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Author Topic:   Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression
Taq
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Message 31 of 45 (856517)
07-01-2019 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by Chiroptera
06-29-2019 11:14 AM


Re: Ruch v Common Cause: The decision
Chiroptera writes:

The main argument seems to be that the Founders were well aware of the problem of gerrymandering but gave the task of creating districts to the political branches anyway.

Begrudgingly, I tend to agree with the SCOTUS decision. These are political powers given to the other branches and not to the courts. We could have a situation where each and every districting map is brought in front of the courts, and they don't want to be in the business of second guessing every single state legislature with an eye to political parties. I think the courts can step in when it is a question of race, religion, or other protected groups. However, political parties are not a protected group, as far as I can tell.

Having the courts involved in redistricting was never a long term solution. The American people need to stand up and fix this through legislation. A grassroots (or astroturf, who cares as long as it gets fixed) organization could work on some standardized language that could be put on state ballots across the country. If it is pushed as being non-partisan, it could be effective. A similar campaign has seen Obamacare Medicare expansion voted into law in the most conservative states.

However, Republicans know that demographics are against them, so they would use scare tactics to get these ballot measures shot down. Still, it is a hill worth dying on, IMHO.


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Chiroptera
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(2)
Message 32 of 45 (856707)
07-02-2019 11:25 AM


Rucho v Common Cause: The dissent
Justice kagan wrote the dissent, to which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined.

And what a blistering dissent is; it's pretty clear the minority is angry at the outcome. (Sometimes I wonder what the private discussions on these cases are like.)

Kagan accuses the Court of avoiding its obligations.

And not just any constitutional violation. The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.

Kagan starts by outlining the redistricting process used in the Maryland and North Carolina cases, noting they open admitted their goal to give one party or the other a partisan advantage. These cases weren't some obscure borderline cases; they were the obvious and blatant examples you begin with when you start developing remedies.

Kagan points out the majority themselves admit these cases are a gross violation of democratic norms and subvert the whole notion of democratic government.

In response to the argument about the Founders leaving redistricting to the political branches while being aware of gerrymandering, Kagan makes a point I made earlier:

After all (as the majority rightly notes), racial and residential gerrymanders were also once with us, but the Court has done something about that fact.

Kagan also makes a point that Taq made in an earlier post: Modern technology allows an incredible level of accuracy in terms of pinpointing demographic data that would have been unimaginable to the Founders, as well as providing the capability of generating and testing thousands of alternative maps to choose the most advantageous.

To answer the majorities claim that gerrymanders have made mistakes in the past and that voters are unpredictable, Kagan points out the in these cases, the results were exactly as predicted. Thanks, modern technology!

[In response to the majorities claim the demographic patterns change, I'll point out that modern technology allows gerrymanders to keep track of the most up-to-date demographic data and to redistrict before each election if necessary.]

Kagan then cites how the gerrymandering is a violation of voters' Fourteenth Amendment rights (voters are being deprived of their right to have an influence on government policy) as well as their First Amendmentment rights (since voters are being discriminated against based on past voting history and political preference).

Yet partisan gerrymanders subject certain voters to “disfavored treatment”—again, counting their votes for less—precisely because of “their voting history [and] their expression of political views.” Vieth, 541 U. S., at 314 (opinion of Kennedy, J.). And added to that strictly personal harm is an associational one. Representative democracy is “unimaginable without the ability of citizens to band together in [support of] candidates who espouse their political views.” California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U. S. 567, 574 (2000).

Kagan then takes on the Court's opinion that finding "a neutral baseline" on which to base a judgement is beyond the capabilities of the courts. Kagan points out the lower courts did exactly that. The lower courts, in fact, did judge the gerrymanders unreasonable by comparing them to a neutral baseline.

Furthermore, the baseline weren't even developed by the courts. The baselines were based on the states' own criteria of drawing districts. The plaintiffs just removed the partisan bias part, and used the other, usual criteria to generate maps, and noted that the biased maps were at the very extreme ends of the partisan bias.

