Dec 15, 2017 -

Most state Supreme Court judges aren't elected

Orlin Wagner/AP

The issue:

Sean Spicer condemned the San Fransisco judge who blocked Trump's effort to withhold money from sanctuary cities, calling it "egregious overreach by a single unelected judge." This is not the first time the White House has spoken out against the judiciary system or questioned a judge's authority, delegitimizing a judge based on his appointment.

The facts:

Only 22 states elect state Supreme Court judges via residents casting a vote on their ballot, similar to any other local or federal election. The other 28 states' judges are appointed through gubernatorial appointment, legislative appointment, or nominating commissions — i.e. without state residents voting.

Why it matters:

The alternative election processes can help avoid electing judges based on their policy views, campaign dollars and how well they sold the people on their platform. This speaks directly to our system of checks and balances, which the White House is threatening by denouncing the judicial branches' capabilities of electing a judge through other means.

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

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What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.