SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The city of Sacramento on Friday announced it had agreed to pay Stephon Clark’s parents $1.7 million, which settles the final remaining portion of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by his family after police shot to death the unarmed Black man in March 2018. In a 2019 settlement, the city agreed to pay $2.4 million to Clark’s two children. A later court ruling left his parents as the sole remaining plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The agreed-upon payment by the city’s insurer to Clark’s parents ends the family’s legal action against the city. “The decision to resolve the case...
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A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit from the right-wing law outfit Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) that challenged the Biden Administration’s student debt forgiveness plan.
WILL had filed the lawsuit earlier this week on behalf of the Brown County Taxpayers Association, arguing the plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt for people who make less than $125,000 a year is illegal executive overreach.
Eastern District of Wisconsin Judge William C. Griesbach dismissed the lawsuit, writing in his decision that the BCTA did not have the grounds to bring the lawsuit. WILL had argued that because the BCTA’s members pay federal taxes, they’re able to bring a suit against the executive branch’s use of that money.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, however, that the payment of taxes is generally not enough to establish standing to challenge an action taken by the Federal Government,” wrote Griesbach, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
WILL said after the dismissal that it planned to appeal the decision.
“This is an extraordinary case based on an extraordinary claim of executive power by the President,” WILL deputy counsel Dan Lennington said in a statement. “This case was always destined to be decided by higher courts, and we will continue the fight to the Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.”
The lawsuit is one of several across the country challenging the loan forgiveness plan, but WILL gained attention for using a racial argument in its suit. The White House has said the plan will narrow the racial wealth gap, a reason WILL argued amounts to an “improper racial motive” and a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection laws.
Previously, WILL has filed lawsuits against other Biden Administration programs that attempted to benefit people of color. In 2021, the group successfully killed a program that provided aid to Black farmers.
The application for student debt forgiveness is expected to be released sometime this month. WILL had asked Griesbach to order a temporary injunction that the applications not be released, a step that he said was unclear he could take, even if the BCTA had standing because “a substantial question remains as to whether Plaintiff can demonstrate that it will suffer irreparable harm.”
About 685,000 borrowers in Wisconsin will be eligible for relief under the Biden plan, which will forgive $10,000 in debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year, or couples who earn less than $250,000 a year. Pell grant recipients will be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, at the end of 2021, Wisconsin had 785,600 borrowers with a collective $24.7 billion in student loan debt. The average balance is $31,482, while the median balance is $17,037. The delinquency rate on those loans is 6%.
Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.
TOPEKA — At national and local levels, Kansas Republicans are rallying around the issue of battling fentanyl to win over voters in a close race.
During Wednesday’s GOP rally in Topeka, U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall told the crowd that, unlike Gov. Laura Kelly, Attorney General Derek Schmidt would take fentanyl off the streets.
“We need a governor who supports law and order, and will keep our families safe, and who gets fentanyl off the streets and out of social media,” Marshall said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Legal fentanyl is prescribed for pain relief. Illegal fentanyl is commonly mixed with other drugs because it’s a cheap way to create a more powerful high. Because fentanyl isn’t detectable without a test strip, people taking fentanyl-laced drugs are at a greater risk of overdose.
Marshall introduced legislation in September aimed at holding social media companies accountable for their role in fentanyl distribution. Marshall believes drug cartels are using social media such as TikTok to traffic fentanyl throughout the U.S.
Schmidt, the GOP nominee for governor, blamed Kelly for rising fentanyl abuse in the state, saying that the “poison” was manufactured in China by a branch of the Chinese Communist Party and then shipped to Mexico, where it is “mixed up and put together by drug cartels” and then smuggled over the border.
Schmidt said Kelly wasn’t doing enough to help southern governors with immigration problems.
“When she was asked for help by the border governors down on the southern border of the United States, she didn’t just say no,” Schmidt said. “She said they’re engaged in political games. That was her phrase.”
Kansas Democrats have pushed back against Schmidt’s rhetoric. State Rep. Jason Probst, D-Hutchinson, said Republicans needed to focus on the state’s fentanyl problem at the local level instead of talking about border issues.