Contrary to the majority’s suggestion, the District Courts did not have to—and in fact did not—choose among competing visions of electoral fairness. That is because they did not try to compare the State’s actual map to an “ideally fair” one (whether based on proportional representation or some other criterion). Instead, they looked at the difference between what the State did and what the State would have done if politicians hadn’t been intent on partisan gain. Or put differently, the comparator (or baseline or touchstone) is the result not of a judge’s philosophizing but of the State’s own characteristics and judgments.

Next, Kagan questions the majority's sincerity when they point out that the political process provides the remedy [at least, I read Kagan as accusing the majority of being disingenuous].

First, once too many "elected" representatives owe their position to gerrymandering, Kagan questions how likely it would be for them to fix it.

Kagan scoffs when the majority points out that in some states, voters have created nonpartisan methods of redistricting by voter initiative. But besides the fact some states don't have voter initiatives,

Some Members of the majority, of course, once thought such initiatives unconstitutional. See Arizona State Legislature, 576 U. S., at ___ (ROBERTS, C. J., dissenting) (slip op., at 1).

[And with the Courts track record on voter suppression, there's little that leads me to believe that federal laws to provide a remedy would pass constitutional muster.]

The majority’s most perplexing “solution” is to look to state courts.... But what do those courts know that this Court does not? If they can develop and apply neutral and manageable standards to identify unconstitutional gerrymanders, why couldn’t we?

Concluding paragraph:

Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent.

It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
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Member Rating: 7.2


Message 33 of 45 (856782)
07-02-2019 8:18 PM


Citizen question dropped from census form
From The New York Times:

2020 Census Won’t Have Citizenship Question as Trump Administration Drops Effort

The Trump Administration decided to drop the question on citizenship from the census so that they can start printing them.

The decision was a victory for critics who said the question was part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. It was also a remarkable retreat for an administration that typically digs into such fights.

Still work to be done, though:

The groups’ [the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund] victory on Tuesday may have eased that threat, but hardly eliminated it. The public controversy over the issue has already stirred fears of retribution among many immigrants, who say they will avoid filling out the census form even if the question is not asked.

“Now is the time to shift gears and begin robust education and outreach campaigns to ensure each person in this country is counted,” said Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, which was also among the plaintiffs suing to block the question. “Everyone counts, therefore everyone must be counted.”


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

  
LamarkNewAge
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Message 34 of 45 (856875)
07-03-2019 5:21 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Chiroptera
07-02-2019 11:25 AM


Re: Rucho v Common Cause: The dissent
quote:

Kagan starts by outlining the redistricting process used in the Maryland and North Carolina cases, noting they open admitted their goal to give one party or the other a partisan advantage. These cases weren't some obscure borderline cases; they were the obvious and blatant examples you begin with when you start developing remedies.

....

To answer the majorities claim that gerrymanders have made mistakes in the past and that voters are unpredictable, Kagan points out the in these cases, the results were exactly as predicted. Thanks, modern technology!


I think the Maryland change made the Chris Van Hollen (now held by Jamie Raskin) seat more competitive PLUS the seat won by (now Presidential candidate) John Delaney. Before,the change, both were safe seats.

The Republican governor won the 6th district by over 10% in both 2014 and 2018 (candidate Larry Hogan won the "open" 2014 race when Democrats were very much favored to win statewide).

Voters will vote for a more moderate Republican, especially for a state/local race.

We simply don't know which direction a national party will go in. Imagine if Republicans suddenly choose to vote for the pro-immigration presidential candidate in the primary. In a post-Trump era (due to the intense focus and heightened clarity), the Republican candidates might start getting record amounts of credit for being pro-immigration, unlike the past GOP nominees (G. W. Bush was the first Republican to really run on having a pro-immigration mindset, and it did appear to help to attract a growing body of Republican-supporting Hispanic voters).

