Tagnews

Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination Oct. 22

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to advance Judge Amy Coney Barrett‘s nomination for consideration before the full Senate. Twenty-two senators currently sit on that committee, including 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

President Donald Trump (R) nominated Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18. Barrett’s confirmation hearings were held Oct. 12 – 15 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On day one of the hearings, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) provided opening statements, followed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) then introduced Barrett. After the introductions, Barrett gave her opening statement. The day ended with Barrett’s introduction to the committee by professor Patricia O’Hara, which was delayed due to technical difficulties during the initial introductions.

Day two of the hearings consisted of senators questioning Barrett for 11 hours, with each senator allotted 30 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, the Affordable Care Act, election disputes, legal access to firearms and same-sex marriage. On day three of the hearings, senators continued to question Barrett for nearly nine hours—with each senator allotted 20 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, election administration, immigration and presidential power.

On the fourth and final day of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 to hold a committee vote on Barrett’s nomination. Most Democrats voted by proxy because they did not appear in person. The committee also heard witness testimony Witnesses in support of Barrett’s confirmation included the American Bar Association, former Judge Thomas Griffith, a law school professor, a former student and a former mentee and employee of Barrett. Witnesses opposed to Barrett’s confirmation included the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a medical doctor, a small business owner and activist and a nonprofit leader.

The average vacancy length on the Supreme Court since 1962 — when defined as the length of time elapsed between a justice’s departure date and the swearing-in of their successor — is 88 days. Four of these vacancies lasted for only a few hours each; the successor was sworn in the same day the retiring justice officially left office. The longest vacancy under this definition was 422 days, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

Additional reading:



Michigan board approves circulation of recall petition against state attorney general

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on October 15 approved the petition language for a recall against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D). The board previously rejected five recall petitions against Nessel in 2020. Supporters of the recall effort need to submit 1,046,006 signatures within a 60-day period to require a recall election. The 60 days begin on the first day that signatures are collected. The recall petition must be submitted to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State no later than 180 days after it was approved by the board.

The recall petition was submitted by Chad Baase on September 25. Michigan laws state that the reason for recall must be deemed factual and clear by the Board of State Canvassers before the recall petition can be placed in circulation. The board does not document a rationale for their determination, only the judgment of rejected or approved.

The recall petition criticizes Nessel over her announced plans of ramping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Executive Order 2020-148. The executive order provided enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Baase has filed 12 recall petitions against four statewide officials. Five have been approved for circulation, five were rejected in clarity hearings, and two were withdrawn.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, four statewide officials in Michigan have seen recall petitions submitted against them. In total, 31 recall petitions have targeted the four officials. In comparison, Ballotpedia tracked no recall efforts against any Michigan statewide official in 2019.

This year, Whitmer has had 20 recall petitions submitted against her. Nine of those petitions have been approved for circulation, 10 efforts were rejected, and one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner. Two recall petitions have been introduced against Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D). One petition has been approved for circulation, and the other was rejected. Three recall petitions have also been introduced against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). One effort has been approved for circulation, one effort was withdrawn by the petitioner, and the other was rejected.

Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s governor in 2018 with 53.3% of the vote.

Additional reading:



Results of Mississippi special general runoff elections

Special general runoff elections were held for Mississippi State Senate Districts 15 and 39 and Mississippi House of Representatives Districts 37 and 66 on Oct. 13, 2020. In Mississippi, special elections for state legislative offices are nonpartisan. The special general election for the four districts was held on Sept. 22, 2020. The filing deadline passed on Aug. 3, 2020.

In Senate District 15, Bart Williams won the special election with 53.6% of the vote and defeated Joyce Meek Yates. The special election was called after Gary Jackson (R) resigned on June 30, 2020. Jackson served from 2004 to 2020.

In Senate District 39, Jason Barrett won with 56.1% of the vote and defeated Bill Sones. The special election was called after Sally Doty (R) left office to become the executive director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. She resigned on July 15, 2020. Doty served from 2012 to 2020.

In House District 37, Lynn Wright won with 63.8% of the vote and defeated David Chism. The special election was called after Gary Chism (R) resigned on June 30, 2020. Gary Chism served from 2000 to 2020.

In House District 66, De’Keither Stamps won with 61.5% of the votes and defeated Bob Lee Jr. The special election was called after Jarvis Dortch (D) resigned on July 2, 2020. Dortch served from 2016 to 2020.

As of October 2020, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 27 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Mississippi has held 36 state legislative special elections between 2010 and 2019.

Additional reading:



Federal Register weekly update: Two new significant regulations issued (2020)

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From September 28 to October 2, the Federal Register grew by 1,856 pages for a year-to-date total of 62,538 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 53,302 pages and 50,474 pages, respectively. As of October 2, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 9,236 pages and the 2018 total by 12,064 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 598 documents:

• 473 notices
• six presidential documents
• 46 proposed rules
• 73 final rules
One proposed rule related to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) hearing proceedings and two final rules concerning DEA’s efforts to prevent illegal drug distribution and the Farm Credit Administration’s (FCA) loan requirements were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 25 significant proposed rules, 56 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of October 2.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for September

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from September 2, 2020, to October 1, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the previous report. There are 59 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, 64 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

Nominations: There have been four new nominations since the previous report.

Confirmations: There have been 15 new confirmations since the previous report.

New vacancies

There were 59 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 6.3, which is 1.5 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in August 2020.

• One (11.1%) of the nine U.S. Supreme Court seats is vacant.

• None of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.

• 56 (8.3%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.

• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.

Two judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. As Article III judicial positions, these vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

1. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, vacating her seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

2. Judge Pamela Reeves died on September 10, 2020, vacating her seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

*New nominations*

President Trump has announced four new nominations since the August 2020 report.

Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Charles Atchley, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Katherine Crytzer, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Joseph Dawson, to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 271 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

Since September 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 15 of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of October 1, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 218 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—161 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Roderick Young, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

John Hinderaker, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Iain Johnston, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Franklin Valderrama, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

David Dugan, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Stephen P. McGlynn, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Todd Robinson, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Stanley Blumenfeld, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

John Holcomb, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Mark Scarsi, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Diane Gujarati, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Thomas Cullen, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Hala Jarbou, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Christy Wiegand, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Brett Ludwig, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Additional reading:



Bitnami