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Happy Thursday! You're almost there! Please...let this morning be quieter than yesterday's! What a day it was. At least we got México through to the Round of 16. Game against Brazil is Monday at 7am PDT. Fortunately, floor sessions in both houses shouldn't be until afternoon, so you'll have time to drink lots of coffee after watching the match at one of the many places downtown/midtown opening early.
DEADLINE: Today is the deadline for eligible initiatives to qualify for the ballot, as well as measures to be placed on the ballot by the Legislature.
Well, the long-awaited decision in Janus v. AFSCME against the ability of public sector unions to collect "fair share" fees from non-members was completely overshadowed the Justice Anthony Kennedy's announced retirement. We'll have lots of time to talk about Janus, and the fact is that nobody knows what the exact implications will be on California's public sector labor unions and politics.
Let's talk about Kennedy. He grew up in Sacramento's Land Park neighborhood and was the valedictorian at McClatchy High School in 1954. He went on to Stanford and received his law degree from Harvard. Leading up to his appointment to the high court by Ronald Reagan, Kennedy served 23 years as a Con Law professor at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. He is the longest serving faculty member at McGeorge. The local professional legal organization Inn of Court affiliated with McGeorge, which is composed of judges, law professors, lawyers and students is named of after the Kennedy. There's a friendly rivalry to the Milton Schwartz/David Levy both retired Eastern District federal judges) Inn of Court associated with UC Davis, which I was involved with for several years when I lived there.
Kennedy was appointed by Reagan to fill the seat of Justice Lewis Powell following the Robert Bork's failed nomination, and Douglas Ginsberg's withdrawal of nomination because he had smoked pot at some point. How silly is that in today's context?
The has been a many posts on social media since his announced retirement with criticism of his recent votes on controversial cases.
I didn't agree with many of his votes on cases, including significant ones this month. However, he will go down in history as the fifth vote in 5-4 cases on abortion, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage. Also part of history is joining with the majority in Citizen's United, opening the door for the SuperPAC world.
He leaves a legacy with which conservative and liberals will cite different cases to remember, for both good and bad.
The next appointment will be a far more "traditional" conservative than Kennedy and David Souter, who was replaced by Sonia Sotomayor. Those on the left are upset with Kennedy for packing up his briefcase with likely a more conservative nominee. However, he turns 82 years old next month. He's the longest-serving member of the court at thirty years, and is the fourteenth longest-serving justice of the 114 who have sat on the bench. Sure, the Notorious RBG is 85, but she's still working hard. Kennedy wants to spend time with his family, and I believe that truly is his true desire. Souter was 69 when he retired to his New Hampshire farm. Hhe later moved to Cape Cod because he wanted a single story as the farmhouse wasn't structurally strong enough to accommodate his thousands of books.
Anger at Kennedy for retiring and giving President Trump another appointment to SCOTUS is misplaced. Anger is appropriate, however, at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, which was done last year for Neil Gorsuch's nomination. McConnell wants a fast track on nomination and confirmation, just in case Democrats take back the Senate (which is still a longshot) in November.
Kennedy was unanimously approved in the Senate. Neil Gorsuch, who succeeded the late Antonin Scalia, was confirmed 54-45, garnering the support of three Democratic senators (Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Manchin), although the votes against had less to do with his qualifications and more to do with McConnell scrapping the filibuster and refusing to fill Scalia's seat until after the election. The Trump team has already vetted several candidates, so a nomination could come any day. The exact same fight over nominations before elections will likely take place again this summer.
Regardless of what party controls the White House and/or the Senate, the filibuster provided an important check and balance. Holding off on confirmations because of election results, for either the presidency or Senate is certainly not something of which our founders would approve.
Thirteen counties make up the remaining ballots, although the bulk of those are in counties that haven't updated their unprocessed ballots since June 6.
THE IMPACT: A SCOTUS retirement was deemed highly likely, with eyes primarily on Ruth Bader Ginsberg (85), Clarence Thomas (71), and Kennedy (81), and court watchers were surprised there was no announcement from the bench yesterday, as is customary. It is unclear whether or not he was wavering and wanted one last sitting to make his final decision. But, within an hour, we had the news.
U.S. SENATE: Assuming there is a nomination and confirmation this summer/fall, it's great news for Senator Dianne Feinstein. As ranking member of Senate Judiciary, which will hold the hearings, she will have a prominent role, likely getting the chance to ask the most difficult questions of a nominee. Challenger Kevin de León will attract less attention as Feinstein makes headlines.
Feinstein will be all over the Sunday shows. Expect her to have the Adam Schiff, soft spoken style but asking the tough questions. California's junior senator Kamala Harris will take the Ted Lieu approach. Lieu was at it again this morning in the House Committee on Intelligence hearing, which was questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Harris is also on Senate Judiciary Committee and will get the microphone during hearings and will also likely get invites to the Sunday shows.
As Harris grabs the spotlight, expect Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti to find ways to get in the news as he, like Harris, explores a 2020 bid for President. This summer could very well the best opportunity to discern who is running and who isn't. I wouldn't be surprised if billionaire Tom Steyer's impeachment ads shift over to blasting a SCOTUS nominee.
GOV: The increased attention on the issues of abortion and issues such as abortion, gay rights, and aid in dying will make John Cox's longshot bid that much more difficult.
In the MercNews, Casey Tolan wrote in February:
John Cox, one of the Republican candidates for governor, suggested gay rights could “open the floodgates to polygamy and bestiality,” bemoaned “transvestites who want to be school teachers,” and vowed to veto any hate crime legislation during a 2007 political debate.
This was at the Values Voters Debate as Cox was running for President while he lived in Illinois.
Gavin Newsom can run as strongly anti-Trump and to the left on the social issues. Cox is endorsed by President Trump, so he will be hamstrung criticizing any nominee of the President.
CA25 (Santa Clarita/Antelope Vly): A confirmation fight that has abortion as a major issue will draw a strong contrast between Congressman Steve Knight and challenger Katie Hill. Knight is opposed to abortion, while Hill is endorsed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).
CA45 (Irvine): Two-term incumbent Mimi Walters (R) is anti-abortion, while challenger Katie Porter (D) is not. While this district is a hub of religious conservativism, it has been trending more Democratic and independent. As we saw last year in Virginia, suburban independent women like those found in this district are leaning more Democratic. No Party Preference voters account for 26.88% of the voters in this district. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 5.4% here.
CA49 (Oceanside): I already have the race to replace retiring congressman Darrell Issa (R) as a Leans Democrat, and a Supreme Court fight will be an assist to Mike Levin (D) in November against Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: A fight over Roe v. Wade/Planned Parenthood v. Casey in confirmation hearings will increase the likelihood that Eleni Kounalakis prevails over Ed Hernandez, even though their positions are largely the same. It could very well be a good year for women.
Whoa! It's almost 11:30 when Early-Bird goes out to Nooner Premium subscribers. I've been writing straight from 6am, and there may be some typos or weird grammar as I don't have time for a full read through!
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Joseph Bielanski and Linda Nguy!
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