COVID-19 Vaccine: What’s In Store for 2021?

By: Celia Pope

As most of you have likely heard at this point, there is finally a vaccine- a light at the end of the tunnel! However, it can be easy to let this light blind us from the reality that still is the COVID-19 virus. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be hopeful for the future, but I do think that it is important to know the facts.   

According to CNN and the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that the distribution of the vaccines was slowed by the massive spike in holiday cases and travelling. However, he fully expects that around April we will approach “open season,” a time in which the vaccine should be available to everyone, meaning that we could begin to achieve some form of herd immunity by spring of 2021. If by the end of the summer 70%-85% of the population is vaccinated, we should be able to achieve good herd immunity and may even have some form of normalcy come fall. He also predicts that we could begin to achieve some form of herd immunity by spring of 2021.

In order to understand how we will achieve “open season,” it is also important to understand the order in which the population will be vaccinated. 

ORDER OF VACCINATION (according to the CDC):

-Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents

-Frontline essential workers and people age 75 and older

-People age 65-74 and people age 16-64 years with underlying medical conditions and other essential workers

This vaccination is extremely important to the future of the United State’s fight against the COVID-19 vaccine. Not only will it make it substantially less likely that you will get the virus, but if you do get the virus, it will keep you from getting seriously ill. Though scientists aren’t completely sure if the vaccine will stop you from being a spreader, they are hopeful that the vaccine will have this benefit as well.

Again, it is important to learn more about this vaccine, especially if you or a family member are going to be receiving it in the near future. Inform yourself; after all, you are experiencing scientific history right before your eyes!

Joe Biden: The 46th President of the United States

By: Alexis Cope

This afternoon, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. 

With his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at his side, the new president took the oath of office on a Bible that has been in his family since the 19th century. 

Those in attendance included several members of the Senate and Supreme Court Justices, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, the Obamas, the Clintons, the Bushes, and former Vice President Mike Pence. 

Trump, as he announced, did not attend; the last time a sitting president failed to be present at his successor’s inauguration was in 1869, when Andrew Johnson refused to see Ulysses S. Grant take office. 

In his first speech addressing the nation as president, Biden spoke emphatically about unity and about restoring America to “an America that never gives up, never gives in.” He promised, “I will be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see Red or Blue states, but a United States….if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”

Perhaps to drive home this point, VP Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and former Secretary of State Clinton all wore outfits in varying shades of purple, a color which is a mix of both red and blue.

Due to COVID-19 and enhanced security, there was a very small crowd presence at the Capitol. Instead, the inauguration proceedings were streamed across several viewing platforms, with hundreds of thousands watching. A live art installation, the “Field of Flags,” covered the National Mall; the flag of every state and territory was present, representing all those who could not be there in person.

This afternoon, Biden and Harris, accompanied by family and with military escort, exited their respective vehicles and, walking, led the inauguration parade to the White House, where the final proceedings of the day will take place.
To read the full transcript of Biden’s inaugural remarks, visit his website here.

Trump Impeached for the Second Time After Inciting Capitol Riot

By: Alexis Cope

President Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time, creating a first in United States history.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to charge Trump with “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” for “inciting violence against the Government of the United States”. The House declared his actions–and specifically speech–preceding the attack on the Capitol last week “in violation of his Constitutional oath”. 

Before the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “a clear and present danger to the nation” and, even with only a week left in office, “he must go”.

The final count was 232 in favor of impeachment with 197 against. 

While all 222 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, the Republican representatives were divided. In the end, 10 decided to join the Democrats. Those 10 were as followed: Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Tom Rice of South Carolina, David Valado of California, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Fred Upton of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

With only a week left in office, it is very unlikely the Senate trial for removal from office will be completed in time for Trump to actually leave office early. However, this trial will determine whether or not Trump will be allowed to run for office in the future. Due to the rush of work that comes with the entrance of any new administration, it is possible that completion of this trial could take weeks, possibly months. 

Trump released a video message after the House’s vote condemning violence saying, “violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country…mob violence goes against everything I believe in.” He did not mention his impeachment once during this message. 

