“Republicans again target Democrat Lucy McBath in Georgia congressional map that keeps 9-5 GOP edge”


Georgia Republicans on Friday proposed to redraw the state’s congressional districts to create a new court-ordered Black majority district, maintaining the current 9-5 Republican congressional majority and again targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s district for wholesale transformation.

It’s unlikely any of the proposed districts would produce competitive races between Republicans and Democrats. That’s also true of Georgia’s current map.

If it passes, the map could set up a court fight over whether the federal Voting Rights Act protects McBath’s current district from being wiped out. She currently represents Atlanta suburbs including southern Gwinnett County and northern Fulton County. No ethnic group has a majority in the district, but Black, Asian and Hispanic voters collectively favor Democrats….

Republicans said in debate Friday that their plans comply with Jones’ order. Democrats though, predict Jones will find the Republican plans are still illegal and draw his own maps.

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“Biden campaign prepares legal fight against election deepfakes”


President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign has assembled a special task force to ready its responses to misleading AI-generated images and videos, drafting court filings and preparing novel legal theories it could deploy to counter potential disinformation efforts that technology experts have warned could disrupt the vote.

The task force, which is composed of the campaign’s top lawyers and outside experts such as a former senior legal advisor to the Department of Homeland Security, is exploring what steps Biden could take if, for example, a fake video emerged of a state election official falsely claiming that polls are closed, or if an AI-generated image falsely portrayed Biden as urging non-citizens to cross the US border to cast ballots illegally.

The effort aims to produce a “legal toolkit” that can allow the campaign to quickly respond to virtually any scenario involving political misinformation and particularly AI-created deepfakes — convincing audio, video or images made using artificial intelligence tools.

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“Federal Judge Rejects Trump’s Immunity Claims in Election Case”


A federal judge on Friday rejected claims by former President Donald J. Trump that he enjoyed absolute immunity from criminal charges accusing him of seeking to reverse the 2020 election, slapping down his argument that the indictment should be tossed out because it was based on actions he took while he was in office.

The ruling by the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, was her first denying one of Mr. Trump’s many motions to dismiss the election interference case, which is set to go to trial in Federal District Court in Washington in about three months. It offered a sweeping condemnation of what Judge Chutkan called Mr. Trump’s attempts to “usurp the reins of government” and cited foundational American texts like the Federalist Papers and George Washington’s farewell address.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had expected the immunity motion to fail. They have, in fact, been planning for weeks to use the defeat to begin a long-shot strategy to put off the impending trial. They intend to appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if they can, hoping that even if they lose, their challenges will eat up time and keep the case from going in front of a jury until after the 2024 election.

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“Florida Democratic Party says Biden is the only candidate, angering rivals”

From the Washington Post, this can be viewed as a story about how parties seek to recapture control of the nominations process in an age of primaries:

With presidential primaries looming, there is only one name on the official list of Democratic presidential candidates in Florida — President Biden — a move that angered the incumbent’s long-shot challengers, who say they’re being unfairly left out.

The decision is the latest setback for Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and Marianne Williamson, both of whom trail Biden in public polling and fundraising.

Under Florida rules, the state’s party votes on who will appear on primary ballots. Florida’s Democratic Party said in a statement Friday that the executive committee voted unanimously late last month to name Biden, and only Biden, to its list of candidates.

If a presidential primary has a single candidate, state election law says that the uncontested race will not appear on the state’s primary ballot.

“Americans would expect the absence of democracy in Tehran, not Tallahassee,” Phillips said in a statement. “Our mission as Democrats is to defeat authoritarians, not become them.”

Williamson said in a statement that the move in Florida is meant to help Biden win the nomination “without any opposition.” Both candidates’ statements said their campaigns are considering legal options to gain access to Florida’s ballot.

In its statement, the Florida Democratic Party said the party’s actions were part of a “standard process,” and that “it is not uncommon for an incumbent President to be declared the automatic winner of a presidential primary.” The last time it happened was in 2012, when President Barack Obama ran for reelection, according to the statement.

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“Florida court upholds DeSantis’ congressional redistricting map”

From The Tributary. Note that a separate lawsuit challenging this same part of the congressional map is pending in federal court, where the trial has been completed.

A Florida appeals court upheld Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional redistricting map, finding a lower state court should have dismissed a lawsuit challenging North Florida’s districts.

Even though DeSantis’ lawyers admitted his map violated the state constitution by diminishing Black voting power, the 1st District Court of Appeal said state voting protections shouldn’t apply to a Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee congressional district ordered by the Florida Supreme Court last decade.

In 2021, DeSantis vetoed an earlier attempt by the Florida Legislature to comply with anti-gerrymandering protections in the state constitution, arguing one of those protections, the “non-diminishment” clause, violated the U.S. Constitution by protecting Black voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice.

Instead, he replaced the map with one of his own, which created whiter, more Republican districts in North Florida.

Friday’s decision was eight-to-two in favor of upholding DeSantis’ contested districts and striking down the lower court decision. Three judges recused. The plaintiffs will likely appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

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“How Did We Get Here: Primaries, Polarization, and Party Control”

Important essay that summarizes a lot of the literature on primary elections and suggests the need for greater party control. From Protect Democracy:

Parties are increasingly nominating candidates with little experience in politics, undermining the functionality of government and prioritizing posturing over legislating. This trend has been sharper among Republicans, but both parties have found the experience necessary for governing and coalition-building to be in shorter supply in recent years. One-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) claim that “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation” could apply to quite a few members of his class. . . .

t also suggests a real weakness for American democracy. As Levitsky and Ziblatt describe, parties play a vital role in limiting the access of would-be authoritarians to power. Indeed, early 20th century figures like Charles Lindbergh, Huey Long, and Henry Ford considered seeking national office but were essentially rebuffed by party leaders who were concerned about their dictatorial potential. In an age of primaries, however, parties are far more likely to nominate such leaders….

It is possible, as Kamarck suggests, for parties to assert a level of “peer review” to the nomination process, requiring party officials to approve of candidates before those candidates can run. Parties could raise thresholds for participation in debates or even for voting in primaries. Somewhat surprisingly, state parties often raise or lower primary voting participation thresholds without producing massive legitimacy crises; perhaps they could do more in this direction.

As 2022 drew to a close, the Republican National Committee announced an internal review commission to examine a disappointing midterm election and proposed new paths forward for the party.Meanwhile, the Democratic National Commission prepared to overhaul its approach to presidential nominations, dethroning the first-in-the- nation Iowa caucuses in favor of the South Carolina primary. Both major American parties, that is, have signaled that they are open to changes to the status quo in order to preserve their long term viability and protect American democracy. This is an encouraging sign, and suggests that some of these reforms may indeed be considered.

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