New York State Supreme Court Judge Rules That Trump And Family Can Be Sued

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

  • A New York Supreme Court judge on Friday denied a request from President Donald Trump and his family members to dismiss a lawsuit against them and the Trump Foundation.
  • In her ruling, Justice Saliann Scarpulla shot down an argument from the Trump family’s attorneys that the case should be dismissed because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution suggests “a sitting president may not be sued.”
  • The suit from New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges that the charitable foundation violated state and federal laws for “more than a decade.”
AP: Trump SoHo New York ribbon cutting 170409
In this April, 2010 file photo, Donald Trump, left, chairman and CEO of the Trump Organization, cuts the ribbon with his children Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Trump, Jr. right, at the opening of the Trump SoHo New York.
Mark Lennihan | AP

A New York judge on Friday denied a request from President Donald Trump and his family members to dismiss a lawsuit against them and the Trump Foundation alleging that the charitable foundation violated state and federal laws for “more than a decade.”

In her ruling, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York state Supreme Court shot down an argument from the Trump family’s attorneys that the case should be dismissed because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution suggests “a sitting president may not be sued.”

Scarpulla also rejected Trump’s argument that the state court lacked jurisdiction over the president in this case. While the Constitution prohibits state courts from exercising “direct control” in a way that interferes with federal officers’ duties, Scaruplla wrote: “Here, the allegations raised in the Petition do not involve any action taken by Mr. Trump as president and any potential remedy would not affect Mr. Trump’s official federal duties.”

Scarpulla noted that the defendants “have failed to cite a single case in which any court has dismissed a civil action against a sitting president on Supremacy Clause grounds, where, as here, the action is based on the president’s unofficial acts.”

“I find that I have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump and deny Respondents’ motion to dismiss the petition against him on jurisdictional grounds,” she wrote.

New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood praised Scarpulla’s decision.

“As we detailed in our petition earlier this year, the Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests. There are rules that govern private foundations — and we intend to enforce them, no matter who runs the foundation. We welcome Justice Scarpulla’s decision, which allows our suit to move forward,” Underwood said in a statement.

A lawyer for the Trump Foundation, in a statement to CNBC, said: “The decision means only that the case goes forward. As we have maintained throughout, all of the money raised by the Foundation went to charitable causes to assist those most in need. As a result, we remain confident in the ultimate outcome of these proceedings”

The White House did not  immediately responded to CNBC’s requests for comment on Scarpulla’s decision.

The judge’s ruling could bolster other legal actions against Trump in New York and other states. Those include a complaint by former ″Apprentice″⁣ contestant Summer Zervos, who is one of a dozen or so women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Zervos, who has been pursuing a defamation case against the president, claimed that Trump forced himself on her in 2007. Trump has denied the claims.

The Trump Foundation suit, filed by Underwood in Manhattan state Supreme Court, alleged that Trump had misused the Trump Foundation “for his own personal benefit.”

The “pattern” of illegality, Underwood’s office wrote, included “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.”

After Underwood first filed the suit in June, Trump had vented rage on Twitter against “the sleazy New York Democrats.”

Brazil’s Illegitimate President Elect Keeping The Peoples Real President In Prison?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRAZIL 247 NEWS AGENCY)

((OPINION OF OLDPOET56) BRAZIL IS SOON TO BE UNDER THE DICTATORSHIP OF AN ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT, JAIR BOLSONARO, MAYBE HIS ‘NICKNAME’ SHOULD BE JAIL, NOT JAIR’ AS IN “JAIL BOLSONARO”, SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT TO ME.) 

If Mueller Is Fired What Can/Could/Should He Do

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Let’s assume a worst-case scenario: Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker straight-up fires special counsel Robert Mueller — no half-measures of refusing to allow Mueller to take certain investigative steps, or drastically cutting Mueller’s budget to starve his Russia investigation of resources, but a flat out “You’re fired!”

If that were to happen before Democrats take control of the House in 2019, no congressional committee is likely to subpoena Mueller to testify to his findings or the evidence he has obtained. Until January, the Republican majority will continue to stand behind President Trump. So what could Mueller do to disclose his investigation in the absence of receiving a congressional subpoena to testify or hand over his findings? And what would he choose to do — assuming he believed the president has committed wrongdoing the public should know about?

