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JUST IN: US Supreme Court restores Trump to ballot

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…reject state attempts to ban him over Capitol attack

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously restored Donald Trump to 2024 presidential primary ballots, rejecting state attempts to ban the Republican former president over the Capitol riot.

The justices ruled a day before the Super Tuesday primaries that states cannot invoke a post-Civil War constitutional provision to keep presidential candidates from appearing on ballots. That power resides with Congress, the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

Trump posted on his social media network shortly after the decision was released: “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!”

The outcome ends efforts in Colorado, Illinois, Maine and elsewhere to kick Trump, the front-runner for his party’s nomination, off the ballot because of his attempts to undo his loss in the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed disappointment in the court’s decision as she acknowledged that “Donald Trump is an eligible candidate on Colorado’s 2024 Presidential Primary.”

Trump’s case was the first at the Supreme Court dealing with a provision of the 14th Amendment that was adopted after the Civil War to prevent former officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office again.

Colorado’s Supreme Court, in a first-of-its-kind ruling, had decided that the provision, Section 3, could be applied to Trump, who that court found incited the Capitol attack. No court before had applied Section 3 to a presidential candidate.

Donald Trump is facing four criminal indictments, and a civil lawsuit.

The justices sidestepped the politically fraught issue of insurrection in their opinions Monday.

The court held that states may bar candidates from state office. “But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the court wrote.

While all nine justices agreed that Trump should be on the ballot, there was sharp disagreement from the three liberal members of the court and a milder disagreement from conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett that their colleagues went too far in determining what Congress must do to disqualify someone from federal office.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson said they agreed that allowing the Colorado decision to stand could create a “chaotic state by state patchwork” but said they disagreed with the majority’s finding a disqualification for insurrection can only happen when Congress enacts legislation. “Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oathbreaking insurrectionist from becoming President,” the three justices wrote in a joint opinion.

It’s unclear whether the ruling leaves open the possibility that Congress could refuse to certify the election of Trump or any other presidential candidate it sees as having violated Section 3.

Derek Muller, a law professor at Notre Dame University, said “it seems no,” noting that the liberals complained that the majority ruling forecloses any other ways for Congress to enforce the provision. Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, wrote that it’s frustratingly unclear what the bounds might be on Congress.

Hasen was among those urging the court to settle the issue so there wasn’t the risk of Congress rejecting Trump under Section 3 when it counts electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2025.

“We may well have a nasty, nasty post-election period in which Congress tries to disqualify Trump but the Supreme Court says Congress exceeded its powers,” he wrote.

Both sides had requested fast work by the court, which heard arguments less than a month ago, on Feb. 8. The justices seemed poised then to rule in Trump’s favor.

Trump had been kicked off the ballots in Colorado, Maine and Illinois, but all three rulings were on hold awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.

The case is the court’s most direct involvement in a presidential election since Bush v. Gore, a decision delivered a quarter-century ago that effectively handed the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush. And it’s just one of several cases involving Trump directly or that could affect his chances of becoming president again, including a case scheduled for arguments in late April about whether he can be criminally prosecuted on election interference charges, including his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The timing of the high court’s intervention has raised questions about whether Trump will be tried before the November election.

The arguments in February were the first time the high court had heard a case involving Section 3. The two-sentence provision, intended to keep some Confederates from holding office again, says that those who violate oaths to support the Constitution are barred from various positions including congressional offices or serving as presidential electors. But it does not specifically mention the presidency.

Conservative and liberal justices questioned the case against Trump. Their main concern was whether Congress must act before states can invoke the 14th Amendment. There also were questions about whether the president is covered by the provision.

The lawyers for Republican and independent voters who sued to remove Trump’s name from the Colorado ballot had argued that there is ample evidence that the events of Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection and that it was incited by Trump, who had exhorted a crowd of his supporters at a rally outside the White House to “fight like hell.” They said it would be absurd to apply Section 3 to everything but the presidency or that Trump is somehow exempt. And the provision needs no enabling legislation, they argued.

Trump’s lawyers mounted several arguments for why the amendment can’t be used to keep him off the ballot. They contended the Jan. 6 riot wasn’t an insurrection and, even if it was, Trump did not go to the Capitol or join the rioters. The wording of the amendment also excludes the presidency and candidates running for president, they said. Even if all those arguments failed, they said, Congress must pass legislation to reinvigorate Section 3.

The case was decided by a court that includes three justices appointed by Trump when he was president. They have considered many Trump-related cases in recent years, declining to embrace his bogus claims of fraud in the 2020 election and refusing to shield tax records from Congress and prosecutors in New York.

The 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore case more than 23 years ago was the last time the court was so deeply involved in presidential politics. Justice Clarence Thomas is the only member of the court who was on the bench then.

Thomas has ignored calls by some Democratic lawmakers to step aside from the Trump case because his wife, Ginni, supported Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results and attended the rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters.

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Probe as Liberian ex-president’s asset papers leaked

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Liberia’s House of Representatives is investigating how former President George Weah’s asset declaration documents were leaked to the public.

All senior government officials in the country, including presidents, are mandated to declare their wealth upon taking office before the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (Lacc).

It is meant to ensure public officials avoid conflicts of interest and illicit wealth accumulation. But such declarations don’t need to be made public.

The former president’s asset declaration documents are said to have been leaked to the public without his consent.

“Weah’s asset declaration form is now all in the public space and on various platforms,” Frank Saah Foko, a local legislator, said.

He said publishing the former president’s declared assets without his consent was illegal.

It is not clear who leaked them but legislators have summoned senior Lacc officials over the leak. They are expected to appear before the lawmakers on Tuesday.

In February, President Joseph Boakai, who won the November presidential run-off election defeating Mr Weah, declared his assets vowing to fight corruption in the country.

Mr Weah’s presidency was plagued with accusations of corruption and faced criticism for the excesses of senior officials.

After Mr Boakai’s inauguration in January, he asked former officials to turn over government assets they had in their possession “without delay and hesitation”.

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World’s oldest conjoined twins who ‘shared 30% of their brains’ dead at 62

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The world’s oldest conjoined twins have sadly passed away at the age of 62.

Lori and George Schappell passed away due to undisclosed causes at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, US, on Sunday (April 7).

The twins previously made headlines when George, formerly Dori, came out as transgender. George had spina bifida and was confined to a wheelchair, which Lori pushed around.

They were born in Pennsylvania on September 18, 1961, with partially fused skulls, sharing vital blood vessels and 30% of their brains. Doctors told them they wouldn’t live past 30.

George and Lori led very different lives despite being attached to each other. George enjoyed a successful career as a country singer, whilst Lori was a trophy-winning ten-pin bowler.

Lori worked at a hospital laundry during the 1990s and arranged her schedule around George’s gigs. The pair travelled around the world to countries including Germany and Japan so George could perform.

They lived independently in a two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania. They each had their own bedroom, alternating between the two each night, and even showered separately using the shower curtain as a barrier.

George was asked whether they wished they had been separated in a 1997 documentary. He said: “Would we be separated? Absolutely not. My theory is – why fix what is not broken?”

According to Guinness World Records, they also became the oldest female conjoined twins in 2015 when they overtook Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, who died aged 53.

Lori and George appeared on a number of TV shows including Jerry Springer and The Howard Stern Radio Show. They leave behind a father and six siblings.

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Mass Shooting In Washington DC Leaves Man Dead, Five Injured

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Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd.

A man has been killed and five injured, including children, in a shooting in Washington, D.C. just minutes away from the White House.

At around 6:15 pm, the suspects drove up and fired into a crowd in the Carver Langston neighborhood on Wednesday evening, according to Police Chief Pamela Smith.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd.

Officers responded to multiple 911 calls about a shooting at around 6.10pm (local time) and upon arrival, located victims of gunshots, she said.

The four wounded, two men, a woman, and a nine-year-old were rushed to the local hospital in an ambulance, while a boy, 12, later arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd

The victims are believed to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Ms Smith said.

Law enforcement officials have released images of the suspected vehicle – a gray or light-blue four-door sedan with paper license tags and heavily tinted windows.

“This is another example, and I’ve been here before in this space, of violence that we cannot, we just cannot, accept in our communities,” she told reporters.

“My condolences go out to the families and friends who were impacted by this senseless gun violence tonight.”

The District of Columbia is struggling with a sharp increase in violent crime, which went up 39 percent in 2023.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd

The increase was largely fueled by a 35 per cent rise in homicides and growth in carjackings, which nearly doubled.

Last month, two people were fatally shot and five others were injured after a shooting broke out in Washington DC.

The shooting occurred around 3am at 7th and P Street NW – a stone’s throw from the Kennedy Recreation Center and a 10-minute drive from the White House.

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