To date, 16 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 16 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:
As of this writing, 11 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, five nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 19 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
King was nominated to the Western District of Washington on May 12 to replace Judge Robert Lasnik, who assumed senior status on Jan. 27, 2016. King was rated as Well Qualified by a majority and Qualified by a minorityby theAmerican Bar Association. King will join the court upon receiving her judicial commission and taking her judicial oath.
King is a Muscogee Nation citizen. Once she receives her judicial commission, King will be the first Native American federal judge in Washington state’s history.
To date, 15 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. Forhistorical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 15 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:
As of this writing, 12 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, two nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 22 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local level. In this month’s issue:
California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting
Redistricting round-up: Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census (and other news)
Have a question/feedback/or just want to say hello? Respond to this email, or drop me a line directly at Jerrick@Ballotpedia.org.
California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting
On Sept. 27, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB37 into law, making California the eighth state to provide for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all future elections. Under the new law, local election officials must automatically deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters. In addition, AB37 modified the mail-in ballot return deadline. Ballots are considered “timely cast” if voted on or before Election Day and, when mailed, received by election officials no later than seven days after Election Day. Previously, the receipt deadline for ballots returned by mail was three days after Election Day. The law does not preclude people from voting in person.
On Sept. 2, 2021, the California Senate voted 30-7 to approve AB37. On Sept. 3, 2021, the California State Assembly followed suit, voting 60-17 in favor of the bill.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) said: “Voters like having options for returning their ballot whether by mail, at a secure drop box, a voting center or at a traditional polling station. And the more people who participate in elections, the stronger our democracy and the more we have assurance that elections reflect the will of the people of California.”
Meanwhile, California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said: “It’s no secret that Democrats have and will continue to try to manipulate election regulations for their political advantage. Republicans will hold them accountable through our election integrity operations – including litigation, where appropriate – and by recruiting and supporting candidates who will provide solutions to California’s numerous challenges.”
In the 2020 election cycle, California implemented universal, automatic mail-in voting on a temporary basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also implemented universal, automatic mail-in voting in this year’s gubernatorial recall.
Seven other states have implemented permanent all-mail voting systems: Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
Redistricting round-up: Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census (and other news)
In today’s round-up, we take a look at the following recent developments:
Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census.
Colorado redistricting commission approves final congressional map.
Ohio redistricting commission approves state legislative district maps on party-line vote.
Oregon: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census
On Sept. 27, Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative district maps into law, making Oregon the first state to enact new congressional maps in the current redistricting cycle. The state Senate approved the new congressional map 18-6. The state House of Representatives approved the new map 33-16. The state Senate approved the new legislative map 18-11. The House approved the new map 31-18. According to The Oregonian, the new congressional map creates three safe Democratic districts, one safe Republican district, one district that leans Democratic, and one toss-up.
Brown said, “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.”
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”
About redistricting in Oregon: In Oregon, the state legislature draws congressional and state legislative district maps. Maps are subject to veto by the governor.
If the legislature does not approve a redistricting plan for state legislative districts, the secretary of state draws the boundaries.
State law requires that congressional and state legislative districts meet the following criteria:
Districts must be contiguous.
Districts must “utilize existing geographic or political boundaries.”
Districts should not “divide communities of common interest.”
Districts should “be connected by transportation links.”
Districts “must not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent or other person.”
For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Oregon, click here.
Colorado: Redistricting commission approves final congressional map
On Sept. 28, the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final congressional district map. Eleven of the 12 commissioners voted in favor of the final map, which was one of nine proposed. The commission ultimately selected a version of the third staff plan, as amended by Commissioner Martha Coleman (D).
The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness said, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”
About redistricting in Colorado: On Nov. 6, 2018, Colorado voters approved constitutional amendments Y and Z, establishing separate non-politician commissions for congressional and state legislative redistricting. Each commission has four members belonging to the state’s largest political party, four members belonging to the state’s second-largest party, and four members belonging to no party. Commission members are appointed by a panel of three judges selected by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. The amendment requires at least eight of the commission’s 12 members, including at least two members not belonging to any political party, to approve a map.
For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Colorado, click here.
Ohio: Redistricting commission approves state legislative district maps on party-line vote
On Sept. 16,the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 vote. The two Democratic members of the commission, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), dissented. Since the maps were approved along partisan lines, they will remain in force for four years as opposed to 10, as required under the 2015 constitutional amendment that created the commission. These maps take effect for Ohio’s 2022 legislative elections.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R), a member of the commission, estimated that the new maps would create 62 Republican seats and 37 Democratic seats in the House, and 23 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats in the Senate. Cleveland.com reported that Democrats on the commission agreed with Huffman’s Senate estimates, but said the new House map would create 65 Republican seats and 34 Democratic seats.
For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Ohio, click here.
Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills
Redistricting legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 219 redistricting-related bills up for consideration in state legislatures.
Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.
ESG Developments This Week
In Washington, D.C.
