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    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The headliners for North Carolina’s primary on Tuesday include Republicans challenging for an open U.S. Senate seat and candidates hoping to give the GOP a shot at veto-proof majorities in the Legislature. Getting less billing, but with equal long-term political importance, is a contest that will shape the fall matchups for two seats on the state Supreme Court. At stake this year is whether the court remains majority Democrat or flips to Republican control, with consequences for decisions on redistricting and issues championed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. It’s a scene playing out across the country this year, as state judicial races become increasingly politicized over issues such as partisan gerrymandering, abortion and gun rights. Voters in 32 states this year will cast ballots on state Supreme Court seats, which have become a magnet for spending by national interest groups. Some $97 million was spent on state supreme court elections during the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school. Conservative groups and super PACs historically have outspent...
    The Supreme Court’s expected decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade could galvanize Democrats and turn some reliable Republican voters — especially women — blue, according to polls and interviews. It’s a small bit of hope for Democrats, who are widely expected to lose control of Congress in this year’s election. Polling shows that women are more likely than men to consider a candidate’s position on abortion when deciding how to vote. Women who are college graduates are also more supportive of abortion rights. These college-educated women could be pivotal in congressional races in Orange County, where they make up more than 40% of voters — as well as in contests in similar swaths of the nation, such as the suburbs of Atlanta and Phoenix, said Mike Madrid, a GOP consultant who favors abortion rights. The landmark 1973 court ruling asserted a constitutional right for a woman to have an abortion. If the decision is reversed as detailed in a draft opinion leaked last week, abortion would be inaccessible in roughly half the 50 U.S. states. Overturning Roe could be...
    (CNN)Conservative groups plan to invest record sums this year to shape below-the-radar state Supreme Court races, after Republicans suffered setbacks in redistricting court battles in several key states. Among the top targets: Ohio and North Carolina, where multiple Supreme Court seats are on the ballot and justices have tossed out maps that favored Republicans."People used to think that redistricting was once every 10 years, but it's now an every-cycle fight," said Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the Republican State Leadership Committee, which backs GOP candidates at the state level and is pledging increased spending through its Judicial Fairness Initiative. "Every cycle, there are critical Supreme Court races that are going to impact redistricting." The group said its spending will top its previous record of more than $5 million in these races, although Romeo declined to disclose a specific budget. The growing investments are an "increasing recognition of how powerful these courts are," said Douglas Keith, a counsel at the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school, who tracks the issue.Read MoreJustice on the ballotRedistricting fights --...
    by Todd Carney   Before the 2024 election, six swing states will have supreme court elections that could flip which party controls the state’s supreme court. Rulings by state supreme courts on redistricting maps have led Cook Political to revise their projections on who redistricting favors, from favoring Republicans, to being a wash. This didn’t happen by Democrats’ good fortune. Former Attorney General Eric Holder and other Democrats have targeted state supreme court races over the last decade and are continuing to do so. In response, the Republican State Leadership Committee declared in a memorandum: “Democrats’ past spending on state court races paying off in redistricting fight.” Republicans believe they have a plan to fight back in future court races, but this round of redistricting will likely be done before any of those races are decided. State courts are highly relevant to the overall administration of elections, from reviewing voter ID requirements, drop box allowances, due dates for mail-in ballots, or other factors. Though it comes as a surprise to many, state supreme courts have at least as much power as federal courts when hearing election cases. Consider that...
    Ohio state legislative candidates will no longer appear on primary ballots this May following a directive from the secretary of state Wednesday night. The candidates will be removed from the primary ballots in response to a Supreme Court of Ohio ruling nixing map proposals, according to a directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to the county board of elections. Embed: "In the wake of the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision last week invalidating the February 24, 2022, General Assembly district plan, it is not possible to include the primary contests for the Ohio House, Ohio Senate, and State Central Committee on the May 3, 2022, Primary Election ballot," LaRose wrote in a letter to election boards. OHIO HIGH COURT STRIKES THIRD SET OF STATEHOUSE MAPS, PLACING MAY PRIMARY IN JEOPARDY The state Legislature has not yet rescheduled the election date, LaRose noted in his letter. "This is the only currently lawful and reasonable option to continue to move forward toward the May 3, 2022, Primary Election at this unprecedented point in time," he said....
