Posts tagged with "Constitution"

60 Catholic Democrats urge Bishops not to block Joe Biden from Communion over abortion rights

June 22, 2021

Sixty Catholic Democrats have penned a letter urging the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States not to block President Joe Biden from receiving Communion because of his progressive abortion views, Newsweek magazine reports.

They base their case on two building blocks of American democracy:

  • The first clause in the Bill of Rightsstates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
  • The “establishment clause” of the First Amendment of the Constitution“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”—often is interpreted to require separation of church and state.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the letter reads. “The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Congressional Democrats continued, “No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings—including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.”

The letter comes after the group of bishops overwhelmingly voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, on Friday, June 18.

The decision, aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, was approved by a vote of 73% in favor and 24% opposed during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Biden, who has regularly attended Mass throughout his life, has embodied a liberal Christianity less focused on sexual politics and more on racial inequality, climate change,  and poverty.

“To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there,” the 60 Democrats wrote.

The list of signers include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro, Marie Newman and Ted Lieu, among others.

Research contact: @Newsweek

On Safe Harbor Day, America’s presidential votes are locked in by states and guaranteed by Congress

December 9, 2020

Tuesday, December 8, is Safe Harbor Day—the day when all 50 states are expected to lock in their electoral votes—both by finishing up certification of the results and by resolving any state court legal challenges.

According to a report by The Chicago Tribune, by the end of the day, every state, with the exception of Wisconsin, is expected to have made its election results official.

The purpose of the safe harbor deadline is to serve as a guarantee of the election results by Congress. NBC News notes that, “If, for example, a state legislature decided to send in its own slate, the law says the electors chosen by popular vote and certified by the governor must be counted by Congress from states that met the safe harbor deadline.”

Other than Wisconsin, where a hearing is scheduled later this week, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on January 6.

“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by December 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, told the Tribune.

The Electoral College is a creation of the Constitution, but Congress sets the date for federal elections and, in the case of the presidency, determines when presidential electors gather in state capitals to vote.

The attention paid to the normally obscure safe harbor provision is a function of Trump’s unrelenting efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the election. He has refused to concede, made unsupported claims of fraud and called on Republican lawmakers in key states to appoint electors who would vote for him even after those states have certified a Biden win.

But Trump’s arguments have gone nowhere in court in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most of his campaign’s lawsuits in state courts challenging those Biden victories have been dismissed, with the exception of Wisconsin.

Like the others, the lawsuit does not appear to have much chance of succeeding, but because it was filed in accordance with state law procedures for challenging election results, “it’s looking to me like Wisconsin is going to miss the safe harbor deadline because of that,” said Edward Foley, a professor of election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law.

Judge Stephen Simanek, appointed to hear the case, has acknowledged that the case would push the state outside the electoral vote safe harbor.

Missing the deadline won’t deprive Wisconsin of its 10 electoral votes. Biden electors still will meet in Madison on Monday to cast their votes and there’s no reason to expect that Congress won’t accept them. In any case, Biden would still have more than the 270 votes he needs even without Wisconsin’s.

But lawmakers in Washington could theoretically second-guess the slate of electors from any state that misses the December 8 deadline, Foley said.

Already, the Tribune notes, one member of the House of Representatives, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), has said he will mount a last-ditch effort for Trump—challenging electoral votes for Biden on January 6. Brooks would need to object in writing and be joined by at least one senator. If that were to happen, both chambers would debate the objections and vote on whether to sustain them.

But unless both houses agreed to the objections, they would fail.

The unwillingness of Trump and his supporters to concede is “dangerous because in an electoral competition, one side wins, one side loses and it’s essential that the losing side accepts the winner’s victory. What is really being challenged right now is our capacity to play by those rules,” Foley said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Trump’s travel ban exempts his own European resorts

March 13, 2020

President Donald Trump’s new European travel restrictions will not affect the occupancy rates at his properties: The ban exempts countries—Ireland and Scotland in the United Kingdom—where three, struggling Trump Organization  golf resorts are located, according to a report by Politico.

Specifically,  the resorts that have been excluded from the new containment regulations include the Trump Turnberry golf course in Firth of Clyde in Ayrshire, Scotland; the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland; and the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Trump already has been under fire for visiting his properties in both Ireland and Scotland as president. In doing so, he has profited from U.S. taxpayer money being spent there-for example, to cover the cost of U.S. Secret Service accommodations and meals. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.

According to Politico, the U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban targets 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is scheduled to meet with  Trump at the White House in one of the few events related to St. Patrick’s Day that has not been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

EU leaders condemned Trump’s move on Thursday, and disputed the president’s criticism of Europe’s handling of the crisis.

“The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said, adding that the bloc was “taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump says he’s looking ‘very seriously’ at ending birthright citizenship

August 23, 2019

The United States is the homeland of any baby born on its soil, according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

But that did not stop President Donald Trump from saying on August 22 that his administration was “very seriously” considering an executive order that would end birthright citizenship, according to a report by The Hill.

“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told a White House press gaggle before he left for a Kentucky rally. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land—walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”

“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he added. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”

The president proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea last October, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said at the time during an interview with Axios.

Numerous lawmakers, including several Republicans, quickly pushed back on the idea and argued Trump lacked the authority to make such a change using an executive order, The Hill reported at the time. They cited that birthright citizenship is a right enshrined under the 14th Amendment.

Trump responded to the criticism by saying birthright citizenship would be ended “one way or another,” The Hill reported.

The move is simply another tactic being used in Trump’s war on immigration. The Trump administration announced earlier Wednesday it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires unaccompanied minors to be held no longer than 20 days.

Research contact: @thehill

Scaramucci says he’ll recruit former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump

August 20, 2019

He’s not invoking Constitutional Amendment 25, but former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on August 19 that he, nonetheless, believes it is time to remove the president: According to a report by The Hill, Scaramucci has said he intends to assemble a coalition of former Cabinet members to speak out against President Donald Trump in an effort to find a Republican challenger to the president in 2020. 

Under Amendment 25, ‘Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

While the amendment provides an immediate (and dramatic) means of removal, Scaramucci is looking toward “primarying” the president out in 2020. There already are two Republicans who have said they are in the running: Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

“I’m in the process of putting together a team of people who feel the exact same way that I do. This is not a ‘Never Trump’ situation, this is not just screeching rhetoric. This is, ‘OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it, let’s see if we can find a viable alternative,’” Scaramucci said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“Moreover, I’ve got to get some of these former Cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it.” 

Scaramucci would not reveal names of former officials that he said feel that Trump is unstable. But he said he expects more to come out publicly in upcoming months.

“I predict in middle or late fall there will be a trove of people who will come together in unity to say this is what’s going on. This is how the person’s acting. This is why there’s nobody inside the White House he’s taking any advice from,” Scaramucci said.

He also did not disclose names of possible candidates he’s looking to back along with the team he’s looking to assemble.

“I don’t think it’s fair to those people,” he said.

Around the same time Scaramucci spoke on CNN, Trump renewed an attack on his former staffer. He tweeted that Scaramucci is a “nut job” whom he “barely knew.”

“He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!” Trump tweeted. 

Trump also tweeted that there is “great cohesion” inside the Republican Party.

Scaramucci had long defended Trump but in recent weeks has spoken out against the president’s rhetoric and actions, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill