I’ve been a bit surprised, and disappointed, around the actions, and the coverage, about the Electronic Registration Information Center (“ERIC”) in recent weeks, but I have (perhaps, typically?) some different thoughts about the direction and the challenges.Continue reading Some thoughts on L’affaire ERIC
“Trial of 2016 Twitter Troll to Test Limits of Online Speech”
The images appeared on Twitter in late 2016 just as the presidential campaign was entering its final stretch. Some featured the message “vote for Hillary” and the phrases “avoid the line” and “vote from home.”
Aimed at Democratic voters, and sometimes singling out Black people, the messages were actually intended to help Donald J. Trump, not Hillary Clinton. The goal, federal prosecutors said, was to suppress votes for Mrs. Clinton by persuading her supporters to falsely believe they could cast presidential ballots by text message.
The misinformation campaign was carried out by a group of conspirators, prosecutors said, including a man in his 20s who called himself Ricky Vaughn. On Monday he went on trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn under his real name, Douglass Mackey, after being charged with conspiring to spread misinformation designed to deprive others of their right to vote.
“The defendant, Douglass Mackey, tried to steal people’s right to vote,” a prosecutor, Turner Buford, told jurors Monday morning during his opening statement. “He did it by spreading a fraud.”
A few minutes later, a defense lawyer, Andrew J. Frisch, said that Mr. Mackey, “a staunch political conservative,” would testify in his own defense. Mr. Frisch added that his client had been trying only to attract attention to himself by posting memes, not carry out a clandestine conspiracy.
“Mr. Mackey did not share these memes as some sort of grand plan,” he said, adding that it was “not a crime to vigorously support your candidate of choice.”
Prosecutors have said that Mr. Mackey, who went to Middlebury College in Vermont and said he lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, used hashtags and memes as part of his deception and outlined his strategies publicly on Twitter and with co-conspirators in private Twitter group chats.
United States Solicitor General, State Respondents in Moore v. Harper Case Suggest Supreme Court Dismiss the Case as Improvidently Granted; Common Cause and Legislative Petitioners Want to Court to Keep Independent State Legislature Case Going [Updated]
So far, no brief yet from the state legislative respondents. Here are the other briefs:
|Mar 20 2023||Supplemental letter brief of United States submitted.|
|Mar 20 2023||Supplemental letter brief of Common Cause submitted.|
|Mar 20 2023||Supplemental Brief of State Respondents submitted.|
Update: Here is the supplemental letter brief of the petitioners.
“Trump’s Georgia Lawyers Seek to Quash Special Grand Jury Report”
Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump filed a motion in a Georgia court on Monday seeking to quash the final report of a special grand jury that investigated whether Mr. Trump and some of his allies interfered in the 2020 election results in Georgia. The motion also seeks to “preclude the use of any evidence derived” from the report, and asks that the office of Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, be recused from the case.
The move comes as Mr. Trump has started pushing back more broadly against several criminal investigations into his conduct. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump said in a social media post that he would be arrested on Tuesday as part of an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into a hush money payment he made to to a porn actress, and called on his supporters to protest.
In Georgia, Mr. Trump is seen as having two main areas of legal jeopardy: the calls he made in the weeks after the 2020 election to pressure state officials to overturn the results there, and his direct involvement in efforts to assemble an alternate slate of electors, even after three vote counts affirmed President Biden’s victory in the state. Experts have said that Ms. Willis appears to be building a case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud or charges related to racketeering.
Notice of the filing appeared in the official court docket on Monday morning, but the filing itself was not yet public. Mr. Findling acknowledged that he had filed it on Mr. Trump’s behalf, along with Ms. Little and another lawyer from Mr. Findling’s firm, Marissa Goldberg.
Last month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers in the Georgia case, Drew Findling and Jennifer Little, said that the forewoman of the special grand jury in Fulton County had “poisoned” the inquiry there by granting a number of media interviews in which she discussed details of the jury’s work. Last week, five other jurors discussed aspects of their work in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Fulton County special grand jury was sworn in last May and met behind closed doors for months, hearing testimony from 75 witnesses. It did not have the power to issue indictments; rather, it produced a report containing recommendations on whether and whom to indict. Portions of the report were released in January, but key sections remain under seal, including those detailing which people the jury believes should be indicted, and for what crimes.
