Todd Ruger

John Bush Nomination Exposes Partisan Divide
Kentucky jurist’s anonymous blog posts brings up questions of temperament

The nomination of John Bush to be a federal appellate court judge underscores how swiftly Senate Republicans can help President Donald Trump reshape the nation’s courts in a conservative direction.

Bush, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday on a 51-48 vote. Democrats now have an opportunity to air their concerns on the floor ahead of a final confirmation vote later this week.

Trump Controls Key Funding Move in Health Care Fight
President could stop cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers

If President Donald Trump wants to “let Obamacare fail” as he says, there’s a ready way for him to give it a push.

So far, the Trump administration and House Republicans have agreed to keep frozen a case in a Washington appeals court over appropriations as part of a push to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. The case is left over from when House Republicans sued the Obama administration in 2014.

Judge Narrows Trump's Travel Ban Enforcement

The Trump administration can’t stop grandparents and other relatives of someone in the United States from entering the country under its enforcement of the revised travel ban, a federal judge in Hawaii ruled late Thursday.

The ruling is a legal setback for President Donald Trump’s temporary ban against travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, and could prompt the government to take the issue back to the Supreme Court during the justices’ summer recess.

Wray Pledges Impartiality as FBI Director
‘I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts‘

Updated 2:09 p.m. | Amid a deepening federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s contact with Russian operatives, Christopher Wray assured senators Wednesday he would remain independent as FBI director and adhere to the rule of law “no matter the test.”

“If I am given the honor of leading this agency, I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearing. “Period. Full stop.”

Senators to Grill FBI Pick Wray on Independence, Terrorism
‘I say this without hesitation — Chris simply does not make mistakes’

Christopher Wray won’t be able to escape questions about President Donald Trump at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to be the next FBI director, but he’ll draw on his reputation and experience to make his case.

Wray’s nomination comes at a tumultuous time for the bureau and the presidency. Trump abruptly fired FBI director James B. Comey in May amid the bureau’s probe into connections between the president’s campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 election.

Trump’s FBI Pick Once Praised Comey’s Integrity
Confirmation hearing for Christopher Wray set for July 12

President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next FBI director previously voiced support for two high-ranking Justice Department officials that Trump has since fired: FBI Director James B. Comey and acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Christopher Wray, whose confirmation hearing is set for July 12, was one of 10 former DOJ officials who submitted a letter to the Senate in 2013 that supported Comey’s nomination to lead the FBI, citing his judgment in the face of difficult decisions as well as his “integrity and independence.”

Justice Nominee’s Dodge Sparks Debate on Personal Views
‘I don’t think that my personal views are relevant.’ Feinstein: ‘I think they’re very relevant.’

Next Supreme Court Term Stacked With Major Cases
Immigration, religion, redistricting on high court’s agenda

The Supreme Court ended its current term this week without deciding the kinds of blockbuster issues that usually draw demonstrators to its plaza at the end of June, but the justices have seeded their next term with high-profile cases.

The addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch in April brought the court back to full strength for the first time in more than a year, and the justices are poised to jump into more contentious and headline-grabbing cases starting in October.

Supreme Court Lets Trump Go Ahead With Most of Travel Ban
President: ‘A clear victory for our national security’

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to implement much of its revised travel ban, but also agreed to review the legality of the controversial executive order in October.

The justices lifted injunctions from two federal appeals courts that had blocked the order, which seeks to stop foreign travelers from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and suspend all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. The rulings had stymied one of President Donald Trump’s major policy initiatives in his first months in office — moves that he argued are key for national security.

Court Allows Some of Travel Ban, Will Decide Legality Later
The court also announced decisions on immigration detention, gun rights, same-sex marriage, separation of church and state

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to implement much of its revised travel ban, but also agreed to review the legality of the controversial executive order in October.

