ActBlue Clears $1 Billion Fundraising Mark In Runup to Midterms

money

The liberal sleeping giant has woken, according to fundraising figures for online fundraising platform ActBlue that the organization shared with USA Today.  This week, ActBlue blew past the $1 billion barrier in contributions for this cycle that it collects on behalf of Democratic candidates and organizations, with three months to go before Election Day.

To put that figure into perspective, it took ActBlue almost 12 years to raise its first $1 billion. ActBlue matched that feat in 19 months since the beginning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency in January of 2017. The average donation for this cycle has been $34.  The group expects donations to exceed $1.5 billion by the end of the year, which was twice the amount the organization raised during the 2016 election cycle.

“Small-dollar donors are funding the resistance,” ActBlue executive director Erin Hill told USA Today. “People initially said: ‘This can’t be sustained,’ but it very much is.”

Michigan Supreme Court Approves Redistricting Ballot Measure

Michigan voters will determine whether or not to create an independent redistricting commission this November, after a 4-3 state supreme court ruling allowed the measure to appear on the ballot.  The majority ruling, by Democrat-nominated justices Richard Bernstein and Bridget McCormack joined by Republican-nominated justices David Viviano and Elizabeth Clement, allowed the measure under the condition that “if it proposes changes that do not significantly alter or abolish the form or structure of the government in a manner equivalent to creating a new constitution.”

According to MLive, “The court’s majority decision concurred with a unanimous decision from the state Court of Appeals, which compelled the Michigan Board of State Canvassers to place the Voters not Politicians measure on the ballot after determining the initiative passed constitutional muster.”

If approved, Proposal 2 would amend Michigan’s constitution to create a 13-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of five independents, four Republicans and four Democrats, with conditions on who can serve on the commission in order to separate it from the political process.  The commission would be in place in time for the next redistricting following the 2020 census.

The anti-gerrymandering proposal was created by Voters Not Politicians, a statewide organization that collected more than 427,000 signatures from Michigan voters. Redistricting has been controlled by Republicans since the last census in 2011. The proposal had been opposed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Republican Party, and Attorney General and likely Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette.

“The court’s decision upholds our right as citizens to petition our government for positive change,” VNP founder and executive director Katie Fahey said in a statement. “Michigan voters are ready for a transparent redistricting process, where election district lines represent the people – not special interests. It’s time voters choose their politicians, not the other way around.”

National Democratic Redistricting Committee chairman Eric Holder tweeted, “This is a big win. Citizens will choose their representatives, politicians will not pick their voters – if the ballot measure is passed.”

There may be some political fallout for Justice Clement, who is on the ballot for re-election this year and could lose funding or support from the state’s Republican Party, according to the Detroit Free Press.  According to the paper, Clement – who had previously served as Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief legal counsel – had no prior judicial experience or judicial record prior to her appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Indiana Attorney General Accused of Inappropriately Touching Women

Curtis Hill, the top law enforcement officer in the state of Indiana, was accused of touching four different women inappropriately at a party at the end of the recent legislative session, according to a report first obtained by the Indianapolis Star. The allegations were recounted in a confidential eight-page memo dated June 18, prepared by the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister on behalf of state legislative leaders.

The alleged incidents happened during the early hours of March 15, at a party at a bar near downtown Indianapolis. The women accusing Hill include a lawmaker and three legislative employees.  Republican leaders in the state assembly announced they were launching an investigation into the leak of the report.

“No one should be subjected to unwanted sexual advances. I commend House and Senate leaders for their immediate and formal follow up to the allegations presented to them,” Governor Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.) said in a statement. He declined further comment until after he had “reviewed the facts in detail.” Indiana Republican Party chairman Kyle Hupfer praised the way the state legislature handled the investigation in a statement and added, “As the Republican Party, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and that’s the standard to which we all should adhere. Actions like these alleged have no place in public life or anywhere else.”

Two state Democratic leaders, Senator Tim Lanane and Indiana Democratic Party chairman John Zody, have called for Hill’s resignation.

Hill, a Republican, denied the allegations.  He is not up for re-election until 2020.

UPDATE: Statement from Washington DC AG Karl Racine and Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, co-chairs of the Democratic Attorneys General Association:

“The Democratic Attorneys General Association abhors any and all forms of unwanted physical contact, period. We commend these strong women for standing up. State Attorneys General are the chief law officers of our states, and as such we have a solemn duty to demonstrate the highest standards of behavior and accountability. We trust this commitment is shared by all our colleagues, no matter their party affiliation. We encourage a continued, thorough, and transparent investigation into the Indiana Attorney General’s conduct.”

Attorneys General Sue Trump Administration Over Family Separation Policy

A coalition of eighteen attorneys general spearheaded by Bob Ferguson of Washington filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s family separation policy.  The lawsuit calls the policy “an affront to States’ sovereign interests in enforcing their laws governing minimum standards of care for children, declaring the family unit to be a fundamental resource of American life that should be nurtured, and requiring the preservation of the parent-child relationship unless the child’s right to basic nurture, health, or safety is jeopardized. The Policy also adversely affects the States’ proprietary interests, forcing States to expend resources to remediate the harms inflicted by the Policy, some of which are likely to be permanent.”

