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The Daily Brew: There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…

Welcome to the Monday, September 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…
  2. Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort
  3. U.S. Senate confirms two federal judicial nominees 

There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…

Can you believe the 2022 midterm elections will be underway in just a few months?! These midterms have the potential to quickly redefine the nation’s political landscape! It’s crucial that America’s voters have clear, concise, and unbiased information about the candidates and issues on their ballots.

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New this year, your cumulative gift totaling $250+ will qualify you for membership in Ballotpedia’s Donor Clubs, which will include various benefits designed with you, our supporters, in mind. 

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Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort

You likely already know about the California gubernatorial recall election from last Tuesday. But, here’s one you may not have read about. A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, California, failed in an election held on Sept. 14. A majority of voters—79.9%—cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort and keeping Ravitch in office.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on Mar. 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

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.

Keep reading 

U.S. Senate confirms two federal judicial nominees 

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to Article III courts on Sept. 14. To date, 11 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed.

  • David Estudillo, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, by a vote of 54-41.
  • Angel Kelley, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, by a 52-44 vote.

Estudillo was nominated to the Western District of Washington on Apr. 29 to replace Judge Ronald Leighton, who assumed senior status on Feb. 28, 2019. Kelley was nominated to the District of Massachusetts on May 12 to replace Judge Douglas Woodlock, who assumed senior status on June 1, 2015. 

The confirmed nominees will join their respective courts upon receiving their judicial commissions and taking their judicial oaths.

The following map shows the percentage of federal district court vacancies in each state as of Sept. 1.

Keep reading 



Public-sector union responses to COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Exploring public-sector union responses to COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Public-sector unions have issued a range of responses to federal and state mandates requiring government workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, most unions state that they should have input on how such policies are implemented. 

Public-sector union responses to federal vaccine mandate

On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden (D) announced a new COVID-19 plan, including “an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees … to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.” The same day, Biden signed Executive Order 14043, which states that in order to promote workforce health and safety, “it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all Federal employees, subject to such exceptions as required by law.” 

Representatives from major public-sector unions responded:     

  • AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said on Sept. 10, “The resurgence of COVID-19 requires swift and immediate action, and we commend President Biden for taking additional steps to help put an end to this crisis. Everyone should be vaccinated—as one step in stopping the pandemic. Workers and unions should have a voice in shaping these policies.” 
  • On Sept. 9, American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley said, “Since the vaccines first became widely available, we have strongly encouraged all our members to take one of the several safe, effective vaccines against COVID-19. … Likewise, since President Biden made his first major announcement about changing COVID-19 protocols for the federal workforce in response to the surging Delta variant, we have said that changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. … Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.”
  • American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said on Sept. 9, “The AFT wants to beat the pandemic, and that means now we must work together as a community. That’s why we stand in complete support of this plan and of the administration’s effort to protect as many people as possible.” 
  • On Sept. 9, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association President Larry Cosme said, “The Biden-Harris Administration’s action to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees is ill conceived. … This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and inserts the federal government into individual medical decisions. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice.”
  • On Sept. 15, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) stated, “Currently, it is unclear how the executive orders and [emergency rule for employers with over 100 employees] will affect letter carriers and the Postal Service. As more information becomes available, NALC will review and bargain over any rulings that affect our members.” The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) stated on Sept. 10 that Biden’s executive orders “do not expressly apply to Postal Service Employees,” and that the union was waiting for more information on the emergency rule. In July, the union stated, “While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.” 

Public-sector union responses to state vaccine mandates

Twenty states have issued COVID-19 vaccine requirements for state employees. Here are how some unions responded in four states: California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington.  

California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on July 26 that all state employees would be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. 

Some unions, including SEIU Local 1000, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and  Cal Fire Local 2881, filed complaints following the mandate. SEIU Local 1000 sent a cease and desist letter to the California Department of Human Resources that said, “This is a change in the terms and working conditions of our represented employees and requires meeting and conferring with the union prior to implementing the change.” Tim Edwards, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, said, “We oppose mandating vaccinations and believe the state has a contractual obligation to meet and confer with labor over any possible impacts to the employees.”

Other unions expressed more support for the mandate. Glen Stailey, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said: “Newsom’s new vaccine policy is a reasonable compromise that we can get behind. It provides for regular testing at work for those who have chosen not to get vaccinated — this will prevent the spread of the virus among correctional officers and incarcerated individuals alike.” The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association said the union was “in the process of confirming that testing will be done at no cost to the employee and on State time and how employees will be compensated for self-quarantine if mandated to do so.”  

