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Electoral College Begins Vote To Certify Joe Biden’s Win Following a Weekend of Violence

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  • On Monday, the electoral college began the process of certifying Joe Biden as the official president-elect. The process will conclude with the state of Hawaii, which will convene its electoral college at 7 p.m. ET.
  • The news follows a weekend of violence in Washington, D.C., where four people were stabbed Saturday during a protest that attracted thousands.
  • A similar protest in Washington state resulted in one person being shot following several clashes between armed protesters and counterprotesters. 
  • The incidents signal a notable uptick in unrest compared to previous weeks of demonstrations. They also follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who asked the court to throw out election results from four key swing states that Biden won. 

SCOTUS Rejects Texas Lawsuits

After a tumultuous weekend of protests, the electoral college is set to officially certify former Vice President Joe Biden as the future 46th President of the United States on Monday.

Biden’s confirmation follows protests in Washington D.C. and Washington state that left dozens injured, the worst of which involved four stabbings and one shooting.

Both protests follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject an election fraud-related lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). In the lawsuit, Paxton directly asked the Court to throw out election results in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

On Friday, SCOTUS — a court with three Trump-appointed judges and a conservative majority — said in a brief, unsigned order that Texas lacked standing.

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the Court added.

While Biden won in all four states in question, Paxton’s goal was to overturn millions of legally-casted votes in the hope that President Donald Trump would then be declared the winner of each state. Seventeen other states then joined this case — none of them being any of the four states in question.

A group of more than a hundred House Republicans also joined, claiming that the election was “riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities.” Oddly enough, they said that about the same election that resulted in most of their re-elections.

Last week, Trump referred to the Texas lawsuit as “the big one,” though Trump has previously said that about other election fraud lawsuits that didn’t hold up in court.

Texas Politicians Call for Secession

In a highly controversial statement, on Friday, Texas GOP Chair Allen West advocated for Texas’ secession in response to SCOTUS’ rejection of the lawsuit.

West’s idea was quickly condemned by members of both major political parties, including by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.), who said the Texas GOP “should immediately retract this, apologize, and fire Allen West and anyone else associated with this. My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hi.) said the Texas GOP “have lost their minds.”

West’s insinuation that Texas should secede from the Union is not the first talk of secession this month from the Texas GOP. Last week in a Facebook post, Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann promised to file a bill that would “allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Biedermann tagged his post with the hashtag #Texit.

Texas has been rife with rumors of secession throughout much of its modern history, but the only time it has ever attempted to secede from the United States was during the Civil War. Talk of secession occurred following President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 but never resulted in any proposed legislation.

D.C. Protests Follow SCOTUS Rejection

On Saturday, thousands of Trump supporters protested outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Steal” march. Like similar protests this year, many demonstrators were maskless and crowded close together. 

The march included the likes of the Proud Boys — a far-right, male-only group with ties to white nationalism. 

During the morning, while several tense situations and even smaller scuffles arose, there were no significant reports of violence.

“My final message is everybody keep the faith because we’re in the greatest revival in history,” Michael James Lindell, the creator of My Pillow, told Fox News around noon.

“And this is an anomaly, and when we get through it, we’re going to look back and say, ‘This all had to happen the way God’s intended it to and it’ll all — you’ll all be okay.’ I just want everybody in the country to have faith that God’s got his hand in all of this, and it’ll all be a blessing when it’s all over. And there’s our president!”

“There’s our president for four more years!” Lindell said as the president’s helicopter, Marine One, flew past the crowd of protesters. “There he is! God bless America! We are one nation under God!” 

As the day passed, the situation began to grow tenser. At one point, while speaking on stage, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Joe Biden “will be removed one way or another.”

Meanwhile, officers in riot gear reportedly worked to keep the Proud Boys and a group of counterprotesters separate. As The Washington Post noted, the Proud Boys became “increasingly angry as they wove through streets and alleys, only to find police continuously blocking their course with lines of bikes.”

From there, a number of fights erupted between the Proud Boys and counterprotesters. The Post noted that “agitators determined to find trouble were successful — and posturing quickly turned into punching, kicking and wrestling.” It also reported that multiple Proud Boys were seen openly drinking beers, whiskey, and White Claws between fights. 

