Tag Archives: nominee

Gay members of Congress raise concerns about DeVos’ record on LGBT issues

Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Jared Polis of Colorado and Mark Takano of California are raising serious concerns about Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos’ views on issues affecting LGBT students and parents.

The reps — all openly gay and co-chairs of the  Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus — this week sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) urging them to closely examine DeVos’ record.

“It is unfathomable that the next Secretary of Education would oppose basic protections for LGBT students and roll back the progress we have made to ensure all students feel safe and supported in our schools,” Pocan said in a statement to the press. “Ms. DeVos’ history of opposing equality for LGBT individuals is deeply troubling, and the public deserves to know whether she will work with us to improve lives or continue to advocate an extremist agenda that bullies our students.”

The letter mentions the millions of dollars DeVos and her family have contributed to organizations and candidates that oppose equality for LGBT families and actively promote dangerous practices like “conversion therapy.”

The text of the letter

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

            As Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we write to express our deep concern with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. While Ms. DeVos’ stances on a number of public education issues raise concerns, we cannot hold our silence regarding her opposition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

Betsy DeVos’ career has been marked by repeated attempts to undermine the rights of the LGBT community. She and her family have donated extensively to groups which promote the idea that students who identify as LGBT must undergo “conversion” therapy and have also affiliated with groups that oppose anti-bullying legislation. The next Secretary of Education must represent all students in our country. Anyone who promotes such fervently anti-LGBT viewpoints is wholly unqualified to serve as the Secretary of Education.  

            Since 1998, Betsy DeVos and her family’s foundations have donated at least $6.1 million to Focus on the Family, a right-wing organization which has spent millions of dollars attempting to defeat marriage equality amendments at the state level. Even more troubling, this organization supported by the DeVos family promotes “conversion therapy,” opposes the right of LGBT parents to adopt children, and has referred to transgender individuals as “mentally ill.” This organization has even gone so far to oppose anti-bullying policies and opposes basic workplace protections for LGBT individuals. The DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT groups and policies extends beyond just this organization to many other groups known for their anti-LGBT activities, such as:  

·         $1,000,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which has claimed that the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to a “fatwa;”

·         $15,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has opposed adoption with same-sex couples;

·         $433,750 to the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group that is led by extremists like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson among other extremists; and 

·         $13,498,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which has stated that “Despite activist judges’ opinions, the majority of Americans continue to affirm the reasonable conclusion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” 

The DeVos family does not stop with contributions to intolerant organizations as they also support anti-LGBT politicians. For example, the DeVos family – including Ms. DeVos – were top contributors to Michigan State Representative Andrea LaFontaine, who sponsored legislation allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT parents and deny them the ability to adopt a child. 

            The LGBT community has made significant and long overdue advancements when it comes to equality in education. During President Obama’s tenure in office, the Department of Education took important steps to combat bullying and ensure that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, appropriately reflects the rights of transgender students. It is imperative that the rights of LGBT students are adequately protected moving forward. 

            As you move to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos, we strongly encourage you to seek out answers regarding Ms. DeVos’ stance on important education equity issues, including her views on protecting LGBT students from bullying and discrimination in K-12 and higher education spaces. We are particularly troubled by Betsy DeVos’ past support for inhumane “conversion therapy” treatments and believe it is imperative that any Secretary of Education nominee denounce such practices before being confirmed. 

            As Members of the LGBT community, we know our schools must be a safe place for all children. As you consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, we strongly encourage you to stand up for the civil rights of LGBT students and ensure the next Secretary opposes any action to roll back our progress toward equality.

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NAACP: Block Sessions for attorney general

NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement opposing the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general:

America yet stands at the beginning of presidential administration but also in the middle of a Twitter age civil rights movement based on old divisions.

U.S. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is among the worst possible nominees for attorney general amid some of the worst times for civil rights in recent memory.

Following a divisive presidential campaign, hate crimes rising, police videos sickening the stomach while quickening the conscience, protesters marching in the streets and politicians mouthing the myth of voter fraud while denying the reality of voter suppression, Senator Sessions is precisely the wrong man to lead the Justice Department.

