Dothan District 2 Commissioner Amos Newsome was arrested Tuesday and charged with third degree assault following an incident which resulted in Newsome striking a television reporter twice with an open hand.
Newsome was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at his home and transported to the Dothan City Jail for booking.
Newsome struck WTVY reporter Ken Curtis in the face following Tuesday’s Dothan commission meeting as Newsome was leaving to get in his car.
Video shot by another WTVY reporter showed Curtis approaching Newsome to ask him about voter fraud allegations connected to his 2013 election. When Curtis asked Newsome if he planned to resign, Newsome struck him with an open hand two times, causing Curtis to bleed on his right cheek.
Fredreka Schouten for USA Today:
If voters decide to hire billionaire Donald Trump as their president in 2016, they couldn’t actually fire him from the job he now holds.
Federal law doesn’t explicitly prohibit President Trump from continuing to run the sprawling gambling, real-estate and brand-marketing empire that is the Trump Organization, federal ethics experts say. And the conflict-of-interest rules that bar Cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking executive branch officials from overseeing matters that boost their personal bottom lines don’t apply to the president.
“The president holds a constitutional office, and it’s very difficult constitutionally to restrict the president’s activities,” said Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer who specializes in ethics and election laws. “Were he to be elected, it would be an interesting test case.”
California legislators decided last year to ask voters whether they supported overturning a landmark ruling that allowed unlimited corporate spending to support or denounce federal candidates.
A conservative taxpayers group balked, arguing that state legislators lack the power to put advisory measures on the ballot. The California Supreme Court agreed to remove Proposition 49 and to decide in a later ruling whether it could go forward in a future election.
The court will hear arguments on the case Tuesday, generally the last step before issuing a decision. If the Legislature wins, Californians will be able to cast an advisory vote next year on whether Citizens United, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned campaign spending laws, should be repealed by a federal constitutional amendment….
UC Irvine Professor Richard L. Hasen, an expert in election law, said there was “great value” in allowing voters to express disapproval of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“On the other hand I worry about gaming the system and cluttering the ballot,” Hasen said. “It is a hard question.”
One Democratic commissioner at the FEC said that she is “very concerned” about the growing influence of super PACs and frustrated about the inability of her agency to do anything about it.
“These super PACS are more and more operating as arms of the campaigns,” said Ellen Weintraub, a former campaign finance lawyer. “I just find it hard to reconcile the notion that there’s no potential for corruption with super PACs raising and spending unlimited amounts of money.”
She said it was not surprising that campaigns and their allies were pushing the boundaries because the three Republican commissioners had blocked any attempt to write rules to limit super PACs.
“Our inaction is feeding a culture out there that says political actors don’t really have to abide by the rules, because if they don’t, nothing is going to happen,” she said.
The top Republican on the FEC, vice chairman Matthew Petersen, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Supreme Court said Thursday it will decide an important question on the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees: How far do free-speech rights go in protecting a public employee who is demoted or fired over his or her perceived political affiliations?
In the past, the court has said public employees have 1st Amendment rights, including the right to speak out on public issues. But lower courts are split on whether these employees are always protected from political retaliation.
The VRI will have 3 main focuses, and Dean Treanor and Caroline Fredrickson have highlighted two of them: a VRI at Georgetown Law will provide opportunities for students, recent graduates, and fellows to engage in litigation and policy work in the field of voting rights through work in Georgetown Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, with ACS and CLC directly involved to provide counsel, strategic advice, and through practicum courses. We have committed to establishing the first-ever Voting Rights Institute at GULC, making it “the place” to study voting rights law and learn how to conduct voting rights litigation.
The corruption case against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez has become a battleground over the controversial Supreme Court decision that allowed the flood of campaign money that is reshaping elections.
I remain skeptical of the tension between the two.
Attorney General Hector Balderas’s office has tacked another criminal charge onto its case against Secretary of State Dianna Duran, alleging the person Duran listed as her campaign treasurer during her 2010 election bid — former state Sen. Don Kidd — did not know his name was being used and had no role in verifying Duran’s campaign reports.
In addition, the AG’s office filed notice it intends to seek an enhancement to any possible sentence handed down to Duran under a high-profile but untested 2012 public corruption bill.
The legal salvos capped off a week in which Duran’s attorney filed a motion to have the Attorney General’s Office disqualified from prosecuting the Duran case and Balderas moved to cut formal ties between the two offices, pending the case’s outcome.