Shareholder activist group alleges SEC bias in allowing companies to reject its shareholder proposals
In a press release on October 1, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, which describes itself as the only full-time shareholder activist organization working to keep politics out of capital markets, alleged that its opposition to ESG has made it a political target of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
When a shareholder proposal is submitted, the company to whom it is submitted may accept the proposal and fight it during proxy season. They may choose to negotiate with the activist shareholders who submitted the proposal, in order to keep it off the proxy ballot altogether. Or they can request that the SEC reject the proposal as immaterial. These decisions are made by SEC lawyers and not the commissioners. FEP accused those SEC lawyers of unfairly and illegitimately targeting their proposals for rejection, thereby politicizing the SEC:
“It would appear that the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) is encountering similar bias at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as Tea Party groups experienced from the Internal Revenue Service during the Obama Administration.
In the Biden era, the SEC has always sided with companies seeking to reject shareholder proposals filed by FEP. This is a dramatic change from past behavior, when the government agency sided with FEP on approximately half of the attempts by companies to leave proposals off their proxy statements….
Until recently, according to Fox Business, approximately half of the shareholder proposals FEP filed were rejected, and the SEC sided with FEP in “no action” challenges around half the time. But since President Biden entered office, the SEC has ruled against FEP every time.
“I guarantee you that, somewhere in the SEC’s posh D.C. headquarters, there is a letter directing staff to blacklist our proposals,” said National Center Executive Vice President Justin Danhof, Esq.
This would be reminiscent of the IRS’s treatment of Tea Party groups. In 2017, that agency admitted that Tea Party and other conservative groups received extraordinary scrutiny during the Obama Administration because of their political beliefs.
One example of the suspicious circumstances surrounding FEP’s proposals is a rejection challenge by AT&T. The FEP proposal asked for an annual report “listing and analyzing” the previous year’s corporate charitable contributions. Despite the SEC defending a similar proposal in the past when Wells Fargo tried to reject it, and noting that such contributions are “beyond a company’s business operations,” the Biden SEC still sided with AT&T and allowed it to reject the FEP proposal.
“All of [FEP’s proposals] were good proposals,” Justin explained, “meaning we had prior precedent that the SEC had allowed very similar language in the past.””
On Wall Street and in the private sector
BlackRock scores, predicts ‘vast reallocation’ into ESG
If the trend continues, and if ESG reallocations continue to favor the biggest firms, then BlackRock shareholders can expect, what Philipp Hildebrand, the vice chairman of BlackRock, predicted this week will be a ‘vast reallocation’ into ESG:
“Global capital markets are about to witness a seismic shift of capital into products that promise to support environmental, social and governance goals, according to Philipp Hildebrand, the vice chairman of BlackRock Inc.
“The long-term story is clear,” Hildebrand said in an interview on Friday with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua. “We’re going to continue to see a vast reallocation of capital toward sustainable products.”…
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $9.5 trillion in client money, plans to expand its range of ESG products, Hildebrand said. The firm is already the biggest provider of ESG exchange-traded funds as investors increasingly look for cheaper, passive strategies within sustainability….
“Our job as an asset manager is to increase the scope of our product offering, ensure that it’s transparent and continue to innovate together with the index providers to make sure we can offer more choices,” Hildebrand said.”
ESG and private equity
In the midst of the confusion surrounding ESG disclosures by publicly traded companies and the plethora of standards offered for asset managers, a handful of private equity investment managers have banded together to set standards for their segment of the financial services business. According toReuters, this is the first attempt by private equity investors to broach the subject of ESG reporting standards:
“A group of global private equity firms and pensions funds managing over $4 trillion in assets said on Thursday they have agreed to standardize reporting on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance of portfolio companies.
The group, led by Carlyle Group (CG.O) and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), will track data on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, board diversity and other metrics of companies in their portfolio….
“We have found it challenging to effectively measure impact in our private equity portfolio because of the multitude of frameworks and definitions used,” said Marcie Frost, chief executive officer of CalPERS, which is the largest U.S. public pension fund.
The investor group also includes Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Blackstone Inc (BX.N), Sweden’s EQT AB (EQTAB.ST), Permira and CVC Capital Partners.
Under the initiative, private equity firms will gather and report ESG metrics from their portfolio companies, starting from this year. Boston Consulting Group, a consulting firm, will aggregate the data into an anonymized benchmark.
The founding group plans to meet on an annual basis to assess prior year’s data and build on initial metrics, the statement said.”
In the spotlight
ESG whistleblower joins Bloomberg New Economy Conversations panel
Former CIO for sustainable investing at BlackRock, Tariq Fancy, who has argued that ESG is a placebo and a distraction, recently appeared on an ESG panel discussing and debating the merits of the investment trend with others who appear mildly skeptical of ESG narratives. Andrew Browne, the editorial director of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, told the tale as follows:
“Fancy’s argument draws on a sports metaphor. Wall Street is focused on scoring points (maximizing profits) not good sportsmanship (being a responsible investor.) To save the planet, you have to change the rules of the game. Ultimately, that means forcing companies to alter their ways by taxing their carbon emissions.
Fancy, a Canadian born to parents who emigrated from Kenya, turned whistle-blower to spark public debate. In that spirit, I invited him to join a panel on this week’s edition of Bloomberg New Economy Conversations along with Anne Simpson, the director for Board Governance & Sustainability at CalPERS, the California Public Employees System. Also on the show was Noel Quinn, the Group Chief Executive of HSBC.
