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Lawmaker on Manafort sentencing: Judge should have recused himself

Lawmaker on Manafort sentencing: Judge should have recused himself

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) criticized Judge T.S. Ellis for sentencing President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort to 47 months in prison. #CNN #News

Census question on citizenship ruled illegal by 2nd judge

A San Francisco-based district court judge in the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday ruled that the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census "threatens the very foundation of our democratic system" because it would cause a significant undercount of immigrants and Latinos that could distort the distribution of congressional seats. The ruling by Judge Richard Seeborg, which will head to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if challenged by the government, said the Commerce secretary's decision to add the question was arbitrary and capricious and would violate a constitutional requirement that the census accurately count the U.S. population. "Indeed, I have argued in a brief filed in the Supreme Court that the 'excluding Indians not taxed' language in the [Constitution's] apportionment clause requires that only citizens be counted. Furman also found the question violated administrative requirements, but he rejected an argument that it violated the Constitution. The clause states, "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." Seeborg ruled in lawsuits by California and several cities in the state that asserted the citizenship question was politically motivated and should be kept off the census. Census numbers are used to determine states' distribution of congressional seats and billions of dollars in federal funding. The Justice Department had argued that census officials take steps such as making in-person follow-up visits to get an accurate count. The Trump administration announced last March it would include a citizenship question on the 2020 count, saying the Justice Department requested its inclusion to help with enforcement of voting rights laws. Seeborg rejected the claim that the citizenship question stemmed from a request by the Justice Department, calling that a "pretext" for the real reason to add it.

9th Circuit gets another Trump-picked judge, after White House bypasses consultation with Dems

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Trump's nominee to be a judge on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a party-line vote -- and, in a historic snub, the White House ignored the input of the judge's two Democratic home-state senators in the process. Miller was one the 51 federal judicial nominees left over from the previous Congress whom the White House re-nominated last month. Miller, currently the appellate chairman of the high-powered law firm Perkins Coie, will replace Judge Richard Tallman, a Bill Clinton appointee who assumed senior status March 2018. Miller represented the government before the Supreme Court when he served from 2007 to 2012 as an Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. Among those objecting to Miller's nomination were Washington State's two Democratic senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Aides say Miller's confirmation marks the first time the Senate has strayed from tradition and confirmed a judicial nominee over the dissent of both home-state senators. “This is wrong. The White House has previously signaled it will also plow ahead with other 9th Circuit nominations in other states without using the "blue slip" consultation process. “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” Trump tweeted. “It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned,” Trump continued.

Paul Manafort seeks leniency from judge as he faces life in prison

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‘Apology rings hollow’: judge rebukes Roger Stone and slaps stricter gag order

His swagger gone and his humiliation complete, political operative Roger Stone took the witness stand on Thursday to deliver an abject apology for attacking the judge in his case on social media only to be told it “rings quite hollow” and warned he could have incited violence by his supporters. The courtroom rebuke was a humbling moment for the self-proclaimed dirty trickster, notorious for his love of cigars, shades and tailor-made suits, and whose public appearances usually consist of bravado and Richard Nixon-style victory salutes. Roger Stone: a master of the political dirty trick Read more On Instagram he had posted a picture of Jackson next to an image that appeared to show the crosshairs of a gun, with a caption that described her as an “Obama-appointed judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton”. Stone, 66, was found to have abused a previous gag order imposed following charges against him in the justice department’s investigation into Russian election interference. Wearing a grey suit with handkerchief in the top left pocket and a blue tie, Stone walked steadily to the witness stand in the packed courtroom at the United States district court for the District of Columbia in Washington. “I believe I abused the order, for which I am heartfully sorry,” he said. “I am kicking myself for my own stupidity, but not more than my wife is kicking me.” Stone suggested the rash act was “an outgrowth” of extreme stress, saying he was struggling to pay rent and, while he was seasoned in “political combat”, this was the first time in his life he had faced criminal charges. “I now have television commentators talking about the likelihood I will be raped in prison,” he said, in an apparent play for sympathy that fell on deaf ears. Unmoved, Judge Jackson demanded: “How hard was it to come up with a photo that didn’t have the crosshairs in the corner?” Stone claimed the image had been sent to him by one of his volunteers and he posted it on Instagram without thinking. “I didn’t even notice it until it was brought to my attention by a reporter.” He did not believe the symbol shows crosshairs, he insisted.

Montana sheriff’s race recount gets muddier

The losing candidate in the Musselshell County sheriff’s race has blamed the elections administrator for his loss and secured a court-ordered recount with rules that could reverse it. An attorney for the county is agreeing to the judge’s rules and has said taxpayers should foot the bill for the recount. But an attorney for the winning candidate is crying foul, saying the recount rules are illegal and the county’s attorney is not defending the elections administrator against the “baseless allegations” that set the stage for the recount. Ronnie Burns lost in November to current Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik by 1.67 percent of the vote, or by 41 votes. Judge Katharine Bidegaray, of the Seventh Judicial District in Eastern Montana, granted the recount after Burns made allegations about wrongdoing on the part of Musselshell County Elections Administrator Cheryl Tomassi, which the county has not yet contested. It’s also declined to respond to the allegations against Tomassi. Tomassi has denied that. Write-in candidates are allowed to list variations of their name, such as “Ronald Burns” or “Ron Burns” in advance of the election that voters might use and have the vote still count. Burns also alleged Tomassi told him he could not distribute stickers with his name on them and a blackened oval to supporters so that they could paste them on the write-in line. Tomassi told The Gazette she merely advised him not to, because the stickers “gum up the machines.” When Burns asserted it was legal to use the stickers, Tomassi said she agreed.