Taking the second question first, Mueller may choose to do absolutely nothing. We know that Mueller is a military man; he follows orders. And his marching orders as special counsel, pursuant to the governing regulations, are to conduct relevant investigations, bring appropriate charges, and write a confidential report for the Department of Justice (DOJ). So, once the job is done, by firing or otherwise, it wouldn’t be out of character for Mueller to simply go quietly off into the sunset. To date, he has kept an extremely low profile. He doesn’t even show up in court when his cases are brought, and the leak-proof nature of the ship he captains is the stuff of legend.

But let’s assume for a moment that Mueller instead goes the way of former FBI Director James Comey and is more than willing, upon an unceremonious firing, to present his side of the story to the public in any way he’s asked to do so. Or that (perhaps more likely) Mueller reluctantly concludes, upon his firing, that we have reached a point of constitutional crisis requiring the immediate publicizing of the president’s misdeeds because the DOJ under Whitaker is not acting in the best interests of the country. What would Mueller’s options be for disclosing currently non-public evidence and conclusions of his investigation without a subpoena from Congress?

The special counsel regulation, 28 CFR 600 et seq., requires the special counsel to write a report at the conclusion of his work, explaining his prosecution and declination decisions. It also states that the attorney general can publicly release the report, if that is in the public interest, to the extent that release complies with applicable legal restrictions. And there’s the rub — Whitaker would be hard-pressed to explain how Mueller’s report being released is not a matter of massive public interest, but he could fall back on secrecy rules of the grand jury to argue that grand jury materials disclosed in the report should not be released, resulting in the continued secrecy of most or all of the report.

Federal grand jury rules, which apply to Mueller as special counsel, are strict. Generally speaking, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), a government lawyer cannot disclose proceedings before, or evidence gathered by, the authority of the grand jury, even after the lawyer leaves government service. Exceptions are limited. One exception states that a government lawyer can disclose material or testimony gained under a grand jury subpoena  to local or state lawyers, for the purpose of assisting in the prosecution of a federal criminal law violation.

Prosecutors use this provision to share information when conducting an investigation in conjunction with a district attorney’s office, or a state attorney general’s office, for example.  Without question, Mueller has been in communications with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and could share information with them under this exception of Rule 6(e), although this would not be a public disclosure on Mueller’s part. It is also possible that additional pieces of the Mueller investigation could make their way to the Southern District of New York or another U.S. attorney’s office and, ultimately, could come to light through charges that way.

Of course, much evidence is not subject to Rule 6(e). Witness statements, for example, given to agents or prosecutors do not fall under the rule’s protections. Documents provided voluntarily to the special counsel’s office, instead of being provided pursuant to subpoena, likewise can be discussed publicly. And, of course, anything disclosed publicly through the criminal processes that have played out in cases the special counsel has charged, is fair game.

Finally, Mueller’s conclusions about crimes committed, as opposed to descriptions of the underlying evidence itself, aren’t prohibited from disclosure under Rule 6(e), although he would have to be careful about violating DOJ guidelines for discussing criminal subjects and proceedings, even with a subpoena.

In short, if Mueller were fired tomorrow, he would be very limited in what he could say about his investigation — and that indeed may be the impetus for the president’s action in firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a man who appears, by most accounts, to be a Trump loyalist.  We would all have to wait for what certainly would be the world’s most anticipated congressional subpoena.

Joel Cohen, a former state and federal prosecutor, practices criminal defense law at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York. Cohen is an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School. He regularly lectures and writes on law, ethics and social policy for the New York Law Journal and other publications, and is the author of “Broken Scales: Reflections on Injustice.”

Jennifer Rodgers is a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. Until mid-2018, she was executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School and now serves on its advisory board.

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The Senate shouldn’t be sleeping on Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER NEWS)

 

The Senate shouldn’t be sleeping on Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment

The resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with “acting Attorney General” Matthew Whitaker has proven quite controversial since it was announced. Big-name, right-of-center constitutional experts — including, it appears, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by a backdoor route — have opined that it is straight-up unconstitutional.

It is a conclusion that’s hard to disregard on its merits. But the failure of the administration to respect the “advice and consent” clause of the Constitution is not the only reason why the Senate should be pushing back, and hard, on the acting attorney general situation.

There’s a far more straightforward reason: The appointment of Whitaker is a blatant power grab, and no senator worth his salt should be willing to give up his power over the staffing of the administration.

[Read more: Maryland challenges Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG]

That is especially so if the politician in question is named Mitch McConnell.

The Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky regards himself as being “in the personnel business.” What McConnell means by that is that the most important impact he and his colleagues can have in government is getting people they like confirmed to high office, where they can make legally bulletproof decisions that will shape the future of this country for decades to come.

The area where this is most evident, pertinent, and with the longest-term consequence is in the judiciary. But Senate-confirmable administration posts count as well — not only those confirmed or blocked, but also those thwarted or prevented behind the scenes.

Why, then, would McConnell — let alone his other 99 colleagues — allow their power to be grabbed in such an overt and easily stopped manner by any president? Why not demand that if President Trump wants Whitaker, he put him forward as a nominee for attorney general? And if he does not want Whitaker, why not demand he name his preferred successor to Sessions right now, so the Senate can get on with the constitutionally mandated confirmation process?

The reality is, Trump should have had a nominee’s name ready to announce the second news broke of Sessions’ resignation. It’s not like he hasn’t had time to think about it. Rumors that Sessions would exit after the midterm elections have been swirling D.C. for months now. Trump has wanted him gone for much longer than that.

But it is simply unacceptable that the Senate would not be forcing the president to get on with it now. Every day he delays is an erosion of the Senate’s power and reason for existence.

Under former President Barack Obama, we saw a consistent erosion of the notion that administrations need to adhere to constitutional law.

That was actually the problem at issue in the case that George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband, and former Solicitor General Neal Katyal cited in their op-ed last week dubbing the “acting attorney general” situation unconstitutional.

And Thomas, Trump’s “favorite justice,” considered what the Obama administration did with National Labor Relations Board appointments to be not merely unlawful but unconstitutional — and he was right.

Trump can and should do better than Obama did in this regard. But so should McConnell, if he really is in the personnel business. The majority leader should not tolerate this unconstitutional power grab, which overtly and directly hurts him and his caucus.

Liz Mair is president of Mair Strategies and strategist to the Swamp Accountability Project.

NEWS: NSSF Is Making A Difference

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION AND THE NSSF)

 

NEWS: NSSF Is Making A Difference

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A MESSAGE FROM USSF:

A disturbing trend that we are seeing all too much these days is the blatant virtue signaling by major corporations and financial institutions. Apparently, if someone decides to engage in hunting, the shooting sports, or decides to carry or own a firearm to protect one’s family, they should be shunned, made to feel ashamed, or have their credit or banking relationships destroyed. It is terrible that constitutionally protected rights can be so casually disregarded and voluntarily discarded. It is axiomatic that rights, once lost, are never regained.

NSSF is pushing back against the demonization of hunting, shooting and the right to self-defense. We have developed and published the “Making A Difference For A Safer America”campaign and advertising to show all the good things that we, as an industry, do to educate, support and fund programs that truly make America safer. Look at NSSF programs such as Don’t Lie for the Other GuyOperation Secure Store, and our FixNICS initiative – recently enacted as federal law – thanks to NSSF’s efforts. These are just the beginning. Project ChildSafe, another NSSF initiative, has distributed more than 37 million free gun locks. Our Own It? Respect It. Secure It. program provides meaningful education on how to safely secure firearms in homes where children or other at-risk individuals may reside. We have launched a suicide prevention program in cooperation with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Foundation has been a great partner in getting out the message that suicide is preventable, and that this industry can help in this worthy effort.

Making A Difference For A Safer America

The firearms industry welcomes participation in the national conversation to make our communities safer. Our trade association, NSSF®, has long advocated for effective solutions to prevent access to firearms by criminals, children and the dangerously mentally ill. We run programs that make a real difference.

NSSF has led the way in improving the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) through our FixNICS® initiative that has reformed the law in 16 states and improved the reporting of disqualifying records.

The Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM program helps firearms retailers prevent illegal straw purchases and is conducted in cooperation with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Project ChildSafe® has distributed more than 37 million free gun locks since 1999.

Our partnerships with federal and state agencies, as well as a leading national suicide prevention organization, are building public education resources for firearms retailers, shooting ranges and the firearms-owning community.

Operation Secure StoreSM is a comprehensive joint initiative with ATF to help Federal Firearms Licensees make well-informed security-related decisions to deter and prevent thefts.

Practical solutions that protect lives and preserve our citizens’ liberties – making a difference for a safer America.

Whitaker backlash prompts concern at the White House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Whitaker backlash prompts concern at the White House

(CNN)There is a growing sense of concern inside the White House over the negative reaction to Matthew Whitaker being tapped as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions’ abrupt firing.

