Connect with us

Politics

Pennsylvania GOP leaders ask Supreme Court to block redrawn congressional map

Published

on

The Republican presiding officers of Pennsylvania’s House and Senate asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to block a new congressional district map that is widely expected to boost Democratic prospects in the November midterm elections.

The emergency request filed by Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnetti says the state Supreme Court usurped legislative authority when it issued the new map on Monday, calling it an unprecedented decision.

Pamap2011

The congressional map drawn by the GOP-led legislature in 2011.

 (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania)

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court conspicuously seized the redistricting process and prevented any meaningful ability for the Legislature to enact a remedial map to ensure a court drawn map,” they wrote.

NewPAmap7201

The revised congressional map for 2018.

 (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania)

Last month, the Democratic-majority Supreme Court of Pennsylvania threw out a 2011 congressional district map that had been drafted by Republicans, saying it violated the state constitution’s guarantee of free and equal elections. On Monday, the court released new maps of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts.

Republicans had won 13 of 18 seats in three straight elections under the now-invalidated map, even though Pennsylvania’s statewide elections are often closely divided and registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The challenge adds uncertainty as candidates are preparing to circulate nominating petitions to get their names on the May primary ballot.

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, responding to the lawmakers’ filing, said Wolf was “focused on making sure the Department of State is fully complying with the court’s order by updating their systems and assisting candidates, county election officials and voters prepare for the primary election.”

Turzai told reporters earlier Wednesday that a separate action in federal court in Harrisburg is also possible.

Wednesday marked the third time in four months that Turzai and Scarnati have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a halt to litigation over the 2011 map they took leading roles in producing.

In November, Justice Samuel Alito turned down a request for a stay of a federal lawsuit, a case that Turzai and Scarnati won in January.

On Feb. 5, Alito rejected a request from Turzai and Scarnati to halt a Jan. 22 order from the state Supreme Court that gave the Republican leaders two weeks to propose a map that would be supported by the Democratic governor and until last week to suggest a new map to the court.

The application filed Wednesday also was addressed to Alito.

Turzai and Scarnati argued that the state’s high court gave them scant time to propose their own map after throwing out the 2011 version, ensuring “that its desired plan to draft the new map would be successful.” As evidence of a “preordained plan,” they cited comments critical of gerrymandering made by Justice David Wecht during his 2015 campaign for the court.

“The court’s process was entirely closed,” they told Alito. “It did not allow the parties the opportunity to provide any comment to the proposed map, inquire on why certain subdivisions were split and whether it was to meet population equality, or further evaluate whether partisan intent played any role in the drafting.”

As a sign of the litigation’s potential impact on national politics, President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Republicans to press their challenge of the map to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!” Trump tweeted.

The five Democrats on the state Supreme Court sided with Democratic voters who challenged the map, although one of the Democratic justices, Max Baer, has pointedly opposed the compressed timetable.

Congressional candidates have from Feb. 27 to March 20 to collect and submit enough signatures to get on the ballot, and the new district maps have candidates and would-be candidates scrambling to decide whether to jump in. Five incumbents are not seeking another term and a sixth has resigned, an unusually large number of openings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source link

Politics

Labour civil war: Furious Jeremy Corbyn attacks Starmer as furious row escalates to court

Published

on

JEREMY CORBYN’S lawyers have accused Sir Keir Starmer of making disingenuous attacks on his predecessor during a high court hearing on Monday.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for top spy, to tell Senate she’ll keep politics out of intelligence analysis

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s nominee to lead America’s vast spying bureaucracy is expected to tell senators weighing her confirmation that she will protect whistleblowers, speak truth to power and keep politics out of intelligence analysis, according to excerpts of her prepared statement obtained by NBC News.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to consider the nomination of Avril Haines, who was a national security official during the Obama administration, to become director of national intelligence. She would oversee 18 intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency.

Haines, who was deputy CIA director and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, will also tell lawmakers that she intends to prioritize countering China, bolstering cyber defenses and anticipating the next pandemic, according to the prepared remarks.

“We should provide the necessary intelligence to support long-term bipartisan efforts to out-compete China — gaining and sharing insight into China’s intentions and capabilities, while also supporting more immediate efforts to counter Beijing’s unfair, illegal, aggressive and coercive actions, as well as its human rights violations, whenever we can,” she intends to say.

“At the same time, the DNI should see to it that the Intelligence Community’s unique capabilities are brought to bear on the global Covid-19 crisis around the world, while also addressing the long-term challenge of future biological crises — enabling U.S. global health leadership and positioning us to detect future outbreaks before they become pandemics.”

Haines would become the first woman in the job, which was created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to better coordinate the sprawling American intelligence bureaucracy. She would succeed John Ratcliffe, a Republican former member of Congress from Texas who appears to have gotten the job because of his loyalty to President Donald Trump and because the acting occupant of the job, Richard Grenell, was deemed so unacceptable by Senate Democrats that they were willing to confirm Ratcliffe to be rid of him.

Among other things, the director of national intelligence oversees the presidential intelligence briefing process. But the director does not run covert operations ordered by the president — the CIA director retains that power.

The excerpts of Haines’ testimony do not mention the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but the issue of whether the FBI and other agencies have a handle on domestic extremism is likely to come up at the hearing. While the job of national intelligence director focuses mainly on spying abroad, it includes jurisdiction over the National Counterterrorism Center, which analyzes intelligence about both domestic and international terrorism, and last year it published a report noting that there is no “whole of government” effort aimed at domestic terrorism.

“If I have the honor of being confirmed, I look forward to leading the Intelligence Community on behalf of the American people — to safeguarding their interests, advancing their security and prosperity, and to defending our democracy, our freedoms and our values,” Haines, who joined the government in 2008 as a State Department legal adviser, intends to say.

To be effective, she will add, “the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power — even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult.”

“To safeguard the integrity of our Intelligence Community, the DNI must insist that, when it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics — ever,” she will say.

After Haines and other Biden nominees were introduced in November, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter that Biden’s Cabinet picks “will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Matt Hancock self-isolating after coronavirus scare hours after major No10 briefing

Published

on

MATT HANCOCK is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending