Posts tagged with "SCOTUS"

Trump to Pence: Nice career, shame if something happened to it

January 6, 2021

At his rally on the eve of the Georgia runoff election, President Donald Trump took out his frustration on his now familiar comfort piñatas—Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the U.S. Supreme Court, and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) of all stripes—as he struggled to cope with his loss in the 2020 election, The Daily Beast reports.

But on the stage on Monday night in Dalton, Georgia, he added a new one: Vice President Mike Pence.

 “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” said Trump, in front of a cheering throng of supporters. “If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

The ostensible purpose of Trump’s trip to Georgia was to boost the chances of Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) as they fight to hold their Senate seats—and the GOP’s Senate majority—in Tuesday’s run-off election; and not to issue a veiled threat to the vice president to somehow block the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Wednesday in the Senate.

But it was just one moment out of many during a lengthy speech in which the outgoing president delivered his perfunctory lines supporting the GOP senators, but buried them within winding tirades in which he surfaced new lies and old conspiracies about the 2020 election. The focus, as ever, was on him and the election that just passed, not on the pair of GOP senators facing a hugely consequential election that looms on Tuesday, The Daily Beast noted.

The president used his perch in Dalton—possibly his last major political rally before leaving office—to solidify his list of enemies in front of his most dedicated supporters. After openly encouraging a primary challenge to Kemp, his former ally who has declined to overthrow Georgia’s election results, at a rally last month, Trump vowed on Monday to personally campaign against Kemp when he faces re-election next year.

“I’ll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor,” said Trump. “I guarantee that.”

The nation’s high court was also booed and jeered at the rally, for not entertaining Team Trump’s failed legal effort to overturn the 2020 election. “I’m not happy with the Supreme Court,” complained Trump. “They’re not stepping up to the plate.”

The president also hinted at some future targets of his ire—some of whom were sitting in the crowd. On two occasions, Trump expressed his frustration that Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has been campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia and was in Dalton, did not sign on to a doomed effort from GOP senators to block Biden’s Electoral College victory. On Monday, Lee circulated a letter among senators opposing that effort.

“I’m a little angry at you today,” Trump to Lee from the stage.

Pence is said to be struggling between his loyalties to the U.S. Constitution and to the current U.S. president. Sources say that the vice president plans to leave town immediately after he leaves the hill on Wednesday.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Supreme Court declines to take up Pennsylvania absentee ballot case

November 17, 2020

Even with “friends” on the high court such as Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Neil M. Gorsuch, President Donald Trump learned on November 16 that he would not be able to block all absentee ballots that arrived in Pennsylvania after Election Day.

Indeed, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case challenging Pennsylvania’s absentee ballot receipt deadline, a few days after Republican efforts were dealt a blow in a lower court regarding late-arriving ballots, US News &World Report says.

Republicans had asked the high court to block all absentee ballots that arrived after Election Day. The justices previously upheld a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling for ballots to count that arrived up to three days after the election as long as they were postmarked by November 3.

Trump’s campaign and Republicans have waged scores of legal battles in Pennsylvania and around the country, although many of those cases have so far been unsuccessful in lower courts. Last Friday, November 13, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a GOP effort to block more than 9,000 late-arriving absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. The panel of three judges pointed out the “unprecedented challenges” facing the U.S. due to the coronavirus.

Most of the litigation from Trump’s team contests small batches of ballots that won’t be able to erase Biden’s lead in key battleground states where he’s ahead by thousands of votes. Biden currently has about 68,000 more votes than Trump in Pennsylvania, according to US News.

Since a winner was projected more than a week ago, Trump has refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, who flipped five states to win the White House and unseat an incumbent president.

Conservative justices had left the door open to revisiting Pennsylvania’s case post-election. Last week, Justice Samuel Alito had ordered the state to segregate the absentee ballots arriving after Election Day in the event that the late-arriving ballots are reviewed later by the high court. Prior to Election Day, Pennsylvania instructed elections officials to separate the ballots with the possibility of a court challenge.

If the high court were to eventually decide to take up the case and rule against ballots arriving after Election Day, the number of invalidated ballots would still be too small to overturn the state’s results. The president-elect also leads with 306 electoral votes compared to Trump’s 232.

Research contact: @usnews

Trump orders advisers to ‘go down fighting’

November 6, 2020

As Election Day turns into election week, Donald Trump has delivered a simple message to his closest political and legal advisers as they began charting a plan to challenge results in several key states: Give them a court fight that “they’ll never forget.”

