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.

Electoral history of U.S. Senate elections in Tennessee

On December 17, 2018, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that he would not seek re-election to his seat in 2020. He was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014. Alexander was previously a two-term governor of Tennessee and served for two years as the U.S. Secretary of Education under George H. W. Bush.
Both U.S. Senators from Tennessee have been Republicans since 1995. The last time a Democrat won a Senate election in the state was in 1990 when then-Senator and future Vice President Al Gore won re-election to his second term.
Democrats held both U.S. Senate seats in the state from 1913 through 1994, with two exceptions. Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R) served three terms from 1967 until 1985, and William Brock (R) represented the state for one term in the 1970s.

Sen. Kamala Harris announces 2020 presidential run

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) became the seventh Democratic elected official to enter the 2020 presidential race, announcing her run Monday on Good Morning America. She was first elected to the Senate in 2016 after previously serving as California’s attorney general.
Harris joins former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro, former Rep. John Delaney (Md.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and state Sen. Richard Ojeda (W.V.) in running for the Democratic nomination. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) also formed an exploratory committee last month.
Ballotpedia’s latest tracking count details 49 politicians and public figures that have been discussed as potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
More than 470 people have filed with the FEC as candidates for the 2020 presidential race, including 143 Democrats, 64 Republicans, 18 Libertarians, and 10 members of the Green Party.
Juan Rodriguez, who led Harris’ 2016 campaign for Senate, will serve as her campaign manager. Maya Harris, her sister and a senior policy advisor on the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign, will be her campaign chair.

Marino will be first House member in current Congress to leave office early; 20 did so prior to the 2018 elections

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) announced that he will resign from office on January 23, 2019, to take a job in the private sector. It’s likely he won’t be alone in leaving his Congressional seat early—20 members of the 115th Congress (2017 and 2018) did so before their terms expired.
Seventeen U.S. House members left the 115th Congress early: 14 Republicans and three Democrats.
Democrats picked up three of the seats vacated by Republicans. All were in Pennsylvania, where Congressional districts were re-drawn by the state Supreme Court in early 2018: Pennsylvania’s 7th, 15th, and 18th Congressional districts.
Republicans did not flip any of the House districts vacated by a Democrat.
Three members of the U.S. Senate in the 115th Congress left office early: Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Democrat Doug Jones won the seat that Sessions vacated. Republicans held the seat that Cochran vacated, and Democrats held the seat that Franken vacated.

Congressional approval at 17% – lowest rating since Sept 2018

Yesterday’s congressional approval rating was 17 percent, according to Ballotpedia’s polling average. The congressional approval rating indicates public satisfaction in the job performance of the members of the United States Congress.
The 17 percent rating was the lowest rating since the week of September 24, 2018, when the rating was also 17 percent. Since January 2017, the lowest congressional approval rating was 12 percent in April, October, and November 2017, and April 2018. The highest approval rating was 25 percent in February and March 2017.