The NAACP, as the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, opposes the nomination of Senator Sessions to become U.S. attorney general for the following reasons:

• a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse;

• a failing record on other civil rights;

• a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior;

• and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.

Voting Rights

Senator Sessions supported the re-authorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, but called the bill “a piece of intrusive legislation” just months earlier. Sessions has consistently voted in favor of strict voter ID laws that place extra burdens on the poor and residents of color, and drive voter suppression across the country. When the Supreme Court struck down federal protections in 2012 that prevented thousands of discriminatory state laws from taking effect since 1965, Sessions declared it was “a good thing for the South.” As a prosecutor in 1985, Sessions maliciously prosecuted a former aide to Martin Luther King for helping senior citizens file absentee ballots in Alabama.

Rather than enforcing voting rights protections, Senator Sessions has instead made a career of seeking to dismantle them. When Shelby County v. Holder gutted the protections of the VRA, Senator Sessions cheered. For decades, he has pursued the rare and mystical unicorn of voter fraud, while turning a blind eye to the ever-growing issue of voter suppression.

While Senator Sessions’ historical record on civil rights remains one of dismay, it is his unrepentant stance against the vote that remains our issue. The threat of voter suppression is not a historical but current challenge. At least 10 times in the past 10 months, the NAACP defended voting rights against coordinated campaigns by legislators targeting African-American voters in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and many other states.

While the NAACP could gain the assistance of the Justice Department in fighting back against voter suppression, a Sessions-led DOJ would likely lead to the exact opposite.During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach’s commitment to democracy allowed him to help write the VRA. Today, our nation stands on the verge of selecting an AG who has never shown the slightest commitment to enforcing the protections Katzenbach and others wrote into law. 

How can our communities who have born the both historical and current brunt of the attacks on the right to vote, sit idly by while an enemy to the vote is now given the responsibility of enforcing this right? The simple answer is that we can’t. 

Other Civil Rights

Since 1997, Senator Sessions has received an F every year on the NAACP’s federal legislative civil rights report cards. He’s voted against our policy positions nearly 90 percent of the time. Senator Sessions has repeatedly supported lawsuits and attempts to overturn desegregation while shamelessly voting against federal Hate Crime legislation four times from 2000 to 2009.

Notwithstanding, he has also repeatedly voted against the Violence Against Women Act that expanded protection for victims of domestic violence and repeatedly stood on the wrong side of immigration and LGBT issues.

Racial Insensitivity

During his failed 1986 federal judgeship hearing, four DOJ attorneys and colleagues of Senator Sessions testified that he made several racist statements. J. Gerald Hebert testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.

Additional accusations of racist behavior were attributed to Senator Sessions by Thomas Figures, an African American Assistant U.S. Attorney, who testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but did apologize for it. Mr. Figures also testified that on one occasion, Senator Session railed against civil rights cases, threw a file on the table and called him the derogatory racist term “boy,” and later advised Figures to watch what he said to white people.

Criminal Justice Reform

In a time of expanding protests against the scourge of police brutality, Senator Sessions stands on opposite ground. He has repeated stood against the consent decree, a main tool of the DOJ to reel in racist and unaccountable police departments. In a report by the Alabama Policy Institute, Senator Sessions called consent decrees: “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.”

While under the administration of President Barack Obama, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division made investigating police departments charged with racism and police brutality a key focus by intervening in high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland to impose consent decrees and reforms to correct misbehavior and the violation of citizen’s civil rights.

Senator Sessions would become the Attorney General under a president who supports nationalizing the racist and disproven “stop and frisk,” strategy. Both Sessions and the incoming president are supporters of the DOD 1033 program which allows police department’s access to surplus military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, grenade launchers and more. He also opposes the removal of mandatory minimum sentences and blocked efforts to reduce nonviolent drug sentencing despite wide bi-partisan support for doing so. If not enough, Senator Sessions has repeatedly voted against safe, sane, and sensible measures to stem the tide of gun violence.

Given that these are issues our nation the attorney general is sworn to protect and enforce his nomination represents an ongoing and dangerous threat to our civicbirthrights –particularly, and the right to vote.