To read the Articles of Impeachment voted on yesterday visit: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/11/us/articles-impeachment-trump.html

How the World Responded to the Breach of the Capitol

By: Alexis Cope

After rioters charged on the US Capitol this previous Wednesday, all the living former presidents responded to the events, condemning the violence and calling it “sickening” and “unprecedented,” and they urged Trump to accept the results of the election as they asked for a peaceful transition of power. International leaders quickly followed suit as the news and images travelled across the world. 

Almost all those abroad who have spoken up about the event have condemned the actions of Trump’s supporters. Both allies and enemies of the United States raised their voices or took actions to show their disapproval at the contention and vehemence observed on that day. From tweets to recorded messages to press conferences, messages from the leaders of nations across the world quickly flooded in. 

Distress and disgust at the events of Wednesday was expressed by several heads of state. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said “lawlessness and violence are the opposite of the values we know Americans and Israelis cherish.” He called the riots “the rampage at the Capitol” and “vigorously” condemned the events. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the events, blaming Trump: “When a sick person takes office, we see how he disgraces his country and creates troubles for the world.”

“The riots and protests that we’ve seen…have been terribly distressing,” remarked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He also released an updated travel advisory for Australian citizens wishing to visit the US. 

Brazilian Chief Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Bassero called those involved in the attack “supporters of facism”.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel singled out Trump, stating that “words of provocation are completely wrong” and that “every aspect” of scenes in D.C. should be “condemned”. 

“These pictures made me angry and sad,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “But for me, it is a sign of hope that the Congress continued their work that night.” 

Many stressed the important symbolic significance of American democracy, urging Trump and his followers to accept the results of the election and cease with the violence. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom Trump has had a close relationship with in the past, tweeted that the attacks were “terribly distressing” and that it is “vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.” Patel reinforced this, saying that “America is a beacon of democracy and freedom and, quite frankly…they [need to] move on and get on with an orderly transition.” The PM also said that “all my life America has stood for…an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy.”

Merkel spoke for “the millions of people who admire America’s democratic tradition” as she stood behind the results of the 2020 election, saying that the country “must [begin] a new chapter in its democracy in less than two weeks.” 

Tweeting after receiving the news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote: “Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld – and will be.”

“We hope that the democracy of America will overcome this turmoil and regain peace and cooperation of society,” commented Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato. “We hope that the transition of power will proceed peacefully and democratically.”

Netanyahu declared, “American democracy has always inspired me….I have no doubt that American democracy will prevail. It always has.”

French President Emmanuel Macron passionately spoke in his recorded message saying, “France stands strongly…and resolutely with the American people…who want to choose their leaders…through the democratic and free choice that are elections. We will not yield one iota to the violence of the few who would challenge that.”

Other countries also responded, though less explicitly. 

Joanne Ou, spokesperson for the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke in a press conference about the riots, saying: “We have learned about the conflict…Taiwan’s Foriegn Ministry expresses regret….We will continue to pay close attention to relevant developments.”

While Russian President Vladamir Putin made no statement about the disturbance, chairman of the Russian upper house foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev boldly spoke out saying, “I say this without a hint of gloating,” Kosachev wrote on Facebook Thursday. “America no longer defines the course, and therefore has lost all right to set it. And even more so to impose it on others.”

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke in her own press conference on Thursday, comparing the protests on the Capitol to those in Hong Kong. Questioning why the protesters in Hong Kong were called “a beautiful sight” while Trump’s supporters were labeled as “thugs, extremists, villains, and disgraces.” “I think,” she concluded, “we should think deeply about the reason behind the sharp contrast of such different attitudes.”

As calls for Trump’s removal grow louder, more White House staff resign, more prominent Republican figures leave Trump behind, and Inauguration Day grows closer, it is clear that now, more than ever, the eyes of the world are fixed on the United States.

Terror Through a Lens

By: Amarah Din

Warning: These photographs contain unsettling and offensive images and symbols. None of the images included were produced by Cary High’s The Page, and their respective owners are credited.

After President Donald Trump’s rally, a large group of his supporters took to the Capitol Building in protest of the Electoral College vote certification. Instead of keeping to the boundaries allowed, many breached the building itself and stormed inside. These photographs depict a historical moment in the nation’s history. 

Jason Andrews (The New York Times)

Trump supporters climbing the wall surrounding the Capitol Building, waving flags with fists in the air.

Julio Cortez (Associated Press)

Protestors fighting against police officers and their gates.

Erin Schaff (The New York Times)

Terrorists enter the Capitol Building in militia gear, maskless.

