The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will continue and conclude its first argument sitting of the2021-2022 term this week. The court is hearing arguments in person for the first time since March 2020 and is providing a livestream of argument audio.
This week,SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases for a total of four hours and five minutes of oral argument. The case Thompson v. Clark is scheduled for 65 minutes of argument.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
Thompson v. Clarkconcerns SCOTUS’ favorable termination rule established in Heck v. Humphrey (1994). The favorable termination rule established that before a plaintiff can sue alleging an unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the earlier criminal or appellate proceedings ultimately ended favorably for the plaintiff, indicating their innocence.
United States v. Tsarnaev concerns the death penalty convictions of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for 30 criminal offenses related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Babcock v. Kijakazi concerns the requirements and interpretation of uniformed service for civil service pension payment plans under the Social Security Act.
The court’s November argument sitting is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and conclude on Nov. 10. The court will hear five hours of oral argument during the first week and four during the second week of the session.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases this term. Three cases were dismissed after they were granted. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.
Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board—three at-large and six district seats—are up for general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Twenty-two candidates qualified to run in the race by the Aug. 20, 2021 filing deadline. If necessary, a runoff election is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2021.
Six incumbents are seeking re-election: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large District 8), Jason Esteves (At-Large District 9), Aretta Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Erika Yvette Mitchell (District 5), and Eshé Collins (District 6). Three incumbents are not seeking reelection: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4).
With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023 when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Of the incumbent candidates in this election, Esteves and Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Brown, Mitchell and Olympiadis opposed it.
COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, Atlanta Public Schools released a statement on Oct. 7, 2021, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”
The 2021 election is the last election when every board seat is up for election simultaneously. Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The candidates who win in odd-numbered districts will serve a two-year term ending December 31, 2023. Candidates who win seats in even-numbered districts will serve a four-year term ending Dec. 31, 2025.
Atlanta Public Schools is located in northwestern Georgia in Fulton County and DeKalb County. It is classified as a large city school district by the National Center for Education Statistics. The district served 52,377 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 89 schools.
Those who want to vote in Boston’s Nov. 2 city elections must be registered to do so by Wednesday, Oct. 13. Voters who have moved need to re-register with their current address. Bostonians may register online, by mail, or in person by bringing their form to Boston City Hall. Mailed registration forms must be postmarked on or before Oct. 13.
Boston will vote for mayor and 13 city council seats next month. Nine council seats are elected by district and four are elected citywide. Three council seats are uncontested. There are five open council seats up for election. Four city councilors ran in the Aug. 3 mayoral primary. The two who advanced to the general, Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu, are at-large city councilors.
Boston will have its first elected female mayor after this year’s election. Acting Mayor Kim Janey is the first woman to hold the office. She succeeded Marty Walsh, who resigned to become secretary of labor in President Joe Biden’s Cabinet in March. Janey was city council president at the time.
Early in-person voting will take place from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29. Those wishing to vote by mail must return their postcard application for a mail-in ballot by Oct. 27.
Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.
Here are the policy changes that happened Oct. 12-16, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here.
Monday, Oct. 12, 2020
Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
The Michigan Supreme Court voted 6-1 to deny Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) request to delay enforcement of its Oct. 2 decision finding her emergency powers used in response to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional. Whitmer had asked the court to delay its decision for 28 days so her administration could negotiate new restrictions with the legislature.
Ohio nursing homes were allowed to resume indoor visitations. Facilities that resumed visitations were required to screen visitors and report their names to state authorities. Only two visitors were allowed at a time for a maximum of 30 minutes.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld a directive by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s order suspending the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
Tuesday, Oct, 13, 2020
Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
Maine entered Stage 4 of reopening. Stage 4 allowed indoor activities and businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and religious gatherings to expand operations to 50% capacity or up to 100 people (whichever was less). The order also required masks in municipal buildings and private schools and expanded enforcement of the face-covering mandate.
New Hampshire Superior Court Judge David Anderson ruled Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was not required to obtain the legislature’s approval to spend federal dollars in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic legislative leaders filed the lawsuit, alleging that Gov. Sununu did not have the authority to unilaterally spend CARES Act funds.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stayed a lower court’s order that had extended Indiana’s return deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots. As a result, the original receipt deadline (noon on Nov. 3) was reinstated.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that had extended Arizona’s voter registration deadline. The court set Oct. 15 as the new registration deadline.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court order suspending Alabama’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in voters with underlying medical conditions. The panel also reversed the lower court’s order waiving photo identification requirements for voters 65 and older.
