May 20, 2019 •

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Corporate Contribution Case

United States Supreme Court Building

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would decline to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts law. The law in question bans corporate contributions to campaigns, parties and candidate-focused political action committees. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial […]

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would decline to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts law.

The law in question bans corporate contributions to campaigns, parties and candidate-focused political action committees.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rejected the challenge, brought by 1A Auto Inc. and 126 Self Storage Inc., in September.

The suit claimed disparate treatment by banning for-profit corporate contributions while allowing significant contributions by unions and nonprofits.

After the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, state law was updated to allow corporate spending for independent expenditures but not political contributions.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey applauded Monday’s decision not to hear the case for the integrity of state elections.

Opponents of the law are hopeful the Supreme Court will take up the issue in another case.

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February 22, 2019 •

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Montana Case

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a case challenging the state’s Disclose Act, leaving in place a lower court ruling of constitutionality. The Disclose Act requires more heightened reporting by groups seeking to influence […]

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a case challenging the state’s Disclose Act, leaving in place a lower court ruling of constitutionality.

The Disclose Act requires more heightened reporting by groups seeking to influence elections, commonly referred to as dark-money groups.

The campaign disclosure act, challenged by Montanans for Community Development on first amendment grounds, has been an important policy for Gov. Steve Bullock and his administration.

This comes at a time when the Montana House of Representatives is considering House Resolution 2, a bipartisan resolution urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

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September 17, 2018 •

Chief Justice Roberts Stays FEC Campaign Finance Disclosure Regulation

On September 15th, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. issued an order staying a lower federal district court’s order invalidating a Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance disclosure regulation. Robert’s stay was decided on Saturday after […]

On September 15th, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. issued an order staying a lower federal district court’s order invalidating a Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance disclosure regulation. Robert’s stay was decided on Saturday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an emergency motion for the stay made earlier the same day.

On August 3, a federal district court had ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation, followed for decades by the FEC, failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur for 45 days to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The court also has allowed the FEC 30 days to change an earlier FEC dismissal to conform with the court’s ruling.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require. Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees.

The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profit entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. The district court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures.

The district court found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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June 8, 2017 •

Special Concurrent Session Called in North Carolina

On June 7, Gov. Roy Cooper called a 14-day special session for North Carolina lawmakers to redraw district voting maps. The session begins June 8 and will run concurrently with the regular session. The special concurrent session comes after the […]

On June 7, Gov. Roy Cooper called a 14-day special session for North Carolina lawmakers to redraw district voting maps.

The session begins June 8 and will run concurrently with the regular session.

The special concurrent session comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 28 districts unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering.

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June 6, 2017 •

Supreme Court Rules North Carolina Districts Racially Gerrymandered; Remedial Special Election Vacated

On June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that 28 state House and Senate Districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered, while also vacating the lower court’s order for a special election in 2017 for one-year […]

On June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that 28 state House and Senate Districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered, while also vacating the lower court’s order for a special election in 2017 for one-year terms to address the issue.

The court ruled that the special election remedy was not properly analyzed by the lower court. The matter has been returned to the lower court, which could call another special election or order new districts in time for the regular cycle of elections in 2018.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes just two weeks after the court found two of the state’s U.S. Congressional districts to also be racially gerrymandered.

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May 23, 2017 •

Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Challenge of FEC Soft Money Regulations

On May 22, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s finding of summary judgement upholding the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s regulation of the use of so-called soft money. In Republican Party of Louisiana v. FEC, […]

On May 22, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s finding of summary judgement upholding the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s regulation of the use of so-called soft money.

In Republican Party of Louisiana v. FEC, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to federal campaign finance provisions requiring state and local political parties to abide by federal regulations concerning certain political activities such as get-out-the-vote and voter registration drives and the resulting reporting requirements.

In response to an appeal from the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court affirmed the District Court’s decision.

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February 27, 2017 •

Supreme Court Affirms, Without Written Opinion, Lower Court’s Ruling Regarding Campaign Finance Disclosure

Today, the United States Supreme Court affirmed electioneering communication disclosure requirements under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). In Independence Institute v. FEC, the Supreme Court affirmed, without a written opinion, a lower court’s summary judgement against Independence Institute, a […]

US Supreme CourtToday, the United States Supreme Court affirmed electioneering communication disclosure requirements under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

In Independence Institute v. FEC, the Supreme Court affirmed, without a written opinion, a lower court’s summary judgement against Independence Institute, a Colorado based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Independence Institute argued the BCRA’s disclosure requirements for electioneering communications were overbroad and violated the First Amendment.

