News Roundup 02/20/19

1. Trump’s Emergency Declaration for Border Wall Faces Lengthy Court Battle

The court battle over President Trump’s declaration of national emergency to get the funds for the border wall increased on Tuesday when another lawsuit was filed challenging the actions he is taking. The lawsuits claim there is no emergency at the southern border of the United States, question the constitutionality of his actions, and state the president is making up a crisis. Trump is quoted as saying a border wall is the only way of stopping “an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.” In this statement, Trump cited the National Emergencies Act, which does not specify what events justify declaring an emergency. This is according to Stephen I. Vledick, a University of Texas law professor and Constitutional Law expert. The ACLU joined in with 16 other states and filed a lawsuit for the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition against Trump’s declaration of emergency.

Source: The Washington Post

2. Hate Group Counts Hit 20 Year High Amid Rise in White Supremacy, Report Says

According to a survey released on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the amount of active hate groups in the United States rose to its highest level in two decades last year. The number of groups went from 784 four years ago to 1,020. According to the group, the climb was caused by an increase in extremism. From 2017 to 2018, the number of groups went up 7%. These groups go from white supremacists, to black nationalists, to neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates. The group with the most growth from 2017 to 2018 was the white supremacists, who went from 100 to 148. This shows a comeback since the large rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina in 2017 brought more attention to the movement. After a decline in the first half of the current decade, the groups were brought back to life as the 2016 presidential election drew nearer.

Source: USA Today

3. The Supreme Court Clamps Down on “Excessive Fines” by States

In a unanimous decision made by the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared that states have to abide by the Constitution’s ban on exhorbitant fines. This decision will most likely place a limit on the state’s right to make citizens pay some fees and take property. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in the opinion that the Constitution protects citizens from the government taking advantage of their punitive or criminal law authority, and that protection extends to fines that are charged. Tuesday was the first time Ginsburg has been back on the bench of the Supreme Court for oral arguments since she had surgery in December. Her fellow justices for this ruling were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred the ruling in his own opinion.

Source: The Hill

4. Winter Storm Stretching Across Much of U.S. Brings Crashes, Air Travel Woes

A huge winter storm caused a travel and commuting headache for around 200 million people across 39 states on Wednesday. This storm brought ice, rain, and snow to the South, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and southern New England. According the the flight tracking website FlightAware, nearly 2,000 flights had been cancelled and 2,700 had been delayed by 12:30 pm ET Wednesday afternoon. Many people were injured due to a crash involving nine semi-trucks and two passenger vehicles in Nebraska. The state patrol released a statement saying that the weather definitely played a role in the crash. A wintry mix is expected to reach the northern mid-Atlantic states, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast on Wednesday night. Rain is expected to stretch across the Deep South through Friday night, according to predictions from the National Weather Service. Over 10 inches of snow was reported in certain areas of Wisconsin and Minneapolis, and Minneapolis got over 8 inches. Flash flood and winter weather warnings/advisories are in place for states in the south such as western Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi, and areas of West Virginia.

Source: NBC News

5. Pentagon Chief Briefing Irks Lawmakers, Draws Expletives from Sen. Lindsey Graham

Current Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan butted heads with Sen. Lindsey Graham because of the administration’s policy on Syria in a briefing held last weekend. This prompted the Senator to release a string of expletives and appoint himself as Shanahan’s enemy. The troublesome briefing rattled the bipartisan lawmakers and caused some to question whether Shanahan would be confirmed if President Trump decided to nominate him to be the permanent Secretary of Defense. This event brought attention to the contentious relationship Shanahan has had with Capitol Hill since his predecessor Jim Mattis resigned. The briefing got more controversial once Graham, who is a Republican from South Carolina, questioned Shanahan about the president’s choice to bring all troops back home from Syria. Shanahan’s attempt to use talking points to reassure the lawmakers only served to do the opposite, frustrating them instead.

Source: NBC News