In response to the fights, police intervened, oftentimes using their batons or firing chemical irritants in order to try to maintain a wall between themselves and each side. 

“Each time a fight was de-escalated, another soon began in a different part of town,” The Post reported. 

In one incident, people who appeared to be members of the Proud Boys were seen tearing down a Black Lives Matter banner and burning it in the street.

Notably, that banner was taken from outside the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in D.C. 

Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the church’s senior pastor, described the scene as reminiscent of a cross burning. 

Later, a similar scene occurred at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, another Black church in the city.

On Sunday, the D.C. Metro police announced they are investigating both incidents as potential hate crimes. 

Four Stabbed in D.C. Protest

The most violent situation of the night came when reports surfaced that at least four people had been stabbed near a gathering point for the Proud Boys. 

At first, it wasn’t clear what exactly happened or who stabbed who, though reports did mention that the four victims had been rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Sunday, that assessment was then dialed back when D.C. police confirmed that all four are in non-critical condition. 

The same day, The New York Times reported that the confrontation began “after dozens of  supporters of Mr. Trump, many of whom appeared to be members of the Proud Boys… shouted and pointed at a Black man in dark clothes who was alone and against a wall.”

The Times then said at least three of those Trump supporters “offered to let the man leave and implored the others to let him go in peace,” but that “after about a minute, as the man hesitated, more demonstrators closed in and began to punch and kick him.” The latter part of that confrontation has been captured on video by the New York Post

Following that, The Times said the man drew a knife and “began slashing with it as more demonstrators piled onto him.” Part of that account was then corroborated by the D.C. Metro Police, which said the man was pushed in the back before he produced the knife. 

The Times noted that the man broke free from the Trump supporters twice but was then grabbed and beaten again before police intervened. When police lifted him, The Times said the man’s face was swollen and bloody. 

That man has been identified as 29-year-old Philip Johnson, and police have now charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon. Still, many of the details around this situation remain unknown.

Police have now confirmed that, in total, they arrested 33 people from Saturday into Sunday morning. The list of arrests includes assault, riotous acts, possession of a taser, and crossing a police line. 

At least five others were injured and taken to the hospital over the course of the night, including two officers who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

One Person Shot at Washington Protest

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country in Washington state, a similar protest formed on the same day.

According to the Associated Press, both protesters and counterprotesters “clashed on the streets in Olympia before moving onto the grounds of the Capital building, where they continued engaging in violence against each other.”

The AP also noted that many of the protesters were armed with helmets and carried shields and clubs. 

“Both groups were heavily armed, including firearms,” Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department said. “They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs.”

From there, police said the two crowds began to disperse from the Capitol and back to the city streets; however, as this was happening, one person opened fire, shooting someone. 

Like the situation in D.C., at first, it was unclear who fired the shot and who was hit. It was only known that the victim had been rushed to the hospital.

Police have since identified the shooter as 25-year-old Forest Michael Machala, who’s now been arrested on a first-degree assault charge. In a 2017 piece, The Seattle Times featured a then-22-year-old man by the same name, describing the man as a Trump supporter. It is unclear if this is the same man, and like the D.C. stabbing, many details are still unknown.

The Seattle Times noted that protests are “becoming a regular weekend occurrence at Washington’s Capitol.” Last week, a Trump supporter at one of these protests allegedly fired his gun at counterprotesters. 

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)

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Supreme Court Begins Contentious New Term as Approval Rating Hits Historic Low

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The most volatile cases the court will consider involve affirmative action, voting rights, elections, and civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community.


High Court to Hear Numerous Controversial Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday officially kicked off a new term that will be marked by a number of very contentious cases.

The justices, led by a conservative super-majority, will hear many matters that have enormous implications for the American people.

The first case the court will hear this term involves a major environmental dispute that will determine the scope of government authority under the Clean Water Act — a decision that could have a massive impact on U.S. water quality at a time when water crises’ have been heightened by climate change.

The case also comes amid increasing concerns about federal inaction regarding climate change, especially after the Supreme Court significantly limited the government’s power to act in this area at the end of its last term.