Mike Theiler (Reuters)

Man carrying the Confederate flag in the Capitol Building: the first time it has ever appeared in its halls.

Saul Loeb (Agence France-Presse)

Insurrectionists donned in Trump apparel walk the halls. Man in viking headpiece holds American flag and megaphone; he is reported to be a Q-Anon member and Black Lives Matter counterprotestor. 

Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Florida man stealing the House Speaker podium with a smile and a wave.

(ITV News)

Insurrectionists showing off a broken piece of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sign. Man in background wears an anti-Semitic hoodie with the words “Camp Auschwitz” printed.

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite (Associated Press)

Terrorists breaking the window into the Senate chamber and peering inside with guns drawn at them.

Andrew Harnik (Associated Press)

Congress Members lying down on the ground with gas masks preparing for tear gas or bullets.

Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Man in riot gear hangs from the balcony of the chamber.

Igor Bobic (Huffington Post)

Insurrectionist raises fist at the seat of the Senate President yelling, “Trump won that election!”

Saul Loeb (Agence France-Presse)

Man sits in House Speaker Pelosi’s office chair with his feet on the desk.

The photographs are only a small part of the bigger picture. The acts of terrorism that took place on January 6th, 2021 will go down in history as a dark and shameful day: a day where violence was incited by the American President himself.

The Chronology and Aftermath of Insurrectionists’ Attempted Coup

By: Sarah Govert

As I’m sure many of you know, Trump supporters attempted a coup in the afternoon of Wednesday, January 6th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. At the time of the coup, Congress had convened to certify the Electoral College vote, a vote which would formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence had informed President Trump that he would not have the power to overturn the Electoral votes, much to the chagrin of the president. Shortly after this meeting, Trump went over to the Ellipse, which is a park located near the White House, and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, saying “We are going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them–because you will never take back our country with weakness.” He stated that he would walk with them, but he did not, and he ended up watching the events of the day unfold on television in the White House.

His supporters marched to the Capitol, where it quickly turned violent. At around 1:30 pm, the Capitol was officially put into lockdown after these insurrectionists breached the Capitol building. They “overran police lines, smashed windows, and broke in, forcing lawmakers to flee.” Pictures from this attempted coup are horrifying, showing Congresspeople taking cover on the ground, officers barricading the door to the House and pointing their guns at it, and even a rioter hanging from the balcony of the Senate Chamber. These rioters were able to get into the Senate Chamber, with one even sitting where the president of the Senate sits, yelling “Trump won that election!” While Congresspeople were being evacuated, rioters broke into their offices, with one even leaving a manila envelope in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office with the phrase “We will not back down” written on it. Insurrectionists went as far as to bring a Confederate flag into the Capitol, the first time the flag has ever been publicly carried within its halls. Yet another insurrectionist wore a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt inside the building, a shocking and horrifying display.

In an attempt to get the protestors to leave sometime before dark, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew, starting at 6 pm and ending at 6 am. This curfew was ordered around 2:30 pm. Shortly after the ordering of the curfew, Trump tweeted to “Stay peaceful,” and a woman was shot on Capitol grounds by police. She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt, and she later died from her injuries. Officials attempted to mobilize the National Guard, but “Trump resisted to do more.” This situation continued on for a few more hours. President-elect Biden gave a televised speech from Wilmington, Delaware at 4 pm, calling on President Trump to “go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.” At around 4:30 pm, Trump released a video on social media platforms, saying “I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you, you’re very special.” While some heeded this half-hearted call to leave the Capitol, others stayed well past curfew and into the night.

The Senate was able to reconvene at 8 pm, and the House was able to reconvene at 9 pm to continue to certify the Electoral College vote. The two houses voted to reject the objection to the electoral vote of Arizona, and the Senate and House reconvened in a joint session at around 11:30 pm. After the events of the days, several Republican Senators made the decision to remove their names from objections to the Electoral College vote from the states of Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, making the objections not able to be entertained. However, an objection to the electoral vote of Pennsylvania was raised by 80 House Republicans and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. The Senate and the House then reconvened to their own chambers, where the Senate voted immediately to reject the objection to the electoral vote of Pennsylvania 92-7. The House later voted to reject the objection 282-138. The Senate and House then reconvened in a joint session again, and after no more entertainable objections were presented, the Electoral College vote was certified by Vice President Pence at 3:41 am on Thursday, January 7th, confirming President-elect Biden’s win. Immediately following this certification, Trump tweeted out this from social media director Dan Scavino’s Twitter: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” We can only help that come Inauguration Day, this statement holds true.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/us/politics/trump-speech-capitol.html?auth=login-google

