Sep 30, 2018

Supreme Court starts new term amid Kavanaugh fight

Photo: Getty Images

A short-handed Supreme Court begins its new term on Monday with eight justices rather than the usual nine amid a battle to confirm President Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he faces sexual assault allegations.

The details: The court — ideologically deadlocked with four conservatives and four liberals — has not yet added any blockbuster cases to its nine-month calendar. But the 43 pending cases do have major ramifications, and a confirmation of Trump’s nominee would solidify a conservative majority and ultimately hand Republicans major wins.

The state of play: The first case up for argument Monday morning is a property rights case about protected habitat for the dusky gopher frog, an endangered amphibian. The case pits environmentalists against property-rights advocates.

  • Other disputes in the docket involve the execution of a convicted murderer who forgot his crime after suffering several strokes and an antitrust case alleging that Apple created a monopoly with its App Store.
  • One challenge would ultimately affect Trump's ability to pardon people like his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of fraud in federal court in August. The case seeks to determine whether prosecuting someone twice — by a state and a federal court for the same crime — violates the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy. The president cannot pardon state crimes.

What's next: A slew of hot-button disputes are working their way up from lower courts and could very well reach the justices this term, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said recently at a Federalist Society event. These include:

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What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina — especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

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