Hawaii

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) issued a proclamation on Aug. 5 requiring state and county employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or undergo regular testing. The same day, six public-sector unions—the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association, Hawaii Government Employees Association, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, and the United Public Workers—released a joint statement responding to the mandate. The unions said they had contacted the governor’s office “to initiate discussions about the vaccine mandate” but had been denied. The statement continued: “The emergency proclamation will impact our members’ working conditions and the employer must bargain those impacts with the appropriate collective bargaining units. Details on how tests will be administered, how results will be kept confidential, and how the state will fund this mandate will need to be negotiated with the state and we look forward to having those discussions right away.”

Vermont

On Sept. 8, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that the state’s vaccine requirement would be expanded to all state executive branch employees. Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) President Steve Howard said, “The low hanging fruit is maybe requiring it of state employees. … The tougher part, which requires some leadership, is to say to the public, ‘You have to do your part.’”  

Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a vaccine requirement for state workers on Aug. 9. Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)’s initial attempts to reach a bargaining agreement with the state over the mandate were unsuccessful, and WFSE filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit in the Thurston County Superior Court on Aug. 26. A press release from the union said: “[Inslee’s] proclamation impairs the union’s right to bargain on behalf of employees and impairs the ability to ensure a fair and reasonable exemption process. The lawsuit alleges an unfair labor practice for refusal to bargain in good faith.”

After further negotiations with the state, WFSE members ratified an agreement on Sept. 9 outlining an exemption process and conditions of employment. WFSE President Mike Yestramski said: “Our union was able to achieve what we set out for—a victory for public health and due process. … Now, we have an agreement that incentivizes vaccination and helps ensure a fair process for workers requesting a medical or religious exemption.” Since an agreement has been reached, WFSE is dropping the lawsuit. 

For more information about the 20 states that have issued vaccine requirements for state employees, click here

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 99 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Delaware HB237: This bill grants select law enforcement officers the right of organization and representation.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Governor signed Sept. 10. 



The Daily Brew: Dive into the Administrative State on our newest Learning Journey

Welcome to the Friday, September 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Announcing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics
  2. Three of the top-100 U.S. cities have mayoral primaries still to come
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many state supreme court justices are there?

Announcing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics

Ballotpedia’s Learning Journeys bring deep dives into political and governmental topics right to your inbox. Today, we are introducing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics. To date, we’ve published 29 Learning Journeys.

In this Learning Journey, we provide you with a thorough overview of agency dynamics, a term used to describe the structure and function of administrative agencies as well as the nuts and bolts of agency functions, including rulemaking and adjudication proceedings.

We will guide you through the types of agencies and their functions as well as introduce you to the main areas of discussion and debate around these dynamics.

While a majority of agencies are housed under the executive branch, others are established as independent federal agencies or are housed under the legislative or judicial branches. The structural variations affect agency oversight and interactions across branches.

This journey is part of Ballotpedia’s coverage of the administrative state, making up one of the five pillars necessary to understand the administrative state. For each pillar, we offer several Learning Journeys designed to help you understand that pillar and its effect on the administrative state. The other pillars include nondelegation, judicial deference, executive control of agencies, and procedural rights.

Keep reading 

Three of the top-100 U.S. cities have mayoral primaries still to come

Three of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population have mayoral primaries still to come: Durham, N.C. (Oct. 5), Hialeah, Fla. (Nov. 2), and New Orleans, La. (Nov. 13).

The incumbents in Durham and Hialeah—Steve Schewel (D) and Carlos Hernandez (R), respectively—are not seeking re-election, meaning a new mayor will be elected. In New Orleans, incumbent LaToya Cantrell (D) is running against 13 others in the city’s mayoral primary. Cantrell was first elected in 2017.

These three cities represent 28 of the top-100 cities holding mayoral elections in 2021. While most of these cities will hold general elections on Nov. 2, nine top-100 cities have already held mayoral elections this year.

Of the nine mayoral elections held so far this year, one has resulted in an office changing partisan control. In Anchorage, Alaska, David Bronson (R) was elected to succeed nonpartisan acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, who assumed office following the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz (D). One other mayorship also changed partisan control when North Las Vegas Mayor John J. Lee (R) announced he was switching his affiliation from Democratic to Republican in April 2021.

In 2020, mayoral elections were held in 29 top-100 cities, and seven offices changed partisan control. In 2019, 31 top-100 cities elected mayors, resulting in four party changes.

Since 2014, the number of mayoral elections in top-100 cities per year has ranged from 23 to 36.

Currently, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. 

While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets. 

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many state supreme court justices are there?

Each state within the U.S. has at least one supreme court or court of last resort. Oklahoma and Texas both have two courts of last resort, one for civil appeals and one for criminal appeals.

How many justices serve on state supreme courts nationwide?

  1. 344
  2. 602
  3. 108
  4. 819


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #299: September 16, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • An extended indoor mask requirement in New Mexico
  • State employee vaccine requirements in Nevada and Wisconsin
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Tuesday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Florida (Republican trifecta): U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Chief Judge Kevin Michael Moore, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush (R), declined to block Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) executive order prohibiting school mask requirements. A group of parents of disabled children filed the lawsuit, arguing the order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moore said the parents should have pursued administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit.