We don't really know how all the constituent groups (including wealthy white "moderates") will respond, for one thing.

quote:

Next, Kagan questions the majority's sincerity when they point out that the political process provides the remedy (at least, I read Kagan as accusing the majority of being disingenuous).

First, once too many "elected" representatives owe their position to gerrymandering, Kagan questions how likely it would be for them to fix it.

Kagan scoffs when the majority points out that in some states, voters have created nonpartisan methods of redistricting by voter initiative. But besides the fact some states don't have voter initiatives,


California and Florida will have about 85 congressmen total, after 2022.

Both have non-partisan redistricting.

Democrats should have wanted non-partisan redistricting in New York for a longtime, since it might allow for their own reputation to be helped a ton.

Republican-Texas will stick out like a sore thumb, especially considering the checkered history.

Democrats could run on redistricting,in Texas, as part of a "good government" platform. Democrats wouldn't need to make too much of a case convincing voters that the districts can be redrawn at ANY TIME (not only for the first election following the census), and they could promise voters to make "independent districts" as soon as they are elected.

But remember Hillary Clinton won many Texas districts that were drawn to favor Republicans.


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Chiroptera
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From: Oklahoma
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(2)
Message 35 of 45 (856945)
07-04-2019 11:16 AM


Aaannnd... the citizenship question is back
From the New York Times:

Justice Dept. Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders

So the Justice Dept. is looking into a way to include the citizenship question after all. When asked. Why they changed their minds, they replied that they have no goddamn idea what's going on either.

Joshua Gardner, a Justice Department special counsel for executive branch litigation, responded [to a federderal judge'squestion about this]: “The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president’s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor.”

He added: “I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the president has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what’s going on.”

Mr. Gardner said that census forms would continue to be printed without the citizenship question, and that federal court rulings barring its inclusion, upheld in part by the Supreme Court, were still in force. But he added that he could not promise that would remain the case.

“This is a fluid situation and perhaps that might change,” he said, “but we’re just not there yet, and I can’t possibly predict at this juncture what exactly is going to happen.”

That seemed an apt summation of the entire census process, which has lurched from lawsuit to crisis and back since the citizenship issue arose, and seemed on the verge of being upended on Wednesday.

And this, in a nutshell, is the incompetence that characterizes the entire Trump Administration.

And remember, this Administration of boobs retains the support of over a third of Americans.

No matter that policies the Administration pushes are actually opposed by large portions of its "base ", they still retain their support.

No matter the cruelty they willingly inflict on other people disturbs large portions of their "base", they still retain their support.

No matter how unqualified they continue to show themselves to be, no matter how venal they are, they retain the support of their "base".

Yet, some how calling the supporters "deplorable" is inexcusable.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Typo in the title.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

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jar
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Message 36 of 45 (857002)
07-04-2019 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by Chiroptera
07-04-2019 11:16 AM


Re: Aaannnd... the citizenship question is back
Chiroptera writes:

And remember, this Administration of boobs retains the support of over a third of Americans.

No matter that policies the Administration pushes are actually opposed by large portions of its "base ", they still retain their support.

No matter the cruelty they willingly inflict on other people disturbs large portions of their "base", they still retain their support.

No matter how unqualified they continue to show themselves to be, no matter how venal they are, they retain the support of their "base".

The governments of Italy, Japan, Germany, Tuvan, Finland, Norway and the Soviet Union all had the near complete support of the national populations base in the 1920s through 1940s.


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 37 of 45 (857673)
07-10-2019 9:21 AM


The census question: lawyer tag-out is blocked
From The New York Times:

Judge Rejects Justice Dept. Request to Change Lawyers on Census Case

Blatant and unashamed lying isn't working out so well for the Trump Administration, so they're going to try another tactic which doesn't seem to be "tell the truth". In order to get the citizenship question onto the census, they're switching out the team of lawyers defending the inclusion of the question in court. Unfortunately, they need to explain to the court why they want to replace their lawyers.

