Support Our Work in 2023 With a New Year's Gift
We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.
To donate by check, phone, or other method, see our More Ways to Give page.
The petition, which has been delivered to the White House, was posted at RootsAction.org following the announcement by the Governor of North Dakota that everyone resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline would be forcibly removed.
RootsAction said in an email:
"When foreign governments, like Iraq's or Libya's, try to deny oil profits to U.S. corporations, Washington is swift to act -- often disastrously. But when a U.S. state government violates numerous human rights and openly announces a planned escalation, where is the federal government? What becomes of the United Nations or the 'Responsibility to Protect' when oil is on the other side of the equation?"
RootsAction is dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars. We mobilize on these issues no matter whether Democrats or Republicans control Washington D.C.
Bump stocks were used to modify firearms used in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which killed 60 people in Las Vegas in 2017.
Despite acknowledging "tremendous" public pressure to impose a ban on bump stocks, a firearm attachment used in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a federal appeals court on Friday rejected a 2019 Trump administration rule barring people from owning the instruments.
In a 13-3 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the ban violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that the U.S. Congress must act to ban bump stocks rather than the executive branch.
The majority, made up mostly of judges appointed by Republican presidents, said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) at the U.S. Department of Justice wrongly interpreted a law banning machine guns when they extended that ban to bump stocks in 2019, two years after a gunman killed 60 people and injured hundreds of others in a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas.
"A plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of 'machine gun' set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act," Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in the majority opinion.
\u201c5th Circuit: Bump stocks\u2014which transform semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns\u2014are legal under federal law. \n\nInvalidates a Trump-era rule that banned bump stocks after the device was used in the Las Vegas shooting that killed 60 people.\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1673058883
The gunman used bump stocks to modify 12 firearms he used when he shot at the crowd from a hotel room. Bump stocks can be used to replace a rifle's stock, which is held against the shooter's shoulder, and allows the weapon to fire multiple rounds of ammunition more rapidly.
The three judges who dissented in Friday's ruling were appointed by Democratic presidents. One, Judge Stephen Higginson, wrote in an opinion that the majority employed technical legal reasoning "to legalize an instrument of mass murder," after three other federal appeals courts rejected challenges to the bump stock ban and the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals to two of those rulings last year.
"Under the majority's rule, the defendant wins by default whenever the government fails to prove that a statute unambiguously criminalizes the defendant's conduct," wrote Higginson.
Following Friday's decision, the Supreme Court could ultimately rule on the legality of bump stocks in the future.
The final vote followed a dramatic 14th ballot vote in which tensions soared on the floor of the House chamber.
After nearly a week of chaotic voting on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Kevin McCarthy of California was elected Speaker of the House of the 118th Congress just after midnight early Saturday morning after finally securing enough votes in the 15th ballot.
The final tally was 216 votes for McCarthy and 212 votes for Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York, after 6 far-right holdouts, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), lowered the threshold to secure the speakership by voting "present" instead of registering a vote for another GOP member.
"McCarthy made dangerous concessions to the most fringe members of the House in exchange for their support in his effort to become Speaker."
Progressive critics responded to the final vote by noting the price paid to win over the hostage-takers in the Republican conference.
"Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly put his personal ambitions ahead of our democracy," said Sean Eldridge, president of Stand Up America, referencing the GOP leader's membership in the "Sedition Caucus" to whom he said the new speaker had "sold his soul."
"He voted against certifying President Biden's victory and obstructed the investigation into the January 6 attack on our country," Eldridge said.
Eldridge noted that over 70% of the current GOP conference in the House "are election deniers, including every single member of GOP leadership." That fact, he said, "should be chilling to every American who cares about protecting our democracy and our freedoms."
\u201cThe Party of Insurrection has selected a Speaker by cutting a deal with its most hateful faction.\n\nBut know this\u2014we will fight with everything we\u2019ve got to mitigate the policy violence they intend to inflict.\n\nAnd in 2024, we will deliver the House back to the people.\u201d— Cori Bush (@Cori Bush) 1673069436
"This week," said Eldridge, "McCarthy made dangerous concessions to the most fringe members of the House in exchange for their support in his effort to become Speaker. The punishment for his political cowardice will be presiding over the GOP's conference of chaos for the next two years. Unfortunately, it's the American people who will pay the price."
\u201cHe committed to do anything but focus on what the American people actually care about. \n\nInstead, Speaker McCarthy will continue to do what he\u2019s done for the past 6 years: awkwardly cover for MAGA embarrassments while careening from one self-inflicted political fiasco to another.\u201d— Indivisible Guide (@Indivisible Guide) 1673069548
The 15th ballot followed a dramatic 14th ballot vote in which tensions soared on the floor of the House chamber.
The nearly five-day battle for the speakership is over.
"Secretaries of state now have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect our democracy by ensuring Trump is barred from the ballot," one campaigner argued, pointing to the 14th Amendment.
Two years after supporters of former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" stormed the U.S. Capitol, demonstrators gathered in Colorado on Friday to remind the American people—especially election officials—that "Trump is disqualified" from running for public office under Section 3 of the 14 Amendment to the Constitution.