Federal government responses:
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order granting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s request to pause a lower court decision that required the 2020 census population count to continue through Oct. 31 while the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit looked at the case. The order was unsigned, with the exception of a dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Wednesday, Oct, 14, 2020
Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill making permanent a provision allowing restaurants to sell to-go alcoholic beverages. The law went into effect immediately. Restaurants had been allowed to offer to-go alcoholic beverages earlier in the year on a temporary basis to help them stay afloat while the state was under a stay-at-home order.
The Ohio Department of Health updated its travel advisory to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asked visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks. At the time, the list included South Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Nevada, and Indiana, all states with spiking coronavirus cases.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney ordered that Virginia’s voter registration deadline be extended from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina Judge William Osteen ordered election officials to enforce the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots. Osteen allowed other ballot curing provisions, and the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline (Nov. 12 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day), to stand.
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020
Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program went into effect, allowing visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine if they could present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers who tested positive or whose results were pending were still required to quarantine.
Eviction and foreclosure policies:
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire.
Friday, Oct. 16, 2020
Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added additional restrictions to the state’s public health order. Bars and restaurants that served alcohol were required to close by 10 p.m. every evening, and gatherings were limited to a maximum of five individuals.Travelers from states with COVID-19 positivity rates exceeding 5% could no longer present a recent negative coronavirus test to avoid the state’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement. Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Nov. 13.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) moved 16 counties into the “high risk” category due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants, and large venues in “high risk” areas were advised to cap capacity at 25% or 50 people in total.
A three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court order that had extended Michigan’s receipt deadline for absentee/mail-in ballots. The appellate panel reinstated the original receipt deadline: 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.
The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.
In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.
Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another four members of the nine-member school board. They said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.
Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.
Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.
Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.
Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.
In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Birmingham, Ala., held a general runoff election on Oct. 5. The runoff was necessary after no candidate earned a majority of the vote in several races during the general election on Aug. 24.
Candidates competed for two seats on the nine-seat city council. Challengers defeated incumbents in both districts. J.T. Moore won the District 4 seat against incumbent William Parker, earning 58.4% of the vote to Parker’s 41.6%. In District 9, LaTonya Tate received 51.6% of the vote to defeat incumbent John Hilliard, who received 48.4%.
Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.
On Sept. 21, Port Angeles City Council Position #2 incumbent Mike French and challenger John Madden participated in an online candidate forum. The Port Angeles Business Association hosted the event.
French, who was elected to the city council in 2017, is the owner and operator of the First Street Haven Restaurant. Madden owns Ready Remodeling.
Over the span of an hour, the candidates discussed topics that included, among other things, the coronavirus pandemic, housing, the city budget, and the future of the city. What follows is a selection of the candidates’ responses.
Moderator: “Would each of you please articulate your thoughts on the current requirements in place [referring to a Clallam County and Jefferson County proof-of-vaccination requirement enacted by the North Olympic Peninsula health officer on Sept. 2]. What if anything would you change in them, and how long do you believe this pandemic would run if your particular policies were in place or you had the ability to set regulations.”
Mike French: “I support what the local health officer is doing, I think that she clearly has the authority to do this, and I think that, as a small business owner, it was definitely jarring to have that mandate come out with maybe, I think two days warning, you know, for all the policies at my restaurant. That was certainly jarring. She had signaled that this was something she was thinking about in the previous meeting. So, I certainly would have loved more notice if I had to do it over again.”
John Madden: “This is something that has to be done with support from the public and cannot be foisted on people, especially by dictatorial means. I’m very sensitive about breaches of the Constitution, and I would just like to see us return to a model that honors the integrity and individual choice of the human being. I see other countries dealing with this pandemic in a way that is a lot more effective, and they have reached herd immunity a long time ago, without shutdowns, masking, or forcing people to take an experimental vaccination.”
Moderator: “Affordable and available housing is an issue—it’s an issue not just for citizens to find a place but for us to attract very good professionals in here. With that said could each of you please articulate what you think is causing this problem and what is anything you could do as an individual council person or as a council together.”
