Thursday, January 17, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Rep. Schweikert Added To The Trade and Tax Subcommittees

5:10pm: Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) is on the Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday, he was named to the Tax and Trade Subcommittees. Schweikert said he is looking forward to both subcommittees, especially because "trade is particularly important for our state."

4:30pm: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) was named to the Appropriations Committee earlier this week. Today, she learned that she will also sit on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. An Arizonan has not been on the powerful Appropriations Committee during the last two Congresses (since the late Ed Pastor retired).

4:05pm: Not surprisingly, Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally split their votes this afternoon on a bill to ban federal funding for abortion services. The vote was 48-47, and it needed 60 votes to close debate.

Two Democrats (Manchin and Casey) did vote for cloture, while two Republicans (Murkowski and Collins) voted to kill the bill.

Today's vote was largely symbolic, in advance of tomorrow's March For Life in Washington. The landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case legalizing some abortions was decided on January 22, 1973.

Text of the failed bill can be found here.


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BREAKING: Reps. Biggs, Gosar, Lesko Vote To Approve Easing Russian Sanctions (READ Resolution)

Three of Arizona's four Republicans in the U.S. House voted this afternoon against a resolution disapproving of President Trump's recent move to ease sanctions on some Russian entities. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved by both Democrats and Repubicans and passed 362-53.

However, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4), Andy Biggs (R-CD5) and Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) joined 50 other Republicans in refusing to disapprove of Trump's December action. Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) was the only Arizona Republican joining the majority.

The text of the resolution is simple enough that it can be captured in a single screen shot (below). The Senate voted on the resolution earlier this week, but the 57-42 majority failed to reach the 3/5 necessary; both of Arizona's Senators voted their disapproval of easing sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The three have not yet released statements explaining their vote. Arizona's Politics will update as necessary.




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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

BREAKING, READ: Mike Liburdi, Gov. Ducey's Counsel, Nominated For Federal Judgeship

The White House announced tonight that it was nominating Mike Liburdi to fill one of the (two) judicial vacancies for the U.S. District Court in Arizona. Liburdi was Governor Ducey's General Counsel for the past four years. 

Here is the White House's announcement
Michael T. Liburdi of Arizona, to serve as District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  Michael Liburdi is a shareholder in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Greenberg Traurig, L.L.P., where he serves as Chair of the Phoenix Litigation Practice.  His practice focuses on complex commercial and constitutional litigation, as well as campaign finance and election procedure compliance.  Mr. Liburdi also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he teaches Election Law.  Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Liburdi was General Counsel to Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey, advising the Governor and his staff on legal policy and compliance matters.  After graduating from law school, Mr. Liburdi served as a law clerk to Vice Chief Justice Ruth McGregor of the Supreme Court of Arizona.  Mr. Liburdi received his B.S., summa cum laude, from Arizona State University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

There is still one District Court vacancy for Arizona, and Arizona is also the only District for which the Administration has not nominated a U.S. Attorney. Further, the Administration had nominated Phoenix Magistrate Bridget Bade for a judgeship on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year, but that nomination was not approved by the Senate before the end of the year. She will now have to be re-nominated.

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BREAKING, READ: Sinema Part of Bipartisan Group Urging Trump To Re-open Govt Before Considering His Appropriation Requests

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is part of a bipartisan group of Senators telling President Trump that they will promise to consider his border-related appropriations requests if he first agrees to reopen the government. While not part of the seven Senators listed as drafting the below letter, Arizona's other Senator, Martha McSally, is likely being asked to add her signature.

Politico reports that Sinema is part of the group along with Repubicans Collins, Graham, Alexander and Portman, and Democrats Manchin and Coons. They are hoping to get at least five more Republican Senators (and, a similar number of Democrats) to sign on to convince the White House to take the proposal seriously.

The letter does not promise any specific result, just to put the Administration's requests through "regular order", and to "working to advance legislation that can pass the Senate with substantial bipartisan support."

Arizona's Politics has reached out to both Arizona Senators for comment, and will update as necessary.



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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

ARIZONA POLITICAL SHORTS: McSally Votes Against Trump Adm Lifting Some Russia Sanctions

4pm: This evening, Arizona Senator Martha McSally joined with the Democrats and 10 of her GOP colleagues to  advance a resolution disapproving of the Trump Administration's December decision to end sanctions against several Russian entities.


The GOP-led Senate first moved to table S.J.Res.2, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). That move failed, 42-57, with both McSally and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) voting "nay". A motion to proceed to a vote was then held, and all Senators held their same positions.




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Monday, January 14, 2019

THIRD TIME'S NOT THE CHARM: McConnell Again Tries To Ignore Shutdown, Sinema 1 of 3 Dems Sticking With Him

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to ignore the government shutdown again tonight, forcing Senators to again vote on closing debate on S.1 - a measure that weaves together various Mideast-related measures. Each of the three times, he has fallen farther short of the 60 votes needed to move to a vote; each of the three times, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has been one of the handful of Democrats to vote with the GOP.

Tonight, the cloture motion failed, 50-43 and Sinema was joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Doug Jones (D-AL). (Menendez switched his vote to "nay.") The first two votes last week - and the text of the bill - are here.

Besides bucking a Democratic call to not proceed with other legislative business until McConnell allows a new vote on measures to fund the government (without funding President Trumps border wall), Sinema has angered some supporters because S.1 includes an anti-BDS measure that Palestinian supporters and the ACLU oppose. Sinema told Arizona's Politics last week that "I support these bills, and I believe most Arizonans do, too."


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ARIZONA LEGAL SHORTS: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Reinstate Arizona's "No Bail" Law For People Charged With Sexual Assault

The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear Arizona's appeal from a decision finding the state's "no bail" law for rape suspects unconstitutional.

In May, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-3 finding that the statute prohibiting bail for those suspected of sexual assault - without considering any factors that could justify bail in a particular case. AG Mark Brnovich appealed the opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that court today refused to consider the matter.

The issue arose after the state charged Guy Goodman in 2017 for an assault that took place in 2010. The Superior Court held a bail hearing despite the fact that voters had approved the "no bail" provision in 2002 (Prop. 103). While the no bail provision was being considered in the courts, Goodman did plead guilty to the non-consensual assault while he was an overnight guest in the victim's  house; the Arizona Supreme Court decided the bail issue was still important enough to decide.

A 4-3 majority (Timmer, Bales, Brutinel, Pelander) ruled that it was a violation of the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause (U.S. Constitution). Justice Bolick, writing for Justices Gould and Lopez, specifically appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule his colleagues' decision, writing that there should be a distinction between how individuals charged with sexual assault and those charged with sexual conduct with a minor are treated. (Full opinion is below.)

Brnovich took Justice Bolick's advice and appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court today signaled their disagreement.




Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Will Conference This Week On President's Transgender/Military Policy AND Mystery Mueller Case

It will be an interesting Friday conference at the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Justices will consider BOTH the "mystery Mueller case" and President Trump's policies regarding transgender individuals serving in the military.*

The orders were not included as part of the group release of determinations as to which petitions for writ of certiorari are granted or denied, or other routing decisions. However, both were noted as "DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 1/18/19" on their court dockets.

More information on the mystery Mueller case can be found here, at Politico.

The Administration's Petition for Writ of Certiorari (ie asking the Supreme Court to hear the case) is here.




*It will be interesting to learn whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be able to participate in the conference.

Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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