Tyler Olson


Organizers of an outdoor car show in Pennsylvania said late Wednesday that the event would go on despite a lawsuit by the state health department seeking to shut it down for operating in violation of coronavirus restrictions, specifically a rule banning gatherings of more than 250 people.

The sprawling event expects to see about 100,000 attendees over four days.

Show organizers called the state’s coronavirus health order “invalid” and said they would “vigorously defend this action” to open their event in court.

The event, called Spring Carlisle, started Wednesday and is scheduled to go through Saturday. But the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) sued Carlisle Events, the organization putting on “one of the largest automotive flea markets in the world and one of the best opportunities to get your hands on all things automotive,” early Wednesday morning. It said that the group had ignored multiple warnings from the state to not continue with Spring Carlisle after earlier this month it asked for a waiver excepting it from the 250-person limit.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine is behind a lawsuit to stop a car show in Pennsylvania over coronavirus crowd concerns despite the state’s general acceptance of crowded protests in recent weeks, which Gov. Tom Wolf even participated in. (Official)

But Wednesday night, Carlisle Events announced its intention to continue with Spring Carlisle and defend itself against the lawsuit, which now has a hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.

“Similar to other large outdoor entertainment venues and amusement parks that have or are scheduled to open under the Green Phase in southcentral Pennsylvania, our approximately 100-acre event facility provides ample space for vendors and patrons to interact in a responsible manner, consistent with the CDC’s social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines,” Carlisle Events’ statement read.

It added: “Carlisle Events has worked tirelessly to put on this event in a socially responsible manner and will continue to do so. We believe the Department of Health’s order is invalid. Even if the order is valid, the department has erred in its application to outside events such as ours, or has acted arbitrarily in seeking to enforce the order against us, while permitting other entertainment venues to open.”

But Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine has said that the immense size of the show, whether outdoors and socially distanced or not, puts the state at risk for a bump in coronavirus cases, potentially putting lives in danger, and must be stopped by a court order.

“When individuals choose to ignore those safeguards –­ such as by holding an event anticipating 100,000 attendees –­ they put the lives of Pennsylvanians at risk and threaten to reverse the significant progress that has been made to resolve this crisis,” the suit, on behalf of Levine’s DOH, said. “That dangerous conduct must be stopped before it can occur.”

Levine also raised similar concerns in a letter sent to event organizers after they asked for a waiver but before the event opened Wednesday.

“[T]he large number of persons who typically attend, the wide variety of locations from which they travel, and the fact that they will congregate in hotels and restaurants through the area creates a strong potential for the spread of infection,” she said. “[Y]ou should know that the disease Prevention and Control Law provides for criminal and civil penalties for violations of these orders.”

The move by the state attempting to shut down the primarily outdoors auto festival comes less than two weeks after thousands gathered in Philadelphia to protest racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. State officials largely encouraged the protests, though some officials elsewhere in the country noted the potential coronavirus transmission risk.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf himself participated in one march in Harrisburg, Pa., on June 3.

“I’m at today’s March Against Injustice and Gun Violence 2020 in Harrisburg in solidarity with our community,” he tweeted. “Black lives matter. Racism must end. I am here to listen.”

State Sen. Mike Regan, a Republican who represents the area where the car show is happening, said the Wolf administration is acting hypocritically.

“The lack of clear and consistent guidance for employers and residents as we move through the Governor’s reopening process has led to frustration and anger,” he told Fox News in a statement.

Regan added: “Common sense would suggest that – like outdoor recreation – outdoor sales and other events should be held to a different safety standard. The Governor sent a clear message about the ability to ignore his orders and safety precautions when he marched through the streets of Harrisburg. Instead of working with an employer to further implement precautions and allow for this event to move forward in a county that is in the ‘green phase,’ the Wolf administration instead turns to the court to shut this employer down.”

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Pennsylvania car show dares government to shut it down over coronavirus rules

Senate Democrats released a 50-plus page report Wednesday sounding alarm bells over the rate at which Senate Republicans and President Trump have confirmed federal judges during the president’s first term as Republicans are working on shepherding along even more lifetime-appointed federal judges.

The account calls GOP-appointed judges “politicians in robes,” rails against the Chief Justice John Roberts’ Supreme Court, slams the conservative and libertarian lawyers’ group the Federalist Society and says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is “betraying the vision of our founders.”

