Tuesday, May 22, 2018

ICYMI: David Bossie Talks Trump and Citizens United at the 2018 National Policy Conference

At the 2018 RNLA National Policy Conference, Citizens United President David Bossie discussed the landmark campaign finance case Citizens United v. FEC, and how that led to his relationship with President Trump.

Bossie came up with the concept of Citizens United after he saw commercials of the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.  Citizens United ended up filing a complaint with the FEC arguing that the documentary violated section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), as it was produced and marketed by a variety of corporate entities, constituting political advertising and thus could not be aired within the 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before a general election. 

This concept in 2005 led to the Supreme Court decision in 2010 which has since resulted in many victories across the country due to Bossie's efforts.  It was this case that led Bossie to get to know President Trump on a more personal level.  Bossie stated:

"Because I had just won this case as in 2010 as the plaintiff, [Donald Trump] started asking me about politics.  So over the years, I kind of became one of the guys he called.  I introduced him to...Don McGahn, one of my longtime friends."
In 2016, Bossie worked as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Donald J. Trump for President alongside Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.  Bossie described in-depth his time on the campaign trail through election night and described how writing Let Trump Be Trump with Lewandowski about this experience was "natural" and "cathartic."

Bossie credited President Trump and the incredible accomplishments he has made from the economy to foreign relations during his tenure in office.  In regard to the upcoming midterm election Bossie stated:

"We have to tell the story of the good news of our accomplishments over the first year and a half.  It's an incredible list of accomplishments.  All of them good - for all Americans- not just conservatives or Republicans...
"If we do that, we're going to bring about real change because we will keep the House and add in the Senate."
To view Bossie's speech in its entirety, click here.  RNLA members may purchase a signed copy of his book Let Trump Be Trump, by signing into the Members Only section of RNLA.org after clicking here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Supreme Court Vacancy Watch

Washington is abuzz with rumors of a possible upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. Many are trying to watch for clues and predict whether a vacancy is impending over the next several weeks. Traditionally, many judges and justices opt to retire at the end of a court's term, which for the U.S. Supreme Court occurs in last week of June.

This morning, The Hill published a story: "Kennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive."

All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who reportedly considered calling it quits last spring. As the court’s current term winds to a close, speculation about his plans has again swept the capital, with court watchers searching for clues.
Those who say Kennedy is here to stay — at least for now — point to the fact that he’s already hired his law clerks for the next term, as Above the Law reported...“I don’t think he would have hired all four clerks for next year if he was seriously entertaining stepping down,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. “I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”
But Ian Samuel, a Climenko fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, who clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said the small number of cases the court has granted could signal Kennedy is throwing in the towel. The court has only agreed to hear 15 cases so far next term....“One possibility is they are not granting cases because they don’t know who their ninth member is going to be. … You could imagine Kennedy telling the chief, ‘I’d like to keep this between us, but I’d like to retire,’ and the chief saying, ‘Let’s see who Kennedy’s replacement is before we grant all these cases,’” Samuel said. . . 
Of course, this is like reading tea leaves.

But regardless of this, it is important to note that if another vacancy should occur during President Trump's term, President Trump and his Administration are ready. The President already has put out a revised list of twenty-five potential Supreme Court nominees, based upon the list he unveiled on the campaign trail in 2016.

While this version of the list was put out on November 17, 2017, it has been maintained and updated since then (i.e., Judge Stras was just confirmed by the Senate to the Eighth Circuit on January 30th, yet is up-to-date with current position below).

President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court List:

  • Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida
  • Steven Colloton of Iowa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Raymond Gruender of Missouri, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Mike Lee of Utah, United States Senator
  • Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah
  • Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa
  • Federico Moreno of Florida, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • Kevin Newsom of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • William Pryor of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • David Stras of Minnesota, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Amul Thapar of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (Ret.)
  • Don Willett of Texas, Supreme Court of Texas [recently confirmed to the Fifth Circuit]
  • Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma
It is noteworthy that several on this list have recently had nominations and confirmation hearings before this Senate (within the last 18 months), including: Coney Barrett, Eid, Larsen, NewsomStras, and Thapar.

We will keep an eye on what could become the political battle of the year. Should this occur, the RNLA will be one of the leading sources for all things Supreme Court and judicial nominations.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Did the Obama Administration Spy on Its Political Adversaries?