Electioneering communication is defined as any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication referring to a clearly identified federal candidate, made within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general, special, or runoff election, and targeted to the relevant electorate.

On November 3, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had rejected the Independence Institute’s challenge to the BCRA’s electioneering communication provisions and granted the Federal Election Commission’s motion for summary judgment.

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January 11, 2017 •

Supreme Court Issues Stay on Special Elections in North Carolina

Yesterday, the U.S Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on a lower court order to hold special elections in November 2017 for North Carolina General Assembly seats in unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts. The temporary stay of the lower court’s decision will […]

US Supreme CourtYesterday, the U.S Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on a lower court order to hold special elections in November 2017 for North Carolina General Assembly seats in unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts.

The temporary stay of the lower court’s decision will remain in place until the justices decide whether to consider a previously filed appeal from state officials. If the Supreme Court hears the case and overturns the ruling, the special elections would be canceled and current districts restored for the 2018 election.

 

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October 14, 2016 •

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Colorado Campaign Finance Case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied the state of Colorado’s petition for review of a 2016 federal appeals court ruling regarding state campaign finance rules. In Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, the United States Court of Appeals for the […]

Flag_of_ColoradoThe U.S. Supreme Court recently denied the state of Colorado’s petition for review of a 2016 federal appeals court ruling regarding state campaign finance rules.

In Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling declaring the state’s issue committee regulatory framework unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiff, but declined to address the facial validity of the Colorado Constitution’s $200 threshold for issue committee reporting. The strength of the public’s interest in issue committee disclosure depends, in part, on how much money the issue committee has raised or spent.

The appeals court agreed with the 9th Circuit’s characterization of the sliding scale by noting “. . . the value of this financial information to the voters declines drastically as the value of the expenditure or contribution sinks to a negligible level. As the monetary value of an expenditure in support of a ballot issue approaches zero, financial sponsorship fades into support and then into mere sympathy” [Appellate Case: 14-1469; see Canyon Ferry Rd. Baptist Church of E. Helena, Inc. v. Unsworth, 556 F.3d 1021, 1033 (9th Cir. 2009)].

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April 6, 2016 •

Supreme Court Declines Challenge to Mississippi Campaign Finance Law

The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a Mississippi campaign finance law requiring individuals or groups to report expenditures of $200 or more to support or oppose a ballot measure. Five residents of Mississippi sued the state in […]

Mississippi-StateSeal.svgThe Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a Mississippi campaign finance law requiring individuals or groups to report expenditures of $200 or more to support or oppose a ballot measure.

Five residents of Mississippi sued the state in 2011, claiming the reporting requirement was too burdensome and infringed on their rights of free speech and association.

A federal judge agreed, stating such requirements overly burdened smaller groups, but was overturned on appeal.

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April 4, 2016 •

One Person, One Vote Ruling by U.S. Supreme Court

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided a state or locality may draw its legislative districts based on the total population of all people rather than based on only the population of registered voters. In Evenwel v. Abbott, appellants argued […]

EvenwelToday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided a state or locality may draw its legislative districts based on the total population of all people rather than based on only the population of registered voters.

In Evenwel v. Abbott, appellants argued apportionments based on total population for drawing Texas Senate legislative districts diluted their votes in relation to voters in other state Senate districts. They argued such dilution was a violation of the one-person, one-vote principle of the Equal Protection Clause.

While the Court found the apportionment was constitutionally drawn, the decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for six of the Justices, explicitly stated it does not address whether “states may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population.” Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito each issued separate concurring opinions. The Court decision is available here.

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February 24, 2016 •

The Supremes

What are the qualifications for becoming a Justice on the Supreme Court? There are no requirements listed in the Constitution to be a Supreme Court Justice. The youngest Associate Justice was Joseph Story. He joined the bench in 1811 at […]

Supreme_Court_US_2010What are the qualifications for becoming a Justice on the Supreme Court?

There are no requirements listed in the Constitution to be a Supreme Court Justice. The youngest Associate Justice was Joseph Story. He joined the bench in 1811 at 32 years old. The oldest justice was Associate Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who retired after serving 32 years at 90 years old. All justices have been lawyers prior to joining the court. To this point there have been six justices that were foreign born.