The report was widely promoted by high-profile Senate Democrats on Wednesday, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and several others, as Democrats grapple with the breakneck clip of Trump’s and McConnell’s judicial confirmation efforts.

“Instead of passing legislation to help the American people, Mitch McConnell has chosen to bury those bills in his legislative graveyard,” the report’s executive summary reads. “This report looks behind the curtain of the GOP’s long campaign of judicial capture, into the fundamental threat it poses to the rule of law and American democracy.”

Beyond Republicans’ apparent “judicial capture,” the report also foreshadows future Democratic efforts to “shed light on the corruption and conflicts of interest now spreading around the Trump judiciary” and pans what it says was more than $250 million in dark money raised and spent by “a complex network of think tanks, law school centers, policy front groups, political campaign arms, and public relations shops, all focused on shaping the composition of the courts and the rulings they make.”

The report was also amplified by Demand Justice, a liberal group tied to former Obama staffers that fights against Trump’s judicial nominees and advocates for progressive priorities in federal courts.

Of course, the dark money accusations cut both ways — Demand Justice is a dark money group just the same as the network of conservative organizations the Democrats’ report decries.

“This shows the height of hypocrisy when at this time the largest outside dark money machine is on the left and these senators appear to be turning a blind eye to that,” Adam Laxalt, the former Republican Attorney General of Nevada, told Fox News. “And Arabella Advisors, founded by Eric Kessler, is at the center of a dark money organization that funds groups across the entire liberal spectrum. It was reported in Politico that just in 2018 this Arabella Advisors dark money web put $140 million into the 2018 cycle, which included funding of the Demand Justice group that spent money and attacked the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh.”

The Politico report Laxalt referenced focuses on donations from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which the report said is closely tied with Arabella Advisors.

Courts Report – FINAL by Fox News on Scribd

On the Republican side, Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo has been at the center of efforts to get judges confirmed under Trump. He has the president’s ear, helped craft the president’s Supreme Court shortlist with former White House Counsel Don McGahn, and according to the Democrats’ report, 86 percent of Trump’s nominees to federal appeals courts have been Federalist Society members.

The report and publicity effort by Senate Democrats on Wednesday suggests they might be looking to use the federal courts as a political rallying cry for their base the same way Republicans did so effectively in 2016 to unite the party behind President Trump and in 2018 to hold on to the Senate majority as Democrats handily took the House.

But Mike Davis, the former chief nominations counsel for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, when he led the Senate Judiciary Committee who now runs the Article III Project, a group aimed at supporting Trump judicial nominees, sees the judiciary as an issue that favors Republicans no matter who is picking the fight.

“In 2016, President @realDonaldTrump won an upset victory over @HillaryClinton, in big part over a judicial fight,” Davis tweeted on Wednesday. “In 2018, @SenateDems lost 4 incumbents (even when the Ds won the House), in big part over a judicial fight. Do Democrats really want another judicial fight in 2020?”

One of the points made in the report about how McConnell is “betraying the vision of our founders” – specifically how “bipartisan cooperation around judicial confirmations was once the prevailing norm” – is how the Senate has recently done away with the practice of “blue slips.” Blue slips are the term for the practice of getting approval of a judge’s home-state senators regardless of party before moving forward with a nomination.

“For over a century, the Senate ‘blue slip’ process ensured that senators had a meaningful chance to provide input on nominations to judicial vacancies in their home states,” the report reads. “This informal veto power over home-state nominees forced compromise and moderation when the president and home-state senators belonged to opposing political parties.”

It added: “Thanks to Mitch McConnell, today all of this bipartisanship and moderation is a thing of the past… Republicans – from their unprecedented stonewalling of Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, to their destruction of the Supreme Court filibuster, to their abandonment of the circuit court blue slip – have spent the last four years engaged in a scorched-earth judicial power grab.”

But again, the accusations Democrats make against Republicans go both ways.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did away with the filibuster for lower-court nominees during the Obama administration, against warnings from McConnell at the time. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, while a senator, advocated against the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee in President George H.W. Bush’s last year. And Senate Democrats have stalled and voted against what are typically routine judicial confirmations at an unprecedented rate during Trump’s time in office.

On the blue slips, Carrie Severino, the president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, blamed Democrats for the practice’s demise.

“Senators [Charles] Grassley, [R-Iowa], and [Lindsey] Graham [R-S.C.], have been absolutely right to proceed with hearings for highly qualified nominees where the White House attempted to consult with home-state senators who have been nothing but obstructionist,” she said.

At this point in his first term, Trump and the Republican Senate have confirmed more than 190 judges to federal Article III courts overall – second only to Jimmy Carter – and 51 judges to the U.S. Courts of Appeals — one more than Carter and 16 more than the next-most successful president, George H.W. Bush.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Senate Dems raise alarm on ‘captured’ federal courts as Trump, Republicans keep judicial confirmations coming

EXCLUSIVE: Following records requests from Fox News about documents related to Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, the University of Delaware refused to provide any documents from its collection of Biden’s senatorial papers, citing a provision in state law that purportedly exempts the school from requests not related to “public funds.”

The university, which stores and owns the records, gave its response late Wednesday ahead of a looming deadline.

On April 29 and 30, Fox News sent three public records requests to the University of Delaware asking for access to any documents in its possession in relation to Reade’s allegations against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Biden, his campaign and other former staffers for Biden have denied the allegation and said it could not have happened in that Senate office’s culture – while also maintaining, in response to inquiries about his senatorial records, that personnel files would not be housed at the university.

One request asked for all documents in the Biden senatorial papers “that are from 1993 and mention a staffer named ‘Tara Reade’ by either her first or last name,” and documents from 1993 that “mention complaints filed against Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., or any of the staffer in his Senate office.” A second asked for “a copy of the gift agreement between the University of Delaware and Joseph R. Biden Jr.,” regarding the senatorial papers and “any other documents that relate to the university’s policy of releasing” the papers “‘no sooner than the later date of December 31, 2019, or two years after the donor retires from public life.'”

Those requests were denied, the university’s Associate Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer Becnel-Guzzo said, because “[t]he documents and correspondence you have requested do not relate to the expenditure of public funds, as defined by FOIA.”

The university appears to be relying on a single ambiguous clause to claim that it is shielded from requests having to do with “activities of the University of Delaware.”

Adam Laxalt, the former Republican attorney general of Nevada and the outside counsel of Americans for Public Trust, a nonprofit government watchdog, cast doubt on the grounds for the university’s denial.

“The Delaware Freedom of Information Act is intended to guarantee access of public information from public entities to the public,” Laxalt said. “It is hard to believe that this narrow exception the university relies on was ever contemplated to shield from the public a collection of papers like the Biden papers.”

The act’s preamble states that it “is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that our citizens shall have the opportunity to observe the performance of public officials and to monitor the decisions that are made by such officials in formulating and executing public policy; and further, it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic.”

Laxalt added: “In areas of ambiguity like we have here, courts understandably tend to be very deferential in guarding the public’s right to public information.”

Fox News sent a separate request asking for “all correspondence involving any members of the University of Delaware’s board of trustees, the university president, or any employees of the university library” relating to Biden’s presidential run or the senatorial papers after March 1. Reade, a former Senate staffer, leveled her sexual assault allegation against Biden later that month.

In her response, Becnel-Guzzo noted that meetings of the University of Delaware’s board of trustees are expressly subject to public records requests under Delaware’s FOIA law. She said, though, that there is no record of Biden’s papers or presidential run being discussed at the meetings.

“The candidacy of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for president and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. senatorial papers were never addressed in a meeting of the full board of trustees,” Becnel-Guzzo’s response read. “Therefore, the university has no public records responsive to your three requests.”

The University of Delaware previously told Fox News that it will not release the senatorial papers without the former vice president’s “express consent.” Reade has called for Biden to agree to the records’ release.

“What I don’t know is whether Delaware law allows a contract between a public university and a private citizen to supersede FOIA,” Laxalt said regarding the gift agreement between Biden and the university.

Reade, who previously had accused Biden of inappropriate contact, now says Biden cornered her and penetrated her with his fingers in 1993. She says she filed a sexual harassment complaint at the time.

Biden has repeatedly said the university would not have a record of any complaint like the one Reade says she filed. He has instead asked Secretary of the Senate Julie E. Adams to search the National Archives for papers that might have been filed with the entity that was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices.

“There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be — the National Archives,” Biden said in a written statement early this month before he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to personally address Reade’s allegation for the first time.

“The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices,” Biden continued. “I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.”

But Adams later got back to Biden, telling him that her hands are tied and there is no way she could confirm whether the complaint exists, even to Biden or Reade herself.

