CategoryNewsletters

FLRA formally proposes rule change allowing federal workers to stop paying union dues after first year of membership

On March 19, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would allow federal workers to stop paying union dues at any time after a statutory one-year period of dues payment. Up to this point, federal workers have only been permitted to rescind their union-dues assignments at one-year intervals.

What is at issue?

Section 7115(a) of the Federal Service Labor‑Management Relations Statute states, “[If] an agency has received from an employee in an appropriate unit a written assignment which authorizes the agency to deduct from the pay of the employee amounts for the payment of regular and periodic dues of the exclusive representative of the unit, the agency shall honor the assignment and make an appropriate allotment pursuant to the assignment.” The statute states that “any such assignment may not be revoked for a period of [one] year.”

In the past, the FLRA has interpreted the latter portion of the law to mean that union-dues payroll deduction authorizations can only be revoked in one-year intervals. After the Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Office of Personnel Management petitioned the FLRA for guidance on Janus’ applicability to § 7115(a).

On Feb. 14, the FLRA issued a 2-1 decision rejecting its earlier interpretations of § 7115(a). FLRA Chairwoman Colleen Duffy Kiko wrote the following in the decision “Although the Authority has stated that the wording in § 7115(a) ‘must be interpreted’ to mean that dues assignments may be revoked only at one‑year intervals following the first year, in fact, the Authority made a policy judgment to impose annual revocation periods after the first year of an assignment. In other words, notwithstanding previous assertions otherwise, § 7115(a) neither compels, nor even supports, the existing policy on annual revocation windows. Because it remains our privilege and responsibility to interpret the Statute in a manner that is consistent with an efficient and effective government, we cannot allow our decisions or statements of policy to merely rubber-stamp what was said in the past.”

What are the reactions?

  • On March 19, Everett Kelley, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said, “The Authority’s proposed rule is contrary to both settled law and Congressional intent that clearly establish that dues allotments are only revocable at yearly intervals. That they would push forward with this kind of union busting in the midst of a pandemic, while front-line federal employees like VA caregivers, airport screeners, food inspectors, and other personnel are being forced to fight the administration for basic safety protocols and personal protective equipment, is truly disgraceful.”
  • On Feb. 26, Michael J. Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said, “This ruling matters because unions often erect bureaucratic barriers to trap workers into membership, barriers the Mackinac Center has repeatedly challenged in court and won. … The end result is that federal employees, who were already in a right-to-work status, may leave the union at any time. Thus, one million federal employees could choose that opportunity.”

What comes next?

On Feb. 18, National Treasury Employees Union petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block the proposed rule change. The court has not yet taken up the case. In the meantime, the rulemaking process will proceed. A public comment period opened on March 19 and will close on April 9.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 93 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.

Union Station map March 27, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart March 27, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart March 27, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Vermont S0254: This bill would require public employers to provide unions with employee contact information. It would provide for the automatic deduction of union dues from members’ paychecks, and it would permit unions to meet with new employees to provide them with information regarding union membership.
    • Senate Health and Welfare Committee reported favorably March 27.
    • Democratic sponsorship.


Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: March 21-27, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: March 21-27, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“June 2 had been an afterthought on the Democratic primary calendar. Ever since Joseph R. Biden Jr. seized the mantle of front-runner, voters in New Jersey and a few other states scheduled to vote that day assumed the Democratic horse race would be over before their primaries rolled around.

But with numerous states pushing back voting to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the date has gained sudden prominence. It now confers a huge bounty of delegates, second only to Super Tuesday in early March, with Indiana, Pennsylvania and others moving to hold their primaries on the first Tuesday in June.

Although Mr. Biden has built an all but insurmountable lead, June 2 — which is a long 10 weeks away — will be his first chance to clinch the presidential nomination. Only then would the former vice president have a definitive reason to press for the withdrawal of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has shown no inclination to leave a race that feels frozen in place.”

– Trip GabrielThe New York Times

“America has a history of unifying in trying times and rallying around the president. But after years of deep division, in the earliest, head-spinning days of the pandemic, a fractured electorate largely viewed Trump’s performance through the lens they chose long ago. But the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. The body count will rise; the economy will almost certainly crater. Trump’s political fate may be left up to the sliver of moderates in the middle, who will choose whether to blame him for the crisis spiraling on his watch.”

– Claire Galofaro and Tamara Lush, Associated Press

Week in Review

States change primary dates in response to coronavirus

A number of states have made changes to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what changed this week in the presidential election.

  • Delaware: Gov. John Carney (D) postponed the April 28 presidential primary to June 2. The state also expanded the definition of sick or physically disabled for absentee voting eligibility to apply to asymptomatic individuals who are self-quarantining or social distancing.
  • Georgia: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced the state would mail absentee ballot request forms to all active voters for the May 19 primary election.
  • Indiana: The Indiana Election Commission temporarily suspended absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2 primary.
  • Michigan: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) announced the state would mail absentee ballot applications to all voters in the May 5 election.
  • Montana: Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct June 2 primary elections by mail.
  • Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a law postponing the state’s primary from April 28 to June 2.
  • Puerto Rico: The Democratic Party of Puerto Rico postponed its March 29 primary to April 26.
  • Rhode Island: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order postponing the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2.

The next presidential primary with in-person voting is scheduled for April 7 in Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers (D) has encouraged voters to cast their ballots by mail. On March 20, a federal judge extended the deadline to electronically register to vote in Wisconsin’s primaries to March 30.

