Friday, May 3, 2019

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

In one of the biggest 2020 election judicial decisions so far, a three-judge panel has struck down Ohio's congressional map as unconstitutional.

A federal court ruled Friday that Ohio’s congressional map is unconstitutional and ordered a new one be drawn for the 2020 elections.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati ruled unanimously that district boundaries were manipulated for partisan gain by Republican mapmakers and violates voters’ rights to democratically select their representatives. The ruling blocks Ohio from holding another election under the current map.

The ruling is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the judges ordered that the state propose a new map by June 20.

Voters’ rights and Democratic groups who sued Ohio Republican officials said redistricting completed after the 2010 Census yielded a statewide map that has produced an unbending 12-4 Republican advantage in Ohio’s delegation. Republicans said the map was drawn with bipartisan support. They also pointed out that a new map will be drawn anyway after the 2020 Census.

Plaintiffs said Ohioans shouldn’t have to wait for a fair map.

The U.S. Supreme Court is already considering challenges to congressional maps in North Carolina, drawn by Republicans, and Maryland, drawn by Democrats.

In a case similar to Ohio’s, a three-judge panel ruled this month that Michigan’s congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and ordered the state Legislature to redraw some districts for 2020. The judges wrote that GOP mapmakers in 2011 drew maps with the goal of ensuring “durable majorities” for Republicans. An appeal is likely. 
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson had said the 10-year map was being challenged because the legal landscape has changed and because the map’s results in terms of partisan representation are easily shown.

The suit called Ohio’s current map “one of the most egregious gerrymanders in recent history,” and that it reliably has done its job of creating a 12-to-4 advantage for Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation despite the GOP having only about half the state’s votes.

It's those NC and Maryland cases before SOCTUS that actually matter.  All indications are that SCOTUS will rule in June that partisan gerrymandering is 100% fine, even given complete admission by North Carolina republicans that race was a massive factor in redrawing districts, because the racism was purely political in nature.

Again, nothing will happen here.  I guarantee you Ohio's map in 2020 will be the same as it is now.

It's Mueller (Report) Time

Jerry Nadler and the House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are finally playing hardball, giving Attorney General Bill Barr a Monday 9 AM deadline to turn over the unredacted Mueller report and evidence or face a contempt charge.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday sent his latest offerAttorney General William Barr to try to reach an agreement in his effort to obtain the unredacted special counsel report and the underlying evidence before Nadler moves forward with holding the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Nadler sent Barr a new letter proposing that the committee could work with the Justice Department to prioritize which investigative materials it turns over to Congress, specifically citing witness interviews and the contemporaneous notes provided by witnesses that were cited in the special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Nadler wrote that he was "willing to prioritize a specific, defined set of underlying investigative and evidentiary materials for immediate production." 
But Nadler's letter does not budge on Democrats' insistence that the Justice Department allow Congress to view grand jury material that's redacted in the report, which Barr has argued he's not allowed by law to provide. 
Nadler set a deadline of 9 a.m. ET Monday for Barr to respond and said he would move to contempt proceedings if the attorney general does not comply
"The Committee is prepared to make every realistic effort to reach an accommodation with the Department," Nadler wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN. "But if the Department persists in its baseless refusal to comply with a validly issued subpoena, the Committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse." 

So the stage is set for Monday morning, and the result will most likely be an immediate court challenge to the contempt charge that will tie up the proceeding for months, if not years.

This will go nowhere, unfortunately.  And it will be forgotten by the end of next week, most likely.  Trump's minders will find a federal judge to issue an injunction on whatever executive privilege nonsense they can get some Federalist Society clerk to write, and this will get hung up in the courts until after the 2020 election when the Roberts court sides with Trump that cabinet secretaries are immune to contempt of Congress.

People forget that AG Eric Holder was cited for contempt of Congress by House Republicans in 2014 and the judge that tossed that contempt citation was none other than Amy Berman Jackson herself, the judge in the Stone and Manafort trials.

Meanwhile, Barr will continue to do whatever he wants, and the Mueller report will remain buried.

Democrats will need to come up with something better than a contempt citation, or the republic is lost.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare has finally admitted that giving Attorney General Bill Barr the benefit of the doubt was a "catastrophic" idea.

I was willing to give Bill Barr a chance. Consider me burned.

When Barr was nominated, I wrote a cautious piece for this magazine declining to give him “a character reference” and acknowledging “legitimate reasons to be concerned about [his] nomination,” but nonetheless concluding that “I suspect that he is likely as good as we’re going to get. And he might well be good enough. Because most of all, what the department needs right now is honest leadership that will insulate it from the predations of the president.”

When he wrote his first letter to Congress announcing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, I wrote another piece saying, “For the next two weeks, let’s give Attorney General William Barr the benefit of the doubt” on the question of releasing the report in a timely and not-too-redacted fashion.

I took a lot of criticism for these pieces—particularly the second one, in which I specifically said we should evaluate Barr’s actual performance in regard to releasing the Mueller report, and thus wait for him to act, rather than denouncing him preemptively.

Barr has now acted, and we can now evaluate his actual, rather than his hypothesized, performance.

It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general—whoever he or she is—is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.

And yet, there is very little that Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats can actually do.

Attorney General William Barr’s snub of a House hearing on Robert Mueller’s Russia report exposed that Democrats are in an awkward position: They don’t have any good options for forcing the Trump administration to cooperate with their multiple investigations.

Democrats seeking to compel -- or punish -- Barr and others who ignore Democratic invitations and subpoenas could pursue contempt proceedings, which carry no tangible penalty when branches of government face off, or take action in court, which would be protracted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders are resisting the other obvious option -- moving to impeach the president -- even as Republicans goad them on.

Barr didn’t show up as scheduled Thursday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, complaining about the format for questioning. That came as Barr and the Justice Department defied a committee subpoena to turn over the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the evidence behind it.

“This is a great danger to American democracy,” Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said. "We are going to use what process we have in the courts and elsewhere to get the answers and the information we need."

Meanwhile for his next trick, Bill Barr is arguing that all of Obamacare is unconstitutional because Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty in 2017.

We're maybe one, two SCOTUS summers max away from an autocracy, guys.


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