Author: SHO

Election: Amy Coney Barrett emerges as Trump’s front-runner to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat: reports

Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals emerged Saturday as President Trump’s front-running nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to reports.

Coney Barrett, who was appointed to her current position in the federal appeals court in Chicago by President Trump in 2017, was named as the likely top pick in early handicapping by three sources talking to NBC News. A separate report from Bloomberg News also listed the 48-year-old judge as the leading contender, although still in a large field.

Trump in a tweet Saturday urged the Republican-led Senate to consider “without delay” his upcoming nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with just six weeks remaining before the election. The White House as of Saturday afternoon had not made any nomination official, nor set a timeline. But the administration was likely moving quickly to select a nominee, the Associated Press reported, before the first presidential debate scheduled for 10 days from Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, vowed on Friday night, just hours after the liberal Bader Ginsburg’s death, to call a vote for Trump’s upcoming nominee. Democrats countered that Republicans should follow the precedent that GOP legislators set in 2016 by refusing to consider a Supreme Court choice advanced by Barack Obama in the run-up to that year’s presidential election. The high court had a 5-4 conservative majority prior to Ginsburg’s death.

Read:Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Earlier this month, Trump released a refreshed potential Supreme Court nominee list with 20 additions to his original roster; it included Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley.

Coney Barrett was on the shortlist in 2018 to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump ultimately selected Brett Kavanaugh for that vacancy.

Republicans favoring Coney Barrett’s potential nomination cited her 2017 appeals court confirmation hearing performance as a strong indication that she might survive another round of questioning in which her religious beliefs, and whether they might cloud legal judgment, is likely to emerge, the sources told NBC.

Critics have pointed to the judge’s writings, in which she raised questions about the importance of respecting precedent and referred to “unborn victims” of abortion.

At the time of the appeals court hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, told the nominee, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.”

Barrett responded then: “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law.”

In a 2013 article in the University of Notre Dame’s quarterly alumni magazine, Coney Barrett is paraphrased as saying the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade — which a majority of Americans back, polls show — has created “through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand.”

She later said the primary controversy for her lies with public versus private funding.

Opinion:Ruth Bader Ginsburg played a pivotal role in the women’s-rights era — and that was before she joined the Supreme Court

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, for his part, has not released a list of specific people he’d nominate for a Supreme Court spot if the decision for replacement falls to him should he prevail and a Senate majority shift come November. But Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the court if he has the opportunity in many ways narrows the field. Biden said in late June that work on his list was underway.

The Moneyist: I moved into my in-laws’ home. My husband wants to pay his parents’ mortgage, but it will come out of my income. How can I protect myself?

Dear Moneyist,

I got married recently and moved into my husband’s house that he shares with his parents. (His name and his parents’ name are on the deed.) Currently, we pay a small amount for rent, but my husband hopes to take on the mortgage of the house over the next couple of years. I am the breadwinner, and so the majority (or even all) of the money that would go towards the mortgage would be coming from me.

Before fully committing to this, are there any precautions I need to take? Or what are the risks I could be facing? I am worried about what would happen if I end up paying off their home, and they want to sell it or my in-laws pass away, or if they decide to give their share of the house to my husband’s sister, or if my husband and I separate (which is more of a worse-case scenario).

In all those cases would I be entitled to anything with the house? Unfortunately, you can sometimes get screwed over dealing with family. How can I prevent this from happening? I do want to help pay the mortgage. I would like to think my husband and his family would not do anything untoward, but I still would like to take precautions. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thank you for your help.

Daughter-in-law

The Moneyist: My sister-in-law moved in with her mother, changed her will, set up a new trust and inherited everything. Is it too late to claim what rightfully belongs to us?

Dear Daughter-in-law,

It’s not a good idea to use marital funds to pay off your in-laws’ mortgage, particularly given all of the potential scenarios you lay out. There are probably a few more that you have not thought of, but they all end up in the same place. You use your income, which could be used to build wealth and/or pay off your own mortgage, and end up with half or quarter of a home when you’re done.