Mike French: “I think in general this is a supply issue, and that’s why for the past four years, I’ve been really focused on what can government do to get out of the way so that markets can function, I think, more effectively. What we’ve tried to do is say, in our permitting processes, in our regulations, what is under our control and what is not under our control, because I think a lot people, there’s this impression that oh this is all the state, the state is doing all this. But that’s actually not true. What we found was that actually had a lot that was under our control. And so you know, two years ago, we did basically zoning reform citywide that was really targeted toward how can we make it more affordable for developers and people to remodel and add housing, both existing housing stock and new housing stock. I think what we did was we made a lot of parcels actually a lot more valuable for development in the city of Port Angeles by allowing them to be subdivided or allowing different rules on setback and all those kinds of things. And I think that was really successful and I think that’s in the long run going to be part of the solution . But of course then there’s advocacy work to be done on what the state rules are.”
John Madden: “This is where we need to have lower income housing available for people. What you’re running against here is a market dynamic where you’ve got AirBnBs and that type of offering, and in our situation right here now, we have a very limited stock of available rooms. People in their homes are inviting people from who knows where, whatever part of the world they’re from, to come and stay in one of their bedrooms for profit. A free market society does that and I don’t think it’s the purview of the city council to interfere with that. I believe more people will open up their homes to low-income housing and that’s going to take some guidance, because there are some considerations that need to be addressed in terms of health, community safety, and most of all contamination of our environment. We’re seeing this in places where the homeless are camping in different locations in town.”
Moderator: “How solid of ground do each of you think the Port Angeles budget is on? Where do you think our budget’s major concerns are especially as we extrapolate into the future?”
Mike French: “My focus for the budget is on how much capacity as a staff—our city staff—to respond to the issues that our citizens really expect us to respond to, not just in law enforcement and code enforcement, but in our building division. Are we delivering enough speed on building permit turnaround. That’s the question that this council is really focused on in our strategic plan is building staff capacity so that we can be responsive as a city to our citizens demands.”
John Madden: “I believe that a portion of our income in this city comes from tourism and we’ve had a problem with the ferry, so this is a fairly significant thing that needs to be addressed. There are certain elements outside of our control with these shutdowns all this type of behavior, but in the long run I believe the budget is not going to be as much of an issue because you’re going to have a resurgence of businesses coming into this city. Right now you see a lot of businesses that have been closed down as a result of the pandemic. I don’t think there are too many other reasons why businesses have been shut down over the last 18 months. As a community we need to work toward getting back to what we called “normal” before, and I believe it’s possible.”
The future of Port Angeles
Moderator: “Tell us how you see Port Angeles in 10 years from now, and most importantly, what would you be doing as a council member to help get to the vision that you see Port Angeles 10 years in the future.”
Mike French: “I really see us growing into a sustainable tourism economy that also has industry as a major sector. And I think that’s something that our community has shown a lot of favor toward through a lot of these open houses that we have. I think that in downtown we can build up, we can get more dense, we can have people living downtown, I think we can transform downtown into a really pedestrian-friendly experience. When a visitor comes to Port Angeles and says what do I need to see, we send them away. We say go to Hurricane Ridge, go to Lake Crescent. What I want to say is, yeah, of course you want to do those things, those are amazing things that show the natural beauty of our area. You also have to visit downtown. That needs to be the third thing on our list of unforgettable Port Angeles experiences and we need to bring our downtown product up to the level where it’s competitive with someone visiting Hurricane Ridge or going out and visiting Lake Crescent.”
John Madden: “Now that we’ve gone through, it’s important to note that we’ve got a sports arena where the younger people can go and play racquet ball, pickle ball, possibly, we have a swimming place here, that’s wonderful. We have all kinds of activities that are healthy for people to engage in. I’m glad that we’ve returned to having exercise at the senior center. That’s extremely important for the health of our people. I know that with population growth, there will be density issues that need to be addressed. I know that we have a new building downtown with mixed-use, which is a good way of dealing with housing and retail combined. It’s hard to see 10 years from now, but I’m optimistic. ”
To watch the full forum, click here. Click here to learn more about elections Clallam County in 2021.
Former candidate for mayor of New York and president of the United States Andrew Yang announced his registration as an independent on Oct. 4, 2021. Yang previously belonged to the Democratic Party since 1995.
Yang ran for mayor of New York in 2021 as a Democrat. He lost during Round 7 of the Democratic Party’s ranked-choice voting primary. Yang also ran as a Democrat in the 2020 race for president of the United States, filing his candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017, and suspending his campaign on Feb. 11, 2020.
