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Open thread and some news 11/5 UPDATED

Community/Meta Transgender Rights

– In the challenge to the ban on military service by transgender servicemembers that’s ongoing in the DC Circuit, that court will hear arguments on December 10, and over a dozen friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in support of transgender servicemembers.

This is an open thread and we’ll post any breaking news.

UPDATED 11/7: The Justice Department sent a letter to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to issue a quick ruling in the transgender military service ban case. The letter suggests that in order to have the case decided by the Supreme Court this term, they’d have to file their petition by November 23 (assuming they lose.) The letter states that, if the Ninth Circuit were to rule on the case after that date, the DOJ would (assuming they lose) file a petition in the Supreme Court for review before judgment is issued in the appeals court. That would mean the Court would have to decide whether to take up the case without the benefit of any court of appeals judgment on the issue.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. VIRick  |  November 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Thailand: Life Partnership Bill Two Steps from Being Law

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The government has moved to allay fears that time is running out before next February’s general election to enact new legislation that protects the rights of same-sex partners. The Life Partnership Bill will be before the cabinet by the end of November, said Kerdchoke Kasamwongjit, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department.

    Kerdchoke said his department would collect public opinion online from today, 5 November, until20 November. People can simply tick “agree” or “disagree” with the Life Partnership Bill, as well as comment on its content. A link to the legislation appears on the department’s home page. From 12-16 November, the department will also organise meetings in 5 areas, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, and Ayutthaya, in order to communicate directly with interested parties. After this public consultation process is complete, the bill will be forwarded to the cabinet and, if approved, it will then be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly for a final vote before it becomes law.

    The mammoth Life Partnership bill, with no less than 70 sections, allows gender-diverse couples the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual partners, including inheritance and marital property matters, as well as the legal right to make medical decisions when their partner is incapacitated. However, Kerdchai said it does not include any provisions related to child adoptions. “This is a starting point. We want to guarantee basic human rights so gender-diverse couples can live as a family,” he said.

    It is currently envisaged that the agency responsible for dealing with same-sex couples’ registrations will be the Department of Provincial Administration, a wing of the Ministry of Interior. “This is so that same-sex couples can go to any district office to register, just as heterosexual couples do for marriage registration,” he said.

  • 2. VIRick  |  November 5, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Latvia: Ombudsman's Call for Legal Framework for Diverse Families

    Per LGBT Marriage News and Perchy Bird:

    The Ombudsman of Latvia: "The 21st century family requires the appropriate legal framework.”

    On 31 October 2018, the Ombudsman has called to create a legal framework for various forms of the family in Latvia. The modern family is a social and economic unit, where the aspect of sexuality or gender is no longer pre-dominant. The state should respect and establish a legal framework to protect both its marriage-based families and those where people choose to live together for economic, social, or sexual relations without marriage.

    Article 110 of the Constitution provides that the state shall protect and support marriage – the union between a man and a woman, the family, the rights of parents and children. Consequently, the Constitution already separates marriage from the family in its broadest sense. The Ombudsman’s call to create a legal framework for various forms of the family is aimed at respecting the objective reality and the adjustment of the legal framework, which would have a positive impact on many residents of Latvia. That in no way focuses on the abolition of the notion of marriage, the union between man and woman, enshrined in the Constitution.

    “I think it’s time for politicians to respect the fact that a significant part of society is experiencing the need to arrange the concept of family at a national level. I call to view this broader – it is not merely the issue for same-sex couples, it affects a significant part of society. The reality of Latvia is that more than half of the children are born into families where parents are not married. There are situations where people choose to build a family, if you want, call it a household, because it is more economically viable. For example, two ladies came to me for a consultation, explaining, that to ensure decent living, they had started living together in an apartment that belonged to one of them, but lived on the means obtained from selling the apartment of the other lady. And there are more than one such example. One of the possible solutions for a legal framework of a family could be a notarized act with a public statement in the official publication, “Latvijas Vēstnesis,” that these two people have identified themselves as a family,” suggests Ombudsman Juris Jansons.

    The Senate of the Supreme Court in its judgment of 2012 has also indicated the need for legislators to decide on the lawfulness of a recognized partnership, in other words, whether the actual co-habitation of two persons has the same legal consequences as marriage.

    Of the three Baltic nations, Estonia is most like Finland, Latvia is most like Sweden, while Lithuania is most like Poland.

  • 3. VIRick  |  November 5, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Tanzania: Government Distances Itself from Anti-Gay Purge

    The government of Tanzania has attempted to distance itself from an anti-gay crackdown in the city of Dar es Salaam. The Tanzanian foreign ministry put out the statement responding to international concerns after the governor of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, vowed to create a regional anti-gay task force.
    The statement, issued on 4 November 2018, on behalf of the national Tanzanian government, says: “[We wish] to clarify that Mr Makonda was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania.” According to "The Citizen," it adds: “The United Republic of Tanzania will also continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country’s constitution.”

