Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May on Wednesday ordered a hearing for next Tuesday in the case the ACLU has brought against Georgia election officials for how they handle absentee ballots they reject because they don’t believe the signatures match those on record. Earlier Wednesday, the ACLU filed a temporary restraining order seeking certain procedures be put in place to let voters address signature mismatch issues before the ballots are rejected.

An appeals court Monday appointed Christopher Caldwell — a Los Angeles-based lawyer at the private firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner — to serve as a special prosecutor in the ongoing legal fight over whether a contempt of court finding against former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio should be wiped away due to his pardon by President Trump.

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Whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be deposed in the lawsuits challenging his move to add a citizenship question to the census is now in the Supreme Court’s hands. But from the internal documents released with the litigation, and the excerpts of his deputies’ depositions that have also made their way in to court filings, it’s become clear that the stated reason for adding it — for Voting Rights Act enforcement — was an after-the-fact justification pursued by his top aides.

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The Florida state Supreme Court said Monday that Gov. Rick Scott (R) will not be allowed to appoint three new justices to the court on the morning he steps down as governor, after voting rights groups sued him over his plans to replace the three judges whose terms will come to an end at midnight before Scott’s successor is sworn in.

“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince,” the state Supreme Court said, “provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term.”

The retiring justices, who are stepping down due to mandatory age limits, are all left-leaning, according to Slate. In attempting a power grab that would have let him lock in a right-leaning majority for years regardless the winner of the 2018 governor’s race, Scott was trying to exploit a loophole in that their terms expired at midnight, January 8, but his successor wouldn’t be sworn in until that day, usually at around noon.

“I will appoint three more justices on the morning I finish my term,” Scott said last year.

Those plans attracted a lawsuit from the Florida League of Women Voters and Common Cause, which said that Scott’s attempts to “make appointments to shape the judiciary on his way out of office would run directly contrary to the core principle of this State that political power is inherent in the people.”

Scott is currently running for the U.S. Senate. The race to replace him — between Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis — is close, according to polls.

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