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order requiring state employees who work in healthcare settings or state facilities, like prisons, to provide proof of vaccination beginning Nov. 1. 

New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 14, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended the statewide indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals through at least Oct. 15.

New York (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Sept. 15, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in several settings, such as state-regulated child care facilities and congregate facilities, such as shelter programs for homeless youth.
  • On Sept. 14, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York Judge David Hurd, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, temporarily suspended New York’s vaccine requirement for medical workers pending litigation on whether the mandate’s lack of a religious exemption violates the Constitution.

Wisconsin (divided government): The Department of Administration announced that all executive branch employees, interns, and contractors would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing starting Oct. 18. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 14 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 15, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

We last looked at school mask requirements on Sept. 9. Since then, a U.S. district court upheld Florida’s ban on school mask requirements, while a federal court temporarily blocked Iowa’s mask requirement ban. The Kentucky General Assembly voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of a law preventing the state from issuing a statewide school mask requirement. Under Kentucky’s current law, school mask requirement decisions are left to local jurisdictions.

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, state governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof of vaccination. Other states have assisted in the creation of digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 

Since Sept. 9, one state has rolled out a vaccine status application. No state has banned proof-of-vaccination requirements.     

Details:

  • On Sept. 10, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) unveiled the Hawaii SMART Health card, a digital vaccination record. The application allows users to upload a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card. Ige said people are not required to use the application, which is only available to those who’ve received vaccinations in Hawaii. 

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 14, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle announced that active-duty troops would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 15, 2021, while National Guard and Army Reserve members would have until June 30, 2022, to get a vaccine.
  • On Sept. 14,  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that foreign residents applying to immigrate to the United States will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the immigration medical examination beginning Oct. 1, 2021.


The Daily Brew: U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format

Welcome to the Thursday, September 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format 
  2. Redistricting Roundup: Ohio Redistricting Commission approves state legislative redistricting maps by party-line vote
  3. Federal Register tops 50,000 pages

U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format


The U.S. Census Bureau will release data from the 2020 census in easier-to-use formats on Sept. 16. In addition to providing the data.census.gov tool, the bureau will deliver DVDs and flash drives of the data to state legislatures and redistricting authorities on that date.

The Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census in a legacy format on Aug. 12, which included county-level demographic information. That release allowed states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Census Bureau was originally scheduled to deliver redistricting data to the states by Mar. 30, but the process was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen states have constitutional deadlines requiring that they complete their legislative redistricting this year, and eight have such deadlines to complete their congressional redistricting. 

Keep reading

Redistricting Roundup: Ohio Redistricting Commission approves state legislative redistricting maps by party-line vote

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Iowa and Ohio. Authorities in seven states also released draft congressional or legislative maps:

Ohio: The Dayton Daily News reported that the Ohio Redistricting Commission tentatively approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 party-line vote on Sept. 9, 2021. If the Commission files those maps with the secretary of state, they will be effective for four years rather than 10 because they passed without support from at least two commissioners from each party. 

This is the first state legislative redistricting conducted under Ohio’s Bipartisan Redistricting Commission Amendment, which voters approved in 2015. The commission consists of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and four members of the state legislature—two from each party. Maps drawn by the commission are valid for 10 years if at least two commissioners from each major political party vote for them. If the maps pass along strictly partisan lines, they are valid for two general elections of the state House of Representatives.

The deadline for the commission to adopt final state legislative maps was Sept. 15. The Ohio Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all cases involving state legislative redistricting.

Iowa: On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the deadline for state legislative redistricting to Dec. 1 due to delays in receiving data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The court said that because the process would not be complete by the state’s Sept. 15 constitutional deadline, it was exercising its responsibility and authority over redistricting. The Iowa Legislative Services Agency said that the Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission would release the first draft of proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 16.

Nationwide: Redistricting commissions and state legislative committees in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, and New York all released draft congressional or legislative maps over the past week. 

Keep reading 

Federal Register tops 50,000 pages

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 overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions. We periodically update you about its status—here’s a recent report.

From Sept. 6 through Sept. 10, the Federal Register grew by 934 pages for a year-to-date total of 50,836 pages. By this point in President Donald Trump’s (R) first year as president, the year-to-date total was 42,578 pages. Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 449 additions:

  • 354 notices
  • Seven presidential documents
  • 29 proposed rules
  • 59 final rules

Ballotpedia has maintained page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project since 2017. Click below to learn more about how the Federal Register has changed from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

Keep reading 



Last night at the polls

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Newsom recall results
  2. Mayoral primary results in Boston and Cleveland
  3. Loudoun County Circuit Court judge recuses himself, delays recall hearing

California voters retain Gov. Gavin Newsom

Among the replacement candidates, Larry Elder (R) received the largest share of the votes at 42.1% followed by Kevin Paffrath (D) at 11.2%. 

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled. If Newsome had been recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls before the election were YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.” Newsom was elected as governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote. 

Keep reading

Mayoral primary results in Boston and Cleveland

The Newsom recall wasn’t the only election we were watching yesterday. Nonpartisan mayoral primaries were held in Boston and Cleveland. The November elections in both cities will be between the top two finishers in each primary.

In Cleveland, Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley advanced from the mayoral primary. As of 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Bibb had 27.1% of the vote to Kelley’s 19.4%. Dennis Kucinich was third with 16.5%.

Seven candidates ran in the nonpartisan primary to succeed Frank Jackson (D), who chose not to seek election to a fifth four-year term. November’s mayoral election will be the first without an incumbent on the ballot since 2001.

Three of the candidates currently hold elected office — Basheer Jones and Kelley are members of the city council, while Sandra Williams is a state senator. Two more have held political office in the past — Dennis Kucinich served as mayor in the 1970s and was a member of the U.S. House from 1997 through 2013. Zack Reed served for 17 years on the city council before running for mayor in 2017, losing to Jackson 59.5% to 40.5% in the general election. Bibb, a chief strategy officer with technology firm Urbanova, and Ross DiBello, a document review attorney, have not held elected office.

Results for Boston’s mayoral primaries were delayed as city officials processed ballots on election night. As of midnight Eastern Time, a few hundred ballots had been counted.

Seven candidates ran for mayor of Boston after former incumbent Marty Walsh (D) left office in March 2021 to become President Joe Biden’s (D) secretary of labor. The four candidates who led in polling and fundraising before the primary were Acting Mayor Kim Janey, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu. All four are members of the city council.

Three independent polls conducted over the past three weeks each showed Wu leading the other six candidates by more than the margin of error. Local political observers noted the candidates’ ideological differences, with Campbell, Janey, and Wu running as progressives and Essaibi George as a moderate. Although the office is officially nonpartisan, Boston hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1930.

Keep reading 

Loudoun County Circuit Court judge recuses himself, delays recall hearing

A hearing on a recall petition seeking to remove Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia was delayed after Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Stephen E. Sincavage recused himself. The hearing, initially scheduled for Sept. 13, was delayed until Sept. 15 (today). In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. 

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six members of the nine-member school board. Recall backers say they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. 

Barts’ attorney, Charlie King, filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it did not have an attorney’s signature. King also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 5, 2019. Barts received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee supports Barts.

There were 83,606 students enrolled in the Loudoun County Public Schools during the 2019-2020 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 64 school board recall efforts against 165 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.

Keep reading



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #298: September 14, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • A court decision allowing school mask requirements in Iowa
  • An extended coronavirus emergency in Mississippi
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Sept. 13, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced he would fine local governments up to $5,000 for every employee required to show proof of vaccination. DeSantis said he would begin issuing fines Sept. 16. 

Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Sept. 13, U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Judge Robert Pratt temporarily blocked a law prohibiting schools from enforcing mask requirements. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she planned to appeal the decision.

Kentucky (divided government): On Sept. 9, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill in special session overriding the state’s mask requirement policy for public schools. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vetoed the part of the bill reversing the school mask requirement, and his veto was overridden 69-24 in the House and 21-6 in the Senate. The bill requires school mask requirement decisions to be left to local authorities. Beshear called for the special session on Sept. 4.

Mississippi (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 10, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended the state’s coronavirus state of emergency order for an additional 30 days.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 9 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 13, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,883 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 580 of those lawsuits. 

Since Sept. 7, we have added four lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional two court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Robert v. Austin: On Sept. 1, Judge Raymond P. Moore, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, declined to suspend the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) COVID-19 vaccine mandate for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members while a lawsuit challenging the mandate proceeds in court. The mandate directs “the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces … subject to any identified contraindications” and existing military policies. An Army drill sergeant and a Marine Corps air traffic controller, who said that they were naturally immune as the result of previous COVID-19 infections, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to suspend enforcement of the mandate. The pair allege that “the DoD cannot force them to take a COVID-19 vaccination under existing military regulations, federal regulations, federal law, and the U.S. Constitution.” The pair also say the mandate violates the Administrative Procedures Act, servicemembers’ right to informed consent, and the Nuremberg Code. DoD has not commented publicly on the case. Moore is an appointee of President Barack Obama (D).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Sept. 7 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no changes to statewide mask requirements occurred. As of Sept. 14, masks were required in ten states with Democratic governors. Thirteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

Read more: State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, unavailable to them during non-emergencies and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. 

Overview

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.

Since Sept. 7, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order. 

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

In Los Angeles, California, the board of Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest school district, voted 7-0 in a Sept. 9 meeting to approve a coronavirus vaccine requirement for students 12 years and older.



