Will of Mississippi voters overturned on ludicrous technicality – National & International News – TUE 18May2021

Citing an absurd technicality, Mississippi's State Supreme Court has overturned Ballot Initiative 65, which won 60% voter support in November.

MS medical marijuana initiative overturned. DA: officers “justified” in gunning down Andrew Brown. Biden at last lends tentative support for Israel-Gaza ceasefire.

NATIONAL NEWS

Will of Mississippi voters overturned on ludicrous technicality

Last November, nearly 60% of Mississippi voters approved Ballot Initiative 65, which would establish a medical marijuana program in the state through an amendment to the state constitution. Last Friday, the State Supreme Court dismissed the voices of 766,000 Mississippians by throwing out the vote on a technicality. 

Mary Hawkins Butler, the Republican mayor of Madison, MS, filed a challenge to the initiative based on the wording of the ballot initiative process, which established in the 1990s. The wording states that in order to put a measure on the ballot, petitioners need to gather one-fifth of their signatures from each of the state’s five congressional districts. For over 20 years, Mississippi has only had four congressional districts.

The petitioners supporting Initiative 65 even took care to gather their signatures based on the old map as a precaution, following the advice of the state attorney general’s office.

Justice Josiah Coleman, who wrote the majority opinion for the State Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling, wrote, “Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(3) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress. To work in today’s reality, [the ballot initiative process] will need amending — something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court”.

Whether or not you supported Initiative 65, keep in mind that this argument can be used to overturn the will of Mississippi voters on any ballot initiative. The ruling comes as petitioners campaign to get other initiative on the state’s ballot, including an expansion of Medicaid.

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District attorney: officers “justified” in gunning down Andrew Brown

Andrew Womble of the Elizabeth City District Attorney’s office in South Carolina has declared that sheriff’s deputies’ decision to gun down Andrew Brown outside his home was justified. None of the seven deputies involved in the shooting will face any local charges in the case.

The case has garnered nationwide attention since late April. Brown’s family and their attorneys, who are the only people outside law enforcement who have seen police bodycam footage, have described Brown’s death as “an execution”.

The Brown family attorneys say that sheriff’s deputies opened fire on Brown even has he kept his hands on the steering wheel and tried to comply with officers. It was only after the shooting started, the attorneys say, when Brown attempted to drive away. Brown was shot 5 times, including once in the back of the head.

Even before Womble’s office announced they would not prosecute any of the deputies, the FBI had already opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Biden finally voices support for Israeli-Gaza ceasefire

More than a week after hostilities broke out between the Israeli military and Gaza militants, President Biden has joined other heads of state in voicing support for a ceasefire. Biden’s statement still stopped short of calling for an immediate halt to the fighting. The exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes have killed more than 200 people on the Gaza and Israeli sides and destroyed several buildings. One of the buildings destroyed in Gaza housed a media office.

Biden also reportedly raised concerns about civilian casualties and targeting of residential buildings in a call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the White House, Biden “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians”. Nevertheless, Biden’s carefully-worded statement lent strong support to the Israeli campaign to root out Hamas militants in Gaza.

Biden’s statement is in stark contrast to other prominent Democrats in Congress who have called for an immediate ceasefire.

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