Todd Ruger

Democrats Demand Paperwork Before Meeting With Kavanaugh
Judiciary Committee members debated the Supreme Court nominee’s voluminous paper trail Thursday

Senate Democrats haven’t had private meetings with Judge Brett Kavanaugh in his first two weeks as a Supreme Court nominee, and aren’t likely to until there is progress on getting access to his lengthy paper trail about his prior political work.

Democrats want assurances that the National Archives will agree to send to the Senate Judiciary Committee volumes of documents about Kavanaugh’s past, which includes a lengthy tenure in the George W. Bush White House, a senior Senate Democratic aide said Thursday. And they want to know that the document access won’t be thwarted by claims of executive privilege.

Supreme Court Picks’ Disagreements Show Stakes of Confirmation
Brett Kavanaugh, Merrick Garland diverge on key issues at circuit court level

The judge that President Barack Obama unsuccessfully tried to put on the Supreme Court in 2016 and the judge President Donald Trump selected Monday sit on the same federal appeals court — and their divergent rulings in recent cases echo the Senate’s partisan divide on key policy issues.

The two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — Obama pick Merrick Garland and Trump pick Brett Kavanaugh — went different ways in just the past two years on cases about immigration and abortion, criminal sentencing, police misconduct claims and employee rights.

This Won’t Be Kavanaugh’s First Knock-Down, Drag-Out Confirmation Fight
Former clerk calls him “the opposite of a Georgetown cocktail party guy”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh built a solidly conservative record during his 12 years on the appeals court in Washington that decides consequential cases on health care, the environment and other major governmental policies. Now, he is President Donald Trump’s nominee to become a Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh, 53, had long been mentioned in Washington chatter as a potential high court choice by a Republican president because of his educational background, intellectual firepower and an unyielding commitment to a legal approach championed by conservative Supreme Court justices such as Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Outside Groups, Democrats Form Ranks in Supreme Court Fight
‘This will not happen without a fight,’ Sen. Cory Booker says

Less than 24 hours after Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, liberal advocacy group Demand Justice rallied in front of the court building Thursday with a string of Democratic lawmakers with a unified message: We will fight.

A professionally printed “Ditch the List” sign featuring President Donald Trump’s face hung on the podium, an expression of dissatisfaction with his list of 25 solidly conservative potential picks. Numerous Democratic senators also seized on the phrase as a hashtag on Twitter.

GOP Celebrates Supreme Court’s Most Conservative Term in Years
Kennedy retirement capped a season of 5-4 highlights

The Supreme Court ended its term with a number of decisions that split the court along ideological lines, a finish that underscored just how much President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch influenced the nation’s legal landscape.

Now, with a second Supreme Court nominee to select, Trump has the power to move the court solidly to the right.

Kennedy Role on Court Meant Big Imprint on Nation
From gay rights to abortion, he was often the deciding vote on the most contentious issues

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 81, became known as the swing vote during the final decade of his 30 years on the Supreme Court — a description he professed to dislike.

It’s not that his ideology or positions on legal issues moved back and forth. But he would frequently cast the deciding vote on the most contentious cases.

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy to Retire
Trump pick could solidify conservative tilt for years to come

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his resignation from the Supreme Court on Wednesday, launching what promises to be an all-out partisan brawl in the Senate over the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice to quickly fill the vacancy.

Kennedy, 81, spent the last of his three decades on the Supreme Court as the deciding vote on many of the court’s most contentious cases. Although conservative, he sometimes joined the liberal wing of the court and authored landmark opinions on cases dealing with abortion, campaign finance and LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage.

Supreme Court Sides With Pregnancy Centers in Free Speech Case
California law had required centers to provide information about abortion

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against a California law that required medical centers that primarily serve pregnant women to inform patients about free or low-cost abortions under state health care programs — a decision that some lawmakers warned could cause problems for similar health and safety laws.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court’s five conservative justices sided with the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates and other centers with religious affiliations in the case that pitted free speech against regulations that require disclosure of health laws.

Supreme Court Rules Trump’s Travel Ban Is Legal
Decision splits court along ideological lines

A sharply divided Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the latest version of the administration’s controversial travel ban, backing an early and central piece of President Donald Trump’s promised tough-on-immigration agenda.

The 5-4 decision split the court along familiar ideological lines, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other four conservatives ruling that Trump had a sufficient national security justification for a policy that on its face “says nothing about religion.”

Trump Exaggerates Immigration Judge Proposals
DOJ, lawmakers have proposed fewer judges at the border than president asserts

President Donald Trump’s tweet Monday opposing “hiring manythousands” of immigration judges for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border goes far beyond the number of judges lawmakers want to add to speed up the nation’s deportation system, and is also significantly more than what the Justice Department says it needs.

