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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...
    (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 --...
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Despite the uncertainty raised over the date of Ohio’s primary election, the state is ready to move forward with early voting Tuesday for a likely May 3 contest with statewide and congressional races, but not legislative ones. The partial primary is scheduled to go ahead despite months of unresolved legal wrangling that has seen proposed redistricting maps repeatedly shot down by the Ohio Supreme Court as unconstitutional gerrymanders. U.S. House races have been allowed to continue because court proceedings have tied up the latest disputed map beyond Election Day. State legislative races are being delayed because no set of district boundaries has been settled on long enough to be used for making ballots. Ohioans must register to vote by Monday, unless the judiciary or Legislature intervenes, even as legal challenges continue to pour into state and federal courts. Some things to know about the situation: WHICH RACES WILL APPEAR ON THE MAY 3 BALLOT? Voters will decide partisan primaries for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, secretary of state and various local races and...
    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....
    by J.D. Davidson   Ohio voters will not be able to decide on candidates for the state Legislature during the May 3 primary after the state Supreme Court struck down new district maps for the third time. In a letter to House and Senate leadership and Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said it was no longer logistically possible to include district-specific legislative races on the ballots. “After mounting a monumental effort over the last few weeks, our bipartisan elections officials were ready to conduct this election on time, as I directed,” LaRose wrote. “However, those boards are now left once again without clear districts to certify legislative candidates, and they’re simply out of time to complete the required work that must be done to reprogram election systems with new district data.” Spokespeople for Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, said they are reviewing the court’s most-recent decision and discussing options. The court ruled, 4-3, late Wednesday night the state redistricting maps unfairly favor Republicans, saying the Ohio Redistricting Commission has attempted three sets...
    Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in a letter Thursday advised that the May 3 primary election should not include congressional maps on the ballots, citing the decision by the Ohio Supreme court to reject maps, sending the Ohio Redistricting Commission back to the drawing board for the fourth time. “As a result of last night’s decision by the Ohio Supreme court, and barring the immediate action of a federal court, our 88 county boards of elections can no longer include contests for the state House and state Senate in the May 3, 2022 primary,” LaRose wrote in the letter Thursday night addressed to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and the state’s legislature, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Blaming the disarray on the Biden administration for delaying U.S. Census data needed for map making, he said election officials would still proceed with plans for the May 3 primary that would include statewide, local, and congressional races unless they are instructed otherwise. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to reporters after a meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (AP...
    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...
    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court on Wednesday delayed the state’s planned March 8 primary until May while state courts review claims of illegal gerrymandering. The decision by the state Supreme Court comes after a state Court of Appeals panel initially blocked filing for legislative and congressional candidates on Monday, only to have the decision reversed when the full 15-member intermediate appeals court was asked to weigh in on the matter. Filing began Tuesday for these races instead. Wednesday’s order by the justices means candidate filing is now suspended until the litigation is resolved. The Supreme Court says a panel of three trial judges hearing a pair of lawsuits must rule by Jan. 11, followed by likely appeals. The delay is being granted “in light of the great public interest in the subject matter of these cases, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this state” and “the need for urgency in reaching a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity,” the order reads. Primary elections for a U.S. Senate...
    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...
    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...
    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...
    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t the nation’s only judicial battleground. The high courts in a number of states are on the ballot Tuesday in races that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats have a majority, and the stakes are high for both sides. This year alone, state supreme courts have been thrust into the spotlight to decide politically charged cases over voting rights, race and governors’ coronavirus orders. Next year, it could be abortion, health care and redistricting. Among the most hotly contested races are the ones for two high court seats in Michigan, where a Republican-leaning majority has undercut emergency virus restrictions by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer has been openly feuding with the justices after a 4-3 partisan vote in early October that invalidated her emergency health orders. “The Supreme Court decision in my state has created a lot of confusion and worked to undermine the work that we’ve done here,” Whitmer said. “We crushed our COVID spike early, our economy rebounded. … It’s all at risk.” Whitmer’s administration quickly reinstated virus measures...
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