“I would challenge any Republican to tell me what Kansas can do about securing the border with Mexico. We have absolutely zero authority over that,” Probst said. “So for them to try to capture the fentanyl issue, which is a very real issue in our communities, and tie it to border security, it’s a dog whistle, because they can get people scared about immigration and tie it to fentanyl. And try to conflate those two issues.”
Probst also said Schmidt was silent about the fentanyl issue when Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would legalize fentanyl testing strips earlier this year.
“You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little skeptical and jaded and cynical when I now hear Republicans talking about this as an issue they care about,” Probst said.
During the rally, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said if elected, he would take legal action against President Joe Biden, saying his immigration policies opened the door for drugs brought across the Mexican border.
“If Joe Biden comes up with yet another way to open our borders, to bring in more fentanyl to our streets, what are we going to do?” Kobach said, in a call-and-response with the audience.
The audience chorused back: “Sue Joe Biden.”
U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner said Kansas, and the U.S. in general, was being swamped with illegal immigrants bringing fentanyl across the border.
“The Border Patrol is being overrun right here in Kansas,” LaTurner said. “We’re dealing with this on a daily basis. The No. 1 killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 is fentanyl. Over 300 Americans every single day are dying of this. It’s pouring across our southern border, and this administration isn’t doing anything about it.”
LaTurner’s statistics have not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said leading causes of death among all American adults in 2020 were heart disease, cancer and COVID-19. Preliminary CDC data for 2021 shows a similar trend.
Opioid overdoses are on the rise, though. CDC data for 2021 showed more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in a single year, with most of these overdoses involving opioids.
In 2021, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said that out of the 338 drug overdoses reported between Jan. 1 and June. 30 of that year, 149 were related to fentanyl or fentanyl analogs. The provisional report showed a 54% increase in fatalities from an overdose during the same six-month period in 2020.
A new report of child deaths across the state showed six fentanyl-related deaths in children under the age of 17 in 2020.
Kelly announced a $17.2 million federal grant given to the state and the Kickapoo Tribe to address the opioid crisis on Thursday, a day after Schmidt’s comments.
The funding will be used to treat opioid addiction and increase access to recovery support services, among others, with the goal of reducing opioid overdose deaths. According to the press release, recovery support services will go to those using prescription opioids, heroin, fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and psychostimulants.
“The opioid crisis impacts families across Kansas, which is why it’s critical that we make opioid treatment and prevention resources available in every community,” Kelly said in the news release. “This funding will help make that possible, and in doing so save lives and bring relief to struggling Kansans.”
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
Here's why Trump probably hasn't returned all the classified documents he took from the White House: analysis
The question of whether Donald Trump has returned all the documents he took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, and now the Justice Department is telling Trump's legal team that it believes he hasn't returned them all.
According to The Washington Post's Aaron Blake, there is "myriad evidence" that the Justice Department suspected that there might be more that Trump is hiding since the FBI search of his resort.
"The first thing to note is that Trump has clearly resisted turning over all the documents. The back and forth with the National Archives dates back to spring of last year, and Trump spent the next several months resisting its demands," Blake writes. "Trump then turned over 15 boxes in January, and he handed over another set in June after a subpoena. The August search of Mar-a-Lago allowed agents to review the documents Trump had, but only in parts of the property the search warrant allowed them to venture."
Blake adds that there's also "plenty of evidence" that Trump is lying about having turned all the materials over.
Blake cites numerous examples: a June sworn statement signed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb when Trump’s legal team handed over some documents. It said that a “diligent search was conducted” and that “any and all responsive documents accompany this certification"; Trump early 2022 this year asked his lawyer Alex Cannon to tell the National Archives that all materials sought by the agency had been returned, but Cannon refused; former Trump deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin said that former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows had told him none of the material Trump took was sensitive or classified, and that Trump only had 12 boxes of news clippings.
"Philbin’s language — i.e. citing Meadows — and Cannon’s refusal both point to the prospect that Trump’s own lawyers don’t fully trust the people they are dealing with," writes Blake.
Read the full analysis over at The Washington Post.