Defendant Trump Disqualified Himself: His eligibility for office and the 14th Amendment
The “Summer of Justice” has been exciting, watching Trump and his co-conspirators finally being indicted and arraigned in our courts for plotting a coup to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. This summer has also been filled with trepidation as the defendants’ lawyers file motion after motion designed to delay or move the proceedings, in hopes that a Republican victor in the 2024 elections might pardon all the alleged felons.
Trump, who has sued and been sued thousands of times in his career, has been ranting more wildly than ever, seemingly aware that this series of cases cannot be brushed aside. Gov. Brian Kemp denied Georgia Republican legislators’ attempt to impeach DA Fani Willis. MAGA Mascot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened to shut down the government to protect her insurrectionist hero, while we watch MAGA minions nationwide seething with racist violence.
In reality, Trump has already disqualified himself from ever running for office again, per Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution, now being recommended by both Prof. Laurence Tribe and retired Judge J. Michael Luttig. The clause does not require a criminal conviction. The “Disqualification Clause” was adopted after the Civil War to prevent those who violated their oaths of office by engaging in insurrection from ever running for federal, state, or local office. Our blog discusses activity focused on the Disqualification Clause so far, as well as updates on ongoing litigation.
Repeal Utility Tax in AB 205
Our big utility companies and the Governor rammed through a state bill that will force everyone, especially lower middle class folks, to pay an exorbitant baseline fee for their hook-ups. This is an example of utility companies trying to extract ever more money from the middle class, instead of cooperating with climate-friendly and budget-friendly solutions like home solar panels. We at ISF, as well as many other local groups, are participating in a crash effort to get the California legislature to repeal it before it goes into effect. Feel free to peruse the effort’s letter, with 150 other groups, as well as the fact sheet.
The Utility Tax is Section 739.9 of Budget Trailer Bill AB 205 (2022). It requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to add a fixed charge to electricity bills based on household income. Because of this provision, the utilities and other organizations (NRDC, TURN, and Public Advocate) have proposed the highest fixed charges in the country, between $400 to $1,500 per year- three to twelve times the national average for such a fixed charge. These proposals would function as a Utility Tax that would apply to all residential customers of PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and CCAs. For more information, see the Utility Tax fact sheet.
This week, we want to drive calls to Assemblymember Phil Ting’s Sacramento office. If you live in his district, or if you know someone active who does whom you can let know, please call or email about this critical matter.
Contact your Assemblymember and tell them: repeal the Utility Tax in AB 205!
More student debt relief from the Biden Administration
The Biden Administration has rolled out two new efforts to get more Americans out from under their student debt burdens. As before, some folks will have their federal student loans wiped away entirely, while others will have their debt load reduced.
First was a round of administrative fixes that re-counted borrowers’ qualifying payments and determined that more than 800,000 people had already reached completion of their repayment plans. That’s 800,000 people whose federal student loans will be discharged. The CNN article didn’t mention how many more were moved closer to full repayment even if they aren’t there yet. The Education Department’s press release has more details.
Second is the long-awaited new income-driven repayment plan, now called SAVE. Previous income-based repayment plans did something called “interest recapitalization,” where outstanding interest accreted onto the loan principal. This kept borrowers in debt longer, potentially indefinitely. SAVE does away with interest recapitalization; now, as long as you make your payments, your debt will go down. Other changes will reduce borrowers’ payments; some folks will see their payment amount drop to zero. The Education Department has a fact sheet.
If you’re enrolled in the previous income-driven repayment plan, REPAYE, you’ll automatically be migrated to SAVE. Otherwise, you can learn more and sign up at: https://studentaid.gov/idr/
2023 is an election year. Are you ready to help get out the vote?
Join us in phone banking, postcarding, and more for critical elections from now into November in Ohio and Virginia, among other places. Help us win victories in 2023 and build momentum for 2024 to protect democracy and our civil rights! Find your next action on our (Get Out The) Vote page.
Update on how the driverless car debacle is going
Last month, following hours of public comment—much of it against, plus some folks including a group partly sponsored by Waymo speaking in favor—the CPUC voted to allow Cruise and Waymo to put more driverless cars on more roads during more hours across the City. (One of the CPUC members is a former Cruise attorney. He voted in favor.)
Incidents of driverless cars obstructing traffic and interfering with emergency scenes have, predictably, continued—including the very next day. The worst one yet happened a few days later: a patient died while the ambulance that was meant to take them to the hospital was blocked by Cruise vehicles, according to SFFD (Cruise disputes the Fire Department’s account). In response to such “concerning incidents”, the DMV asked Cruise to reduce their deployment by half, and they agreed.
The DMV requested this reduction “until the investigation is complete and Cruise takes appropriate corrective actions to improve road safety”. In the meantime, it’s not clear how fewer driverless cars is supposed to do anything but make incidents less frequent, given the inherent problems with driverless vehicles that we wrote about in our (now-expired) call script last month.
Driverless cars will continue to get stuck or drive where they don’t belong; they by definition have no human driver to instruct on a different course of action or hold accountable for mistakes or inaction; and they are not responsive to any sort of communication from emergency responders. The incidents—and preventable deaths—will continue until state policy improves.
Safe Street Rebel has compiled a convenient list of links to forms from the SFMTA, DMV, and CPUC where you can report incidents involving driverless cars that you’ve personally witnessed or been involved in.
If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens.
Indivisible SF Federal Working Group: Thursday, September 14, 7:30–9 PM. Planning meeting where we discuss strategy to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Meeting starts promptly at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Register here!
TODAY: Swing Left SF Bay Area Coalition Phone Bank: Wednesday, September 6, 2:30–4:30 PM. Join Swing Left SF and the Bay Area Coalition to phone bank for all the key 2023 elections, as we organize swing states for key elections in 2023. RSVP here.
Swing Left SF Bay Area Coalition Phone Bank: Wednesday, September 13, 2:30–4:30 PM. Join Swing Left SF and the Bay Area Coalition to phone bank for all the key 2023 elections, as we organize swing states for key elections in 2023. RSVP here.
True to Blue IN-PERSON Phone Bank for VA, OH and CA: Saturday, September 16, 10:00–12:00 PM at 541 Castro Street. Join an in-person phone bank with the Bay Area Coalition to make calls to voters in key states for critical elections in 2023 and 2024. RSVP here.
About this week’s photo
Today’s graphic is a photograph of Trump in the courtroom during his arraignment back in April on charges of falsifying business records in New York State, taken by Andrew Kelly and published by the New York Times.
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