Conservative Supreme Court Justices Seem To Be Itching To Steal The Election For Trump

Republican appointees Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas are willing to throw out some ballots after the election.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions Wednesday evening, declining to stop a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling and a North Carolina Board of Elections order that both extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to be received in their states.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling allowed ballots postmarked by Election Day to still count if they are delivered by mail up to three days after the election. The order from the North Carolina Board of Elections and a state court extended the receipt deadline to Nov. 12. Those extensions remain in effect. For now.

Though both decisions are clear temporary victories for voting rights advocates, the dissents in each case suggest an ominous possibility. At least three justices ― Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch ― are open to taking up the Pennsylvania case again and potentially throwing out any ballots that arrive within the three days after Nov. 3. 

In the Pennsylvania case, Gorsuch and Thomas joined a dissenting statement written by Alito suggesting that they would overturn the state court’s ruling and potentially rehear the case and invalidate any votes received during the extended period. In the North Carolina case, Gorsuch wrote a dissent joined by Alito calling the Board of Elections’ extension of the receipt deadline “egregious.” Thomas dissented but did not join Gorsuch’s dissent opinion.

The extension of the ballot receipt deadline by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court means that the 2020 election there will be “conducted under a cloud,” Alito wrote, adding, “there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution.” While “there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election,” Alito declared, “the petition for certiorari remains before us, and if it is granted, the case can then be decided under a shortened schedule.”

Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots ― that won’t be allowed by the various courts because, as you know, we’re in courts on that.President Donald Trump

The petitioners, Pennsylvania Republicans, had asked the court to order the state to segregate all ballots received during the extended receipt deadline period from other ballots. The court did not grant this request. However, the state attorney general ordered the ballots to be segregated anyway.

Alito suggests that segregating the ballots would be necessary because, “if the State Supreme Court’s decision is ultimately overturned, a targeted remedy will be available.”

This means Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch are open to a legal challenge brought by President Donald Trump after Election Day that would invalidate votes cast legally in Pennsylvania after the votes are cast ― when Trump and the justices would know how many votes he needs to have invalidated to win reelection. Gorsuch doesn’t explicitly state his support for tossing ballots after the election in the North Carolina case, but it appears the same logic would apply because both cases raise the same legal question.

Newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, according to the decision, “took no part in the consideration or decision of this motion.” Trump’s latest conservative appointee could join these three to take up such a postelection challenge.

This is what Trump wanted when he pushed for Barrett’s confirmation ahead of the election. “I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” he said at the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots ― that won’t be allowed by the various courts because, as you know, we’re in courts on that. We just had a victory the other day in Wisconsin on that matter,” he said Wednesday.

Interestingly, Justice Brett Kavanaugh does not appear to have joined Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas in the Pennsylvania and North Carolina dissents even though he had just issued an affirming opinion in a Wisconsin case in which he agreed with the underlying legal arguments presented Wednesday by Alito and Gorsuch in their dissents.

Since the new 6-3 conservative majority on the court requires two conservatives to join the three Democratic appointees on the bench to flip any result to the liberal side by 5-4, Kavanaugh and Barrett appear to be the two potential swing justices who could join Chief Justice John Roberts, who has indicated he sides with the three liberals on this particular question, to not steal the 2020 election for Trump.

The election can only be usurped by the court if the margin is so close that the number of ballots received in the period of time in question can change the result. The best way to avoid that is for voters to not mail their ballots at this point. Voters can instead return their mail-in ballots in person to avoid any risk that their ballots might get delivered late and be invalidated by the court.

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The Rust Belt boom that wasn't: Heartland job growth lagged under Trump

President Donald Trump speaks about a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico

The voters of Monroe County, Michigan, may have expected an economic windfall when they flipped from supporting Democrat Barack Obama to help put Donald Trump in the White House in 2016.

But it went the other way: Through the first three years of the Trump administration the county lost jobs, and brought in slightly less in wages in the first three months of 2020 than in the first three months of 2017 as Trump was taking over.

And that was before the pandemic and the associated recession.

With the U.S. election just a week away, recently released government data and new analysis show just how little progress Trump made in changing the trajectory of the Rust Belt region that propelled his improbable rise to the White House.

