CategoryFederal

Murphy wins NC-3 Republican runoff

State Rep. Greg Murphy defeated Dr. Joan Perry to win the Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. Murphy received 59.7% of the vote while Perry received 40.3%. In the April 30 Republican primary, Murphy received 22.5% of the vote and Perry received 15.4%.
 
Murphy will face Allen Thomas (D) and Tim Harris (L) in the September 10 special election. That special election will fill the vacancy left by Walter Jones (R), who died on February 10, 2019.
 
Murphy and Perry split support from outside groups and members of Congress. Murphy received the support of Rep. Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus, and the National Rifle Association. Perry received the support of all 13 Republican women in Congress, Winning for Women Action Fund, and FreedomWorks for America. Earlier this week, Rudy Giuliani recorded robocalls on behalf of Murphy, and Newt Gingrich recorded robocalls on behalf of Perry.


U.S. Supreme Court releases November argument calendar

The U.S. Supreme Court released its November argument calendar for the 2019-2020 term. The court will hear 10 hours of oral argument in 12 cases between November 4 and November 13.
 
As of June 28, 2019, the court had agreed to hear 44 cases in the upcoming term.
 
November 4
  • Barton v. Barr asks whether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be “inadmissible” under a federal law that ends the accrual of continuous residence if the permanent resident commits a crime that would make them inadmissible to the U.S.
  • Kansas v. Glover asks whether, for investigative purposes under the Fourth Amendment, it is reasonable for a law enforcement officer to assume that a vehicle’s registered owner is the one driving the vehicle without any other information.
November 5
  • CITGO Asphalt Refining Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co., Ltd. asks whether under federal maritime law a safe berth clause in a voyage charter contract is a guarantee of a ship’s safety, as the 3rd Circuit and the 2nd Circuit have held, or a duty of due diligence, as the 5th Circuit has held.
  • Allen v. Cooper asks whether Congress had the authority to repeal states’ immunity from legal challenges under the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act.
November 6
  • County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund asks whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit to discharge waste when pollutants originate from a point source (an area where pollutants may be discharged) but are brought by navigable waters to a non-point source, such as groundwater.
  • Retirement Plan Committee of IBM v. Jander asks whether a pleading standard established by U.S. Supreme Court precedent can be satisfied by general allegations that the harm of undisclosed fraud increases over time.
November 12
  • Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California asks (1) whether the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is judicially reviewable and (2) whether the decision was lawful. This case is consolidated with Trump v. NAACP and McAleenan v. Vidal.
  • Hernandez v. Mesa asks whether courts can and should recognize a damages claim against a law enforcement officer when plaintiffs allege the officer violated Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
November 13
  • Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media asks whether a plaintiff bringing a claim of race discrimination is required to prove the defendant would have acted differently if not for the plaintiff’s race.
  • Ritzen Group Inc. v. Jackson Masonry, LLC asks whether an order denying a motion to lift an automatic stay in bankruptcy is a final order that can be appealed.
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Republican primary runoff takes place June 9 in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

 
North Carolina state Rep. Greg Murphy and Dr. Joan Perry are running in the Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday, July 9.
 
Murphy was endorsed by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the House Freedom Caucus, and the National Rifle Association. Perry received the support of all 13 Republican women in Congress, Winning for Women Action Fund, and FreedomWorks for America.
 
Murphy has raised $544,000 and spent $449,000 on the race through June 19, which is more than Perry’s $374,000 and $319,000, respectively. However, outside groups have spent more in support of Perry. Satellite spending supporting her has totaled $879,000 and groups backing Murphy have spent $589,000.
 
The winner of the runoff will face Allen Thomas (D) and Tim Harris (L) in a special election September 10. This election will fill the vacancy left by Walter Jones (R), who died on February 10. In 2018, Jones won a three-way Republican primary and was unopposed in the general election. He received 67% and 68% of the vote in the 2016 and 2014 general elections, respectively. Inside Elections rates the special election “Solid Republican.”  
 
Four special elections have been called during the 116th Congress. Three of those are for seats in the U.S. House, and one is for a seat in the U.S. Senate—which will occur in 2020. Fred Keller (R) won the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District on May 21. The special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will be held September 10.


Buttigieg leads Democratic candidates in Q2 fundraising announced so far

 
While financial reports for the second quarter of 2019 are not due to the Federal Election Commission until July 15, some presidential candidates announced their fundraising totals early.
 
President Donald Trump (R) leads all candidates, raising $54 million through his re-election campaign and related committees. For comparison, President Barack Obama (D) raised $46.3 million during the same time period in 2011.
 