“The Secretary’s Office was advised by Senate Legal Counsel that disclosing the existence of such specific records would amount to a prohibited disclosure under the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991. Furthermore, we are not aware of any exceptions in law authorizing our office to disclose any such records that do exist, if any, even to original participants in a matter,” Adams’ office said.

Beyond its refusal to disclose the Biden papers citing its agreement with the former vice president, the University of Delaware has also said multiple times that because documents have not been digitized, “there is no systematic way to search the archive as has been suggested.” The school has, however, confirmed that it maintains official ownership of the documents after Biden donated them.

The university initially said it expected to make the records “available to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected public office.” In April 2019, just hours before Biden announced his current presidential bid, the university changed its timeline, and said the papers wouldn’t be released until either Dec. 31, 2019, or until two years after Biden “retires from public life,” whichever comes later.

Biden in his “Morning Joe” interview said the senatorial papers contain sensitive details of conversations he had with presidents, foreign leaders and other information that could unfairly be used as “fodder” against his presidential campaign, as he pushed back on any search of those files.

Whether documents under the control of the University of Delaware and the U.S. Senate ever see the light of day, Biden continues to deny that he sexually assaulted Reade.

“No. It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened, and it didn’t. It never happened,” Biden said in the “Morning Joe” interview.

Reade, who was a supporter of Biden’s opponent Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, has had several associates back her story in part, saying she told them about the alleged incident years ago. Additionally, last month a clip from “Larry King Live” in August 1993 resurfaced in which a woman, who Reade claims is her mother, speaks about problems her daughter had with a prominent senator, saying she has a story to tell but opted not to go to the press out of respect for her former boss.

The woman in the call does not mention Biden or sexual assault, though.

Still, numerous reports have emerged raising questions about inconsistencies and other concerns in Reade’s account.

In addition to the denials from himself, his campaign and his former staffers, Biden has also received general support from Democrats as a whole.

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: University of Delaware turns back FOIA requests on Biden records

President Trump’s name will appear on millions of economic stimulus checks sent to Americans as part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by the president last month in an effort to stem the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Sources confirmed to Fox News that Trump’s name will appear on paper checks — in the memo section — though his signature is not expected to be included.

The Washington Post first reported the change Tuesday night. Citing unnamed senior IRS officials, the Post reported that the Treasury Department is ordering the president’s name be printed on the checks in a decision that was made Monday. The Post’s sources indicated that the change on the $1,200 checks could delay the time it takes for the checks to reach Americans, but other Treasury Department officials disputed that was the case.

One official told Fox News that the checks “are scheduled to go out on time and exactly as planned—there is absolutely no delay whatsoever. In fact, we expect the first checks to be in the mail early next week which is well in advance of when the first checks went out in 2008 and well in advance of initial estimates.”

Americans whose banking information the IRS has will not get the Trump-signed checks, and instead will receive a direct deposit that does not include Trump’s name.

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Asked about how many hard checks — featuring Trump’s name — would be going out, a Treasury official told Fox News: “The total number of paper checks is subject to a number of variables, including how much info the IRS obtains through the Non-Filers Enter Payment Info web portal and the Get My Payment portal launching today at “

The Post reports the hard checks will have “President Donald J. Trump” written on the left side of the checks.

It is not standard practice for the name of the president to appear on government checks, and the stimulus checks with Trump’s name on them will still be signed by an official with the Bureau of Fiscal Service, according to the Post.

The decision to have Trump’s name on the checks comes as the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has become highly politicized, with Democrats panning Trump’s often long-winded daily coronavirus briefings and Trump returning fire by criticizing Democratic governors and members of Congress for their responses to the crisis. Trump has also blamed the World Health Organization for contributing to the seriousness of the pandemic by putting “political correctness over lifesaving measures” as it has often repeated China’s claims on the communist nation’s handling of the virus.

Many on the left have criticized Trump for the decision to print his name on the stimulus checks.

“Delaying direct payments to vulnerable families just to print his name on the check is another shameful example of President Trump’s catastrophic failure to treat this crisis with the urgency it demands,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

“If the check you’re waiting for is delayed, you can thank this man,” Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe said in a tweet Wednesday morning. “He cared more about getting his name on the check than about your need for it. He’s worse than contemptible.”

