In politics, a week is a long time. Have we mentioned that before? We forget. Anyway, a national Marist poll last month had Joe Biden's approval rating at 39%. A new poll from the same folks, using the same methodology, now has Biden at 47%. Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said: "This is an unusual bounce. It gets him back to where he was pre-Afghanistan." Presidents sometimes get a bounce from the SOTU speech, but a bounce of more than 4 points has happened only six times in the past 45 years.
What's happened since early February? Well, there was the State of the Union speech and a war in the Ukraine to which Biden has responded firmly, getting most of the world on his side. People noticed. How Biden handled Ukraine isn't the only item pulling him up, although jumping from 34% to 52% on how he is dealing with the Ukraine-Russian situation doesn't hurt. Now 55% approve of how he is handled the pandemic, up from 47% a month ago. If this trend continues for a few more months, it will certainly be good news for the Democrats.
Some of the crosstabs are interesting. One of the questions was about whether Biden's handling of the Ukraine crisis has been (1) too cautious, (2) just right or (3) too aggressive. Only 16% of Democrats think it has been too cautious but 73% of Republicans think so. Republicans apparently want Biden to sock it to Vladimir Putin, despite what the party's unofficial leader wants. More precisely, 72% of 2020 Trump voters think Biden is too cautious. For every demographic across the board, 40-60% think what the President is doing is about right and in no demographic do more than 10% of the people think he has been too aggressive. What is somewhat surprising is that everyone is very sure or his or her view: in no demographic is "unsure" above 8%. For such complicated material—and on foreign policy to boot—we would have expected more "don't know" responses.
Also interesting is that 70-85% of every demographic is worried about Russian cyberattacks on the U.S. White college-educated women are the most scared at 86%. Non-whites and people in small cities are the least scared at 71%. The numbers of people worrying about a broader war in Europe are similar. Support for economic sanctions is very high, ranging from 76% for people making less than $50,000 to 93% among white college-educated women and 95% among white college-educated men. Support among those who aren't as well heeled is softer presumably because they expect there to be blowback and they know they will not be able to weather the effects of, say, sharply increased gas prices, easily. Finally, one of the biggest partisan gaps is on the question of whether Biden's actions have strengthened or weakened the U.S. role on the world stage. There 85% of Biden voters say the president has strengthened it and 95% of Trump voters say he has weakened it. (V)
Ukraine has asked Western countries for military aircraft in order to fight and possibly shoot down Russian military aircraft that now populate the skies over Ukraine. The U.S. could technically supply Ukraine with F-16s, but there are two problems here. First, Vladimir Putin might interpret this as an act of war against Russia and retaliate. But even if he didn't, there is a bigger problem: Ukrainian pilots don't know how to fly F-16s, and this probably not the right moment for on-the-job training.
However, Poland has a bunch of elderly Russian-made MiG-29 flighters, which were designed in the 1970s and first put into service in 1982. Despite their status as senior citizens in the military aircraft world, they do have a huge advantage over the F-16s now: the Ukrainian Air Force has a bunch of MiG-29s and plenty of pilots who know how to fly them. So an injection of MiG-29s into the Ukrainian Air Force would certainly help Ukraine right now.
Up until now, Poland was hesitant to part with the MiG-29s because they are the mainstay of the Polish Air Force and Poland is definitely worried that after Putin conquers Ukraine and the Baltic States, it will be next on the menu. However, yesterday Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the U.S. will replace Poland's MiG-29s with F-16s (which are also no spring chickens), and will provide Polish pilots with the training to fly them. Poland knows this deal is tweaking the bear's nose, but it also knows that conquering Poland is probably on Putin's to-do list, no matter what planes it has, so getting new jet fighters to replace the MiG-29s is probably worth it if they can train their pilots fast enough. In aerial dogfights, pilot skill is at least as important as the hardware, maybe more so. Pilot morale is also up there on the list, and defending your own country is probably better for morale than attacking a country you have no beef with. Or no kielbasa with.