    On 29 October, Makonda vowed to turn Dar es Salaam into “a non-gay city,” calling on members of the public to submit intelligence about suspected homosexuals for the government crackdown. Makonda, who has held his position since 2016, spoke out against “the presence of many homosexuals in our province,” telling the public: “Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them.” The governor said he was anticipating backlash from people who lived outside Tanzania, but said that he would “prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”

    Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania under a penal code that dates back to the British colonial era. LGBT+ people can face up to life imprisonment in Tanzania if convicted of having gay sex.

  • 4. VIRick  |  November 5, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Mexico: Mexican Consulates Must Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

    Per Daniel Berezowsky‏:

    Después de muchos meses de lucha, el pasado 19 de octubre 2018 se nos concedió un amparo para que el Consulado Mexicano (en Nueva York) de trámite a nuestro matrimonio. Esperamos que la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores no siga poniendo obstáculos y que en unas semanas podamos casarnos.

    After many months of struggle, on 19 October 2018, we were granted an injunction (amparo) for the Mexican Consulate (in New York) to process our marriage. We hope that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs does not continue placing obstacles and that in a few weeks we can get married.

    In the previous thread, I already posted a generic account of this lawsuit, and the ensuing favorable federal court ruling, as provided by HRW. Now, from his tweet of 4 November, I suddenly realized that Daniel Berezowsky himself, along with his partner, were the successful plaintiffs in said suit.

  • 5. ianbirmingham  |  November 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Even if Democrats win, Trump has them beat on the courts

    Democrats could win the House on Tuesday. They may recapture the Senate and White House in 2020. But they’re losing the federal courts for the long term, as President Donald Trump is rapidly ensconcing a conservative judiciary that will have the power to knock down liberal policies for decades to come.

    The White House’s relentless focus on remaking the nation’s courts has injected a new and permanent strain of conservatism into the judiciary, seating dozens of Republican judges positioned to play a pivotal role in the most contentious cases of the next four decades — from abortion rights and affirmative action to environmental protections, financial regulations and presidential power. Some of the judges may even help decide whether Trump can unilaterally eliminate the birthright citizenship of undocumented immigrants’ U.S.-born children.

    And if Republicans maintain control of the Senate on Tuesday, as they’re widely expected to, Trump will have free rein to continue naming conservatives to lifetime appointments on the bench. …

    Aside from the Supreme Court, where Trump named Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the rightward shift may be most momentous in the 12 regional circuit courts that hear appeals, set binding precedents and often have the final say in the many cases the high court never takes up.

    Trump has already placed 1-in-6 judges on the circuit courts, some of which are closely divided between Republican and Democratic appointees. Those 29 appointments are the most by any modern president in his first two years.

    Counting both federal trial and appellate courts, Trump’s 84 judicial appointments to date far exceed the pace set by President Barack Obama in his first two years. …

    “He has a very clear plan to take over the federal courts, from top to bottom,” said Kristine Lucius, a former Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee aide and current executive vice president for policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It really will change the power dynamics.” …

    Trump’s judicial picks are more conservative than most, say supporters and critics alike. And in many cases they are younger than the norm, meaning some could sit on the federal bench for the next 40 years or more. In October, Senate Republicans advanced the appellate court nomination of Allison Jones Rushing, who graduated from law school a little more than a decade ago and at age 36 is one of the nation’s youngest judicial appointees.

    Advocates for transgender rights have expressed particular alarm that a more conservative slate of judges will make it harder for transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

    In a reversal of Obama's policies, Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department have stopped investigating civil rights complaints filed by transgender students seeking bathroom access. Those students have achieved some federal court victories in recent years, but their supporters worry the tide may be about to change.

    “Trump has nominated a litany of candidates from anti-LGBTQ groups," said Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality. "It's clearly an attempt to flood the courts with judges who would rewrite the national understanding of federal civil rights law to fit their own bias and prejudice against transgender people.”

  • 6. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    The Victory Fund has identified 399 LGBT candidates on ballots throughout the U.S. today. They have a spreadsheet available for download.

    2018 Rainbow Wave by the Numbers: LGBTQ Candidates by State

    Of these, 24 are candidates for the U.S. House or Senate. Currently, only seven members of Congress openly identify as LGBT. Delaware, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the only states where no LGBT candidates qualified for the November ballot for any office.

    The Victory Fund will be reporting on the success of local LGBT candidates on Twitter using the hash tag #rainbowwave.

  • 7. VIRick  |  November 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Mexico: Federal Senate Approves Pension/Health Care Rights for Same-Sex Couples

    Per Rex Wockner and Lol Kin Castañeda Ba‏:

    Mexico's Senate unanimously approves pension and health-care rights for married same-sex couples, amending Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) laws and State Workers Social Security and Services Institute (ISSSTE) laws.

