CategoryFederal

President Donald Trump issues second veto of his presidency

President Donald Trump (R) vetoed a Congressional resolution directing the removal of U.S. troops from Yemen Tuesday. It was his second veto since taking office.
 
The measure, which had been proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), passed 54-46 in the Senate, with seven Republicans joining Democrats to vote in favor. It passed the House 247-175 with 16 Republicans in favor. It would require 67 votes in the Senate and 290 in the House to override the President’s veto.
 
This marked the second veto of Trump’s presidency. The first was issued on March 15, 2019, of a resolution overriding his declaration of a national emergency on the border with Mexico.
 
At this point in their first terms, both Barack Obama (D) and Bill Clinton (D) had issued two vetoes. George H.W. Bush (R) had issued 20 vetoes while Ronald Reagan (R) had issued 16. George W. Bush (R) did not issue any vetoes until his second term.
 
Barack Obama (D) and George W. Bush (R) each issued 12 vetoes over the course of their two terms—the least of any president since World War II. The record for number of vetoes issued is 635, held by Franklin D. Roosevelt (D).
 
In U.S. history, 2,576 vetoes have been issued and 111 of those have been overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. Seven presidents issued no vetoes during their time in office. The most recent was James Garfield (R), who served until his assassination in 1881.
 


SCOTUS hears arguments on vulgar trademarks and the First Amendment

On April 15, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Iancu v. Brunetti.
 
Erik Brunetti tried registering a trademark for his clothing brand but was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which said that the trademark violated the Lanham Act. The act states that a trademark can be refused when it “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter.”
 
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with the office’s initial decision not to grant the trademark. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that denying Brunetti’s trademark violated his First Amendment right to free speech.
 
The director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office appealed this decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
 
The Supreme Court also heard arguments in Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian on the same day. Iancu v. Brunetti is one of five cases from the Federal Circuit that will be heard during the Supreme Court’s October 2018-2019 term. During the term, the court will hear a total of 75 cases.
 


Third federal judge strikes down citizenship question on 2020 U.S. Census

Judge George Jarrod Hazel of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland became the third federal judge to block a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census on April 5, 2019. Hazel ruled in a consolidated case that the question, in his view, was unconstitutional and a violation of administrative law.
 
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross approved the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census in March 2018. The question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”
 
Hazel claimed that the citizenship question violates the U.S. Constitution because it could hinder the government’s responsibility under the Enumeration Clause to count every person living in the United States. He also claimed that the Trump administration failed to follow proper administrative procedure when it added the citizenship question to the U.S. Census. He wrote, “The decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the [Administrative Procedure Act]” and “ran counter to the evidence before the agency.” Ross has stated that he added the citizenship question to the 2020 census at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
 
Three federal judges had blocked the citizenship question from appearing on 2020 census forms as of April 2019. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the question in Department of Commerce v. New York on April 23, 2019. A ruling is expected in June 2019.
 


Trump renominates 12 federal judicial nominees

On April 8, President Donald Trump (R) announced his intent to renominate 12 federal judicial nominees to U.S. District Courts. The nominees had been returned to the president on January 3, 2019, at the sine die adjournment of the 115th Congress.
 
At the 115th Congress’ adjournment, 31 nominees were awaiting a full Senate vote, 24 were awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 16 were awaiting a committee hearing. The president has renominated 68 of the 71 returned nominees. Trump has not re-submitted three names: Thomas Farr, Gordon Giampietro, and John O’Connor.
 
Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 95 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—56 district court judges, 37 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices.
 
The president has announced 179 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018.
 


Senate confirms two nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships

The U.S. Senate confirmed two nominees to U.S. District Courts on April 9, 2019.
 
Daniel Domenico, nominee to the District of Colorado, was confirmed by a 57-42 vote. Four Democratic senators–Michael Bennet (Colo.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)–voted with all Senate Republicans to confirm Domenico. When Domenico receives his commission, he will be the first judge nominated by Trump to join the seven-member court. He will join two judges nominated by President George W. Bush (R) and three judges nominated by President Barack Obama (D). The court will have one vacant seat.
 