The net result of Joe Biden approving the deal (and have no doubt, no one else would have the authority to approve it) is that Ukraine will get some badly needed jet fighters that its pilots know well and Poland will get some other planes as replacements. Of course, it will take some time to train Polish pilots to fly the F-16s, but the U.S. has plenty of them (4,600 have been built) and can no doubt send a few over there almost immediately so Polish pilots can begin learning to fly them.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but there is no way the U.S. or NATO will do that. The problem is: What should the allies do when they spot a Russian military plane in the zone? If they shoot it down, that is effectively declaring war on Russia. Nobody wants that. If they ignore it, the allies look like paper tigers. But if the Ukrainian Air Force gets enough planes fast enough, it can try to enforce a no-fly zone itself by shooting down Russian planes in dogfights. The rules of war say that when a country invades your country, you are allowed to try to kill enemy soldiers. Putin knows that. It is part of the risk he is taking.
This is yet another example of Biden's resolve to really hit Russia hard. If the Polish MiG-29s show up very quickly, the Ukrainian Air Force could try to fight for control of the skies and possibly even start attacking the Russian convoys outside of Kyiv. Putin is definitely not going to like this new development, but he is stuck with it. (V)
Historically, Republicans have shown interest in races at all levels. After all, they reason, if a Democrat is elected dogcatcher, he's probably going to go after Republican dogs. Democrats have historically been primarily focused on the presidency and a few top Senate races and that's it. That's how the Republicans picked up over 1,000 seats in state legislatures during Barack Obama's presidency, including 2008 and 2012, when Obama won.
That it is unwise to ignore lower-level races is finally beginning to take hold. This year Democrats are starting to fund races for governor, secretary of state, and other downballot races in a meaningful way. Don't care about dogcatchers? What about this? Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all have Republican-controlled state legislatures. The first three all passed draconian new laws restricting voting. The latter three didn't. Is that due to their cold climates, or what? No, it is because Democratic governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania won't sign bills like that. And there are gubernatorial races in all three states in November. Democratic donors have finally realized that losing any of those races means more restrictive voting laws in Jan. 2023, with all the implications that has for 2024. Thus they are stepping up and funding gubernatorial races. Same holds for secretary of state races, which they previously ignored.
Cooper Teboe, a donor adviser in Silicon Valley, has said that of the major donors, at least half are putting a lot of money into state races, and he expects the number to grow. Steve Elmendorf, a big Democratic donor, said that "If you care about democracy, you need to worry about these governors' races." Megadonor George Soros has given his super PAC $125 million to focus on pro-democracy efforts, in part by heavily funding secretaries of state races. American Bridge 21st Century, a big Democratic group, has launched a new super PAC and given it $10 million to focus exclusively on secretaries of state races. The chair of Priorities USA (another Democratic group), Guy Cecil, said "These governor's races are absolutely must-wins." In short, the message that downballot races are really important seems to have sunk in—finally.
Joe Biden understands the situation well. He is planning a marquee fundraiser for the Democratic Governors' Association, which is watching all 36 gubernatorial races this year and will funnel the money where it is most needed. The DNC is planning to put $20 million in five key states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) for voter protection, data, and tech infrastructure. All but Michigan also have key Senate races this year, so if spent wisely (e.g., voter registration efforts), any money that goes to those places is a twofer. In any event, in contrast to many past elections, at least this time the Democrats won't fail because they forgot there were races for governor, secretary of state, and other state offices. (V)
The House Select Committee examining the Jan. 6 attempted coup subpoenaed the visitor White House logs for Jan. 6, 2021, to find out who visited Donald Trump that day. The logs may not be complete, but most likely anyone listed did talk to Trump that day and is likely to be invited to speak to the Committee soon. Joe Biden ordered the National Archives to give the logs to the Committee and on Friday, a Committee spokesman said that it now has the logs. Trump attempted to block the transfer, but that attempt has now definitively failed as the Committee now has the logs.
The Committee may know about some of the visitors, but others may also be on the list. Since the Committee wants to know what Trump knew and when he knew it and what his involvement was with the coup attempt, talking to people who spoke to him that day could be valuable. Some of them might tear up the expected subpoena and take their chances, although AG Merrick Garland has already indicted Steve Bannon for doing that and others may follow. And some of the visitors may not be so brave and might actually show up and tell the Committee what they said to Trump and what he said to them. This is how investigations work. You try to find out who all the possible witnesses are and then talk to them one at a time. Having the list makes the Committee's work a bit easier.