We call upon the Senate to reject Sessions and for President-elect Donald J. Trump to replace Sessions with a nominee with a record of inclusion and commitment to protecting the civil rights of the American majority.

The NAACP does not believe that an election where the incoming president lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes represents a mandate to overhaul the America of the Majority. The vote remains the most important resource in making democracy real for all people.

As we have since 1909, the NAACP will continue to stand against Senator Sessions and any attempts to unravel the progress earned through the blood, sweat and tears of our people to enjoy the same rights under law as all Americans.”

Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Trump’s nominee for Housing and Urban Development opposed anti-poverty programs

Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development has voiced little empathy for those who depend on the social welfare programs that aided his own climb out of poverty.

A retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has often recounted his childhood as the son of a single mother in inner-city Detroit. In his 1996 autobiography “Gifted Hands,” Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mom to pay for bread and milk and said he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on chalkboards.

After Carson’s mother and father divorced, she received a small house in the settlement. But as her financial situation deteriorated, Carson and his siblings were forced to move into a succession of tenements and apartment buildings, some of which he described as having “hordes of rats” and “armies of roaches.”

Carson, 65, has not said publicly whether his family ever lived in federally funded housing or received Section 8 subsidies to help pay rent, but as a conservative political figure he has criticized such public assistance programs for creating “dependency” on the government among low-income blacks.

“I’m interested in getting rid of dependency, and I want us to find a way to allow people to excel in our society, and as more and more people hear that message, they will recognize who is truly on their side and who is trying to keep them suppressed and cultivate their votes,” Carson said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015.

Carson has been married for more than 40 years to Candy Carson and the couple has three children. Financial disclosure reports show Carson has earned millions in book royalties and speaking fees in recent years, with an estimated net worth of more than $20 million.

The former Republican presidential candidate has never before held elected or appointed government office. He also has no experience managing an organization with a multibillion-dollar budget and thousands of employees.

If confirmed as HUD secretary, Carson would oversee a federal bureaucracy that provides Americans with mortgage and loan insurance, distributes housing grants to state and local governments, and offers rental assistance and public housing to low-income families, the elderly and disabled. The agency is also charged with enforcing federal fair housing laws.

Carson has not detailed what policy changes he might seek to make at the agency. But in a 2015 opinion piece in The Washington Times he compared an Obama administration effort to racially integrate majority-white neighborhoods to past federal efforts to desegregate schools through busing students, which he derided as a “failed socialist experiment.”

With the help of financial aid and scholarships, Carson attended Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School before being the first African-American named as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. There, he garnered national acclaim for directing the first surgery to separate twins connected at the back of the head.

Carson’s rise to political prominence began with a 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he gave a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation’s overall direction while President Barack Obama was seated just feet away. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Carson’s inspirational life story, Christian faith and anti-establishment message briefly catapulted him last year ahead of Trump and other rivals in opinion polls.

But his success on the campaign trail quickly crumbled amid questions about whether elements of his rags-to-riches autobiography were exaggerated or fabricated – including a purported childhood fit of rage that compelled him to try to stab his best friend in the belly only to be foiled by a belt buckle. Carson’s business dealings also faced scrutiny, including his ties to a wealthy Pittsburgh dentist whom he helped avoid prison time for felony health-care fraud.

The Associated Press first reported last year that Carson invested millions of dollars in real estate deals with Alfonso A. Costa, whose dentistry license was revoked following a felony conviction. According to required financial disclosure forms he filed in 2015, Carson and his wife made between $200,000 and $2 million a year from those real estate investments. Costa also served on the board of Carson’s charity, the Carson Scholars Fund, which provides college scholarships to children in need.

Records show Carson appeared as a character witness at his friend’s 2008 sentencing hearing, pleading with the judge for leniency. Though he faced up to 10 years in prison, Costa received a greatly reduced sentence of one year of house arrest served in a suburban mansion. Yet in his 2013 book “America the Beautiful,” Carson called for severe penalties for those convicted of health care fraud, including at least a decade in prison and “the loss of all of one’s personal possessions.”

Is GOP near breaking point with Donald Trump?

The GOP could be nearing a breaking point with Donald Trump.