Cases Involving Race

Several of the most anticipated decisions also center around race, including a pair of cases that challenge affirmative action programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

For over four decades, the high court has repeatedly upheld that race can be a factor in college admissions to ensure a more equitable student body. Despite the fact that multiple challenges have been struck down in the past, the court’s conservative super majority could very well undo 40 years of precedent and undermine essential protections.

The high court will decide a legal battle that could significantly damage key voting protections for minorities set forth under the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The case in question stems from a lower court opinion that invalidated Alabama’s congressional map for violating a provision in the VRA prohibiting voting rules that discriminate on the basis of race.

Alabama had drawn its map so only one of its seven congressional districts was majority Black, despite the fact that nearly one in every three voting-age residents in the state are Black. 

States’ Power Over Elections 

Also on the topic of gerrymandering and elections, the justices will hear a case that could have a profound impact on the very nature of American democracy. The matter centers around a decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court to strike down the Republican-drawn congressional map on the grounds that it amounted to an illegal gerrymander that violated the state’s Constitution.

The North Carolina GOP appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause gives state legislatures almost total control over how federal elections are carried out in their state under a theory called the independent state legislature doctrine.

“That argument, in its most extreme form, would mean that [sic] no state court and no state agency could interfere with the state legislature’s version of election rules, regardless of the rules set down in the state constitution,” NPR explained.

In other words, if the Supreme Court sides with the North Carolina Republicans, they would essentially be giving state legislatures unchecked power over how voting maps are designed and elections are administered.

LGBTQ+ Rights

Another notable decision the justices will make could have huge implications for the LGBTQ+ community and civil rights more broadly. That matter involved a web designer in Colorado named Lori Smith who refused to design websites for same-sex couples because she believed it violates her right to religious freedoms.

That belief, however, goes against a Colorado nondiscrimination law that bans businesses that serve the public from denying their services to customers based on sexual orientation or identity.

As a result, Smith argues that the Colorado law violates the right to free speech under the First Amendment. If the high court rules in her favor, it would undermine protections for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado and likely other states with similar laws.

Experts also say such a ruling could go far beyond that. As Georgetown University’s Kelsi Corkran told NPR, “if Smith is correct that there’s a free speech right to selectively choose her customers based on the messages she wants to endorse,” the Colorado law would also allow white supremacists to deny services to people of color because that “would be a message of endorsement.”

Record-Low Approval Rating

The court’s high-stakes docket also comes at a time when its reputation has been marred by questions of legitimacy.

A new Gallup poll published last week found that the Supreme Court’s approval rating has sunk to a record low. Specifically, less than half of Americans said they have at least a “fair amount” of trust in the judicial branch — a 20% drop from just two years ago.

Beyond that, a record number of people also now say that the court is too conservative. Experts argue that these numbers are massively consequential, especially as the U.S. heads into yet another highly-contentious court term.

“The Supreme Court is at an important moment,” Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs told The Hill

“Trust in the institutions has vastly diminished, certainly among Democrats, and many have a close eye on how they rule on other vital matters. If decisions seem to keep coming from a very pointed political direction, frustration and calls for reform will only mount.”

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (CNN) (The Wall Street Journal)

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Biden Mistakenly Calls Out For Dead Lawmaker at White House Event

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The remarks prompted concerns about the mental state of the president, who previously mourned the congresswoman’s death in an official White House statement.


“Where’s Jackie?” 

Video of President Joe Biden publicly asking if a congresswoman who died last month was present at a White House event went viral Wednesday, giving rise to renewed questions about the leader’s mental acuity.

The remarks were made at the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, which Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-In.) had helped convene and organize before her sudden death in a car accident.

The president thanked the group of bipartisan lawmakers who helped make the event happen, listing them off one by one, and appearing to look around in search of Rep. Walorski when he reached her name.

“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” he called. “I think she wasn’t going to be here to help make this a reality.” 

The incident flummoxed many, especially because Biden had even acknowledged her work on the conference in an official White House statement following her death last month.

“Jill and I are shocked and saddened by the death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana along with two members of her staff in a car accident today in Indiana,” the statement read.