And while we are on the subject of folks the Select Committee would like to chat with, one of them is Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr. The Select Committee politely asked her to appear for a deposition. She refused, so now they asked less politely by sending her a subpoena. If she refuses, which is likely, she could be indicted.
Why her? Unlike some of the Trump family and almost-family, she took a starring role in the coup attempt (which, for example, Ivanka Trump did not). Guilfoyle spoke to the rioters in advance of their march on the Capitol. She also met with Donald Trump on Jan. 6. The Committee no doubt would like to know what she told Trump and what he told her.
In addition, Guilfoyle worked closely with Publix heiress Julie Fancelli, a top-tier Republican donor who helped finance the rally. The Committee is clearly aware of the Watergate adage "follow the money." Trump would like to have everyone believe that the rally was a spontaneous get-together of patriots worried that the election was stolen. If it turns out that it was meticulously planned by Trump's future daughter-in-law, undoubtedly with Junior's knowledge (and probably Dad's approval), that changes the picture fairly radically.
Guilfoyle has been ordered to appear before the Committee on March 15. If she has a scheduling conflict and wants to move it by a few days, the Committee will surely accommodate her. But if she just thumbs her nose at the Committee and doesn't show up, it is likely the Committee will ask AG Merrick Garland to indict her. If that happens, a line will be crossed with the first indictment of a (sort-of) Trump family member.
If she has to testify sooner or later, will Guilfoyle rat out Trump? Probably not, but she has switched sides before. She was married to rich businessman Eric Villency for 3 years and then to Democrat Gavin Newsom for 5 years. She will be 53 on Wednesday, so if she averages 4 years per marriage going forward, she could easily rack up another seven or eight marriages before calling it quits. Maybe some to Libertarians, Democratic Socialists, Constitution Party members, etc., in hopes of collecting the full set. Just imagine what her memoir at 85 could be like. (V)
The Select Committee wants to see all the e-mails that law professor and Donald Trump crony John Eastman sent and received during the attempted coup. Eastman has claimed that he was Trump's attorney and thus they are protected by attorney-client privilege. The Committee countered by saying that attorney-client privilege is not allowed when the attorney and client are conspiring to break the law and Trump and Eastman were conspiring to break the law by trying to allow Trump to remain in the White House after he lost the election. The judge, David Carter, who was appointed to the District Court for Central California by Bill Clinton, set tomorrow for a hearing.
Eastman claims he needs more time to defend against the charge. On Friday, the judge said that a lawyer as experienced as Eastman ought to have seen this coming when he first got the subpoena and has had plenty of time to prepare for the hearing, so his request to stall was denied. In addition, the judge pointed out that Committee even reminded Eastman of the crime exemption to attorney-client privilege when it issued the subpoena, so he has no reason to be given more time. He has had weeks to prepare his defense. In a criminal case, judges tend to give defendants more time when they ask for it because their liberty is at stake. That is not the case here. The worst-case outcome for Eastman is that the court will order him to give Congress some e-mails. Is that really so awful? Of course, Eastman could reply "Your honor, it's awful because the e-mails show I was planning a crime." Maybe not such a good idea, though.
In civil cases like this one, the standard is "preponderance of evidence," not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." So the judge could easily rule that Congress' interest in investigating an attempted coup is simply more important that Eastman's desire to hide his e-mails from Congress. The hearing will go forward tomorrow but the judge told Eastman that he can make his case for attorney-client privilege during the hearing. (V)
Joe Biden seems to have settled on "Fund the police" as the Democrats' message for the midterms. If repeated loud enough and often enough, it could completely blunt the Republicans' message of "Democrats want to defund the police." When people see Biden and the local Democratic candidate saying "fund the police" and then a Republican ad saying Democrats want to defund the police, it will be a tough sell for the GOP. Such is the power of the bully pulpit. Polling shows that increasing police funding during a time of rising crime is a popular item and reduces the number of things the Republicans can run on. Betting the farm on Critical Race Theory is a big gamble.
A small number of progressives will be very unhappy with this theme, but they are basically out in left field, alone. One poll shows that only 15% of Americans want to defund the police and most of them are Democrats who would never vote for a Republican, no matter what.
Many Black leaders will be unhappy with this new slogan and approach, since they are afraid it will only lead to more police officers murdering innocent Black people. On the other hand, many Black voters support the idea of funding the police, since crime is especially bad in Black areas and not everyone there sees the police as the enemy.