As he skips from one gaffe to the next, Republican leaders in Washington and in the most competitive states have begun openly contemplating turning their backs on their party’s presidential nominee to prevent what they fear will be wide-scale Republican losses on Election Day.

Back in 1996, the party largely gave up on nominee Bob Dole once it became clear he had little chance of winning, so it’s not without precedent. Nevertheless, it’s a jolting prospect now, with roughly three months still left before the Nov. 8 vote and weeks before the three presidential debates.

Republicans who have devoted their professional lives to electing GOP candidates say they believe the White House already may be lost. They’re exasperated by Trump’s divisive politics and his insistence on running a general election campaign that mirrors his approach to the primaries.

“Based on his campaign record, there’s no chance he’s going to win,” said Sara Fagen, the political director for former President George W. Bush. “He’s losing groups of people he can’t get back.”

Trump’s campaign says things are moving in the right direction, a position that itself feeds the discontent among his GOP detractors. The billionaire businessman’s loyalists say enough time remains to change the dynamic against Democrat Hillary Clinton who, like Trump, is deeply unpopular with voters.

In the past seven days, Trump has questioned the advice of senior aides, threatened to stop raising money for the party, dismissed the usefulness of get-out-the-vote efforts and defended his decision not to run any television ads even as his opponents fill the airwaves with spots backing Clinton in several contested states.

“He can’t simply continue to preach to the choir and think he’s going to put together a coalition that will win the White House,” said Ryan Williams, a party strategist and former aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “He’s essentially guaranteeing that he will lose by refusing to clean up his mistakes and stop committing future ones.”

The mistakes do keep coming.

Trump this past week stuck by a patently false claim that President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State group. The candidate made an off-handed remark about Clinton that was widely condemned by critics as an invitation to violence. He even acknowledged that losing might not be so bad.

“I’ll just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now,” he told CNBC on Thursday. “And at the end it’s either going to work or I’m going to you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.”

All of it, to some Republicans, should lead the party to give up on its nominee.

More than 100 GOP officials, including at least six former members of Congress and more than 20 former staffers at the Republican National Committee, have signed a letter asking the party chairman, Reince Priebus, to stop helping Trump’s campaign.

They call the New York real estate mogul a threat to the party and to the nation. They want the RNC to take resources now helping Trump and shift them to vulnerable GOP candidates for House and Senate.

The letter follows a steady stream of recent defections from Republican elected officials and longtime strategists who vow never to support Trump. They want party leaders to acknowledge that backing his White House bid is a waste of time and money.

“They’re going to do it sooner or later. They might as well do it sooner to have more impact,” said former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, one of the Republicans to sign the letter to Priebus.

Senior Republicans in Washington and in some of the most contested states have discussed a scenario in which the party scales back its presidential focus in states that don’t feature top races for Senate. They could abandon a state such as Virginia, for example, and focus more on a state such as Indiana, where Democrat Evan Bayh is trying to make a Senate comeback.

That’s according to several Republican officials in Washington and states that would be affected, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe publicly those private discussions.

There is no evidence that a formal plan to break with Trump exists at either the state party or RNC level, but Priebus has informally discussed the possibility with party leaders in battleground states in recent days, three of the officials said.

Should that occur, it’s not likely to happen until after Labor Day, as the party is still relying on Trump to help raise money to fund its expansive political operation. But the amount of money needed decreases as each day passes, giving the RNC greater financial freedom to potentially change course as the election nears.

For now, Priebus is vocally supportive of Trump. The party chairman joined the nominee on Friday, part of a larger effort to ensure an experienced political hand is almost always at the candidate’s side when he travels.

Others keeping Trump company this past week include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

After several error-free days, Trump caused a major stir when his comments about supporters of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms were viewed by some as advocating violence against Clinton.

He came in for criticism again after saying that Obama was the “founder” of ISIS, a false claim he repeated several times on Thursday – even when given the chance to tone down his attack on the president’s foreign policies.

Then Trump started the day saying he was only being sarcastic, before telling a Pennsylvania rally, “but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.”

It’s those kinds of moments that lead experienced Republicans to think Trump cannot be saved from himself.

“He’s almost like someone with an addiction who can’t stop,” Fagen said. “Until he gets help and admits it, he won’t be able to change.”

