A coalition of 19 attorneys general filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court arguing an appeal to keep former President Donald Trump off the primary ballot can’t be decided by the courts.
The 41-page brief, led by Republican Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia and Theodore Rokita of Indiana, argues Congress should decide any alleged violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The brief states the “courts have no business second guessing Congress’s decisions to enforce – or not enforce—the Clause,” referring to the insurrection clause in the amendment.
“The Fourteenth Amendment entrusts Insurrection Clause questions to Congress—not state officials or state courts,” the brief states. “The Amendment vests Congress with ‘power to enforce’ the Insurrection Clause ‘by appropriate legislation’ and power to ‘remove [the] disability’ it imposes.”
The brief was filed on the same day as a brief by three Republican secretaries of state arguing the case should be dismissed because District Court Judge Sarah Wallace described Trump as an “insurrectionist.”
Judge Wallace ruled in favor of Trump earlier this month. Although she wrote Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, “incited imminent lawless violence,” his words didn’t meet the amendment’s requirement of “engagement.”
The attorneys general argue the definition of “insurrection” shouldn’t be decided by the courts.
“For example, the term ‘insurrection’ is hardly as well defined as the district court let on,” the brief states. “And allowing each state and its courts to determine eligibility using malleable standards would create an unworkable patchwork of eligibility requirements for President.”
“… In truth, an ‘insurrection’ is more serious than the district court’s definition supposes. Where the Constitution uses the term ‘insurrection,’ that term appears alongside terms like ‘invasion’ and ‘rebellion.’”
The brief aligns with arguments submitted by the secretaries of state regarding a prediction of “electoral chaos” if a party’s presidential candidate appears on some state primary ballots but not on others.
The brief states the Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives after Jan. 6, 2021, and subsequent acquittal by the Senate shows Congress hasn’t found him guilty of an infraction under the constitution.
“Congress, then, has rendered its judgment – and it disagrees with petitioners’ view that former President Trump engaged in insurrection,” the brief states. “Petitioners want this Court to try again, but ‘[f]ailure of political will does not justify unconstitutional remedies.'"
Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming joined Morrisey and Rokita in filing the brief.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump in a similar case and an appeal in Michigan is ongoing.
(The Center Square)– Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor died at 93 on Friday morning in Phoenix.
O'Connor died because of "complications" with dementia and "a respiratory illness," according to the court's news release. She was appointed to serve on the high court by late President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and she retired in 2006.
“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor," Chief Justice John Roberts said in a news release. "We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”
The former justice was born in Texas, but she spent much of her life in Arizona. In the 1960s she was the former Deputy Attorney General of Arizona before serving in the state Senate in 1969. She then served on the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals until she made her way to the Supreme Court, the news release states.
National and Arizona leaders reacted to her death by reflecting on her unique legacy.
"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor– Arizona's original cowgirl– paved the way for countless women like me in law and life," Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter. "She was fiercely independent just like Arizona, and she worked tirelessly to do what's best for our state and country. Arizona and and America are grateful for her service and leadership."
Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey shared a photo of the pair together in his reflection.
"Ronald Reagan put it best when he called Justice O’Connor a 'person for all seasons.' Her life and career are a testament to hard work, determination, Western grit and the American dream," Ducey tweeted. "From the Arizona Senate to the United States Supreme Court, she broke barriers and shattered any ceiling that stood in her way. Justice O’Connor was a force of nature, with a keen grasp on basic common sense. Her legacy must be remembered, and her life and lessons learned by every American child. Angela and I pray for her entire family. May she rest in peace."
According to the news release, she left behind three children and six grandchildren. Her husband, John, died in 2009.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who help steer U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and China, died Wednesday. He was 100.
His consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., announced the death.
Kissinger, born as Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Germany in 1923, left Nazi Germany for America in 1938. He served in the 84th Army Division from 1943 to 1946 after becoming a U.S. citizen. He was awarded the Bronze Star. He later served in the Counter Intelligence Corps in occupied Germany.
President Richard Nixon appointed Kissinger National Security Adviser in 1969. He went on to serve as Secretary of State under Nixon. When Nixon resigned in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal, Kissinger stayed on and served under President Gerald Ford.
