A Parallel Universe: Donald Trump’s Lawsuit To Hold The Presidency

Ignoring for a moment what actually happened on Election Day — and what actually could happen in the future — we want to take a moment to explore two of many potential paths that we believe were the most likely to have unfolded. One follows Joe Biden after an historic victory that could not be doubted. The other follows Donald Trump, who used the structure of our own government to steal an election he lost — both through the popular vote and electoral college — to ignore what was to be Joe Biden’s shining moment.

For the first scenario to unfold, what needed to happen was simple: a landslide victory on Election Day. Why? Because the Trump strategy was all about throwing out any votes after Election Day (most of which would predictably have been blue) in order to keep what looked like an Election Day electoral college victory from turning into a defeat when all the votes were counted. 

A landslide would prevent such a reality from transpiring. Biden would need purple states like Texas to really seal the deal when it mattered most. Waiting for a win weeks later would be dangerous. 

And as for the second scenario, perhaps originally seen as even more likely as the first, there’s the obvious question: how could Trump possibly get away with throwing away votes? Oddly enough, it’s one of the only truly scandalous actions he could take during his presidency that would actually be legal. It would have Super NOVA like consequences of course, but they might even seem like business as usual nowadays.

The plot has to do with who controls state legislatures in the vast majority of swing states. Who does, you ask? Republicans. And therein lies the problem. Even before the election took place, they publicly announced plans to send electors to vote for Trump over Biden if they thought that best represented the outcome of the popular vote in their own states. In other words, even if Biden got the votes needed to win the electors in that state, the legislature would cry foul based on non-existent fraudulent voting, and then send the electors to vote for Trump anyway.

That’s how a once-proud Democracy dies. The worst part? GOP constituents openly acknowledge that they receive most of their news directly from the president himself. In other words, they believe everything that comes out of his mouth. Everyone on the other side of the aisle knows he’s lying — because 99 percent of the time he’s caught on camera or in print doing it — but what really matters most is the people who don’t know. Because those are the people who wanted to vote for him, and those are the people who were willing to throw away Democratic tradition to keep him in power for another four years.

The Democratic process, then, in this scenario, would place its success or failure on entities like the Republican-controlled Senate or the Conservative-led Supreme Court. Three of the nine members of the Supreme Court were nominated by Trump. Would they ever really threaten his presidency, dually elected or not?

What Are Authorities Doing To Protect Against Voter Fraud In Pennsylvania?

Supporters of Donald Trump — and viewers of Fox News, especially — have continued to believe in the notion of widespread voter fraud even though Trump’s own FBI director has suggested there is little evidence of it. Additionally, bipartisan groups have also continued to find little evidence of voter fraud, save for a few dozen cases over the years. But Trump and Fox News continue to roll out new “evidence” of this non-existent phenomenon.

In fact, a new Trump Administration lawsuit used Philadelphia resident and lawyer Adam Goodman’s selfie to suggest that voter fraud is pervasive in Pennsylvania. Trump has also set up cameras at many dropboxes, which is tantamount to intimidation and may be against the law. Why was Goodman’s photo “evidence” of voter fraud? Because there were two ballots when he dropped them off during primary season.

But it’s not illegal to drop off more than one vote — because you’re allowed to drop off another person’s vote if you’re unable to do it yourself. With coronavirus still a huge issue during this election, it’s not surprising that people might be more inclined to appoint a surrogate. 

Goodman said his husband “was wearing sweatpants and didn’t think he looked cute enough for Instagram. You can’t see it in the photo, but we are actually both holding up the ballots.” 

Court documents described many images of one person dropping off more than one vote as evidence of “rampant problems and associated fraud in Pennsylvania’s 2020 primary election” and that they “undermine the integrity of the 2020 general election.”

Goodman said, “God forbid the election becomes contested. I am going to vote in person. We have our ballots, and we are going to surrender them on Election Day and vote at the polls. It’s crazy to me the lengths that this administration is going to in order to discredit the results of this election. I mean, my Instagram?”