The funds that Simpson represents are anything but trivial: close to $500 billion in CalPERS, and another $55 trillion (with a “t”) as part of a group that CalPERS helped form called Climate Action 100+, which describes itself as “an investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.”
This financial firepower is highly directed. Fewer than 100 companies in CalPERS equity portfolio account for more than 80% of all its emissions. Simpson’s goal is to hold the boards of these companies—steel and cement makers, utilities, aviation companies and so on—accountable. One approach: force them to align executive compensation with “net zero” goals.
Like Fancy, Simpson is skeptical of the green marketing pitch fueling the rise of ESG funds. “Snake oil is as old as the hills,” she said. But Simpson takes issue with Fancy’s contention that government alone must drive change. In her view, regulators should set standards for corporate disclosure on climate change risk but a “partnership between public, private and civil society is what’s needed to get us over the line.”…
Yet Fancy’s insider revelations have drawn much-needed attention to industry abuses. His accusations of greenwashing are backed by academic research.
A recent report by EDHEC, one of Europe’s top business schools, found that climate factors represent at most 12% of ESG portfolio stock weights on average. To boost their “green scores,” funds simply underweight sectors like electricity, which does nothing to greenify the economy. Bizarrely, the report finds that ESG funds “favor companies whose climate performance deteriorates over time.”
“From everything I saw,” Fancy said of his time running ESG investing, “being irresponsible is actually profitable, right?” He added that “most of what we were doing wasn’t really creating any systemic change as much as lulling a fantasy that was delaying the action by government required to create that.””
In September 2021, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed 38 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. OIRA approved one of these rules with no changes and approved the intent of 35 rules while recommending changes to their content. Two rules were withdrawn from the review process by the issuing agencies.
OIRA reviewed 48 significant regulatory actions in September 2020, 42 significant regulatory actions in September 2019, 21 significant regulatory actions in September 2018, and 16 significant regulatory actions in September 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 45 significant regulatory actions each September.
OIRA has reviewed a total of 383 significant rules in 2021. The agency reviewed a total of 676 significant rules in 2020, 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.
As of October 1, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 89 regulatory actions under review.
OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.
Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, click here.
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, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.
From September 27 through October 1, the Federal Register grew by 1,402 pages for a year-to-date total of 54,586 pages.
The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
This week’s Federal Register featured the following 638 documents:
Four presidential documents
39 proposed rules
93 final rules
Three proposed rules, including standards related to the manufacture of class II ozone-depleting substances for feedstock from the Environmental Protection Agency, and 11 final rules, including rulemaking and guidance procedures from the Education Department, were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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. The Biden administration has issued 64 significant proposed rules, 80 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of October 1.
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.
Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.
President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 14 Article III federal judges through Oct. 1, 2021, his first year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed seven of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Oct. 1 of their first year in office is seven.
The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Three presidents (Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Trump) made one appointment. Three presidents (George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Biden) had not appointed any.
The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is two. Biden appointed the most with five. Ronald Reagan, Clinton, and Obama appointed the fewest with one each.
The median number of United States District Court appointees is three. Reagan appointed the most with 11. Obama appointed the fewest with one.
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.
In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts during the month of September through Oct. 1. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.
Nominations: There were 18 new nominations since the August 2021 report.
Confirmations: There were five confirmations since the August 2021 report.
Four judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its first argument sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4. The court will hear arguments in person for the first time since March 2020. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh will participate remotely, due to testing positive for coronavirus on Sept. 30.
This week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases for a total of five hours of oral argument. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
Mississippi v. Tennesseeconcerns a dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee involving an aquifer’s groundwater. The case comes under the court’s original jurisdiction as it is a dispute among states, meaning SCOTUS is the first court to hear the case.
Brown v. Davenportconcerns a circuit split over the standard necessary to grant federal habeas relief to a person held in state custody. A writ of habeas corpus is used in federal courts to determine if an individual’s imprisonment is lawful. A circuit split occurs when two or more U.S. circuit courts issue rulings with opposite interpretations of federal law.
Hemphill v. New York concerns a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to be confronted by the witnesses against him.
United States v. Zubaydahconcerns the state-secrets privilege, an evidentiary rule that allows the government to withhold information if disclosure would harm national security.
Next week, SCOTUS will hear four hours of oral argument in four cases.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases this term. Two cases were dismissed after they were granted. Nine cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.
Shurtleff v. City of Bostonconcerns religion, government speech, and whether a city flagpole is a public forum. The case originated from the 1st Circuit.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases during the term. SCOTUS dismissed two cases after they were accepted. Nine cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.
On Oct. 1, SCOTUS announced that Justice Brett Kavanaugh tested positive for coronavirus. The court stated that Kavanaugh tested positive on Thursday, Sept. 30, following a routine test, adding that he was asymptomatic and had been fully vaccinated since January 2021. Kavanaugh did not attend the Oct. 1 investiture ceremony for Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Kavanaugh and the other eight justices had tested negative as of Monday, Sept. 27, prior to the justices’ conference.