The Washington, DC liberal political elite is spinning madly over the fact that it appears that the Obama Administration and FBI spied on the Trump campaign. If true, this is extremely troubling and possibly the worst example of the politicization of the FBI by the last administration. As Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, stated:
Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told "Fox & Friends" that the committee has not seen any "credible evidence or intelligence" explaining why the FBI opened its investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. . . . "What we’re trying to do is get the documents to figure out what methods were used to open this counterintelligence investigation," Nunes said, suggesting that it could reflect badly on the DOJ and FBI once all the information comes to light.
“I believe they never should have opened a counterintelligence investigation into a political party," Nunes said. "Counterintelligence investigations very rarely happen. And when they do happen, you have to be very careful because you‘re using the tools of our intelligence services and relationships with other countries in order to spy on a political campaign. Probably not a good idea."
As Andrew McCarthy explains, if true, this would be a clear abuse of power:
That is, there was no criminal predicate to justify an investigation of any Trump-campaign official. So, the FBI did not open a criminal investigation. Instead, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation and hoped that evidence of crimes committed by Trump officials would emerge. But it is an abuse of power to use counterintelligence powers, including spying and electronic surveillance, to conduct what is actually a criminal investigation.
It is important to note that the counter intelligence effort against the Trump presidential campaign is very different from the criminal investigation into the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign:
The Clinton case was a criminal investigation that was predicated on a mountain of incriminating evidence.  . . . The scandal here is that Mrs. Clinton was not charged. She likes to blame Comey for her defeat; but she had a chance to win only because the Obama Justice Department and the FBI tanked the case against her — in exactly the manner President Obama encouraged them to do in public commentary.
The real story is, as McCarthy concludes:
The scandal is that the FBI, lacking the incriminating evidence needed to justify opening a criminal investigation of the Trump campaign, decided to open a counterintelligence investigation. With the blessing of the Obama White House, they took the powers that enable our government to spy on foreign adversaries and used them to spy on Americans — Americans who just happened to be their political adversaries.
This should scare all Americans and goes to the heart of our Democracy.  Rep. Nunes will address the RNLA on this and other topics on June 12 in Washington, DC. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Senate Democrats Again Attack Judicial Nominees for Not Sharing Personal Views

Perhaps realizing that their ahistorical and inaccurate laments over the death of the blue slip tradition last week were ineffective, during today's Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Democrats returned to attacking President Trump's judicial nominees' qualifications.  Today is the 64th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, so the Democrats chose that as their preferred mode of attack.

Texas Senator and Majority Whip John Cornyn identified the root of their weak arguments - justification for their blind opposition to all of President Trump's nominees (beginning at 50:00):
I agree with Senator Kennedy that many of the nominees have become overly cautious and unwilling to discuss substantive legal arguments that would be entirely appropriate to ask about.  But I understand why they've become so cautious.  Because a comment made in a political campaign like Mr. Truncale or by Wendy Vitter as sort of a throwaway line when she recognized the binding nature of the Brown decision -- all these are used as excuses and fodder to oppose, uniformly almost, the President's nominees.  And so, perhaps they have become overly cautious and unwilling to have a fulsome discussion.  If in fact this were what I would call [an] unbiased forum for discussion of these issues, I think you would find a different sort of outcome.   
But the idea that the witnesses somehow don't recognize the binding nature of Brown v. Board of Education is ludicrous.  It's a phony, made-up issue.  Everybody recognizes that Brown v. Board of Education as being binding precedent of the United States Supreme Court.  So the idea that somehow these witnesses are unwilling to commit to it or agree to it because of their concern about their ethical  obligations and to suggest that that implies that somehow they would not apply it as the binding precedent of the United States Supreme Court is a ruse.  It's a made-up issue.   
So, Mr. Oldham is too young to be confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals to the Fifth Circuit.  He's 39 years old.  And I guess I don't know what age limit our Democratic colleagues would consider people eligible for the Court of Appeals.  It sounds like some form of age discrimination to me, to say arbitrarily if you're 39 years old, you're too young.  Notwithstanding his incredible academic and legal background, which is really impressive.  And then the suggestion that Mr. Oldham is somehow disqualified because he has represented, zealously represented, his client in court and to somehow say that because he's an advocate, he must therefore share those views personally, when he said his personal views will not dictate his legal judgment -- those are two separate things -- I think again is really pretext for uniformly opposing this President's nominees. 
We know that almost all of these are going to voted on on party line, and I guess there has to be some reason to object to these nominees.  But the idea that somebody is too young, or disqualified because they represented a client in court and those views may be unpopular with our Democratic colleagues, or that somehow personal views are more important than your fidelity to the law, when in fact I think uniformly the nominees have said they would not impose their personal views but would enforce the law: this makes no sense to me.
Tom Jipping, who has newly joined the Heritage Foundation and National Review's Bench Memos after being Senator Orrin Hatch's nominations counsel for many years, reminded us in his first Bench Memos post that our entire system of the rule of law relies on judges interpreting the law without imposing their personal views:
Today, in the Judiciary Committee’s business meeting, Chairman Charles Grassley addressed efforts to force judicial nominees to express personal views on issues or cases in their confirmation hearings. . . . Grassley was correct to oppose this approach. The push for nominees to express personal views undermines not only the impartiality on which the legitimacy of our judicial system depends, but the confidence of our fellow citizens in that system. . . .
America’s Founders established a system of government designed to maximize ordered liberty by limiting government. . . . And the judiciary, as part of that system, is also designed to work in a particular way. Federal judges interpret and apply the law, such as statutes and the Constitution, as it is and applying it to decide individual cases. They must do both tasks, interpretation and application, impartially by eliminating their personal views as much as possible.
Thanks to Chairman Grassley, Senator Cornyn, and many other Republican senators on the committee who strongly defended the nominees against the Democrats "phony, made-up" objections (see Utah Senator Mike Lee's statement beginning at 1:05:28). 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Trump Judges: By the Numbers

Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, President Trump's well qualified judicial nominees are slowly, but surely, getting confirmed despite obstructionist Senate Democrats. In this post, we wanted to provide a brief recap of the current judicial landscape.