    Per Senado de México:
    Con 110 votos en pro y 0 en contra, se aprueba el dictamen por el que se garantizan los derechos de seguridad social de las parejas del mismo sexo.

    With 110 votes in favor and 0 against, the draft bill is approved which guarantees social security rights for same-sex couples.

    Per Martha L. Mícher C.:

    El dictamen irá a la Cámara de Diputados, donde estoy cierta, se aprobará en el mismo sentido.

    The bill will now go to the House of Deputies where I am certain it will be approved in the same spirit.

  • 8. VIRick  |  November 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    US Election Results So Far

    * House seats in Florida and Virginia have flipped from Republicans to Democrats.

    * Republican US Rep. Barbara Comstock lost her House race in Virginia's 10th District to Democrat Jennifer Wexton.

    * Former Bill Clinton aide Donna Shalala won a House seat in Florida, taking a seat being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

    * Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has become the first Muslim woman in Congress.

    * Anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was voted out of office.

    * Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts' first black congresswoman.

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  November 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Overall results look tragically bad. Republicans are likely yo make huge senate gains of the extend of +5 imo. And the house will be much closer than initially thought with the GOP having a real shot at keeping it.

    Losing any hope for the future honestly.

    EDIT : ok things are looking up for the house for sure and dems also seem to win the governorship in Kansas. Apart from Donelly the biggest dissapointment so far has been Florida for sure..

  • 10. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Jared Polis, who is openly gay, wins the governorship of Colorado.

  • 11. VIRick  |  November 6, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    More US Election Results

    Jason Crow beat the incumbent House member in Colorado's 6th District.

    Also in Colorado, Jared Polis, D, will become the first out gay governor of any state in the USA.

    In Illinois, JB Pritzker, D, knocked out the incumbent Republican governor, Bruce Rauner.

    In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, D, has won the governorship over the anti-gay scourge, Bill Schuette.

    In New Jersey's 11th District, Mikie Sherrill, D, a female veteran, has flipped this seat to the Democrats, a district which had been Republican since 1985.

    In Minnesota's 3rd District, Dean Phillips, D, beat the incumbent Republican.

    In Kansas' 3rd District, Sharice Davids, D, beat the Republican incumbent, becoming the first Native American to win a House seat anywhere.

    In Texas' 32nd District, Collin Allred, D, knocked out the incumbent Republican, Pete Sessions.

    In Florida's 26th District, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell won over the Republican incumbent, Carlos Curbelo.

  • 12. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    For clarification, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon is bisexual.

  • 13. guitaristbl  |  November 6, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    ABC officially projects that Democrats have won the house.
    They are apparently going for a clean sweep in Iowa congressional districts as they are on course to unseat even extremist homophobe Steve King.

    But they lost the Ohio governorship.

    The Arizona senate race is VERY close to call. Tester seems to be more comfortable in Montana. The range of net gain for the GOP in the senate depends on Arizona, Nevada and to a lesser degree Florida and Missouri which unfortunately seem to go in their favour.

  • 14. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Texas has three GOP-held congressional districts that Hillary carried. As Rick mentioned, former Tennessee Titans player Collin Allred unseated Pete Sessions in the Dallas-area CD-32. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher is on course to unseat John Culberson in Houston-area CD-7. And in CD-23 along the border, Gina Ortiz Jones, who is a lesbian, is running neck and neck with incumbent Will Hurd.

  • 15. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Beto is expanding the map in Texas. In previous elections, outside of the heavily Hispanic border blue belt, the only blue counties were Bexar (San Antonio), Dallas, Harris (Houston), and Travis (Austin) plus Jefferson (Beaumont-Port Arthur) which is an Obama-Trump county. Beto retook Jefferson, carried Fort Bend southwest of Houston, and carried Hays and Williamson immediately north and south of Austin.

  • 16. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Christine Hallquist lost her bid in Vermont to become the nation's first transgender governor.

  • 17. VIRick  |  November 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    And More US Election Results

    In Virginia's 2nd District, Elaine Luria, D, beat the Republican incumbent, while in Virginia's 7th District, Abigail Spanberger, D, did the same.

    In New York's 22nd District, Anthony Brindisi, D, knocked out the Republican incumbent, while in New York's 19th District, Antonio Delgado, D, did the same, as did Max Rose, D, in New York's 11th District on Staten Island.

    In Utah's 4th District, Ben Mc Adams, D, beat the Republican incumbent, Mia Love.

    In Minnesota's 2nd District, Angie Craig, D, an LGBT candidate, in her second attempt, finally beat the noisy, ignorant, homophobic Republican incumbent.

    In Illinois' 6th District, Sean Casten, D, knocked out the Republican incumbent, while in Illinois' 14th District, Lauren Underwood, D, did the same.