The dissension in the Republican ranks hasn’t affected Trump’s ability to draw supporters to his rallies. Lisa Thompson, a firefighter from St. Cloud, Florida, is among the many who continue to stand in long lines for hours to see Trump at his events.

She said those balking at his missteps were being “too sensitive” – a luxury the nation can’t afford with growing security threats. She urged Trump to stick with his playbook.

“Why be fake?” she asked.

Others aren’t so sure.

Mike Dedrel, a UPS driver and Trump supporter who’s also from St. Cloud, said he hoped in the coming months that Trump wouldn’t speak off the cuff as often and stick to pre-planned answers. If he doesn’t, Dedrel said, he’s concerned that Trump is on the way to an Election Day defeat.

“I was worried about that from Day One, when he was going against 16 other guys,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I know he’ll be a great president – if he can win.”

Sanders could endorse Clinton on Tuesday

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to throw his support behind fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House on Tuesday during a rally they will hold together in New Hampshire, ending a bitterly fought battle for the presidential nomination that had fractured the party.

An endorsement from Sanders could boost Clinton’s chances against Republican rival Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election, and comes after she offered Sanders  concessions on policy issues like education, health care and climate change.

At the New Hampshire event, the pair will discuss a shared “commitment to building an America that is stronger together and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” according to statements released Monday by both campaigns.

The rally will be the first of many in which Sanders will “be out there stumping for the Democratic nominee,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. Weaver would not confirm whether Sanders would formally endorse Clinton on Tuesday.

Sanders had been under pressure for weeks from Democratic Party officials to throw his weight behind Clinton after she locked up the required number of nominating convention delegates last month with a string of wins in state-by-state primary contests.

The former U.S. secretary of state, senator, and first lady needs Sanders’ supporters to boost her chances against Trump in her run for the White House. Only about 40 percent of Sanders’ supporters say they would vote for her, according to recent Reuters/Ipsos polling.

In the past few weeks, both camps have been in regular contact on how to bring Clinton closer to some of Sanders’ progressive stances on issues like wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, education, and the environment in an effort to unify the party, according to Weaver.

Weaver said he and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook “talk every day, basically, at this point” and said recent shifts in Clinton’s healthcare and education proposals, released last week, were the result of “many, many discussions back and forth about our views.”

Other policy priorities for the senator from Vermont included a $15-an-hour national minimum wage, which was incorporated into the party’s platform at a meeting in Orlando, Florida, this weekend, as well as criminal justice reform and action on climate change.

 

 

 

Sierra Club endorses Clinton for president

The Sierra Club has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she is an environmental champion needed to lead the country.

The environmental group’s endorsement was explained by executive director Michael Brune, who said Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has referred to climate change as a hoax, a con job and a “concept crafted by the Chinese.”

The following is Brune’s statement:

“We firmly believe Secretary Clinton will be the strong environmental champion that we need to lead our country, which is why the Sierra Club is proud to endorse her and her vision for America.

“Over the last eight years, our country has made enormous advancements in cutting carbon pollution, transitioning away from dirty fuels, and increasing clean energy deployment. Secretary Clinton has a long record on the environment and is the leader we need to build on this progress made by President Obama and the climate movement. She has listened to the grassroots and crafted detailed plans to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, to protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and to continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.

“Senator Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters ran a hard-fought campaign and helped elevate climate change and protecting our environment while reducing inequality as key issues in the Democratic Primary. Senator Sanders and his supporters brought the passionate, principled advocacy that we need, and we are eager to work together to raise these issues in every campaign–not just the presidential race.

“Together, Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton made this an election about the issues and finding real solutions. Solutions like protecting our oceans and public lands from fossil fuel development; rejecting dangerous trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership; and transitioning onto 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

“Contrasted with that, we have a reckless and misinformed candidate in Donald Trump, who has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ a ‘con job’ and a ‘concept created by the Chinese.’ Trump’s record setting contradictory statements includes his “energy plan.” Trump claims he’ll protect clean air and water but has pledged to dismantle the EPA. He offers vague promises to create jobs but would stifle growth in wind and solar, which are among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. And when he gets to specifics, Trump makes rash promises, like ripping up the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark agreement that brought 196 countries together for the first time in history. The gap on environmental and climate issues between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump is the largest in U.S. political history.

