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Landmark Supreme Court ruling, tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and is this the second wave of COVID-19?

"Good things can happen": LGBTQ advocates are celebrating the Supreme Court ruling.
Image: Supreme Court Issues Orders And Releases Opinions
Advocates celebrated outside the U.S. Supreme Court building after the court ruled that LGBTQ people can not be disciplined or fired based on their sexual orientation on Monday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

A landmark Supreme Court ruling, tensions grow on the Korean Peninsula, and are we in a second wave of COVID-19 in the U.S.?

Here's what we're watching this Tuesday morning.


Two Supreme Court jaw droppers: The landmark gay rights ruling and its surprise author

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.

The decision was a major victory for advocates of gay rights and for the nascent transgender rights movement — and a surprising one from an increasingly conservative court.

By a vote of 6-3, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person's sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.

Given the Supreme Court's recent rulings on hot-button social issues, Monday's lopsided vote was stunning, NBC News' Justice Correspondent Pete Williams writes in a news analysis.

Even more surprising is that the majority opinion was written by President Donald Trump's first appointee to the court — Neil Gorsuch.

"Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result," Gorsuch wrote, adding, "But the limits of the drafters' imagination supply no reason to ignore the law's demands."

"Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit," he wrote.

The ruling was a victory for Gerald Bostock, one of the plaintiffs in the case who was fired from a county job in Georgia after he joined a gay softball team.

"I had faith in the system and I had faith that the justices would do the right thing," Bostock said.


North Korea blows up liaison office with South, escalating tensions

South Korea has accused North Korea of demolishing an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the border between the two countries on Tuesday morning as tensions continue to escalate on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, confirmed to NBC News that the liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong was demolished "by bombing" on Tuesday afternoon local time.

On Friday, North Korea said it was pulling away from its relationship with the U.S. two years after a historic handshake between Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore, saying there had been no actual improvement in ties.

Here's how President Donald Trump's North Korea gamble went bust.


Is this the second wave of COVID-19 in the U.S.? Or are we still in the first?

For several weeks in May, it seemed as though the coronavirus was finally ebbing: National case counts, which rose astronomically earlier in the spring, had leveled off. States had started the process of reopening.

Now, cases are rising again, prompting fears that a second wave has hit the U.S.

NBC News reached out to several experts who study patterns of disease. All agreed: No, this isn't a second wave.

A second wave of the coronavirus suggests that the first wave has come and gone. That hasn't happened.

"We never made it out of the first wave," said Dr. David Weber, medical director of hospital epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill.

So far, more than 116,000 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the U.S, according to NBC News count.

But how many people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. has become a major point of contention and even a political football in some corners. Why is that? Different ways of counting have made the tally elusive.


Calls for justice grow after Rayshard Brooks shooting by police

Celebrities joined the growing chorus calling for justice over the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by an Atlanta police officer Friday.

In the wake of Brooks' death and the widespread protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today on police reform.

The package would create a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct and include language encouraging police departments to involve mental health professionals when dealing with issues of homelessness, mental illness and addiction, a senior administration official told reporters.

Listen to our podcast: Into America. In the latest episode, host Trymaine Lee gets into the fatal police shooting of Brooks and its fallout.


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Plus


THINK about it

Dave Chappelle's new George Floyd special is a thunderous expression of Black rage, Brandon Manning, an assistant professor of black studies at Texas Christian University, writes in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

How to have friends over this summer — safely.


Shopping

Chances are you've been baking more lately. Here are the best cookie cutters to do the job right.


Quote of the day

"Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love."

Gerald Bostock, one of the plaintiffs in Monday's Supreme Court case, said in a statement.


One interesting thing

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 10 million tourists flooded Venice every year.

But now with tourists gone, for the first time in living memory residents have the city all to themselves.

As Venice starts reopening, its citizens have begun re-imagining what their city might look like, and whether they want mass tourism to return.

Check out this fascinating video. It's part of a new series from NBC News Digital, "The Next Italian Renaissance," exploring how Italy is adapting and living with life during the coronavirus pandemic.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra Cahill