Before using your own funds for this purpose, you would need your parents to either sign a quit claim to deed 50% of the home to you and your husband, and/or set up an agreement where you both own the home and your in-laws have the right to live there for the rest of their lives. Put your heads together and pay off your own mortgage.

California is a community property state. But inheritance is generally considered separate property. But it’s not so cut and dry. According to Fernandez & Karney, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based law firm, “Much of the work in the divorce process comes down to picking apart where separate and community property has co-mingled over the course of the marriage.”

The Moneyist: My mother’s will says her boyfriend can live in her home after she dies. Can I still kick him out if the deed is transferred to me?

Given that you would use marital funds to pay your husband’s part of the mortgage, his portion of the house should then turn from separate property to community property where you both own 50% of his half. Similarly, if you made improvements to this home, his portion of the property would become community property.

But that’s messy. Make sure your in-laws and your husband agree to everything in writing before you make contributions to their half of the mortgage. As you say, you could pay off all of this mortgage, your in-laws could die, resulting in the house being split 50/50 between your husband and his sister, you divorce from your husband and are left with quarter of a home.

If this column proves nothing else, it’s that families and the people you trust the most in the world can sometimes be the most unpredictable.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check outthe Moneyist private Facebook FB, -0.89%  group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist: My late husband did not see his son in 30 years. Should I mail his son photos and other memorabilia — and risk him making a claim on his estate?

Dear Moneyist,

My late husband had not seen his son in over 30 years. He and his son’s mother decided on her receiving a larger share of assets in lieu of child support. He did see his son a few times a year for the next several years, but contact stopped during the teen years when his son no longer wanted to come. They lived in different states. The son is approximately the age of my own children, who are in their early forties.

There was no probate after my husband’s death because he had no separate assets. The house and car were titled in my name because I had purchased them prior to remarrying. All of our bank accounts were joint although we treated them as separate accounts. He had no retirement funds other than Social Security whereas I was still working. When I signed my will shortly after my husband’s death, the lawyer told me that probate was unnecessary since there was nothing to probate.

I put together a box of a few special items that belonged to my husband — his medals from his time in the service, pictures of him over the years, including some with the son, his watches, and so on — thinking that the son might want them some day. I’m sure the son has no idea that my husband relocated and remarried so it isn’t particularly likely that he will knock on the door one day. Friends of my husband tried to initiate contact once during a health crisis before I met him, and the mother refused.

I hate the idea that my own kids will simply trash these things one day because they will have no idea what to do with them after I die. I found the son’s mother’s address online. She is in her mid-70s and never remarried. Would I be making a mistake if I mailed the box to her? I don’t want the son to demand “his share” when there is nothing else for him. Having to hire a lawyer to defend that position, though, can be expensive. So should I leave well enough alone?

Want to do the right thing.

Dear Right Thing,

Your husband’s son has a right to know that his father passed away, regardless of inheritance or photographs or other family memorabilia, even if he did not see his father in over 30 years. Teenagers can be angry, confused, and/or simply want to do their own thing and find their own identity. He may have also been influenced by his mother, given that she refused previous attempts to make contact, so sending a box of mementos to her may not necessarily reach his son.

The Moneyist: I filed a joint tax return with my estranged wife because she is a gambler and her finances are a mess. But I got NO stimulus check — what can I do?

See if you can find his son on Facebook FB, -0.89%, LinkedIn MSFT, -1.24%, Twitter TWTR, +2.03%  or by other means. Failing that, reach out to his mother and tell her that her son’s father died, and that you have some things that you would like to send directly to her son from the time they spent together when he was a child. Explain that whatever has happened in the intervening years, it’s your belief that your late husband loved his son and you are available should he want to know more about his father.