"Kissinger played central roles in the opening to China, negotiating the end of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, and helping to bring America's role in the Vietnam War to a close. He worked to set the former Rhodesia on the path to representative government and negotiated key arms control agreements with the Soviet Union," according to Kissinger Associates Inc.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, a Vietnamese diplomat, "for jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam in 1973," according to the Noble Foundation. Le Duc Tho declined the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Kissinger’s tenure as Secretary comprised many controversial issues, including his role in influencing U.S. policies towards countries such as Chile and Angola," according to his official State Department biography.
Kissinger also was known for his "shuttle diplomacy" missions, in which he traveled between Middle East capitals to try to bring peace.
Kissinger also had many critics. HuffPost's obituary of Kissinger had the headline: "Henry Kissinger, America's Most Notorious War Criminal, Dies At 100". HuffPost cited as perhaps Kissinger's most notorious crime a secret four-year bombing campaign in Cambodia against the neutral nation during the time of the Vietnam War.
Kissinger is survived by his wife, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children by his first marriage, David and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.
He will be interred at a private family service.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests considering donations to: Animal Medical Center, Development Office, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065 or Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.
(The Center Square) – Many children in Wisconsin schools have not returned to class since the COVID outbreak.
A new report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty looks at the spike in chronic absenteeism, particularly since the start of the 2020 school year.
“The first step in the education of a student is them being present to absorb the material. But when a student is regularly not in school, this process breaks down,” Will Flanderrs wrote in the report. “Getting kids into school on a daily basis is a responsibility shared by school districts and parents. While there is no one change that can magically reverse the downward trend in attendance, it is vital that this issue be at the forefront for policymakers concerned about the education of the next generation.”
The report shows truancy rates in Wisconsin public schools have more than doubled since 2012.
“About 10% of students were chronically absent in 2012 compared to more than 20% today,” the report notes.
The report also shows some of Wisconsin’s worst-performing schools have the highest absentee numbers.
“Beloit, Racine, and Milwaukee are among the districts with the lowest Forward Exam proficiency, but highest absenteeism,” the report said. “Many of the districts with the lowest rates of absenteeism are elementary-only districts – suggestive of the fact that students tend to skip school significantly more as they age and parental oversight declines. Many of Wisconsin’s largest-enrollment school districts are found at the top.”
Racine Schools have the highest absentee rate, followed by Beloit Schools, Milwaukee Public Schools, Ashland Schools and Green Bay Area Public Schools.
Wauzeka-Steuben Schools have the lowest absentee rate, followed by Stone Bank Schools, the Paris J1 district, Swallow Schools and Kohler Schools.
WILL’s report also looks at the effort to fight chronic absenteeism, which is largely non-existent in many communities.
“In most of Wisconsin, actual charges under the state’s truancy laws are quite rare. The most common charge is for contributing to the truancy of a minor,” the report notes. “This charge has been levied 359 times between 2018 and 2022, with only 109 eventual convictions. A very small number of counties contribute to the overall numbers.”
WILL’s report shows Winnebago and Marathon counties account for more than 70 of those 109 convictions. Prosecutors in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Beloit did not record a single truancy conviction between 2018 and 2022.
WILL’s suggested solution is not more prosecutions but rather more education for parents.
“There is conventional wisdom, especially among low-income parents, that attendance in early grades is less critical than, say, high school attendance. But the reality is largely the opposite: students who fall behind early in subjects like reading are often never able to catch back up,” the report states. “Another key factor in reducing absenteeism is making sure that students feel safe in school. A number of studies over the years have found that a negative school environment, or even news of recent school violence, lead to higher rates of absenteeism. WILL has done extensive work over the years on the ways that politically correct discipline policies have harmed school safety. Moving away from softer discipline policies and returning resource officers to schools where needed could improve not only safety, but also attendance.”
New home sales in the U.S. dropped last month as mortgage rates have soared.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, new home sales fell 5.6% in October, more than expected.
“The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2023 was $409,300,” the Bureau said in its announcement. “The average sales price was $487,000.”
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the U.S. in October rose to nearly 8% before dipping closer to 7% in November. About this time in 2021, the average rate was around 3%.
That interest rate spike has been fueled in large part by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has hiked the federal funds rate about a dozen times since March of last year in an effort to combat elevated inflation.
Both inflation and those rates can eventually come down, but it would take time.
