U.S. Supreme Court includes birth control case on April argument calendar

A U.S. Supreme Court case scheduled for April 29 could clarify when notice-and-comment procedures satisfy the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), allowing individuals to challenge more federal laws and regulations on religious grounds.

The case, Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania , is about whether the Trump administration had the legal authority to issue rules providing a religious or moral exemption to the contraception mandate created under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

In a July 2019 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction that blocked the new exemption rules from going into effect. That court held that the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not have legal permission to modify the contraceptive requirements developed after Obamacare passed. The Third Circuit also held that the agencies violated APA notice-and-comment requirements.

The APA is a federal law passed in 1946 establishing uniform procedures for federal agencies to propose and issue regulations, a process known as rulemaking. The APA also addresses policy statements and licenses issued by agencies and provides for judicial review of agency adjudications and other final decisions. Under the APA’s informal rulemaking system, agencies must consider written public feedback on proposed rules submitted during a comment period.

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U.S. Supreme Court issues opinions in four cases

On February 25, the Supreme Court of the United States issued opinions for four cases: McKinney v. Arizona, Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Hernandez v. Mesa, and Monasky v. Taglieri.

In the case McKinney v. Arizona, James McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1993. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the sentence after an independent review. A federal district court denied McKinney’s petition for habeas corpus. On appeal, the 9th Circuit instructed the district court to grant the habeas corpus petition. After another independent review, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the death sentences.

In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling, holding that a state appellate court, rather than a jury, may conduct a reweighing of aggravating and mitigating circumstances on habeas corpus review in cases concerning the death penalty. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

In the case Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, United Western Bank closed after suffering $35.4 million in losses in 2011. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was appointed as the bank’s receiver. Also in 2011, the parent company, United Western Bancorp, Inc. (UWBI), filed a tax refund request of $4.8 million to recover a portion of United Western Bank’s 2008 taxes. In 2012, UWBI filed for bankruptcy. Both the FDIC and UWBI argued in bankruptcy court that the tax refund belonged to them. The bankruptcy court ruled the refund belonged to UWBI. On appeal, the District of Colorado reversed the bankruptcy court’s decision. Simon Rodriguez, the Chapter 7 Trustee for UWBI’s bankruptcy estate, appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s ruling and remanded the case to the bankruptcy court. Rodriguez petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 10th Circuit’s decision, arguing circuit courts were divided on the question of tax refund ownership.

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded the 10th Circuit’s decision in a 9-0 ruling, holding the Bob Richards rule “is not a legitimate exercise of federal common lawmaking,” in which federal judges—instead of Congress, agencies, or states—make laws. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court.

In the case Hernandez v. Mesa, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa shot and killed 15-year-old Mexican national Sergio Hernandez in 2010. The Hernandez family filed charges against Mesa. The Western District of Texas dismissed the case. After several appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Hernandez v. Mesa in 2016. At that time, SCOTUS vacated the 5th Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case so the 5th Circuit might reconsider its ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Ziglar v. Abbasi (2017). On remand, the 5th Circuit ruled the Hernandez family could not rely on Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Bivens) to file charges and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the 5th Circuit in a 5-4 ruling, holding that the plaintiffs cannot sue the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent for damages under the U.S. Constitution and that the Bivens holding does not extend to claims based on a cross-border shooting. Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

In the case Monasky v. Taglieri, Italian citizen Domenico Taglieri and American citizen Michelle Monasky were a married couple living in Italy when they had a daughter, A.M.T. Both parents began applications for Italian and U.S. passports for their daughter. In 2015, Taglieri revoked his permission for A.M.T.’s U.S. passport. Two weeks later, Monasky took A.M.T. to the United States. Taglieri petitioned the Northern District of Ohio for A.M.T’s return to Italy under the Hague Convention. The district court granted Taglieri’s petition. On appeal, the 6th Circuit sitting en banc affirmed the district court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court affirmed the 6th Circuit’s decision in a unanimous ruling, holding (1) an actual agreement between the parents on where to raise a child is not necessary to establish the child’s habitual residence and (2) a district court should use clear-error review to determine habitual residence under the Hague Convention. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas joined as to Parts I, III, and IV, and filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Justice Samuel Alito filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

As of February 25, 2020, the court had issued decisions in eight cases this term. Between 2007 and 2018, SCOTUS released opinions in 850 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Nine candidates running in California’s 50th Congressional District top-two primary

Nine candidates are running in the primary election for California’s 50th Congressional District in the U.S. House on March 3, 2020.