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-trump-in-final-weeks-incited-his-followers-to-storm-the-capitol-2021-1

https://nowthisnews.com/news/as-congress-certifies-his-presidential-demise-trump-claims-hell-go-peacefully

https://news.yahoo.com/blocks-trumps-social-media-mean-165146458.html

Freedom of Religion Trumps COVID Regulations: A Summary of Recent Supreme Court Rulings

By: Jack Morgenstein

With the whirlwind 2020 has been, it’s easy for even relatively recent history to slip out of sight and out of mind. The October 26th confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett was historical for a number of reasons. The commentary surrounding this event was clearly divided along partisan lines with conservative Senator Roy Blunt praising then-Judge Barrett’s incredible “brilliance and humility.” On the liberal side of the aisle, there was wide-spread outcry with the major dissent being echoed in a message chanted on the steps of the Supreme Court the night following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “No confirmation until inauguration.” The rulings of Justice Amy Coney Barrett as well as the rest of the Supreme Court will have an impact on the entirety of our nation. As a result of all the events surrounding the presidential election in early November coupled with the ongoing pandemic, the importance of the Supreme Court may have temporarily slipped from many of our minds. However, it is important to stay up to date with the decisions emanating from our nation’s highest court. Thus, I have summarized here the three cases decided by the Supreme Court during the current term, only one of which Justice Amy Coney Barrett took part of. They are organized by decision date in reverse order. Additional links can be found at the end of this article for further reading on any of these cases.

Docket 20A87: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York

Of the three cases decided, this one has received the most media attention. In New York City, the COVID regulations split the city into a pathwork map of ‘green,’ orange,’ and ‘red’ zones. Within ‘orange’ zones, attendance at houses of worship was limited to 25 persons while both essential and non-essential businesses “may decide for themselves how many persons to admit.” The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn argued this was a clear violation of religion-based discrimination as protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. This argument is based on the fact religious organizations were being held to tighter restrictions than businesses, which meets previous precedent for a discriminatory practice. Within ‘red’ zones, attendance at houses of worship was limited to 10 persons while essential businesses have no limitations. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn similarly argued that this too constituted religion-based descrimination.

The Supreme Court decided this case 5-4 in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett supported this decision, while Justices Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented. As a result of this decision, injunctive relief was granted to 26 Catholic churches within Brooklyn and 1 Orthodox Synagogue. This means these COVID regulations are halted pending further litigation through the court system.

While this case was narrowly tailored to restrictions in New York City, the decision may shed light on future rulings in upcoming cases surrounding COVID regulations. There are a few important things to note within the decision of the court. Specifically, this relief is granted because “the regulations treat houses of worship much more harshly than comparable secular facilities.” This means a similar decision may not be reached if COVID regulations were equally applied across a jurisdiction. Another important note is that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn proved “that granting relief would not harm the public interest.” They did so through proving “they have complied with all public health guidance, have implemented additional precautionary measures, and have operated at 25% or 33% capacity for months without a single outbreak.” This statement is important as a similar decision may not be reached if there is a clear proven threat to public safety proven as a result of the operation of any facility. To learn more about the precedent leading to this decision look into “the minimum requirement of neutrality” established in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520, 533 (1993).

Docket 19-1261: Trent Michael Taylor v. Robert Riojas, Et al.

This case concerns the two cells Texas inmate Trent Taylor was confined in for six days in September 2013. In the words of the court, “The first cell was covered, nearly floor to ceiling, in “massive amounts’ of feces”: all over the floor, the ceiling, the window, the walls, and even “packed inside the water faucet.”” As a result, Taylor feared his food and water would be contaminated and refrained from eating or drinking for four days straight. Immediately following this, Taylor was moved “to a second, frigidly cold cell, which was equipped with only a clogged drain in the floor to dispose of bodily wastes.” Taylor attempted to hold his bladder but after approximately 24 hours he involuntarily relieved himself and thus, raw sewage spilled all over the floor of the cell. Taylor was confined in this frigid cell without any clothing nor even a bunk, and thus was forced to sleep on the floor, naked, in sewage. Taylor argued this was a clear, unjustifiable violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. This case reached the Supreme Court after the Fifth Circuit granted the officers responsible qualified immunity because precedent from Brosseau v. Haugen, 2004, “shields an officer from suit when she makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient, reasonably misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she confronted”

The Supreme Court decided this case 7-1 in favor of Trent Michael Taylor. Justice Barrett was not yet confirmed during the Oral Arguments and Justice Thomas dissented with the remaining Justices all concurring. As a result of this decision, the decisions of lower courts were vacated (annulled) and the case was remanded (sent) down to the lower courts for a new ruling consistent with the holdings of the Supreme Court.

The decision held that the officers were in violation of Taylor’s Eighth Amendment Rights and able to be sued on those grounds. The Supreme Court disregarded the lower court’s opinion that the officers could not be held liable for two reasons. First, “no reasonable correctional officer could have concluded that, under the extreme circumstances of this case, it was constitutionally permissible to house Taylor in such deplorably unsanitary conditions for such an extended period of time.” Second, the “officers involved in Taylor’s ordeal were deliberately indifferent to the conditions of his cells….one officer, upon placing Taylor in the first feces-covered cell, remarked to another that Taylor was ‘going to have a long weekend’… [and] another officer, upon placing Taylor in the second cell, told  Taylor he hoped Taylor would ‘f***ing freeze.’” This case provides precedent for the bounds of cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, it designates that cruel and unusual punishment has no minimum time limit necessary in order to constitute such. Secondarily, it provides additional clarity on qualified immunity. Officers who are intentionally negligent are not subject to qualified immunity under the rulings of this decision.

Docket 19-1108: DeRay McKesson v. John Doe

This case concerns the outcome of a protest organized by DeRay McKesson in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This protest was in response to a shooting by a local police officer. This protest evolved from its original form to occupying a highway in front of a police headquarters. An unknown protester threw a piece of concrete, hitting Officer John Doe in the head and causing “devastating injuries in the line of duty, including loss of teeth and brain trauma.” As a result, Officer Doe sought to receive damages from DeRay McKesson under Louisiana tort law for “negligently [staging] the protest in a manner that caused the assault.” DeRay McKesson argued he was protected by the First Amendment as he simply staged the protest and the unknown perpetrator was solely responsible for the assault. This case reached the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit held that DeRay McKesson could be held liable under Louisiana state law.

The Supreme Court decided this case 7-1 that Louisiana tort law was unclear in whether Officer Doe had legal grounds to pursue damages in the given circumstances. Justice Barrett was not yet confirmed during the Oral Arguments and Justice Thomas dissented with the remaining Justices all concurring. Similarly to Taylor v. Riojas, the ruling of the lower courts was vacated and this case was remanded down in order for further state law clarification before the Supreme Court could make a ruling about a First Amendment claim.

Specifically, according to the Supreme Court, “We think that the Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of state law is too uncertain a premise on which to address the question presented. The constitutional issue, though undeniably important, is implicated only if Louisiana law permits recovery under these circumstances in the first place.” Once this case goes back down to the Fifth Circuit, they will likely seek clarification from the Louisiana State Supreme Court before reaching a new decision. If this decision makes it back up to the Supreme Court, then they will make a new ruling on First Amendment protections. In the short term this case has little impact on precedent, however, in the long run it could affect the legal liability of protest organizers when protests exceed the original scope of the organizer’s plan. This precedent could have wide implications for a large variety of recent Black Lives Matter protests in cities such as Seattle and Kenosha.

Links for further information:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20a87_4g15.pdf

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/20A87

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/supreme-court-orders-preliminary-injunction-roman-catholic-diocese-brooklyn-v-cuomo

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1261_bq7c.pdf

https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/taylor-v-riojas/

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1108_8n5a.pdf

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/592/19-1108/

Trump Administration Pressing for Further Environmental Cuts Before the End of Term

By: Alexis Cope

With only weeks before he leaves the White House, Trump, and his administration at large, are beginning a series of massive rollbacks on significant environmental agencies, as well as drafting new legislation for a variety of environmental issues. 

These changes directly benefit the oil, gas, and other non-renewable energy industries, allowing Arctic drilling to expand and loosening laws which hold these companies accountable for the wildlife affected by them. 

Proposals include selling land in the Arctic Wildlife refuge to expand the range of drilling in the region, lowering emission standards for certain toxins, and opening land currently under national park jurisdiction in New Mexico for drilling as well.

One of the most significant deregulations the Trump administration has taken thus far was that of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, which protects over 1,000 migratory bird species (most importantly, birds of prey) by holding industries accountable for the preventable deaths of protected birds. In the event of an oil spill, electrocution from power lines, or construction which hurts a population, the federal government can prosecute the company responsible. The proposed changes will change the Act so that companies will face no consequences when their actions kill protected species, actions which could easily have been prevented.

Last Thursday, the Department of the Interior released its analysis on proposed changes for the mitigation of laws regarding mining and drilling over millions of acres of land in several Western states. 

This isn’t the first time Trump has made huge cuts to environmental funding. In February of this year, he cut the EPA’s budget by 26%, eliminating 50 programs which carried out essential tasks, such as cleaning up hazardous waste, fighting pollution, and helping secure safe drinking water for cities. The EPA’s research budget was also halved, crippling its ability for innovation in a number of fields. Trump additionally proposed severe funding cuts in budgets for the protection and preservation of natural wetlands in several states, such as New York and Washington. He’s also tried to change environmental legislation, such as the Clean Air Act, and attempted to minimize the sizes of several national parks.

Many of these recent, and previous, actions seem to have been taken against the Democratic party, for which environmental reform is a major issue. States affected by the cuts on wetland protection were largely blue states, and the changes the Trump administration is making now are in direct conflict with the environmental agenda president-elect Joe Biden is planning to follow. Already facing around a year’s worth of work to reinstate a pre-Trump environmental budget, these new cuts will only add to the time Biden will have to spend on the issue before making any progress on this front.

These budget cuts and legislation proposals still have to be approved by Congress, and it’s a relative toss up there.

Either way, the Trump administration is working as hard as it can to make the legal battles last as long as possible, which will only end up harming the people and animals who rely on clean water and safe skies to fly through.

The Reopening of the Triangle: Entertainment Edition

By: Avery Phillips

After months in quarantine with businesses, restaurants, and stores closed down, things in North Carolina are finally starting to reopen. Something we haven’t heard a lot of news on is what companies designed for entertainment are going to do. Here are the updates and plans on what some local companies in the Triangle area.

Crabtree Valley Mall (Raleigh)

Crabtree Valley Mall is open to the public and is taking extra safety precautions. Face coverings are required for entry and are also available at the Guest Services desk. The food court is open with spaced out seating. There are additional hand sanitizing stations and increased sterilization procedures, especially on high volume touch points.

Dave and Buster’s (Cary)

Cary’s Dave and Buster’s is open, requiring masks for all guests and staff. Hand sanitizer stations are available, tables and games will be frequently cleaned, tables are six feet apart, and there will be disposable menus. Games are half priced every Wednesday. 

Frankie’s Fun Park (Raleigh)

Frankie’s is currently reopened, but only partially. The mini golf, batting cages, laser tag, bumper boats and all of the go karts are available for use. There are increased hand sanitizer stations set up.

Jellybeans Super Skate Center (Raleigh)

Jellybeans is open with a maximum capacity of 185 people at a time, which is less than 15% of their building capacity. Protective barriers are installed, and there is enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces. Face coverings are required at all times indoors except for when you’re skating. They are currently not accepting coupons or offering discounts. 

Museum of Life and Science (Durham)

The Museum of Life and Science is open. You must reserve tickets online for each guest of your party. They require visitors to wear face coverings at all times, social distancing is enforced, and there are frequent hand sanitizing stations. Waits may be longer due to limited capacity at some exhibits.  

North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh)

The North Carolina Museum of Art is open to guests indoors Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. You must have (free) time slot tickets for entrance to encourage social distancing. Face coverings are required, and high touch areas are frequently cleaned. Hand sanitizing stations can be found throughout galleries and restrooms. The Iris restaurant and Sip coffee kiosk are also temporarily closed until further notice. 