The president’s remarks, relayed by two people familiar with them, came as election results seemed trending Joe Biden’s way. And for Team Trump, it was meant as a clarion call to use every possible legal resource and bit of political organizing to help re-tip the balance of the scale, The Daily Beast reported.

Trump told his advisers that, even if Biden were to claw the presidency away from him, he wanted them to “go down fighting” harder than they ever had before, one of the sources with direct knowledge said.

Goaded by White House messaging, his base responded:

The Michigan Republican Party did not return a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Trump’s legal team—including George W. Bush campaign veteran Mark “Thor” Hearne—asked a court in Michigan to halt absentee ballot counts because it alleged its observers had not been granted full access to the tally, and were not permitted to watch video footage of “remote and unattended dropboxes.”

It brought a similar suit in Pennsylvania, fighting to stop the tabulation on the grounds that its overseers had not been allowed within 25 feet of the counting effort.

Further, Trump’s lawyers filed to enter an ongoing Supreme Court case, hoping to convince jurists on the highest bench to overturn a state policy that would allow counties to count votes postmarked on Election Day and received as late as Friday. Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney and confidant of Trump’s, is overseeing the Supreme Court effort.

“Lawyer city,” Joe Grogan, formerly a top domestic policy adviser to President Trump, said, describing the situation on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be really ugly.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett’s Notre Dame colleagues call for halt to nomination

October 15, 2020

In a powerful showing of unity, 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame, where Amy Coney Barrett is a law school professor, said she should call for a halt to her Supreme Court nomination until after the November 3 presidential election, The Huffington Post reports. 

In a letter dated October10—but posted online on Tuesday, October 13—Barrett’s colleagues congratulated her on her nomination, adding: “It is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.”

The signatories hailed from the university’s political science, sociology, history and other departments—with none from the law school.

“We ask that you take this unprecedented step for three reasons.” Barrett’s professional colleagues said:

First, voting for the next president is already underway. According to the United States Election Project (https://electproject.github.io/Early-Vote-2020G/index.html), more than seven million people have already cast their ballots, and millions more are likely to vote before election day. The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. You are not, of course, responsible for the anti-democratic machinations driving your nomination. Nor are you complicit in the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election. However, you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice. Following the election, your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate.

Next, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the court remain open until a new president was installed. At your nomination ceremony at the White House, you praised Justice Ginsburg as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.

Finally, your nomination comes at a treacherous moment in the United States. Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories. Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds, undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress. You have the opportunity to offer an alternative to all that by demanding that your nomination be suspended until after the election. We implore you to take that step.

Senate hearings for Barrett’s confirmation began Monday and continued into Tuesday, with the nominee dodging Democrats’ questions on health care, marriage equality and abortion rights, the HuffPost reports.

Senate Republicans appear to have the necessary majority to confirm Barrett to the nation’s most powerful court. If she’s confirmed, it would cement conservatives’ hold on the court likely for years to come, with major rulings expected soon on health care, abortion, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump refuses to commit to peaceful power transfer on January 20

September 25, 2020

It’s the scenario that comedian Bill Maher has predicted—and feared-for four years: On September 23, .President Donald Trump said that he wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power if a tally of ballots shows Democrat Joe Biden has won the November election.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question at a White House news conference on Wednesday evening. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the [mail-in] ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Trump has been criticizing the legitimacy of mail-in voting, which is being offered in a number of states as officials seek to limit the spread of the coronavirus at packed polling places.

As Bloomberg reported this week, the president has repeatedly claimed without evidence that mail-in voting is more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting on Election Day. Lawyers representing Trump’s campaign are challenging mail-in voting rules in several states.

What’s more, the president is threatening to simply stay put in the Oval Office, with no transfer of power in the works: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a transfer—a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” Trump said on Wednesday. “There’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control, you know it. You know who knows that better than anybody else? The Democrats know that better than anybody else.”

Trump is trailing Biden in national polls and in key states.

“What country are we in?” Biden said when asked about Trump’s remarks as he returned to Delaware from campaigning in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’m being facetious. What country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say about that.”

A few Republicans spoke out to condemn Trump’s remarks.

According to the Bloomberg report, on Thursday morning, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted: “The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic. America’s leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted Thursday that “at noon on January 20, 2021 we will peacefully swear in the President.”