Former Gov. Bill Weld (R) raised $688,000 from 7,000 donors.
 
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) currently tops the Democratic field with a $24.8 million take in the second quarter, more than tripling the $7 million he raised in the first quarter.
 
In his first quarter as a 2020 presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) raised $21.5 million. Ninety-seven percent of donations were small-dollar contributions.
 
Not including $6 million transferred from previous campaign accounts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) raised $18 million. His campaign reported that nearly half of the contributions came from donors under the age of 39.
 
Sen. Kamala Harris (D) matched her first quarter fundraising with $12 million. Her campaign said she raised $2 million within 24 hours of her debate performance last month.
 
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who entered the presidential race halfway through the quarter on May 14, raised $2 million. Another May entrant, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), raised $2.8 million and transferred $700,000 from his Senate campaign account.


When is your state holding its 2020 congressional primaries?

The first 2020 congressional primary is eight months away. Five states—Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas—have primaries on the ballot on March 3. Overall, eight states are holding their 2020 congressional primaries in March, which is the second-highest concentration of primaries throughout the year. The months of June and August are tied for the highest concentration with 14 states holding primaries each month.
 
The first filing deadline for the 2020 congressional primary season will pass in Alabama in four months on November 8, 2019. One other state—Arkansas—also has a November filing deadline. Another five states have filing deadlines in December. The highest concentration of state filing deadlines for the 2020 congressional primaries will occur in March with 15. The second-highest concentration of filing deadlines will occur in June with deadlines passing in eight states.
 


U.S. Supreme Court releases October argument calendar

The U.S. Supreme Court released its October argument calendar for the 2019-2020 term. The court will begin the new term on October 7. It will hear argument in 14 cases, some of which are consolidated, totaling nine hours of argument between October 7 and October 16.
 
As of June 28, 2019, the court had agreed to hear 44 cases in the upcoming term.
 
October 7
  • Kahler v. Kansas asks whether the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense.
  • Peter v. NantKwest asks whether applicants challenging a patent rejection under Section 145 of the U.S. Patent Act must pay attorneys’ fees for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Ramos v. Louisiana asks whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict.
October 8
  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda) asks whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation constitutes prohibited employment discrimination “because of … sex” within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC asks whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping under previous Supreme Court precedent.
October 15
  • Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC (consolidated with Aurelius Investment, LLC v. Puerto Rico, Official Committee of Debtors v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, United States v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, and UTIER v. Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico) asks whether the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution governs the appointment of members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.
October 16
  • Kansas v. Garcia asks (1) whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempts states from using information from federal I-9 forms to prosecute a person when that same information is on non-IRCA forms and (2) whether the IRCA preempts Kansas’ prosecutions of Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara.
  • Rotkiske v. Klemm asks whether the statute of limitations on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act begins to run when a potential plaintiff discovers the violation or when the would-be defendant violates the act.
  • Mathena v. Malvo asks whether a Supreme Court decision prohibiting mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles applies when those sentences are mandatory.
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Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings at lowest rate since 2015 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) concluded its October 2018 term in June. The court reversed lower court decisions at a rate of 64.9 percent, the lowest rate since the October 2015 term (63.2 percent). The rate was 5 percent lower than the court’s total reversal rate since 2007 (69.8 percent).
 
The court decided 74 cases. It affirmed a lower court’s decision in 26 cases and reversed a lower court’s decision in 48 cases.
 
Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 923 cases. In that time, it reversed a lower court decision 644 times (69.8 percent) and affirmed a lower court decision 261 times (28.3 percent).
 
More SCOTUS cases originated in the Ninth Circuit (14) than any other, and the court reversed more Ninth Circuit rulings (12) than any other circuit’s.
 
SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the Ninth Circuit (181) than from any other since 2017. The second-most cases (66) originated in the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit (55 of 66 cases, or 83.3 percent) had the highest rate of reversed cases since 2007.
 
The Supreme Court hears and reaches decisions in 70 to 90 cases each year. There are two major possible outcomes in a SCOTUS case—it can affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. The vast majority of SCOTUS cases originate in a lower court—either one of the 13 appeals circuits, state-level courts, or U.S. district courts. Original jurisdiction cases cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.
 
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U.S. Supreme Court upholds deference to agency interpretations of regulations, lays out limitations

In Kisor v. Wilkie, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Auer deference while restating the limited circumstances in which the administrative law principle applies. A principle of judicial review, Auer deference requires a federal court to yield to an administrative agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous regulation that the agency has promulgated.
 