The Moneyist: I didn’t get my stimulus check because I owe back child support. It’s not fair. My stepchildren rely on me — what can I do?

Ideally, it would be best to contact him directly and leave his mother out of the process entirely. You could start with a couple of photographs and a letter, if you manage to get his address. Or you could send copies of the photographs and address them to his mother’s address, with the same letter enclosed. If he asks about inheritance, you can explain that to him and offer to provide full transparency through a lawyer, and/or consider a monetary gift.

You are connected through your husband, and sometimes death provides a bridge for those who are left behind. Who knows? One day you might even end up as friends.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here.

Don’t miss:‘We will not have a vaccine by next winter.’ Like the 1918 Spanish flu, CDC says second wave of coronavirus could be worse. So what happens now?

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook FB, -0.89%  group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

Two teachers face a difficult choice: One welcomes ‘normalcy,’ while another feels ‘rage.’ COVID-19 has radically altered their feelings about school

For many teachers, a new school year can start with a mix of anticipation and apprehension about the semesters lying ahead.

But after schools slogged through distance learning in the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, the physical reopening of some districts this fall is making the mix of emotions more extreme.

Some teachers are elated and others are furious at the prospect of a physical return to school.

Ryan Noel, who teaches in Kansas’ Unified School District 322 Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton

Courtesy Ryan Noel

Ryan Noel remembers watching students stream out of buses and cars for the first day of school at Unified School District 322 Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton. It was a moment of pure happiness for the 20-year Kansas school teacher. There was nothing special about the weather that moment near one of the temperature check entry points at Onaga High School.

‘What made it great was to be back with the kids.’

— Ryan Noel, a physical education and English Language Arts teacher at Kansas’ Unified School District 322 Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton.

“What made it great was to be back with the kids,” Noel said. “We’re back.”

“It was a sense of normalcy again,” he added.

But Harley Litzelman, a high school social science teacher in Oakland, Calif.’s Skyline High School, says he gets angry when he thinks about any physical return right now. “Rage at the idea that my school could simply just try to kill us,” Litzelman told MarketWatch. “Because it’s not a matter of if and when. It’s a matter of how many people we are going to sacrifice.”

Harley Litzelman, high school social sciences teacher and founder of Refuse to Return.

Courtesy Harley Litzelman

Litzelman founded Refuse to Return, a campaign of educators and supporters calling for no in-person return to school until the surrounding county has no new cases for 14 days. Since its early summer start, Refuse to Return has gathered more than 100,000 signatures on its online petition and added chapters in 35 to 40 states.

“There’s nothing more I want than to go back,” Litzelman said. “The question is, do we recognize the epidemiological relationship of disease, or do we ignore it?”

‘There’s nothing more I want than to go back. … The question is, do we recognize the epidemiological relationship of disease, or do we ignore it?’

— Harley Litzelman, a high school social science teacher in Oakland, Calif.’s Skyline High School

“If we want a return to normal, we need normal amount of COVID-19 in our communities, which should be zero,” Litzelman added.

Noel and Litzelman are two diverging voices in a school year that’s filled with diverging plans for America’s approximate 56.4 million pre-kindergarten-12th grade students and 3.7 million teachers teaching those grades.

Noel’s rural school district — without a single stoplight in its limits — is returning to full-time, in-person instruction for its approximate 360 students. The three towns combine for an entire population of around 1,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The surrounding Pottawatomie County accounts for less than 1% of Kansas’ 46,914 coronavirus cases.

Litzelman’s school system, Oakland Unified School District, is offering only remote learning for the time being for its nearly 50,000 students. The surrounding Alameda County added roughly 2.5% of California’s 735,235 cases.

There had been 6.3 million coronavirus cases in the United States and 189,972 deaths as of Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

Many big city school systems, including Los Angeles and Chicago, are beginning the year with remote-only instruction — but not all of them. New York City, the country’s largest school district, is planning for a blended model.