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the name of the package that provides for the stimulus checks, is unlikely to be the last piece of legislation passed to combat the coronavirus, as Trump and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have indicated that they hope to pass potentially two more laws with total expenditures between them of possibly more than $2 trillion. It’s unclear whether those further measures would include more checks for Americans, or even when they might be passed.

Fox Business Network’s Blake Burman contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson, John Roberts

Source: Fox News: Trump’s name to appear on coronavirus stimulus checks sent to Americans

In 2006, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration began purchasing ventilators to allow the city to be prepared for a pandemic like the current coronavirus crisis — only for the city to later auction them off, according to a report.

ProPublica reported Monday that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a report in 2006 on the city’s preparedness for pandemic influenza — similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu or the 2019 novel coronavirus — that projected the city would need thousands of extra ventilators in order to properly treat all of its residents who got sick. The plan was then put into action, with the city initially buying 500 ventilators before it ran out of money to buy more and to maintain the ones it had already stockpiled, according to ProPublica.

Those ventilators were then auctioned off some time before 2016 because the city could not afford to maintain them in working order, partially because the model of ventilator the city had purchased was no longer in production after 2009, the report said.

In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo provided by Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, makeshift hospital rooms stretch out along the floor at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. New York Gov. Cuomo said the state wants to build four more temporary hospitals in New York City within weeks, before coronavirus cases are projected to peak. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)

“We tried to fill in the gap as best we could,” Dr. Issac Weisfuse, the former deputy commissioner of the city’s health department, told ProPublica.

“This was beyond our control but had a direct impact on cost and viability of maintaining a stockpile,” Michael Lanza, the current assistant press secretary for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said according to ProPublica.

The outlet also reported that New York City set out to purchase over one million N95 face masks — the type suggested for use to protect against the coronavirus — in order to distribute them to health professionals. It purchased less than one-quarter of that and the masks all eventually expired.

The city’s shortage of supplies when coronavirus hit — which was similar to many places across the country, including the federal government — has led to a scramble for ventilators and masks by current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are requesting tens of thousands of ventilators for the city and state as a whole. The 2006 report commissioned by the Bloomberg administration appeared to preview such a scenario.

“A conservative-to-moderate estimate assumes that 25 percent of admitted patients requiring ICU care (with 50 percent of those receiving ICU care requiring ventilation)” would cause the city to fall somewhere between about 250 and 1,300 ventilators short of what it would need, according to the 2006 report obtained by ProPublica.

“Using the same assumptions for a projected 1918-like pandemic, produces a projected shortfall of between 2,036 and 9,454 ventilators,” the report continues. “Based upon these numbers alone, it is important to consider augmenting existing ventilator capacity for adults, children, and neonates in NYC.”

De Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

As of Tuesday morning, New York state had 123,160 confirmed coronavirus cases out of 337,933 total in the United States, and New York had recorded at least 5,489 deaths, up from 4,758 on Monday. Approximately 10,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, meaning the U.S. trails only Italy and Spain in official reported deaths.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: New York City stockpiled ventilators for a pandemic, only to later auction them off: report

Minutes after Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled out President Trump’s impeachment trial, which had consumed the Senate for almost three weeks, Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got right back to what he’s said is his top priority — confirming judges.

Less than half-an-hour after TV networks cut away from the Senate to dive into the ramifications of the body acquitting Trump, McConnell filed cloture on the nomination of Judge Andrew Brasher to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a procedural step that moved the controversial nominee one step closer to confirmation. The body took the next step to confirming Brasher Monday by approving the motion with a 46-41 vote, setting the Senate on a course to vote on his nomination Tuesday afternoon.

Progressive groups, which have opposed many Trump nominees, cried foul over the move.

“Last Wednesday, a narrow majority of the Senate voted to cover up the president’s actions. Immediately after the vote to betray our democracy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned right back to nominations,” said Lena Zwarensteyn, the Fair Courts campaign director for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “McConnell is staying the course on shielding the president’s actions from checks and balances and stacking the courts with nominees who have records of hostility to civil and human rights, particularly voting rights.”

Others on a conference call with reporters that was organized by the liberal group included Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and NAACP Alabama State Conference President Bernard Simelton. They said Brasher has a history of fighting against voting rights, gay rights, women’s health care and environmental protection.