Former Secretary of State Charlie White has started serving his home detention sentence after losing a lengthy legal battle to have all of his felony convictions in a voter fraud case overturned.
The former Hamilton County Republican Party chairman was placed on electronic monitoring Friday, said Ralph Watson, executive director for Hamilton County Community Corrections. White began his sentence after exhausting all of his options in state courts to overturn his convictions.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would disclose after-the-fact changes to its opinions, a common practice that had garnered little attention until a law professor at Harvard wrote about it last year.
And the court said it would bar “line standers” who hold places for lawyers eager to see high profile arguments.
The closely watched “one person one vote” election law case Evenwel v. Abbott is set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 30, according to an apparently inadvertent post on the court’s website.
Adam Liptak in the NYT:
The current court is the first in history split along partisan lines, where the party of the president who appointed each justice is a reliable predictor of judicial ideology. Put another way, all five Republican appointees are to the right of all four Democratic appointees. It was not long ago that Republican appointees like Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter routinely voted with the court’s liberal wing.
As a consequence of the current alignment, Professor Devins said, “the Roberts court has generated more marquee decisions divided by party alignment than all other courts combined.”
The last term’s big cases did not for the most part follow that pattern because Justice Kennedy, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and sits at the court’s ideological fulcrum, voted with the court’s liberal wing at an unusually high rate.
“This term,” he added, “I would expect a return to the norm, with the right side of the court winning a majority but by no means all of the big cases, with Justice Kennedy again the key vote.”
Cristian Farias writes for HuffPo.
The new Supreme Court Term that begins today marks the tenth anniversary of “the Roberts Court,” which reached full complement in January 2006. That was when Associate Justice Samuel Alito joined the Court, which Chief Justice John G. Roberts had been appointed to lead a few months earlier. The resulting coalition of a five-Justice “conservative majority” has had significant impact on the Court’s jurisprudence in a number of areas, and this has been especially evident in its rulings on the crucial First Amendment right of freedom of speech. In my view, “the Roberts Court” may well be the most speech-protective Court in a generation – if not in the Nation’s history – reaffirming and expanding extraordinary protection for free speech in a variety of settings. In the process, the Court has rebuffed numerous attempts by government and its allies to restrict established free speech protections or create new free speech limitations.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is the one we think of as having the main responsibility for protecting fairness. Yet its recent record has indicated other priorities. Recently its Voting Section went out of its way to review a decision to change the system of municipal elections in Kinston, North Carolina, from partisan to non-partisan. That change had been approved by the voters of Kinston, which is a majority black town. Indeed, it had been approved by an overwhelming two-to-one vote.
Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department may intervene when voting rules are changed in any state where there’s historically been discrimination. But because black citizens were in the majority in Kinston, there should have been no occasion to intervene. The DOJ justified its intervention by saying that blacks were not always a majority of voters, even though they were a majority of the citizens; it argued further that the removing of party labels might deprive black voters of an identifying label necessary for them to vote for black candidates—i.e., the label “Democrat.” In other words, the Justice Department was arguing that the black voters of Kinston needed the paternalism of the Justice Department to protect them from themselves.
Famed California pollster Joe Shumate was found dead in his home one month before Election Day 2010, surrounded by sheets of polling data he labored over for the flailing Senate bid of Carly Fiorina.
Upon his death, Fiorina praised Shumate as “the heart and soul” of her team. She issued a news release praising him as a person who believed in “investing in those he worked with” and offering her “sincerest condolences” to his widow.
But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimillionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president.
Wisconsin once again has to defend its voter ID law in federal court, this time responding to a challenge to the law’s exclusion of veterans’ IDs, technical college IDs, and out-of-state drivers’ licenses.
Staff attorney Sean Young with the American Civil Liberties Union will argue before the federal district court in Milwaukee on Monday, asking them to allow these alternative IDs to be added to the state’s strict list of acceptable documents.
Sam Issacharoff has an important new review of Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot in the latest issue of The American Prospect. Unfortunately it is not posted freely online. It concludes:
Using the instrumentalities of power to keep enemies from voting is deeply wrong; no game can allow the players to manipulate the rules. The sources of the politics of voter exclusion are complicated, but they begin with the unique American institution of partisan control of the electoral process. For Berman, the partisan dimension can be quickly overcome by invoking race and the glorious history of the Voting Rights Act, which keeps the moral arc of the story neat. But the simple tale here obscures the deep partisan stakes in matters of claimed voter fraud and voter suppression.
The warm reception of Berman’s book is a tribute to his craftsmanship in the telling of a great story. But it also reflects the allure of a simple world of moral absolutes. Placing everything in the context of race and then focusing on an evil, anti-democratic cabal diminishes what we can learn from history. As Columbia law professor Jamal Greene writes, “A Voting Rights Act for the 21st century would recognize that racial discrimination may be our original sin, but it is not our only one.” The precision of the Voting Rights Act in targeting certain practices in a certain place and time proved its great strength and its later constitutional vulnerability. Because it worked so well, the Voting Rights Act as created in 1965 exposed the need for a broader legal commitment to the right to vote, one not limited by geography or even by race.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”)1, on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, writes to raise our grave concerns regarding the State’s intended closures of thirty-one (31) driver’s license-issuing offices across the State of Alabama, predominantly in rural counties with large Black populations, high poverty rates, and little to no public transportation. By issuing driver’s licenses, these offices provide the most accessible way for Alabama’s Black residents to secure the most common form of photo identification (“photo ID”) required by state law, Alabama Code Section 17-9-30. By closing these offices, the State will drastically reduce the number of sites where potential voters can obtain photo ID, creating a substantial and disproportionate burden on Black people’s ability to participate in the political process in Alabama.
These planned closures are consistent with Alabama’s long, egregious and ongoing pattern of racial discrimination against Black voters.2 Given the importance of these offices as accessible locations where people can obtain the photo ID needed to vote, we urge you to keep these offices open to protect against the foreseeable negative impact of the closures on Black voters’ opportunity to participate equally in the political process in likely violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) and the U.S. Constitution.
Recently published guidance will pave the way for advocacy groups to more closely work with official campaign committees of candidates running for office in North Carolina.
An advisory letter issued by State Board of Elections Director Kim Strach says that her agency had no latitude to regulate organizations that mail, publish or broadcast “issue ads,” which often look like, and for all practical purposes are, campaign ads. Groups that avoid “express advocacy” and don’t trip certain thresholds on the election calendar may remain unregulated and are free to exchange certain types of information with candidates.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has created this new category of what I would call “undocumented citizens” by revising its interpretation of a comparatively obscure set of state regulations concerning what documents a parent needs to present in order to obtain a birth certificate for his or her child. Under the new interpretation, two crucial documents that used to work to establish the parent’s identity—a photo identification card issued by the Mexican Consulate known as a “matricula consular,” and a Mexican passport that lacks a valid visa stamp—no longer count as valid identity documents. A Department spokesperson argues in comments to news reporters that these documents are not “secure” and might be used for “fraud” or “identity theft.” They offer no explanation for why the policy changed*—at least not in the news stories or anywhere else I have seen.
In a lawsuit being heard in federal district court today in Austin, a group of Mexican and Central American parents of U.S. citizen children are challenging the new policy, on various grounds including that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. This is a tricky argument, because of course, these parents’ children are—in theory—definitely citizens, and DSHS does not argue otherwise. But citizenship is of limited value if you can’t get the documents you need to prove it.
North Carolina Republicans have been actively moving the goalposts—they’ve been moving polling places around like a crazed monkey on crack. They have been cutting numbers of polling places in some counties, increasing numbers in other counties. There has been no systematic analysis of the effect of this. All I’ve been able to find in any news outlet is, you know: a little local newspaper, say Winston-Salem’s, will say: “the number of early voting sites is twelve this year…by the way, it was fifteen last year.” That’s it. Nobody has taken an overall view. […]
The headline outcome from our analysis is that in 2014 white voters—71% of the electorate in North Carolina—had to travel an additional 119,000 miles from their homes to their nearest Early Voting locations…which is approximately equivalent to halfway from the Earth to the Moon.
I hear you ask, “how did it affect black voters?” Well, black voters—22% of the electorate—had to travel to the moon and halfway home again, 370,000 miles, in 2014, to get to their nearest Early Voting place. […]
Will be interesting to see if these stats pan out and if so what legal action might arise from this.
“At issue are social media posts by J.P. Isabelle, an elections administrator in the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office.”
Challengers seeking to eliminate a decades-old federal ban on campaign contributions from government contractors have filed a seeking Supreme Court review of the case (Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, U.S., Docket No. Unavail., cert petition filed10/2/15).The decision to seek review came nearly three months after a unanimous, en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the challenge to the contractor contribution ban (Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, D.C. Cir., 13-5162, 7/7/15)….The Supreme Court petition argued that the ban on campaign contributions as applied to individual contractors is not “sufficiently tailored” to pass muster under the Constitution’s First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. Although the FEC interprets the ban to apply to independent expenditures influencing campaigns—including contributions to super political action committees—that ban is not specifically challenged in the case, the petition noted.
Ari Berman writes for The Nation.
O’Malley is pushing for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United court decision, tougher enforcement of existing campaign finance laws and a public financing system that would provide Americans with a $25 refundable tax credit for donating to congressional candidates.
By virtue of money in the bank, state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin and former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews are the clear front-runners in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District seat.
And with front-runnerhood comes increased scrutiny and attacks by opponents.
That was the case at the first candidate forum of the primary season Wednesday night. Matthews, who according to campaign finance reports raised about $500,000 in the first month of her candidacy, was called out as “a millionaire white woman” by independent Liz Matory, who also accused Matthews of lacking support from people of color.
Raskin, who has raised a little over $550,000, was assailed by fellow candidate and state Del. Kumar P. Barve for making a campaign contribution to a state Senate colleague who does not share all of his liberal agenda.
I think Jamie Raskin is the first election law prof to run for Congress? Am I wrong?
UPDATE: I was wrong. There was Frank Askin in New Jersey and Barack Obama in Illinois.
Kyle Whitmire at Al.com.
What happens when a state with a tough voter ID law suddenly makes it much harder for minorities to get driver’s licenses? We are about to find out in Alabama.
Facing a budget crisis, Alabama has shuttered 31 driver’s license offices, many of them in counties with a high proportion of black residents. Coming after the state recently put into effect a tougher voter ID law, the closures will cut off access — particularly for minorities — to one of the few types of IDs accepted.
“Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one,” Archibald wrote.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act likely would have stopped this. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act should stop this.
Larry Lessig in Politico:
Here’s how you make the debates: After one declares, a candidate is formally welcomed into the race by the Democratic National Committee. Polling firms, taking a cue from the DNC, include that candidate on their questionnaires. Candidates that poll at 1 percent nationally in at least three separate polls earn an invitation. Simple enough.
That’s how the process typically works for other candidacies—but not for mine. The DNC still has not formally welcomed me into the race—despite my raising money at a faster pace than more than half the pack, and being in the race nearly a full month. Polls, in turn, have taken the hint, only including me sporadically on questionnaires: of the last 10 major polls, only three mentioned my candidacy. One poll recently put me at 1 percent (for comparison, candidates O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, who will each get a podium at the debates, are all currently polling at 0.7 percent or less, according to Real Clear Politcs). Were I actually included on every poll, I would easily make the debates.
The Democratic Party could fix this by welcoming me into the race. Yet when I tried to talk about this with the chair of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she scheduled a call, but then cancelled it. So far she hasn’t had the time to schedule another. I’ve had similar experiences at the state level, where the same game is played: The chair of the New Hampshire Democrats invited me to speak at their convention. I was given 5 minutes. Hillary Clinton took an hour.
That’s the lead story in this week’s Electionline Weekly.
The head of the state’s elections board has urged legislative leaders to slow down their plans to overhaul the agency, but top GOP lawmakers say they will unveil their restructuring plans next week.
Gerald Nichol, chairman of the Government Accountability Board, in a letter to lawmakers raised concerns about restructuring the board 13 months before the high-turnout presidential election. His request to slow down fell on deaf ears.
On Wednesday, aides to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said they reached a deal on the matter. They declined to provide details, saying they would make their plans public next week.
Matea Gold for WaPo.
In my recent TPM piece, I wrote:
In a recent article in the Weekly Standard, Professors Randy Barnett and Josh Blackman urge the next Republican President to appoint Justices, like Thomas, who care little about judicial restraint or respect for precedent. Senator Ted Cruz, while running for president, has severely criticized Chief Justice Roberts as insufficiently conservative, calling for the appointment of even more extremely conservative judges.
Indeed, there is much further room to move to the right. Some strict textualists do not agree with Justice Scalia’s exception for interpretations of statutes which lead to absurd results. Let the chips fall where they may, they say, and either Congress will fix the problem with an apparently absurdly written statute or it won’t. It’s not the Court’s problem.