The Trump Administration certainly knows that these pictures do not amount to evidence of voter fraud — but then again, that may not be the point. Sometimes, public opinion matters more.

Can A Company Sue You For Unpaid Credit Card Debt?

We’ve all heard the story by now: the vast majority of Americans cannot afford an even minor unexpected expense. We’re living paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes, we have to use our plastic to pay for goods and services even when we’d rather use cash. Credit card companies have taken advantage of this formula for decades, sprinkling interest on top of already massive bills. But what happens when you can’t pay back your credit card debt.

Yes, your credit card company can sue you.

The truth is, though, that they’d rather not. Going to the trouble of suing someone for debt they can’t afford is often more trouble than it’s worth. But if a credit card company investigates your circumstances and finds that you might be able to pay off your credit card debt — but for some reason won’t — then it will likely propose litigation against you to recoup their own investments. That’s just the way business works. 

One thing to keep in mind if you’re worried that your credit card company might initiate a lawsuit is that they can’t do it right away. There’s no reason to sweat bullets the first time you default on a payment. There might be reason to worry, however, if you go months and months without being able to afford the bill. The shortest timetable for a company usually falls around six months. 

It is extremely important to take any notification of a lawsuit seriously. You might be summoned to court. If you ignore a court summons, then in the best case scenario a default judgment will be awarded to the credit card company suing you. In the worst case scenario, a bench warrant could be put out for your arrest. Never ignore the problem. 

Also, keep in mind that there are people out there who go to the trouble of purchasing your debt from the credit card company owed — meaning they pay at least some portion of the debt owed — and then set out to sue you to recoup the money they paid (and then some, of course).

Before you take any further action, request a verification of debt owed. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows you to make this formal request in writing, at which point a debt collector must furnish you with proof that the debt is owed. This is more important when the debt has been purchased by a third-party.

Next, decide how to address what you owe. A settlement is probably in your best interest if you cannot afford the debt, because it will allow you to mitigate costs. But keep in mind you will still owe any settlement costs remaining, and failing to pay could land you in hotter water. Settling debt will likely leave you with a much reduced credit score that could last for years.

And that means the best option is simply paying off the debt in full. Sit down with a lawyer to ask about debt management plans and additional options.

Getting Back To Business After COVID-19

We’re not going to mince words when it comes to the current response to COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus: it was abysmal. Because of the government’s ineptitude during this crisis, we will likely be trying to find new ways to respond to ongoing infections for years to come. The hope for a vaccine, for now, remains a pipe dream. Reality is much bleaker. And that means we need to embrace the facts.

Many of us were exposed to the coronavirus when we need not have been, but the legal options for responding to such an assault are severely limited.

Do you run a business or organization trying to make ends meet? We know the feeling. There’s no guarantee that customers will return once your business reopens and it’s anyone’s guess how long you can stay open when that day comes. If you have legal questions and concerns regarding employees and customers, we would love to hear from you. Do you have a story about how your friends and family kept your business afloat? These harrowing tales could be the key to finding meaningful compensation in the days ahead.

Even though local and state governments are beginning to reopen little by little, keep in mind that your business should continue to operate safely. Ask employees to work from home whenever possible. Ask customers and employees to maintain limits on personal contact and always social distance during meetings. Furthermore, keep personal protective equipment (gloves and masks) on hand to keep the risk of exposure low.

We also suggest using plastic shields as a barrier between work spaces. These extra measures will help keep your clients and staff safe. More than that, the measures will also reduce the potential for lawsuits in the days ahead. Our offices have been inundated with questions, comments, and calls for personal injury assistance — and we can’t help everyone. Please do your part to minimize the risk!

Can The Government Be Sued For Responding To Covid-19 Ineffectively?

