With the NATO summit in Brussels quickly approaching and President Trump planning talks with Putin soon, and wth the World Cup happening in Russia right now, all eyes are on Eastern Europe. Heritage scholars advise us to still be vigilant in monitoring our relations with Putin.

The timing of the FIFA World Cup potentially has ominous implications, especially given how different Russia is today than it was when it originally won the FIFA bid in 2010. Heritage expert Alexis Mrachek released an article on the topic in nine different publications last week, where she noted that since winning the bid, Russia has annexed Crimea, invaded Georgia, claimed 10,000 lives in the war against Ukraine, and has interfered in American elections. This relatively quick change for the worse means that we as Americans should be very careful in dealing with the nation.

As such, Heritage experts Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis recommend that the United States make Russia a focus for next week’s NATO summit in Brussels. In a report released last Friday, Coffey and Kochis highlight that Russia is the only existential crisis to NATO countries, and that as an alliance founded to protect its members against invasion, NATO should go back to basics and make defense against Russia its first priority. Coffey and Kochis elaborate on the point in another report, where they point out that many NATO countries have decreased defense spending over the last few years in spite of the stipulations of the North Atlantic Treaty, and despite increasing pressure from Russia. In order to properly defend against threats from the East, they say, it is crucial that America stresses that every country needs to make a commitment to common defense.

We will continue to monitor the situation with Russia and provide you with conservative analysis and solutions as events unfold. Thank you for your support; we couldn’t bring attention to these issues without you.

What do you think about the escalating threats from Russia?

For years, social media platforms like Facebook have shown dangerous biases against conservative messages and users on their platform. And now Heritage is making sure that bias doesn’t impact the social media service anymore.

For the last several months, Heritage has been hosting talks and fostering a relationship with Facebook. This relationship has grown especially since Heritage hired ex-CIA consultant and tech policy expert Klon Kitchen as a senior fellow. In the press release announcing his hire, Heritage expert James Jay Carafano noted that conservatives have largely remained quiet on tech policy in the past, and that with Kitchen’s addition to the Heritage team, conservatives would have an opportunity to advance a conservative worldview on this quickly changing but integral part of our lives.

Kitchen has worked hard to foster the relationship between Heritage and Facebook, recognizing that in order to preserve conservative voices on the social media platforms we spend so much time interacting on, an open conversation needs to happen between the conservative think tank and the tech company. As reported in Axios last May, Facebook agreed to consult with Heritage and with Republican Senator Jon Kyl on how to better work with conservative groups moving forward, and how to be more transparent about its operations. An example of the dialogue happened last April in an event that Kitchen hosted featuring Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monica Bickert, where she and Kitchen discussed the social media platform’s duty to use its influence for the good of all its users.

Last week, mainstream media news sources took notice of the partnership. The Washington Post ran a feature on the change in Facebook’s approach to conservatism, referencing the company’s meetings with us. New Republic, a heavily left-leaning publication, also took note of the relationship. While they took a more jaded view of the partnership, as did CNN in their opinion piece on the topic, the real narrative runs clearly through all of the media attention that the issue has received: left-leaning social media companies aren’t ignoring the conservative message anymore.

Because of you, we have the influence we need to make sure that conservative voices are not silenced. Thank you for your committed support!

What do you think are the best ways to defend conservative viewpoints online?

On Tuesday, NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show hosted John Malcolm, director of Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, to debate Peter Newsham, chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

Malcolm and Newsham discussed District of Columbia v. Heller, a historic case that overturned Washington’s ban on handguns. In the debate, Malcolm explained how there is a great divide in the country about gun control and that Heller upholds our Second Amendment rights.

Listen to a recording of the debate >>

Your support makes it possible for conservative experts to engage in such important discourse in the public square. Thank you so much for being a Heritage member and for defending our rights!

How do you think American cities should approach gun control?

Senator Chuck Grassley, the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, came to speak at The Heritage Foundation on Monday, where he commented on the importance of maintaining checks and balances in a three-branch system of government.

Senator Grassley has been a leading figure on congressional oversight for decades and has dedicated his life to bringing an end to the abuse of power perpetrated by the U.S. government.

The Founders made sure, Grassley stressed, that “the same institution is never entrusted to write the law, interpret its meaning, and enforce the consequences if it’s violated.” Both he and Heritage agree that it is vital for the three branches to go back to a true system of checks and balances, which will gradually dismantle the administrative state.

To learn more, watch the rest of Senator Grassley’s talk here:

Which branch of government do you think needs to be reined in the most?

Last Tuesday and Wednesday were a momentous days at the Supreme Court. Over the course of that brief period, the Court released three rulings that powerfully defend our freedom of speech, our national defense, and our freedom of association.

First, the Court sided in a 5-4 decision with the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), a pro-life crisis pregnancy center that provides free resources and emotional support to women who are coping with an unplanned pregnancy.

NIFLA v. Becerra reversed a California law that forced pro-life centers to advertise why and where to get an abortion. The law not only encroached upon the center’s freedom of speech, it also sought to compel NIFLA to violate its mission and core values.

In a commentary in The Daily Signal, Heritage Legal Fellow Elizabeth Slattery called this decision a win for all Americans, saying “we all should be wary of government compelling dissenting voices to communicate a message that directly contradicts and undermines their very reason for existing.”

Heritage’s initial analysis of the NIFLA’s claim also took Slattery’s stance that California cannot simply force a speaker to express another’s ideology.

In another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s executive order from 2017, which restricted travel from the seven countries that sponsor terrorist groups.

In an official statement, Heritage expert Hans von Spakovsky said, “The decision reaffirmed that the president has the authority as delegated to him by Congress to suspend the entry of aliens from nations that pose a national security threat to the U.S.”

With a final 5-4 decision, in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCM), the Supreme Court ruled that workers cannot be forced to pay labor union fees if they do not want to participate in the unions in the first place.

Slattery applauded the ruling. The Janus decision benefits non-union teachers especially, said Slattery, because the unions “can no longer use compelled fees to lobby against education choice and other political causes that non-union teachers support.”

These were close decisions. If a single judge in the majority had instead dissented in any of these cases, we could have lost crucial parts of our freedom of speech, national security, and freedom of association. That is what makes Justice Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court so important. He is already making a huge impact on the bench by honoring the Constitution instead of manipulating it.

And with Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring soon, Heritage looks forward to helping the President find another judge who will respect the Constitution and defend your freedoms.

These groundbreaking victories belong to you, too, as a proud Heritage member. With your loyal support, cases of religious liberty, national security, and union disputes continue to be heard, which allows our freedoms to flourish.

What’s the next big case you want the Supreme Court to hear?

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