Todd Ruger

Supreme Court will decide census citizenship question
Decision could affect congressional delegations and appropriations

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the citizenship question case the second week of April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will decide by the end of June whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a quick schedule so questionnaires can be printed on time.

In a one-line order Friday, the justices agreed to hear oral arguments in the case the second week of April. The Justice Department asked for the rapid review because the government must finalize the census questionnaire by the end of June, which is also when the Supreme Court term ends.

Trump’s wall words will be used against him
President may have undercut his own argument that the border emergency is, well, an emergency

Protesters erect a cardboard wall in front of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there were a hall of fame of legal self-owns, there would be a spot of honor for a line Friday from President Donald Trump as he announced that he would declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

To do so, Trump plans in part to use the National Emergency Act of 1976, but he undercut his argument that it was an emergency at all.

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report
The Senate voted to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

William Barr takes over the Justice Department on Thursday at a pivotal moment for the nation’s legal landscape, with his tenure closely tied to how he will handle the special counsel’s Russia investigation and any political pressure from the White House.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr as the next attorney general, mostly along party lines. Senators have strong clues that he will continue the Trump administration’s conservative policies and legal arguments on immigration, civil rights enforcement and LGBT employment discrimination.

House Judiciary panel advances background check bill
Democrats are using new majority to press gun control legislation

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., introduced the background checks bill that the House Judiciary Committee approved Wednesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A sharply divided House Judiciary Committee approved legislation Wednesday to bolster background checks for gun sales, the opening barrage in Democrats’ push to use their new majority to press gun control legislation they have backed for years.

To do so, Democrats needed to defeat numerous efforts from Republicans to amend the bill. It was one of two measures considered during a marathon meeting, highlighting not only the political hurdles to enacting the legislation but also how Democrats believe it could make a difference with voters in 2020.

Road ahead: Border security deadline, celebrating The Dean and a new attorney general
Race against the clock to avoid another shutdown begins

House and Senate negotiators will find their road ahead this week dominated by the deadline to fund the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Federal workers and lawmakers are already thinking about Friday, the deadline for a spending deal to avert another partial government shutdown. But there’s plenty of other action expected on Capitol Hill before then.

House and Senate negotiators have been working for more than two weeks on a border security funding deal that would clear the way for a final fiscal 2019 spending package.

Whitaker tells House he hasn’t messed with Mueller probe
The acting AG told the committee his department complied with and hasn’t changed special counsel regulations during his tenure

Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker arrives for a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice," where he is expected to be questioned about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that he has not interfered with the special counsel’s Russia investigation and hasn’t promised the White House anything about the probe or informed anyone there about it.

Not that it was easy for Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to get him to say that.

Appeals court nominee backpedals from college writings
“I cringe at some of the language I used,” Neomi Rao tells Senate Judiciary

Neomi Rao, nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arrives for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s pick for an influential appeals court distanced herself Tuesday from prior writings about sexual assault and other topics during a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing.

“To be honest, looking back at some of those writings and reading them, I cringe at some of the language I used,” Neomi Rao, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, testified. “In the intervening two decades, I like to think that I have matured as a thinker and writer, and indeed as a person.”

Contentious nominee kicks off push to fill federal court seats
Senate Judiciary to hear from Neomi Rao, nominee for Kavanaugh’s old circuit seat

Neomi Rao, center, the administrator of White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, here at a Diwali ceremony in the White House on Nov. 13, 2018, has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Senate Republicans this week renew their push to confirm conservative federal judges, including a nominee for a key appeals court who could evoke the contentiousness of last year’s all-out battle over Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s first confirmation hearing of the year Tuesday features Neomi Rao, nominated to the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit left open when Kavanaugh moved to the Supreme Court.

Sheldon Whitehouse takes aim at funding disclosure for court briefs
Rhode Island Democrat writes to chief justice about planned legislation

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has concerns the Supreme Court is not fairly enforcing a rule that prohibits someone from filing an amicus curiae when contributors to the effort are anonymous. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the Supreme Court that he intends to introduce legislation this year meant to shed light on the funding behind groups that frequently file briefs aimed at influencing the outcome of high-profile cases.

The Rhode Island Democrat often decries how high-dollar, dark money donations can be funneled through advocacy groups to anonymously press political agendas through the Supreme Court and lower appeals courts — what he dubs “judicial lobbying efforts.”

Judiciary panel sets Barr vote, ‘ginormous loophole’ or no
Lingering questions for attorney general nominee aren’t enough to slow confirmation process

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., still have questions for the president’s attorney general nominee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:40 p.m. | The Senate Judiciary Committee will press attorney general nominee William Barr about a possible “ginormous loophole” in his commitment to make public what the special counsel investigation finds about President Donald Trump.

Committee member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, on Tuesday highlighted two possible ways in which Barr’s commitment to transparency could actually mean he would release no information about Trump or anyone else who is not charged with a crime.