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US Supreme Court launches new term reeling from RBG’s death and in political spotlight

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The justices are still working remotely because of Covid-19 and telephonic arguments will be livestreamed.
Although there are significant cases pending, the docket has been eclipsed by the furor over the future ideological direction of the court and its institutional reputation. Chief Justice John Roberts, who since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy has served as a swing vote in some cases, now stares down a future where he will play a less pivotal role at times with the possibility of five solid votes flanking his right.
Roberts’ goal of keeping the court out of the political fray will also grow more difficult as the public sees yet another judicial confirmation hearing roiled by politics, and a President who has suggested that his new nominee could decide the election.
“This will be no ordinary term,” said Roman Martinez, a Latham & Watkins lawyer and former Roberts clerk who frequently argues before the court. “The confirmation fight over Justice Ginsburg’s successor has thrust the court center stage during a tough presidential election, and the spotlight will only get hotter if the court has to weigh resolve election-related disputes.”
As the justices gather over the phone for the first sitting, Senate Republicans continue to move quickly to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham have vowed to keep a tight schedule that could lead to a confirmation vote by the end of October.
Barrett’s confirmation process is also happening in the shadow of a corornavirus pandemic and the White House event on September 26 where she was announced as the nominee appears to have been a superspreader event leading to several people, perhaps even Trump and two Judiciary Committee members, contracted the virus. (Barrett herself had Covid-19 earlier this year and recovered.)
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein called for the hearing schedule to be postponed.
“It’s critical that Chairman Graham put the health of senators, the nominee and staff first — and ensure a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual,” the Democrats said in a joint statement. “Otherwise this already illegitimate process will become a dangerous one.”
If Republicans are able to confirm Barrett before the election, she would take the bench just as several emergency petitions concerning the right to vote could be flooding the court in the last days of the campaign. In order to rule on a pending case or petition, she has to be on the bench when it arrives. Various lawsuits are percolating in lower courts concerning issues like mail in voting and witness signature requirements. Meanwhile, the President has insinuated that Barrett’s vote will be necessary if the court were ultimately called upon to decide the election.
“Lurking in the background is the possibility that this could become the most tumultuous and divisive term since the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore 20 years ago and effectively determined who would be president of the United States,” said Irv Gornstein of Georgetown Law.
A week after the election, the justices will hear the most significant case on the docket so far that could impact millions of Americans.

Affordable Care Act

For the third time, a significant case concerning the future Affordable Care Act will be heard on November 10. Although the final results may not be tallied from the election by then, the justices will hear a dispute that could strip health care for Americans across the country in the middle of a pandemic.
And while the President has repeatedly said he would move to protect individuals with preexisting conditions, while offering no concrete details, his government’s lawyers are arguing to have the entire sprawling law invalidated.
All eyes will be on Roberts, who, back in 2012, stunned conservatives by casting the deciding vote to save the health care law under the taxing power. But the new dispute arose in 2017 when the Republican-led Congress cut the tax penalty for those who lacked insurance to zero as part of the year-end tax overhaul.
Texas and other Republican-led states sued, arguing that since the mandate was no longer tied to a tax penalty, it had lost its legal underpinning. What’s more, the challengers also argue that the mandate cannot be untangled from the other provisions of the law, and that the court should move to get rid of the entire thing. Justice Department lawyers side with Texas, although they have made a new argument that while the entire law should fall, the ruling should only apply to the 18 states that brought the challenge.
A district court invalidated the law but last December, a federal appeals said that while the individual mandate was unconstitutional, a lower court should take another look at whether provisions unrelated to the mandate should remain on the books.

