Todd Ruger

Supreme Court to Weigh Legality of Trump’s Travel Ban
Not even the Supreme Court can escape hearing about Trump’s Twitter feed

The Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the Trump administration’s travel ban, the first major high court test of one of President Donald Trump’s signature campaign issues and a key piece of his tough-on-immigration efforts.

The showdown is shaping up to be among the highest-profile cases of the court’s current term, with a line forming along First Street NE on Sunday for seats in the courtroom.

Conservative Court Nominee Highlights Smoother Path to Bench
Previous political work no longer impedes confirmation chances

Updated 4:29 p.m. | Appeals court nominee Kyle Duncan has advocated on behalf of conservatives in legal fights over contentious cultural issues such as abortion and LGBT rights, leaving behind the kind of paper trail that might have dissuaded presidents from putting him through the Senate’s confirmation process.

Donald Trump is not such a president.

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny
Voter rights advocates worry the court could hand states a shield

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could not only require Texas to redraw its congressional districts, but give states a way to defend against claims of gerrymandering.

This is the third case the justices will hear this term about how states draw legislative maps to gain a political advantage. Cases from Wisconsin and Maryland focus on whether those maps can be too partisan. The Texas case is a more traditional challenge to how state lawmakers draw the lines using voter data.

Senate Panel Tees Up Mueller Protection Bill Despite Headwinds
McConnell indicates measure won’t reach Senate floor

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to act on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III — even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially killed it by saying it won’t make it to the floor.

They then spoke to the natural follow-up question: Why bother?

Federal Courts Make Changes in Response to #MeToo Movement
Judicial branch is creating more informal ways to file complaints

A federal court official said Wednesday that a main barrier to reporting sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in the judicial branch is the “formality of our complaint process,” as well as employees misunderstanding confidentiality provisions in ethics rules and being unaware of protections against retaliation.

James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the courts will create more informal ways to file complaints. The judiciary will also take extra steps to educate employees and law clerks about protections against retaliation for reporting misconduct, Duff said. The courts have already revised their confidentiality provisions, he added.

Justices Weigh Congressional Inaction on Internet Sales Tax
Supreme Court muses about “obsolete” ruling

The Supreme Court almost yearned Tuesday for Congress to resolve a major internet sales tax issue, if only to relieve the justices from having to make a call in a case with potential widespread effects on the nation’s online commerce.

“Is there anything we can do to give Congress a signal it should act more affirmatively in this area?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked near the end of an hour of oral arguments.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Mueller Protection Bill Faces Political, Procedural Headwinds
Judiciary Committee looks at consideration of bill in two weeks

The Senate Judiciary Committee appears poised to vote in two weeks on a bill that would give job protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even as President Donald Trump asserted again Thursday that he has the authority to fire the man investigating connections between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Thursday’s discussion revealed how the bill still faces potential political hazards at the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have raised concerns about a yet-to-be-seen amendment that Republicans want to add to the measure. Some Republicans have concerns about the constitutionality of a bill that would limit a president’s ability to make personnel decisions in the executive branch.

Bipartisan Bill to Protect Mueller Headed for Judiciary Markup
Trump dubs probe “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation”

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a compromise bill Wednesday to give Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III job protections, as renewed criticism from President Donald Trump adds more fuel to speculation that he plans to fire the man tapped to investigate connections between his campaign and Russian operatives.

Trump on Wednesday dubbed Mueller’s probe the “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation” on Twitter, the latest in a series of statements sparked by the FBI’s search Monday of the office of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. It is one of several times since June that Trump’s statements have prompted discussion that Mueller’s job was at risk.

Trump’s Idea for Military to Secure Border Is Complicated
President could face congressional and legal stumbling blocks

Updated 9:14 p.m. | President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, a complicated plan that could require him to declare a national emergency to avoid running afoul of a federal law that prohibits the military from acting as a police force.

Supreme Court Grapples With Partisan Gerrymandering Once Again
Maryland case was second of three redistricting cases before justices this term

Supreme Court justices gave no clear indication Wednesday that they knew how to rule in key cases about partisan gerrymandering, with one justice pitching a sort of group argument to settle the various challenges on the issue from three states.