Read more about changes in election procedures due to the coronavirus here.

Sanders wins Democrats Abroad primary

According to vote totals released Monday, Bernie Sanders won the Democrats Abroad primary with 58% of the vote. This gives Sanders nine of the group’s delegates. Joe Biden won 23% and the remaining four delegates.

The Democrats Abroad primary was conducted over one week from March 3-10 and was open to all U.S. citizens living abroad who did not vote in a state or territorial primary. Sanders won the primary in 2016 with 69% of the vote and nine delegates.

The Republican Party does not have a similar primary election for voters abroad. Donald Trump has already clinched the Republican presidential nomination. He crossed the delegate threshold—1,276 delegates—on March 17, 2020.

Candidates weigh in on coronavirus relief

BidenSanders, and Trump each weighed in on the coronavirus relief bill and associated policies over the past week.

On Wednesday, Sanders spoke on the Senate floor against a proposal to remove a provision from the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that would provide an additional $600 a week in unemployment payments for four months to workers who were laid off. The proposal to remove the provision was defeated, and the bill passed the chamber 96-0. He later said on the radio show 1A, “While this bill did not go anywhere near as far as I thought it should go, what it did do is expand unemployment benefits in a way that has never taken place before.”

On Wednesday, Biden appeared in interviews with CNN and The View from his home. He said Trump should have enacted the Defense Production Act months ago. The following day, Biden tweeted, “The relief bill passed by Congress was a good start, but now we need to:

  • Forgive at least $10,000 of student loan debt per person
  • Provide emergency paid sick leave to everyone who needs it
  • Ensure no one has to pay for COVID-19 treatment or an eventual vaccine”

On Wednesday, Trump said of the relief bill, “The Democrats have treated us fairly, and I really believe we‘ve had a very good back-and-forth and I say that with respect to [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer.” The following day, he wrote a letter to the nations’ governors on classifying counties by their risk of coronavirus. “This is what we envision: Our expanded testing capacities will quickly enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation’s public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risks posed by the virus.”

Campaigns continue to operate remotely

Biden and Sanders stayed off the campaign trail this week, opting instead for virtual events. Over the weekend, both candidates made appearances in the comments section of DJ D-Nice’s Instagram Live virtual dance party, which drew over 100,000 viewers at its peak.

On Sunday, Sanders live-streamed a virtual roundtable on the healthcare and economic impacts of the coronavirus with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

On Wednesday, in addition to launching a newsletter, Biden announced he would begin a podcast, which he described as “a program to share some more of [his] ideas and plans and to bring on some experts and people [he’s] worked with in the White House.”

Trump participated in a Fox News virtual town hall alongside the White House Coronavirus Task Force. During the town hall, Trump said he hoped to have people back to work by Easter.

Trump campaign, Priorities USA spar over coronavirus ads

On Wednesday, Priorities USA Action began running an ad in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin criticizing Trump’s statements about the coronavirus. The same day, the Trump campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to television stations with the threat of legal action.

In the letter, the campaign argues the ad was cut in such a way as to “fraudulently and maliciously imply that President Trump called the coronavirus outbreak a ‘hoax.’”

On Twitter, Guy Cecil of Priorities USA said, “Donald Trump issued a cease and desist letter to try to stop this ad from airing because he doesn’t want Americans to know the truth.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Becca Rast is a Democratic staffer with experience in campaign strategy and political organizing. Rast graduated from Brown University with a degree in environmental studies in 2013.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 Jessica King (D-Penn.) U.S. House campaign, campaign manager

Other experience:

  • 2016-2017: Lancaster Stands Up, co-founder and member of leadership team
  • 2014-2017: 350.org, youth engagement coordinator

What she says about Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is the real deal because he’s spent his entire career fighting neoliberalism. From his first victory the year after Reagan was elected to leading the progressive populist insurgencey [sic] in the Democratic Party. He has stood for justice and with the 99% forever.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: March 21-25, 2016

  • March 23, 2016: Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary. Bush dropped out of the running Feb. 20.
  • March 24, 2016: The Los Angeles Times published an interview with Bernie Sanders in which he stated that he planned on making the case to the party’s superdelegates that he was the stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton.
  • March 25, 2016: A group of tribal leaders across Washington endorsed Hillary Clinton the day before the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses.
  • March 26, 2016: Bernie Sanders won the Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington Democratic caucuses.
  • March 27, 2016: Trump and Sanders were interviewed on ABC’s This Week.

Which state has lost the most DNC delegates since the 2016 convention?



Biden and Sanders respond to coronavirus relief bill

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 27, 2020: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders responded to the coronavirus relief bill. Trump wrote a letter to governors about classifying counties by coronavirus risk level.

Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. blank    blankblank   

Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Becca Rast is a Democratic staffer with experience in campaign strategy and political organizing. Rast graduated from Brown University with a degree in environmental studies in 2013.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 Jessica King (D-Penn.) U.S. House campaign, campaign manager

Other experience:

  • 2016-2017: Lancaster Stands Up, co-founder and member of leadership team

  • 2014-2017: 350.org, youth engagement coordinator

What she says about Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is the real deal because he’s spent his entire career fighting neoliberalism. From his first victory the year after Reagan was elected to leading the progressive populist insurgencey [sic] in the Democratic Party. He has stood for justice and with the 99% forever.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“Cuomo’s rise is an unalloyed benefit for his state and the nation’s largest city, but it is not an unalloyed benefit for his party. To almost any sentient observer, it looks like the Democrats have picked the wrong guy to oppose Trump this fall. But the Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. They can’t simply stride out across the wet paint now that Biden has effectively won the nomination. He won it in open primaries, with settled rules, and there’s no way to change them.