Religious liberty

On November 4, the morning after the election, the justices will hear a major dispute pitting claims of religious liberty against LGBTQ rights in a case that is a follow-on to a 2018 dispute concerning a baker who refused to make a cake for a same sex couple.
In the new case, the city of Philadelphia froze the contract of a Catholic foster agency because the agency refused to work with same sex couples as potential foster parents out of religious objections to same sex marriage. The agency, Catholic Social Services, sued under the First Amendment, seeking an exemption from the law.
Philadelphia defends its actions saying the agency violated anti-discrimination laws that are neutral and apply to everyone.
The Trump administration is siding with the Catholic agency arguing that the city singled out the organization for investigation and reflected unconstitutional hostility toward its religious beliefs.
Supporters of religious liberty hope the court’s conservative majority, expanding upon a trend from last term, will broaden religious liberty rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. But supporters of LGBTQ rights, wary of the court’s conservative turn, worry the justices may rule in favor of discrimination, allowing the agency that receives government funds to turn away LGBTQ couples.
Also on the docket is a case concerning a challenge by the Democratic-led house that seeks the release of grand jury material from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into alleged Russian interference into the election.
The material at issue includes portions of Mueller’s report that were redacted to protect grand jury information and underlying grand jury testimony and exhibits that related to certain individuals and events described in the report.
And while the docket doesn’t compare to last term’s blockbuster cases on Trump’s financial records, a Louisiana abortion law and a case brought by LGBTQ workers, there are other petitions pending that could ratchet up the significance of the term. Those include a challenge to Trump’s border wall, cases concerning whether Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and another abortion case out of Mississippi.

Source: – CNN

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Paul Davis's political return sparks Conservative Party turmoil – CBC.ca

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Former premier Paul Davis has announced his decision to re-enter politics, this time at the federal level — but that move isn’t welcome news to some members of the Conservative Party of Canada, with some local riding executives stepping away from their duties because of it.

On Thursday night, Davis posted on Facebook that he will seek the party’s nomination in the riding of Avalon in a future general election. Early Friday morning, Chris Power, the president of the Avalon Conservative Association, made an announcement of his own: that as Davis didn’t notify party executives first prior to posting, Power was stepping aside from his party duties, at least temporarily.

“I strongly feel that he should have first given notice to CPC nominating committee before any public announcement was made,” Chris Power said in a letter to fellow members of the association board.

In an interview with CBC News, Power said others on the board feel similarly and some executives have resigned, although he said Davis was not required to give a heads-up to the party before making his announcement.

“That’s your people on the ground, and the general consensus [is] that if we’re on the ground, that our opinion should matter, you know, and it didn’t seem like it really did,” Power said Friday.

Chris Power, the president of the Avalon Electoral District Association for the Conservative Party of Canada, is taking a leave of absence from his duties in the wake of Davis’s announcement he will run for candidacy in the riding. (Chris Power)

Power himself has decided on a temporary leave of absence from his role while the nomination process is underway, as Power said he and other executive members support the other candidate, Matthew Chapman, over Davis.

“We just thought at this time that we’d be better served with fresh blood. And we frankly didn’t think experience as a provincial politician was necessarily a positive thing right now,” said Power, who said he will be taking a “very active role” campaigning for Chapman during his leave.

‘Airing their dirty laundry’

Davis departed politics in November 2018, and in his resignation announcement at the time said he had no intention of running federally. But on Friday, Davis said the last six months — with troubles besieging small businesses and large industries, particularly oil and gas, as well as the omnipresent uncertainty — changed his mind.

“Someone needs to step up to the plate. I just can’t sit by any longer,” he told CBC News.

“There’s no plan to fix it. We don’t even hear any empathy or concern being communicated by our MPs in Ottawa.”

Davis said he’s had positive discussions with the local party ranks about running, and was caught off guard by their reaction to his announcement.

“Many of them are supporters of the other candidate. So it’s not unusual … for a candidate to have their own supporters on a district association. It happens provincially, it happens federally, it’s not unique to Avalon,” he said.

“I’m a little bit surprised that they’re airing their dirty laundry publicly, or their views on that, because some of them have been open arms welcoming and encouraged me to be in the process.”

A grassroots revival

Chapman, the other candidate, said he’s open to the competition.

“I wish Paul nothing but the best, and I’ve told him that. I believe that the membership and people of Avalon are going to recognize that I ran when nobody else would,” he said.

Chapman ran in the 2019 general election and lost to Liberal Ken McDonald, who has been the riding’s MP since 2015. In that race Chapman garnered significant support, capturing 31 per cent of the vote, compared with McDonald’s 46 per cent.