    In Iowa's 1st District, Abby Finkenauer, D, beat the Republican incumbent, and in the 3rd District, Cindy Axne, D, did likewise.

    In Texas' 7th District, Lizzie Fletcher, D, knocked out the Republican incumbent, John Culberson, in a Houston suburban area, taking George HW Bush's old seat, one that had been Republican for 50 years.

    In Michigan's 8th District, Elissa Slotkin, D, beat the Republican incumbent.

    In New Jersey's 7th District, Tom Malinowski, D, dumped the Republican incumbent.

    In New Hampshire's 1st District, openly gay Chris Pappas, D, won the open seat, keeping it blue.

    In South Carolina's 1st District, Joe Cunningham, D, flipped Sanford's open seat blue, the first time such has happened in that state since 1986.

    In Kansas, Laura Kelly, D, has won the governorship, knocking out Kris Kobach, and ending the hyper anti-gay Brownback era.

    In New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, D, won the governor's race, flipping that state back to blue as well.

    In Maine, Janet Mills, D, won the governorship, finally ending the bitterly anti-gay reign of Paul LePage.

    In Wisconsin, Tony Evers, D, just knocked out yet another hideously anti-gay incumbent governor, Scott Walker.

    In Nevada, Jacky Rosen, D, won the Senate seat from the Republican incumbent, Dean Heller.

  • 18. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    After Gillum's lost in Florida, it's heartening to see Kelly won in Kansas. It seems to me that instead of looking for 3 million illegal voters, Kobach's time would have been better spent seeking out legal Kansas ones in such a deeply red state.

  • 19. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Claire McCaskill has lost her Senate reelection bid in Missouri.

  • 20. guitaristbl  |  November 6, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    And Nelson has conceded the Florida senate race to Scott. That makes it a +4 for Republicans right now. Democrats NEED those seats in Arizona and Nevada to reduce the gain to +2 or else the senate will be out of reach in 2020.

  • 21. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 12:12 am

    Not so fast. Florida has an automatic recount law, and Nelson is currently well within the threshold with less than one percent of the vote out. This may not be decided for days.

  • 22. guitaristbl  |  November 7, 2018 at 9:38 am

    True, my initial info seems to be rushed and there is going to be a recount – although I don't really know what chances of success such initiatives have tbh.

    Things look optimistic in Montana and a bit less in Arizona.

  • 23. JayJonson  |  November 9, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Tester won in Montana and Sinema is now ahead in Arizona.

  • 24. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Massachusetts voters struck down a repeal effort and affirmed a 2016 law extending nondiscrimination protections for transgender people including the right to use appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.

    David Crary, Associated Press: Massachusetts voters protect transgender rights

  • 25. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Even though he has already conceded, Beto is still expanding the map for Texas Dems even better than I reported before. New returns now show he is carrying Tarrant County (Fort Worth), the state's third largest county with over 2 million people and the largest county that up to now had remained red. This is tremendous moving forward.

    Update: He's also flipped Nueces (Corpus Christi), another red county that has always been just outside of the border blue belt despite its Hispanic majority. Corpus is the state's eighth largest city. Including Arlington, also in Tarrant County, every city over 300,000 people is now in a blue county for the first time.

  • 26. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Heller lost in Nevada. He was the only GOP senator defending a Hillary state this cycle.

  • 27. Fortguy  |  November 6, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Gina Ortiz Jones lost by just under 700 votes out of more than 205,000 cast in CD-23. Bummer. This is the only Hillary district the GOP held in Texas.

  • 28. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 12:37 am

    Scott Walker loses in Wisconsin. 'Bout time!

  • 29. guitaristbl  |  November 7, 2018 at 9:40 am

    The victory of democratic governors in all 3 states Trump marginally won to win the presidency (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) should not be underestimated in any way imo. It really should sent alarming signals to the current administration. A dem candidate needs to be just likable imo to win these states back and thus the presidency.

    Also I will never understand Florida – they voted, against predictions, for Republicans, but at the same time they voted to restore voting rights to one million ex felons – a measure supported by democrats and opposed by republicans. If these people turn out to vote and given they are expected to lean heavily democratic given the treatment they received and given also the marginal status of GOP dominance for statewide offices there, it could significantly alter the voting landscape come 2020.

  • 30. VIRick  |  November 7, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    No one has ever understood Florida, at all, in any fashion whatsoever.

  • 31. JayJonson  |  November 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

    All of the incumbent LGBT Congressmen and women who sought reelection have coasted to victory: Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Mark Pocan in Wisconsin, Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, David Cicilline in Rhode Island, and Mark Takana in California. Jared Polis of Colorado did not seek reelection to Congress, but easily won the governorship of Colorado. Kristen Synema of Arizona did not seek reelection to her House seat, and her race to seek an open Senate seat in Arizona is has not yet been called.