This doesn't mean that Biden is completely ignoring the complaints of Black leaders who feel they are being ignored. The Dept. of Justice has made some changes that they want. For example, it has prohibited the use of chokeholds by federal officers and restricted the use of no-knock warrants. It has also opened investigations into local law enforcement agencies with bad track records.
All in all, the polling shows that "fund the police" is largely a winning program, and might even help in suburban areas where the voters are generally sympathetic to the Democrats but are worried about crime. This could reassure them that Democrats do support the police and are concerned about crime. In any event, it effectively neuters an important (but false) talking point that all Democrats want to get rid of the police. (V)
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is engaging in a rare fight with the Republican-controlled state legislature. The subject is the new congressional map. A new map is needed because Florida gets an extra House seat starting Jan. 3, 2023.
The legislature drew up two maps. One of them gives Republicans the new seat but otherwise more-or-less preserves the status quo, which is 11D, 16R for the current 27 seats. The second map is a much more aggressive gerrymander in favor of the Republicans, which would allow them to take at least 18-20 House seats. What the legislature wants to do is submit the aggressive map to the courts and if they shoot it down, go with the status-quo-plus-one-new-seat map.
DeSantis has promised to veto the plan. He wants to be even more aggressive. Specifically, he wants is to break up two districts with Black representatives (FL-05 in Tallahassee and FL-10 in Orlando) and make sure no Black Democrat can be elected there. State Senate Redistricting Chair Ray Rodrigues (R) pushed back against DeSantis, saying: "He doesn't get to say, 'I want this map, and not that map'" because redistricting is up to the legislature, not the governor. If the legislature can muster a two-thirds majority in each chamber, it can override DeSantis' veto. If it can't, the problem will be dumped in the lap of the state Supreme Court. Breaking up majority-minority districts violates the Voting Rights Act, but DeSantis thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately let him get away with it. (V)
On Friday, Mike Pence gave a speech to a group of Republican donors in New Orleans in which he condemned Republican apologists who have described Vladimir Putin in a positive way. He said: "There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom." The audience applauded the line.
So what's the big deal? Well, less than a week before Pence's speech, Donald Trump called Putin "savvy" and a "genius" and doubled down on that at CPAC. We wonder whom Pence might have had in mind when he made his comment to the donors that there is no room in the GOP for Putin apologists. Is he suggesting that people who support Putin should be kicked out of the Republican Party? Did he have anyone specific in mind? Inquiring minds want to know.
We have run many stories on predictions in the past weeks. We are going to go way out on a limb now and make a truly bold prediction: If Donald Trump gets the GOP nomination in 2024, Mike Pence will not—repeat, not—be his running mate. This is the kind of keen insight that comes with writing a site about politics for many years.
We kind of get the feeling that Pence knows this and knew exactly what he was saying. He also knows what warm liquid the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of. His calculation here is straightforward. If Trump runs in 2024, Pence will not be elected to public office that year unless he decides to challenge Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). If Trump does not run, and especially if Trumpism is no longer the flavor of the month, Pence thinks by distancing himself from his former boss, he could come to the Party's rescue. Of course if Trumpism is out, he'll have to fight off a nice blonde lady from out where the buffalo roam to get the nomination, but at least it is a plan. From Pence's point of view, it makes complete sense. Having infuriated Trump by certifying the electoral vote in Jan. 2021, he has no hope in the Trump lane, so he might as well try to establish himself in the non-Trump lane and hope Trump and Trumpism have waned by 2024. Given his situation, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. (V)
Art. II Sec. 8 of the Constitution empowers Congress "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water." Everyone understands what declaring war means, but what about those letters of marque and reprisal? In the 18th century, there were two kinds of robbers on the high seas. Pirates were private sector entrepreneurs who robbed ships because they wanted the loot. This was technically illegal and frowned upon by legal scholars.
In contrast, privateers were robbers who had those letters of marque and reprisal. The way it worked was a king who didn't have much of a navy, and who was fighting a war with a country that did, would commission friendly ship captains to capture, loot, and even sink enemy ships with a promise (in those letters) of not prosecuting them for piracy. Often the king also wanted a cut of the loot. Basically, the privateers were mercenary sailors who worked on a kind of "no cure, no pay" arrangement. If they didn't rob any enemy ships, they wouldn't get paid but if they did, they got paid from the loot and also got a get-out-of-jail-free card. From the king's point of view, this was a win-win situation. If they succeeded, he hurt the enemy and maybe got some money or valuable goods. If they failed, it was no skin off his royal ass.
