Welcome to the Wednesday, March 9, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting roundup—North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin
- One incumbent defeated in Texas’ state legislative primaries
- Article III federal judicial nominations update
Redistricting roundup—North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin
Congressional redistricting has been completed for 369 of the 435 (84.4%) U.S. House districts. State legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,655 of 1,972 state Senate seats (83.9%) and 3,884 of 5,411 state House seats (71.8%).
Let’s check in on the latest redistricting news out of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin.
U.S. Supreme Court
On March 7, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down requests to decide congressional redistricting cases in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, leaving state court-imposed congressional maps in place in both states.
In North Carolina, the Court declined to block the Wake County Superior Court’s Feb. 23 ruling that rejected the Legislature’s congressional map in favor of court-imposed congressional district boundaries. Earlier, the North Carolina Supreme Court had ruled 4-3 on Feb. 4 that the Legislature’s original congressional map—passed on Nov. 4, 2021—was unconstitutional. The state supreme court gave the Legislature until Feb. 18 to draw a new map.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in the case was unsigned, meaning the Court did not reveal the decision’s author. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion that agreed with the decision not to intervene and also stated that, given the petitioners’ concerns, the court should hear oral arguments and decide the case next term. Justice Samuel Alito issued a dissenting opinion to the Court’s order, which Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined.
In a separate ruling, the Court also upheld the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Feb. 23 ruling that selected the state’s congressional boundaries. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took over Pennsylvania’s redistricting process after Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed the Legislature’s map on Jan. 15.
The state supreme court approved the Legislature’s new state district boundaries on March 3. The state Senate approved the maps 34-3 on Jan. 20. The state House approved them 77-39.
State legislative boundaries in Florida are passed via a joint resolution, are not subject to gubernatorial veto, and are automatically submitted to the Florida Supreme Court for approval.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court approved Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) new congressional and legislative district boundaries on March 3. Previously, in November 2021, Evers vetoed legislatively-approved maps that had passed both chambers along party lines. The state supreme court took over the process because of a September 2021 ruling in which it agreed to decide new districts if the legislature and governor failed to do so. On Nov. 30, the court announced it would seek to make as few changes as possible to the current legislative and congressional maps adopted in 2011, and invited Evers, lawmakers, and others to submit new map proposals.
The court accepted Evers’ proposal 4-3 because, according to Justice Brian Hagedorn, who wrote for the majority, “The Governor’s proposed senate and assembly maps produce less overall change than other submissions.”
On Nov. 30, the court announced it would make as few changes as possible to the legislative and congressional maps that were adopted in 2011.
One incumbent defeated in Texas’ state legislative primaries
Texas held the first statewide primary of the 2022 election cycle for federal and state offices on March 1. Heading into the primaries, it was guaranteed that at least one of the 151 state legislative incumbents seeking re-election would lose.
That incumbent turned out to be Rep. Art Fierro (D), who represents District 79. Fierro lost to Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez (D), who represents District 76. As a result of redistricting, Perez was drawn into House District 79, setting up an incumbent vs. incumbent primary. Ordaz defeated Fierro 65% to 35%.
As of March 4, Fierro is the only state legislative incumbent who lost in Texas’ primaries. If no other incumbents lose re-election when additional races are called, the number of incumbents defeated in primaries or primary runoffs in Texas would reach a decade-low for the legislature.
There are several outstanding races featuring incumbents, all of which involve House Republicans.
Two races are uncalled—Districts 64 and 91. In the three races, the incumbents advanced to runoff elections on May 24. Those runoffs will be held in:
- House District 12: Rep. Kyle Kacal v. Ben Bius;
- House District 60: Rep. Glenn Rogers v. Mike Olcott; and,
- House District 85: Rep. Phil Stephenson v. Stan Kitzman.
In the Senate, three incumbents faced primary challengers, and all three won. No incumbent senator in Texas has lost a primary or primary runoff since 2014.
Article III federal judicial nominations update
Let’s catch up on the state of judicial vacancies. Through March 1, there were 80 vacancies for the 890 authorized federal judicial posts. Seventy-eight of those vacancies were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.
- In the past month, one judge has been confirmed.
- In the past month, two judges have been nominated (this includes nomination announcements in addition to nominations officially received in the Senate).
By March 1, 406 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) has nominated 83 judges to Article III judgeships. Let’s look at how that compares to a few previous presidents. The figures below include unsuccessful nominations.
By March 1…
- President Donald Trump (R) made 104 nominations, 76 of whom were ultimately confirmed.
- President Barack Obama (D) made 52 nominations, 47 of whom were ultimately confirmed.
- President George W. Bush (R) made 132 nominations, 77 of whom were ultimately confirmed.
The following charts show the number of Article III judicial nominations by president by days in office during the Biden, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush administrations (2001-present).
The first tracker 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.
The second tracker is limited to successful nominations, where the nominee was ultimately confirmed to their respective court:
For more information on federal judicial vacancies, click the link below.