Matthew Chapman ran for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election and lost, and is running again for the party’s nomination in the Avalon riding. (Matthew Chapman)

Chapman credited that to grassroots support, as he and a few dedicated volunteers spent the last year rebuilding the Conservative Party’s base in the riding.

“I’ve spoken to all of people who are upset, because they’ve recognized I’ve literally put hundreds of hours of work into rebuilding this,” he said.

“People had the opportunity to run and turned it down, people had the opportunity to get involved and rebuild their association, and they didn’t.”

In the last year, the party’s grassroots in the Avalon have grown, added Power, to an executive board of 25 people with more than 280 party members, but Davis’s announcement and its resulting inner turmoil could prove to be a setback for the party.

“It’s sad because we had a number of initiatives that we were working through as a district that now all has to be put on hold,” said Power.

The call for nominations in the riding is still open, and Davis said the party would give two weeks’ notice before it closes and the candidate election process kicks in.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Some facts on British Columbia politics as the province heads to the polls Saturday – News 1130

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VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia go to the polls on Saturday. Here’s some of what you need to know about B.C. politics:

— The NDP formed a minority government in 2017 with support from the Green party after finishing on election night with two fewer seats than the B.C. Liberals, while the Greens had an election breakthrough, winning three seats and holding the balance of power.

— The last time B.C. had a minority government before that was in 1952 and the NDP’s rise to power in 2017 ended a 16-year span outside government.

— The B.C. Liberals were in power from 2001 to 2017.

— Andrew Wilkinson became leader of the Liberal party in February 2018, replacing Christy Clark.

— John Horgan was acclaimed NDP leader in 2014 and first won a seat in the legislature in 2005.

— Sonia Furstenau took over the job of Green party leader about a week before the election was called, replacing Andrew Weaver.

— This election has 87 seats up for grabs. At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats. The Greens held two seats, there were two Independents and one seat was vacant.

— The Liberal Party of British Columbia is not affiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada and describes itself as “a made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition.”

— The NDP was in power from 1991 to 2001 with four different party leaders during its time in office.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Debate Night: The ‘On Politics’ Breakdown – The New York Times

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Good morning, and welcome to our very last debate recap edition of On Politics — for this year, anyway. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host. Stay tuned for Giovanni Russonello’s Poll Watch later today.

Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

For President Trump, the measure of success in last night’s debate was clear: He needed a big win.

This final matchup of the 2020 election season was his biggest remaining opportunity to substantially change the dynamics of a race that’s been slipping away from him for weeks — if not months.

But instead of getting a debate victory, Mr. Trump fought Joe Biden to a draw, and that’s not what the president needed.

There were some improvements over his previous debate performance: Following the advice of his aides, Mr. Trump focused his attention on attacking Mr. Biden, and restraining his emotional outbursts and frustrations with the moderator.

While many of his arguments were littered with false and unsubstantiated claims, he drove a consistent message against Mr. Biden, casting him as a career politician who’s been ineffectual during his decades in Washington — “all talk and no action.”

And Mr. Trump delivered red meat to his conservative base, alleging that the former vice president used his position to enrich his family — an unsubstantiated argument peddled by Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies.

But amid all the attacks, Mr. Trump presented no clear vision to a country in the midst of a national crisis, failing to explain how he would use a second term.

Mr. Trump is no longer a political outsider able to blame the Washington establishment for the country’s failings. Yet, he seemed to dismiss the more than 222,000 people killed by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and the plight of hundreds of children separated from their parents at the southern border.

For his part, Mr. Biden remained unfazed by the assault. He accused the president of trafficking in Russian disinformation and challenged him to release his taxes.

Even with mute buttons and social distancing, the debate ended up being a strikingly normal political event in a very strange election year. Neither man performed in a way that would automatically disqualify him among his supporters or undecided voters.

For some viewers, the debate brought back memories of 2016. Four years ago, Mr. Trump entered the final debate trailing in the polls and needing a big victory. He stuck with a more measured tone, attacked Hillary Clinton as a political insider and had his best performance of that campaign.

Then, Mr. Trump trailed Mrs. Clinton by about six points, according to polling averages. Mr. Biden now leads by around nine points nationally, and he’s made notable inroads into key parts of the president’s coalition.