“Voting rights are at the very foundation of civil liberties and civil rights in our society, and we should be doing everything possible to protect and defend them,” Coons said. “I’m gravely concerned that Judge Andrew Brasher, if confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit, would only continue the efforts to roll them back. Judge Brasher’s record and lack of candor during his confirmation hearing show that he is unfit for this appellate judgeship in the Eleventh Circuit, and I will be voting no.”

The 38-year-old Brasher would be Trump’s 51st judge confirmed to the appeals courts and 188th overall, according to a Heritage Foundation count. He was confirmed to the Middle District Court of Alabama last year and was previously the Alabama Solicitor General, a job in which he argued before the Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit, the bench Trump and Senate Republicans would like him to join. Also a former white-collar criminal defense lawyer and civil litigator, Brasher received a unanimous “Well-Qualified” rating from the American Bar Association for his nomination to the 11th Circuit.

‘Immediately after the vote to betray our democracy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned right back to nominations.’

— Lena Zwarensteyn, Fair Courts campaign director, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Republicans have been supportive of Brasher’s nomination, which saw a cloture vote split on party lines with no defections either way.

“Andrew Brasher is an outstanding choice to serve as a district judge for the Middle District of Alabama,” Sen. Richard Shelby said when Brasher was confirmed to his district court post in May. “His judicial temperament and vast legal experience make him well-suited to assume this new role.”

Shelby was just as supportive of the judge when Trump nominated him to the 11th Circuit in November.

The Leadership Conference cites several issues, chiefly Brasher’s work to “restrict” voting rights, as reasons why the Senate should oppose the judge’s nomination.

“In 2013, in the infamous Shelby County v. Holder decision, five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act, which had been repeatedly reauthorized by strong bipartisan majorities in Congress,” the organization wrote in a letter. “Mr. Brasher filed an amicus brief asking the Court to do just that. He asserted that ‘Congress violated the Constitution’ when it reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006.”

Shelby County, Ala., was challenging a provision in the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that required certain jurisdictions to prove to the federal government that any election law they implemented was nondiscriminatory, a rule it said was an overreach by Congress. The majority agreed with Brasher in the case that Congress did, in fact, exceed its constitutional authority. But his amicus brief — or “friend of the court” brief — put him at odds with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote in a dissent that the VRA provision was still relevant because Alabama had been found to violate the VRA more often than almost all other states between 1982 and 2005.

Beyond voting rights, critics point to an amicus brief Brasher filed on behalf of Alabama that opposed federally mandated marriage equality in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, arguing that “Sexual relationships between men and women – and only such relationships – have the ability to provide children with both their biological mother and their biological father in a stable family unit.” Brasher would also not explicitly say that Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that mandated public schools be racially integrated, was correctly decided.

The judge said the fact he might one day face a case with Brown v. Board of Education as a precedent meant he should not publicly take a position on it, a stance several Trump judicial nominees have taken in Senate hearings.

Brasher also doesn’t have what’s called a “blue slip,” from Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., the traditional name for approval from a judge’s home-state senators. The Senate typically would not move forward with a nomination without blue slips, but McConnell has done away with that precedent, particularly for nominations to the California-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., staunchly opposing Trump’s picks.

Brasher will be Trump’s sixth appointment to the 11th Circuit, meaning the president will have filled half the court’s bench in his just over three years in office. Trump’s and McConnell’s focus on confirming judges has allowed them to change the balance on the 11th Circuit from a majority of Democrat-appointed judges to a majority of Republican-appointed judges. The same is the case on the 3rd Circuit and the 2nd Circuit.

McConnell boasted about that accomplishment at a dinner for the Federalist Society, a powerful organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers, late last year.

Brasher’s confirmation vote Tuesday afternoon, which is nearly certain to pass, will immediately be followed by a batch of cloture votes on four district court nominees, setting them up to likely be confirmed later this week.

McConnell’s redoubled effort to shepherd one young conservative judge after another into lifetime appointments is sure to please conservatives like Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network.

“As an appellate advocate, Judge Brasher argued three times before the Supreme Court and seventeen times before the Eleventh Circuit,” Severino said in a statement to Fox News. “Yet despite Brasher’s impressive credentials and experience, the left persists in its sad and tiresome smear campaign against President Trump’s outstanding nominees.”

She continued: “I am hopeful the Senate will once again see through the baseless smears, and vote to confirm a great judge.”

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: After impeachment acquittal, Senate advances another Trump court pick over Dem objections

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