MAGA court dates begin, but don't end, with Trump
A day after Trump was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll, federal charges against "George Santos" were unsealed. Also: An update on lawsuits challenging anti-trans laws.
Former president Donald Trump is liable for sexual abusing E. Jean Carroll in 1996 and defaming her since then, a jury in federal court in Manhattan found on Tuesday in Carroll’s civil case against Trump. The jury in the Southern District of New York assessed Trump’s liability at $5 million, according to the verdict form submitted in the case just a few hours into deliberations after the two-week trial.
Trump is, of course, running for president again, despite Tuesday’s verdict and the two times he was impeached during his last term in office. He will even be appearing at a CNN-televised town hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday night.
Hours after the verdict was announced, however, the reminder that Trump isn’t the end of Trumpism reared its at-times bewigged head, as CNN reported that Rep. George Santos was facing federal criminal charges in the Eastern District of New York.
“The MAGA congressman from Queens,” as he identifies himself on startup Twitter competitor Bluesky, has faced questions since before his 2022 election to the House that exploded onto the national scene in the pages of The New York Times in late December.
Less than five months later, on Wednesday morning, a 13-count indictment alleging wire fraud, theft of public funds, and false statements was unsealed in federal court.
The case, brought against George Anthony Devolder Santos, refers to “George Santos” throughout as his alias.
Notably for his ongoing congressional service, the false statements charges relate to financial disclosure reports Santos filed with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Anti-trans laws litigation update
Montana: On Tuesday, lawyers with the ACLU of Montana, national ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Perkins Coie filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the state’s newly passed ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.
The lawsuit is brought under Montana’s Constitution, raising some claims that would not be available under federal law The claims include equal protection, parental rights, privacy, freedom of speech and expression, a right to seek health, and a right to dignity.
S.B. 99’s restrictions are due to go into effect on Oct. 1.
Indiana: In the ongoing lawsuit challenging Indiana’s ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors, due to go into effect on July 1, U.S. District Judge James Hanlon suggested in a May 5 order that he could provide protection to non-parties to the lawsuit without ruling on class certification before the law goes into effect. Specifically, he wrote that other courts have granted “broad preliminary injunctive relief without certifying a class.”
He directed the plaintiffs challenging the new law to respond to this proposed approach — again, should he find in favor of the plaintiffs on their preliminary injunction request — by Friday. The preliminary injunction hearing itself, meanwhile, is set for 1:30 p.m. June 14.
Tennessee: In the lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors, the Justice Department’s motion to intervene on behalf of the United States remains pending. Tennessee did not oppose the intervention, but suggested some limits on how it viewed the DOJ’s intervention.
In a May 5 order, U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson ordered DOJ to reply to the issues raised by Tennessee by Friday.
Specifically, I’d expect comment from DOJ on Tennessee’s “understanding” that “the United States cannot seek relief broader than what the Plaintiffs are entitled to for their claim alleging that the Defendants have discriminated against them on account of sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.” Under the law cited for DOJ’s intervention, it states that in such an intervention “the United States shall be entitled to the same relief as if it had instituted the action.”
Richardson added that he “intends to rule on the Motion [to intervene] as promptly as feasible following the filing of the reply.” That matters because, as Tennessee’s filing suggests, the intervention will lead to a timeline for a response to DOJ’s already-filed motion for a preliminary injunction.
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Is the Tennessee "understanding" an attempt to get DOJ to disavow Bostock?