North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro)

The North Carolina Zoo is requiring people to reserve a timed entry ticket prior to visiting. Face coverings are required for those 5 and older, social distancing is enforced, and surfaces will be cleaned frequently. All guests must enter through the North America Entrance. 

The Streets at Southpoint Mall (Durham)

Southpoint Mall is open to the public and is taking extra safety precautions. There are frequent cleanings, hand sanitizer stations, a filtered air system to catch airborne viruses, and required face coverings. The food court is open as well, but the seating is limited and customers are encouraged to order take-out. 

Triangle Rock Club (Raleigh) (Durham)

The Triangle Rock Clubs of Raleigh and Durham are open. Members and guests must make a 90 minute time block reservation on weeknights or weekends but are not required to at other times. Every individual indoors must wear a mask at all times, and high touch areas will be sanitized throughout the day. 

Duke Gardens (Durham)

Duke Gardens will remain closed through the end of 2020. Duke Gardens are planning on having a phased reopening in 2021, but this is dependent on the progression of COVID-19. 

Park West 14- Stone Theaters (Cary)

All Stone Theaters locations are closed temporarily. 

 Polar Ice House (Cary)

The Polar Ice House is not currently allowing public skating, but the last update stated they would try to bring it back in late September or early October. 

Regal Crossroads & IMAX (Cary)

The Regal Crossroads movie theater was reopened for a short amount of time but closed all theaters again on October 8th, 2020. If you have any credits or rewards that would’ve expired when they are shut down, they will still be viable once they reopen business. 

Trump’s Nominee to Take Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat: Amy Coney Barrett

By Lelani Williamson

President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s open seat on the Supreme Court. Trump stated that Barrett is a “woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.” Barrett, elected by Trump in 2017, is an appeals court judge for the Seventh Circuit. She is also a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School where she teaches classes on constitutional law, the federal courts, and statutory interpretation. Barrett is a devout Catholic and a proven conservative. In the past, she has served as a clerk for former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, and was a previous candidate to fill a seat on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired (a seat that went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh). 

In regards to her opinions and interpretations, Barrett is a textualist and originalist. She is pro-life and has been involved with Faculty for Life, Notre Dame’s anti-abortion group. Although she has stated that it is unlikely the ruling of Roe v. Wade would be overturned, critics still believe that she intends to overturn the ruling that legalized abortions. Barrett was also the one person that disagreed with a decision to prohibit a felon from possessing a firearm, stating that “founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.” She also declared that she would not be beholden to the doctrine of stare decisions. This doctrine asks the court to follow the precedents set in similar cases, but she has made it clear that she will “enforce her understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent.” Additionally, Barrett has been involved with organizations such as the American Law Institute and the Federalist Society, which advocate for textualist and originalist interpretations of the United States Constitution.

As a candidate, Barrett has been met with both support and disapproval. Feminists and the community of Democrats are making it clear that they don’t want Amy Coney Barret to replace women’s right activist and liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Women all around the world view Ginsburg as a “feminist icon,” leaving the person chosen to take her seat big shoes to fill. However, some people don’t think Barrett will fill these shoes the proper way. Law professor Lara Bazelon stated that “the next Supreme Court justice will cast crucial votes that affect women’s fundamental rights, including the right to control their own bodies and to gain access to affordable health care for themselves and their families. The fact that President Trump’s nominee is a woman matters less if she does not support the causes at the heart of the long, continuing march for gender equality that Justice Ginsburg championed.” Senator Kamala Harris has also stated her opinion on the matter, saying that Barrett “will undo (Ginsburg’s) life’s work.” 

Although Barrett has some who don’t agree with her nomination, Conservatives believe she is the perfect candidate. President of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said that “she is the perfect combination of a brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially contrary to the views of the sitting women justices.” Along with Marjorie, law professor Jonathan H. Adler has stated his views that “as a scholar and a judge, she has shown herself to be a very careful and deliberate thinker who is concerned with getting the right answer, whether or not it’s the popular answer.” They see Barrett as someone who will add to the court with her unique views and perspective. 

No matter what way people view Amy Coney Barrett, her confirmation process is set to begin on October 12th. She has spent the past few weeks meeting with Senators ahead of her confirmation hearings. As Trump has tested positive for coronavirus, Barrett has been taking safety precautions to ensure that she, nor anyone else, will obtain the virus so that they can proceed with her confirmation process happening over the next few weeks.