Welcome to the Wednesday, December 8, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Local elections in 2022—a sneak peek
- The Department of Justice sues Texas over its congressional, state legislative maps
- Biden’s Article III judicial nominations
Looking ahead to 2022 local elections
Last week, we looked at 2022 statewide filing deadlines, so today we’re going to take a look at next year’s local elections. Local election dates and deadlines are often unavailable until a few months until the election. Hence, we’re in the process of completing our 2022 local election research, but here’s a sneak peek at a few dates on the horizon:
- Oklahoma: The deadline to run in school board elections will pass today, Dec. 8. Nonpartisan primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 8, and general elections will take place Apr. 5. The filing deadline to run in the mayoral election in Oklahoma City also passes on Dec. 8.
- Texas: The filing deadline to run in county elections in Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Bend, Harris, Travis, and Tarrant Counties passes on Dec. 13. The filing deadline to run in special city council elections in Houston and Austin passes on Dec. 16.
- North Carolina: The filing deadline to run for several school districts, the mayor and city council in Charlotte and Greensboro, and county offices in Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake Counties will pass on Dec. 17.
- Missouri: The deadline to fill to run in school board elections and city council elections in Jefferson City passes on Dec. 28.
In other election news this week, a panel of three judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals temporarily suspended the start of candidate filing for state legislative and U.S. House elections on Dec. 6. The order came in response to a lawsuit alleging that North Carolina’s newly drawn district maps violate the right to free and fair elections by being gerrymandered in favor of Republican candidates. The court later reversed the suspension, re-opened candidate filing, and ordered that the full 15-member court rehear the case. The decision did not affect candidate filing for local elections.
Justice Department sues over new district maps in Texas
In case you missed it, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas on Dec. 6, alleging the state’s newly enacted congressional and legislative maps violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. So far, we’ve tracked 34 redistricting-related lawsuits in 16 states. Seven of those lawsuits concern Texas’ redistricting process.
“The Legislature refused to recognize the state’s growing minority electorate,” the Department of Justice’s complaint states. “Although the Texas congressional delegation expanded from 36 to 38 seats, Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities.”
In a press conference, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section Two by creating redistricting plans that deny or bridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language-minority group.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said the lawsuit was the “Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters” and he was “confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”
The lawsuit is the first legal action the department has taken against a state in the 2020 redistricting cycle. We tracked lawsuits in 37 states related to redistricting following the 2010 census. So far, 22 states have adopted legislative district maps and 18 states have adopted congressional district maps.
Biden has nominated 62 judges to Article III judgeships
President Joe Biden has nominated 62 judges to Article III judgeships, as of Dec. 1, 2021—316 days in office. Here’s how his predecessors stacked up at this point in their presidencies:
- President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 60 individuals, 35 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
- President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 29 individuals, 27 of which were confirmed.
- President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 104 individuals, 51 of which were confirmed.
Through Dec. 1, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 78 vacancies. Seventy-four of those vacancies were for Article III judgeships. In the past month, no new judges have been confirmed and 11 new judges have been nominated.
The following data visualization tracks the number of Article III judicial nominations by president by days in office during the Biden, Trump, Obama, and W. Bush administrations (2001-present). This chart is limited to successful nominations, where the nominee was ultimately confirmed to their respective court:
The chart below counts all Article III nominations, including unsuccessful nominations (for example, the nomination was withdrawn or the U.S. Senate did not vote on the nomination), renominations of individuals to the same court, and recess appointments. A recess appointment is when the president appoints a federal official while the Senate is in recess.
Click below to learn more about federal judicial vacancies!