On Sunday, the Justice Department said it was replacing the legal team defending the citizenship question. It offered no explanation for the change, which came in the middle of a prolonged clash over whether the administration’s arguments for adding the question could be believed.

But on Tuesday, as a new team of lawyers began to notify the court of its appearance in the case, Judge Furman barred the old lawyers from leaving until they met a legal requirement to satisfactorily explain their departure and show that it would not impede the case. He excepted only two lawyers on the team who had already left the department’s civil division, which was overseeing the lawsuit.

On its face, Judge Furman’s order only enforces a court rule governing changes of legal counsel. Practically, however, it presents the department with a difficult choice: Either reverse course and leave its old legal team in place, or produce sworn explanations that could prove both embarrassing and damaging to the administration’s case.

It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

  
Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 38 of 45 (857860)
07-12-2019 8:29 AM


Citizenship question is off again.
From The New York Times:

Trump Says He Will Seek Citizenship Information From Existing Federal Records, Not the Census

  • The Trump Administration has once again changed direction and decided not to include the citizenship question on the census. The data that the Administration claims that it wants can be obtained from other government databases.

  • The Administration admitted that one of their goals is to provide data so states can draw district boundaries base on equal numbers of eligible voters rather than total population.

    “This information is also relevant to administering our elections,” said Mr. Trump. “Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts, based upon the voter eligible population.”

    Maps based only on the citizen population would reflect an electorate that is more white and less diverse than the nation at large — and generally more favorable to the Republican Party.

  • In Evenwel v Abbott, Justice Ginsburg, speaking for the majority, notes this is an open question whether district boundaries based on eligible voters is permissible.

  • The article doesn't mention the Hofeller thumb drive containing data showing at least one major goal of the citizenship question was to deliberately suppress the count of the immigrant population.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Corrected a copy'n'paste failure.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

  
Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 39 of 45 (860987)
08-15-2019 8:58 AM


Hey, good luck with that "democracy", chumps!
From the New York Times:

Gerrymandering, an Army of Voters Meets a Dug-in Foe

As Kagan pointed out in her dissent in Rucho, the majority was very naive (or very disengenious) when they suggested that the voters in the states can remedy the Gerrymandering problem.

The article describes how hard it is for the people to fight against privileged groups entrenched in the government.

The article does mention one recalcitrant Democratic state, Maryland (where, as I feared, the Democrats point to Republican anti-democracy to justify their own anti-democracy), but most of the anti-democracy is entrenched in Republican state governments.

Not that there's no hope at all, but a reminder that the fight for democracy, liberty, and equality is almost always a very hard one, and unfortunately not one that is always guaranteed to succeed.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn't know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

  
Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


(2)
Message 40 of 45 (862158)
09-02-2019 12:41 PM


Republican anti-democracy witch hunts
For a party that screams about "witchhunts", they sure do like using them.

From the Guardian:

Revealed: Georgia Republicans use power of state to suppress minority vote

The Georgia Republicans are using law enforcement to target their opponents.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, and David Emadi, executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, are investigating and issuing subpoenas to political opponents, without publicly showing evidence there was wrongdoing by those parties.

Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, pioneered the tactic as secretary of state, where he used his authority to investigate political opponents, liberal political groups and get out the vote (GOTV) organizers working in racial minority communities.

The most extreme example of an investigation on false pretenses came on 4 November 2018, two days before the midterm election. The secretary of state’s office knowingly falsely accused the Democratic party of Georgia of attempting to hack the election. The initial round of media coverage reflected the accusation, before the facts were available that the accusation was fabricated.

These actions are being taken despite absolutely no evidence of wrong doing, and despite that none of the investigations have ever turned up any evidence of wrong doing.

Furthermore, these investigations remain open to tie up the opponent's resources and to hamper their fund raising efforts.

So can we quit pretending that the Republicans believe in democracy, rule of law, or Constitutional limitations on their power?


