CategoryFederal

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) expected to appoint new state election board this week; NC-09 election results remain uncertified

A revamped North Carolina State Board of Elections is expected to go into effect on or after January 31, 2019, following the dissolution of the old board last month.
 
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) will appoint three Democrats and two Republicans to the board from a list of nominees provided by each state party. Democratic nominees include three former members of the state board—Stella Anderson, Bob Cordle, and Valerie Johnson—and former Wake County election board member Greg Flynn.
 
Republicans have put forward former state board member Stacy Eggers, former Wake County board member Eddie Woodhouse, Buck Newton, and Francis De Luca.
 
While there is no board in place now, the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election are still pending as the board’s professional staff continues to investigate alleged election fraud. On January 22, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied Mark Harris’ request to certify the election results, saying it would be inappropriate for him to order certification while there was a pending investigation.


Senate rejects two proposals to end the partial government shutdown

On January 24, 2019, the U.S. Senate rejected two proposals to end the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018. The plan backed by President Donald Trump failed by a vote of 50-47. It needed 60 votes to pass. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the only Democrat who supported the bill. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans who opposed the bill. The legislation proposed allocating $5.7 billion in border-wall funding, providing temporary protections for DACA and certain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and funding unfunded government agencies.
 
The Democratic-backed plan failed by a vote of 52-44. Six Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Johnny Isakson (Ga.)—voted with Democrats for the continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8, 2019. It did not include funding for border security.
 
The votes took place on the 34th day of the partial shutdown. Trump said that he would not sign legislation to reopen the federal government if it does not include funding for a border wall or barrier. Democrats have refused to vote for funding for a border wall.


Richard Ojeda suspends 2020 presidential campaign

Former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda (D) suspended his 2020 campaign for President of the United States on Friday. Ojeda served in the West Virginia State Senate from 2016 through 2019. He lost a bid to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional district in 2018 to Carol Miller (R).
 
Ojeda was one of nine Democratic elected officials or notable public figures that had filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees.
 
Ojeda is the first to suspend a campaign.
 
The others still running:
* Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.
* Julian Castro, a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.
* John Delaney, a former U.S. representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
* Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.
* Kirsten Gillibrand, a U.S. senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.
* Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.
* Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.
* Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president on November 6, 2017.
 
As of January 24, 2019, 479 candidates had already filed with the FEC to run for president.


Federal Register weekly update; four final rules published as government shutdown continues

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
 
During the week of January 21 to January 25, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 212 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 406 pages. A total of 41 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 26 notices, nine presidential documents, two proposed rules, and four final rules.
 
One proposed rule was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
 
Due to the government shutdown, fewer pages have been added the Federal Register in 2019 as compared to recent years. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,052 pages. As of January 25, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 3,530 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 102 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of January 25. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017. Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016.
 
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.


Three years ago, Iowa caucuses were just around the corner

Three years ago more than a dozen presidential candidates were storming through Iowa, making their final pitches to voters ahead of the February 1, 2016 caucuses. The Des Moines Register announced its endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. The New York Times reported that Michael Bloomberg was considering a run for president as an independent. These are just two of the items you can read about in Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing from January 25, 2016.
 
Ultimately, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. Clinton received 49.84 percent, edging Bernie Sanders by less than 0.5 points. Cruz, with 27.7 percent, bested Donald Trump and nine other Republican candidates. Clinton received 23 delegates with the Iowa win, while Sanders earned 21. Cruz took 8 delegates from Iowa, while Trump and third-place finisher Rubio received 7 each.
 
Learn more about the 2016 presidential election below, and sign up for Ballotpedia’s presidential briefing, re-launching next week.


Trump administration asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide census citizenship question case early

On January 22, United States Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision made by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The district court ruled on January 15 that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by including a question regarding citizenship status in the 2020 census.
 
In most cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit would review the district court decision first, but Francisco argued that time constraints meant that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the district court decision directly. Francisco asked the court to grant a writ of certiorari before judgment, which would allow the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case without waiting for the 2nd Circuit. Francisco argued that his petition would allow enough time to resolve the citizenship question dispute before the June 2019 deadline to print the 2020 Census questionnaire.
 
Francisco also argued that the court should grant his petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment because the case presents an important question of federal law that ought to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. He argued that the case is a matter of national importance with massive and lasting consequences. According to SCOTUSblog, the U.S. Supreme Court has only granted such petitions in a handful of cases over the past 75 years.


Federal Register allows for publication of significant rules during government shutdown

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) issued guidance to administrative agencies on January 14, 2019, allowing for the publication of significant regulations during the government shutdown that, if otherwise delayed, would negatively impact funded government functions. Under the prior publication standard, the Federal Register could only publish emergency rules, such as those necessary to protect human life, provide emergency services, or safeguard property.
 
Significant regulations may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. They may also conflict with regulations from other agencies or presidential priorities. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) must review all significant regulations prior to publication in the Federal Register.
 
OFR received the new publication standards through guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice on January 11. The standards are drawn from a 1995 ruling by the Office of Legal Counsel, which held that “agency operations needed for government functions that do have appropriated funding may continue during a partial shutdown if the funding lapse would ‘prevent or significantly damage the execution of those funded functions,’” according to Bloomberg Government.
 
Following the change, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published a significant regulation in the Federal Register on January 18 concerning the department’s claims and appeals regulations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also published a significant rule on January 24 concerning payment parameters for certain health insurance exchanges.


President Trump resubmits 51 nominees for federal judgeships

On January 23, 2019, President Donald Trump (R) resubmitted 51 judicial nominations to the U.S. Senate. The nominees had been returned to the president earlier in January at the sine die adjournment of the 115th Congress.
 
The list included 37 nominees for the U.S. district courts, nine nominees for federal circuit courts of appeal, two nominees for the Court of Federal Claims, two for the Court of International Trade, and one for the Court of Military Commission Review.
 
At the adjournment of the 115th Congress on January 3, 19 of these nominees were awaiting a full Senate vote, 25 were awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and seven were awaiting a committee hearing.
 
There are currently 57 pending judicial nominations, including six nominees the president submitted on January 16.
 
The Senate has confirmed 85 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—53 district court judges, 30 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.


SCOTUS agrees to hear firearms case

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York. The case concerns provisions of New York City’s premises license that prevent a gun owner from transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits.
 
A group of New York gun owners is arguing that not being able to travel outside of the city limits with a handgun violates their Second Amendment right, the dormant Commerce Clause, the First Amendment right of expressive association, and the fundamental right to travel.
 
It is the first firearms case the court has agreed to hear since 2010 when it heard McDonald v. Chicago, in which it held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense applies to state and local gun laws. The case will likely be heard during the court’s October 2019-2020 term, according to SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe.


SCOTUS issues seventh unanimous ruling this term

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its seventh unanimous ruling of the 2018-2019 term in Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., a patent law case. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion affirming the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It was Justice Thomas’ third opinion this term.
 
The court has heard arguments in 43 cases and issued eight rulings so far. The court has agreed to hear arguments in 29 more cases this term.
 
The justices will return to the court on February 19, 2019, for oral arguments. Click here for a list of cases to be heard at the February sitting.