CategoryFederal

Winegarner and Jackson advance to Republican Party primary runoff in Texas’ 13th Congressional District

Josh Winegarner and Ronny Jackson advanced to a May 26 Republican runoff from a field of 15 candidates in Texas’ 13th Congressional District. As of 1:50 a.m. Eastern Time on Mar. 4, 99% of precincts had reported. Winegarner led with 39.8% of the vote, followed by Jackson with 20.2% and Chris Ekstrom with 15.5%.
President Donald Trump (R) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Jackson. Incumbent Rep. Mac Thornberry and U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) endorsed Winegarner.
Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There is one independent member, and there are five vacancies. Currently, if Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts in the November general election, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.


Davis defeats Leeder in Texas’ 21st Congressional District Democratic primary

Wendy Davis defeated Jennie Lou Leeder in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 21st Congressional District on March 3, 2020. As of 12:48 a.m. ET, 19% of precincts had reported. Davis led with 84.1% of the vote to Leeder’s 15.9%. Davis will face incumbent Rep. Chip Roy in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020.
Davis is a former member of the Texas State Senate and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, losing the general election to Greg Abbott (R). Leeder, the Democratic chairwoman of Llano County, was the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 11th Congressional District in 2018, losing to incumbent Mike Conaway (R).
Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There is one independent member, and there are five vacancies. Currently, if Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts in the Nov. general, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.


Hightower, Carl advance to Republican primary runoff in AL-01

Bill Hightower and Jerry Carl advanced to a Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Hightower received 37.8% of the vote and Carl received 37.3% with all precincts reporting. Chris Pringle received 20%. The runoff will be held on March 31, 2020. A candidate needed more than 50% of the vote to win the primary outright.
Hightower was a state senator for Alabama’s 35th district from 2013 to 2018. He emphasized bills he introduced or sponsored during that time including proposals to ban the sale of fetal body parts and to institute term limits for Alabama state senators and representatives. Carl described himself as an outsider. He focused on his experience running small businesses saying it made him a problem solver, and he compared himself to President Trump.
Incumbent Bradley Byrne (R) ran for U.S. Senate as opposed to seeking re-election to the House. This election is the sixth time within the last century that Alabama’s 1st Congressional District has been an open seat. Ratings outlets rate the general election for the district Safe or Solid Republican. All 435 House seats are up for election in 2020, and Democrats hold a 232-197 majority in the chamber.


Bennett, Cawthorn advance to Republican primary runoff in NC-11

Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn advanced to a Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District on March 3, 2020. With 99% of precincts reporting, Bennett received 22.7% of the vote to Cawthorn’s 20.4%. Jim Davis received 19.3%. A candidate needed more than 30% of the vote to win the primary outright. The primary runoff is May 12.
Incumbent Rep. Mark Meadows (R), former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, announced he would not seek re-election the day before the December 20, 2019, filing deadline. Twelve candidates joined the race following his announcement.
Meadows endorsed Bennett. She also received endorsements from Rep. Jim Jordan (R) and the House Freedom Fund. Bennett highlighted her background as a real estate broker and as vice-chair of the Haywood County Republican Party, along with the activism training she received from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups. Cawthorn owns a real estate investment company and is a motivational speaker. He said he was a proven fighter, having experienced a car accident that left him paralyzed. Matthew Burril endorsed Cawthorn after withdrawing from the primary.
Ratings outlets rate the general election for North Carolina’s 11th Safe or Solid Republican. All 435 House seats are up for election in 2020. Democrats hold a 232-197 majority over Republicans in the chamber.


Hunt wins Republican primary in Texas’ 7th Congressional District

Wesley Hunt defeated five other candidates in the Republican Primary on March 3, 2020. He will advance to the general election on Nov. 3. As of 10:53 p.m. Central Time on March 3, 5% of precincts had reported. Hunt led with 61.8% of the vote, followed by Cindy Siegel with 27.8% and Maria Espinoza with 5.4%. The other candidates in the race were Kyle Preston, Jim Noteware, and Laique Rehman.
Incumbent Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Fletcher was first elected in 2018, winning by five percentage points. Republicans had held the seat since 1967 before that.
The 7th District has a 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index score of R+7, meaning this district’s results were 7 percentage points more Republican than the national average in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Two of three race rating outlets rate the race as lean Democratic, while the other rates it as likely Democratic.


Granger defeats Putnam in Texas’ 12th Congressional District Republican primary

Rep. Kay Granger defeated Chris Putnam in the Republican primary for Texas’ 12th Congressional District. As of 11:48 p.m. ET, 84% of precincts had reported. Granger led with 59.1% of the vote to Putnam’s 40.9%. Granger will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the Nov. 3 general election.
Both candidates in the race highlighted their support for President Donald Trump. Granger emphasized Trump’s endorsement of her campaign, while Putnam called Granger a career politician, and said Granger was not supportive of the president.
Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There is one independent member, and there are five vacancies. Currently, if Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts in the Nov. general, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.


Sessions, Tuberville advance to Republican primary runoff for Senate in Alabama

Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville advanced to a Republican primary runoff election for U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday. As of 11:15 p.m. ET on March 3, 41% of precincts had reported. Sessions had received 32.5% of the vote and Tuberville received 32.4%. Bradley Byrne had received 25.2%. The runoff will be held on March 31, 2020. A candidate needed more than 50% of the vote to win the primary outright.
Sessions held the seat for 20 years before President Donald Trump appointed him as U.S. attorney general in 2017. He has said he committed to the Trump agenda as a U.S. senator and in the Department of Justice. Tuberville, a former college football coach, has called himself the outsider in the race who can stand with Trump.
Roy Moore had received 6.9% of the vote with 41% of precincts reporting. Moore was the Republican nominee in the 2017 special Senate election to fill the seat after Sessions’ appointment. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones by 1.7 percentage points.
Jones was the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate with 53 seats to Democrats’ 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.


Cunningham wins Democratic primary for Senate in NC

Cal Cunningham defeated Erica Smith and three other candidates in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in North Carolina on Tuesday. Cunningham led with 57.6% of the vote, followed by Smith with 35.2%, as of 8:40 p.m. ET with 12.4% of precincts reporting.
Cunningham, a member of the Army Reserves and a former state senator (2000-2002), was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He focused on expanding Medicaid, lowering prescription drug costs, and eliminating corruption in Washington. Smith has been a state senator since 2015. She said her platform, which included healthcare for all and a Green New Deal, would energize the base and young people to turn out in November.
Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) was elected to the Senate in 2014 when he defeated incumbent Kay Hagan (D) by 1.5 percentage points. Three ratings outlets rate the 2020 general election either Toss-up or Lean Republican. Max Greenwood of The Hill wrote, “Tillis has the backing of President Trump and may benefit from high Republican turnout in the general election. But Democrats have grown optimistic in North Carolina, as demographic changes and an influx of new residents from out of state have put the Tar Heel State in play.”
Republicans hold a majority in the Senate with 53 seats to Democrats’ 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.


Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for February

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from February 4, 2020, to March 2, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS
Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the January 2020 report. There are 72 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 78 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
Nominations: There have been 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
Confirmations: There have been six new confirmations since the January 2020 report.

New vacancies
There were 72 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.3, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in January 2020.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions is vacant.
• 69 (10.2%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.

One judge left active status, creating an Article III life-term judicial vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
• Judge Andrew Brasher left his seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama after he was elevated to the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of March 2, 2020.

New nominations
President Trump has announced 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
• David Dugan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
• Iain D. Johnston, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Franklin U. Valderrama, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Christy Wiegand, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
• Saritha Komatireddy, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
• Jennifer Rearden, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• J. Philip Calabrese, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• James Knepp II, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• Brett H. Ludwig, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
• Michael J. Newman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 249 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations
Since February 4, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed six of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of March 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 193 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—138 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
• Andrew Brasher, confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
• Matthew Schelp, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
• Joshua Kindred, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
• John Kness, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Philip Halpern, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• Silvia Carreno-Coll, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:



Justice Thomas signals reconsideration of judicial deference doctrine

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on February 24 that he would reconsider his 2005 Brand X opinion. He made his remarks while dissenting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Baldwin v. U.S., which challenged Brand X. Thomas argued that Brand X appears to be “inconsistent with the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and traditional tools of statutory interpretation.”

Brand X involved an application of the Chevron deference doctrine. Under Chevron deference, federal courts must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute. Brand X built on Chevron’s foundation by requiring courts to defer to agency interpretations of statutes even when courts previously held contrary views.

Justice Thomas argued that both deference precedents undermined the requirements of the United States Constitution. He wrote, “Regrettably, Brand X has taken this Court to the precipice of administrative absolutism. Under its rule of deference, agencies are free to invent new (purported) interpretations of statutes and then require courts to reject their own prior interpretations. Brand X may well follow from Chevron, but in so doing, it poignantly lays bare the flaws of our entire executive-deference jurisprudence. Even if the Court is not willing to question Chevron itself, at the very least, we should consider taking a step away from the abyss by revisiting Brand X.”

Click here learn more about Chevron deference, or click here to learn more about the Administrative Procedure Act.

Additional reading:

Link to Justice Thomas’ dissent: https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/022420zor_mjo1.pdf