Economy and Society: JP Morgan decides all financial instruments should be ESG-compliant

ESG Developments This Week

In Washington, D.C., and around the world

Saudi sovereign wealth fund reportedly seeking ESG framework, redux

In the July 21 edition of this newsletter, we noted that the Saudi “sovereign wealth fund reportedly has begun the process of developing ESG reporting standards that will, presumably, allow it to raise greater funds in the global debt market.” We cited Reuters as follows:

“The Public Investment Fund (PIF) sent a request for proposals to banks last month, said the four sources with direct knowledge of the matter, speaking anonymously because the matter is private.

PIF – at the centre of Saudi de facto ruler and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 that aims to wean the economy off oil – has been funding itself in recent years with tens of billions of dollars in loans.

One of the sources said developing an ESG framework was likely a precursor for a multibillion dollar bond sale, which would be the Saudi wealth fund’s first.”

Last Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Saudis have made some decisions and have decided to move forward with the PIF ESG initiative:

“Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has hired five international banks as members of an environmental, governance and social (ESG) panel for its medium-term capital-raising strategy, IFR News reported on Monday….

The hydrocarbon-rich Gulf has seen a surge of interest in ESG-related initiatives and deals amid growing awareness among global investors about ESG risks.

Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), HSBC (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) were hired to advise the investment fund’s global capital finance division on an ESG framework for public market capital raisings, IFR, a fixed income news service owned by Refinitiv, reported.

IFR also said that Saudi Arabia’s finance ministry hired HSBC and JPMorgan (JPM.N) as structuring agents for the kingdom’s sustainability financing framework.”

Reuters also reported last Monday that the government of Oman is also working on developing an ESG framework that would allow it to attract new investors/creditors:

“The government of Oman is working on an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework which could allow the heavily indebted Gulf oil-producing country to widen its funding base, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The move comes as Oman works with the International Monetary Fund to develop a debt strategy after state coffers were hurt by low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic last year….

Work on developing an ESG framework is at its early stages, said one of the sources.

A second said that while it was not linked to specific debt issuance plans, it would prove useful to tap ESG-focused investors in future fundraising exercises.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector

PwC expanding its ESG services—and others join in

In the June 29 edition of this newsletter, we noted that PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper) planned to get more heavily involved in ESG and, given this, “expects to add as many as 100,000 jobs worldwide and spend as much as $12 billion over the next five years to address the needs of clients in navigating the waters of ESG disclosures.”

On September 9, Accounting Today reported that PwC is significantly expanding its ESG services:

“PricewaterhouseCoopers is broadening its array of environmental, social and governance services to help clients deal with growing demands for sustainability and climate risk reporting and assurance on their disclosures….

Last month, PwC released its Next in Work Pulse Survey, which indicated that 42% of companies are planning to improve ESG reporting over the next few months in response to investors and other stakeholders….

“ESG is one of those topics that is high on the priority list of business leaders,” said Wes Bricker, vice chair and U.S. trust solutions co-leader at PwC. “It’s high on their priority list because it’s relevant to businesses and how they create value. Boards want to know how corporate strategies are incorporating a view about the impact on the environment, whether it’s carbon or water usage or plastics. They also want to know the human capital strategy, which is the essence of ESG. And boards want to understand management’s plans around how to govern all of this. Do they have high-quality information and reporting? We’re seeing companies increasingly are pledging very ambitious climate targets and plans.”…

PwC recently reorganized the firm into two areas — Trust Solutions and Consulting Solutions — to emphasize the concepts of trust and sustained outcomes. But Bricker sees ESG cutting across all the different service areas at the firm.

“ESG reporting is a capability that we see being relevant across the entire firm, and all of our services,” he said. “We’ve taken that approach by providing training for all of our partners, whether you’re sitting in trust or consulting, whether you’re in a specialty group or whether you’re in more of a standardized service. All of our partners, all of our teams need to understand ESG and how it connects to business, how it impacts our clients and the services that we deliver when it comes to trust solutions. We’ve trained all of our partners on the connection of ESG to our financial statement audits and financial reporting and the attestation services that we can provide on ESG metrics.”…

PwC is also expected to get involved in the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation’s efforts to set up an International Sustainability Standards Board. “We will do our part in providing our best thinking about the structure for setting standards and the content of standards,” said Bricker. “For example, we have developed a relationship with the [Sustainability Accounting Standards Board] to deliver the first-of-a-kind XBRL taxonomy for SASB … . We’ll continue to do that with each of the standard-setters who look to us for our experience.””

Two weeks ago, on August 29, The Financial Times reported that other major accounting firms are, following PwC’s lead:

“The sustainability boom has moved trillions of dollars into environmental, social and governance funds and brought a new stakeholder-led agenda to corporate boardrooms.