    The Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative (JFI) announced in a statement on Wednesday its latest effort to “defend democracy from liberal, activist state court judges across the country” by committing to spend more money on state Supreme Court races in 2022 and electing conservative judges. Through the initiative, the RSLC is committed to spending more time to combat the Democrats’ “Sue Until It’s Blue” redistricting strategy used by Eric Holder and his National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC). The press release noted “activist state court judges across the country who are taking the redistricting process out of the hands of elected legislators and gerrymandering Democrats into more and lasting power.” “Democrats have failed to sell their radical, anti-democratic policies to the American people––but rather than change their unpopular agenda, they’ve resorted to state courts to change the rules,” said RSLC President Dee Duncan. The RSLC’s new initiative comes after they released findings from a report outlining how the Democrats have invested nearly $58 million into key state Supreme Court races since 2015. With the Democrats spending almost $58 million, they have been able to gerrymander in a number of key states effectively. “Republicans risk an even worse fate in the...
    A prominent Republican outside group is planning a new wave of spending targeting state Supreme Court elections after a wave of decisions on redistricting maps that have broken in favor of Democrats this year. The Judicial Fairness Initiative, an arm of the Republican State Leadership Committee, said in a memo Wednesday that the GOP had fallen behind on efforts to win over state judicial elections — and that the Democratic advantage in those states was costing Republicans in the decennial battle over redistricting. “In states like North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Democrats are yanking control of the redistricting process out of the hands of elected legislators and handing it over to their liberal allies on state Supreme Courts,” wrote Andrew Wynne, the group’s vice president. “These liberal, activist judges continue to reinterpret state constitutional language to overturn legislatively drawn maps and issue rulings that favor Democrats.” The group did not say how much it would spend, or on what states. But the focus underscores the role that state Supreme Court justices now play in the decennial redistricting process, especially in...
    FIRST ON FOX – Blacks and Whites, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans will gather at a historically Black church in Mississippi and at locations across the United States to pray two days before the Supreme Court takes up the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a pivotal abortion case in which the court may reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. "This is where we're coming together in unity on the sanctity of human life," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which is organizing the gathering, told Fox News in an interview on Sunday. He celebrated "the ethnic diversity, the denominational diversity, even the political diversity, that will be gathered" in this one event. The event, Pray Together For Life, will take place at New Horizon Church in Jackson, Mississippi, a historically Black church, and at locations across the United States, where video streaming will connect Christians from each corner of the country. Perkins told Fox News that churches on the United States' northern and southern borders will participate remotely, as will a church on the West...
    Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood (R), who is reportedly interested in running for state Supreme Court depending on the outcome of congressional redistricting. The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar. Leading Off ● IL Supreme Court: Four seats on Illinois's closely divided Supreme Court are up for election next year, and one key race that could determine which party winds up with the majority might attract a much bigger name than usual: Politico's Shia Kapos reports that Republican Rep. Darin LaHood "could be interested" in running for the 3rd Judicial District, conservative-leaning turf that stretches from the southern Chicago suburbs through Peoria all the way across the state to the Iowa border. LaHood, who hails from a well-known political family, might be eyeing the contest in part because Democrats could soon eliminate his 18th Congressional District and throw him in with another Republican, since they control the redistricting process and Illinois...