“With interest rates edging higher in October, it was expected that new home sales would disappoint, however, as mortgage rates inched lower following Treasury's November 1 announcement of lower than anticipated funding needs, coupled with the market's perception of a decidedly more dovish Fed, rates have edged lower fueling a climb in mortgage applications,” Quincy Krosby, Chief Global Strategist for LPL Financial, said in a statement.
Roughly 32,000 babies have been born in states that implemented abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, according to a new analysis.
In the first six months of 2023, “births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans," leading to an estimated 32,000 births that might have otherwise been aborted, according to a new analysis published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics initiated by the Deutsche Post Foundation.
“These effects may vary across demographic groups and tend to be larger for younger women and women of color; … vary substantially across ban states, with much larger effects observed in states that are bordered by other ban states and hence have long travel distances to reach facilities that remain open.”
Its November 2023 “Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility” report states that the “U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked the most profound transformation of the landscape of abortion access in 50 years. We provide the first estimates of the effects of this decision on fertility using a preregistered synthetic difference-in-differences design applied to newly released provisional natality data for the first half of 2023.”
The analysis is based on provisional data for the first six months of 2023. “If future research using finalized data and additional policy variation reveals continued substantial effects on birth, then we expect long-lasting and profound effects on the lives of affected pregnant people and their families, including effects on educational investment, employment, earnings, and financial security.”
As of Nov. 1, 2023, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion in nearly all circumstances, the report notes. Because roughly 23% of American women seeking an abortion experienced an increase in driving distance to the nearest abortion facility (from 43 miles before Dobbs to 330 miles after Dobbs), the driving distance “represents the most profound transformation of the landscape of U.S. abortion access in 50 years.”
According to a different study by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, nearly as many babies are believed to have been born in Texas alone since its new heartbeat bill went into effect Sept. 1, 2021.
Within eight months of the new law going into effect, there were nearly 9,800 live births in Texas from April to December 2022, according to the Johns Hopkins study. If the rate were consistent through November 2023, of an additional 1,225 live births a month, the number of babies born in Texas that otherwise might have been aborted is closer to nearly 32,000 since Sept. 1, 2021.
Suzanne Bell, a lead author of Johns Hopkins study, said their “findings highlight how abortion bans have real implications for birthing people, thousands of whom may have had no choice but to continue an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term. Notably, the majority of people who seek abortions live below or close to the poverty line. So many of these birthing people and their families were likely struggling financially even before the recent birth.”
State Sen. Brian Hughes, R-Mineola, who authored Texas’ heartbeat bill, told The Center Square, “Each of these lives is a gift of God and reflects His image. And since passage of the Heartbeat Act, we have drastically increased funding for expectant and new mothers and their babies.
“In Texas, we are proving that we can save the life of the baby while we love, and respect, and support the mother.”
In addition to signing the state’s first heartbeat bill into law, Gov. Greg Abbott signed bills into law extending Medicaid health-care coverage to 12 months post-partum, appropriated more than $447 million for women’s health programs and invested over $140 million in the Thriving Texas Families program.
Prior to Roe being overturned, "In 2020, approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion," the IZA study states, noting that the majority of those seeking abortions, 75%, were low-income. Another 59% said they had previously given birth and 55% reported some kind of hardship including falling behind on rent or losing a job.
Hughes’ bill, SB 8, passed the Texas legislature with bipartisan support and was signed into law in May 2021. By October 2021, a federal judge halted it. By April 2022, the Fifth Circuit overturned that ruling and ended all challenges to the law. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June 2022, Texas’ law went into full effect in August 2022.
Texas’ law is considered to be among the strictest in the nation. It bans abortions from being performed in Texas as soon as a heartbeat of the preborn baby is detected, with limited exceptions. It created a second-degree felony offense for a person who knowingly performs, induces or attempts an abortion. The offense is enhanced to a first-degree felony if an unborn child dies from an abortion. Anyone who violates the law performing an abortion can also be subject to a minimum civil penalty of $100,000 for each violation, with exceptions.
The Denver school district is among the first in the country to adopt a “language justice” policy as a "long term goal."
The district would encourage non-English speaking students to be able to use their native language to learn as opposed to being educated in English, which advocates say is oppressive and rooted in racism.
Denver schools had about 90,250 students in 2022 with 35,000 multilingual learners with home languages other than English. The district has 200 languages spoken across the district, with Spanish as the home language for the majority of those.
