Mar 28, 2018

SCOTUS hears gerrymandering case against Maryland Democrats

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The Supreme Court heard a legal challenge on Wednesday, arguing that a congressional district in Maryland was gerrymandered to favor Democrats — with an attorney claiming that the decision violated the First Amendment rights of Republican voters.

The big picture: In the spirited hour-long hearing, the justices appeared uncertain on how to rule and worried about the possibility that the court's credibility may be tarnished if it inserts itself into partisan squabbles over gerrymandering. In its history, the court has never struck down a voting map due to partisan gerrymandering.

The key takeaways:

  • Michael Kimberly, the attorney representing the Republicans, contended that Maryland's Democratic-controlled legislature “intentionally” drew the state's 6th congressional district in 2011 to boost their electoral advantage and cost a longtime GOP incumbent his seat. “They made it impossible [for opponents] to gain electoral success,” he said.
  • A majority of the Supreme Court justices indicated they may believe that what Maryland Democrats did was intentional. Justice Sonia Sotomayor highlighted "damning evidence" to that end, pointing to a deposition where then-Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, acknowledged that "it was also [his] intent" to create a district "where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican."
  • During the oral arguments, the justices acknowledged that some partisanship in redistricting is tolerable, but they repeatedly questioned how much is too much.

What's next: The court heard a similar case last October from Wisconsin where Democrats say the GOP-controlled state legislature gerrymandered the entire legislative map to maximize their majority. The decisions in both cases are expected by June.

Go deeper: Here's where the big redistricting court fights stand.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

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There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy