Monthly Archives: April 2017

Trump: Justice Gorsuch Getting to Decide “Hundreds” of 5-4 Cases “A Great Legacy”

Washington Times:

President Trump will stick with the same list of potential nominees for the next Supreme Court vacancy, he told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview in which he also waved aside the lack of a honeymoon from Capitol Hill, saying Republicans are “going to get there” and Democrats are still smarting over losing an election they thought they couldn’t lose….


 Reflecting on his first weeks, the businessman turned statesman took pride in having upended traditional procedures in Washington. He said he has already notched foreign policy successes that eluded Mr. Obama — such as the release of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi from detention in Egypt — and has made his mark at home with the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“You’ll have hundreds of cases decided by 5-4, and you got that. So that’s a great legacy,” the president said, noting that at 49, Justice Gorsuch has decades of important decisions ahead of him.

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WI: “What game is Schimel playing?”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial page blog:

Just what game is Republican state Attorney General Brad Schimel playing?
His office released a memo Monday saying an investigation into allegations of voter fraud by Democrats talking on a video about bringing in people from out of state was over and that no voter fraud was found. The videos were taken by Project Veritas Action, a group run by conservative activist James O’Keefe.

 The finding, issued in January, came out after months of delay, thanks only to a Journal Sentinel open records request. Schimel had said last October (conveniently just before the election) that it sure looked like violations may have occurred.
Schimel repeated on Wisconsin Public Radio that the investigation was closed. But a few hours later, Schimel told conservative talk radio host Mark Belling that no, no, no, the investigation is still open. He said he planned to examine additional videos that Veritas had sent to his office.
 O’Keefe was not happy about the memo, by the way. On Thursday, he released a short video telling Schimel, “We should investigate you and you should lose your job.”

Schimel’s spokesman Johnny Koremenos on Friday said the memo had been released in error. He declined to answer other questions.

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“Surge in LLC contributions brings more mystery about true donors”

Open Secrets:

Donald Trump’s inaugural committee did well by almost any standard: Doubling the previous record for cash raised to fund festivities around a new president’s swearing-in, it took in contributions from every major sector of the economy, and from donors who had steered clear of his campaign prior to the election.

The committee also received about $10.6 million — or about 10 percent of its total raised — from roughly 60 limited liability companies, or LLCs — structures often set up by small businesses that provide favorable tax treatment while also protecting their owners’ assets.

But some exist mainly to mask people’s identities.

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“Voting Rights on Trial on the Bayou”

The Atlantic:

In the half-century since the parish moved to an at-large system, only one black judge, Juan Pickett, has ever been elected to the 32nd District Court. That he ran unopposed has been taken by state officials as proof of a black candidate’s ability to win elections. Yet, the previous judge in that seat, Timothy Ellender, stepped down after years of incidents: He wore blackface and prison shackles to a Halloween party—the state Supreme Court sent him afterward to racial-sensitivity training—and engaged in behavior so bizarre as to constitute a sustained legal miscarriage of justice. Pickett’s success, then, really seems to highlight the almost absurd sequence of events that had to take place for just one black victory.

To be sure, Louisiana state officials characterize the NAACP lawsuit, which LDF lawyers are arguing in court this week, as a weak case at best. They cite that the black minority is neither large nor compact enough to constitute an aggrieved voting block as described in VRA requirements. But the NAACP and LDF argue that their objections are undermined by the timing of the at-large shift, as well as the fact that other parish-wide voter schemes passed at the same time—like a 1969 bond vote restricted to property owners—have been considered unconstitutional by the nation’s highest courts. According to testimony in the Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP, et al. v. Edwards, et al. trial this week from historian Allan J. Lichtman, black Terrebonne Parish residents also successfully sued to stop at-large school-district elections in the 1970s. He said the DOJ has since found that coherent black districts can be made in the parish, despite the state rejecting attempts to do so. If that’s validated by the court on Friday, it could trigger an at-large voting ban.

The implications for this case go beyond the judicial ramifications of having a representative elected court. The fact of the matter is that in the South, white voters simply don’t vote for candidates favored by black voters, and in places witha majority of white voters, like Terrebonne Parish, perhaps the easiest way to lose an election is to be endorsed by black voters. This sort of “racially polarized voting” is one of the core triggers and purposes of the VRA, and it’s getting worse 52 years out from its passage, not better. While it seems a minor brushfire over a district court, the decision in the NAACP lawsuit is yet another test of the ability of the courts to enforce the spirit of the VRA.

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“Va. Gov. McAuliffe says he has broken U.S. record for restoring voting rights”


Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that he had broken the record for restoring voting rights to convicted felons, calling it his “proudest achievement” as governor.

McAuliffe (D) said he had individually restored rights to 156,221 Virginians, surpassing the previous record-holder by a nose. As governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, Charlie Crist restored voting rights to 155,315 felons, according to figures that McAuliffe’s office obtained from Florida.

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“Ahead of 2018, trial likely looms in Texas political map battle”

Texas Tribune:

As the 2018 election cycle nears, it appears Texas and its legal foes are headed for a trial — yet again — over what the state’s House and congressional boundaries will look like, and it will likely come this summer.

“I think the trial is certain,” said Jose Garza, an attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, a lead plaintiff in the years-long challenge of the state’s political boundaries. “At the end of the day, we’re going to get new political maps, and the court’s going to draw them.”

His comments followed a lengthy and complicated hearing Thursday over the fate of the state’s 2013 House and congressional maps — a high-profile status conference that followed a pair of federal rulings that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters in initially drawing each map in 2011.

Judge Orlando Garcia, one of the three judges presiding over the case here, said the panel would issue an order Monday “covering several matters that have been raised today.”

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“Judge says ex-Congressman Bob Beauprez’s group must pay $17,000 in campaign finance fines”

Colorado Independent:

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, who ran for governor in 2014, should have registered a nonprofit as a political committee, a judge ruled.

The decision came in response to a dark-money lawsuit filed by Matt Arnold, a non-attorney who prosecuted the case before an administrative law judge last month, arguing that Beauprez had run a political committee masked as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit.

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“Schock wants campaign finance charges dropped”

The Hill:

Former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who has been indicted on two-dozen fraud-related charges, wants a federal court to dismiss five counts on the falsifying of campaign finance records.

His lawyers at McGuireWoods argue that the charges infringe on his constitutional rights, including rights to due process, by using an anti-obstruction law to prosecute him for the alleged falsification of campaign expenses.

As a candidate and member of Congress, Schock “caused less than two handfuls of false entries to be made among hundreds in the records of certain political committees and among the scores of the disclosure reports that those committees filed with the [Federal Election Commission] in the ordinary course of business,” his lawyers wrote in a court filing late last week.

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