Since January 6, 2021, some elected officials and advocacy groups have drawn attention to that section of the amendment, which bars from office anyone who has taken an oath to support the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion," to call for excluding Trump and some congressional Republicans from government.
"Trump's actions were a violation of his oath of office and therefore make him constitutionally ineligible for any future run for office."
"Insurrectionists do not belong in office," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said Friday. "And they do not belong on the ballot going forward. Elected officials who directly aided and abetted the deadly assault on our nation's democracy on January 6 must be held accountable."
The groups Free Speech for People (FSFP) and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund have launched TrumpIsDisqualified.org, a campaign pressuring secretaries of state and other U.S. election officials to exclude supporters of the insurrection—particularly the twice-impeached former president—from any future ballots.
As part of the "Jan. 6th Justice: Our Freedoms, Our Votes" day of action on Friday, Mi Familia Vota held a rally in Denver demanding that Democratic Colorado Secretary of State Jenna Griswold use her power to keep Trump—who formally launched his current presidential campaign in November—off the ballot in 2024.
\u201c@FSFP & MFV are urging Secretaries of State and chief election officials across the country to follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and bar Trump from any future ballot. If we all come together, we\u2019ll grow our movement to protect our democracy \u270a\ud83c\udfff\u270a\ud83c\udffe\u270a\ud83c\udffd\u270a\ud83c\udffc\u201d— Mi Familia Vota (@Mi Familia Vota) 1673021292
"Donald Trump violated his oath of office when he led the charge to overturn the results of the 2020 election," declared Héctor Sánchez Barba, executive director and CEO of Mi Familia Vota, a national group that works to build Latino political power through civic participation.
"His actions only confirmed what the Latino community has long known: He is dangerous," Sanchez said of Trump. "The disqualification clause in the 14th Amendment is clear: Anyone who violates their oath of office is ineligible to run for higher office in the future."
"Secretaries of state have the power to bar Trump," he stressed. "There is ample evidence as to why he is not fit to hold office again, now all we are asking is for a secretary of state to act."
\u201cWe believe that Trump is constitutionally ineligible for any future run for office bc of his role in inciting, encouraging, & supporting the #Jan6 insurrection. If we all come together, we can grow our movement to protect our democracy. Sign our petition: https://t.co/61JKzYmle7\u201d— Mi Familia Vota (@Mi Familia Vota) 1673021292
Ahead of the "divided and disoriented" GOP's disastrous takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives this week, the Democratic-led select committee that investigated the Capitol insurrection last month unanimously referred Trump to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on four criminal charges.
"The bipartisan House January 6th committee showed that Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election, culminating with his incitement of violent insurrection," FSFP campaign director Alexandra Flores-Quilty said Friday.
"The insurrectionist disqualification clause is clear: Trump's actions were a violation of his oath of office and therefore make him constitutionally ineligible for any future run for office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment," she added. "Secretaries of state now have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect our democracy by ensuring Trump is barred from the ballot."
Even before the House select committee referrals, Trump faced DOJ investigations into his handling of classified documents and his role in the 2021 attack on the Capitol. After Trump announced his 2024 campaign, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor, as a special counsel for those probes.
FSFP legal director Ron Fein, president John Bonifaz, and chairman and senior legal adviser Ben Clements, jointly argued Friday in a piece for Jurist that "Garland has done something quietly sneaky" with his appointment of Smith.
\u201cTrump must be held accountable for his insurrection crimes (& later theft of government documents). \n\n\ud835\uddd5\ud835\ude02\ud835\ude01 AG Garland's absolution of Trump\u2019s earlier crimes\u2014and unwillingness to even state openly that he was doing so, let alone explain why\u2014is a serious blow to the rule of law.\u201d— Ron Fein ... also firstname.lastname@example.org (@Ron Fein ... also email@example.com) 1673023170
"By announcing a special counsel appointment predicated on Trump's candidacy," the trio wrote, "then excluding from the special counsel's scope the 'shelf-ready' 'obstruction of justice crimes already identified by Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller and campaign finance crimes already identified by Manhattan prosecutors (in the Trump administration, no less), Garland is telling us between the lines that that he is giving up on all of Trump's pre-2020 crimes."
"Of course, Trump must be held accountable, in a timely fashion, for the crimes within the special counsel's scope," they added. "But Garland's absolution of Trump's earlier crimes—and unwillingness to even state openly, let alone provide a rationale, that he was doing so—is a serious blow to the once cherished principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law."
As for other political leaders who contributed to the Capitol attack, although the select committee last month referred Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) to the House Committee on Ethics for defying subpoenas, they are unlikely to face any consequences in a chamber narrowly controlled by the GOP, no matter who ultimately becomes speaker.
The House adjourned Friday afternoon after 13 failed speaker votes throughout the week—the most since before the U.S. Civil War—with plans to return at 10:00 pm ET. McCarthy just needs to flip two of the six Republicans who remain opposed to him—Biggs along with Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Eli Crane (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Bob Good (Va.), and Matt Rosendale (Mont.)—to secure enough support to be elected to the leadership post.