Families can choose fully-remote learning or do a hybrid where kids do a combination of remote instruction with one to two days a week of in-person school. It postponed in-person classes to Sept. 21 to avert a potential strike from the teachers’ union, which worried about safety conditions.

Schools large and small face pressure to reopen — right up to President Donald Trump — as other parts of American life adapt to the new normal. Educators also have to try countering the “COVID slide” that could stunt many students who fell behind in the spring.

See also:Here’s how much school closures will cost parents in lost wages, reduce GDP — and negatively impact the nation’s education system

But schools also have to consider the health of students and teachers, and some research makes that a daunting call.

Asymptomatic children can “shed” the virus — meaning, potentially infect others — for several weeks, one study suggests. Meanwhile, one-quarter of all U.S. children who had contracted coronavirus since the start of the pandemic were infected as of late July, as some of the earliest school reopenings occurred. Around one-third of America’s teachers are 50 and older, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Almost 80% of urban schools are re-opening with remote instruction and 65% of rural districts are opting for in-person schooling, according to one survey.

Almost 80% of urban schools are reopening with remote instruction and 65% of rural districts are opting for in-person schooling, according to the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Suburban districts are split: one-third are starting the year remote, roughly one-quarter are going with in-person instruction and another quarter are doing a hybrid model, according to the research center.

The patchwork of plans can create a patchwork of feelings for teachers. They have to balance their attachment to a difficult but rewarding job against their health and their family’s health. Educators like Noel and Litzelman are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Others are somewhere in between.

‘I think everyone’s a mix. I think everyone wants to be back, but everyone’ nervous. …There’s still a lot of questions that make people really anxious.’

— Kelly Smith, a third grade teacher at P.S 157 in the Bronx,

Kelly Smith, a third grade teacher at P.S 157 in the Bronx, wants to get back to her classroom.

She hasn’t been there since June, and that was to pick up belongings after last being in the building in March. There were still snacks in her desk and a stack of papers to grade.

Smith, 26, said there was worry mixed with her anticipation as she prepared for her first day of work. “I think everyone’s a mix. I think everyone wants to be back, but everyone’s nervous. …There’s still a lot of questions that make people really anxious.”

‘We appreciate schedules’

Noel teaches high school physical education and middle school English Language Arts.

When his PE students are done in the weight room, he goes through the room with a fogger of disinfectant and then closes the door for 10 minutes.

His students eat lunch on the same side of the table to avoid facing each other. They are on slightly varied bell schedules and can only visit their locker at certain hours to avoid crowding the halls.

It’s not how school looked last year, but Noel, 42, will take it after a spring where he sent out gym routines to his student via an app and watched his own four school-age children working on screens too much for his taste.

‘We appreciate schedules and bells and sticking to a rigorous timing schedule.’

— Ryan Noel, a Kansas teacher who is glad to be back in the classroom

Noel missed the structure of a class day for both him and his kids. He’s glad to have it back, noting he and other teachers like routines. “We appreciate schedules and bells and sticking to a rigorous timing schedule.”

Structure is good, but for Noel, being around his students is even better. “It’s the reason we all do this. We’re here for the kids,” he said.

A return to school isn’t risk-free, Noel understands. Two fourth-grade classes in his district are in quarantine for two weeks after one student contracted COVID-19, he said. But he trusts the school administrators and their plans. “I am comfortable with what we are doing,” he said.

Noel sees the risk on a personal level. One of his children has Type 1 Diabetes. So he and his wife consulted their son’s endocrinologist, weighed the options and decided school, which is in a nearby district, was still best. “We thought we made the best decision for all our children,” he said.

Dan Polk, Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton’s superintendent, said the school year is “going really well” and says many district staffers share the same attitude as Noel.

‘It’s a lot easier to manage with smaller numbers.’

— Dan Polk, superintendent of USD 322 Onaga-Havensville-Wheaton

There have been cases, he said, like the fourth grader who tested positive and is experiencing mild effects, if not asymptomatic, as well as a staffer’s possible exposure. A sixth grader also tested positive and is exhibiting mild effects, and possibly asymptomatic.

Polk understands why larger schools in different parts of the country may opt for remote or hyrbid models. “It’s a lot easier to manage with smaller numbers,” he said.

‘This comes back to how well do we care for each other’

Litzelman’s wife has chronic asthma and her Houston, Texas-based grandparents contracted COVID-19. The symptoms were “relatively mild” for the couple in their 70s, but Litzelman said it still scared the family. Nevertheless, Litzelman, 24, says his stance isn’t powered by his personal experiences.

“My politics are driven by general solidarity with the working class,” he said.

One criticism of teachers refusing to return — often found on social media like Twitter TWTR, +2.03%   — goes like this: if all sorts of essential workers, from grocery store workers to delivery drivers to doctors, can venture out to their jobs, why do teachers deserve special treatment?

‘The point of disease control or public health is a cooperative effort of members of society to reduce our overall exposure to it. If teachers go to work, nurses have a much bigger job.’

— Harley Litzelman, an Oakland teacher who is opposed to returning to the classroom until COVID is less of a threat

“The logic underlying that question is a hyper-individualistic way of thinking about disease,” Litzelman said. “The point of disease control or public health is a cooperative effort of members of society to reduce our overall exposure to it. If teachers go to work, nurses have a much bigger job.”

Staying out of the classroom at this moment is the right thing to do to reduce larger exposure risk, Litzelman said. “This comes back to how well do we care for each other,” he said.

As for distance learning, Litzelman said, “it’s tough, it’s new, it’s a lot of work, but I truly feel that our student are having a solid educational experience.”

Looking ahead, Litzelman said if district officals “understand we cannot go back until COVID-19 is virtually eradicated, then we are good.” But if administrators “want to force us back, then we will fight like hell.”

“As it stands right now, we can’t even make the choice to reopen because our county, Alameda County, remains on the state’s COVID watch list because cases remain high here,” said an Oakland Unified School District spokesman. “The state says schools in any county on the watch list cannot open until the county has been off the watch list for two straight weeks, at the earliest. At this stage, it is unclear how soon that will happen.”

Noel acknowledges he might feel differently about returning to school if he worked in a more densely-populated district. But living and working in a rural area is the choice Noel made. “I respect each person’s ability to choose and choose wisely,” he said of other teacher’s decisions about return.

Litzelman wouldn’t second guess the situation in Onaga without knowing the local facts. If there were no new cases for 14 days in the area, that would fit his organization’s demands, he noted. “I’m not going to judge. But I also know our Kansas chapter was really active.”

Associated Press: Coronavirus-wary Bavarians kick off toned-down Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest celebrations got underway Saturday in Munich with the traditional tapping of a keg and the cry of “O’zapft is!” — “It’s tapped!” — but this year’s festival is very non-traditional and highly regulated due to coronavirus concerns.

The official Oktoberfest has been cancelled, so there’s no huge tents full of people or hundreds of stands selling food. Instead, 50 of the southern German city’s beer halls and other establishments are hosting their own, smaller parties that follow guidelines on mask wearing, social distancing and other restrictions.

Former Mayor Christian Ude got the party started, hammering a tap into a 20 liter (5 gallon) keg — a tenth of the size of the Oktoberfest norm — at the Schillerbraeu beer hall while dressed in Bavarian lederhosen leather pants and wearing a protective mask.

Meantime, police patrolled the regular festival grounds to make sure no spontaneous parties broke out.

The loss of Oktoberfest is a huge hit for the Bavarian city, which saw 6.3 million guests flood in last year for the festival’s 186th year. They were served 7.3 million liters (about 15.5 million pints) of beer over 16 days and consumed 124 oxen, among other traditional foods.

This year’s toned-down celebrations run through Oct. 4.