Now the Big Four accounting firms are jumping on a bandwagon that offers two tempting opportunities: an expansion of what companies must account for, and a chance to rebrand a scandal-plagued profession as experts on climate change, diversity and winning consumers’ trust.

PwC put the booming demand for ESG advice at the heart of a $12bn investment plan it announced in June that will involve adding 100,000 employees and launching “trust institutes” to train clients in ethics….

Deloitte, in turn, announced a “climate learning programme” this month for its 330,000 employees. KPMG’s ESG work has included helping Ikea to analyse social and environmental risks linked to the Swedish furniture retailer’s raw materials, and advising on the first green bond issued in India.

Alongside EY, all four have been at the table as business groups try to thrash out new international standards for measuring sustainability….

The Big Four are responding in part to a rise in clients’ budgets for developing net zero emissions plans and other sustainability initiatives. Tracking nonfinancial metrics such as companies’ carbon footprints, and not simply their financial results, gives them a chance to generate more fee income and improve profit margins.

The introduction of standardised ESG reporting metrics for companies would also create more work for accountants. This will potentially be facilitated by the proposed International Sustainability Standards Board, a body that could be created by November to mirror the role the International Accounting Standards Board plays in setting financial reporting standards.

The Big Four are responding in part to a rise in clients’ budgets for developing net zero emissions plans and other sustainability initiatives. Tracking nonfinancial metrics such as companies’ carbon footprints, and not simply their financial results, gives them a chance to generate more fee income and improve profit margins.

The introduction of standardised ESG reporting metrics for companies would also create more work for accountants. This will potentially be facilitated by the proposed International Sustainability Standards Board, a body that could be created by November to mirror the role the International Accounting Standards Board plays in setting financial reporting standards.”

Deutsche Bank gets back in the ESG game, while JP Morgan seeks to boost ESG credentials

Despite the issues that its asset management arm, DWS, is having with U.S. regulators over what some have alleged are its fuzzy definitions of ESG-investments, Deutsche Bank has dived into the world of ESG-friendly repo offerings. Meanwhile, JP Morgan has decided that all financial instruments should be ESG-compliant. Bloomberg reported the following last Friday:

“Deutsche Bank AG has just completed its first green repurchase agreement, marking another foray into a world of increasingly complex ESG instruments.

It’s the latest example of product proliferation in a market that’s moving much faster than regulators. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has already said it plans to attach environmental, social and governance labels to all forms of finance, as ESG derivatives start to become a market fixture. Deutsche says it intends to continue expanding its offering of ESG instruments….

For its green repo, Deutsche transferred securities to London-based asset manager M&G Investments. In return, the German bank received cash to fund its green asset pool, which includes renewable energy projects such as wind and solar power plants, as well as the improvement of energy efficiency in commercial buildings. 

Deutsche says the transaction is the first of its kind in Europe. BNP Paribas SA has completed a similar deal with Agricultural Bank of China Limited. 

Claire Coustar, Deutsche Bank’s global head of ESG for fixed-income and currencies, said the hope is that the green repo “will encourage more activity so that a new source of green finance can be developed for the industry, as well as a new asset class for investors.””

Concerning JP Morgan’s efforts, Reuters reports that the firm has hired a well-experienced ESG hand to help boost its credibility in the arena:

“JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) named Aaron Bertinetti, the former head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research at proxy advisor Glass, Lewis & Co, its new head of ESG for investor relations.

The bank created the position so it can communicate better on ESG with investors and research analysts, according to a note sent to analysts who cover JPMorgan. JPMorgan said in the note it is accelerating ESG efforts across the firm.

Bertinetti will report to Reggie Chambers, head of the bank’s investor relations.”

Glass-Lewis is one of the major Proxy Advisory Services, and has played a role in promoting ESG-related investor activism; although smaller than its principal competitor, ISS, Glass-Lewis is considered one of the chief forces behind ESG.

Notable quotes

“We will only be able to use the best conditions [of ESG] if we ourselves change — and I’m speaking first and foremost about our own company…This is about culture, it’s about leadership culture.”

Bloomberg, “Deutsche Bank CEO Wants to Change Culture to Ride ESG Boom,” September 8, 2021.



California’s gubernatorial recall election is today

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 14, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California’s gubernatorial recall election is today
  2. Joe Biden (D) has appointed the most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s first year
  3. First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

California’s gubernatorial recall election is today

Today, Sept. 14, is the deadline for California voters to cast their ballots in the gubernatorial recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Polling places will be open for in-person voting or ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT. These polling places also allow for same-day voter registration. All registered voters in the state were previously sent an absentee/mail-in ballot in August. Those ballots must be postmarked today to be counted.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first asks whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote supporting the recall is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If that occurs, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the elections, no majority required.