The justices lifted injunctions from two federal appeals courts that had blocked the order, which seeks to stop foreign travelers from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and suspends all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. The rulings had stymied one of President Donald Trump’s major policy initiatives in his first months in office — moves that he argued are key for national security.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Partisan Redistricting
Wisconsin case challenges politically motivated gerrymandering

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear arguments in a Wisconsin case about partisan redistricting and gerrymandering, taking on a longstanding question that could change the way states draw congressional and legislative districts.

The justices have never fully answered when partisan gerrymanders — or maps that benefit one political party to the detriment of another — could be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in on the issue in more than a decade and could be sharply divided.

Grassley to Justice Department: No Answers, No Nominee
Judiciary chairman wants responses to at least 15 letters first

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is tired of his requests to the Justice Department going unanswered — and he’s fighting back yet again.

The Iowa Republican announced Thursday that the committee won’t advance the nomination of Stephen Boyd to be assistant attorney general for legislative affairs until he gets responses to at least 15 letters, some due more than six months ago.

Appeals Court Upholds Block on Trump’s Travel Ban
Administration seeks to bar foreign travelers from 6 Muslim-majority nations

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld Monday a nationwide block on the Trump administration’s revised travel ban, a decision that adds to the executive order’s legal setbacks as the Supreme Court considers a similar ruling from another federal appeals court.

Supreme Court to Hear Cellphone Privacy Case
Trump administration urged court not to take up case

The case centers on the increasingly detailed information that companies keep on texts and calls to and from a cellphone, as well as the relatively precise location that can be gleaned from that information.

The question is whether cellphone users can expect that data to remain private and subject to the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Trump Takes Travel Ban Fight to Supreme Court
The DOJ asked the justices to consider its application faster than usual

The Trump administration turned to the Supreme Court late Thursday in its effort to implement its revised travel ban, asking the justices to quickly reverse an appeals court ruling that is “wrong” to conclude the national security policy move was likely unconstitutional in how it treats Muslims.

The Justice Department requested that the justices consider the Trump administration's application faster than is typical — before the Supreme Court takes a three-month summer recess starting at the end of June. Five of the nine justices would have to vote to grant the request and lift the stay immediately, which would be without oral arguments and out of the view of the public.

Special Counsel in Russia Probe Gets Separate Funding Path
Cost of Mueller’s work not a part of the regular appropriations process

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller started as special counsel to oversee the bureau’s investigation of alleged Russian efforts to impact the 2016 presidential election, but the cost of his work won’t be part of the regular appropriations process.

The funds for Mueller and his team come from a Treasury Department account for permanent, indefinite appropriations, said Lee Lofthus, the assistant attorney general for administration and a budget expert at the Justice Department.

Supreme Court Rejects Two Black-Majority N.C. Districts
High court upholds lower court ruling on improper use of race in redistricting

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina unconstitutionally used race to draw two congressional districts with substantial increases of black voters, in a voting rights case that could influence how states can consider race when redistricting.

The justices found that a lower court correctly decided that state lawmakers used race as the predominant factor in significantly altering the 1st and 12th congressional districts, held by Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams, respectively, both African-Americans.

Robert Mueller Tapped as Special Counsel for Russia Probe
Deputy AG taps former FBI director to lead investigation

The Justice Department on Wednesday evening appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel for the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, the agency announced along with the order signed by Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein.

Judges Again Wrestle With Trump’s Words on Travel Ban
Intent, statements and authority are the ‘nub’ of the case

Another federal appeals court considered Monday whether to let the Trump administration implement its revised travel ban, grappling with the president’s comments about his reasons for the executive order and whether courts should second-guess him on a national security issue.

The three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit who heard the case in a Seattle courtroom didn’t clearly reveal whether they would side with President Donald Trump or the challengers during more than an hour of arguments carried live on television and the court’s live video stream.

Supreme Court Won’t Revive North Carolina Voter ID Law
‘Racially discriminatory intent’

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a voting rights case out of North Carolina, leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s photo identification requirement and other election changes as motivated by “racially discriminatory intent.”

The fight over the North Carolina law — and the explanation of Chief Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to let the lower court’s ruling stand — reflects the deeply divided political culture in the Tar Heel State.