Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has lined up behind a U.S. Supreme Court case legal experts believe could radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by handing more power to state legislatures and blocking state courts from intervening.
Ashcroft announced last week that his office had filed an amicus brief in support of Republicans in North Carolina who are asking the nation’s highest court to restore a Congressional map that was rejected as a partisan gerrymander by that state’s Supreme Court.
The North Carolina Republicans argue the state court had no authority to throw out the map under the so-called independent state legislature doctrine.
“Secretary Ashcroft is the first elected official to file an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court in support of state legislatures in historic elections case,” the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office tweeted last week.
The independent state legislature doctrine would give state lawmakers the power to set election rules and draw congressional maps without any review by state courts.
Some legal experts contend the doctrine could also be interpreted as allowing a legislature to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead select its own slate of electors.
A version of the theory was pushed in 2020 by allies of then-President Donald Trump in their effort to toss out legitimate election results in swing states won by Joe Biden and have electors appointed by Trump-friendly legislators.
The North Carolina case concerns the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause, which says: “The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.”
Proponents of the independent state legislature doctrine argue the Election Clause clearly gives legislatures sole responsibility for drawing congressional districts — and state courts have no role to play.
In his amicus brief, Ashcroft argues that interpretation of the Elections Clause would not “leave individuals affected by redistricting without a remedy to complain about all kinds of map drawing.”
Courts would still have a role, Ashcroft’s brief argues, in certain areas such as “one-person, one-vote and racial gerrymandering.”
Henry Chambers Jr., a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, wrote last month that if the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the independent state legislature doctrine, it would “leave partisan gerrymandering unregulated.”
“State legislatures, unconstrained by state law, could then create aggressively gerrymandered congressional districts,” Chambers said, “possibly leading to an ever more partisan Congress with accompanying gridlock and policy failures.”
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Last Call For The Coming Supreme Blow
Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't
A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property.
Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.
Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location.
But such documents were stored at Mar-a-Lago, with uncertain security, more than 18 months after Trump left the White House.
After months of trying, according to government court filings, the FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents unearthed in a court-approved search on Aug. 8.
It was in this last batch of government secrets, the people familiar with the matter said, that the information about a foreign government’s nuclear-defense readiness was found. These people did not identify the foreign government in question, say where at Mar-a-Lago the document was found or offer additional details about one of the Justice Department’s most sensitive national security investigations.
The Jackson, Hole, Con't
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced “significant” improvements in the Jackson water system on Labor Day while telling reporters he is open to numerous long-term solutions, including leasing its management to a private company.Water distribution sites remain available in the City, he said, but school locations will no longer provide distribution tomorrow as Jackson Public School students return to classes. Schools went virtual last week due to the lack of water.
“One week ago today I stood on this podium and I told you the state was going to take historic and unprecedented steps to intervene in Jackson’s water system because it had reached a crisis level,” the governor said at a Monday morning press conference in the capital city. “Not only were there issues with the quality of the water, but with the quantity of the water. The city could not produce enough running water for Jacksonians.”
The Republican governor said health officials told him this morning that the beleaguered O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant is now “pumping out cleaner water than we’ve seen for a very, very long time.” He said he is hopeful that “we will be able to measure potential for clean water and the removal of the boil water notice” within “days, not weeks or months.”
“We know that it is always possible that there will be more severe challenges. This water system broke over several years and it would be inaccurate to claim it is totally solved in the matter of less than a week,” he said. “… There may be more bad days in the future. We have however reached a place where people in Jackson can trust that water will come out of the faucet, toilets can be flushed and fires can be put out.”
Despite his optimism, the governor cautioned that while “the risk with respect to quantity of water has not been eliminated, it has been significantly reduced.” Jackson currently remains under the boil water notice that began on July 29, 2022.
“As we turn to long-term problems in the future, I want to clarify a few things: There are indeed problems in Jackson that are decades old, on the order of $1 billion to fix,” Reeves said. “The crisis we intervened to solve is not one of those problems.”
When it comes to addressing the water system’s troubles beyond the immediate crisis, he said he is “open” to all ideas.
“Privatization is on the table,” the governor said. “Having a commission that oversees failed water systems as they have in many states is on the table. I’m open to ideas.”
Being All Judge Mental, Con't
Here's the hysterically obvious problem with this "executive privilege" argument: Trump is not President. Legally, this should be tossed into the nearest chipper/shredder. It's the current president who gets to decide what executive privilege means here, and the Biden administration has the final say. Trump doesn't get to determine what executive privilege is any more than you or I do.But where Trump is winning here is the fact that he's successfully slowing the investigation into his mishandling of the documents. It could take "months" for the special master to complete their work, you see, and surely no indictments can be "legally" issued while this is going on.It's a solid stalling tactic that could buy Trump quite some time to both get the search warrant out of the news ahead of campaign season going into full swing next month, and to come up with more tactics to keep the feds off his case.
A federal judge on Monday granted a request by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home last month and also temporarily halted the Justice Department’s use of the records for investigative purposes.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon came despite the objections of the Justice Department, which said an outside legal expert was not necessary in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. The judge had previously signaled her inclination to approve a special master, asking a department lawyer during arguments this month, “What is the harm?”
The appointment is likely to slow the pace of the department’s investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago given the judge’s directive that the Justice Department may not for the moment use any of the seized materials for investigative purposes. But it is not clear that it will have any significant effect on any investigative decisions or the ultimate outcome of the probe.
Cannon, who was nominated to the bench by Trump in 2020, said she would permit the continuation of a risk assessment of the documents being conducted by the U.S. intelligence community.
Trump’s lawyers had argued that a special master — usually an outside lawyer or former judge — was necessary to ensure an independent review of records taken during the Aug. 8 search. Such a review was necessary, they have said, so that any personal information or documents recovered by the FBI could be filtered out and returned to Trump and so that any documents protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege could also be segregated from the rest of the investigation.
The Justice Department had argued against the appointment, saying it was unnecessary since it had already reviewed potentially privileged documents and identified a limited subset of materials that could be covered by attorney-client privilege.