Our weekly summary of federal news looks at the resignation of U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers and the latest on the nomination of Eric Lander as OSTP director. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.
Congress is in session
Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.
SCOTUS is out of session
The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.
Where was the president last week?
On Monday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
On Wednesday, Biden delivered the keynote address at the United States Coast Guard Academy’s Commencement Exercises in New London, Connecticut.
On Thursday and Friday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
- 81 federal judicial vacancies
- 16 pending nominations
- 30 future federal judicial vacancies
SCOTUS issues rulings in four cases
Edwards v. Vannoy concerned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ramos v. Louisiana (2020). In Ramos, the court held that the 6th Amendment’s right to a unanimous jury verdict to support a conviction applies in both federal and state courts. In Edwards, SCOTUS upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit’s ruling in a 6-3 opinion, holding that the jury-unanimity rule does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined.
BP P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore concerned a court of appeals’ authority to review issues in removal orders. In a 7-1 opinion, the court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the 4th Circuit erred when it concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the grounds for removal under §1447(d). Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself from the case and took no part in its consideration or decision.
CIC Services v. Internal Revenue Service was a case involving when courts may accept lawsuits challenging the validity of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. The court ruled unanimously to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s ruling and remand the case for further proceedings. The court held that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), a federal law barring lawsuits to prevent tax assessment or collection, does not apply to lawsuits challenging certain IRS regulations. Justice Elena Kagan authored the court’s majority opinion. Justices Sotomayor and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions.
Caniglia v. Strom concerned the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement and the court’s ruling in Cady v. Dombrowski (1972). In Cady, the court ruled that community caretaking functions do not include searches of private homes. The exception permits police to perform community caretaking functions on private premises. In a unanimous opinion, the court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that neither the ruling nor logic of Cady justified the removal of the petitioner’s firearms from his home by police officers under a community caretaking exception. Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion of the court. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Breyer joined. Justices Alito and Kavanaugh also filed concurring opinions.
Senate Commerce Committee advances Lander nomination for OSTP director
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation favorably reported by voice vote the nomination of Eric Lander for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on May 20. Lander advances to the Senate for a confirmation vote.
President Joe Biden (D) elevated the office of the OSTP director to his Cabinet, marking the first time this position was made Cabinet-level.
Lander is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician who served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. He is the final announced Biden Cabinet nominee awaiting confirmation.
One other Cabinet position—director of the Office of Management and Budget—also remains unfilled. Neera Tanden, Biden’s original nominee for the position, withdrew from consideration on March 2. Biden has not yet named a replacement nominee.
Ohio’s U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers resigns
U.S. Representative Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) resigned from the House of Representatives on May 16. Stivers, who had represented Ohio’s 15th Congressional District since 2011, announced on April 19 that he would be leaving Congress to become President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Before he was elected to the U.S. House, Stivers served in the Ohio State Senate from 2003 to 2009.
As of May 20, the partisan breakdown of the U.S. House is 219 Democrats and 211 Republicans, with five vacancies. Ohio’s 15th District was rated Safe Republican during the 2020 general election.
Politico reports that Demings will challenge Rubio for U.S. Senate in 2022
Politico reported on May 18 that U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) would challenge U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2022. Demings was first elected to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District in 2016. Rubio was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Rubio won re-election in 2016 with 52% of the vote.
If Demings makes her run official, she would be the fourth U.S. House member to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate instead of for re-election in 2022. The other three are Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Ted Budd (R-N.C.).
So far, 16 members of Congress—five members of the U.S. Senate (all Republicans) and eleven members of the U.S. House (five Democrats and six Republicans)—have announced they will not seek re-election. In 2020, four U.S. senators (one Democrat and three Republicans) and 36 U.S. representatives (nine Democrats, 26 Republicans, and one Libertarian) did not run for re-election.