The district included a draft of an equity document that includes a policy statement on "language justice." It was included in the Nov. 16 school board agenda. The document includes this definition for "language justice": "The notion of respecting every individual's fundamental language rights – to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful."
The district didn't respond to an email seeking comment. It's not clear how much such a policy would cost and the district didn't provide details in the school board agenda packet of how to implement it.
The Colorado chapter of the education advocacy organization Stand For Children stated it worked with the Denver school district to get the language justice policy adopted.
"We will continue to work with school leaders and staff to help provide knowledge of these policies and strategies to accomplish language justice in every classroom and school," Colorado Stand For Children posted on its website.
The Community Language Cooperative, which has advocated for language justice, referred to a chart that explained what is involved in the program.
"The organization has allocated significant funds to language justice efforts. This is a yearly budget line item," the chart states.
It also states that meetings or public events "are facilitated in the represented languages. ... Interpretation is made available to all participants, not just the non-English speakers."
The organization would also hire bilingual staff members, put them in leadership positions and pay them "equitably" to "ensure that bilingualism is a valued skill for the organization."
"It's not just a matter of hiring more interpreters and translators but rather creating systems and building the infrastructure that best supports linguistically diverse families and supporting multilingual staff," Rosa Guzman-Snyder, co-founder of Community Language Cooperative, said in an email to The Center Square.
The Community Language Cooperative, which provides translation services, explained in a post on The Colorado Trust's website how language justice could be implemented.
"Here’s how it works: When somebody speaks in English, [interpreter Luis] Gomez simultaneously whispers the Spanish interpretation into his mic, which feeds the headsets of everyone in the room. There’s another person whispering the English interpretation when somebody speaks Spanish," the post read.
The impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is gaining momentum as more evidence comes out to back allegations that the president himself financially benefited from the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter.
While Republicans will find it very difficult to get the needed supermajority to impeach Biden, the mounting evidence and media coverage would be another obstacle for Biden to overcome as he campaigns for reelection.
The House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has filed a flurry of subpoenas in the investigation of Biden family members and associates this month, starting with Hunter Biden, the president’s son, James Biden, the president’s brother, and their business associate Bob Walker.
Comer then sent subpoenas for Hunter Biden’s business associates, Mervyn Yan and Eric Schwerin, as well as his gallerist, George Bergès, and art patron, Elizabeth Naftali.
As The Center Square previously reported, Hunter Biden’s art business has come under scrutiny as critics argue his expensive works were used to hide and funnel funds.
Comer has also sent a subpoena to former White House Counsel Dana Remus, raising concerns about Biden’s handling and retention of classified documents. Federal law enforcement found classified documents in Biden’s garage and his office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. from his time as Vice President.
Notably, former President Donald Trump faces criminal charges for the same offense. Biden has not yet been charged.
In the Remus subpoena, Comer is planning a deposition to find out more about Biden’s handling of classified documents and if there is any connection to those documents and the countries involved in his family’s overseas business dealings.
Notably, reporting has suggested some of the classified documents may have been related to Ukraine, a country that allegedly funneled millions of dollars to the Biden family.
“Facts continue to emerge showing that the White House’s narrative of President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents doesn’t add up,” Comer said in a statement. “It is imperative to learn whether President Biden retained sensitive documents related to any countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings that brought in millions for the Biden family. The Oversight Committee looks forward to hearing directly from Dana Remus and other central figures to further our investigation into President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents and determine whether our national security has been compromised.”
The committee has released evidence that the Biden family and associates received more than $24 million from entities in China, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan. Comer says that money was shuffled between shell companies to hide its origin and destination.
Comer has also released copies of two checks for a total of $240,000 from family members made out to the president. The memo says “loan repayment,” but Comer argues these payments are evidence of kickbacks going to the president as Hunter and associates used the president’s political clout to secure deals worldwide.
President Biden has repeatedly dismissed the idea that he personally benefited from any overseas deals.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched the impeachment inquiry earlier this year, putting Comer, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Chair of the Judiciary Committee as well as Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., who leads the Ways and Means Committee, at the helm of the impeachment inquiry.
Comer, Jordan and Smith sent a letter last week to Hollywood lawyer and Democrat donor Kevin Morris requesting a transcribed interview. They pointed to media reports that Morris lent millions to Hunter Biden.