“The Sierra Club, like so many Americans, not only wants to protect President Obama’s legacy — we want to expand it. That is something we can accomplish with a Clinton White House, and it’s why the Sierra Club’s members and supporters will work tirelessly to make sure she’s elected this November. We have a historic opportunity to build a clean energy economy that puts millions of people to work, and there’s no turning back.”

 

As Clinton secures enough delegates, she urges voters to the polls

With the Democratic presidential nomination effectively wrapped up, Hillary Clinton’s campaign still urged supporters to vote in June 7 nominating contests and bring a definitive end to her protracted primary battle against Bernie Sanders.

Clinton secured enough delegates to win the nomination before the June 7 voting, U.S. media outlets reported on June 6.

But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said they were pushing supporters and volunteers to “stay at this” for the contests in New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico and California — where she still risks a loss to Sanders.

A former U.S. secretary of state, Clinton would be the first woman presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party.

“We’re on the verge of making history, and we’re going to celebrate that tonight,” Mook told CNN. “There’s a lot of people we want to make sure turn out today. We do not want to send a message that anybody’s vote doesn’t count.”

California is the biggest prize on June 7 — the last and largest state to vote in what became a surprisingly tough Democratic primary race to pick a nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

If Sanders, who was trailing in polls in California until recently, won the state, it could hamper Clinton’s ability to unify the party ahead of its convention next month. Clinton is anxious to turn her full attention to the general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“We will look forward tonight to marking having reached the threshold of a majority of the pledged delegates,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN, referring to delegates won in primary contests. “And at that point, Bernie Sanders will be out of our race.”

Clinton secured the endorsement on June 7 of Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, who withheld her support until voting day.

President Barack Obama was eager to start campaigning, the White House said, but wanted to give voters an opportunity to cast ballots before weighing in on the Democratic race.

Despite growing pressure from party luminaries to exit the race, Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, has vowed to continue the fight until the party convention that formally picks the nominee.

He has commanded huge crowds in parks and stadiums, galvanizing younger voters with promises to address economic inequality. But Clinton has continued to edge him out, particularly among older voters with longer ties to the Democratic Party. Her more pragmatic campaign has focused on building on Obama’s policies.

Will Dove, 50, a startup business owner from Princeton, New Jersey, said Sanders’ policy proposals were simply too ambitious and unrealistic.

Dove, speaking outside his polling place in New Jersey, where Clinton is expected to win by large margins, said Clinton was the “only practical candidate we’re left with” despite her flaws and added that he would be “mortally embarrassed” if Trump prevailed in November.

‘RUSH TO JUDGMENT’

After the Associated Press and NBC reported on June 6 that Clinton had clinched the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, a Sanders campaign spokesman castigated what he said was the media’s “rush to judgment.”

Under Democratic National Committee rules, most delegates to the party’s July 25-28 convention are awarded by popular votes in state-by-state elections, and Clinton has a clear lead in those “pledged” delegates.

But the delegate count, where Clinton’s support outnumbers Sanders’ by more than 10 to 1, also includes “superdelegates” – party leaders and elected senators, members of Congress and governors – who in theory can change their mind at any time.

For that reason, the DNC has echoed the Sanders campaign, saying the superdelegates should not be counted until they actually vote at the Philadelphia convention.

In practice, superdelegates who have announced their intention are unlikely to change their minds. The AP and NBC reported that Clinton had reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates.

WINNING OVER SANDERS SUPPORTERS

Clinton faces a challenge to win over Sanders supporters.

They have become increasingly resistant in recent months, with fewer than half saying they would vote for her if she becomes the party’s nominee, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll in May.

Last month, 41 percent of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Clinton if she runs against Trump in the general election. That was down from 50 percent in April, and 52 percent in March.

Those who have decided not to support Clinton are split on what to do if Sanders quits the race. Some may cross party lines and vote for Trump, but many others appear to be interested in a third-party candidate. Some 27 percent of Sanders supporters said in May that they would vote for neither candidate or another alternative.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll included 2,919 Sanders supporters during the month of May and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 2 percentage points.