Patrick Wyrick, nominee to the Western District of Oklahoma, was confirmed by a 53-47 vote along party lines. Wyrick will join two other judges nominated by Trump and two judges nominated by George W. Bush on the seven-member court. There are two vacancies.
 
Domenico and Wyrick are the second and third nominees, respectively, to be confirmed to a U.S. District Court under a new precedent the Senate established last week.
 
On April 3, 2019, the U.S. Senate voted 51-48 in favor of a change to chamber precedent lowering the maximum time allowed for debate on executive nominees to posts below the Cabinet level and on nominees to district court judgeships from 30 hours after invoking cloture to two.
 
The change was passed under a procedure which requires 51 votes rather than 60 that is often referred to as the nuclear option.
 


Miami will host first set of Democratic presidential primary debates in June

The Democratic National Committee announced on March 28 that the first set of Democratic primary debates will be held in Miami, Florida, on June 26 and 27. The debates will be broadcast by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo.
 
A candidate can qualify for these debates by polling performance or fundraising from individual donors. Under the first option, a candidate must receive 1 percent support or more in three national or early state polls from a select list of organizations and institutions. Under the second option, a candidate must receive donations from at least 65,000 unique individual donors. Additionally, they must have a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.
 
No more than 20 candidates—10 candidates on stage each night—will be able to participate.
 
Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, brought the number of notable Democratic candidates in the race to 16 on March 28. He formally announced that he was running for president, having launched a presidential exploratory committee two weeks ago.
 


Party fundraising update: Republican committees raise $54.4 million, Democratic committees raise $39.6 million

Republican Party Congressional party committees outraised their Democratic counterparts in the first two months of 2019 $54.4 million to $39.6 million, in line with trends from the 2018 campaign cycle.
 
The committees are the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), along with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
 
The DCCC was the one Democratic group to raise more money than its Republican counterpart in the first two months of 2019. It raised $19.0 million to the NRCC’s $12.1 million and spent $14.1 million compared to the NRCC’s $11.3 million. However, the NRCC had more cash on hand than the DCCC ($17.4 million to $10.4 million), and less debt ($5.8 million to $12.0 million). The DCCC raised more than the NRCC in 2018, $191.0 million to $120.8 million.
 
The RNC raised $30.3 million to the DNC’s $12.7 million. The RNC also spent more than the DNC ($22.7 million to $13.8 million) and had nearly five times the cash on hand as the DNC ($31.1 million to $7.5 million). In 2018, the RNC raised $192.4 million to the DNC’s $109.8 million and spent $207.6 million to the DNC’s $107.9 million.
 
The NRSC raised $12.0 million, while the DSCC raised $7.9 million, and spent $9.9 million to the DSCC’s $2.9 million. The DSCC reported more cash on hand, with $11.2 million to the NRSC’s $9.6 million, and nearly twice as much debt ($21.0 million to the NRSC’s $12.0 million). In 2018, the NRSC raised $109.7 million and spent $117.4 million to the DSCC’s $94.3 million raised and $107.1 million spent.
 
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SCOTUS hears arguments in two partisan gerrymandering cases

On March 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in two partisan gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek. During the course of arguments, the justices appeared divided over the issues central to both cases: are partisan gerrymandering claims justiciable under federal law, and should federal courts intervene to settle disputes over alleged partisan gerrymandering?
 
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the court by Pres. Donald Trump (R), asked Emmet Bondurant, counsel for Common Cause, the following: “What do we do as well about the — the fact that about 20 states, as I understand it, from — from your friend on the other side, have dealt with this problem through citizen initiatives as a remedy to deal with this, including, I think, five of them just this last election and a bunch more on the ballot in the coming election. Why should we wade into this — when that alternative exists?”
 