Biden won’t offer the party an easy escape. He won’t suddenly renounce the prize he has sought his entire adult life.”

– Charles Lipson, RealClearPolitics

Democrats

  • Joe Biden tweeted, “The relief bill passed by Congress was a good start, but now we need to:

    • Forgive at least $10,000 of student loan debt per person
    • Provide emergency paid sick leave to everyone who needs it
    • Ensure no one has to pay for COVID-19 treatment or an eventual vaccine”

He also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s Quarantine Minilogue.

  • Bernie Sanders said on the radio show 1A, “While this bill did not go anywhere near as far as I thought it should go, what it did do is expand unemployment benefits in a way that has never taken place before. … It more or less guarantees unemployment benefits for all American workers … and what this bill says is that for four months you’re going to get $600 more a week than you otherwise would have gotten.”

Republicans

  • Donald Trump wrote a letter to the nations’ governors on classifying counties by their risk of coronavirus. “This is what we envision: Our expanded testing capacities will quickly enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation’s public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risks posed by the virus.” He also gave a telephone interview on Fox News’ Hannity.

  • On March 25, the Trump campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to television stations regarding a Priorities USA ad criticizing Trump’s statements about the coronavirus.

Flashback: March 27, 2016

Trump and Sanders were interviewed on ABC’s This Week.blank

Click here to learn more.



Sanders speaks on unemployment payments in coronavirus relief package

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 26, 2020: Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor against removing an additional $600 in unemployment payments from the coronavirus relief package. Joe Biden announced a newsletter and podcast. blank    blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Notable Quote of the Day

“June 2 had been an afterthought on the Democratic primary calendar. Ever since Joseph R. Biden Jr. seized the mantle of front-runner, voters in New Jersey and a few other states scheduled to vote that day assumed the Democratic horse race would be over before their primaries rolled around.

But with numerous states pushing back voting to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the date has gained sudden prominence. It now confers a huge bounty of delegates, second only to Super Tuesday in early March, with Indiana, Pennsylvania and others moving to hold their primaries on the first Tuesday in June.

Although Mr. Biden has built an all but insurmountable lead, June 2 — which is a long 10 weeks away — will be his first chance to clinch the presidential nomination. Only then would the former vice president have a definitive reason to press for the withdrawal of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has shown no inclination to leave a race that feels frozen in place.”

– Trip Gabriel, The New York Times

Democrats

  • Joe Biden announced Wednesday he would launch a podcast, which he described as “a program to share some more of [his] ideas and plans and to bring on some experts and people [he’s] worked with in the White House.” He also launched a newsletter.

  • Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor against a proposal to remove a provision from the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that would provide an additional $600 a week in unemployment payments for four months to workers who were laid off. The proposal to remove the provision was defeated, and the bill passed the chamber 96-0.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump tweeted, “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success.” He also said of the coronavirus relief bill, “The Democrats have treated us fairly, and I really believe we‘ve had a very good back-and-forth and I say that with respect to [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer.”

Flashback: March 26, 2016

Bernie Sanders won the Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington Democratic caucuses.

Click here to learn more.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 11 (March 25, 2020)

This week: Club for Growth active in AL-01, AL-02 runoffs, Loeffler responds to insider trading allegations, and the election dates changed in response to the coronavirus.

Election date changes

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted several states and localities to change election dates and administrative procedures. Here are the changes affecting party primaries right now:

  • Alabama: Primary runoff postponed to July 14
  • Alaska: In-person voting in Democratic presidential preference primary canceled; vote-by-mail deadline extended to April 10
  • Connecticut: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Delaware: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Georgia: Presidential preference primary postponed to May 19
  • Indiana: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Kentucky: Primary postponed to June 23
  • Louisiana: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 20
  • Maryland: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Mississippi: Republican primary runoff election for the state’s 2nd Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • North Carolina: Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • Ohio: In-person primary voting postponed to June 2
  • Puerto Rico: Democratic presidential preference primary postponed to April 26
  • Rhode Island: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Texas: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“Contrary to the partisan hand-wringing over Trump’s obvious restlessness with the national shutdown, Trump’s developing back-to-work plan ought to instill confidence in the public. Trump has only doubled down on his demand that Congress authorize immediate cash relief to consumers, so it’s not as though his willingness to strategize about what comes next signals defeat. If anything, it’s practically necessary, positioning us to be far more prepared for the secondary stage of the coronavirus than we were for the initial outbreak, and it’s politically expedient, a warning sign to Democrats holding the crisis relief bill as a partisan hostage. …

… Trump’s reported plan understands a necessary reality: We need those who cannot earn income from home back at work.

It won’t just be the elderly and immunocompromised stuck at home. Likely every worker who can work remotely, largely white-collar workers and middle- and upper-income earners, will be required to continue to do so. But then masks could be allocated to those who must work on-site, like those in the manufacturing or beauty industries. And those workers happen to be disproportionately lower-income. It’s not the stock market that will most benefit, but rather those workers who need economic relief the most.”

Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner, March 24, 2020

“There are certain strategies that we could eventually employ to return to some semblance of normal life while limiting the spread of the virus. One would be to have everybody wear masks whenever they go out. Another would be to follow the South Korean model of widespread testing coupled with isolating cases and tracking down their close contacts.

But the United States is not in a position to do either at the moment. …

Trump is right in the sense that we cannot sustain the current state of affairs and just sit around for the next few years waiting for a vaccine. But it would be an egregious error for him to change federal guidance and lean on state and local governments to prematurely open things up at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly and is nowhere near its peak.

So what he should do, instead of saying that he’s going to open things up, is say that his administration will be moving on a parallel track to put the system in place so that we can return to some semblance of life as soon as possible, and in a responsible well-thought-out way.”

Philip Klein, Washington Examiner, March 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Club for Growth active in AL-01, AL-02 runoffs

Club for Growth has ramped up activity in Alabama’s congressional runoffs,

The Club for Growth is getting more active in Alabama’s congressional runoffs, increasing its spending in the 1st District race and making an endorsement in the 2nd District contest.

Club for Growth Action, the group’s super PAC, spent $720,000 following the March 3 primary on ads and other activities opposing Jerry Carl. The group spent just under $150,000 supporting Bill Hightower ahead of the primary. 

Carl received 38.7% of the vote to Hightower’s 37.5% on March 3. The seat is open as incumbent Bradley Byrne (R) ran for the GOP Senate nomination.

In the 2nd District, Club for Growth PAC along with the House Freedom Fund endorsed Barry Moore in the runoff last week. Yellow Hammer News reported that the groups didn’t indicate how much they would spend on the race.

Jeff Coleman, the other 2nd District runoff candidate, had raised close to $2 million and spent $1.5 million as of Feb. 11. Moore reported raising almost $300,000 and spending around $250,000 as of March 11.

Moore, a former state legislator, has referred to himself as “the working man’s candidate” and to the runoff as “David and Goliath.” Coleman describes himself as a job creator and outsider. He is chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama endorsed Coleman ahead of the primary.

Alabama’s 2nd is open as incumbent Martha Roby (R) isn’t seeking re-election. Coleman received 38.1% of the vote to Moore’s 20.4% in the March 3 primary, which included seven candidates.

Alabama’s runoffs were originally scheduled for March 31 but were moved to July 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Loeffler responds to insider trading allegations

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined outside ethics groups in accusing Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) of insider trading.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “financial disclosures show that either she or her spouse sold up to $3.1 million in stocks. They made just two purchase, [sic] both in companies whose software technology is now in demand as Americans are forced to work from home to stem the rise of the coronavirus.” The newspaper reported that the purchase took place after Loeffler attended a January briefing on the virus.

Loeffler has denied allegations of insider trading, saying, “There is a range of different decisions made every day with regard to my savings and 401(k) portfolios that I am not involved in.”

Collins said, “People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain? … I’m sickened just thinking about it.”

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the all-party special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. Former Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the seat.

Trent Christensen files for UT-04 primary shortly before deadline

Trent Christensen filed for Utah’s 4th Congressional District Republican primary shortly before the March 19 deadline, joining six others in the race. Incumbent Ben McAdams (D), who is seeking re-election, defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) 50.1% to 49.9% in 2018.

Christensen was regional finance director of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. He has until April 20 to submit 7,000 signatures on a nominating petition to qualify for the ballot.

Also running are former Utah Republican Party communications director Kathleen Anderson, former state Rep. Kim Coleman, and former NFL player Burgess Owens. Not on the list of candidates is Love, who said last year she was considering a bid to regain the seat.

The primary is June 30.

State executives

Utah’s filing deadline passed Thursday, leaving eight candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination—the most since 2004.Three Utah gubernatorial candidates name running mates

Three candidates announced their running mates. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will run alongside state Sen. Deidre Henderson, while businesswoman Jan Garbett selected former public health official Dr. Joe Jarvis and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder-Newton picked state Auditor John Dougall.

Two other candidates had already named their running mates. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. is running alongside Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, while former state party chairman Thomas Wright is running alongside Rep. Rob Bishop. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, businessman Jeff Burningham, and entrepreneur Jason Christensen have not yet announced running mates.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has made getting on the ballot much more challenging.

Up to two candidates for governor may qualify for the primary ballot by winning the support of state delegates at the convention. Any number may qualify by submitting petitions containing valid signatures from 28,000 registered voters. Candidates may choose to pursue one track or attempt to qualify via both at the same time. 

Owing to public health concerns, the state party convention was moved to an entirely online format, meaning candidates will no longer be able to interact with delegates in person. Meanwhile, Huntsman and Garbett, who are both seeking to qualify via petitions, have requested the state allow candidates to collect signatures electronically.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election.

Greg Gianforte leads Montana gubernatorial candidates in fundraising

According to financial disclosure reports filed Friday, Rep. Greg Gianforte has raised more money in the gubernatorial primary so far this year than state Attorney General Tim Fox or state Sen. Al Olszewski.

Between Jan. 1 and March 15, Gianforte raised $890,000 to Fox’s $110,000 and Olszewski’s $42,000. Gianforte’s figures include a $500,000 loan he issued his campaign. Olszewski loaned his campaign $17,000.

To date, Gianforte has raised $2.3 million to Fox’s $680,000 and Olszewski’s $270,000.

The June 2 primary is open to all voters. No Republican candidate has been elected governor in Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.