California allows election officials to begin counting ballots as they are received, meaning it is likely some results will be made available after polls close tonight. The timing of the final result is harder to determine since officials will be receiving absentee/mail-in ballots until next Tuesday and voters are given about a month to correct signature errors. If the race is close, we might be waiting for that final result.

For context, here’s what the timeline looks like coming up:

  • Sept. 14: Deadline to cast a ballot in the recall election. This is also the deadline for voters to place completed absentee/mail-in ballots in the mail.
  • Sept. 21: Deadline for officials to receive absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Oct. 6: Deadline for officials to notify voters of signature mismatches.
  • Oct. 12: Deadline for voters to verify signatures in the case of a mismatch.
  • Oct. 22: Election certification date.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates who have received the most media attention and best poll performances so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Averages from the four polls released this month showed 41% of respondents supporting the recall on the first question and 57% opposing. An average of 36% of respondents said they would leave the second question blank—which Newsom has recommended—and 32% said they would support Elder (R).

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis (D) and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and Schwarzenegger received 48.6% of the vote on the second question.

Keep reading

Joe Biden (D) has appointed the most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s first year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed nine Article III judicial appointments through Sept. 1 of his first year in office. This is the largest number of Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies going back to Ronald Reagan (R). The U.S. Senate confirmed six of Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Sept. 1 of their first year in office is four.

Of the nine judges appointed by Biden, five filled vacancies left by judges who were nominated by Republican presidents: four by George W. Bush (R) and one by Ronald Reagan (R). The remaining four judges filled vacancies left by judges nominated by Democratic presidents: three by Bill Clinton (D) and one by Barack Obama (D). The full list is shown below:

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 U.S. Constitution. Article III judges on all of the following courts: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. courts of appeals, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

Keep reading 

First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

Wyoming State Supreme Court Justice Michal K. Davis announced he would retire on Jan. 16, 2022, upon reaching the state court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years. This vacancy is the first state supreme court vacancy announced for 2022. 

Davis’ replacement will be Gov. Mark Gordon’s (R) first nominee to the five-member supreme court. Under Wyoming’s assisted appointment method, Gordon will pick a replacement from a list of three judges provided to him by a nominating commission, made up of the current chief justice, three members appointed by Gordon, and three members appointed by the state bar.

In our 2021 “Determiners and Dissenters” analysis, we found that the Wyoming Supreme Court was the sixth-most unanimous state supreme court in the country. This analysis examined how frequently justices ruled unanimously on an issue versus a split decision. In the 158 cases before the Wyoming Supreme Court in 2020, justices ruled unanimously on 152 of them (96.2%). Only the state supreme courts in Georgia, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Nebraska had higher unanimity rates.

Ballotpedia has tracked 16 state supreme court vacancies so far in 2021. Of those 16 vacancies, two were announced in 2020, though neither as early as Davis’ announcement for 2022. Thirteen of the vacancies in 2021 have been filled with one vacancy outstanding. The remaining two justices are set to retire on Dec. 31, 2021, meaning their replacements likely will not be sworn in until 2022.

Keep reading



Bold Justice: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for September 1

Welcome to the September 13 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

When the air is white with the down o’ the thistle, ⁠
And the sky is red with the harvest moon; …

Put another way, it’s September! SCOTUS doesn’t start hearing arguments until next month, but they have certainly been busy!  Let’s gavel in, shall we?

Stay up to date on the latest news by following Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!

Noteworthy court announcements

Here’s a quick roundup of the court’s most recent noteworthy announcements since the August 9 edition of Bold Justice:

Court announces in-person arguments for October, November, December sittings

  • On September 8, SCOTUS announced it would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since March 4, 2020, during its October, November, and December sittings. However, the court will not be open to the public, in accordance with its current precautions in response to COVID-19. Audio of the court’s proceedings will be streamed live to the public, as was the case during the 2020-2021 term. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the court’s website following oral argument each day.

Court rejects emergency appeal to Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy

  • On August 31, SCOTUS did not respond to an emergency appeal from a group of abortion providers seeking to block enforcement of a Texas law banning abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. The law also authorized private citizens to file civil actions against individuals for violating the law or aiding in violation of the law. Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed the bill, S.B. 8, into law on May 19, 2021. 
  • The appellants alleged that the law violated the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), establishing the constitutional right to have an abortion before the point of fetal viability approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The emergency appeal was submitted through the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to Justice Samuel Alito, who is assigned to the circuit and responsible for reviewing emergency appeals. As the circuit justice, Alito was authorized to respond to the request himself or refer the matter to the full court for consideration.
  • On September 1, the court issued a 5-4 ruling denying the request to block enforcement of the Texas law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan would have granted the application and filed dissenting opinions.

Court issues ruling on federal eviction moratorium

  • On August 26 in a 6-3 per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted an application from the Alabama Association of Realtors et al to vacate the nationwide moratorium on evictions of tenants living in counties with substantial or high levels of COVID–19 transmission and who make declarations of financial need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed the moratorium in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the unsigned opinion, the court stated, “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it. The application to vacate stay presented to [the Chief Justice] and by him referred to the Court is granted.” Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Court rejects application for stay of Trump administration “remain in Mexico” policy

  • On August 24, SCOTUS denied the Biden administration’s application for a stay, or postponement, of a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas injunction requiring the reinstatement of a Trump administration program referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. The policy requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting a U.S. immigration court hearing. The order noted that Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have granted the application

Court denies request to halt groundbreaking for Obama presidential library

  • On August 20, Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a request from Protect Our Parks, Inc. to block the groundbreaking construction and excavation for building the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in Chicago, Illinois. The group alleged construction may cause irreversible harm to local wildlife, land, and historical characteristics in the area and to the public’s enjoyment of the area. Barrett denied the request without referring it to the full court.

Court issues ruling on state eviction moratorium

  • On August 12 in a 6-3 per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted a request from a group of landlords in New York to lift part of a state moratorium on residential evictions–Part A of the COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA)–established in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court ruled Part A, which allows tenants to self-certify financial hardship and does not allow landlords to contest that certification, violated the due process clause. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

Justice Barrett denies request related to university vaccine requirement

  • On August 12, Justice Barrett denied an application from a group of students at Indiana University requesting the court block the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. Barrett denied the request without referring it to the full court.

Grants

SCOTUS has accepted three new cases to its merits docket since our August 9 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear 34 cases for the 2021-2022 term. SCOTUS dismissed two cases after they were accepted. Fourteen cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

  • Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and concerns detained non-citizens’ right to a bond hearing.
  • Garland v. Gonzalez concerns detained non-citizens’ right to a bond hearing and whether U.S. courts are allowed to grant classwide injunctive relief, halting an order commanding a party to either perform or not perform an action, in such cases. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
  • Ramirez v. Collier, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, is a capital case concerning the type of aid a spiritual advisor is permitted to provide in an execution chamber.

Arguments

SCOTUS has scheduled nine cases for nine hours of oral argument since our August 9 issue. 

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

November 1

November 2

November 3

November 8

November 9

November 10

To date, 13 cases accepted to the court’s merits docket have not yet been scheduled for arguments.

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • September 27: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
  • October 4: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • October 5: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • October 6: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.

SCOTUS trivia

Over the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, justices have been appointed from 31 different states. Which of the following has never been a home state of a SCOTUS justice at the time of their appointment?

  1. Alabama
  2. Delaware
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Utah

Choose an answer to find out!

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 2 to September 1. 

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There have been four new judicial vacancies since the July 2021 report. There are 82 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 87 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were three new nominations since the July 2021 report. 
  • Confirmations: There was one confirmation since the July 2021 report.

Vacancy count for September 1, 2021

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

Four judges left active status since the previous vacancy count, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial position vacancies. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies in the United States Courts of Appeals from President Joe Biden‘s (D) inauguration to the date indicated on the chart.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of September 1, 2021.

New nominations

President Biden announced three new nominations in August:

New confirmations

As of September 1, the Senate has confirmed nine of President Biden’s judicial nominees—five district court judges and four appeals court judges—since January 2021.

The first confirmations occurred on June 8, when Julien Neals and Regina Rodriguez were confirmed to their respective courts. 

Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed on June 14, was the first confirmed nominee to receive her judicial commission. Jackson was commissioned on June 17.

Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)

  • Presidents have made an average of four judicial appointments through September 1 of their first year in office. 
  • President Biden has made the most, nine, while Presidents Bill Clinton (D) and Barack Obama (D) had confirmed the fewest in that time with one each. 
  • President Ronald Reagan’s (R) 41 appointments signify the most through his first year. President Obama made the fewest with 13.
  • President Donald Trump’s (R) 234 appointments signify the most appointments through four years. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Spotlight: Presidential nominations to federal courts

Today, we highlight President Herbert Hoover’s (R) federal judicial nominees from 1929 to 1933.


During his time in office, the U.S. Senate confirmed 69 of President Hoover’s judicial nominees. The Senate did not vote on or rejected 11 of Hoover’s nominees.

Among the most notable appointees were three Supreme Court Justices:

President Hoover’s first Article III appointees were confirmed on April 18, 1929—two nominees were confirmed to U.S. Courts of Appeal and five nominees were confirmed to U.S. District Courts. By the end of his first year in office, 18 of Hoover’s nominees had been confirmed–six to U.S. circuit courts, nine to U.S. district courts, one to the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, and two to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. 

Hoover averaged 17 judicial appointments per year. For comparison, President Jimmy Carter (D) had the highest average from 1901 to 2021 with 65.5 appointments per year.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on October 4 with a new edition of Bold Justice. Until then, gaveling out! 

Contributions

Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Brittony Maag, Jace Lington, and Sara Reynolds.