Hard as it is to fathom, Mr President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass. Unfortunately, just a free press. -- Neil Cavuto

  
Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 41 of 45 (862337)
09-04-2019 10:50 AM


Surprise: North Carolina court throws out gerrymandered maps
From the New York Times:

North Carolina’s Legislative Maps Are Thrown Out by State Court Panel

A court in North Carolina has thrown out highly gerrymandered maps for the state's legislative districts.

The court's ruling was that it violated the state's constitution that "all elections shall be free". What makes this interesting is that most states have provisions in their constitutions that demand free and fair elections, and, in fact, the courts in Pennsylvania used its own constitution to strike down a gerrymandered map for its Congressional districts.

What surprised me is that I would have assumed that judges in North Carolina were either highly partisan appointees or elected in gerrymandered judicial districts. I looked up the North Carolina constitution, and it appears that this panel was in the appellate court which is elected statewide.

I guess the lesson is that, at least in some cases, if the majority wants fair elections then they can sometimes get it. At least if they can act before the voter suppression really takes off.

We'll see if the Federalist Society's John Roberts has the intellectual honesty to allow this.

By the way, this decision was unanimous from a three judge panel that included a Republican.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Typos.


Hard as it is to fathom, Mr President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass. Unfortunately, just a free press. -- Neil Cavuto

  
Chiroptera
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From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


(1)
Message 42 of 45 (862428)
09-05-2019 7:39 AM


Hofeller's drives The gift that keeps on giving
From the New York Times:

The Battle Over the Files of a Gerrymandering Mastermind

The party of crooked lying cheats, the Republicans, are trying desperately to either have Hofeller's thumb drives and other records returned to them or destroyed, claiming that there's sensitive proprietory information.

Ha! I bet. So far just a couple of released documents have shown that the Republicans deliberately engaged in extreme gerrymandering, used race in determining district boundaries contrary to law, and deliberately intended to use the citizenship question to suppress the census count. And there's thousands of documents to go!

I am a little curious about what the Party of Anti-democracy is so worried about, though. Most decent, aware folk know the Republicans are scumbags while the cultists are going to stick with them no matter what.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Typo in subtitle.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Why do I bother to press "preview" when I don't even preview?


Hard as it is to fathom, Mr President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass. Unfortunately, just a free press. -- Neil Cavuto

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Percy
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Message 43 of 45 (862437)
09-05-2019 9:04 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by Chiroptera
09-05-2019 7:39 AM


Re: Hofeller's drives The gift that keeps on giving
Chiroptera writes:

Most decent, aware folk know the Republicans are scumbags while the cultists are going to stick with them no matter what.

While likely true, this might not take us very far. I do believe most people are decent but too many are insufficiently aware, or will stick with Trump no matter what.

I'm probably not walking too far out on a limb to say that most people not only try to lead good lives, but that most have succeeded, with only the occasional, "Oh yeah? Well I got yer good manners right here." It should not need be said, but I'll say it anyway, that if you've sat in a venue chanting "Send them back," or worse, marched while chanting "You will not replace us," you are by definition not a good person, no matter how many church potlucks you've attended and how much you love your mother.

What the past few years have taught us is how unnecessary it is to be good, that being brazenly dishonest and contemptible brings with it few if any negative consequences, and that in fact combining such behavior with vengeance, vindictiveness, reprisals and retributions can gain one the support of entire political parties, ruling congressional bodies, and 40% of the people.

--Percy


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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6800
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 44 of 45 (862531)
09-06-2019 7:50 AM
Reply to: Message 43 by Percy
09-05-2019 9:04 AM


Re: Hofeller's drives The gift that keeps on giving
It should not need be said, but I'll say it anyway, that if you've sat in a venue chanting "Send them back," or worse, marched while chanting "You will not replace us," you are by definition not a good person, no matter how many church potlucks you've attended and how much you love your mother.

George Orwell:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

I'm not really responding to your post as much as using it as an excuse to bring up what Trump rallies remind me of.


Hard as it is to fathom, Mr President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass. Unfortunately, just a free press. -- Neil Cavuto

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dwise1
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Message 45 of 45 (862542)
09-06-2019 11:46 AM


The Disabling of the Federal Election Commission
From Wikipedia:
quote:
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency whose purpose is to enforce campaign finance law in United States federal elections. Created in 1974 through amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act, the commission describes its duties as "to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of presidential elections."

Membership

The commission is made up of six members, who are appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. Each member serves a six-year term, and two seats are subject to appointment every two years. By law, no more than three commissioners can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official commission action.

The chairmanship of the commission rotates among the members each year, with no member serving as chairman more than once during a six-year term. However, a member may serve as chairman more than once by serving beyond the six-year mark if no successor is appointed; for example, Ellen Weintraub, the current chairman, was previously chairman in both 2003 and 2013.

Official duties

The commission's role is limited to the administration of federal campaign finance laws. It enforces limitations and prohibitions on contributions and expenditures, administers the reporting system for campaign finance disclosure, investigates and prosecutes violations (investigations are typically initiated by complaints from other candidates, parties, watchdog groups, and the public), audits a limited number of campaigns and organizations for compliance, administers the presidential public funding programs for presidential candidates and, until recently, nominating conventions, and defends the statute in challenges to federal election laws and regulations.

The FEC also publishes reports filed by Senate, House of Representatives and presidential campaigns that list how much each campaign has raised and spent, and a list of all donors over $200, along with each donor's home address, employer and job title. This database also goes back to 1980. Private organizations are legally prohibited from using these data to solicit new individual donors (and the FEC authorizes campaigns to include a limited number of "dummy" names as a measure to prevent this), but may use this information to solicit political action committees. The FEC also maintains an active program of public education, directed primarily to explaining the law to the candidates, their campaigns, political parties and other political committees that it regulates.


I think that we can all agree that the FEC is going to be needed in the 2020 election.

As of last weekend, the FEC cannot do anything. In order to take any kind of action, they need to have a quorum consisting of four commissioners. The FEC is now down to three commissioners so, lacking a quorum, all they can do call for a recess. In order to have a quorum, President Trump needs to appoint at least one new commissioner and the Senate will need to confirm that appointment. Since the FEC's job obviously conflicts directly with Trump's own interests, how likely is it that he would make such an appointment?

How did we get here? The Trump Administration started with a full complement of six commissioners. Then Ann Ravel (D) resigned in March 2017, bringing the number down to 5, and is currently running for California State Senate. Then Lee E. Goodman (R) retired in February 2018, bringing the number down to 4, the bare minimum number needed for a quorum.

By this point, Trump should have appointed at least one commissioner -- he could have appointed a Republican which would have brought that party's representation up to its 3-member max. But he didn't. To be fair, that are a great many positions that Trump has failed to fill and shows no interest in filling (except for key positions at three levels of the IRS in order to keep his tax returns secret). Now that another Republican, Matthew S. Petersen, has resigned leaving the FEC without a quorum, Trump could appoint two new Republican commissioners, but the chances of that happening are virtually nil.

That name should sound familiar. On September 11, 2017, Trump nominated him to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. His Senate confirmation hearing has gone viral with the NY Times calling it one of the "more painful Senate hearings in recent memory." Although he had earned a law degree, he had absolutely zero courtroom experience and displayed ignorunce of many legal concepts (eg, motion in limine, requesting to the judge, outside the presence of the jury, that certain testimony be excluded). Unlike Trump's other shit-shows, Petersen at least had the basic common decency to withdraw his nomination a few days after that hearing.

A day or two ago, Rachel Maddow reported that Petersen is going to work for an apparently obscure law firm which, it turns out, works for rich clients to secretly influence elections. And the Swamp just keeps getting swampier and swampier.


    
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