New Jersey: “Election Watchdog Accuses Gov. Murphy of Trying to Force Him From Job”
New Jersey’s top election-enforcement official sued Gov. Philip D. Murphy and three of Mr. Murphy’s top aides on Thursday for what the official said was their attempt to oust him in retaliation for comments he made ridiculing the state’s rules governing political fund-raising.
The election official, Jeffrey M. Brindle, claims in his lawsuit that Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, and the governor’s chief of staff, George Helmy, targeted him in a “concerted and joint action and conspiracy to extort and coerce” him.
Mr. Brindle has led New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission, an independent agency responsible for monitoring state campaigns, as executive director for 14 years.
The suit comes as the Legislature, with support from Mr. Murphy’s office, is debating a sweeping bill that would fundamentally reshape New Jersey’s election laws. The legislation would increase the limits on certain campaign contributions; alter so-called pay-to-play rules meant to restrict the influence of money in government; and, by changing the statute of limitations for campaign violations, quash many of the commission’s pending investigations.
A proposed amendment to the bill would also give Mr. Murphy 90 days to appoint all new members to the election law commission — the only entity that is empowered to replace Mr. Brindle. (An earlier version of the bill, which was scuttled, would have given the governor the power to directly appoint the commission’s executive director, a change that the legislation’s opponents argued would gut the agency’s independence.)
The core argument in Mr. Brindle’s suit is tied to a meeting in November in the governor’s offices. Those at the meeting included Mr. Brindle, Mr. Helmy, Parimal Garg, Mr. Murphy’s top government lawyer, and Dominic Rota, the governor’s chief ethics officer.
Mr. Brindle was asked at the meeting about a message he had written in response to a subordinate’s email about National Coming Out Day, an annual gay-rights awareness celebration.
Mr. Brindle’s lawyer, Bruce Afran, said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Murphy’s aides claimed that Mr. Brindle’s emailed response showed “anti-gay bias,” and asked him to sign a resignation letter that had already been typed.
In the email, which was sent in October, Mr. Brindle asked the staff member if she was coming out, and he lamented that there were not individual days set aside to celebrate the birthdays of President Lincoln and President Washington, according to three people familiar with the email….
Mr. Brindle says in his suit that the criticism of the email was merely a ruse to fire him because he is an outspoken critic of super PAC funds that shield the names of contributors and are often referred to as “dark money” accounts.
“Abortion on the ballot? Not if these Republican lawmakers can help it”
Oklahoma’s leading anti-abortion group is pushing GOP lawmakers to loosen the state’s near-total ban.
In a recent letter to legislators, Oklahomans for Life Chair Tony Lauinger argued that if they don’t amend the state’s anti-abortion law to add exceptions for rape and incest, there is a real chance a citizen-led ballot initiative to make all abortion legal will eventually succeed.
His efforts, which other lawmakers and anti-abortion groups have slammed as immoral and politically naive, are the latest example of the national scramble to prevent voters from restoring abortion access by popular vote.
Legislatures in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma are debating bills this session that would hike the filing fees, raise the number of signatures required to get on the ballot, restrict who can collect signatures, mandate broader geographic distribution of signatures, and raise the vote threshold to pass an amendment from a majority to a supermajority. While the bills vary in wording, they would have the same impact: limiting voters’ power to override abortion restrictions that Republicans imposed, which took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.
After watching the pro-abortion rights side win all six ballot initiative fights related to abortion in 2022 — including in conservative states such as Kansas and Kentucky — conservatives fear, and are mobilizing to avoid, a repeat.
“It was a wake-up call that taught us we have a ton of work to do,” said Kelsey Pritchard, the state public affairs director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on ballot initiative fights on abortion over the next two years. “We’re going to be really engaged on these ballot measures that are often very radical and go far beyond what Roe ever did.”
In Mississippi, where a court order froze all ballot efforts in 2021, GOP lawmakers are advancing legislation that would restore the mechanism but prohibit voters from putting abortion-related measures on the ballot.