August 2023 | Trump faces federal indictment and charges in Georgia for electoral interference
In a historic first, former President Donald Trump was indicted on 1st August on federal charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. This is the third criminal indictment he faces.
Trump was indicted a fourth time on 14 August, facing charges in Georgia, along with 18 other co-defendants, for several crimes related to the attempts to influence the outcome of the 2020 election results in that state. Under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, several individuals have been charged in connection with a scheme to replace Georgia’s presidential electors with an unauthorized slate, as well as attempts to influence the results.
The former president has criticized the charges he faces as political in nature.
June 2023 | Supreme Court ends affirmative action, decides on voting rights, student loans and LGBTQIA+ rights
The Supreme Court ended its 2022-2023 term by issuing decisions on affirmative action, voting rights, student loans and LGBTQIA+ rights, among others.
In one of its most controversial rulings, the Court ended affirmative action in school admissions, determining that race could no longer be a factor in these processes. Affirmative action had for long been used as a measure to strengthen diversity and access to higher education, and to counter racial discrimination in access to education. Plaintiffs had argued that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s race-conscious admissions policy constituted discrimination contrary to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With regard to voting rights, the Court reaffirmed a key Voting Rights Act (VRA) section that prohibits voting practices that are racially discriminatory. It confirmed a district court’s decision that Alabama should redraw its voting map to ensure that the rights of Black voters are not diluted. The Court affirmed that race can be taken into account in a redistricting process to guarantee equal opportunity to minority voters to choose who their preferred candidate is.
In a win for election protection advocates, the Supreme Court rejected the “independent state legislature theory” that would have given state lawmakers more –and nearly unchecked– authority over election laws and federal elections, without judicial review.
With a negative impact on LGBTQIA+ rights, it further ruled that a web designer’s refusal to provide services for same-sex weddings was protected by the First Amendment.
The Court also blocked the student loan forgiveness plan instated by President Biden, after considering that it lacked the authorization of Congress. It is expected the decision will impact millions of Americans.
April 2023 | Call for ethics code for SCOTUS justices after report reveals hospitality gifts from conservative donor
Democratic lawmakers have called for an ethics code for United States Supreme Court justices, after a report from Propublica revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas had received hospitality gifts from a conservative donor and billionaire Harlan Crow, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. While Justice Thomas issued a statement indicating that, upon the advice of his peers, it was his belief such hospitality did not need to be disclosed, critics have questioned the propriety of receiving such benefits. Further investigations have revealed a real estate deal with Crow, fuelling further calls from lawmakers to the Supreme Court President, Justice Roberts, to testify before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, to which he declined.
March 2023 | Former President Trump is indicted by a grand jury
On 30 March, former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan. The 34 felony charges he faces are related to the falsification of business records and were unveiled during a hearing held days later. Before Mr. Trump, no incumbent or former president of the United States had been charged with a crime.