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A federal judge issued a scathing order Saturday dismissing the Trump campaign’s futile effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania, shooting down claims of widespread irregularities with mail-in ballots.

The case was always a long shot to stop President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, but it was President Donald Trump’s best hope to affect the election results through the courts, mostly because of the number of electoral votes, 20, at stake in Pennsylvania. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, stepped into a courtroom for the first time in decades to argue the case this past week.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann wrote, so much that the court would have no option but to stop the certification even though it would impact so many people. “That has not happened.”

Even if he’d won the Pennsylvania case, Trump would have needed to win other lawsuits in other states where he’d also asked to delay certification. The campaign peppered battlegrounds states with litigation in the days after the election alleging widespread election fraud without proof, but the majority of those cases have already been dismissed.

The president has taken his effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election beyond the courtroom in recent days, straight to local lawmakers. Some Trump allies have expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors.

With that in mind Trump invited Michigan legislators to the White House on Friday, hoping that an Oval Office meeting would persuade them to set aside the popular vote favoring Biden by more than 154,000. But the lawmakers issued a statement after the meeting that they would follow the law and “normal process” on electors. Trump was said to be considering extending a similar invitation to lawmakers from Pennsylvania.

Time is running out for Trump and his campaign, as states certify their results one after another showing that Biden won the requisite 270 Electoral College votes to take office.

Brann ruled that Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes. He said the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.”

“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” the opinion said. “Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

Trump tweeted after the ruling that he couldn’t understand why Biden was forming a Cabinet when the president’s investigators had found “hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes,” a baseless claim for which Trump has supplied no evidence.


The US Senate is gearing up for a rare weekend session as Republicans race to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court and cement a conservative majority before election day despite Democratic efforts to stall President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Democrats used time-consuming procedural hurdles to delay the start of Friday’s Senate session until midday, but the party has no realistic chance of stopping Ms Barrett’s advance in the Republican-controlled chamber. Ms Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed on Monday and quickly join the court.

“It’s hard to think of any nominee we’ve had in the past who is any better than this one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told Fox News late on Thursday.

Ms Barrett, 48, presented herself in public evidence before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter of cases on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and presidential power, issues soon confronting the court.

At one point she suggested: “It’s not the law of Amy.”  But Ms Barrett’s past writings against abortion and a ruling on the Obama-era health care law show a deeply conservative thinker.

Mr Trump said this week he is hopeful the Supreme Court will undo the health law when the justices take up a challenge on November 10, the week after the election. The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in US history so close to a presidential election.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Friday that the Republican push to seat Ms Barrett was “the most partisan, hypocritical, least legitimate process in the history of the nation”. “We’re not going to have business as usual,” Mr Schumer said as he forced one procedural vote after another.

At the start of Mr Trump’s presidency, Mr McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections.


States can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education, a divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

By a 5-4 vote with the conservatives in the majority, the justices upheld a  Montana scholarship program that allows state tax credits for private schooling in which almost all the recipients attend religious schools.

The Montana Supreme Court had struck down the K-12 private education scholarship program that was created by the Legislature in 2015 to make donors eligible for up to $150 in state tax credits. The state court had ruled that the tax credit violated the Montana constitution’s ban on state aid to religious schools.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion that said the state ruling itself ran afoul of the religious freedom, embodied in the U.S. Constitution, of parents who want the scholarships to help pay for their children’s private education. “A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor described the ruling as “perverse.”

“Without any need or power to do so, the Court appears to require a State to reinstate a tax-credit program that the Constitution did not demand in the first place,” she said.

Parents whose children attend religious schools sued to preserve the program. The high court decision upholds families’ rights “to exercise our religion as we see fit,” said Kendra Espinoza, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit whose two daughters attend the Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell, Montana, near Glacier National Park.


The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the U.S. legal system, creating constitutional dilemmas as the accused miss their days in court. The public health crisis could build a legal backlog that overwhelms courts across the country, leaving some defendants behind bars longer, and forcing prosecutors to decide which cases to pursue and which to let slide.

“Everybody is scrambling. Nobody really knows how to handle this,” said Claudia Lagos, a criminal defense attorney in Boston.

Judges from California to Maine have postponed trials and nearly all in-person hearings to keep crowds from packing courthouses. Trials that were underway — like the high-profile case against multimillionaire real estate heir Robert Durst — have been halted. Some chief judges have suspended grand juries, rendering new indictments impossible. Other have allowed them to sit, though six feet apart.

Prosecutors may have to abandon some low-level cases to keep people from flooding into the legal system.

Many judges are holding hearings by phone or video chat to keep all cases from grinding to a halt. Other courts are stymied by outdated technology. The clerk for the the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Molly Dwyer, likened the logistical challenges to “building the bike as we ride it.”

Judges have asked for emergency powers to delay trials longer than the law generally allows and extend key deadlines, like when a defendant must initially appear in court.



Mohammed Hafar paced around the airport terminal — first to the monitor to check flight arrivals, then to the gift shop and lastly to the doors where international passengers were exiting.

At last, out came Jana Hafar, his tall, slender, dark-haired teen daughter who had been forced by President Donald Trump’s travel ban to stay behind in Syria for months while her father, his wife and 10-year-old son started rebuilding their lives in Bloomfield, New Jersey, with no clear idea of when the family would be together again.

“Every time I speak to her, she ask, ‘When are they going to give me the visa?’” the elder Hafar said, recalling the days of uncertainty that took up the better part of this year. There was “nothing I could tell her, because nobody knows when.”

That she landed at Kennedy Airport on a recent December day was testament to her father’s determination to keep his promise that they would be reunited and his willingness to go as far as suing the government in federal court. Advocates say the process for obtaining a travel ban waiver is still shrouded in unpredictability, which causes delays for thousands of American citizens waiting for loved ones.

The “system is messed up,” said Curtis Morrison, the Los Angeles-based attorney who has filed several federal lawsuits, including Hafar’s, against the administration on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs from countries affected by the travel ban.

Supreme Court to take up dispute over subpoenas

  Politics  -   POSTED: 2019/12/14 18:37

The Supreme Court says it will hear President Donald Trump’s pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private.

The justices’ decision Friday to hear cases involving demands for records from Trump’s banks and accounting firm means the court is likely to issue final rulings in June, amid Trump’s campaign for re-election.

He is trying to prevent the records from being turned over to House of Representatives committees and the Manhattan District Attorney, who is seeking the president’s tax returns as part of a criminal investigation.


An Israeli man detained in Jordan has appeared before a state security court where he was charged with illegally entering the country and possessing drugs.

The 35-year-old Israeli pleaded guilty on Monday to entering Jordan illegally but denied the other charge. Konstantin Kotov said that possessing a small amount of marijuana is legal in Israel. The judge rejected that argument, saying he had violated Jordanian law.

Kotov, who was arrested on Oct. 29, did not say why he traveled to Jordan.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty 25 years ago, but relations have cooled in recent years over the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israeli policies in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, where Jordan has custodianship over Muslim holy sites.

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