Whitaker, who was Sessions’ chief of staff, has faced criticism since Wednesday afternoon’s announcement for his previous comments on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Several senior officials told CNN they were surprised by the criticism, and believe it could potentially jeopardize Whitaker’s chances of remaining in the post if it continues to dominate headlines.
Whitaker is expected to take over oversight of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia. He has given no indication he believes he needs to step aside from overseeing the probe, according to one person familiar with his thinking, a belief echoed by White House officials. And a source close to the President told CNN that the idea of Whitaker ending or suppressing the Russia probe is not an option as of now.
But Whitaker has previously expressed deep skepticism about the probe, including arguing in a 2017 CNN op-ed that Mueller was “dangerously close to crossing” a red line following reports that the special counsel was looking into Trump’s finances and calling Mueller’s appointment “ridiculous” and “a little fishy” in a 2017 appearance on the “Rose Unplugged” radio program.
Whitaker also spoke about the investigation in numerous other radio and television appearances, including CNN, where he was a legal commentator.
It was not widely known among White House staff that he’d commented repeatedly on the special counsel’s investigation in interviews and on television — which is ironic given that this is what drew President Donald Trump to him and raises continued questions over the depth of the administration’s vetting process.
Sam Clovis, a 2016 Trump campaign national chairman who has close ties to Whitaker, encouraged him to get a regular commentary gig on cable television to get Trump’s attention, according to friends Whitaker told at the time. Whitaker was hired as a CNN legal commentator last year for several months before leaving the role in September 2017 to head to the Justice Department.
Along with the breadth of his previous comments on the investigation, there have been questions about the legality of Whitaker’s appointment.
George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, co-authored a New York Times op-ed published Thursday that called the appointment “unconstitutional.”
The Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, Conway wrote, “means Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.”
Whitaker’s standing ultimately depends on the President. But continued negative coverage will get Trump’s attention.

Stories of Sri Lankans who are “Taking a Stand” for democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Stories of Sri Lankans who are “Taking a Stand” for democracy

Image via Groundviews

This post originally appeared on Groundviews, an award-winning citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement with Global Voices.

Sri Lanka has been embroiled in a political crisis since October 26 when president Maithripala Sirisena removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe – replacing him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. This has led to a power struggle between the newly appointed PM and the recently ousted PM who both believe in the legitimacy of their position. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of the capital Colombo to question the constitutional legitimacy of the president’s decision and demand the parliament be reconvened to settle the matter. Bowing to pressure, President Sirisena has promised to reconvene the parliament on November 7.

On November 4, 2018, a group of people gathered at the Liberty roundabout in the Kollupitiya neighborhood of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

For some, it was their fifth day of standing in protest. Following news that President Maithripala Sirisena and the United People’s Freedom Alliance had stepped down from the coalition Government, a group of citizens decided to meet at the roundabout every day, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, until Parliament was convened. On the first day, the protest coincided with a larger rally organised by Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP) held nearby – but many of those who attended the rally on that day were quick to say that they were not attending to support the UNP.

On October 30, a tweet by Lisa Fuller featuring one of the posters held by a protester went viral. It read, “I’m not here for Ranil – I’m here for democracy”.

Lisa Fuller@gigipurple

“I’m not here for Ranil. I’m here for democracy and good governance” Civil society protest at liberty circle now

The poster appeared to encapsulate the sentiments of many of those gathered at the Liberty roundabout on October 30 and every day after.

Over the past few days, Groundviews documented those who attended the citizen protest. Those attending included young people who had never attended a protest before, senior citizens, activists and members of civil society. On November 4, there were participants from Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa and Kandy as well as from Colombo. For some, it was their first time at a protest. Others had seen corruption continue on for decades (the oldest participant was 92 years old). Members from the corporate sector stood shoulder-to-shoulder with activists from Jaffna and Batticaloa, who were flanked by those in the theatre community.

Corruption was a recurring topic, given revelations from UNP MP Ruwan Wijewardene about sums of money being offered for Parliamentarians to switch allegiances.

On October 30 and afterward, we asked those who attended one simple question – “What made you decide to participate?”

Over the past few days, Groundviews documented those who attended the citizen protest.