    In addition, at least 3 more LGBT candidates for Congress have been elected, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Sharice David of Kansas, and Angie Clark of Minnesota.

    So our representation in the new Congress will be at least 8 (and possibly 9) members, up from the current 6.

    In addition, in a sweet kind of karma, Dana Nessel, a lesbian co-counsel in the Michigan marriage case, was elected Attorney General of Michigan, while her adversary in the marriage case, the former Attorney General, was badly defeated in his quest to become governor of Michigan.

    Also in Indiana, JD Ford, defeated a notoriously homophobic state legislator to become the first openly gay member of the state senate.

    Some more examples of the "rainbow wave" may be found here:

  • 32. VIRick  |  November 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    This afternoon, Wednesday, 7 November 2018, the Attorney-General of the USA, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, has tendered his resignation.

  • 33. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Frankly, I'm glad to see Sessions finally out of public office. He's representative of a Southern creature called a "Big Gubmint Conservative". This is a creature who screams "States' Rights!" at every opportunity while using the strong arm of government to suppress any opposition. Just like his forebears who believed in the rights of states to support slavery while decrying the rights of other states to choose other priorities than hunting down fugitive slaves, Sessions tried to big foot states that chose to be progressive on everything from transgender protections to marijuana reform.

  • 34. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Here is a damning assessment of Sessions' tenure as attorney general.

    Adam Serwer, The Atlantic: Trump Will Only Get More Dangerous

    Jeff Sessions was unfit to serve as attorney general of the United States. He had lied about his civil-rights record, claiming that he’d desegregated schools in Alabama when he hadn’t, as he later admitted under oath. He and his surrogates misled the public by insisting that he had begun his political life campaigning against the segregationist Lurleen Wallace, without mentioning that her GOP opponent was also a segregationist. He exaggerated his role in the prosecution of the Ku Klux Klansmen who lynched Michael Donald. He praised the racist 1924 immigration law that targeted nonwhites, Eastern and Southern Europeans, and Jews. He was rejected for a federal judgeship for allegedly calling a black attorney a “boy” and a civil-rights attorney a “race traitor.” On every crucial question of civil rights in the past 40 years, Sessions has been on the wrong side.

    He also misled the Senate, under oath, about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, then lied about having lied. If his record opposing basic constitutional rights for marginalized groups were not disqualifying, his rank dishonesty should have been.

    As attorney general, Sessions rolled back civil-rights enforcement, failing to file even a single voting-rights case in a country where the Republican Party has settled on disenfranchisement of rival constituencies as a tactic for winning elections. He failed in his duty to prevent the president from attempting to influence the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and then aided the president in presenting a patently false justification for firing former FBI Director James Comey over that investigation. In virtually every consequential way, Sessions should go down in history as one of the worst attorney generals ever to hold the office.

    Depressingly, Serwer goes on to say why he has every expectation that Trump's next AG will be even worse.

  • 35. ianbirmingham  |  November 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    With Senate majority intact, Trump will keep loading federal courts with conservative judges

    In his first two years in office, President Donald Trump has moved to appoint dozens of conservative judges to the federal bench, moving faster than any president since at least Ronald Reagan.

    On top of two Supreme Court justices, Trump has appointed 29 judges to U.S. appeals courts across the country, according to a Reuters tally. The appointments, Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has said, are his "top priority."

    Now, unleashed by a decisive Republican victory in the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections, the president's ability to shape the ideological makeup of the federal judiciary has only increased. …

    "They are the ones that judge all your disputes," Trump said during a speech in Ohio earlier this year. "They judge on what's fair in the environment and what's not fair. …

    The Trump administration's antipathy toward the lower courts, which have blocked the president's policies not only on immigration but also on transgender rights, the environment and other matters, has led it to bypass the appeals courts entirely with unusual frequency and go straight to the Supreme Court. …

    Both the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit appear most likely to flip to a majority of Republican-appointed judges. The 3rd Circuit currently has a 7-6 Democratic majority, according to Reuters. In the 11th, the split is an even 6-6.

    The Republican victory on Tuesday could deliver an even bigger prize to the president.

    The two oldest judges on the Supreme Court are the liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, and Stephen Breyer, 80. While neither has indicated they plan to retire any time soon, the average age of retirement for modern Supreme Court justices is 79, according to a 2006 study.

