Early voting begins in NC-09 special election

A special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will be held on September 10, 2019, and early voting began Wednesday. Voters will be able to cast early ballots until September 6.
The state board of elections called a new election following allegations of absentee ballot fraud in the 2018 race. Dan Bishop (R), Dan McCready (D), Jeff Scott (L), and Allen Smith (G) are running for the U.S. House seat. Unofficial returns from the 2018 election showed Mark Harris (R) leading McCready, who was also the Democratic candidate in 2018, by 905 votes.
Bishop describes himself as a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-wall conservative. He says McCready would fall in line with Democrats in Congress such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Bishop calls radical socialists. McCready says he’d seek bipartisan legislation on healthcare, education, and taxes in the House. He emphasizes his plan to lower prescription drug prices while criticizing Bishop’s voting record on the issue.
The race has seen satellite spending from a number of groups, including the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The NRCC has released three ads opposing McCready; the group had reserved $2.6 million in airtime as of July 31. The DCCC spent $626,000 on an ad opposing Bishop that began airing August 16. The group also announced spending more than $2 million on nonadvertising efforts, such as increasing voter turnout among African Americans and members of the Lumbee tribe in the district.
Other groups spending and advertising in the district include Club for Growth, Congressional Leadership Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, and House Majority Forward.

Castro becomes 10th candidate to qualify for September and October presidential primary debates, Steyer and Gabbard on the bubble

Julián Castro became the 10th candidate to qualify for the September and October presidential primary debates Tuesday.
Unlike the first two debates this summer, candidates must reach both a grassroots fundraising threshold and a polling threshold. They need 130,000 unique contributors with 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. Candidates also need to receive 2 percent support or more in four national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada—publicly released between June 28, 2019, and August 28, 2019.
In addition to Castro, the following nine candidates have reached both thresholds: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.
Four candidates have crossed the fundraising bar only: Jay Inslee, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson. To make the stage, Steyer needs one more qualifying poll and Gabbard two. Neither Inslee nor Williamson has a single qualifying polling.
The next debate is scheduled on September 12-13, 2019, in Houston, Texas. Candidates have one more week to qualify.

Early voting begins in NC-03 special election

The special election for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District will be held on September 10, 2019. Early voting began on Wednesday, August 21, and will continue through September 6. The district’s former incumbent, Rep. Walter Jones (R), died earlier this year. Greg Murphy (R), Allen Thomas (D), Tim Harris (L), and Greg Holt (Constitution Party) are running for the seat.
Murphy, who defeated Joan Perry in the Republican primary runoff on July 9, has campaigned on his support of President Donald Trump (R) and has described himself as a consistent conservative. He has highlighted his work as a doctor and state legislator.
Thomas won the April 30 Democratic primary and has emphasized economic development, small-town revitalization, and improving access to healthcare.
The 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index for this district was R+12, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 12 percentage points more Republican than the national average. This made North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District the 108th-most Republican nationally.

Ninth Circuit panel limits nationwide injunction of Trump administration immigration rule

On August 16, a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a federal district court went too far when it granted a nationwide injunction against a new federal immigration rule.
What happened?
The Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction, which blocks enforcement of a rule, within the bounds of the Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) but held that the nationwide scope of the injunction was not supported by the record. The panel said that the district court did not explain why it believed a nationwide injunction was necessary in this case.
How did we get here?
On July 24, 2019, Judge Jon Tigar, on United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a nationwide injunction to block a Trump administration rule while court challenges to the rule move forward.
The interim final rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on July 16, aims to deny asylum to people who travel through another country and fail to file for asylum there before applying in the United States.
The agencies argued that immigration enforcement challenges on the southern border allowed them to issue the new asylum rule under the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) good cause exception to notice-and-comment procedures. The good cause exception allows agencies to issue rules without waiting for public comment if those procedures would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” The agencies also argued that they could skip notice-and-comment procedures because the rule involved a “foreign affairs function of the United States” and procedural delay could have negative international consequences.
Judge Tigar argued that the agencies did not show that a public comment period would have undesirable international consequences and that the rule fails the arbitrary-or-capricious test. Under that test, judges invalidate rules that are an abuse of discretion or not in accordance with law.
What happens next?
The Ninth Circuit panel asked the district court to reconsider the reasons supporting a nationwide injunction and scheduled future arguments in the case for December 2019.

