Citing First Amendment, Michigan Supreme Court narrows construction of voter intimidation statute after 2020 robocall prosecution

People v. Burkman and People v. Wohl, decided yesterday by the Michigan Supreme Court, a 5-2 decision. The majority narrowed construction of the statute and remanded for further consideration. The dissenting opinions, which concurred in part, would have held that the conduct fell outside the scope of the statute. The core of the holding is that the criminal statute still extends to “proscribe that speech only if it is intentionally false speech that is related to voting requirements or procedures and is made in an attempt to deter or influence an elector’s vote.” On remand, the court will decide whether the facts of the case fit that here. From the opinion (lightly revised):

Continue reading Citing First Amendment, Michigan Supreme Court narrows construction of voter intimidation statute after 2020 robocall prosecution
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“Georgia requires police training on election intimidation and interference”

The AJC says that this makes Georgia the first state in the country to train police in protections against election threats as part of the basic statewide training.

Police response to alleged incidents of interference has to be reeeeeeeeeeeeally carefully calibrated, and grounded in the affected community, to be effective.  (To wit: some pushback on recent guidance in Indiana.)

But if done right, training can help de-escalate situations with the potential to get a lot worse.

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“Harlan Crow Provided Clarence Thomas at Least 3 Previously Undisclosed Private Jet Trips, Senate Probe Finds”

These flights were revealed by the Senate Judiciary Committee based on disclosure by Crow, not Justice Thomas.

Justice Thomas has maintained (including in response to the latest) that he was told that these flights fall under an exception in the disclosure laws for transportation related to personal hospitality.  And while that may well be true, that advice would not have followed the text of the relevant statute, which exempts “food, lodging, or entertainment received as personal hospitality.”

Consider, for example, how the author of today’s SCOTUS majority opinion in the Garland v. Cargill bumpstock case might address the argument that “food, lodging, or entertainment” includes “transportation.”

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“Top Wisconsin lawmaker has new plan to find non-citizens on voter rolls”

Sigh.  The new plan is an old plan: compare DMV information to the rolls, but without any apparent plan to ensure the rigor of the matching protocol or to assess whether people who were noncitizens when they got their license have since become naturalized. 

If implemented without the right safeguards, bet on the effort capturing eligible citizens.

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