Saturday News: Primary problems


FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS GRANTS GOP REQUEST TO BLOCK JUDICIAL PRIMARIES: Primary elections for statewide judicial races in North Carolina are canceled again after an appeals court granted a request on Friday from Republican lawmakers to temporarily halt a federal judge’s ruling. The announcement came in a two-paragraph notice from a clerk at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision comes three days before the filing period was to open for candidates seeking the four statewide judicial seats on the ballot in the 2018 elections. Barring any further action by the courts, state elections officials said in a subsequent memo, candidates seeking judicial seats in 2018 will file for election from June 18 to June 29.

COOPER BATTLING GOP IN COURT OVER STATE COURT OF APPEALS REDUCTION IN RANKS: Also last year, lawmakers passed a measure over Cooper's veto to cut the size of the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. The court would be winnowed down as judges reach retirement age in the next few years. Jim Phillips, an attorney for Cooper, said the state constitution sets appellate judges' terms at eight years, and lawmakers are violating that by eliminating judgeships before that eight years is up. The move also takes away Cooper's right to name successors to fill the remainder of the eight-year term. But Noah Huffstetler, an attorney for the lawmakers, differentiated the office from the eight-year term, saying the offices are being eliminated, so there is no vacancy for the governor to fill. The only constitutional restriction lawmakers face is to have at least five judges on the Court of Appeals, he added. Phillips responded, however, that allowing the law to stand would create a bad precedent, allowing lawmakers to abolish offices at will.

CHRISTIAN SPOKESBOT MARK CREECH DOESN'T WANT AMAZON HQ BECAUSE HE FEARS TEH GAYS: Conservative Christian lobbyist Rev. Mark Creech says North Carolina would be better off not getting Amazon’s planned second headquarters if the company tries to shape public policy in a pro-LGBTQ direction. “Amazon is a huge corporate entity,” said Creech, a lobbyist who is executive director of the Christian Action League, which he says represents evangelicals from 17 denominations in the state. “That would make me nervous.” The Christian Action League was involved in crafting House Bill 2, which became known around the nation as the “bathroom bill.” It prevented North Carolina cities from passing their own non-discrimination policies designed to protect transgender people. Raleigh remains on Amazon’s top-20 list of possible sites for the headquarters, which Amazon has said would be a $5 billion building with 50,000 well-paying jobs.

JUDGE MAY RULE AGAINST TRUMP BORDER WALL ON ENVIRONMENTAL GROUNDS: A judge who was berated by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign said Friday he was inclined to conclude he can decide a lawsuit that challenges the president's proposed border wall with Mexico but gave no indication how he'll rule. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel said during 2½ hours of arguments that he was leaning toward deciding he has jurisdiction in a lawsuit that alleges the Trump administration overreached in waiving dozens of laws that require environmental and other reviews. The administration argues he doesn't have jurisdiction. Curiel asked the administration and wall opponents for additional briefings by the end of Tuesday. He said he planned to decide within days after that whether to dismiss the lawsuit by the state of California and environmental advocates or let it proceed, but cautioned that "there's a lot of work here."

TRUMP EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR WIFE-BEATING STAFFER, BUT NOT HIS VICTIMS: Trump offered sympathy for Porter, saying, “It’s a, obviously, tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career.” Trump said he was sad to learn of the allegations, but added: “As you probably know, he says he’s innocent. And I think you have to remember that.” Though the accusations against Porter became public this week, Kelly learned last fall that something was amiss with the staff secretary’s attempts to get a security clearance, according to an administration official who was not authorized to publicly discuss internal matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The chief of staff had sought information about the status of security clearance applications for top aides, and it was then he learned there were allegations against Porter from his ex-wives, said the official. Porter and Kelly later discussed the allegations. The official said White House counsel Don McGahn was apprised of at least some of the accusations at least four times, including in January 2017, the official said.