Desperate to distract the national discourse from his criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump is promising that a vaccine will be available before Election Day. His vaccine campaign is named “Operation Warp Speed” and there is a real danger that its speed will warp the results. Ironically, the Trump administration is comparing this effort to the Manhattan Project, the highly secret government program to develop the first atomic bomb. “This isn’t a secret government weapon we’re trying to keep from an enemy,” said David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs. “The enemy is the virus. This is actually a rescue mission to save Americans and humanity from the virus.”
Vaccines generally take 10 years to develop, test and distribute. The shortest time it has taken to develop a vaccine is four years. Yet four pharmaceutical companies are in late stages of clinical trials. Pfizer, apparently the front-runner in the vaccine race, says it won’t have results before mid-November. Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson say they hope to have results by the end of the year.
During her Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Amy Coney Barrett refused to say that voter intimidation is illegal, that armed poll watchers are intimidating, that voter discrimination exists, whether the president could deny someone the right to vote based on race or that Congress has a constitutional duty to protect the right to vote.
She refused to affirm that Medicare is constitutional; that married couples should not lose their right to contraceptives; that a Black worker repeatedly called the N-word was subjected to a hostile work environment; that it’s wrong to separate children from their parents at the border; or that marriage equality, the right to consensual gay sex and LGBTQ workers’ rights should be protected. Barrett would not say that human beings are responsible for climate change or that the Constitution requires a peaceful transfer of power.
Three weeks of testimony in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London underscored WikiLeaks’s extraordinary revelation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. But the Trump administration is seeking to extradite Assange to the United States to stand trial for charges under the Espionage Act that could cause him to spend 175 years in prison.
Assange founded WikiLeaks during the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” which was used as a pretext to start two illegal wars and carry out a widespread program of torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo and the CIA black sites. On October 8, 2011, Assange told a Stop the War Coalition rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”
For months, Donald Trump has been mounting a preemptive strike against the democratic election process. He signals his intent to manipulate — indeed, steal — the presidential election in the event that Joe Biden wins. With no evidence to support him, Trump repeats the mantra “voter fraud” to lay the groundwork for political, legal and extra-legal challenges to a Biden victory. In an unprecedented move, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power as he orders right-wing militias armed with assault weapons to “stand back and stand by.”
Now that Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19, all bets are off. After months of recklessly discouraging social distancing and mask wearing, the chickens have come home to roost. Trump has tried mightily to change the subject away from the coronavirus and his criminal responsibility for more than 207,000 deaths and over 7 million people in the United States who have the virus. But with Trump’s infection, that strategy is now dead.
Amy Coney Barrett and Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not be more different when it comes to their respective notions of justice. Ginsburg, a pioneer in the protection of gender equality, spent her entire career, including 27 years on the Supreme Court, fighting for the rights of women, immigrants, people of color, criminal defendants, LGBTQ people, workers, people with mental disabilities and the poor. Barrett seeks to strip health insurance from tens of millions of people and crush reproductive rights.
Donald Trump rushed to nominate Barrett and enlisted his consigliere, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), to ram her nomination through the Senate so she can support Trump’s legal challenges to any election results that favor Joe Biden. Trump, who refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, has been conducting a misinformation campaign about (non-existent) voter fraud and signaling that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” against him with expanded mail-in voting.
When I was sworn in to practice before the Supreme Court in 2007, I sat near the front of the gallery. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the five-foot-tall justice, was barely visible over the bench behind which she sat. On two occasions, Ginsburg visited the law school where I taught for many years. She graciously created the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture Series at our annual Women and the Law Conference, which featured leading feminist scholars.
In all three instances, I was struck by the stark contrast between her diminutive stature and her commanding presence. Now, in death, Ginsburg commands the national discourse. How, when and who will fill her vacant seat promises to have a powerful, even determinative, effect on the election and the future of the Supreme Court itself.
For nearly four years, we have been laser focused on November 3, 2020, the day that Donald Trump could be voted out of office. In all likelihood, however, the election will not be decided that evening as it has in the past (with the notable exception of the 2000 election). That is because in order to protect themselves against COVID-19, a record number of people will forego the polls and mail their ballots, which take longer to count. There are several scenarios of what could transpire between November 3 and January 20. All of them are frightening.
Once again, Trump has deployed federal agents on U.S. soil over the objection of local authorities, in an apparent attempt to sow chaos and then claim he must be reelected to restore law and order. On August 26, Trump tweeted he would send “federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER” in the wake of protests against the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot in the back seven times by a police officer in the presence of Blake’s children. Blake, who remains in critical condition, was left paralyzed. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declined the White House’s offer of federal assistance. Although Evers had deployed the National Guard the day before, Trump said, “Governor should call in the National Guard in Wisconsin.”
A lawsuit that promises to be one of many was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in New York to stop Donald Trump’s sabotage of the mail leading up to the presidential election.
Mondaire Jones et al. v. U.S. Postal Service, Postmaster General, and Donald Trump was brought by Democratic candidates for national and state congressional seats, as well as voters who cast mail ballots to protect themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic. Several state attorneys general are expected to file litigation this week.
“The postmaster general and the members of USPS [United States Postal Service] board of governors can be sued for injunctive relief, or even for damages,” Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told Truthout. In addition, he said, “The USPS can be sued for an injunction.”
As the Massachusetts legislature debates whether to water down its qualified immunity defense, a federal judge in Mississippi filed a stunning 72-page opinion blasting the doctrine. Qualified immunity has entered the national discourse with the massive uprisings in the wake of the public lynching of George Floyd. It allows police and other government officials to escape liability for their law breaking.
In Jamison v. McClendon, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves recently concluded that Officer Nick McClendon violated Clarence Jamison’s Fourth Amendment rights when he subjected Jamison to a nearly two-hour ordeal that included badgering, pressuring, lying and intrusively searching his car. But the judge’s hands were tied by the qualified immunity doctrine so he was forced to deny Jamison’s legal claim. Reeves, an African American man, traced the development of the law and the institutional racism and police brutality that continue to plague our society. “Black people in this country are acutely aware of the danger traffic stops pose to Black lives,” the judge wrote.
Taking a page from Hitler’s Brownshirts, Donald Trump is sending his secret paramilitary forces into U.S. cities to terrorize the population. Ostensibly designed to “restore order” in the wake of massive uprisings against white supremacy and police brutality, this move appears to have a more cynical purpose lurking behind it: Trump’s desire to tar Democrat-led cities with a false narrative to boost his sagging poll numbers. But protesters are taking to the courts to rein in an out-of-control executive.