What I did I thought was appropriate and was able to be done and would get done. I didn't give borrowers false hope, but the Republicans snatched away the hope that they were given. And it's real, real hope.

MONTANARO: You know, how younger voters in particular interpret this is going to be key because they're a critical part of the Democratic base. And they've been skeptical of Biden.

INSKEEP: Yeah, interesting question. Do they blame the president because it didn't happen or blame the court for getting in the way? Two other big decisions I want to ask about. The court sided with a Colorado web designer who wanted clearance in advance to deny wedding services to same-sex couples. The court said fine. The court also struck down using race as a factor for elite university admissions. So how did those rulings compare to public opinion?

MONTANARO: Well, when you look at public opinion on these rulings, it's mixed. I mean, the country is becoming increasingly supportive of LGBTQ rights in general. But for affirmative action, it's a little more complicated. In general, Americans say they're in favor of continuing affirmative action programs. But when pollsters ask specifically about the use of race in college admissions, majorities say they're against the practice. That's especially true of whites and Asian Americans.

The question here really is whether this decision motivates Black voters to go out and vote in some respects, because we're seeing right now that we're in a moment where many Black Americans feel under assault with not just this decision but policies that have been enacted across the country. And when you add that to the anger that many people feel on the - in the middle and on the left about abortion rights, Democrats certainly hope that these decisions will keep their base engaged ahead of the next presidential election next year.

INSKEEP: There's certainly a partisan difference on views of the Supreme Court. Republican presidential candidates have been praising it.

MONTANARO: Oh, absolutely. You know, the candidates very much lined up behind the court. Former President Trump took credit for appointing these justices. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis actually fired back at Trump, pointing out that in 2015, Trump had said he was fine with affirmative action. Former Vice President Pence even went so far as to say that there's no racial inequity in schools any longer and that affirmative action may have been necessary 50 years ago, but not any longer. When you just look at test scores, though, I mean, the racial achievement gap is still wide and, you know, even if it's a bit smaller than the '60s and '70s. You know, Republican candidates are really running to the right on a host of policies, many of which are unpopular with the broader public.

INSKEEP: Domenico, thanks as always for your insights, really appreciate it.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

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INSKEEP: An army of police, 45,000 of them, were on the streets of cities in France again last night.

SCHMITZ: And the police presence is finally starting to seem like enough. They arrested far fewer people than on previous nights. The country has faced almost a week of violent protests after police killed a 17-year-old during a traffic stop last Tuesday.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us now from France. Hey there, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, guys.

INSKEEP: What was the weekend like?

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know, I was in the southern Mediterranean port city of Marseille, which has been one of the most hard-hit cities. Here's what it sounded like, Steve.

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BEARDSLEY: There were pitched running battles going on between the riot police and groups of young people across the old port and through the streets. Surreal scenes of these mostly young protesters, some as young as 14, playing cat and mouse game with the cops as they rampaged through the city while startled tourists looked on. And I talked to some of these young rioters. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Non-English language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: What they told me is that the cops are racist and treat them horribly, smack them around. You know, most of these kids, they're French, but they're of Arab or African origin. And they said the cops should be protecting us, but instead we're scared of them. And that's why we're out here, to teach the cops a lesson. They said that's why we're smashing things. They've looted more than 400 shops in Marseille alone, burned cars, damaged buildings.

And remember, scenes like this, as you said, have played out all over France. There's been widespread vandalism and the senseless destruction of community property like schools and town halls. Remember, this all started last Tuesday when the police shot and killed a 17-year-old named Nahel at a traffic stop. They first said that he'd tried to ram them with his car. Then a video came out showing that the cop had actually killed him through the window at point-blank range. He's been charged with voluntary homicide, but that's when the violence started. But over the weekend, the grandmother of Nahel actually begged people, please, stop rioting.

INSKEEP: Finally, though, last evening, as Rob said, things were a little bit quieter. Does the government think the protests are finally losing steam?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, the government does think that. The interior minister says they have definitely diminished. This may be the end of them. But, you know, the nation is reeling. There's a definite sense of outrage, that it's gone way too far. And it crystallized over something that happened this weekend, Steve. Rioters tried to drive a car into the house of one of the mayors of a suburban town of Paris. He was actually at the town hall dealing with the riots, but his wife and children were home, two young children. She had to flee over the back garden wall and broke her leg doing so. The kids are OK, but there's been a huge outpouring of sympathy for the mayor and anger about it. And there's going to be gatherings and mayors across the country for civil peace today.