Second top Republican says he will vote against Trump judge pick

A second Republican senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, has said he will vote against Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as a district judge in North Carolina, likely dooming the prospects of Thomas Farr filling the country’s longest court vacancy. Civil rights groups such as the NAACP have heavily criticized Farr for his work defending state laws found to have discriminated against African Americans. Scott announced Thursday that he would not vote for Farr, joining Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and 49 Democratic lawmakers in opposing the nominee. Farr once served as a lawyer for the re-election campaign of the Republican senator Jesse Helms in 1990. The justice department alleged that about 120,000 postcards sent mostly to black voters before that election were intended to intimidate them out of voting. Farr told the Senate judiciary committee he was not consulted about the postcards and did not have any role in drafting or sending them. The memo said Farr had met with key campaign officials and had advised them “that a postcard mailing like the mailing conducted in 1984 would not be particularly useful” except as evidence in post-election challenges. Scott, who is African American, cited the memo in explaining why he would vote against Farr. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr Farr’s nomination.” Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, had repeatedly criticized Republicans in recent days for moving forward with the Farr vote. Republican senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina both supported Farr’s nomination.

Trump dismisses Roberts rebuke and blames judges for ‘bedlam and chaos’

Unwilling to leave political arguments for after Thanksgiving, Donald Trump returned to the offensive against judges and judgements he does not like, blaming both for “bedlam, chaos, injury and death”. “Whatever the scope of the president’s authority,” Jon Tigar wrote, “he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.” Tigar, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2012, is in fact a district judge based in San Francisco, under the jurisdiction of the ninth circuit but not a member of its appeals court. On Wednesday, in response to the president’s invective on the matter, Roberts issued a statement denying that judges’ opinions were shaped by the president who appointed them. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” Trump tweeted then: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges’, and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the ninth circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary’, but if it is why are so many opposing view (on border and safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe! The Washington Post reported that though ninth circuit rulings are often overturned by the supreme court, “studies show that over the past five years, three other [circuit courts] have a higher percentage of decisions overturned”. After vaunting his record on border security, the president called the ninth circuit “a big thorn in our side” and “a disgrace”. In 2017, he attacked the legitimacy of a Washington-state judge who ruled against his first travel ban against people from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Trump politicizes Thanksgiving call with troops to attack migrants, judges

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump struck a nakedly political tone during a Thanksgiving call with US service members stationed around the world as he steered the conversation toward controversial political topics. Speaking with a US general in Afghanistan, Trump likened the fight against terrorists to his efforts to prevent a group of migrants from illegally entering the United States, and he assailed federal judges who have ruled against his administration. US Presidents have traditionally called troops stationed abroad during the holidays to boost morale and remind the country of their service, making Trump's rhetoric yet another striking break from the norms of presidential behavior. Trump has not shied away from politicizing the military in the past, and on Thursday, he drew on US men and women in uniform to justify his controversial deployment of nearly 6,000 US troops to the southern border. After the call wrapped, Trump continued to focus on the 9th Circuit and his administration's efforts to prevent the group of migrants -- many of whom are seeking asylum -- from crossing into the US illegally. "The whole border." Trump also once again undermined the CIA's assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the murder of Khashoggi, insisting the agency did not conclude bin Salman was responsible. I don't know if anybody's going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did it," Trump said. That's a big difference." This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn't believe it."

The Midterms Could Permanently Change North Carolina Politics

Warf’s task was to convince Judge Becky Holt that the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly was within its rights to strip a candidate for the state supreme court of his Republican affiliation on the November ballot. Not only did it seem dubious that the legislature could change the rules after the ballot was set, but judges have repeatedly blocked legislation passed by Republican lawmakers over the past eight years. “The sole intent is to have the Republican majority try to expand their power into the court system, electing more Republican judges.” Over the course of several years, from 1996 to 2004, the legislature, then controlled by Democrats, changed elections at each level of the state system from partisan to nonpartisan. After the legislator who had been the public face of the judicial overhaul lost his GOP primary in May, the reorganization seemed to be on ice—until the end of the spring legislative session in June, when the General Assembly voted to place a constitutional amendment changing how vacancies are filled on the November ballot. Rather than allowing the governor to fill vacancies, a commission appointed by the chief justice of the state supreme court, the governor, and the General Assembly would recommend candidates to the General Assembly, which would send two finalists to the governor. Since the General Assembly is controlled by Republicans and, because of both favorable districting and the state’s urban-rural divide, most likely will be for years to come, there’s a good chance that every candidate put to the governor, whether she is a Democrat or a Republican, will be a GOP pick. But neither did the Republicans. Indeed, the governor gained the veto only in 1996; North Carolina was the last state to give its chief executive that power. The process by which the amendments came about raises its own questions. “It’s a real challenge 90 days from the election.” Well versed or not, voters will make their decisions on November 6—both about the amendments themselves and about the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly.