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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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As I wrote this morning, the Justice Department has employed some extremely aggressive procedural tactics in its handling of the Census citizenship question lawsuits. Part of that approach has included a somewhat successful effort to get the Supreme Court involved in fights over discovery. Another aspect is the administration’s repeated requests for the trial to be delayed, so that it can wait for the Supreme Court to resolve that dispute, which revolves around a court order that Secretary Wilbur Ross sit for a deposition.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller said in court filings Monday that the recent leadership shake-up at the Justice Department had not changed anything in the legal fight over his authority.

The ascension of Matthew Whitaker to acting attorney general “neither alters the Special Counsel’s authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue,” the Mueller team said in the filing.

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Just as a trial in New York over a Census citizenship question was winding down last week, the Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would be hearing oral arguments in February over what evidence lower courts can consider as they weigh the legality of the question. The Supreme Court’s involvement stems from the Justice Department’s efforts to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and DOJ official John Gore’s depositions in the case. Meanwhile, NPR noted that the former chief of staff for Gore is now a law clerk for Justice Samuel Alito. Over the weekend, the Justice Department sought to delay Judge Jesse Furman, the district court judge in New York, from continuing his court’s proceedings until after the Supreme Court has its review, and indicated it would be willing to ask for yet another Supreme Court intervention.

Crystal Mason, the Texas woman who was sentenced to 5 years for illegally voting, is appealing her conviction. Her lawyers make a number of arguments as to why the sentence should be overturned, including that prosecutors didn’t show enough evidence that Mason knew she was not an eligible voter when she cast a provisional ballot. Mason says she was unaware that the fact that she was on supervised release for an unrelated crime prohibited her from voting.

Democrats in Florida and Georgia have admitted their Republican opponents will win in high-profile, closely watched races after fights over election administration got national attention. Stacey Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, says she is launching a new voting rights group that will sue the state seeking fairer elections. In Florida — after the concessions of Sen. Bill Nelson, who lost his Senate seat to Gov. Rick Scott, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum — the controversial Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes submitted her resignation.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who is in a run-off for her seat against Mike Espy, was caught on camera at a campaign stop suggesting voter suppression was a “great idea.” “And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote,” she said. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult.” Her campaign is now claiming the remark was a joke.

After Democrats captured governor’s mansions across the country earlier this month, GOP legislatures are now pushing lame-duck measures to hamstrung the incoming governors and limit their power. We saw a version of this tactic in North Carolina, after Roy Cooper (D) defeated then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in 2016. Now in Wisconsin, GOP lawmakers — stinging from Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s defeat to Democrat Tony Evers — are considering changes to how state boards are made up and are mulling rolling back the expanded latitude they gave Walker in enforcing laws passed by the legislature. They’re looking specifically at refortifying the state’s voter ID law, so Evers can’t make any changes to how its implemented.

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