Right now, there are many memes using information from supposed “experts” who say that we shouldn’t worry too much about the potential of the coronavirus covid-19 to wreak havok on our nation. The biggest problem, they say, is people panicking and buying out every item that our grocery stores have on their shelves. And that is a problem. But these people continue to compare covid-19 to the annual flu virus — when in fact it might be smarter to compare it to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.

The Spanish flu killed between 17 and 50 million after infecting less than a third of the world’s population. (Which was only 1.9 billion people at the time. The world population right now stands at about 7.8 billion.)

The mortality rate of the annual flu is .1 percent, while the mortality rate of covid-19 is presumed to be around 2 percent. Compare that to the mortality rate of the Spanish flu, which was around 2.5 percent, and you’ll understand that Spanish flu has more in common with covid-19 than the flu.

But there’s more.

It’s not just about the mortality rate. It’s about the number of infected. And in order to understand the virus’s capacity to travel from one person to the next, we need to know how contageous it is compared to annual flu and Spanish flu. We learn this information by figuring out how many people any given infected individual is likely to infect. Individuals who will infect one other person are given a reproductive number of R1, for example. Two people, R2. Three people, R3, and so on.

Scientists believe that covid-19 has a value of R2.3. The annual flu has a value of 1.3. The median rating allotted to the Spanish flu was 1.8. What does that mean? Not only is covid-19 potentially as deadly as the Spanish flu, but it’s potentially more contagious. Do we know all this for sure? No. We’re still taking educated guesses, and scientists won’t have better answers until the whole thing is over and done with.

But that’s not really the point, is it?

Donald Trump called the coronavirus pandemic a liberal hoax only two weeks ago. He said the negative media coverage was a ploy by his political enemies to undermine his chances of reelection later this year. Because he didn’t believe in the seriousness of this virus, the United States did not request or receive the necessary testing equipment it required to find out how many people are actually infected. That means the number of infected is likely already much higher than reported. 

You decide if the government should be held financially responsible for this potentially deadly mistake.

New Multi-State Coalition Opens Lawsuit Because Of Food Stamps Requirements

No presidential administration has been the subject of more lawsuits than Trump’s. But that should come as a surprise to no one. What might be more interesting to those who support him is how many of them are brought on by multi-state coalitions. After all, Republicans are supposed to be the party that supports state rights and powers over federal ones. 

The latest lawsuit is the result of new regulations requiring certain categories of food stamp recipients to work or go without. More than a dozen states have supported the lawsuit, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, Virginia, and Rhode Island.

Trump is big on bragging about how much he gets done. One of those stories involves lifting people off of entitlements — even though he did it by making those entitlements much more difficult to acquire. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) will formally limit state rights in eliminating work requirements as of April 2020. When the new regulation is finally implemented, about 688,000 people might lose their food stamps.

The new lawsuit says that the new regulations are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law…The rule conflicts with the federal statute, the purpose of SNAP, and the clear intent of Congress to alleviate hunger and malnutrition while maintaining States’ flexibility.”

When asked about the new work requirements and waiving of state rights overriding them, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that it “lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”

Perdue added, “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand. Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”

The fine print is important, though. That’s because adults who “can work” are already required to do so by the old laws. Those who aren’t disabled and don’t have kids — but who don’t work — can only receive benefits for no more than three months in three years. Those who are working are entitled to more. 

The lawsuit was built because right now states have the right to waive the work requirement in certain situations, such as when unemployment is high. Certainly, the new restrictions are being excused by Perdue on the basis of a strong economy — but strong economies are ephemeral, and the new rules are certainly not tied to the whims of the economy.

New Voting Laws Scrutinized Around The Country Will Likely Draw New Lawsuits

States are beginning to question how the voting process fails our system of government and what changes should be made, if any. There are two basic changes that could be implemented on a widespread basis: automatic voter registration and ranked choice voting. Both of these choices change the way elections would play out. Both would also change the way electoral candidates face off against one another. And both could be subject to a number of legal challenges in the near future.

