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Category Archives: Courts

Paper – Presidential Control of Elections

Manheim, Lisa Marshall, Presidential Control of Elections (June 1, 2020). Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 74, 2021 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3616390 – “In recent decades, Presidents of both political parties have asserted increasingly aggressive forms of influence over the administrative state. During this same period, Congress has expanded the role that the federal government plays in election administration. The convergence of these two trends leads to a troubling but underexamined phenomenon: presidential control of elections. Relying on their official powers, Presidents have the ability to affect the rules that govern elections, including elections meant to check and legitimize presidential powers in the first place. This self-serving arrangement heightens the risk of harms from political entrenchment, subordination of expertise, and disillusionment of the electorate. These harms, in turn, threaten to compromise election outcomes. By extension, they also threaten the electoral connection purportedly underlying the administrative state, and therefore the legitimacy of the work of the modern executive branch. This Article identifies, defines, and examines this phenomenon — presidential control of elections — and explores its broader implications. It demonstrates that, across the executive branch, this phenomenon manifests differently, and sometimes counterintuitively, in ways that tend to track how Congress has structured the relevant grant of power. Three forms dominate, with Presidents influencing election administration primarily through priority setting (for grants of power running through executive agencies), promotion of gridlock (for grants of power running through independent agencies), and idiosyncratic control (for grants of power running directly to the President). This analysis reveals that congressional efforts at insulation at times can backfire, with Presidents able to exercise particularly problematic forms of control over agencies that Congress designed in blunt ways to resist presidential influence. To that end, this Article proposes that Congress and the courts avoid trying to eliminate or otherwise indiscriminately curb presidential control of elections — a quixotic endeavor that would give rise to its own constitutional hurdles and normative harms. Instead, the legislative and judicial branches should identify specific areas where the President’s control over election administration lacks an effective check, and seek to empower other political actors in those spaces. [h/t Mary Whisner]

The Electoral College: A 2020 Presidential Election Timeline

CRS report via LC – The Electoral College: A2020 Presidential Election Timeline, September 3, 2020: “During the course of a presidential election year, the election process for the President and Vice President goes forward within a familiar timeline of events. At the same time these events are taking place, a related series of procedures that… Continue Reading

Trump has paid no federal income taxes for much of the past two decades

Records Obtained by The Times After Years of Secrecy “The Times has obtained tax-return data for President Trump extending over more than two decades. It tells a story fundamentally different from the one he’s sold to the public – revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.… Continue Reading

Cherokee Nation reservation is now visible on Google Maps

Cherokee Nation – Anadisgoi: The Cherokee Nation’s reservation boundaries are now mapped on Google Maps. “After the monumental US Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma, we’ve had many questions about our reservation boundaries, which always existed on paper maps. Now that our reservation is labeled on Google Maps, it’s easy for people around the… Continue Reading

AARP Polls: Coronavirus, Social Security Cuts Top 50+ Voter Concerns

“Even though 90 percent of older Americans believe that the country has become too divided, new AARP battleground state polls show that the support of voters age 65-plus is very much up for grabs because their concern for the coronavirus and health care overall transcends partisanship. AARP released the full results Tuesday of two sets… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee

CRS report via LC – Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Updated September 22, 2020: “The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee

CRS report via LC Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee, Updated September 21, 2020: “The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the… Continue Reading

Cybercrime and the Law: Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the 116th Congress

CRS report via LC – Cybercrime and the Law: Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the 116th Congress, September 21, 2020: “…Since the original enactment of the CFAA in 1984, technology and the human relationship to it have continued to evolve. Although Congress has amended the CFAA on numerous occasions to respond to new… Continue Reading

CRS – The Civil Rights Act of 1964: An Overview

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: An Overview, September 21, 2020 [108 pages/PDF]: “The Civil Rights Act of 1964, comprised of eleven titles and numerous sections, has been called the “most comprehensive undertaking” to prevent and address discrimination in a wide range of contexts. From discriminatory voter registration practices to racial segregation in business establishments… Continue Reading

Law Firms Pay Supreme Court Clerks $400,000 Bonuses. What Are They Buying?

The New York Times – “Supreme Court justices make $265,600 a year. The chief justice gets $277,700. Their law clerks do a lot better. After a year of service at the court, they are routinely offered signing bonuses of $400,000 from law firms, on top of healthy salaries of more than $200,000. What are the… Continue Reading

DOJ Releases New Material from Mueller Report in EPIC Case

EPIC – “The Justice Department, as part of an open government lawsuit brought by EPIC, has released another round of previously unpublished material from the Mueller Report. The newly disclosed passages are listed in the “Redaction” column of a DOJ spreadsheet—though outside of their original context from the Mueller Report. The spreadsheet was originally drafted… Continue Reading

What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Would Want America to Do Now

Slate  – Throughout all of the late-breaking, notorious fame, the justice knew that she was just one link in the chain : “Whenever she spoke, Justice Ginsburg was at pains to say that she stood on the shoulders of giants. At her confirmation hearings, in her prepared statement to the Senate, she was meticulous about… Continue Reading