Much of Mr. Biden’s strength stems from the low marks voters have given the president on the defining issue of the campaign — the coronavirus pandemic. Last night, Mr. Trump still did not have any good answers for how he would manage the spread of virus.

As he has for months, the president tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic, arguing that the virus is easing its grip on the country even as the number of new infections hit the highest point in months. The claim flouts not only current reality but also what most voters expect for the future.

Recent polling by The New York Times and Siena College found that just over half of likely voters believed that the worst of the pandemic was yet to come, compared with 37 percent who said the worst was over.

“Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Mr. Biden said.

In a particularly unpredictable election season, a Biden win is not a forgone conclusion, as my colleague Adam Nagourney detailed in the paper yesterday. But a draw in the final debate may not be enough to sharply turn the race away from him.

When the debate began, more than 48 million Americans had already voted. For Mr. Trump to win this race, he must energize a “red wave” in the final days of this contest that could overtake the Democrats’ early voting advantage. That either means turning out a sizable number of new voters or persuading a decent slice of Americans to change their opinion and back the president.

Mr. Trump may have gotten his best performance of the campaign last night, but it’s not clear that it will be enough to get him what he needs.


  • Here’s the assessment from our recap article from the front page of the newspaper: “If the tenor of Thursday’s forum was more sedate, the conflict in matters of substance and vision could not have been more dramatic.”

  • Our news analysis notes that Mr. Trump “succeeded at various points in acting like the type of person he claims to disdain: a typical politician in a debate.”

  • The debate moderator, Kristen Welker, managed to restore order to a quadrennial institution that some believed could not be tamed, our media reporter writes.

  • A team of New York Times reporters fact-checked Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, providing context and explanation for more than three dozen claims.

  • Win, lose or draw — what did the analysts, strategists and other observers think? Here’s a roundup of reaction from across the political spectrum.


Drop us a line!

We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We’ll try to answer it. Have a comment? We’re all ears. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.


President Trump and the Republican Party are giving up. So argue the Times columnists Ross Douthat and Charles Blow.

“What we’re watching is an incumbent doing everything in his power to run up his own margin of defeat,” says Mr. Douthat.

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Keep up with Election 2020

“Trump isn’t even trying to make a case for a second term,” writes Mr. Blow. “He isn’t laying out a vision and a plan.”

So what is he doing? Mr. Douthat contends that “he’s making a closing ‘argument’ that’s indistinguishable from a sales pitch for a TV show or a newsletter — suggesting that even more than four years ago, the president assumes he’ll be in the media business as soon as the election returns come in.”

As Mr. Blow points out, Mr. Trump has been driven in recent weeks to speculate what he might do in the event of a loss. “Could you imagine if I lose?” he said at a recent rally. “My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”

For Republicans in the House and Senate, frustration abounds. The president’s erratic messaging during a pandemic and a period of economic instability leaves Republican senators up for re-election in a bind. That’s especially true for Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican whom Mr. Trump seems to be actively campaigning against.

Some Republicans are simply tired of the president and his antics. The Times columnist Gail Collins notes in The Conversation with Bret Stephens that Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska accused Mr. Trump of “screwing up the coronavirus crisis, cozying up to dictators and white supremacists and drawing the water for a ‘Republican blood bath.’”

That’s “too little, too late, in my view, though it’s always nice to hear what Republicans really think of their favorite president,” Mr. Stephens says.

— Adam Rubenstein


At the start of last night’s debate its moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, delivered a polite but firm instruction: The matchup should not be a repeat of the chaos of last month’s debate.

It was a calmer affair and, for the first few segments, a more structured and linear exchange of views.

President Trump, whose interruptions came to define the first debate, was more restrained, seemingly heeding advice that keeping to the rules of the debate would render his message more effective. And while there were no breakthrough moments for Joe Biden, he managed to make more of a case for himself than he did last month, on issues such as the coronavirus and economic support for families and businesses in distress.

On “The Daily,” Alexander Burns, a national political correspondent for The Times, recaps the night’s events.

Click here to listen now.


Thanks for reading. On Politics is your guide to the political news cycle, delivering clarity from the chaos.

On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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