The lawsuit accuses the administration of violations of the Fifth Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, and asylum laws.  Ferguson was one of the attorneys general who successfully challenged early iterations of the administration’s travel ban policy, a newer version of which was upheld 5-4 by the Supreme Court today. The lawsuit was filed this afternoon in the Western District of Washington.

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban

By a 5-4 split on ideological lines, the high court ruled in favor of the administration. Read the opinion here.

Update: Read the analysis from SCOTUSblog here.

Update II:

Update III:

Update IV:
Statement from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood:

“​President Trump’s travel bans are a stain on American history that were rooted in deep anti-Muslim animus and unleashed chaos on families, businesses, institutions, and communities throughout New York. Despite today’s ruling, New York will continue to serve as a beacon to the world, welcoming people of all faiths, races, nationalities, and backgrounds.

I’m proud of our work to successfully beat back President Trump’s first two discriminatory bans. My office won’t hesitate to act to protect New York’s families and ensure that we live up to the values on which this state and this nation were built.”​

Update V:
Statement from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez:

“Discrimination is not a national security strategy, and prejudice is not patriotism. Let’s call this ban for what it is: an outright attack on the Muslim community that violates our nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all. But this ban does more than just violate our values – it also makes us less safe and threatens our place as a beacon of freedom for the world.

“Of course, this is part of a larger assault by President Trump and congressional Republicans on our nation’s values of inclusion and opportunity for all people — no matter who they are, where they come from, who they love, or how they pray. From the Muslim ban to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, Donald Trump has made tearing families apart a hallmark of his administration and the Republican Party.

“As a nation, our diversity is our greatest strength. We cannot allow this administration’s prejudice to shut the doors of progress. And Democrats will continue to fight back every step of the way.”

Update VI:

Update VII:
Statement from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra:

“The Supreme Court got this one wrong. One day, this nation and Court will look back and regret this ruling that legalized discrimination. We will continue to fight actions that unlawfully target people based on their background or faith.”

Update VIII:
Statement from Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today the arc of justice just got longer. The Supreme Court ruling marks this as another painful day in our country’s history. The Court’s decision ignores and empowers this administration’s bigotry and serves as a tacit approval of religious and ethnic discrimination that runs counter to the inclusionary principles that our country aspires to. President Trump’s Muslim ban has already caused immeasurable suffering to families and communities and is part of the administration’s overall strategy of attacking and separating immigrant and refugee families.

“The Supreme Court has been wrong before. Today, the Roberts Court joins the shameful legacy left by Court majorities that sanctioned the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans (Korematsu) and the perpetuation of slavery in the U.S. (Dred Scott).

“The fights for religious freedom and justice for all immigrant families do not end here. The right to live in peace and be treated with dignity and justice no matter one’s race, ethnicity, or religion is too important to let one person, one president destroy. In November, we must elect a Congress that will hold this administration accountable. We continue to stand proudly with our plaintiffs, refugees, and the American Muslim community and will fight in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, at the ballot box, and alongside our communities until there is no Muslim ban ever.”

Democratic Attorneys General Will Sue Trump Administration Over Family Separation Policy

A coalition of ten state attorneys general has announced it will sue the Trump administration over its family separation policy. The planned lawsuit, which will be led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, will be filed in the Western District of Washington.

“This is a rogue, cruel, and unconstitutional policy,” Ferguson said in a statement. “We’re going to put a stop to it.” The other states involved are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. More states are expected to join the case after the lawsuit is filed.

According to the statement from Ferguson’s office, the lawsuit will allege that the Trump administration violated constitutional due process rights of the parents and children for separating them without a finding that the parent poses a threat to children.  The suit will also allege the policy violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, because it only targets people crossing from the southern border, not from anywhere else. The plaintiffs will also argue that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act because “it is arbitrary and capricious,” and noted that the administration has been violating U.S. asylum laws by turning people away at ports of entry.”

Ferguson and other attorneys general have been successful in other legal challenges to Trump administration policies, including litigation about the administration’s travel ban that was put into place at the beginning of President Trump’s term. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in Trump v. Hawaii before the end of its current term.

Democratic National Committee Election Day Rules

ATLANTA — Democratic Party officials explained to reporters on background the rules for how today’s election will go down:

  • Fifty percent + 1 votes are required to win.
  • If all 447 voting members were present, 224 votes would be required to win. However, party officials said not all members were present, and potentially as many as 70 proxies would be voting on behalf of absent members.
  • Proxies can receive very specific instructions from the people they are representing in terms of who to vote for, or they can have the freedom to vote for whom they please.
  • The total amount of votes cast today will not exceed 442.
  • All candidates will appear on the ballot in the first round of voting, as well as the second round if none of the candidates drop out.
  • If there is a third round of voting, the candidate with fewest votes at the end of the second round is eliminated and will not appear on the ballot in the next round. If there is a tie for candidates with fewest votes, they are both eliminated.
  • After each round of voting after the third round, the candidate with the fewest ballot is eliminated.
  • If a candidate drops out, he or she gets two minutes to address the entire general session. During the address he or she can say whatever they want, or endorse another candidate.
  • The votes will be counted by an electronic clicker, along with a paper ballot that each candidate must fill out and submit. The ballot acts as a paper trail in the event the vote must be audited.
  • Members have a two-minute window to pick their candidates on the clicker in each round of voting. They can change votes in that two-minute window, but once time is up, the vote is set.