  • 36. ianbirmingham  |  November 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    GOP Senate will keep cranking out Trump judicial, Cabinet nominees

    After Tuesday night’s electoral setback, the president and his team plan to stress his ability to install judges as he rallies support for the 2020 election, according to more than a half-dozen current and former Trump officials. …

    "If the Democrats had acquired a majority in the Senate, they could have blocked every person President Trump nominated for federal judgeships,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a steadfast ally of the president, wrote in a Fox News op-ed last week, adding of judicial nominations: “This was the biggest achievement of Trump’s first two years, and now it is likely guaranteed to continue.” …

    Trump will need to continue his record-setting appointment of judges who are ideologically aligned with his administration, and pre-approved by the Federalist Society. The conservative judicial group, under the leadership of Leonard Leo, has worked hand-in-hand with the White House to identify originalist judges and elevate them to lifetime appointments.

    The group has already found remarkable success: the 15 judges confirmed by the Senate in mid-October brought Trump’s overall tally of judicial appointments to 84 so far in his presidency. Former President Barack Obama had confirmed 11 appellate court nominees and 30 circuit court judges by the same point in his second year in office. One caveat to Trump’s success is that a number of his appeals court nominees have added to courts that are already mostly conservative instead of shifting liberal courts to the right, a trend that the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out.

    “Up until now, the White House has been concentrating very heavily on the appellate courts,” Arthur Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and expert on the federal judiciary, said in an interview.

    With the Senate remaining under Republican control, Hellman said Trump is likely to “give more emphasis than they have been to filling district court seats,” particularly if his use of executive action becomes more prolific and he wants resulting legal challenges “to be heard by judges whom he appointed and would likely be sympathetic.”

    It's a strategy that could have a long-lasting effect.

    “Executive orders don’t outlast the president, legislation can change, but these judgeships last a long time,” said Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, adding that Trump’s higher-court appointments have placated “a lot of Never-Trumpers and conservatives who have had to admit, sometimes begrudgingly, that ‘Wow, this has been a home run.’”

    “[Trump] intuitively understands that evangelicals and some other conservative groups that might not necessarily be attracted to his populist message have been extremely attracted [to], and understand what nominating conservative judges has meant, or will mean, to the country going forward, well past his presidency,” said another former White House official.

  • 37. VIRick  |  November 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Even More US Election Results

    In Montana, Jon Tester, D, has retained his seat in the Senate.

    The hotly-contested Senate seat in Florida between Nelson and Scott is subject to an automatic re-count before a winner can be determined, while the race for Mississippi's second Senate seat is going to be subject to a run-off between the appointed Republican incumbent and Mike Espy, D. The Senate race in Arizona still remains too-close-to-call.

    In California's 48th District, Harley Rouda, D, has knocked out the 30-year veteran congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, while in the 39th District, Young Kim, R, will become the first Korean-American woman in Congress, both reflecting continuing demographic changes within Orange County. In California's 25th District, on the northernmost edge of LA County, Katie Hill, D, an LGBT candidate, beat the Republican incumbent.

    In Oklahoma's 5th District, Kendra Horn, D, knocked out the Republican incumbent in what is seen as another major upset.

    In Minnesota's 5th District, Ilhan Omar, D, will become the first Somali-American in Congress.

    In Georgia's hotly-contested 6th District, Lucy McBath, D, beat the Republican incumbent who herself had narrowly won that seat in a fairly-recent, and expensive, special election run-off against Jon Ossoff, D.

    In New Jersey's 3rd District, another Korean-American, Andy Kim, D, beat the Republican incumbent.

    In Pennsylvania, with a re-drawn/re-numbered district map, courtesy of the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court (making it impossible to truly determine who is an incumbent and who is not), we now have 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans representing the state for the next congress. Currently, there had been 6 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 2 vacancies, of whom 5 Democrats and 6 Republicans appear to have gotten themselves re-elected in the new districts. In District 17, Conor Lamb, D, retained his recently-won seat gained from a special election which had been subject to much Trumpian noise in favor of his opponent. The new Democrats are all women, Madeleine Dean in the 4th, Mary Scanlon in the 5th, Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th, and Susan Wild in the 7th, all in the greater Philadelphia (SEPTA) area.

    In New Mexico's 2nd District, Xochitl Torres Small, D, has just won the seat adjacent to El Paso, giving that state a clean D sweep, and giving us an unbroken blue stripe running along the entire US-Mexico border, and in some places, extending for several hundred miles northward.

    In Nevada, Steve Sisolak, D, has won the governorship, flipping that state back to blue, while in Connecticut, Ned Lamont, D, won the governor's race, holding that state blue. All governors races have now been declared except for Georgia.

    Voters in deep-red Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah have all voted in favor of expanding Medicaid within their respective states.

  • 38. VIRick  |  November 7, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Guam: Election Results

    Former Guam Senator Lou Leon Guerrero, D, and her running mate Joshua Tenorio, D, just won the gubernatorial race in Guam, making Guerrero the territory’s first female Governor and Tenorio, as Lt.-Governor, its first LGBTQ person ever elected to a territory-wide office.

    Guam also elected 10 women and 10 Democrats to its 15-person unicameral legislature, giving the body a super-majority of both women and Democrats.