Where did we find someone to nominate as a Supreme Court Justice?

On the current bench Chief Justice, John Roberts, Jr, Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice, Elena Kagan are all from New York. Associate Justice, Samuel A. Alito, Jr is from New Jersey. Associate Justice, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy are from California. Associate Justice, Clarence Thomas is from Georgia.

What is the range of time it takes to confirm a justice?

Believe it or not, there are many who were confirmed and sworn in on the very day they were nominated. The most recent was Associate Justice Harold Burton during the Truman administration.

The longest amount of time recorded to go from nomination to a successful confirmation was Associate Justice, Louis Brandeis from the Woodrow Wilson administration at 125 days.

How many were nominated that didn’t achieve confirmation?

From the President George Washington administration thru the President George W. Bush administration there have been 34 that did not get confirmed. The various reasons include the following:

  • Withdrawn as a nominee
  • Rejected by Congress
  • Declined to serve

How many Justices died in office?

Justices are appointed for life. Fifty have retired or resigned on their own accord. Only Associate Justice, Samuel chase has been impeached [1984]. The Senate acquitted him and he remained on the bench until his death six years later.

Associate Justices

Before Associate Justice, Antonin Scalia died on February 12, 2016, there were 26 associate justices who died in office from 1798 – Associate Justice, James Wilson through 1954 – Associate Justice, Robert Jackson.

Chief Justices

A total of 17 men have been the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The longest served was Chief Justice, John Marshall of Virginia [who was nominated in 1801 and died in office in 1835.]

There were eight Supreme Court Chief Justices who died while serving the court. Included in this list are Chief Justice, John Marshall [appointed by President John Adams] died in 1835 at 76 years old. The most recent Chief Justice was William Rehnquist [initially appointed by President Richard Nixon as associate justice and nominated to chief justice by President Ronald Reagan] died in 2005 from throat cancer.
How many vacancies occurred during presidential election years?

Vacancies in the Supreme Court during an election year are not that uncommon.   There have been 14 confirmed between Associate Justice, Oliver Ellsworth, 1796 [during the President George Washington administration] and Associate Justice, Anthony Kennedy in 1988 [during the Ronald Reagan administration].

How many U.S. Presidents have also served on the Supreme Court?

There has only been one U.S. President to serve on the Supreme Court and that is President William Howard Taft. Eight years after his failed re-election to the office of president, he was nominated by President Warren Harding to replace Chief Justice Edward White. He served for nine years and resigned due to bad health.

This article has been researched from the following sources:

7 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Supreme Court” by Elizabeth Nix on History.com

At least 14 Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during election years” by Timothy Lee in Vox

U.S. Justices and Judges Who Died While Still Holding Office” on PoliticalGraveyard.com

Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court” on the United State Supreme Court website

How Long Does It Take to Confirm a Supreme Court Nominee?” in The New York Times

 

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January 19, 2016 •

Appeal Against Ban on Contractor Contributions Denied by U.S. Supreme Court

On January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal arguing against a federal law banning political contributions to candidates from federal contractors. Last year, in Miller v. Federal Election Commission, formerly Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. District […]

US Supreme CourtOn January 19, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal arguing against a federal law banning political contributions to candidates from federal contractors. Last year, in Miller v. Federal Election Commission, formerly Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the law barring contractors from contributing to candidates, parties, and candidates’ and parties’ committees.

Plaintiffs had challenged the constitutionality of 52 U.S.C. § 30119(a)(1), which prohibits any vendors with contracts with the federal government from making political contributions to federal candidates or political parties. The plaintiffs had asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional as applied to individuals who have personal services contracts with federal agencies. Because federal workers who are not contractors may make federal political contributions while contractors performing the same work may not, the suit argued the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment.

Photo of the United States Supreme Court by UpstateNYer on Wikimedia Commons.

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March 24, 2015 •

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Remains, But Not for Spring Election

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear a case alleging the state’s 2011 voter ID law is unconstitutional. Following the decision, the Government Accountability Board consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and determined photo ID will not […]

WisconsinThe U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear a case alleging the state’s 2011 voter ID law is unconstitutional.

Following the decision, the Government Accountability Board consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and determined photo ID will not be required for the April 7 Spring Election.

Photo ID will be required for subsequent elections, including any special elections in 2015.

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