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was the first member of Trump’s party to speak out on Wednesday. “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable,” he said on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Romney, who has often been critical of Trump and was the lone Republican to vote to convict him in this year’s Senate impeachment trial, said he supported proceeding with the president’s plan to quickly replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Supreme Court tosses Nevada church’s challenge to COVID-19 orders

July 28, 2020

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Friday, July 24,  to reject a Nevada church’s plea to overturn state public-health orders limiting attendance at services—marking the second time Chief Justice John Roberts has joined the liberal justices to uphold emergency measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, located east of Reno in Lyon County, Nevada, argued that public-health orders issued by Governor Steve Sisolak (D) allowed casinos and other secular businesses greater leeway than houses of worship—which were capped at 50 people for indoor services, The New York Times reported.

Calvary Chapel sought to conduct services for up to 90 congregants, but pledged to implement various social-distancing rules and other measures to contain COVID-19’s spread.

Governor Sisolak said his order placed fewer restrictions on houses of worship than on movie theaters, museums and zoos. While casinos could admit up to 50% of their capacity, the governor argued that pervasive state regulation of the gambling industry, including on-premises enforcement officers, disqualified them for comparison to unregulated churches.

Lower courts declined to suspend the public-health orders during the church’s lawsuit, prompting the high court appeal, the Times said.

The Supreme Court denied the appeal without comment. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan comprised the majority.

Four of the more conservative justices dissented, as they did in May when the same majority declined to block similar California orders capping attendance at religious services.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or black-jack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the principal dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

Justice Alito said that at the outbreak of the pandemic, officials should have broad discretion over emergency measures, adding that several months into the health crisis, greater court oversight was called for.

He said it was “hard to swallow” the state’s claim that casino regulators would keep a firm grip on contagion within well-attended gambling palaces while public health required holding the church to a lower limit.

Justice Kavanaugh filed a separate opinion laying out his own views of the case.

Although the majority didn’t elaborate on Friday’s order, in May, Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion explaining why he voted to uphold Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom’s order capping attendance at indoor church services.

“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” the chief justice wrote then, adding that the Constitution principally assigns such judgments “to the politically accountable officials of the States.”

Research contact:  @nytimes

Trump attacks Lindsey Graham after SCOTUS rulings

July 13, 2020

President Donald Trump took a swing—and not the type he uses on the golf course—at his good buddy Senator Lindsey Graham  (R-South Carolina) on Thursday , July 9, in the aftermath of two Supreme Court decisions involving his closely held financial record,—lamenting that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman was not doing enough to target the president’s political foes.

In other words, Graham—who is facing a tough re-election battle at home—was not demonstrating the loyalty that the president demands.

Trump’s tweets came after a 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court upheld a Manhattan grand jury subpoena seeking his tax returns and other financial documents as part of a criminal investigation into the practices of the Trump Organization. Politico reported.

In response, Trump complained that former President Barack Obama was not receiving enough scrutiny over his administration’s decision to open up a counterintelligence investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016.

Just after the news broke, at 11:35 a.m. (EDT)  Trump tweeted: “We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.”

He specifically called out Graham’s committee, writing: “No Republican Senate Judiciary response.”

According to Politico, in his fury, the president disregarded the deeds Graham already has done for him –among them,  running a wide-ranging investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and using broad subpoena power to compel testimony from several former senior Obama administration officials.

Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s jab.

Earlier this year, Trump pushed Graham to issue a subpoena to Obama himself, demanding that he be put under oath. But Graham has swiftly rejected those calls, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent. Trump has continued to push for such an action.

While Thursday’s Supreme Court rulings handed Trump a loss in the Manhattan case, the justices punted on a separate case involving congressional subpoenas for similar financial records, all but ensuring that the documents will not reach Congress or the public until after Election Day.

Research contact: @politico

SCOTUS rejects Trump bid to block New York subpoena seeking his financial and tax records

July 10, 2020

In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court on July 9 rejected President Donald Trump’s bid to block the Manhattan District Attorney from enforcing a subpoena seeking years of his financial and tax records from his accountants—and potentially opening the president up to widespread scrutiny.

The case was one of two before the high court—brought separately by New York County and the U.S. Congress—in which the president challenged subpoenas that weren’t sent to him, but instead to his accountants and bankers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump has been highly protective of his financial records. He is the only major-party presidential candidate in recent elections not to release his tax returns to the public.

Overall, the justices said that the New York prosecutor was entitled to access the president’s personal financial information—but dropkicked the decision on whether several committees of Congress should receive the records to a lower court.

