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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Mathieu

Weekly News Blast | Dec 24 - 31

the inside of the Colorado Supreme Court building empty

After the Colorado Supreme Court ruled to removed Donald Trump from the presidential ballot, other states have taken moves in a similar direction (Jeffrey Beall, Wikimedia Commons)

New Rulings about Trump’s Presidential Eligibility

Following the Colorado Supreme Court ruling last week that removed Donald Trump from the presidential ballot in the state, more states have decided on the former president’s eligibility in the 2024 presidential election.

On December 28, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows decided Trump should be barred from the ballot because of his purported incitement of the January 6 riots. Similar to the Colorado case, the state cited section three of the 14th Amendment, which declares that anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution before subsequently engaging in an insurrection will not be allowed to take office.

Maine election law allows any registered voter to challenge a candidate's eligibility in an election, so three voters challenged Trump’s place on the Maine ballot, two of which were based on the 14th Amendment. Interestingly, the third challenger found grounds in the 22nd Amendment, which established a two-year presidential term limit. The petitioner, Paul Gordon, believes that because Trump has repeatedly claimed to win the 2020 election, he has already held office twice and thus cannot run for a third term this upcoming election. While Gordon's argument was not considered in the final decision, this is a loophole many have found in Trump’s reasoning up until now. It remains unclear whether Trump's campaign will address the contrast between his declarations of victory and any further striving for the presidency.

Shortly after the Secretary of State’s decision became public, her house was “swatted" (a term for calling law enforcement under false pretenses) as an unidentified man lied about breaking into Bellow’s home. In the past, similar calls have led to the death of the victim, but they are primarily meant to cause fear. So far, it seems Bellow and her family are safe.

Despite all this movement, in both Colorado and Maine, Trump will remain on the ballot until higher courts intervene. Many assume that the former president’s campaign will appeal the Maine decision as they did with the Colorado ruling last week.

Meanwhile, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber contrasted the actions taken in Maine by refusing to remove Trump from the ballot. Attorneys working for Weber’s office have been searching for a legal basis to remove the former president from the ballot for months, but have not found any. Weber believes the California Constitution does not grant her the power to remove a candidate from the ballot. California Governor Gavin Newsom agreed with this decision, corroborating Weber’s statement that if Californians do not like a candidate, they will defeat them in the polls.

Other cases tackling Trump’s eligibility can be found in two dozen more states, including Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Alaska, Virginia, and more. It is unclear if any of these decisions will have a lasting impact on the 2024 election and future American politics, but as the cases continue to make their way through the courts, the possibilities will become clearer.

Earthquake Off the Coast of Japan

On January 1, at 4:06 p.m. local time, the western side of Honshu (Japan's main island) was hit by a series of nearly 20 earthquakes, starting with a 5.7-magnitude that was quickly followed by many more, including a 7.6-magnitude quake four minutes later. The resulting tsunami warning was the first since the 2011 quake that caused waves up to 40m high. While the recent event was much less disastrous than the one 13 years ago, it brought up the same fear. Because Japan sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the meeting place of several tectonic plates, earthquakes in the area are more frequent and powerful.

Tsunami waves met land around an hour after the initial quakes as a major tsunami warning alerted civilians of up to 16-foot waves. The waves are expected to reach up to 180 miles of the epicenter along the coasts. However, because of the constant threat of tsunamis, Japan has created one of the most sophisticated warning systems in the world. It can detect tremors and use them to calculate the epicenter efficiently enough to send out warnings around the country.

While there are already reports of civilians drowning in attempts to return for personal belongings, the exact casualty rate of the earthquake remains unknown. Damage has been seen primarily in Ishikawa, but other cities across the island also felt the effects of the quakes and flooding. Over 36,000 households have lost electricity, and at least 100 homes have been damaged. However, concern primarily surrounds the nuclear power plants on the island, especially after the major nuclear meltdown that occured during the 2011 earthquake. As of now, it seems the plants are running safely, but government officials have evacuated civilians into stadiums around the country where they will be kept until it is deemed safe.

Both South Korea and Russia have issued tsunami warnings as well. As of now, at least four have been pronounced dead as a result of the earthquake and tsunami event, with more data coming quickly. It is unclear the full effect of the quake, but the Japanese government and other countries are focused on providing aid to those in need.


Sources & Further Reading

New Rulings about Trump’s Presidential Eligibility

Earthquake Off the Coast of Japan


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