Category Archives: Courts

SCOTUS punts on two gerrymandering cases

The U.S. Supreme Court began the day with 19 argued cases yet to be decided. This included two of the most highly anticipated cases of this term involving political gerrymandering, Gil v. Whitford (Wisconsin) and Benisek v. Lamone (Maryland).

Today the U.S. Supreme Court disappointed everyone by punting on these two cases. It was an anticlimactic end to these gerrymandering cases, which are likely to return in the future with additional cases moving through the appellate courts pipeline.

In Gil v. Whitford (.pdf) Chief Justice Roberts held that “The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate Article III standing.”

The right to vote is “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 561, and “voters who allege facts showing disad- vantage to themselves as individuals have standing to sue” to remedy that disadvantage, Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs here al- leged that they suffered such injury from partisan gerrymandering, which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters. To the extent that the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes, that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative. The boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, deter- mine whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or cracked. A plaintiff who complains of gerrymandering, but who does not live in a gerrymandered district, “assert[s] only a generalized grievance against governmental conduct of which he or she does not approve.” United States v. Hays, 515 U. S. 737, 745.

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Trump flip-flops on immigration bill, using separated children as hostages for his border wall

Yesterday morning, “President Trump said he would not sign a carefully crafted GOP bill addressing the predicament of Dreamers, news that caught House Republicans by surprise and left the legislation on life support.” Trump crushes hopes for compromise DACA plan. “I’m looking at both of them,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” aka “Trump TV” in an interview Friday morning from the White House lawn. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”

By Friday evening, Trump had flip-flopped. White House says Trump backs GOP immigration bills, despite comments opposing them. One official says Trump misunderstood Fox News’ question.

The White House said Friday that President Trump supports House legislation that closely tracks his priorities on border security and limiting legal immigration, walking back comments he made on national television rejecting the GOP bill.

The reversal came after hours of confusion on Capitol Hill, where Trump’s words roiled an already fragile internal debate between conservative and moderate House Republicans who have been trying to find an immigration compromise after months of false starts.

The president fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said, referring to legislation drafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and a separate compromise measure.

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AZ’s Worst Legislator: Don Shooter Disgraces the LD 13 Senate Race

Expelled LD 13 State Representative Don Shooter, one of the worst examples of public servants in Arizona.

Over the last week, the GOP which regularly touts its commitment to inclusion and family values has nominated a self-admitted white nationalist and Confederate supporter to run for the Senate in Virginia and a brothel owner to run for a Congressional seat in Nevada.

With examples such as these, it should be no surprise that an individual expelled from the Arizona State House of Representatives for sexual harassment would think he would have an opportunity to elevate himself to the Arizona State Senate.

Like many reactionary and self-absorbed members of his party, Don Shooter is one of the worst examples of public servants in Arizona.

In some ways, Democrats should hope he gets the nomination. Shooter, along with “let’s take away your rights” Vince Leach,  “ISIS is going to invade us from Mexico” Mark Finchem and “There are not enough white kids” David Stringer are poster candidates for why the Democrats need to return to power. However, decency prevails and the residents of LD 13 should not reward bad behavior and allow Shooter to run for the State Senate.

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As Mayor, Kate Gallego will Make “Make Phoenix a City that Will Work for Everyone.”

Phoenix Council Member Kate Gallego.

Phoenix Council Member Kate Gallego.

With popular Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigning his office to run for Kyrsten Sinema’s Ninth Congressional House Seat, a special non-partisan election will be held this November to elect his successor who will preside over the fifth largest city in the country.

There are two Phoenix Council Member Democrats vying to succeed him. They are Kate Gallego (who represents Phoenix District Eight) and Daniel Valenzuela (who represents Phoenix District Five). The Blog For Arizona is profiling both candidates and interviewed both on their positions and their vision for moving Phoenix forward. This piece describes Councilmember Gallego’s goals and vision for the fifth largest city in the country.

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Message to Trump: Paul Manafort sent to jail for witness tampering

Permanent musical accompaniment: I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), by the Bobby Fuller Four (1966).

The Special Counsel and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sent President Trump a clear message today: tamper with witnesses, and you will be going to jail; you can share a cell with your former campaign manager. Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges:

A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. “The government motion will be granted, and the defendant will be detained.”

The judge said sending Manafort to a cell was “an extraordinarily difficult decision” but said his conduct — allegedly contacting witnesses in the case in an effort to get them to lie to investigators — left her little choice.

“This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone,” she said. “If I tell him not to call 56 witnesses, will he call the 57th?” She said she should not have to draft a court order spelling out the entire criminal code for him to avoid violations.

“This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct,” Jackson said. “I’m concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise.”

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GOP train wreck on immigration coming next week

The other day I told you that the House schedules vote on two DACA bills destined to fail:

So now we have the hardline Goodlatte-MsSally bill from the GOP House Freedom Caucus, which does not have the votes to pass Congress, and a so-called GOP moderate bill still being drafted that will fall far short of the Dream Act and the bipartisan measure that couples a path to citizenship for Dreamers with beefed-up border security.

House Republicans have released a first draft of their new “compromise” immigration bill, the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.”

The nearly 300-page bill is one of two that the entire House will vote on next week. It is considered a GOP “moderate” alternative to the GOP conservative bill proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Riiight.

The New York Times reports, House Immigration Bill, Pitched as Compromise, Tilts to a Harder Line:

The draft bill, circulating among lawmakers on Thursday afternoon and up for a vote next week, closely adheres to President Trump’s vision for an immigration overhaul. In addition to protecting the young immigrants, it provides billions of dollars for a wall on the southwest border while imposing new limits on legal immigration.

The bill would also toughen rules for asylum seekers. And it would address the separation of children from parents under the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal border crossings by mandating that families be kept together while in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, according to a summary of the measure.

In effect, the measure would offer Democrats and immigration moderates in the Republican Party a difficult choice: accept hard-line changes to much of the immigration system in exchange for protections for young undocumented immigrants and what appears to be a modification of the wrenching policy of splitting up families at the border.

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