Among the subpoenas under scrutiny:

Deutsche Bank since 1998 has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, the Journal noted.

The Intelligence Committee said it needed the information as part of its probe of foreign influence in the U.S. political process, including whether foreigners have financial leverage over the Trump family and its enterprises. The Financial Services Committee is investigating bank-lending practices, including to Mr. Trump and his businesses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) immediately commended the ruling in the consolidated cases of Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Deutsche Bank., saying, “A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the president’s financial records is not good news for President Trump.The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’s authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress.”

In turn, the Journal said, Trump argued that House committees infringed on his prerogatives as chief executive, and that the U.S. Constitution prohibits state prosecutors from subpoenaing records of a sitting president.

However, SCOTUS already had gone on-record about such prerogatives: In 1974, the Supreme Court required President Nixon to obey a subpoena for tapes and other records related to the Watergate investigation. In 1997, the court likewise ordered President Clinton to comply with a private lawsuit brought against him over sexual harassment allegations.

House investigators and state prosecutors argued that the burdens on Trump were minor compared to those cases, as the subpoenas were directed to third parties and the president need do nothing in response.

Lower courts upheld the subpoenas for the Trump records, but they have been blocked during the Supreme Court appeal.

Research contact: @WSJ

Living the dream: Supreme Court blocks Trump repeal of DACA immigration program

June 19, 2020

In a 5-4 ruling that affects more than 600,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, the Supreme Court ruled on June 18 that the Trump Administration did not provide sufficient reasons for canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA); which was first announced by former President Barack Obama in June 2012.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the SCOTUS rejected the White House’s decision to cancel the program, which has provided legal protections and work authorizations to undocumented immigrants, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The dispute before the Court is not whether [the Department of Homeland Security] may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, joined in full or part by liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

He added that the decision didn’t address “whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” which wasn’t the court’s concern. But the government failed its duty under the Administrative Procedure Act to “provide a reasoned explanation for its action,” including “what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.”

Indeed, the Journal opines, “The ruling hands President Trump one of the biggest legal defeats of his presidency, and in the middle of an election year in which immigration is again a top political topic. The decision effectively provides relief to more than 600,000 DACA recipients, often referred to as Dreamers, who have been in limbo since Mr. Trump in 2017 decided to wind down the program.”

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Justice Thomas wrote. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a separate dissent, the Journal noted.

The court’s ruling doesn’t mean the White House can never cancel DACA, but it will have to come up with new supporting reasons if it tries again to end the program.

The president and his advisers maintained that DACA wasn’t lawful because Congress hadn’t authorized any such policy. The White House and Congress have been unable to reach agreement on how to tackle the issue, or immigration policy more broadly.

According to the Journal, the cancellation of the program was scheduled to begin in March 2018, but lower courts issued rulings that blocked the administration from ending DACA. Judges previously found that the administration offered little explanation or support for its decision, in violation of a federal administrative law that requires government agencies to explain their decision-making to the public and offer sound reasons for adopting a new policy.

Research contact: @WSJ

Opposition to Kavanaugh escalates among voters, especially women

September 24, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh is facing mounting backlash to his Supreme Court nomination, especially among women—turning his hearings and confirmation vote into the most polarized judicial battle in more than a decade, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on September 20 has found.

Kavanaugh—who is embroiled in a controversy over sexual-assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford—is also the first court nominee in Journal/NBC polling dating to 2005 to draw more opposition than support among voters.

According to a report by the Journal late last week, the poll found that 38% of registered voters oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, up from 29% in a Journal/NBC poll last month. Some 34% said they support his nomination, which is about the same as in last month’s poll. More than one-quarter of voters say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

The poll was taken Sept. 16-19, after Blasey-Ford ‘s letter, accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, was released to the FBI by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been debating the terms of a hearing that would draw testimony from the nominee and his accuser.

Kavanaugh’s weak support among women could have political ramifications in an election year in which suburban women are considered an important, swing voting group, the Journal reported. While men split 41% to 33% in favor of the Kavanaugh nomination, support among women was far lower, with 28% favoring the nomination and 42% in opposition.

College-educated women are particularly sour on. Kavanaugh: 49% of them oppose his nomination, while 28% support it.

Analyzed by party, the difference of opinion is wider than for any other nominee since 2005, with 66% of Democrats opposing the Kavanaugh nomination and 73% of Republicans supporting it.

Research contact: @hookjan