Knudsen receives legislative endorsements in Montana Attorney General election, while Bennion reports fundraising lead

Two members of the Montana state legislature endorsed House Speaker Austin Knudsen for attorney general. State Sen. Gordon Vance, a former state house majority leader who currently serves as chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee, announced his support for Knudsen Saturday. Current state House Majority Leader Brad Tschida followed on Monday.

Campaign finance reports filed Friday show Deputy State Attorney General Jon Bennion with a slight fundraising lead over Knudsen. Between January 1 and March 15, Bennion raised $29,000 to Knudsen’s $28,000. As of March 15, Bennion had $160,000 cash on hand to Knudsen’s $110,000. 

Bennion and Knudsen are the only two Republicans running in the June 2 primary, which is open to all registered voters.

Legislatures

A look at competitiveness in state legislative elections so far

Ballotpedia has been compiling information about competitiveness in state legislative elections for this year and comparing it to our 2018 data. 

When a state legislative filing deadline passes, we compile information about open seats, incumbents in primaries, total primaries, and total candidates. We then compare that data to figures for the same states as of the 2018 filing deadline. The 16 states highlighted in the graphic above show where we’ve been able to run this comparison so far.

In the states we’ve reviewed, competitiveness has fallen this year compared to the same point in 2018. This year, there are 273 open seats, versus 326 in 2018. The number of incumbents challenged in primaries is also down from 405 in 2018 to 357 in 2020. The number of primaries in general is also down from 845 to 702. All of these declines correspond with the overall drop in candidates seeking office. There are 416 fewer candidates running in state legislative races in 2020 compared to 2018.

Here are some specific highlights:

  • Ohio had the largest drop in the number of open seats. There were 42 open seats in 2018, and 22 this year. 
  • North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia had the largest increase in open seats. Each has eight more open seats this year than in 2018.
  • Both Texas and Oregon have 18 fewer incumbents facing primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. In 2018, Montana had ten incumbents facing primary challenges versus 25 in 2020, the largest increase.
  • Illinois has the largest decrease in total primaries from 61 in 2018 to 37 in 2020. Montana again has the largest increase in total primaries from 38 in 2018 to 55 in 2020.
  • Only two states—Oregon (23) and Georgia (32)—have more candidates running this year than in 2018. Ohio has 86 fewer candidates running in state legislative races this year than in 2018.

Term-limited representative challenges incumbent South Dakota state senator

State Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R-17), who is term-limited and unable to run again for another term in the house, filed to run for the district’s single state senate seat, setting up a primary with incumbent Sen. Art Rusch (R-17). 

Rasmussen was first elected to one of the district’s two House seats in 2012 and won re-election three times, serving the maximum of eight years in one chamber. Rusch, at the time of his first election in 2014, was the first Republican elected to the state senate from District 17 since 1982. He has won re-election twice since then. This will be the first time he has faced a primary challenge.

The filing deadline for state legislative candidates in South Dakota is March 31. No Democratic candidates have filed to run for the District 17 senate seat thus far.

Power players

“The Republican Main Street Partnership is a coalition of nearly 80 members of Congress who represent the governing wing of the Republican Party. Our members are the Republicans who win in swing districts — that’s why we’re the party’s majority-makers.” – Republican Main Street Partnership website 

Founded in 1997, the Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says its members “share a commitment to conservative, pragmatic government that works to better American communities across the country” and are “solution-oriented legislators dedicated to defending Main Street Americans and advancing common-sense policies that can command bipartisan support.” To view a list of the organization’s current members, click here.

The RMSP is affiliated with the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, which says it “exists to support governing Republicans who face the most challenging races,” and the Defending Main Street Super PAC, which describes itself as “the most effective independent expenditure organization supporting the governing wing of the Republican Party.”

The RMSP PAC endorses candidates which it says believe in “limited government, thoughtful, pragmatic governing and a strong economy.” To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 11 (March 25, 2020)

This week: End Citizens United endorses Ossoff, Warnock for Senate seats in GA, Brady PAC endorses Hegar in Senate runoff in TX, and the election dates changed in response to the coronavirus.

Election date changes

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted several states and localities to change election dates and administrative procedures. Here are the changes affecting party primaries right now:

  • Alabama: Primary runoff postponed to July 14
  • Alaska: In-person voting in Democratic presidential preference primary canceled; vote-by-mail deadline extended to April 10
  • Connecticut: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Delaware: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Georgia: Presidential preference primary postponed to May 19
  • Indiana: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Kentucky: Primary postponed to June 23
  • Louisiana: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 20
  • Maryland: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Mississippi: Republican primary runoff election for the state’s 2nd Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • North Carolina: Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • Ohio: In-person primary voting postponed to June 2
  • Puerto Rico: Democratic presidential preference primary postponed to April 26
  • Rhode Island: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Texas: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“If Sanders drops out, as mainstream media and centrist liberals are urging him to do, Biden and the establishment won’t budge an inch, and a generation of socialists and progressives is demoralized. If Sanders stays in, his campaign is severely limited without the ability to hold big rallies or canvasses because of the pandemic, in addition to the many other enormous hurdles he faces.

There is another option, though: stay in the race, but make a wholesale transition from campaigning for the nomination to campaigning for Bernie’s coronavirus policy — not just redirecting some donations to charity or sending text messages to encourage social distancing, but transforming the entire organizational apparatus of the Bernie campaign into a virus-fighting machine.

… Bernie should use the considerable leverage he has right now to outflank the suddenly invisible Joe Biden to advocate for a more aggressive approach.”