While job and wage growth continued nationally under Trump, extending trends that took root under President Obama, the country's economic weight also continued shifting south and west, according to data from the U.S. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages that was recently updated to include the first three months of 2020.

A recent study from the Economic Innovation Group pointed to the same conclusion. It found relative stagnation in economic and social conditions in the Midwest compared with states like Texas or Tennessee where "superstar" cities such as Dallas and Nashville enjoyed more of the spoils of a decade-long U.S. expansion.

LAGGING THE COUNTRY

Across the industrial belt from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, private job growth from the first three months of 2017 through the first three months of 2020 lagged the rest of the country - with employment in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio growing 2% or less over that time compared to a 4.5% national average, according to QCEW data analyzed by Reuters.

Texas and California saw job growth of more than 6% from 2017 through the start of 2020, by contrast, while Idaho led the nation with employment growing more than 10%.

Perhaps notably for the election, a Reuters analysis of 17 prominent counties in the five battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin showed the limits of Trump's controversial tax and trade policies in generating jobs where he promised them. All 17 of the counties had a voting age population greater than 100,000 people as of 2016, supported Obama in the 2012 election, and voted for Trump in 2016.

In 13 of those counties, all in the Rust Belt region, private job growth lagged the rest of the country. Employment actually shrank in five of them. Of the four with faster job growth than the rest of the country, two were in Florida, one was in Pennsylvania and one was in Wisconsin.

The findings show that under the "greatest economy ever" boasts that Trump made before the pandemic, when job and wage growth were indeed strong, the fundamental contours of regional U.S. prosperity seemed largely unchanged.

Some of that may have stemmed from Trump's own policies. The use of steel tariffs, for example, may have ended up costing Michigan jobs.

"The key battleground areas...have not fared well under President Trump, even prior to the pandemic," said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. The swing state counties most supportive of Trump in 2016, he said, were "especially vulnerable" to the president's trade war tactics because of their ties to global markets.

DRAMATIC SHIFT

But Trump was also swimming against a very strong tide, driven by forces bigger than a Tweet or a tariff can likely counter. For decades people, capital and economic output have been shifting from a mid-20th century concentration in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest to the open land, cheaper wages and more temperate climate of the Sun Belt, and the innovation corridor from Silicon Valley to Washington state.

Trump, in his 2016 campaign, put a premium on manufacturing jobs - last century's path to the middle class - and as president used a combination of trade policy, tariffs, and blunt force arm-twisting on companies to try to shore up the prospects of the industrial heartland that formed his electoral base.

It didn't happen. Texas, according to QCEW data, gained more manufacturing jobs from 2017 to the start of 2020 than Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania combined; the smaller but increasingly competitive manufacturing cluster in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama gained as many factory positions as those legacy manufacturing states.

While Trump may have failed in his efforts to reinvigorate the Rust Belt, the forces acting against the region pre-date his administration.

A longer-term analysis by the EIG, looking at outcomes across an index of social and economic measures, showed little progress from the start of the century through 2018.

According to a Reuters analysis of EIG data, two to three times as many counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin slipped further down the think tank's Distressed Communities Index as climbed to a more prosperous bracket over those nearly two decades.

In Florida and Washington state, by contrast, five times as many counties moved into a more well-off bracket, and in California three times as many counties prospered.

EIG research director Kenan Fikri said it was "easy to forget" that the Midwest and Great Lakes regions were once the "pinnacle of what the U.S. had to offer" before the economy shifted to a more tech, service-oriented and global footing. "We have seen the gravity of economic wellbeing take a dramatic shift to the west ... It continued unabated through the first several years of the Trump administration," he said.

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Putin rejects Donald Trump's criticism of Biden family business

President Donald Trump (L) chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden's past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump's attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden's "sharp anti-Russian rhetoric."

Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favor with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.

"Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don't know. It doesn't concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians," said Putin.

"But well yes he had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don't see anything criminal about this, at least we don't know anything about this (being criminal)."

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin's ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor's widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump's favor, an allegation Moscow has denied. Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year's election too.

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