This is what they had to say:

Diordre Moraes. Image via Groundviews

“As a mother, as a grandmother, I want to see democracy restored. I’m not against any person or any party but as a citizen of Sri Lanka. Nothing like this has ever happened before” – Diordre Moraes

Neluni Tillekeratne. Image via Gorundviews

“I feel young people should take political issues more seriously. When youth engage with politics they only look at statements from the President or Prime Minister. We don’t look at deeper issues. I’m hoping to influence young people to come.” Neluni Tillekeratne

Nadesan Suresh. Image via Groundviews

Our Malaiyaha Tamil community, those who work in tea estates, voted for President Sirisena hoping he would reform society. However, what he did sets us back 100 years.’ Nadesan Suresh, from Badulla.

Sarojini Kadirgamar. Image via Groundviews

“Though I’m 92 years old, I feel I must make a stand for democracy. Over the years I’ve seen the steady deterioration of political life. Every party has used corrupt practices for short term gains.This has to change.” Sarojini Kadirgamar

Leisha Lawrence, Mihiri de Silva, Sepali de Silva and unknown. Image via Groundviews

“I’m here for democracy. If an MP choose to jump to another party they should lose their seat in Parliament. I’m not here for any party.” Leisha Lawrence (far right)

“We vote in a particular way for who we want. That doesn’t give the President the right to do what he wants, because he doesn’t get on with a particular person.” Mihiri de Silva (second from right)

“My vote is not for sale. This is not right!” Sepali de Silva (second from left)

Kalaivani. Image via Groundviews

‘We call this a democratic country but what happened suppressed democratic means. We made history as having the first female prime minister, now we have made history again for having two prime ministers!’ Kalaivani, from Batticaloa.

Adrian Roshan Fernando. Image via Groundviews

“The decisions being made now don’t include the public opinion. They are just taking their own decisions. There is a way to do things.” Adrian Roshan Fernando.

Piyathilaka Ranaweera. Image via Groundviews

“This is not good for the country. We’re doing this for the next generation, for the future of this country.” Piyathilaka Ranaweera

Irfadha Muzammil. Image via Groundviews

“People’s votes matter. We can’t let politicians corrupt that and exploit voters.” Irfadha Muzammil

Abdul Kalam Azad. Image via Groundviews

Rather than saying “I am Prime Minister” come to Parliament now and show that you have the majority. Govern the country. Don’t waste our time!” Abdul Kalam Azad.

As evening fell, the electricity at the Liberty roundabout remained switched off. Later on, Mayor of Colombo Rosy Senanayake tweeted that this was “an act of sabotage”.

Rosy Senanayake@Rosy_Senanayake

This has been brought to my notice and it was an act of sabotage. We will ensure the lights are switched on tomorrow.

Groundviews

@groundviews

Citizens use smartphones – for light, and to inquire with the CMC why the streetlamps were turned on late – as their protest against #ConstitutionalCrisisSriLanka ends for the day. It will continue daily, 4.30pm-6.30pm at Liberty roundabout till Parliament is convened. #lka

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Undeterred, the protesters used the light of their mobile phones and continued chanting.

Image via Groundviews

Eventually, at 7 pm, the protest came to an end – to be resumed the next day, and the day after that, until Parliament reconvenes.

Image via Groundviews

You can read the full Photo essay here. You can also follow along with the protest on Twitter, and from multiple perspectives, here.

Barron Trump Is Safe From His Daddy’s Ego/Ignorance About 14th Amendment

Barron Trump Is Safe From His Daddy’s Ego/Ignorance About 14th Amendment 

 

The past couple of weeks here in the U.S. we have heard quite a bit from President Trump about him canceling the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution via him signing an Executive Order to do so. Some folks have wondered if Mr. Trump’s own youngest son Barron would fall victim to his Daddy’s own stupidity, the answer is simply, no.  For those who don’t know, the Amendment states that if a child is born on U.S. soil then they are a citizen. Also stated is that as long as one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen then the child is also. Also stated is that even if the child was born outside of the U.S., as long as one of the parents have been a U.S. citizen for at least 5 years with at least 2 of those years being after the age of 12, the child is a U.S. citizen.