Yang announced his party change on Oct. 4 via a blog post on his personal website. Of his decision to change his party affiliation, he said, “My goal is to do as much as I can to advance our society. There are phenomenal public servants doing great work every day – but our system is stuck. It is stuck in part because polarization is getting worse than ever. Many of the people I know are doing all of the good they can – but their impact is constrained. Now that I’m not a member of one party or another, I feel like I can be even more honest about both the system and the people in it…I believe I can reach people who are outside the system more effectively. I feel more . . . independent.”
Three city council candidates in Sequim, Wa., completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in recent weeks. Sequim is located in Clallam County, in the northwestern corner of the state.
Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections on Nov. 2 in Clallam County’s three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In Sequim, eleven offices are up for election, including seats on the city council, the school board, and the water district.
Incumbent Rachel Anderson is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 4 against challenger Daryl Ness. She listed the following three key campaign messages:
“I believe I’m the best choice for City Council seat 4 because I have shown my dedication and commitment to the community. My time as Head Start Policy Council Chairperson, an Olympic Community Action Programs Board Member, a Sequim Education Foundation Board Member, a Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market Board Member and Interim Board President, and as an appointed City Council Member have taught me valuable leadership lessons. It is so critical to the well-being of our community that we come together as team, despite our differences, in order to help the people in our community thrive!
My top priority is doing everything we can in order to bring more affordable housing to Sequim. Action items I would promote include: applying for grants and building partnerships federally, state-wide, and locally in order to build affordable housing for the workforce within our community.
I promote trust and civility between Council members and the Sequim community by doing everything I can to role model the necessary skills of a council member. Since being appointed, trust and civility have been priorities for my role as a council member, considering all of the controversy and negative attitude toward Sequim and its leadership over the past couple of years. It’s so important that each council member does their part: actively listening, asking questions, and actively respecting the decisions of local agencies and organizations in order to keep our community safe. Great and trustworthy leaders take responsibility, are dependable, and match their actions to their words.”
Incumbent Brandon Janisse is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 5 against challenger Patrick Day. Janisee listed the following three key campaign messages:
“Committing to a city government that is efficient, effective, responsible and transparent
Remaining Non-Partisan in a Non-Partisan position
Supporting Individuals and families who are healing from drug addiction and mental health issues”
Lowell Rathbun is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 6. against Keith A. Larkin. Neither candidate is the incumbent in the race. Rathbun listed the following three key campaign messages:
“We must bring transparency, trust, and civil discourse back to our city council.
Sequim is in an urgent housing crisis. Tackling this challenge is a top priority.
Our city must respond to our homeless, addicted and/or mentally neighbors in a compassionate manner.”
To read more about elections in Sequim and Clallam County in 2021, click here.
On Sept. 30, the Cincinnati City Council passed an emergency ordinance to fix an error in the legal text of Issue 3 on the Nov. 2 ballot. The error would have made Issue 3 increase city council pay instead of decreasing it.
Issue 3, a citizen initiative, was designed to decrease city council pay to the median household income ($46,260 in 2021), among six other changes to provisions governing the city council and mayor. As of the beginning of 2021, the salary of a city council member was $60,000. After proponents submitted enough valid signatures for the initiative, the city council approved an ordinance on Sept. 1 officially putting Issue 3 on the ballot that said median family income ($62,941 in 2021) instead of median household income.
The city council’s Sept. 30 emergency ordinance states that the language in the initiative petition text (household) controls and will set the effective salary level if Issue 3 is approved.
According to the City Solicitor Andrew Garth, the error came about when a draft of the initiative text was sent to the city solicitor that had the word family instead of household. City staff drafted the initial ordinance based on that draft of the initiative text. However, initiative proponents had edited the petition text to change that one word before collecting signatures for the initiative. Initiative sponsors, city staff, and the board of elections did not notice the one-word difference until after the language was approved for the ballot on Sept. 16.
State Representative and city council candidate Tom Brinkman sponsored the initiative. In addition to the change to city council pay, the measure would
require the city council to approve any lawsuits filed on behalf of the city;
establish a one-year residence requirement for mayoral and city council candidates;
make it so the unelected candidate with the most votes at the last election fills city council vacancies instead of city council members designating a successor;
require the mayor to assign legislative proposals to the relevant committees within 30 days and to put proposals on the city council agenda within 30 days of them being reported out of committee;
make the mayor and city council members liable for purposeful or reckless violations of state open meeting laws; and
provide for a process for the removal of the mayor as set out in state law.
Local Ohio voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County will decide nine local ballot measures on Nov. 2.
In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.