June, 2015

Supreme Court Blocks Obama Limits on Power Plants

The Supreme Court “blocked one of the Obama administration’s most ambitious environmental initiatives, one meant to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants,” the New York Times reports.

“Industry groups and some 20 states challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate the emissions, saying the agency had failed to take into account the punishing costs its regulations would impose.”

Supreme Court Upholds Independent Redistricting Panels

The U.S. Supreme Court “bolstered efforts to make federal elections more competitive, upholding an independent commission set up by Arizona voters to draw congressional districts,” Bloomberg reports.

“The 5-4 ruling is a setback to Arizona Republicans, who had hoped to redraw that state’s district map and potentially capture two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the same time, the decision may prevent Democrats from shifting district lines in California, buttressing a similar commission there.”

Rick Hasen: “This is a huge victory not only for those who support redistricting commissions, but those who want to see election reforms done with the use of the initiative process and other tools for direct democracy.”

Supreme Court Allows Use of Execution Drug

The Supreme Court “ruled on Monday against three death row inmates who had sought to bar the use of an execution drug they said risked causing excruciating pain,” the New York Times reports.

“The drug, the sedative midazolam, played a part in three long and apparently painful executions last year. It was used in an effort to render inmates unconscious before they were injected with other, severely painful drugs.”

Court Says States Can’t Seek Voter Proof of Citizenship

The U.S. Supreme Court “refused to consider letting states require evidence of citizenship when people register to vote for federal elections, rejecting an appeal from Arizona and Kansas,” Bloomberg reports.

“The rebuff is a victory for the Obama administration and voting- and minority-rights groups that battled the two states in court. It leaves intact a decision by a U.S. agency that blocked the states from requiring proof of citizenship for voters in federal elections.”

Rick Hasen: “This is a huge win for those who want to see a greater federal role and uniformity in elections.”

Gay Marriage Threatens to Divide Republicans Further

Rick Klein: “If you’re going to start over, it helps to agree on a new place to begin. There’s a hope among some Republicans that the end of the nation’s gay-marriage debate wipes the slate clean on social issues, after a first half of the year where liberals seemed to be running up the score. The responses from GOP contenders on gay marriage are varied, though they don’t run the full gamut: All of the 16 major candidates continue to oppose something that, as of Friday, is a constitutional right.”

“From there, there’s Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio suggesting that the Supreme Court has effectively settled the argument, with their focus now turning to protecting religious liberty ins this context. You have Scott Walker among those backing a constitutional amendment, Ted Cruz wanting a new process to oust justices, and Bobby Jindal suggesting we should shut the Supreme Court down altogether. Then there’s Mike Huckabee, who said on ABC’s This Week that ‘I’m not sure that every governor and every attorney general’ should simply comply with the court’s edict.

“These are more than different shadings; these are conflicting takes on a matter of major social policy where the Supreme Court has ruled – and a majority of Americans agree. Is there any scenario where this doesn’t get ugly inside a free-wheeling Republican primary – to say nothing of what that might do to the eventual nominee for the general election?”

Ben Carson Builds Grassroots Support

Reuters: “In polls, Carson outperforms most of his fellow candidates, who often have much bigger media profiles, much more political experience and in many cases have track records as governors or senators. While the spotlight has been on opponents like former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Carson has been quietly building a grassroots following. His surprising popularity in the polls has translated into a high number of individual donations that has not been previously reported. Interviews with supporters and conservative activists suggest he is benefiting from a weariness among some Republicans with establishment politicians.”

Kasich Sets Date to Launch White House Bid

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “plans to launch his presidential bid on July 21 in Columbus, hoping his strength in the quintessential swing state will help him win over Republican voters who aim to take back the White House in 2016,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

“The idea of Kasich’s candidacy has excited some voters and intrigued national reporters, who praise his candor and pragmatism. He’s making regular trips to early-primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina, and he first visited Iowa last week.”

Texas Attorney General Bucks Gay Marriage Ruling

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written opinion that county clerks in Texas “who have religious objections to same-sex marriage can opt out of issuing such licenses — but they should be prepared to face fines or legal challenges,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“In the opinion, which is meant to serve as guidance for clerks and public officials now that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, Paxton said that pro bono lawyers are ready to help such gay marriage opponents defend their decisions.”

Biden’s Sons Urged Him to Run for President

Wall Street Journal: “When deciding whether to run for office, Vice President Joe Biden has made it a practice to seek his family’s counsel. That advice has included at least two members of his immediate family—his sons—urging him to run for president in 2016, Biden friends and advisers say.”

“The Biden family’s wishes add an intriguing wrinkle to a Democratic presidential race that has unfolded in unpredictable ways. But a White House official said speculation about the vice president’s political future was premature during this tough time for the family.”

Cruz and Rove in Dispute Over Bush Donation

“The spat between Sen. Ted Cruz and GOP strategist Karl Rove escalated late Sunday, with Cruz dusting off an email exchange from 2009 to refute Rove’s denial of claims in his forthcoming book,” the Dallas Morning News reports.

“Cruz asserted in his book that Rove was angry that he’d secured a donation and endorsement from former President George H.W. Bush, and that Rove said Bush’s advanced age made his judgment unreliable. The emails Cruz released don’t support the ageism allegation. But they do show Rove explicitly saying the endorsement would anger Bush library donors and supporters of state Rep. Dan Branch, who was also angling to replace Abbott, something Rove denied earlier today.”

Christie’s Nothing-Left-to-Lose Campaign

“When Chris Christie launches his presidential campaign Tuesday, it won’t look anything like the one he once envisioned,” Politico reports.

“Gone is the idea of an expansive, state-by-state primary election strategy. Iowa, despite the early visits and Christie’s cultivation of a relationship with Gov. Terry Branstad, is probably out the window, too. And forget about the prospect of a cash-flush campaign: the New Jersey governor is now expected to raise just a fraction of what his top opponents will rake in.”

“In a sign of how far Christie’s fortunes have fallen, he spent part of this weekend personally calling around to home state Republican legislators to nail down their support for his now long-shot presidential bid.”