The ruling in the case, about a marine veteran who challenged a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decision related to retroactive disability benefits, was unanimous in vacating and remanding the judgment of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. But justices disagreed about the future of judicial deference to agencies. The court instructed the Federal Circuit to redo the case and decide whether the application of Auer deference is appropriate.
 
Justice Gorsuch, who agreed to send the case back to the lower circuit, wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh, strongly criticizing the court for not overruling Auer deference as a doctrine.
 
Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the court, which restated the following limitations on Auer deference:
 
1. Courts should only give Auer deference to an agency after establishing that the regulation in question is actually ambiguous. Courts must first consider the text, structure, history, and purpose of a regulation before deferring to a reasonable agency view.
 
2. A court must determine whether the reasonable agency interpretation of a regulation is an authoritative or official position of the agency before giving Auer deference.
 
3. Courts should only give Auer deference to agency interpretations based on the expertise of that agency. For questions that fall outside the regular duties of an agency, Auer deference is less appropriate.
 
 
4. The reasonable agency interpretation of an ambiguous regulation must be a “fair and considered judgment” that does not create an unfair surprise for those subject to the regulation in order to qualify for Auer deference. Courts should not defer to agency interpretations that were adopted just to help the agency during a lawsuit.
 


U.S. Supreme Court finds partisan gerrymandering claims are beyond jurisdiction of federal courts

On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in both Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina) and Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland) that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. The high court combined the cases and issued a single joint decision covering both.
 
Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. In the court’s opinion, Roberts noted that the Framers, “aware of electoral districting problems … [assigned] the issue to the state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress, with no suggestion that the federal courts had a role to play.” He said, “To hold that legislators cannot take their partisan interests into account when drawing district lines would essentially countermand the Framers’ decision to entrust districting to political entities.”
 
Roberts went on to address the assumptions underlying partisan gerrymandering claims: “Partisan gerrymandering claims rest on an instinct that groups with a certain level of political support should enjoy a commensurate level of political power and influence. Explicitly or implicitly, a districting map is alleged to be unconstitutional because it makes it too difficult for one party to translate statewide support into seats in the legislature. But such a claim is based on a ‘norm that does not exist’ in our electoral system—’statewide elections for representatives along party lines.'” Roberts also wrote, “[Federal] courts are not equipped to apportion political power as a matter of fairness, nor is there any basis for concluding that they were authorized to do so.”
 
Justice Elena Kagan penned a dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan wrote the following in her dissent: “The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”
 
The high court remanded both cases to the respective lower courts with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The lower court decisions had thrown out existing congressional district plans as impermissible partisan gerrymanders. As a result of the high court’s ruling, those district plans will remain in place heading into 2020. Earlier this year, a federal district court struck down Michigan’s congressional and state legislative district plans as partisan gerrymanders. That decision, which had been stayed by the Supreme Court pending resolution of Rucho and Lamone, will likely be vacated and remanded in light of the high court’s ruling.


Justice Department asks SCOTUS to consider equal protection claim in citizenship question case

The United States Department of Justice filed a request with the United States Supreme Court on June 25 asking the court to broaden the scope of Department of Commerce v. New York—a case challenging the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census—in order to consider new equal protection claims.
 
Plaintiffs in a separate pending challenge to the citizenship question, La Union del Pueblo Entero v. Ross, raised equal protection claims under the Fifth Amendment in light of new information derived from a deceased Republican consultant’s hard drive. The information, according to plaintiffs, suggests that the citizenship question was added in order to gain a Republican electoral advantage. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated that he approved the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. 
 
Judge George Jarrod Hazel of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, who ruled against the citizenship question in La Union del Pueblo Entero v. Ross on constitutional and procedural grounds, issued an order on June 19 stating that the new evidence could warrant reconsideration of the case. On June 25, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remanded the case for reconsideration by Hazel.
 
The Justice Department responded to the Fourth Circuit’s decision by requesting that the United States Supreme Court also consider the equal protection claim in Department of Commerce v. New York, which challenges the citizenship question on constitutional and procedural grounds. “The Fourth Circuit’s order underscores the need for this Court to address the equal protection claim … so that the lawfulness of the Secretary’s decision can be fully and finally resolved,” wrote Solicitor General Noel Fransisco.
 
The United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in Department of Commerce v. New York by the end of June. If the court chooses not to consider the equal protection claim, Hazel could issue an injunction against the citizenship question in La Union del Pueblo Entero v. Ross on equal protection grounds and return the citizenship question challenge before the high court.