Associate Justice Elena Kagan, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, disputed Gorsuch’s claim: “I mean, going down that road would suggest that Justice Gorsuch’s attempt to sort of say this is not so bad because the people can fix it is not so true because you’re suggesting that the people really maybe can’t fix it, you were wrong about the people being able to fix it, and if the people could fix it, while it’s not the constitutionally prescribed way because it’s never been done before, so Justice Gorsuch’s attempts to save what’s so dramatically wrong here, which is the Court leaving this all to professional politicians who have an interest in districting according to their own partisan interests, seems to fail.”
 
Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, echoed Gorsuch’s inquiry: “But what about, to pick up on something Justice Gorsuch said earlier, that there is a fair amount of activity going on in the states on redistricting and attention in Congress and in state supreme courts? In other words, have we reached the moment, even though it would be a — have we really reached the moment, even though it would be a big lift for this Court to get involved, where the other actors can’t do it?”
 
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, responded as follows to the point made by Paul Clement, counsel for Rucho, that partisan gerrymandering claims are not justiciable under federal law: “Once we decided the one person, one vote concept, we’ve been pretty much in all of our jurisprudence saying that certain acts by the legislature are unconstitutional, including race discrimination and others. It can’t be that simply because the Constitution says that a particular act is in the hands of one — one branch of government, that that deprives the courts of reviewing whether that action is constitutional or not.
 
The high court is expected to rule on both cases prior to the conclusion of the current term in June of this year.
 
The phrase partisan gerrymandering refers to the practice of drawing electoral district maps with the intention of favoring one political party over another. In contrast with racial gerrymandering, on which issue the Supreme Court of the United States has issued rulings in the past affirming that such practices violate federal law, the high court has not yet a ruling establishing clear precedent on the question of partisan gerrymandering. Although the court heard two partisan gerrymandering cases last term, it ruled on procedural and standing grounds in each, without addressing the question of justiciability.
 
For more information about these cases, see our articles:
 


Senate confirms 9th Circuit Court nominee

The U.S. Senate confirmed Bridget Bade to be a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The vote on Tuesday was bipartisan, with 53 Republican senators, 24 Democratic senators, and Independent Angus King voting in favor. Home-state Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R) of Arizona both voted to confirm Bade. The overall vote was 78-21 (with 1 abstaining).
 
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal courts. On August 27, 2018, President Donald Trump (R) nominated Bade to a seat on this court. She will join the court upon receiving her judicial commission and taking her judicial oath. Bade will be the fourth Trump nominee to join the 29-member court. She is the 37th appeals court judge to be confirmed under President Donald Trump.
 
Before Bade’s confirmation, the court had 24 members–16 appointed by a Democratic president and eight appointed by a Republican president. There were five vacant seats. Bade’s confirmation leaves four vacant seats.
 
Four nominees for the vacant seats are awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Daniel Bress and Patrick Bumatay are awaiting a hearing before the committee. Daniel Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee are awaiting a committee vote.
 
The Senate has confirmed 92 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—53 district court judges, 37 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
 


Sen. Tom Udall (D) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D) not running for re-election

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that they would not seek re-election in 2020. Udall and Serrano are the fifth and sixth members of the 116th Congress, and the first Democrats, to announce they will not run for re-election.
 
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) have already announced their intention to not run again. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Penn.) left office early, and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) died in February.
 
At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, more members had left office early but fewer had announced that they would not seek re-election. Five members of Congress—four Republicans and one Democrat—had announced that they were not planning to seek re-election in 2018. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas) retired from elected office, while Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), and Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) had launched campaigns for governor.
 
Six members had left Congress early. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) had been appointed to positions in the Trump administration. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) had been appointed California attorney general.
 
In the 2018 campaign cycle, 55 members of Congress announced that they would not seek re-election while a further 20 members left office early. Both figures were the highest since Ballotpedia began tracking congressional retirements and early departures in 2012.
 


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