So why are we bringing up this underused power (commissioning privateers) that Congress has? Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) has introduced a bill that would issue letters of marque and reprisal to captains who would go out and capture megayachts owned by Russian oligarchs. There is no question that these letters would be constitutional since the Constitution explicitly empowers Congress to grant them. Whether it would be a good idea is something else, though.
In the past, letters of marque and reprisal were generally issued by kings who were formally at war with another country. If Congress were to start handing them out like candy, Vladimir Putin may interpret that as a formal act of war and proceed accordingly. On the other hand, if the CIA or the U.S. Navy starts seizing Russian megayachts, Putin might also see that as an act of war, so commissioning mercenaries to do it isn't really so different.
One complication, however, is that the privateers would certainly want to sell the captured megayachts. However, the oligarch might sue and try to block the sale by claiming the sellers didn't legally own it. There is a fair chance that if the loot consists of a $100-million megayacht, there would be a lawsuit. So in order to revive the practice of privateering, this issue would have to be adequately addressed in a manner giving the privateer clear legal title to the yachts captured. At the very least, it would require some new legislation, perhaps by tweaking existing laws on civil forteiture to give officially sanctioned privateers ownership of booty taken in accordance with the their letters of marque and reprisal. (V)
Let us continue a bit with the theme of amateurs engaging in war. Republicans love to privatize anything that used to be a government monopoly. For example, they cheered George W. Bush when he made a half-hearted attempt to privatize Social Security and were disappointed when it failed. Reintroducing privateering would be another example of privatizing a former government monopoly, but there is more. Cyberwarfare is being privatized. No doubt Republicans everywhere are smiling.
The war in Ukraine has unleashed a poorly coordinated herd of hackers who are knocking Russian websites offline, putting antiwar messages on the home pages of Russian media outlets, and much more. There are also Russian amateurs hacking Ukraine. Matt Olney, the director of threat intelligence at the security firm Cisco Talos, said: "It is crazy, it is bonkers, it is unprecedented, This is not going to be solely a conflict among nations. There are going to be participants that are not under the strict control of any government."
This is very different from a government commissioning privateers, which is more like hiring mercenaries. In those cases, the government tells their "contractors" what they may and may not do and expects them to obey. In contrast, the people hacking Russia (or Ukraine) are not under the command of any government and don't take orders from anyone.
Ukraine's minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Federov, is egging them on, but has no control over them. He did thoughtfully provide a 14-page document explaining to would-be hackers what software might be useful to download and how to mask their identity and whereabouts. Some juicy targets are also listed.
Yegor Aushev, the co-founder of a Ukrainian cybersecurity company, has outdone Federov. He has offered a $100,000 reward to hackers who identify usable exploits in the code of Russian targets. If such flaws are found in Russian banks or military installations, the company, or some of the 1,000 hackers in his loose I.T. army, could potentially cause real damage to the Russian infrastructure. Without elaborating, he said the biggest hacks are yet to come.
When a very large group of people all take aim at some website or Internet service, they can often take it down even without having discovered a bug in its software. If 1,000 people each send 100 requests to the site per second (which is very easy for a computer to do), it will have to field 100,000 requests/sec. Even if it rejects them all, it takes some processing capability to reject them. This is know as a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have giant data centers with millions of servers that can handle this volume of traffic, but Russian banks and military installations do not. Of course, this works both ways and Russian hackers can attack Ukrainian sites and are actively doing so.
One potential advantage the Ukrainians have is that a lot of the software used in Ukraine and Russia, especially Windows, is American software. The Dept. of Defense is not talking about whether it has awarded Microsoft a contract to either help defend Ukrainian computers, attack Russian ones, or both, but the thought has probably occurred to folks high up in the DoD. And most of the smartphones in both countries probably run either Apple's iOS or Google's Android system, and both of those companies are American as well. Needless to say, neither company is talking about this as any such work, if there is any, would be highly classified. However, it is certainly possible that the companies might balk at such requests on the grounds that if there are backdoors into the software, cybercriminals are sure to discover them and then use them to attack or blackmail the company's regular customers. (V)
Now that we are on the subject of big tech companies going to war, things get more interesting. Microsoft, Apple, and Google are huge companies and they don't need some piddling DoD contract to survive. Nor do any of them do enough business in Russia that abandoning all of it due to the sanctions makes a whit of difference to them.