Automatic voter registration is exactly what it sounds like: the state government will automatically register you as a voter whenever you visit the Department of Motor Vehicles or change your postal address. Massachusetts is set to implement this system in 2020, and other states are looking into it. Such a system could reduce the likelihood of voter suppression (an important tactic for Republicans) and increase voter attendance on Election Day.

A few states take the system one step further: not only do they automatically register their residents to vote, but they also send out absentee ballots to every single one of those voters. Such a system is also meant to increase the number of votes cast on Election Day, but it doesn’t always work (although we ask ourselves what anyone’s excuse for not voting with an absentee ballot in hand could possibly be). 

Ranked choice voting is another controversial maneuver (somehow).

Typically, only a plurality of votes is needed to win an election. That means no one needs to break a 50 percent threshold in order to win. Ranked choice voting ensures that a candidate does need to break that threshold. Basically, voters would rank their first, second, third choice, etc. On Election Day, each “last place” candidate to fall beneath the needed threshold to stay in the race would be eliminated until one of the more popular candidates finally meets the 50 percent threshold needed to win.

Ranked choice voting is a popular alternative for several reasons. For starters, no one who votes in a ranked choice state is allowed to say that voting for a third party candidate is a wasted vote — because literally anyone can beat that 50 percent threshold if enough people rank him or her highly enough. It gives everyone a fair chance regardless of traditional socially influenced lines of thinking.

It also eliminates strategic voting practices when a third party candidate is in the race. In addition, candidates should feel less inclined to run negative campaigns because voters no longer have an either/or choice to make. Instead, candidates should simply be seeking as many first place rankings as possible. Second or third place? That should be great too. 

Obviously, these systems of voting are unpopular with certain political parties which benefit the least from them (i.e. Republicans). And that’s why legal challenges seem inevitable.

24 States And Washington D.C. Sue Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency

The world is changing. It’s no secret that the Trump administration is less worried about the environment than the rest of the world. It’s also no secret that Trump has installed officials into positions for which they’re not really qualified — like the new heads of NASA or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), neither of whom believe in man-made climate change. 

This is a cause for concern for many state governments and the people who reside in those states because they rely on protections put into practice by those agencies to keep the air they breathe — or the water they drink — clean and free of pollutants.

Dozens of states — Pennsylvania included — have filed multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration and the EPA for rolling back emissions standards. Even coal and oil companies have said that these moves were a bad idea, and they’re the ones who supposedly benefit from these “business-friendly” policies!

The most recent coalition action was filed in the DC Circuit court system in order to allow California to set its own “Advanced Clean Car Standards” so that the rest of the states might follow suit. The Trump administration has argued that a single state should not have the ability to influence national policy on such a level. But the fact is, most states want cleaner air, and California has been the leader for these policies for a long time.

Attorney General Kaul said, “Today’s filing is part of the multi-state effort to protect the ability of states to keep leading the fight against climate change. It’s always important that states have the opportunity to lead efforts to protect our national resources, and it’s especially important now, as the Trump administration has abandoned efforts to protect our environment.”

California’s Advanced Clean Cars Program for many types of road vehicles was first adopted in January 2012. It sets standards for these vehicles and helps reduce smog and other dangerous emissions. This forces automakers to change their own standards because the population of California is so high. Ignoring the consumer base there isn’t an option, which means changing standards is the most cost-effective solution. 

States included in the lawsuit are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Municipalities of Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City are also attached to the comprehensive lawsuit.

Even if the Trump administration wins in court, it is unknown whether or not automakers would actually reduce standards to reflect the change.

Medical Marijuana Patients Sue Lebanon County In Pennsylvania Over Restrictive Policies

Is it fair to limit the use of medical marijuana to the general population of law-abiding citizens? Or rather, is it fair to prohibit the use of legalized medical marijuana from those who are on probation or lawful supervision? Those are the questions being asked to the Lebanon County court in Pennsylvania by three patients who would like to continue using medical marijuana for doctor-approved treatments.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three patients in Commonwealth Court to bar the proposed policy change from continuing to prohibit medical marijuana based on legal status. The law went into effect only last month.

