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The U.S. Supreme Court will be examining two cases having to do with voting rights, and both of them are from southern states: Moore v. Harper from North Carolina, and Merrill v. Milligan from Alabama. The High Court will begin hearing Merrill v. Milligan on October 4, and both cases, according to Politico’s Zach Montellaro, “could reshape the 2024 election.”
“One lawsuit out of North Carolina could have broad ramifications, with Republicans asking the Supreme Court to revoke the ability of state courts to review election laws under their states’ constitutions,” Montellaro explains in an article published on September 29. “The reading of the Constitution’s Elections Clause that underpins the case — called the ‘independent state legislature’ theory — has gotten buy-in from much of the conservative legal world, and four Supreme Court justices have signaled at least some favorability toward it.”
Montellaro continues, “The decision in the case could upend American elections. And another case out of Alabama that will be heard on Tuesday, (October 4) involves a challenge to the state’s congressional map — and whether Black voters’ power was illegally diluted. The result could kick back open congressional redistricting in several states two years after the entire nation went through a redraw.”
The most severe form of the “independent state legislature” theory argues that state legislatures alone should determine how elections are run in a state — not judges, not governors, not state supreme courts.
“Practically, the results of the cases could open the door to even more gerrymandering by legislators around the country,” Montellaro notes, “and they could also give legislatures even more power within their states to determine rules for voting — including how, when and where voters could cast their ballots…. In both cases, Republican litigants are looking to reverse lower court orders — a federal court in Alabama and the state Supreme Court in North Carolina — that threw out political maps drawn by GOP-controlled legislatures.”
Rick Hasen, a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) law professor known for his election law expertise, told Politico, “This term has the potential to be a blockbuster term in terms of election law, but it really depends on how far the Court is willing to go.”
Eric Holder, who served as U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama and now chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, believes that both cases have huge implications for the wellbeing of U.S. democracy.
Holder told Politico, “You cannot look at these cases objectively, without acknowledging the fact that taken together, they could determine whether or not the United States remains as the democracy that we have come to love. I think, unfortunately, we take for granted a democracy that fulfills the promise of one person, one vote.”
A company that organized Donald Trump's post-White House paid speeches is having financial trouble, The Washington Post reports.
The American Freedom Tour's is having trouble paying vendors, investors and employees. Sources speaking to The Post say the company has lost two top executives and has canceled events in a number of locations. It's reportedly set to host a large event at Mar-a-Lago in December in an attempt to turn its financial situation around.
"It’s not clear what that means for the tour’s advertised upcoming black-tie gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $10,000 a couple to spend time with Trump," The Post's report states. "The event includes a poolside reception and a formal ballroom dinner. Dinner and a photo with Trump costs $40,000, and a private library meeting with Trump is so pricey that it’s only listed as: 'INQUIRE BELOW.' The company declined to say how much Trump is being paid for the event."
The company’s CEO, Brian J. Forte has filed more bankruptcy more than once in the past, and filed for bankruptcy again in the wake of his company's financial issues.
"The tour has had a slate of problems, including angry investors, speakers and vendors who have not been paid, according to people familiar with the situation, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal details," The Post reports. "Trump joined the group with little vetting, advisers say, and some of his team was not aware of Forte’s business history when told by The Post."
The financial problems at the company caused it to engage in practices that upset some employees -- such as the time it canceled an event in Milwaukee but continued to sell tickets online. Sources tell The Post that the company continued to sell tickets for events that weren't likely to happen.
Read the full report over at The Washington Post.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been a popular figure in the Republican Party and the MAGA movement, receiving enthusiastic applause at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) events. Some of Noem’s supporters would like to see her seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, depending on whether or not former President Donald Trump runs. But Noem isn’t without controversy in her state, where she is, according to the Associated Press, under investigation for allegedly using a state-owned plane for personal uses.
On September 24, AP’s Stephen Groves reported that Noem had “blurred the lines between official travel and attending either family or political events.”
“South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was returning from an official appearance in Rapid City in 2019 when she faced a decision: Overnight in the capital of Pierre, where another trip would start the next day, or head home and see her son attend his high school prom?” Groves reported. “The Republican governor chose the latter, a decision that eventually cost taxpayers some $3700 when the state airplane dropped her off near her home and then returned the next day to pick her up.”
In South Dakota, according to Groves, Noem’s trips have “sparked a complaint to the state ethics board, which has referred the matter to the state's Division of Criminal Investigation.”
“A county prosecutor overseeing the investigation will decide whether the governor broke an untested law enacted by voters in 2006 to rein in questionable use of the state airplane,” Groves explained. “The governor has also faced action by the same ethics board for intervening in a state agency shortly after it moved to deny her daughter a real estate appraiser's license.”
Groves added, “As Noem’s political star rose in 2020, she began using private jets to fly to fundraisers, campaign events and conservative gatherings. As Noem’s political star rose in 2020, she began using private jets to fly to fundraisers, campaign events and conservative gatherings.”
According to Columbia University law professor Richard Briffault, using a state-owned plane to meet with political groups is “pushing the limit.”
Groves noted, “Across the country, Democratic and Republican governors alike have come under scrutiny for their use of state aircraft. New York, Kentucky, Minnesota and Montana allow governors to do some politicking with state-owned aircraft but place some restrictions and require reimbursements for political use. New York also allows immediate family members to travel with the governor.”