Benjamin Y. Fong, Jacobin, March 24, 2020

“Could Biden become a different president than we imagined? He well might, if he can rise to the occasion.

When I say ‘different,’ I’m referring to one of the main reasons I was skeptical about Biden’s candidacy: his lack of policy ambition. … 

But if he takes office in the midst of a crisis, the calculations could change. There’s a good chance that the stimulus measures we take now will be insufficient — so he’ll be under pressure to pass new stimulus, which could well include some version of the Green New Deal. This public health crisis will almost certainly have been a disaster for our health-care system, which will give passing health-care reform new urgency. …

And though we all hope the public health crisis and the economic crisis are over as quickly as possible, if there’s a silver lining here, it may be that they’ll make Biden, should he win, a better and bigger president than he otherwise would have been. Let’s hope so.”

Paul Waldman, The Washington Post, March 19, 2020

U.S. Congress

End Citizens United endorses Ossoff, Warnock for Senate seats in GA

End Citizens United endorsed Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s May 19 regular Senate Democratic primary and Raphael Warnock in the Nov. 3 all-party special election.

Ossoff faced Karen Handel (R) in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District—the most expensive House race in history. Handel defeated Ossoff 51.8-48.2%.

Seven candidates are running in the May 19 Democratic primary, including business executive Sarah Riggs Amico and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. The winner will face incumbent David Perdue (R). Three forecasters rate the general election Likely or Lean Republican.

End Citizens United’s endorsement of Warnock followed those from other national groups including, as we reported earlier, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He is a pastor and was chairman of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has also endorsed him, founded.

Twenty-one candidates are running in the all-party special election—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. 

Former Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Kelly Loeffler (R) to the seat. She is running in the special election. 

Three forecasters rate the election either Lean or Likely Republican.

Two candidates remain in NY-24 Democratic primary

Roger Misso dropped out of the Democratic primary for New York’s 24th Congressional District, leaving a contest between Dana Balter and Francis Conole. 

The 24th includes parts of Cayuga, Onondaga, Oswego, and Wayne counties. The Finger Lakes Times reported, “Wayne is not endorsing in the primary, while Onondaga and Cayuga have endorsed Conole. Balter won the endorsement of Oswego County Democrats.”

Balter challenged 24th District incumbent John Katko (R) in 2018, losing 47.4% to 52.6%. Conole is a military veteran who worked as a senior intelligence officer for the Department of Defense.

Katko is unopposed in the 2020 Republican primary. The 24th is one of three House districts that elected a Republican representative in 2018 after favoring Hillary Clinton (D) in the 2016 presidential election.

Brady PAC endorses Hegar in Senate runoff in Texas

Brady PAC endorsed M.J. Hegar over Royce West in the Democratic senatorial primary runoff election in Texas. 

The group’s executive director, Brian Lemek, said, “As a mother, veteran, gun violence survivor and gun owner, MJ understands this epidemic of gun violence and the reasonable solutions to fix it. Royce West, however, has voted multiple times to expand the places people can carry guns, including school grounds, and we think that is unacceptable.”

West, a state senator, co-authored a 2019 bill that would have removed a provision prohibiting school marshals who engage in regular, direct contact with students from carrying concealed guns.

West said, “Local school boards have a right to decide what measures they need to take in order to make sure that students and persons within that school are safe, and this is just another tool they can utilize to do that.” Regarding the Brady PAC’s endorsement of Hegar, West said, “I have supported the Brady group 95% of the time on measures they have proposed over the years.”

Since the March 3 primary, three primary candidates endorsed West in the runoff: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Michael Cooper, and Chris Bell. The runoff, originally scheduled for May 26, was moved to July 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The runoff winner will face incumbent John Cornyn (R) in the November general election.

State executives

Washington Lt. Gov. Habib to retire, leaving the office open

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D-Wash.) announced Thursday he would retire from politics and join the Jesuit Order rather than seek re-election this year, setting up an open top-two primary for the office.

Washington is one of only two states, alongside California, using a top-two primary system for state executive offices. Under a top-two primary, all candidates for office appear on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers—regardless of their partisan affiliation—advance to the general election.

Washington’s lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, casting tie-breaking votes, and serves as acting governor while the governor is out of state. 

Candidates have until May 15 to file for the Aug. 4 primary. The top two finishers will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. No Republican has served as lieutenant governor of Washington since Joel Pritchard left office in 1997.

Cooney reports narrow fundraising lead in Montana gubernatorial election

According to financial disclosure reports filed Friday, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney has raised more money in the gubernatorial primary so far this year than consultant Whitney Williams.

Between Jan. 1 and March 15, Cooney raised $245,000 while Williams raised $230,000. Cooney reported $265,000 cash on hand as of March 15 to Williams’ $230,000.

Cooney and Williams are the only two Democrats running in the June 2 primary, which is open to all registered voters.

Legislatures

A look at competitiveness in state legislative elections so far

Ballotpedia has been compiling information about competitiveness in state legislative elections for this year and comparing it to our 2018 data. 

When a state legislative filing deadline passes, we compile information about open seats, incumbents in primaries, total primaries, and total candidates. We then compare that data to figures for the same states as of the 2018 filing deadline. The 16 states highlighted in the graphic above show where we’ve been able to run this comparison so far.

In the states we’ve reviewed, competitiveness has fallen this year compared to the same point in 2018. This year, there are 273 open seats, versus 326 in 2018. The number of incumbents challenged in primaries is also down from 405 in 2018 to 357 in 2020. The number of primaries in general is also down from 845 to 702. All of these declines correspond with the overall drop in candidates seeking office. There are 416 fewer candidates running in state legislative races in 2020 compared to 2018.

Here are some specific highlights:

  • Ohio had the largest drop in the number of open seats. There were 42 open seats in 2018, and 22 this year. 
  • North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia had the largest increase in open seats. Each has eight more open seats this year than in 2018.
  • Both Texas and Oregon have 18 fewer incumbents facing primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. In 2018, Montana had ten incumbents facing primary challenges versus 25 in 2020, the largest increase.
  • Illinois has the largest decrease in total primaries from 61 in 2018 to 37 in 2020. Montana again has the largest increase in total primaries from 38 in 2018 to 55 in 2020.
  • Only two states—Oregon (23) and Georgia (32)—have more candidates running this year than in 2018. Ohio has 86 fewer candidates running in state legislative races this year than in 2018.

Rep. Yoni Pizer concedes to Margaret Croke in Illinois House primary

Illinois Rep. Yoni Pizer (D-12) conceded to challenger Margaret Croke last Wednesday. With all precincts reporting, Croke won 46.4 percent of the vote to Pizer’s 41.0 percent with three other primary challengers receiving the remainder of the vote.

The outcome of this election marked the end of a proxy endorsement battle between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). In January 2020, Lightfoot endorsed Pizer, a month before party leaders appointed him to serve out the remainder of Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s (D) term. Following Pizer’s appointment, Pritzker endorsed Croke, who had worked on his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Democrats currently hold a 74-44 supermajority in the Illinois House of Representatives. Since there were no other candidates filed to run in the general election, Croke will likely be the next representative for District 12, holding the seat for Democrats.

Former Republican candidate Kevin Stocker challenges Bill Conrad in Democratic primary for open New York State Assembly seat

Last Friday, Kevin Stocker filed to run in the Democratic primary for New York’s 140th Assembly District. Robin Schimminger (D) has represented the Buffalo-area district since its creation in 1976. In 2019, Schimminger announced he would not seek re-election.

Stocker’s announcement sets up a June 23 primary against Bill Conrad, a Tonawanda town councilman who has already been endorsed by the Niagara County Democratic Party.

Stocker most recently ran as a Republican for New York’s 60th Senate District in 2016 but lost in the primary. In 2014, Stocker was the Republican nominee in the 60th District, but lost in the general election 31.5% to 29.8%.

Power players

“The Working Families Party is a progressive grassroots political party building a multiracial movement of working people to transform America.” – Working Families Party website

The Working Families Party is a political party founded in 1998 by a group of labor unions, community organizations, and other public interest groups. The New York Times has described the party as “an influential, labor-backed organization that has helped push Democrats to the left.”

As of September 2019, it was a ballot-qualified party in Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and South Carolina. According to the party’s website, it has branches in Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington.

The party says its endorsement “is like a progressive seal of approval: it means these candidates can be counted on to fight for us on the issues that matter most, from fair funding of public schools and living wage jobs to ending mass incarceration and getting big money out of politics.” To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here.  



Oklahoma lawmakers advance bill barring public agencies from requiring donor information from 501(c)s

On March 3, the Oklahoma State Senate voted unanimously to approve SB1491, which would bar public agencies from requiring 501(c) nonprofits to provide them with personal information about their donors.

What does the bill propose?

SB1491 would bar any public agency from requiring a nonprofit 501(c) group to provide the agency with personal affiliation information about its donors. The legislation would also prohibit a public agency from publicly disclosing any such information it might have and exempt personal affiliation information from disclosure under the state’s open records law.

The legislation defines “public agencies” and “personal affiliation information” as follows:

  • “Public agency” definition: any state or local governmental unit.
  • “Personal affiliation information” definition: any “list, record, register, registry, roll, roster, or other compilation of data of any kind that directly or indirectly identifies a person as a member, supporter or volunteer of, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support to, any entity organized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

Under SB1491, a knowing violation of these provisions would constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both.

What is the political context, and what comes next?

Oklahoma is a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

On March 4, the Senate sent SB1491 to the Oklahoma House of Representatives where it was read for the first time. On March 17, it was read for a second time and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Have other states considered similar legislation? What were the reactions?

Michigan lawmakers approved a similar bill, SB1176, in 2018. Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it; the legislature did not override the veto.

  • In an op-ed for The Detroit News, Sean Parnell, vice-president of public policy for the Philanthropy Roundtable, wrote: “Michiganians are no stranger to anonymous giving, whether it’s the tens of millions of dollars given to support the Kalamazoo Promise or the numerous small anonymous gifts made through sites like GoFundMe.com. The Personal Privacy Protection Act ensures these and countless other acts of kindness can remain private if the giver wishes, while doing nothing to undermine Michigan’s laws regarding disclosure of campaign donations or punishing fraud by nonprofits. If Michigan wants to continue to encourage philanthropic giving, passage of this bill should be a priority..”
  • Opposing the bill, the Campaign Legal Center’s Erin Cholpak wrote, “While other states have been working to close loopholes that have allowed the increasing role of dark money in election campaigns, SB 1176 would codify those loopholes as enforceable law in Michigan. … And even if SB 1176 ultimately exempts campaign finance disclosure requirements from its broad disclosure ban, the bill will still make it easier for Michigan lawmakers to hide any conflicts of interest and could facilitate a rise of pay-to-play politics by shielding such arrangements from public scrutiny.”

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 45 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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.

Disclosure Digest map March 24, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart March 24, 2020.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart March 24, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Oklahoma SB1491: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Referred to House Judiciary Committee March 17.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • Tennessee HB2665: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • House Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee hearing scheduled for March 17 canceled.
    • Republican sponsorship.


Delaware and Rhode Island change primary dates

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 25, 2020: Governors of Delaware and Rhode Island have moved presidential primaries from April 28 to June 2. President Donald Trump said he hopes the country will be back to work by Easter. blank    blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the presidential primary updates you need to know:

  • Delaware: Gov. John Carney (D) issued an order moving the state’s April 28 presidential primary to June 2.

  • Rhode Island: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced she would sign an executive order postponing the state’s April 28 presidential primary to June 2.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Biden is positioning himself as a sort of shadow president — equipped with his own coronavirus plan, a coronavirus task force, and receipts of when he sounded the alarm on the anticipated impacts of the virus back in January.”

– Alexi McCammond, Axios

Democrats

  • Joe Biden appeared in interviews with CNN and The View from his home. He told CNN’s Jake Tapper that President Donald Trump should have enacted the Defense Production Act months ago. On The View, Biden discussed his daily schedule, the economy, and the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Bernie Sanders and several other members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for the suspension of sanctions on Iran amid the coronavirus. Sanders also appeared on PBS Newshour, where he discussed the coronavirus economic stimulus bill being debated in Congress.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force participated in a Fox News virtual town hall, where Trump said he hoped to have people back to work by Easter. Also, Priorities USA Action began running an ad in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin criticizing Trump’s statements about the coronavirus.

Flashback: March 25, 2016

A group of tribal leaders across Washington endorsed Hillary Clinton the day before the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses.

Click here to learn more.



Biden, Trump outline coronavirus strategy in pair of addresses

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 24, 2020: Biden, Trump discuss coronavirus response. blank    blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Poll Spotlight


Notable Quote of the Day

“If you thought the battle over whether or not to impeach Trump would be the defining moment of the President’s first term in office (as we all did), well, things have changed.

This coronavirus fight is now the thing that very likely will make or break Trump’s chances at a second term this November. And it’s really a series of fights: There’s the obvious physical health one but there’s also a massive economic fight, a mental health battle and a leadership test all wrapped in there too.”

– Chris Cillizza, CNN editor-at-large

Democrats

  • Joe Biden delivered a televised address from his Delaware home in which he discussed Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden also said he would begin vetting at least six potential vice presidential nominees in the coming weeks. Also Monday, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the largest public-sector union nationwide, endorsed Biden.

  • Bernie Sanders won the Democrats Abroad primary, according to official vote totals released Monday. The primary was conducted March 3-10 and was open to all U.S. citizens living abroad who did not vote in a state or territorial primary. Sanders won 58% of the vote and nine of the group’s delegates. Biden won 22% and the remaining four delegates.

Republicans

  • In his daily press briefing, Donald Trump said that the coronavirus pandemic looked as if it would get worse before getting better. Trump said that the country was not built to sustain a prolonged shutdown and that he would soon consider whether it was time to lift restrictions on business.

Flashback: March 24, 2016

The Los Angeles Times published an interview with Bernie Sanders in which he stated that he planned on making the case to the party’s superdelegates that he was the stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton.blank

Click here to learn more.



Bold Justice: SCOTUS postpones March sitting

Ballotpedia's Bold Justice
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ballotpedia is monitoring the impact of the outbreak on U.S. politics and elections and providing comprehensive coverage to our readers. This coverage includes federal, state, and local government actions; changes in election dates and procedures; and affected elected officials.

For for the latest developments, see the following articles:


Welcome to the March 23 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. Stay up-to-date on the latest news by following us on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.


We #SCOTUS so you don't have to


Arguments postponed

On March 16, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was postponing the 11 hours of oral arguments originally scheduled during its March sitting. In a press release, the court said the delay was “in keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19.”

COVID-19 refers to coronavirus disease 2019, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. Click here for more information about political responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

The court last postponed arguments in October 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic. In August 1793 and 1798, argument calendars were shortened in response to yellow fever outbreaks.

The court has heard arguments in 59 of the 73 cases it accepted to hear this term. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.


Court closes indefinitely to the public

The court announced on March 12 that it was closing to the public indefinitely, beginning at 4:30 p.m. that day. The court posted on its website, “Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public from 4:30 p.m. on March 12, 2020, until further notice.”


Opinions

As of publication, the court had issued decisions in 16 cases and dismissed one case without a decision this term. The court released opinions in four cases on March 23. We’ll cover those in our next edition of Bold Justice!


Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest, pending further notice:

  • March 23: SCOTUS released orders and opinions.

  • March 27: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

  • March 30: SCOTUS will release orders.


SCOTUS trivia


The court last postponed arguments in October 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic. Who was the chief justice of the court in 1918?  


State & local courts respond to coronavirus

In addition to SCOTUS, a number of state and local government offices and services are either limited or closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve looked at school closurespostponed primaries, and quarantined elected officials.

As of March 20, 32 states had suspended in-person judicial proceedings statewide. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level. Two states have had no change to their court schedule. Click here for more information on state court responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to learn more.



Bitnami