    The federal judiciary grew ever more hostile to voting rights during the Trump era, and the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to curtail partisan gerrymanders designed to entrench one-party rule. But at the same time, state courts have started striking down these gerrymanders and issuing their own decisions defending voting access. Crucially, these decisions have relied on protections found in state constitutions, meaning that they’re insulated from U.S. Supreme Court review (at least for the time being). Almost every state constitution, in fact, offers similar protections—the issue is who's interpreting them. Unlike federal judges, most state supreme court justices are elected to their posts, and while the almost uniquely American practice of electing judges creates serious problems for judicial impartiality, it nevertheless presents progressives with the opportunity to replace conservative ideologues with more independent-minded jurists. Below, we'll take a look at the states with major opportunities for progressive gains on state supreme courts over the next two years, as well as those where they must play defense. Progressives have the chance to flip Ohio's Supreme Court, gain...
    THOMASVILLE, Georgia — Before a small crowd gathered at the Thomas County, GA Republican Party headquarters on Sunday, former Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), also the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, stressed the importance of Tuesday U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia between Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Democrat Raphael Warnock, and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The veteran campaigner and politician declared the two U.S. Senate races to have higher stakes than any campaigns with which he had ever been involved. “We’ve talked about campaigns that I’ve been involved in since 1968, and I will tell you sincerely, and without any hesitation, the stakes of this election are higher than any I’ve ever worked, including races for the presidency,” Barbour said. “Why? If you can imagine — 52 years in politics, how many times have I been asked the question: What do you worry about most about government and politics? And it is very simple — I worry my children and grandchildren are not going to inherit the same country I inherited. For the first...
    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It seems as soon as one election is over, another begins. With so much focus on the judiciary and election lawsuits, it’s no surprise a lot of candidates are already announcing their candidacies for judge. This coming year, we elect county, municipal, school officials and judges — one to the state Supreme Court, two to the Commonwealth Court, one to the Superior Court and many to local county courts. These judges make critical decisions that affect our lives. “These are very important positions,” Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday. “The state Supreme Court in 2018 rewrote our congressional map by outlawing the gerrymander and in 2017 put tremendous restrictions on drilling on state lands,” Ledewitz said. Just ask candidates like Donald Trump about state court rulings on elections this year. “Most of the election cases were decided in state courts, not federal courts,” says Ledewitz. Ledewitz fears that statewide courts, where candidates run for office by party, may become too partisan, at least in the short-term. “For...
    Photo via Keep Judge Stephens/FacebookA Hillsborough County judge who lost a re-election bid this year is challenging the constitutionality of a longstanding state practice of electing circuit judges in primary elections. Circuit Judge Steven Scott Stephens filed the challenge late Monday afternoon --- on the eve of the general election --- at the Florida Supreme Court. The case seeks to prevent Secretary of State Laurel Lee from certifying the results of Stephens’ race, which would leave a vacancy that could be filled by Gov. Ron DeSantis. More broadly, Stephens is seeking a ruling that could effectively force the Legislature to change a law that has led to judicial races being decided in primaries. Stephens contends that the law conflicts with part of the Florida Constitution that says general elections shall be held to “choose a successor to each elective state and county officer whose term will expire before the next general election.” “The petitioner (Stephens) acknowledges that it would be impractical to order his name placed on the general election ballot at this late date,” his attorney, Daniel Schaps, wrote...
    By LEAH WILLINGHAM, Associated Press/Report for America JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three out of four incumbents in Mississippi’s U.S. Congressional Districts are facing challenges on Election Day. Two Republicans — Trent Kelly and Michael Guest — and the state federal delegation’s sole Democrat, Bennie Thompson. Also on the ballot are several Supreme Court seats and a measure that could put an end to a Reconstruction-era voting law. U.S. HOUSE — 1ST DISTRICT Republican U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly will face Democratic challenger Antonia Eliason in north Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District. Kelly is a former district attorney and Tupelo city prosecutor. He has been in the House since he won a 2015 special election. As a brigadier general in Mississippi’s National Guard, he has advocated for higher military spending and better healthcare for veterans. Eliason is a law professor at the University of Mississippi and a self-described democratic socialist. She’s run her campaign on issues like “Medicare-for-All,” increasing the state and federal minimum wage, marijuana legalization and the Green New Deal. Eliason moved to Mississippi in 2013 after practicing law in London...