The prospect of a Trump presidency may influence some Sanders supporters to get behind Clinton.

 

Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson, , Amanda Becker and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Jonathan Allen and Chris Kahn in New York and Joseph Ax in New Jersey; Editing by Frances Kerry

Libertarian Party picks ex-New Mexico Gov. Johnson for president

The Libertarian Party again nominated former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential candidate, believing he can challenge presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton because of their poor showing in popularity polls.

Johnson, 63, won the nomination on the second ballot at the party’s convention in Orlando, Florida, defeating Austin Petersen, the founder of The Libertarian Republic magazine; and anti-computer virus company founder John McAfee.

The delegates selected former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld to be the vice presidential running mate.

Johnson, the party’s nominee in 2012, told the delegates during his acceptance speech that his job will be to get the Libertarian platform before the voters at a level the party has not seen.

“I am fiscally conservative in spades and I am socially liberal in spades,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “I would cut back on military interventions that have the unintended consequence of making us less safe in the world.”

On fiscal matters, Libertarians push for reduced spending and taxes, saying the federal government has gotten too big across the board. Johnson proposes eliminating federal income and corporate taxes and replacing those with a national sales tax.

He would reduce domestic spending by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Commerce and Education departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On social issues, Libertarians generally support abortion rights, gun rights, same-sex marriage and drug legalization, saying people should be allowed to do anything that doesn’t hurt others.

Johnson served as New Mexico’s governor from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican after a career as the owner of one of that state’s largest construction companies.

After failing to gain traction in the GOP’s 2012 primaries, he changed his registration to Libertarian shortly before running for that party’s nomination that year. He won the nomination and got just short of 1 percent of the general election vote against President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

For Johnson to make a serious run this year, he needs to qualify for the presidential debates. To do that, he must average 15 percent in five recognized polls.

He hopes that is doable because Trump and Clinton are both seen unfavorably by a majority of voters, according to recent polls.

Johnson will also need to overcome a huge financial disadvantage and history.

In 2012, Obama and Romney spent over a billion dollars each, a figure Trump and Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, are expected to also reach. Johnson spent $2.5 million in 2012, about one dollar for every 400 Obama and Romney each spent. Johnson hopes to raise “tens of millions of dollars” this time.

“Then we can leverage that to a level where we could wage political war” by hiring staff and running TV and radio commercials, Johnson said. He said Weld will help in this effort, having raised about $250 million during his political career compared to Johnson’s $8 million. Weld, 70, was Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997, also as a Republican.

The Libertarian Party has been running presidential tickets since 1972, but has never been a major factor. The party’s best showing was 1980, when candidate Ed Clark got slightly more than 1 percent of the vote. The only electoral vote the party has received was in 1972, when a renegade Virginia elector pledged to President Richard Nixon cast his ballot for Libertarian John Hospers instead.

Third parties have never won a U.S. presidential election. Former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, running on the Bull Moose Party ticket, got 27 percent of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes in 1912. He finished second to Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the only time a third party candidate has finished that well.

Other notable third-party runs include former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who got 13 percent of the popular vote in 1968, winning 45 electoral votes; and billionaire businessman Ross Perot, who got 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 but no electoral votes.

Trump looms large as Republicans gather for state convention

 

Wisconsin Republicans struggling with accepting Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee gather this weekend for the annual state convention in Green Bay, where disparate reactions to the billionaire businessman will be on full display.

While some influential Republicans in the state have yet to publicly warm to Trump and others remain staunchly opposed, still other office holders and activists are slowly coming around and say more will follow.

“People need to be able to lick their wounds, regroup, and move into the next stage,” said Brian Westrate, an activist from Eau Claire who voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “I do believe the party will coalesce.”

Westrate is one of the state’s 42 delegates to the national convention and will be among about 1,000 party faithful at the convention that begins Friday.

“I’m 100 percent moving forward,” Westrate said. “We are going to do everything possible to elect the conservative nominee.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker are among the state and federal elected officials who are slated to speak. Each represents a segment of where Republicans stand on Trump.