In oral arguments in a case from Maryland, several justices said facts about how Democratic lawmakers redrew the 6th District in 2011 — which swung it from a solid Republican to a Democratic seat in the next three elections — seemed to violate the Constitution.

Supreme Court to Hear Second Case on Partisan Gerrymandering
This time Democrat-drawn map in Maryland is at issue

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a second key case about partisan gerrymandering, this time focusing on the way Maryland redrew a congressional district to swing it from a Republican to a Democratic seat.

The justices already heard arguments in October in a case out of Wisconsin about whether a state’s political maps can be challenged on the basis that they entrench a benefit to one political party over another. The court has never allowed such a challenge but has not ruled it out either.

Lawmakers Seek Quick Action on Consensus School Safety Measures
‘There are things we agree on, we should pass those things’

Senators from both parties expressed their desire Wednesday to quickly pass school safety legislation that has bipartisan support as students nationwide walked out of high schools and rallied on Capitol Hill to call for federal gun laws to stop school shootings.

“There are things we agree on, we should pass those things,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students dead.

Supreme Court Justices Make Their Own Security Choices, Documents Reveal
Watchdog group says domestic travel policy should be tightened

Updated 03/14/18 at 11:06 a.m. | Supreme Court justices only get security protection during domestic trips outside the Washington metropolitan area when they request it, according to a U.S. Marshals Service policy unveiled Wednesday by a court watchdog group.

Fix the Court, a nonpartisan group that advocates accountability and transparency at the Supreme Court, obtained the security policy and hundreds of pages of related records through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents are an official and more detailed peek inside a security arrangement that gives justices broad discretion when it comes to their protection.

DOJ Agrees to Give Oversight Panel Fast and Furious Documents
Settlement would wind down lingering battle between House Republicans and the Obama administration

The Justice Department agreed to a conditional settlement Wednesday with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to produce documents related to a flawed law enforcement initiative known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The department will turn over files and emails of then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other top officials related to its responses to Congress and the committee’s oversight investigation, as well as documents in certain date ranges and with specific search terms such as “executive privilege.”

Gun Debate Unfolds Outside of Senate Judiciary Panel’s Confines
Grassley uses White House meeting to brief Trump

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a White House meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the panel’s role in getting a consensus and moving legislation dealing with gun violence and school shootings.

But before the Iowa Republican could finish, Trump pivoted right back to negotiating provisions about age restrictions for gun purchases, a proposal championed by two senators who aren’t on the committee, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.

Supreme Court Considers Voter Fashion Sense
Make America Great Again hats, Black Lives Matter t-shirts among issues

The Supreme Court grappled Wednesday on where to draw a line when it comes to voters who want to wear a “Make America Great Again” hat, a “#resist” T-shirt, a “Parkland Strong” button or other political messages when they cast ballots.

A century-old Minnesota law, similar to those in about nine other states, prohibits voters from wearing clothes with political messaging related to an election or ballot question. The state wants to keep the dignity, decorum and solemnity of polling places.

Orrin Hatch and Staff Have a Day in Court
Utah Republican swears in staffers to Supreme Court Bar

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch used some old connections to get a prime seat at Supreme Court arguments Tuesday — and the Utah Republican also snagged some front-row seats for two staffers who worked on legislation at issue in the case.

Hatch, 83, has been a senator since 1977, and that makes him the second-longest serving member. But almost 10 years before that, in April 1967, he became a member of the Supreme Court Bar, Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said.

Supreme Court Backs Congressional Power to Affect Lawsuits
Chief Justice Roberts, Gorsuch dissent in the decision

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday backed the power of Congress to pass legislation that would affect ongoing litigation, ruling that a law about Michigan land and its use as a Native American casino did not violate the Constitution.

In a 6-3 opinion, the court found that Congress did not overstep into the power of federal courts with a law to end a lengthy court battle over the Interior Department’s decision to take that tract into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians.

Justices Debate Waiting for Congress in Privacy Case
Several lawmakers have filed legislation to address pending Microsoft case

Three Supreme Court justices on Tuesday pondered waiting for Congress to pass a new privacy law to resolve a major case about whether email service providers must comply with warrants even if data is stored outside the United States.

During oral arguments that pitted tech giant Microsoft against the government, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor asked why Congress wasn’t better suited to resolving the dispute.