Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A federal district judge in D.C. ruled on Sunday that Ken Cuccinelli’s placement as the acting top official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Why it matters: Policies that were put in place under Cuccinelli are now void, including a directive that gave asylum-seekers less time to consult with legal counsel before their initial "credible fear" interview with a USCIS officer.

Details: After the resignation of Senate-confirmed USCIS director Lee Cissna, deputy director Mark Koumans automatically assumed the role of acting director because he was designated as the "first assistant" under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

  • Nine days later, acting Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan appointed Cuccinelli to serve as principal deputy director of USCIS, a position that had not previously existed.
  • That same day, McAleenan revised the agency's order of succession to designate the newly created position as "first assistant," allowing Cuccinelli to "leapfrog" Koumans to become acting director, per the court opinion.

What they’re saying: “Today's ruling is a big win that confirms Ken Cuccinelli’s installation and service as acting director of USCIS was unlawful. This is both a victory for the rule of law and a significant blow to the Trump administration's xenophobic agenda,” Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

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What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.