The DOJ has made the hiring of additional judges a key component of its immigration enforcement agenda, despite Trump’s assertion in his tweet that it’s “not the way to go.” A department official told lawmakers last November it will take around 700 immigration judges total to make a dent in a massive backlog of cases in immigration court.

Supreme Court Maintains District Maps in N.C., Texas
Voter dilution, racial and partisan gerrymandering at issue in court actions

The Supreme Court ruled Monday to keep the current congressional maps in Texas and North Carolina, in separate cases that dealt with voter dilution and racial and partisan gerrymandering.

In the Texas case, a sharply divided court overturned a lower court ruling that found intentional voter dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. The 27th District is currently vacant, after Republican Blake Farenthold resigned in April, while the 35th is held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett.

Supreme Court Dials Up Privacy Rights on Cellphone Records
Government must get a warrant to access a cellphone user’s location data

The Supreme Court on Friday boosted protections for cellphone records that reveal a user’s location and movements over extended periods of time, in a major privacy decision for the internet age.

The majority, in a 5-4 opinion, required the government in most cases to obtain a warrant to get a cellphone user’s location data from phone providers because it is a search under the Fourth Amendment. The decision highlights modern-day concerns about how much personal information can be gleaned from such data.

Supreme Court Overturns 1992 Sales Tax Ruling
Decision will ripple through the economy, lawmakers and business groups say

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday accomplished something that Congress couldn’t in the past 26 years — overturn a 1992 ruling that barred states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Business groups and lawmakers expect the decision to reverberate throughout the economy, affecting online retail giants, small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores, and that could build pressure for congressional action.

Justice Department Puts Judge in Hot Seat on Migrant Families
‘Are we going to be able to detain alien families together, or are we not?’

A federal judge will determine the fate of a key part of President Donald Trump’s executive order on keeping together migrant families who are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, a Justice Department official said Wednesday.

Gene Hamilton, counselor to the attorney general, said Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California has a “simple decision” when it comes to the Trump administration asking to modify her previous ruling about how the government can detain children.

Flake Holds Up Judicial Nominee, Won’t Say Why
‘Oh, it’s just something I’m working out’

Arizona Republican Jeff Flake halted an appeals court nominee last week and he’s not publicly saying why, a behind-the-scenes move that takes aim at one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top priorities this year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee scuttled a planned vote June 14 on the nomination of Britt Grant, a pick from Georgia for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Flake’s hold throws a wrench in what has been the Senate GOP’s smoothly operating judicial confirmation machine.

Immigration Debate Steps on Hearing About FBI Report
‘These children are not animals, they are not bargaining chips, they are not leverage to help President Trump build his wall’

House Democrats used a Tuesday hearing about the Justice Department’s report on the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails amid the 2016 campaign to turn the spotlight on the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Republicans spent the joint hearing of the Justice and Oversight and Government Reform committees putting the spotlight on the findings of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report centered on Clinton including politically tinged text messages between agents. 

Congress’ Move to Leave Obamacare Mostly Intact May Save Law
Supporters, opponents of health care law unite on new brief

Congress killed off a key penalty in the 2010 health care law last year but left the rest of the law intact — and that might prove pivotal to a lawsuit in which the Justice Department and 20 Republican-led states argue that the law’s other major provisions must now be struck down.

That’s because the federal courts will look at what Congress intended to accomplish regardless of what individual lawmakers wanted to do, according to a group of five law professors with deep experience in litigation over the health care law.

High Court Leaves Partisan Gerrymandering Issue for Another Day
Justices turn aside case dealing with Wisconsin maps, ruled narrowly on Maryland case

 

Updated 12:50 p.m. | The Supreme Court sidestepped a major ruling on partisan gerrymandering on Monday, leaving open the question of whether federal courts can decide if congressional or statehouse maps give one political party an advantage over another.

DOJ Watchdog Report on Comey Stirs Politics on Hill
Sessions calls report an opportunity to learn from past mistakes

Even before the results of an internal Justice Department probe were released Thursday, that report into former FBI Director James Comey’s actions during the 2016 presidential campaign had reopened deep political divisions and fueled fresh questions about congressional oversight of the agency’s work.

That’s unlikely to change during the upcoming week of hearings and headlines on Capitol Hill about the watchdog’s report, starting with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing slated for Monday and another before the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees set for Tuesday.

Supreme Court Strikes Down State Ban on Polling Place Apparel
Century-old Minnesota law is similar to those in about nine other states

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Minnesota’s ban on political apparel worn by voters when they cast ballots as a violation of the First Amendment, ruling that the state’s definition of what can’t be worn at the polling place is too vague.

In a 7-2 opinion, the majority found that while the state’s election judges can strive to enforce the statute in an evenhanded manner when they decide what is political when they screen individuals at the entrance to polls, there are no “objective, workable standards.”