    Tuesday, during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “The Story,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) discussed the pending confirmation of Trump-appointed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and what it could mean for the upcoming elections. McConnell argued the time had passed to debate the process. He told host Martha MacCallum that it was time to discuss the nominee. “We have been up against COVID since May,” he said. “We have had numerous hearings remotely, with senators calling in remotely, occasionally witnesses remotely. I think the nominee will be there in person. Some members of the committee may choose to be remote. We have been dealing with this since May. All of a sudden, it’s become disabling? This is just another effort to try to delay the process on this outstanding Supreme Court nominee that the president has sent up to the Senate.” “The chairman has indicated that there are two dates that will be essential,” McConnell continued. “One is the [October] 15. One is the [October] 22. The nominee in — will come out on the 22nd...
    Voters say the Supreme Court vacancy has added to the already high stakes of the presidential election.  In the battlegrounds of Georgia and North Carolina, most say it makes the election feel even more important — it's one more factor in an election in which most voters from both parties think their culture and way of life are at stake.  President Trump's voters here think the Democrats want society to change too fast, and Joe Biden's voters think Republicans want to go back to the past. The court fight may not be changing votes, since most were already locked in, but many describe it as adding even more motivation to the race. Both sides are about equally likely to say they'll vote (and some already have). In two contests that will turn almost entirely on turnout, that's essential.  And as important as the Supreme Court is, voters tell us it is just one of the major topics on their minds. Issues of race continue to split voters in these fast-growing, changing Southern states, and views on the protests are a major...
    The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) announced on Friday their plans to invest $16 million in state legislative elections this fall, as they push to flip seats from red to blue. The committee’s latest pledge brings their spending up to $35 million for this political cycle, a new record and a significant increase from the $10 million spent in 2010, Politico first reported. The funds will go to 17 battleground states in the U.S. including Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas, announced the DLCC in a Friday press release. JORDAN PUSHES RESOLUTION TO LIMIT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, BLASTS DEMOCRATS “Everything is on the line in this election and we’re committing more resources than ever before to state legislative races,” DLCC President Jessica Post said in a statement. The DLCC said that the $35 million investment is the largest sum invested in down-ballot races by a democratic organization. The committee is ramping up its political efforts as states face potential redistricting, and the GOP-controlled Senate pushes to add another conservative justice to the Supreme Court. Though Supreme Court justices...
    (CNN)The brawl over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor began before her body was buried. Within hours of her death on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." Since then, almost every Republican senator running for reelection has announced their support for the process to confirm the to-be-announced nominee, shaking up the race for Senate control only six weeks out from Election Day.The quick embrace of McConnell's strategy could help Republicans in toss-up Senate races in purple and red states, including in North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia and Montana, although it could hurt them in others. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis has struggled to coalesce the Republican Party behind him, with polls showing Trump leading him in the state. But the battle over the Supreme Court could endear him to the President's supporters."I think what it does is it helps him with the Trump voters who might not vote down ticket," Glen Bolger, Tillis' pollster, told CNN. "But now suddenly see, 'Oh, the Senate's an important fight.'"Read...
    Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told Breitbart News during a conference call on Tuesday that the Supreme Court confirmation fight will serve as a “catapult” for President Donald Trump and vulnerable Senate Republicans facing reelection. Braun told Breitbart News that the upcoming Supreme Court fight to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would help vulnerable Senate Republicans and the president’s reelection effort. The Hoosier conservative charged that the Senate fight would boost Senate Republicans up for reelection in a similar manner to how then-Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) opposed the confirmation of then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Braun explained that after the red-state Democrats came out against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, both he and then-Senate candidate Josh Hawley (R-MO) started gaining momentum in the final weeks of the 2018 midterm elections. Braun said, “When it comes to down-ballot races, I’ve probably got the best opinion on that, maybe along with Josh Hawley.” He continued, “I remember how close the race was about the same time two years ago. And, when Sen. Donnelly had to make the decision, the...
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