Duncan Hunter (R), who had represented the district since 2013, resigned Jan. 13, 2020, after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds.

The top two finishers in the primary will advance to the Nov. 3, 2020, general election. One Democrat and one Republican have advanced from the primary in every election since the state began using top-two primaries in 2012.

Media coverage and endorsements have focused on three Republicans and one Democrat: Ammar Campa-Najjar (D), Carl DeMaio (R), Darrell Issa (R), and Brian Jones (R).

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond and Former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock have endorsed DeMaio. U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R) endorsed Issa, who retired from representing the 49th Congressional District in 2019. The California Republican Assembly, the San Diego Police Officers Association, and the Peace Officers Research Association of California endorsed Jones.

Campa-Najjar advanced to the general election in 2018 and lost to Hunter 52% to 48%. He was endorsed by Reps. Susan Davis (D), Eric Swalwell (D), and Adam Schiff (D).

Also running in the primary are Jose Cortes (Peace and Freedom Party of California), Helen Horvath (I), Lucinda Jahn (I), Henry Ota (I), and Nathan Wilkins (R). Marisa Calderon (D) suspended her campaign on Jan. 31, 2020, but her name will still appear on the ballot.

The Cook Partisan Voter Index for this district was R+11, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 11 percentage points more Republican than the national average. Race raters have given Republicans an edge in the general election. All three major race rating outlets view the general as Safe/Solid Republican.

California’s 50th Congressional District is located in the southern portion of the state and includes much of San Diego County and portions of Riverside County.

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Previewing the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District

The March 3 Democratic primary in Texas’ 28th Congressional District features incumbent Henry Cuellar, who describes himself as a moderate-centrist, against self-described progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

Cuellar was first elected in 2004 and has been endorsed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, and others. He has received satellite spending support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and LIBRE Initiative Action. He has called Cisnernos an outsider backed by special interests who does not understand the desires of the district’s constituency.

Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration lawyer, is backed by several members of the party’s progressive wing, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Pramila Jayapal. She says Cuellar has voted with President Donald Trump 70% of the time. Her campaign material has called Cuellar “Trump’s favorite Democrat.”

According to FEC reports ending on February 12, 2020, Cuellar has outraised Cisneros $1.8 million to $1.3 million. Cuellar has more than doubled Cisneros’ spending, $2.3 million to $1 million.

The winner of the primary will face Sandra Whitten (R) and Bekah Congdon (L) in the general election. The 28th District has a Partisan Voter Index score of D+9, meaning this district’s results were 9 percentage points more Democratic than the national average in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. All three major race rating outlets rate the race as solid Democratic.

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With three presidential nominating contests behind us, where does the Democratic race for delegates stand?

Bernie Sanders leads the Democratic delegate race with an estimated 45 pledged delegates. Pete Buttigieg is in second with an estimated 25 delegates, followed by Joe Biden with 15 delegates, Elizabeth Warren with eight, and Amy Klobuchar with seven. These estimated totals reflect projections as of February 25, 2020, following the Nevada caucuses.

To win the nomination, a candidate needs the support of at least 1,991 pledged delegates on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

There will be 4,750 delegates in attendance: 3,979 pledged delegates and 771 automatic delegates (often referred to as super-delegates). Automatic delegates will not be permitted to vote on the first ballot.