However, all of the big tech companies have PR problems and actively standing up to Russia and doing it very publicly has a lot of PR value for them, separate from any clandestine operations they may undertake at DoD's behest. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), long a critic of Silicon Valley, said: "It's a unique opportunity because they have an extraordinary obligation." In other words, by taking concrete action to hurt Russia by removing their products and services from Russia, the companies build up good will among politicians on both the left and right who don't like them (for different reasons). This will make them heroes to much of the country and make it less likely that politicians will be willing to take them on.
So, it is hardly surprising that Apple has already shut down its Russian operations. It has also blocked all sales of Apple products in Russia and removed the apps of Russian media outlets from the App Store. Google has barred pro-Russian channels from YouTube and removed their apps from the Android Play Store.
And these are consumer-facing companies. There are also big U.S. and European companies that make business software, like Oracle and SAP, that could wreak havoc with the Russian economy by terminating service there, or worse yet, by slipping hidden vulnerabilities into the next update and informing the CIA about them in advance. In fact, it may well have occurred to the CIA to specifically request this. Needless to say, having a secret backdoor into the computers of major Russian companies and government organizations is something the CIA might think is peachy keen.
Facebook is kind of a special case here. While Russia doesn't want Apple, Google, Oracle, and the others to leave them high and dry, it can't stop them from doing so. In the case of Facebook, the Russian government has decided to block the site entirely, effective immediately. Facebook took the step last week to ban the Kremlin's media sources and it is also used by antiwar activists in Russia to communicate and coordinate. The Russian censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, that did this, said the move was necessary to uphold the free flow of information. In reality, the action serves as punishment for the former and an obstacle to the latter.
However, Roskomnadzor didn't block Instagram or WhatsApp, both of which are owed by Meta, Facebook's parent company. As it turns out, WhatsApp and Instagram are heavily used in Russia and Facebook is hardly used at all. But the people at Roskomnadzor know that Facebook is widely used in the West, so blocking it will get a lot of publicity there without actually changing anything on the ground. This action is more of a warning or a shot across the bow about what might come next than anything else. Will other social media platforms be shut down shortly? Stay tuned. (V)
The Fourteenth Amendment bars anyone who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then engaged in an insurrection against the United States from holding federal office. A group of North Carolina activists filed a lawsuit to block Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) from running for reelection because he spoke to the crowd on Jan. 6, 2021 and encouraged them to riot. Then the New North Carolina district map was published and Cawthorn saw that his district had gone from deep red to a PVI of EVEN. A right-wing firebrand like himself would have no chance there, so he switched districts. That is perfectly legal since House members are not required to live in the districts they represent.
That switch had unintended (and favorable for him) consequences. Under North Carolina law, voters who sue to disqualify a candidate must live in the candidate's district. The people who sued to disqualify Cawthorn all lived in his old district, so a judge threw the case out.
Then a different bunch of Democratic activists, who lived in his new district, filed a lawsuit. This one wasn't initially thrown out, because the plaintiffs had standing. However, on Friday, federal judge Richard Myers, who was appointed to the bench by Donald Trump, ruled against the plaintiffs based on the 1872 federal Amnesty Act. That law effectively overturned the Fourteenth Amendment and said that most banned officials could indeed run for Congress, insurrection or no insurrection.
Consequently, the judge ordered the North Carolina Board of Elections, on which Democrats have a 3-2 majority, not to investigate whether Cawthorn took part in an insurrection against the United States. This decision clears the way for Cawthorn to run again.
However, the activists are likely to appeal, since the judge is effectively saying that a federal law can overrule the specific words in the Constitution. There is a decent chance this case will hit the Supreme Court. If the Court rules in Cawthorn's favor, it is effectively saying that a federal law can negate what an Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states. Boy, does that open a can of worms. Could a Democratic-controlled Congress pass a law that says that gun ownership is illegal? Could a Republican-controlled Congress say that women can't vote? We might find out. (V)