Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~    info@patomalley-consulting.com
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley    ~    All rights reservedEstablished 1993​

Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice


A Quick Word


                                        Brief notes on transient topics.


I teach seventh grade civics to adults because our schools won't do it.
Just imagine what this country could be if we had decent schools.

November 7, 2020
















November 2, 2020

It ALWAYS takes weeks to count, recount, verify, and certify every election. It always has.


We have never held a national election in a pandemic before.

There are barely enough poll workers to handle the voters on election day.

After the polls close, they have to count those votes. They don't get out of there until 2 AM as it is.
Then they must count thousands of paper ballots - mail, absentee, military, overseas, etc, - BY HAND.
They also have to sleep, eat, and pee.


It takes time. We do not control the laws of physics.


I teach seventh grade civics to adults because our schools won't do it.
Just imagine what this country could be if we had decent schools.

See the state certification laws here.
https://ballotpedia.org/State_Election_Result_Canvassing


October 2, 2020

Relax.  We are not having a constitutional crisis.

Now that Donald Trump has COVID, this is what happens under the various scenarios, according to the US Constitution.


1.  If Trump is in a coma or otherwise unable to do the job, Mike Pence would be acting president.  (25th amendment).
If Trump recovered sufficiently, he would resume as president.  If Pence dies or is incapacitated during this time, Nancy Pelosi would be acting president.


2.  If Trump dies before the election, Pence would be president until January 20.  (Article II, Section 1)
We would probably have to postpone the election, but not for too long because the new president must be inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.  (20th Amendment, Section 1)
The Republicans would name another person as their candidate, probably Pence.


Congress can change the election date, but each state has laws about procedures to get on their ballots, so there are 50 different answers to that question.  So Congress and the states would scramble to set new dates and make new rules.


While the territories - Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and Mariana Islands - hold popular presidential votes, they have no representatives in the Electoral College, so it doesn't matter.  If the new Republican wins, s/he would be president.


3.  If Trump lives, wins the election, and dies afterward, Pence would become president for the entire term.  (20th Amendment, Section 3)  He would be eligible to serve a second term, but not a third.  (22nd Amendment)


Pence can nominate someone to be Vice President, and Congress - both Senate and House - would have to confirm that person, as they did when Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as VP in 1974.  (25th Amendment, Section 2)


4.  If Trump lives and wins the election, we all get to endure this for another four years.


5.  If Joe Biden wins the election, and Trump is dead, Pence would be president until noon on January 20, when Biden takes the oath.


As for the rest of the government, they'll manage.  Every Executive Branch agency has a depth chart which specifies who takes over in case of emergency, thanks to Executive Orders issued by President Barack Obama.


If members of the House of Representatives die in office, their states will hold special elections to fill their seats.   

(Article I, Section 2, Clause 4)

If Senators die in office, their state governors will appoint people to fill their seats until they can arrange for a special election.  (17th Amendment)


September 23, 2020

​​It doesn’t matter if Trump refuses to concede the election to Joe Biden.
There is no law or rule requiring him to do so.
It doesn’t matter if Trump refuses to attend Biden's inauguration.
There is no law or rule requiring him to do so.
There’s not even a law or rule requiring an inauguration ceremony.


WHAT DOES MATTER
The United States Constitution says this on the subject of new presidents:
"Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: —“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
(Article II. Section 1. Clause 8)


and


"The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified, and the terms of their successors shall then begin." (20th Amendment. Section 1)


So. Trump’s term will end when biden takes the oath, and the office, at noon on January 20, 2021, regardless of what Trump says, does, doesn’t do, tweets, or what kind of tantrum he throws.
We only have one president at a time.
At noon, Trump would no longer be president.


If he refuses to leave the White House, he would be trespassing. The Secret Service will escort him, his staff, and his family from the premises, backed up if necessary, by the US Capitol Police and the US Marshals Service. The army, New York City police, Washington DC police, Department of Justice, and random Rambo militia groups have no role in the matter.
Yes, the Secret Service can evict him.
Title 18 U.S. Code. Section 1752 says:


"Whoever—
(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds
without lawful authority to do so;
(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or [1]
(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; [2] …."
And such person will face arrest, fine, and imprisonment of up to one year.

If any violence, physical force, assault, or injury occurs, imprisonment can be up to ten years.
Donald Trump is a coward.
He won’t do that.
He’ll run away, claiming that he never wanted the job anyway.
We have real stuff to worry about.
This is not it.

September 22, 2020

On September 14, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled that Pennsylvania’s limits on the crowd size of public gatherings are unconstitutional.  For the record, they are not, for three reasons.


  1.  The first amendment does include the right to peaceful assembly.  However, in 1905 the US Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts – a case about mandatory smallpox vaccination – that all rights have limits, particularly where public health is in danger.  The court held that:
    Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.

  2. The Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power to ... provide for ... the general Welfare of the United States … And to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

    “General Welfare” means that Congress can make any laws that are in the best interest of the United States.  And it has the power to make any laws “necessary and proper” to implement those laws.  It’s called the elastic clause because it stretches to give Congress just about any power that the Constitution does not specifically prohibit.  Sometimes the general welfare is more important than individual freedom.

  3. The tenth amendment says:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


So even though the Constitution doesn’t specify that states can issue stay-home and social distancing orders, the Bill of Rights says they can.  And every state legislature has enacted laws giving the governors emergency powers.  You can find all state constitutions at the link below.


So “your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins”.*

Stay at Home and Social Distancing Orders Are Constitutional.