INSKEEP: Eleanor, we've seen sometimes in the United States a backlash to protests that changes people's opinions of the original incident. But what does this incident and the strong feelings about it and the protests mean for the political leadership in France?

BEARDSLEY: Well, I think they're under intense pressure to do something about this deep-seated racism that we've seen in the police, but this is not new - it keeps coming back up - and about also the plight of these young people who feel like second-class citizens. So they've got to do something about that. But at the same time, the nation is revolted. And I think the far-right analysts are saying they're going to gain from this. They are all over the airwaves capitalizing on this. Just this morning, somebody from Marine Le Pen's party said these are no-go zones. That used to sound extremist, now people have seen it. They may gain followers after this.

INSKEEP: Capitalizing on the protests, you mean. Eleanor, thanks so much.

BEARDSLEY: Yes. Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.

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INSKEEP: Another day, another series of bizarre events on Twitter.

SCHMITZ: Elon Musk is capping the number of tweets users can see each day. Social media channels typically want to draw as many eyes as possible to their content, so why impose limits on users instead?

INSKEEP: Let's put that question to NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn, who has been covering Elon Musk, gets an email from him from time to time. Hey there, Bobby.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so what is Elon Musk doing?

ALLYN: Yeah, I mean, even for erratic Musk, this is something of a surprise. He says it's an attempt to crack down on companies that scrape Twitter for data. The idea is that if there's a cap on how many tweets users can read, companies won't be able to do mass data scraping. He originally said unverified accounts can read 600 tweets and verified accounts can read 6,000. After massive blowback, he raised the cap a few times. It now sits at 1,000 tweets for those without blue checks and 10,000 for those paying.

Musk says this is all about artificial intelligence companies, right? They train AI models, as we know, by hoovering up tons of data from websites like Twitter. He says all the data scraping makes Twitter less stable for everyday users. It's hard to independently confirm whether this is really why Musk is doing this. But, Steve, there is something we can say without question, and that is Musk is trying to make more money. Twitter has been burning cash for months. And by saying if you want to read more tweets, you got to pay, Musk hopes more people will open their pocketbooks.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, you know, I'm thinking I'm like a lot of people, I have a love-hate relationship. I'm on Twitter a lot. I get a lot out of Twitter. But when I first found out I was being limited, I kind of wanted to say thank you for limiting my time on Twitter.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: How are other users responding?

ALLYN: Yeah, you hear a lot of that. Some Twitter diehards are upset for that very reason. After hitting the threshold, you're now told your rate limit has been exceeded. And you literally can't see tweets from that point on. But there are some other things to consider. For instance, you know, governments and emergency services that use Twitter to get the word out about severe weather or other dangerous situations, now they could be cut off from the public. That could be a real problem.

And advertisers are going to be restricted. And that will mean less revenue generated for Twitter. And some context - this is happening at a time when advertising spending has cratered at Twitter. It's down nearly 60% from a year ago, so bad time to be messing with ad revenue. The new limits were also, you know, so annoying to so many users that many once again said, I'm getting off Twitter. I'm going someplace else, maybe Bluesky, maybe Mastodon. We've been hearing this a lot since Musk bought Twitter back in October.

INSKEEP: Yeah, wasn't there just a wave of people urging everyone to jump ship just a few days ago?

ALLYN: Yes, because Twitter under Elon Musk imposed a new rule that forced you to have an account in order to read a tweet. And social media experts say this is a very bad idea. It makes Twitter less open, less public and more like a walled garden. Not to mention, you know, if somebody sends you a really funny tweet and you want to see the joke, you can't unless you have a Twitter account. So that's kind of a bummer for people who don't have Twitter.

INSKEEP: OK, just a few seconds left. But are these latest changes permanent?

ALLYN: We don't know. We know that Musk says the cap on tweets is temporary. The you need an account to view a tweet thing may be permanent. But users are having fun with this, Steve. One wrote, just got rate limited at my 6,000th tweet and had to leave my office and spend time with my wife and kids for the first time in years. Turns out they're really cool people.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) NPR's Bobby Allyn, part of your unlimited diet of NPR News. Bobby, thanks so much.

ALLYN: Thanks, Steve. 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.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.