According to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, as of today (May 16, 2018):
  • There are 147 federal judicial vacancies out of 890 authorized federal judgeships.
  • These vacancies include 15 circuit court vacancies and 124 district court vacancies.
  • Of them, 72, or nearly half, are deemed "judicial emergencies."

So far, during the Trump Administration: 

In the Senate, currently:
  • Per Ed Whelan in National Review: 1 circuit judicial nominee is pending on the Senate floor, 2 nominees are waiting to be reported out of committee, and 7 are awaiting a confirmation hearing.
  • As for district court nominees: 32 nominees are pending on the Senate floor and 40 nominees are pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats' obstruction tactics have slowed the process:
  • On average, it has taken 84 days to confirm a Trump nominee (both judicial and executive positions); which is longer than it did under Obama, G.W. Bush, Clinton, or G.H.W. Bush, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
  • Senate Democrats are using Senate procedures to delay confirmation votes, routinely forcing cloture votes and 30-hour post-cloture debate time. At this rate, it would take President Trump more than 9 years to confirm all his nominees.

The RNLA will continue to regularly highlight and keep our members posted on developments in the Senate related to judicial nominations and confirmations.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Another Court Criminalizes Political Activity -- Will It Be Applied Equally?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled, in United States v. Benton (8th Cir. May 11, 2018) that three officials from Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign committed criminal acts by (1) paying an Iowa State Senator for various services, including his endorsement, through a sub-contract with a video production vendor and (2) reporting the purpose of the expenditure as "audio/visual services."

The State Senator indeed provided "audio/visual services" to the Paul campaign by recording telephone messages and appearing on television for the Paul campaign.  He also traveled for the campaign and encouraged support for the campaign.  But federal prosecutors claimed the main purpose of the payment was the State Senator's "endorsement," which was not reported as the purpose of the payment.

All three of the Republican political operatives were convicted and punished.  One had his house raided and went to prison.    

The ruling has serious implications for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  News media have reported that the Clinton campaign and DNC funneled money to the Perkins Coie law firm, which in turn sub-contracted with an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, which in turn sub-contracted with a foreign operative, Christopher Steele, to perform opposition research about Donald Trump.  The foreign operative reached out to Russians with Kremlin connections for information that might harm Donald Trump's candidacy.  The Clinton campaign reported the purpose of its payments to Perkins Coie as "legal services."  One liberal group has filed a complaint with the FEC over the activity. 

RNLA member Prof. Brad Smith noted that this decision could impact Perkins Coie:
“If I'm Perkins Coie, right now I'm a bit nervous about the reporting of payments to Fusion GPS,” said Brad Smith, a former FEC chairman and current chairman of the Institute for Free Speech.
Republicans do not support the criminalization of politics.  But Republicans do respect the rule of law and equal justice.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

America’s “Worst“ Election Official is Finally Starting to Pay for Her Fraud and/or Incompetence

Broward County Election Official Brenda Snipes is finally starting to face the music for her years of admitted vote fraud and incompetence.  Ironically, it was for her efforts regarding a Democrat Primary for then DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman that she is beginning to face the music:
Broward Circuit Judge Raag Singhal issued an order Friday determining that Supervisor Brenda Snipes' office improperly discarded thousands of ballots cast two years ago in the Democratic primary race between Tim Canova and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In a ruling first reported by Politico, Singhal sided with Canova, who filed a lawsuit last year after he said Snipes ignored and then illegally obstructed his request to copy and inspect ballots.
Snipes was not only slapped down by a judge in a summary judgment, because of her fighting even after she admitted she broke the law, but the plaintiff will now receive attorneys’ fees.  

Snipes action in this case may or may not have helped the former Hillary-backing DNC Chair survive a strong challenge from a Sanders-supported challenger. 

What can be said is no one should trust Snipes to run an election.  In the 2016 general election alone Snipes had the following problems:
  • She admitted that “non-citizens and felons have voted despite not being eligible — especially right before major elections when groups are actively registering new voters.
  • She alleged “engaged in ongoing violations of Florida law governing the canvassing of vote-by-mail ballots [absentee ballots]. [T]ens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots in Broward County are being opened by your staff: (1) before they have been canvassed by the county canvassing board; and (2) without providing the public the opportunity to review or file a protest against the canvass of a ballot believed to be legally deficient.”
Under Snipes, voters are being disenfranchised by non-citizen and felons on the one hand.  On the other hand, she is destroying ballots and making it more difficult to review her actions.

Florida’s Secretary of State is sending an election expert to ensure all laws are followed.  It is about time; for who knows how many Ms. Snipes has disenfranchised through fraud or incompetence.