And here’s Linda Greenhouse’s NYT column today:
In a variation of that theme, the columnist George Will, in a piece that went viral in the conservative blogosphere during midsummer, castigated Chief Justice Roberts for, of all things, his dissenting opinion in the same-sex marriage case. It was not that Mr. Will, often a reliable barometer of inside-the-Beltway conservative thought, had suddenly embraced marriage equality. Rather, he objected to what it was the chief justice was objecting to in Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion.
In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Roberts accused the majority of reanimating the spirit of the long-discredited Lochner v. New York, a 1905 decision in which a conservative Supreme Court invoked a supposed “liberty of contract” to invalidate workplace regulations. It was a later conservative court that was still under Lochner’s sway when it struck down much New Deal legislation in the early 1930s.
The case stands for “the unprincipled tradition of judicial policy making,” Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent; only when a later court understood Lochner’s error did justices return to their properly restrained role. “The majority today neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role,” he wrote.
In his column, Mr. Will said the chief justice’s account of Lochner contained “more animus than understanding.” Lochner should be celebrated, he wrote. The 1905 decision “was not ‘unprincipled’ unless the natural rights tradition (including the Declaration of Independence) and the Ninth Amendment (‘The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people’) involve no principles.”
The Ninth Amendment? The amendment that constitutional progressives have viewed as the source of the “unenumerated rights” much disparaged by conservatives? The Ninth Amendment that Robert Bork likened to an ink blot on the Constitution? Indeed, Mr. Will wrote: “The next Republican president should ask this of potential court nominees: Do you agree that Lochner correctly reflected the U.S. natural rights tradition and the Ninth and 14th amendments’ affirmation of unenumerated rights?”
Not very long ago, a potential nominee who was prepared to answer “yes” to those questions wouldn’t have made it past the security checkpoint of a Republican White House. The young John Roberts worked in the modern era’s ur-Republican White House, Ronald Reagan’s, when such an answer would have been apostasy. That was then.
I’m writing about such obscure subjects as Lochner and unenumerated rights in full understanding that the new conservative memes may be just so much window dressing on a more fundamental, less elevated explanation for the conservative anger. I never thought I would be quoting Senator Ted Cruz with anything close to appreciation, but here goes. Heaven knows there wasn’t much honesty in the Republican debate, but the Texas senator said something during his rant about Chief Justice Roberts that might actually, even if inadvertently, have come close. “You know,” Senator Cruz said, “we’re frustrated as conservatives. We keep winning elections, and then we don’t get the outcome we want.”
News from Ga:
The City of Sparta plans to use paper ballots instead of Hancock County’s electronic voting machines in their November election.
This election will be the first time the City of Sparta has done an election without the help of the Hancock County Board of Elections, and this change leaves some residents scratching their heads.
“Some citizens who were actually in on the meeting had come to the office and expressed that they maybe wanted to file a complaint about the city actually using paper ballots,” said Hancock County Elections Supervisor Tiffany Medlock.
The City of Sparta first approached the Hancock Board of Elections with an agreement for the county to let them use their electronic voting machines, but after the board revised the agreement and agreed to lend them the machines, the city never answered back.
I’ve heard from one reader who expresses concern that the switch is motivated by a corrupt city machine, and asks if it is possible to have outside election monitors. I don’t know what the situation is in Sparta, but this does seem strange.
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for campaign finance reform in the wake of the explosion of super PACs, which can receive unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and individuals.
“We’ve really got a mess in the financial system with regard to campaigns right now,” the 2012 nominee said Wednesday in an interview at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum.
“We’ve gotta rethink campaign finance,” he added.
The former Massachusetts governor said it is a problem that shadowy super PACs can take “unlimited amounts of money,” while candidates themselves are “very strictly limited” in the amount of funding they are able to raise.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appears to be headed toward issuing new IRS regulations that will continue to license section 501(c)(4) groups to improperly launder massive amounts of secret contributions into federal elections.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Commissioner Koskinen reportedly stated that section 501(c)(4) groups can engage in political intervention so long as that constitutes less than half of their activities.
Koskinen reportedly said, “So if an organization wants to spend less than half its money on politics, they can choose to become a 501(c)(4).” Koskinen also reportedly said the IRS is not trying to significantly change the way nonprofits operate today.