According to the lawsuit, the enacted law is in direct violation of certain provisions of the 2016 medical marijuana laws already in effect. The lawsuit requests that court intercede on behalf of the three medical marijuana patients so that they may lawfully continue treatment until a final decision can be made. The lawsuit also requests approval for class action status, which would allow others affected by the law to add their names to the suit. 

The suit says, “More than sixty people with serious medical issues in Lebanon County must now decide whether to discontinue their lawful use of a medical treatment that safely and effectively alleviates their serious medical conditions, or risk revocation of their probation and possible incarceration. It is a choice between risking severe health consequences or going to jail.”

Many medical marijuana-related treatments use these drugs to manage pain more effectively than addictive painkillers like opioids, which are having a disastrous effect on communities around the country.

Lawyers under the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ payroll are representing the Lebanon County judicial district. Thus far those advocates are refusing to comment on the lawsuit.

Vic Walczak, a lawyer for the ACLU, said that the restrictive policies are also apparently in effect in some smaller state counties. They are notably absent from larger districts like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.

Walczak said, “Many of the countries, we don’t know [about]. So if there are people out there who can tell us that other counties are not complying with the law, we’d like to hear from them as well.”

Lebanon County President Judge John Tylwalk was responsible for signing the policy into law, an act he justified by falling back on marijuana’s status under federal law. It remains illegal under the “most dangerous” classification of illegal drugs. He said that the court “should not knowingly allow violations of the law to occur.” 

This is a blatant circumvention of Pennsylvania law, however, which went into effect years ago. At this point, it also looks like recreational marijuana is on its way to legalization in the state.

2017 Federally Mandated Cap On Local And State Tax Deductions Upheld By New York Judge

The 2017 legislation placed a cap on deductions at $10,000 for state and local taxes (SALT). Democrats are often slammed for trying to increase taxes, but this particular deduction from federal taxes was very popular in blue states — it gave those states the ability to increase their own taxes to prioritize their own citizens’ wellbeing over everyone. It’s a particularly Republican thing to do, but the Republicans are the ones who enacted the deductions cap. 

It’s almost as if they don’t really have states’ rights at heart, like they always say they do. In this way, Republicans can say they’ve reduced taxes — federal taxes — even though the obvious consequence is an increase in state and local taxes to balance out the budget.

According to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, the SALT tax cap is “unprecedented, unlawful, punitive and politically motivated. We disagree with the court’s decision and are evaluating all options including appeal.”

The states that opposed the new bill were New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. Those states filed a lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Internal Revenue Service. They wrote that the bill was “an unconstitutional assault on states’ sovereign choices.”

Judge J. Paul Oetken did not agree, and subsequently dismissed the suit. He explained, “The cap, like any federal tax provision, will affect some taxpayers more than others and, by extension, will affect some states more than others. But the cap, again like every other feature of the federal Tax Code, is a part of the landscape of federal law within which states make their decisions as to how they will exercise their own sovereign tax powers.”

Staff at the Government Finance Officers Association said that SALT is all about a working partnership between different governing entities in local, state, or federal levels. The SALT laws have been successful for over a century, they said, and “the deduction is fundamental to the way states and localities budget for and provide critical public service, and a cornerstone of the U.S. system of fiscal federalism.”

Based on a 1964 extension of the Revenue Act of 1913, people can deduct property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes. These deductions prevent taxpayers from paying tax on income more than once — which is generally a favorable thing from the perspective of most American taxpayers, who like to keep a firm hold on their money.

Democrats believe that the deductions on property taxes and sales taxes respectively promote home ownership and spending, thereby stimulating economic growth year by year. By placing a cap on the deductions, the economy might not see as much movement.