“Instead of investigating his loans as a potential campaign finance violation, the Justice Department, revealed in documents released by the Ways and Means Committee, said they had no interest in doing so, with one DOJ prosecutor saying they were not ‘personally interested’ in following the facts,” Smith said in a statement. “It’s time that Americans learn the truth about Kevin Morris’s monetary contributions to the Biden family business dealings.”
Comer, though, has largely spearheaded the investigation, releasing a series of documentation and evidence, including bank records and testimony from IRS whistleblowers who testified that the Biden administration interfered into their investigation into Hunter Biden.
Comer also requested transcribed interviews last week with four former White House employees: Annie Tomasini, Anthony Bernal, Katharine Reilly, and Ashley Williams.
“The Oversight Committee has conducted transcribed interviews in connection with this matter, including with individuals who worked at Penn Biden Center, one of whom was present at Penn Biden Center on November 2, 2022—the day that, according to the President’s personal attorney, classified materials were first “unexpectedly discovered,’” Comer said in a letter to Williams. “The Committees are now aware that, in addition to Ms. Kathy Chung (a Department of Defense employee), at least five White House employees accessed Penn Biden Center prior to the “discovery” of classified materials on November 2 and accessed boxes stored therein—including yourself on October 12, 2022, with President Biden’s personal attorney, Patrick Moore, and again, the next day, on October 13, 2022.”
Multiple border crossings are closed and two are dead after a vehicle explosion Wednesday on the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge connecting Canada and the United States.
Multiple reports say law enforcement sources are investigating as a possible terrorist attack. The explosion occurred at or near a toll checkpoint, the car was traveling at a high rate of speed, and both occupants in the vehicle were killed.
The afternoon before Thanksgiving Day, all four border crossings in western New York were closed.
No motive was immediately conveyed by federal or state authorities. There were no other reports of additional injuries on the bridge or surrounding area. It is unclear what precipitated the explosion.
The FBI confirmed the explosion and coordinated the investigation with state and local lawmen.
“The FBI Buffalo Field Office is investigating a vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge, a border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Niagara Falls,” the FBI said in a release. "The FBI is coordinating with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in this investigation. As this situation is very fluid, that all we can say at this time."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, posting on social media, said state police and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was working “to monitor all points of entry to New York.”
Hochul, in another social media post, wrote, “I have been briefed on the incident on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and we are closely monitoring the situation. State agencies are on site and ready to assist.”
The explosion came at one of the nation's busiest travel times.
“Cars coming into the Buffalo Airport will undergo security checks and travelers can expect additional screenings,” said a statement from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
President Joe Biden is vacationing in Nantucket, Mass. A White House statement said the administration was “closely monitoring” the situation.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefly commented on the incident in Parliament, saying, “This is obviously a very serious situation in Niagara Falls.” He excused himself from a Question Period in the House of Commons while being briefed on the attempted attack.
A University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy professor is waving a red flag on the impact that artificial intelligence could have on next year’s elections.
Ethan Bueno de Mesquita has written a white paper which he said provides an overview of the potential impact of generative AI on the electoral process. The paper offers specific recommendations for voters, journalists, civil society, tech leaders and other stakeholders to help manage the risks and capitalize on the promise of AI for electoral democracy in the hope of fostering a more productive public discussion of these issues.
“The No. 1 issue that we need to be thinking about are the ways in which AI is going to matter for elections and the ways it poses risks of degrading the information environment for voters,” Bueno de Mesquita said.
The Federal Election Commission has been investigating the possibility of regulating AI-generated images known as "deepfakes" in political ads ahead of next year’s elections.
The Biden administration recently issued an executive order on AI that “will develop effective labeling and content provenance mechanisms, so that Americans are able to determine when content is generated using AI and when it is not.”
Bueno de Mesquita said that misinformation or a “deepfake” close to election day could be damaging “if such a thing gets released and gets released widely on social media or traditional media very close to the election when there is not enough time for responsible actors to figure out what's true and what's false and help voters sort through that information."
According to a survey by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, 58% of Americans believe AI will increase the spread of election misinformation, but only 14% plan to use AI to get information about the presidential election.
In the white paper, Bueno de Mesquita notes that during the campaign season, there is ample misleading content that is not AI-generated, and there will be plenty of perfectly accurate AI-generated content. Ultimately “there will be no substitute for your skepticism, common sense, and trusted sources,” he said.