“I appreciated her partnership as we plan for a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this fall that will be marked by her deep care for the needs of rural America.”

The Age Maximum Question

Numerous social media users and news outlets presented the mishap as evidence that Biden, who is 79, does not have the mental capacity to serve as president. Others, meanwhile, raised the possibility of imposing an age maximum for the presidency.

Most of the comments against the president came from the right, which has regularly questioned his mental stability. However, the idea of an age limit goes beyond Biden and touches on concerns about America’s most important leaders being too old.

While Biden is the oldest president in history, former President Donald Trump — who is 76 and has also had his mental state continually questioned — would have likewise held that title if he had won re-election in 2020.

These concerns extend outside the presidency as well: the current session of Congress is the oldest on average of any Congress in recent history, and the median ages are fairly similar among Republicans and Democrats when separated by chambers.

There is also a higher percentage of federal lawmakers who are older than the median age. Nearly 1 out of every 4 members are over the age of 70.

Source: Business Insider

What’s more, some of the people in the highest leadership positions are among the oldest members. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), is the oldest-ever House Speaker at 82, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — the president pro tempore of the Senate and third person in line for the presidency — is the same age, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 80.

As a result, it is unsurprising that a recent Insider/Morning Consult poll found that 3 in 4 Americans support an age max for members of Congress, and more than 40% say they view the ages of political leaders as a “major” problem.

Those who support the regulations argue that age limits are standard practice in many industries, including for airplane pilots and the military, and thus should be imposed on those who have incredible amounts of power over the country.

However, setting age boundaries on Congress and the President would almost certainly necessitate changes to the Constitution, and because such a move would require federal lawmakers to curtail their own power, there is little political will.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Business Insider) (NBC News)

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Churches Protected Loophole in Abuse Reporting for 20 years, Report Finds

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In some cases, Clergy members failed to report abuse among their congregation, but state laws protected them from that responsibility.


A Nationwide Campaign to Hide Abuse

More than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sexual abuse reporting laws have been neutered or killed due to religious opposition over the past two decades, according to a review by the Associated Press.

Many states have laws requiring professionals such as physicians, teachers, and psychotherapists to report any information pertaining to alleged child sexual abuse to authorities. In 33 states, however, clergy are exempt from those requirements if they deem the information privileged.

All of the reform bills reviewed either targeted this loophole and failed or amended the mandatory reporting statute without touching the loophole.

“The Roman Catholic Church has used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and deep influence among lawmakers in some states to protect the privilege,” the AP stated. “Influential members of the Mormon church and Jehovah’s witnesses have also worked in statehouses and courts to preserve it in areas where their membership is high.”

“This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials,” the report continued.

“They believe they’re on a divine mission that justifies keeping the name and the reputation of their institution pristine,” David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the outlet. “So the leadership has a strong disincentive to involve the authorities, police or child protection people.”

Abuses Go Unreported

Last month, another AP investigation discovered that a Mormon bishop acting under the direction of church leaders in Arizona failed to report a church member who had confessed to sexually abusing his five-year-old daughter.

Merrill Nelson, a church lawyer and Republican lawmaker in Utah, reportedly advised the bishop against making the report because of Arizona’s clergy loophole, effectively allowing the father to allegedly rape and abuse three of his children for years.

Democratic State Sen. Victoria Steele proposed three bills in response to the case to close the loophole but told the AP that key Mormon legislators thwarted her efforts.

In Montana, a woman who was abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses won a $35 million jury verdict against the church because it failed to report her abuse, but in 2020 the state supreme court reversed the judgment, citing the state’s reporting exemption for clergy.

In 2013, a former Idaho police officer turned himself in for abusing children after having told 15 members of the Mormon church, but prosecutors declined to charge the institution for not reporting him because it was protected under the clergy loophole.

The Mormon church said in a written statement to the AP that a member who confesses child sex abuse “has come seeking an opportunity to reconcile with God and to seek forgiveness for their actions. … That confession is considered sacred, and in most states, is regarded as a protected religious conversation owned by the confessor.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Deseret) (Standard Examiner)

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