  • 39. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Here's a rundown of how LGBT candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund fared nationwide:

    Victory Fund: Results 2018

  • 40. allan120102  |  November 7, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Guerrero legislator confirm that same sex marriage were legal in the previous administration but cease after the new one took control, now same sex couples need to ask for amparos, btw Morena finally pronounce for ssm in the state of Guerrero,

  • 41. Fortguy  |  November 7, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    With the 2020 Census in mind with redistricting soon to follow, how well are the Democrats setting themselves up to reverse the disaster that happened last time after the 2010 GOP wave election?

    Democrats successfully flipped the governorships in seven states: Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

    By contrast, the GOP only flipped Alaska, a state with only one at-large representative and where redistricting for Congress is therefore irrelevant. Georgia is not yet decided, but in the likely event that Abrams loses, that would be a GOP keep rather than a pickup.

    Democrats flipped state senates in Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York while flipping lower house chambers in Minnesota and New Hampshire. The GOP was only able to flip the irrelevant Alaska lower house.

    Before the election, the GOP had complete control of 26 state governments (holding the governorship and both legislative chambers) while the Dems had complete control of only eight. With the election, the GOP will have complete control of 22 states (plus Georgia if Abrams loses), the Dems will have 14, and 13 states (plus Georgia potentially) will have divided governments.

    The 23 states where Democrats will definitely control the governorships hold far more than a majority of the nation's population. Although the GOP will retain a majority of state governors, these include a disproportionate number of small, at-large states such as the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming as well as Alaska where congressional redistricting will not occur.

    The governors and most of the state senators elected Tuesday will be in place for the next redistricting battle, and Dems will have a chance to fight over the rest in the 2020 election or before. Most of the state lower house gains, however, will have to be defended and hopefully enlarged in the next two years as these legislators typically serve shorter terms.

  • 42. VIRick  |  November 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Kim Davis' Defeat Makes the Spanish Language News

    Per CNN en Español:

    Kim Davis, una funcionaria de EE.UU. que hace tres años negó licencias de matrimonio a parejas gays, fracasa en su intento de reelección.

    Kim Davis, a functionary in the USA who three years ago denied marriage licenses to gay couples, lost her bid for re-election.

    Per Alex Orué:

    La infame funcionaria pública de Kentucky, Kim Davis, que fue detenida por desafiar fallo judicial al negarle los permisos para casarse a parejas del mismo sexo, pierde re-elección en estos Midterms 2018.

    The infamous public functionary in Kentucky, Kim Davis, who was jailed for defying a judicial ruling by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, lost re-election in the 2018 Midterms.

  • 43. Fortguy  |  November 8, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Another factor that could work in Democrats' favor during redistricting is the nation's changing demographics. When the Republicans engineered their wildly successful gerrymanders of congressional and state legislative districts throughout the nation after their 2010 wave, they did have the benefit of knowing the projected growth of the Hispanic and Asian-American populations. What they did not have is a crystal ball telling them where these, African-Americans, and other minorities would choose to live in the following decade. Instead, they were confronted if anything of what to make of all the half-finished, ghost suburbs left in the wake of bankrupt developers after the mortgage crisis following the Great Recession.

    Often, the Republicans chose not to plan long-range and focused on maximizing their gains for the 2012 presidential election and 2014 mid-terms, and these decisions are now coming back to bite them due to demographic creep. A case in point is Dallas County where the GOP held 10 of 16 Texas House seats before they redistricted in 2011. Although the Census revealed the county gained population over the decade, it did so at a slower pace than the state as a whole. Moreover, minorities were responsible for all of the county's growth while the white population shrank.

    The county lost two seats due to its underperforming growth relative to the rest of the state, while the six Democratic districts were protected under voting rights laws because they were minority districts. Republican lawmakers were greedy and decided the Democrats would keep their six protected seats but no more. They "packed" as many minority and Democratic voters as they could into those six districts and "cracked" the rest across districts that had majorities of white GOP voters.

    The packing-and-cracking scheme worked as intended through the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, but then a funny thing happened. Dallas County continued to grow due to its burgeoning minority population while white Republicans fearfully fled the encroaching brown horde to sprawling suburbs in Collin and Denton counties. The Dems started picking off the eight GOP seats gaining one in 2016 and a whopping five more on Tuesday. The two districts the GOP still holds in the county were won by such narrow margins that they will assuredly be prime targets for the Democrats in 2020.

    Had GOP legislators the foresight rather than greed to create just one more minority-opportunity district in 2011, they would be in a much better position in the county today even though they still would have probably lost a seat or two since then. In the long-run, though, Dallas County will soon enough be completely blue no matter how you draw the lines, because you can't fight demographics in the end. We are going to see more and more of these situations in years to come as the nation as a whole becomes increasingly diverse.