If no candidate wins a majority of pledged delegates on the first ballot, a second vote will take place. At this point, automatic delegates will be able to vote. A candidate must then win a majority all delegates in order to win the nomination. Because some automatic delegates can cast only half-votes, which are not rounded up, the majority figure required for the second and any subsequent ballots is 2,375.5.

Pledged delegates are allocated proportionally based on the outcome of each state’s nominating contest. A candidate is typically only eligible to receive a share of the pledged delegates at stake if he or she wins at least 15% of votes cast in a primary or caucus. Party rules require that pledged delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” Pledged delegates are selected in several ways: direct election in primaries or caucuses, local or district party conventions, and state party conventions.

Automatic delegates are not obligated to pledge their support to any candidate. Automatic delegates include Democratic members of Congress, governors, and other party leaders, including former presidents and vice-presidents.

In the three states that have conducted nominating contests so far, 101 total pledged delegates have been at stake, or 2.5% of all pledged delegates.

In the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, 54 pledged delegates will be at stake, bringing the cumulative total to 155 (3.9%). On March 3, or Super Tuesday, 14 states and one territory will conduct nominating contests to allocate 1,344 pledged delegates. That will bring the cumulative total to 1,499 (37.7%). By month’s end, 2,603 delegates will have been allocated, 65.4% of the cumulative total.

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U.S. Supreme Court releases April argument calendar

The U.S. Supreme Court has released its April argument calendar for the 2019-2020 term. The court will hear eight hours of oral argument in 11 cases between April 20 and April 29. The cases are as follows:

April 20, 2020

  • City of Chicago, Illinois v. Fulton

April 21, 2020

  • McGirt v. Oklahoma
  • Texas v. New Mexico

April 22, 2020

  • Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.

April 27, 2020

  • Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court (consolidated with Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer)
  • Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

April 28, 2020

  • Chiafalo v. Washington (consolidated with Colorado Department of State v. Baca)

April 29, 2020

  • Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania (consolidated with Trump v. Pennsylvania)

As of February 2020, the court had agreed to hear 74 cases and had issued decisions in four cases during its 2019-2020 term. Between 2007 and 2018, SCOTUS released opinions in 850 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Eleven presidential candidates raised a combined $390 million in January

Michael Bloomberg (D) led presidential candidates in fundraising for January 2020, according to financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission Thursday. Bloomberg raised $263.8 million in January, including $263.7 million in self-funding. He was followed by Tom Steyer (D), who raised $65.3 million, including $64.7 million in self-funding. Bernie Sanders ($25.2 million) and Elizabeth Warren ($11.0 million) were the only other candidates to raise more than $10 million

As of the January 31, 2020, reporting cutoff, President Donald Trump (R) had $92.6 million in cash on hand, the most of all presidential candidates. Bloomberg followed with $55.1 million, then Steyer with $17.9 million. Sanders had $16.8 million, and no other candidates had more than $10 million on hand.

President Trump’s $217.7 million raised to date is 27.0% more than the inflation-adjusted $166.0 million President Barack Obama (D) had raised at this point in his 2012 re-election campaign. According to Republican National Committee (RNC) finance reports filed Thursday, Trump and the RNC have raised a combined $810.9 million. At this point in the 2012 campaign cycle, Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had raised a combined inflation-adjusted $563.9 million.

The eight remaining noteworthy Democratic candidates have collectively raised $1.164 billion this cycle, while the three noteworthy Republicans have collectively raised $233.5 million. The eight Democrats had a combined $110.7 million in cash on hand to the three Republicans’ combined $97.5 million.

Since the start of the election cycle, the top five Democratic fundraisers are Bloomberg ($464.1 million), Steyer ($271.6 million), Sanders ($134.3 million), Warren ($93.0 million), and Pete Buttigieg ($83.0 million). The 11 noteworthy Democratic and Republican candidates have raised a combined $1.398 billion since the start of the election cycle.

Click here to learn more about 2020 Presidential election campaign finance.