 

There are two reasons that the answer is no to that question. First, the Amendment as written keeps Barron’s U.S. citizenship safe. Barron Trump was born on March 20th of 2006, his Mom did not receive her citizenship until September of 2006 but with Donald being a lifelong citizen, Barron is a citizen of the U.S., period. Second, Donald Trump nor any other President has the authority to sign an Executive Order to cancel or to create a Constitutional Amendment. Think about it for a moment, think about if any President who comes into Office could eliminate any or all of the Amendments. Mr. Trump could then cancel the 13th Amendment which freed the Black folks from being slaves. Mr. Trump could then create an Amendment forcing all non-White folks to leave the U.S. at once and deport them to the country of their nationality.  Before you KKK members get to grinning about that thought, what if President Obama had signed an Executive Order requiring all White folks to be deported to Europe. By those standards, I guess it would be most fitting if an Indian became President he, or she could turn back the clock to a time before Columbus sailed south-west from Spain. So, there is obviously no chance that the racists ego manic known as President Trump has the authority to do anything except to run his mouth and show the country and the world just how racists and ignorant he truly is.

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Mexico just took a big step toward marijuana legalization

Mexico’s Supreme Court deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday deemed the country’s marijuana prohibition law unconstitutional, bringing America’s neighbor one step closer to marijuana legalization.

It was not the first time the court made such a ruling, but it was the fifth time — a crucial threshold in Mexico. Under the country’s legal system, once the Supreme Court reaches a similar decision in five separate cases, the standard set by the rulings applies to the country’s entire court system.

As the Associated Press explained, “The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.” The rulings apply to possession, use, and growing — not commercialization or sales.

The Supreme Court “found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state,” the AP reported. The right is not absolute, and it does not apply to all substances — but it does mean that total marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional.

Suprema Corte

@SCJN

Primera Sala reiteró inconstitucionalidad de la prohibición absoluta del consumo recreativo de marihuana. Lo que permitió integrar jurisprudencia sobre el tema.

Mexican lawmakers could react to the ruling by adjusting the law to regulate marijuana under the new legal framework set by the Supreme Court. Officials in President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government have indicated that they may legalize marijuana, Reuters reported.

If Mexico’s government follows through, the country could become the third in the world to legalize pot for recreational purposes — after Uruguay and Canada.

Although nine states in the US have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pot is still illegal under federal law in America.

Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the arrests over a relatively harmless drug (and the racial disparities involved in America), and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — like increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization.

Opponents, meanwhile, claim that legalization will enable a huge marijuana industry that will market the drug irresponsibly. They point to countries’ experiences with the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have built their financial empires in large part on some of the heaviest consumers of their products. This could result in far more people using pot, even if it leads to negative health consequences.

At least in Mexico, the supporters won a big victory this week.

For more on marijuana legalization, read Vox’s explainer.

Trump claims he can defy Constitution and end birthright citizenship

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump claims he can defy Constitution and end birthright citizenship

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump offered a dramatic, if legally dubious, promise in a new interview to unilaterally end birthright citizenship, ratcheting up his hard-line immigration rhetoric with a week to go before critical midterm elections.

Trump’s vow to end the right to citizenship for the children of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on US soil came in an interview with Axios released Tuesday. Such a step would be regarded as an affront to the US Constitution, which was amended 150 years ago to include the words: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
Trump did not say when he would sign the order, and some of his past promises to use executive action have gone unfulfilled. But whether the President follows through on his threat or not, the issue joins a string of actions intended to thrust the matter of immigration into the front of voters’ minds as they head to polls next week.
A day earlier, the President vowed in an interview on Fox News to construct tent cities to house migrants traveling through Mexico to the US southern border. His administration announced the deployment of 5,200 troops to protect the frontier as the “caravan” continues to advance. And the President has warned of an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants if the border isn’t sealed with a wall.
Still, the threat of ending birthright citizenship amounts to another escalation in Trump’s hard-line approach to immigration, which has become his signature issue.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said in an interview for “Axios on HBO.”
Several other countries, including Canada, have a policy of birthright citizenship, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for reducing immigration.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he continued.
The step would immediately be challenged in court. Some of Trump’s previous immigration executive orders, including an attempt to bar entry to citizens from some Muslim-majority countries, came under legal scrutiny after a chaotic drafting process. At the same time, the President has derided his predecessor Barack Obama for taking executive actions to block some young undocumented immigrants from deportation, a step Trump said was a presidential overstep.
The American Civil Liberties Union slammed Trump’s proposal Tuesday morning.
“The president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”
The White House did not provide additional details of the planned executive order on Tuesday morning.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” he said, adding that he has run it by his counsel. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” Trump said.
The President didn’t provide any details of his plan, but said that “it’s in the process. It’ll happen.”
The interview is a part of “Axios on HBO,” a new four-part documentary series debuting on HBO this Sunday, according to the news site.