    For a good read about the changes in Dallas County with maps, follow this link:

    Alexa Ura, Chris Essig, and Darla Cameron, Texas Tribune: In Dallas County, Republican gerrymandering backfired in 2018

  • 44. Fortguy  |  November 8, 2018 at 2:20 am

    So what are the final results in Texas? The Democrats made significant congressional and legislative gains without losing any seats of their own. Although Beto lost and Republicans continue to hold all statewide offices, most statewide candidates won by such narrow margins that Texas looks definitely purple and this must scare the holy shit out of the state GOP.

    In 2012, both Romney and Carnival Cruz carried Texas by 16 points. On Tuesday, Cruz could only muster a 2.7-point advantage over Beto. If the election were held in a presidential year with higher turnout, Beto may very well have won.

    Gov. Greg Abbott beat former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez by 14 points. He was the only statewide officeholder to defeat his Dem challenger by double digits which in itself is unheard of during the past two decades. However, he defeated Wendy Davis by 20 points four years ago. Valdez, however, was a terrible candidate. She's far from a progressive and lacks even liberal credentials. Despite being a lesbian, she was viewed with suspicion from many in the state's LGBT community, while civil rights activists, immigrant advocates, and criminal justice reformers hold her tenure as sheriff in complete contempt.

    Lite Guv. Dan "Potty" Patrick, who as presiding officer of the state Senate watches the entire public school finance system crash and burn around him while he focuses on what kind of junk students have between their legs when they go to bathrooms won by under 5 points.

    Austin lawyer Justin Nelson gathered a vote share nearly as high as Beto in his attempt to unseat AG Ken Paxton. Paxton, if you will recall, is facing three counts of felony securities fraud as well as gave county clerks the very bad legal advice that they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after Obergefell. Paxton won by only 3.6 points.

    Agriculture Commish Sid Miller, whose Twitter account posts every outlandish conspiracy theory, travels to Oklahoma to get a "Jesus Shot" from a quack doctor and to Mississippi to play rodeo on state expense, and wants schoolkids to eat unhealthy lunches because of Michelle Obama also won with less than 5 points.

    Faring better were Land Commish George P. Bush, son of Jeb!, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar, but they still won by only single digits. George P. was the only Bushie to endorse Trump after Trump insulted his father and family relentlessly during the 2016 campaign. Hegar, who was first elected by running far to the right of his primary opponents in 2014, has actually done a respectable job in office being competent, staying out of the limelight, and avoiding controversy.

    One Railroad Commission seat, three Supreme Court seats and three Court of Criminal Appeals seats were on the ballot. Republicans carried all in just single digits except for one CCA seat that had no Dem challenger. Nevertheless, the Libertarian in that race drew more than a quarter of the vote in protest. Because the Dems didn't challenge that race, the Libs now qualify to be on the ballot in 2020 which is good since they probably draw more GOP votes away than Dem votes. The Dems certainly benefited from the Greens failing to receive the 5% in 2016 they needed to qualify this year.

    Continued below…

  • 45. Fortguy  |  November 8, 2018 at 2:47 am

    As mentioned in a previous post, Dems picked up two of three GOP congressional seats carried by Hillary. Gina Ortiz Jones, who narrowly lost to Will Hurd in the third, is mulling a recount. Dems came within 5 points in five more congressional districts that undoubtedly will be targeted in 2020. Currently, the Dems look to have 9 of the state's 36 members of the next Congress.

    Dems gained two new seats in the 31-member Texas Senate while coming within 5 points in two more. The Dems blew it earlier this year in a special election losing a Senate seat the party had held for a century and a half. They will have better luck with that border district in 2020 with a larger electorate and the stink of the previous incumbent behind them now that he is locked away in prison for corruption. For now, the GOP still holds 19 seats which is enough to avoid filibusters.

    Dems picked up 12 seats in the Texas House reducing the GOP's lead to 83-67. If the Dems had carried every seat they had lost by less than five points, it would have been an even 75-75 split, enough to terrify GOP strategists. Nevertheless, because the House is divided on a factional rather than partisan basis, Dems are sitting large to be kingmakers in the race to replace Speaker Joe Straus who didn't seek reelection. Straus always won with complete Dem support, and all of the challenges to his speakership were from the nutjob right.

  • 46. ianbirmingham  |  November 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Sarah Fortney elected first openly gay School Board member in Florida

  • 47. ianbirmingham  |  November 8, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Wilton Manors [FL] elects all openly gay city commission

    Wilton Manors, a heavily gay community for years, has elected Florida’s first all-gay City Commission. … The South Florida city claims on its official website to be the “Second Gayest City” in the United States, citing 2010 Census data. … this marks the first time a Florida municipality ever elected a full slate of openly gay elected officials. Wilton Manors appears to be the second city in the United States to do so, behind Palm Springs [CA].

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