Additional reading:
Presidential election, 2020
Presidential candidates, 2020
Democratic presidential nomination, 2020
Republican presidential nomination, 2020

House Republicans’ campaign arm outraises Democrats for the first time this cycle, RNC outraises DNC for ninth consecutive month

The Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than two-to-one for a ninth consecutive month, according to February 2020 campaign finance reports filed with the FEC Thursday. Republican House and Senate committees also outraised their Democratic counterparts.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $10.1 million and spent $4.8 million last month, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $8.5 million and spent $7.5 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the NRSC has raised 8.4% more than the DSCC ($77.7 million to $71.5 million). The NRSC’s 8.4% fundraising advantage is up from 7.3% in January but down from 8.7% in December.

On the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $12.7 million and spent $7.5 million last month, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $12.1 million and spent $7.0 million. This is the first time the NRCC has outraised the DCCC during the 2020 campaign cycle. So far in the cycle, the DCCC has raised 33.4% more than the NRCC ($137.0 million to $97.8 million). The DCCC’s 33.4% fundraising advantage is down from 37.8% in January and 35.5% in December.

At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, Democrats led in both Senate and House fundraising, although their advantage in the House was smaller than in this cycle. The DSCC had raised 25.2% more than the NRSC ($59.8 million to $46.4 million), while the DCCC had raised 18.7% more than the NRCC ($114.8 million to $95.1 million).

Republicans continue to lead in national committee fundraising, with the Republican National Committee (RNC) raising $27.2 million and spending $23.2 million while the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $10.8 million and spent $11.0 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC has raised 89.8% more than the DNC ($268.3 million to $102.0 million). The RNC’s 89.8% fundraising advantage is down from 90.2% in January but up from 88.9% in December.

At this point in the 2016 campaign cycle (the most recent presidential cycle), the RNC had a smaller 48.2% fundraising advantage over the DNC ($114.8 million to $70.2 million).

So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 35.3% more than the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($443.9 million to $310.5 million). The Republican fundraising advantage is up from 34.1% in January and 34.6% in December.

Click here to learn more about party committee fundraising 2019-2020

Additional reading:
Democratic National Committee
Republican National Committee
Fundraising in Congressional elections, 2018

2,577 major party candidates filed for 2020 Congress elections, no new retirements last week

As of February 24, 2020, 2,577 major party candidates have filed to run for the Senate and House of Representatives in 2020.

So far, 367 candidates are filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 312—164 Democrats and 148 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.

For U.S. House, 2,492 candidates are filed with the FEC to run in 2020. Of those, 2,265—1,077 Democrats and 1,188 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.

Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.

On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a majority with 232 seats.

Additional reading
United States Senate elections, 2020
United States House of Representatives elections, 2020
List of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2020

Sanders receives most pageviews in past week, followed by Bloomberg and Buttigieg

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers reflect the time investments of our community of thousands of readers who visit a Ballotpedia because they think the candidate is worth knowing more about, whether they believe the candidate has a strong chance of winning or is an unknown who warrants a closer look.

Last week, Bernie Sanders led all Democratic campaigns in pageviews. His campaign page was viewed 7,351 times, equaling 22.3% of pageviews for all Democratic campaigns this week. He was followed by Michael Bloomberg with 18.1% of pageviews and Pete Buttigieg with 15.9%.

Elizabeth Warren was the only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews this week relative to last week. Her campaign page received 1.8% more pageviews than the week prior. All other Democratic candidates saw a decrease in pageviews relative to last week. The candidate with the largest decrease among them was Amy Klobuchar with a 34.6% decrease.

The top three Democratic presidential candidates in lifetime pageviews are Buttigieg with 178,783, Joe Biden with 166,119, and Sanders with 153,947.

Donald Trump ranked second of the three Republican candidates in pageviews last week. Trump received 5,501 pageviews, while Roque de la Fuente received 6,155 and Bill Weld received 4,951.

Click here to learn more about Presidential campaign 2020 pageviews on Ballotpedia.