This time next year, we will be between Democratic and Republican National Conventions

In just under a year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will hold its presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 13-16, 2020. A little over a month later, the Republican National Committee (RNC) will meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, from August 24-27, 2020. At both conventions, delegates will select their party’s presidential nominee and vote to adopt a platform outlining the party’s priorities and values.
Between now and then, Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses will be held across the country, with the first caucus event taking place in Iowa on February 3, 2020. New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will also hold primaries in February.
Super Tuesday, the day when the largest number of states and territories hold a presidential primary or caucus, will be March 3, 2020. States with more than one-third of the U.S. population are expected to vote on Super Tuesday.
The last primary elections will be held at the beginning of June 2020.

Trump announces intent to nominate law professor to federal court

On August 14, 2019, President Donald Trump (R) announced his intent to nominate Richard Myers II to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Myers was nominated to succeed Judge Malcolm Howard, who assumed senior status on December 31, 2005. There is one current vacancy out of the court’s four judicial positions.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has three active Article III judges:
• Chief Judge Terrence Boyle – nominated by President Ronald Reagan (R)
• Louise Flanagan – nominated by President George W. Bush (R)
• James Dever – nominated by President George W. Bush (R)
The court’s two judges on senior status are:
• Malcolm Howard – nominated by President Ronald Reagan (R)
• Earl Britt – nominated by President Jimmy Carter (D)
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is one of 94 United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Hickenlooper becomes fourth Democrat to suspend 2020 presidential campaign

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) suspended his presidential campaign Thursday. In a video announcement, Hickenlooper hinted at his next steps.
“People want to know what comes next for me. I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought,” he said.
Hickenlooper was the fourth notable Democratic candidate to leave the presidential race, following former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, Rep. Eric Swalwell, and former Sen. Mike Gravel.
The 2020 Democratic field has outpaced the 2016 Republican field in both size and early departures. The first notable Republican to suspend his 2016 presidential campaign was former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sept. 11, 2015.
Hickenlooper’s departure left 25 notable elected officials and public figures in the presidential race—23 Democrats and two Republicans.

Trump administration changes rules for immigrants who use government assistance

On August 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule that changes how the federal government screens immigrants who might become dependent on government services. According to the 837-page rule, agencies may deny immigrants a visa or a green card if they have used food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, or other public benefits.
Per an earlier 1999 guidance document, only public cash assistance or long-term institutionalization at government expense counted as evidence that an immigrant was at risk of being a public charge. Prior to the new rule, agencies could deny immigrants continued legal status if they determined that the immigrants were likely to rely on public benefits. The new rule amends the 1999 guidance to expand the factors agencies may consider when deciding those cases.
Guidance is a term in administrative law used to describe a variety of documents created by government agencies to explain, interpret, or advise interested parties about rules, laws, and procedures. Guidance documents clarify and affect how agencies administer regulations and programs. However, they are not legally binding in the same way as rules issued through one of the rulemaking processes of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
In this case, the agencies followed informal procedures and issued the immigration rule after announcing a proposal and giving the public a chance to offer feedback. The agencies scheduled the rule to go into effect in October, 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

DOJ moves to decertify union for immigration judges

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on August 9 that it is petitioning the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ)—the federal labor union representing immigration judges.
Immigration judges are a type of federal administrative adjudicator employed by the DOJ to preside over special classes of administrative adjudication proceedings pertaining to immigration, including removal proceedings. The department employed 424 immigration judges as of May 2019. Though IJs and other types of administrative judges have the word judge in their job title, they are part of the executive rather than the judicial branch. They are not judges as described in Article III of the U.S. Constitution.
DOJ claims that immigration judges are management officials and, therefore, cannot legally participate in collective bargaining activities. Federal law defines management officials as “any individual employed by an agency in a position the duties and responsibilities of which require or authorize the individual to formulate, determine, or influence the policies of the agency.”
Decertification of the NAIJ could give DOJ officials more control over the work schedules and caseloads of immigration judges.
The department instituted a quota of 700 cases per year for immigration judges in March 2018. DOJ officials called for increased funding to hire an additional 100 immigration judges and support staff in its 2020 budget request. Immigration judges faced a backlog of 892,000 cases as of May 2019.

Administrative Conference of the United States recommends changing how agencies handle guidance

On August 8, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency charged with improving administrative procedures, published four recommendations in the Federal Register. Two of those recommendations involved agency guidance, which refers to documents created by government agencies to explain, interpret, or advise interested parties about rules, laws, and procedures.
The first recommendation encourages agencies to offer the public chances to propose alternatives to interpretive rules and to allow the public to participate in modifying those rules.
The next guidance recommendation instructs agencies to post their guidance documents online and to make sure the public knows where to find them.
The other two ACUS recommendations involved hiring procedures for Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and updating rules related to awarding attorney fees to those who successfully challenge government actions in court.