Ryan said last week that he couldn’t support Trump yet, but the two men said after a meeting Thursday they’re committed to working together. Johnson, who is in a tough re-election battle with Democrat Russ Feingold, is standing by his pledge to back whoever becomes the nominee. And Walker, who endorsed Cruz and campaigned hard for him in Wisconsin, is sticking by Trump for the general election.

Others aren’t yet on board. Prominent conservative Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes, who embarrassed Trump in an interview days before Wisconsin’s primary, remains outspoken against him. And Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, who warned that Trump as the nominee would “destroy” other GOP candidates’ chances elsewhere on the ballot, refuses to endorse him.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called last week for Republicans to get behind Trump. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s still looking for Trump to offer a “Republican vision that people can rally toward.”

That’s a feeling echoed by many other Republicans.

Bill Jaeck, a longtime Republican activist and fellow delegate to the national convention from Yorkville, said he was in “discover mode” with Trump. Jaeck said it would help if Trump would say who would be in his cabinet, and who he would nominate for any U.S. Supreme Court vacancies.

Patty Reiman, a Republican activist from Whitefish Bay and a delegate to the national convention, did not support Trump but is taking another look at him out of “due diligence.”

“I am a true Republican so I do have some concerns with his stands on some of the issues,” she said.

Reiman, like many Republicans, said she was worried about how having Trump as the presidential candidate could affect other races. But she said she thinks the party would ultimately support Trump.

“I believe we will because it’s important that we do not have a Democrat in office,” Reiman said. “If our candidate is Donald Trump, he will also align himself with good people who are good conservatives. I’m confident this will all come together.”

Trump clearly has ground to make up among Republicans in Wisconsin, a state where he lost to Cruz just five weeks ago by 13 points.

In a Marquette University Law School poll taken a week before Wisconsin’s primary, 55 percent said they were uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president — the highest negatives for any candidate. Even among Republican primary voters, 23 percent said they were uncomfortable with Trump — higher than either Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

That same poll showed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton defeating Trump by 10 points in Wisconsin.

Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland fits no easy mold

President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, has been characterized as a moderate who, if confirmed, would nudge his divided colleagues slightly to the left because he would replace conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia.

But Garland will not necessarily come down with the more liberal justices in every area, particularly on criminal justice issues.

An Associated Press review of Garland’s record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — more than 5,000 rulings and 17,000 pages since 1997 — suggests he is a judge who only rarely, and perhaps reluctantly, has found himself at odds with the government agencies that appear before him.

On the Supreme Court, Garland probably would frustrate the political left and right on alternate days.

He is apt to infuriate conservatives as a champion of union rights, his court record indicates, and, as a believer in public access to government records, to annoy those who defend government secrecy.

He is likely to offend liberals with a readiness to turn back constitutional challenges to criminal prosecutions and perhaps claims of workplace discrimination.

He probably would frustrate partisans on both sides, regardless of which party controls the White House, with steadfast deference to the rules and interpretations of government bureaucrats, whatever their impact.

Summaries of Garland’s decisions on critical issues:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Many of Garland’s rulings in criminal cases reflect his 12 years as a federal prosecutor or a senior official in the Justice Department’s criminal division.

In dozens of decisions, he upheld lower court rulings that denied defendants’ attempts to suppress evidence because of alleged illegal search and seizure by police. He typically upheld prison sentences imposed by lower courts.

In a 1999 decision, for example, Garland wrote for the court’s majority that police in Washington, D.C., were within their rights to search a car after spotting a 6-inch dagger next to a front seat. They then found a loaded .45-caliber handgun. Defendant Morris Christian’s lawyers contended the search was unjustified.

“First, as appellate judges we do not second-guess a street officer’s assessment about the order in which he should secure potential threats,” Garland wrote. “To the contrary, we must defer to his quick decision as to how to protect himself and others from possible danger.”

Garland also found that U.S. Park Police were correct to have searched Warren Turner’s car trunk after they found a pot-filled “blunt” in the passenger compartment. Cocaine base was found in the trunk, leading to Turner’s conviction on drug distribution charges.

Turner claimed the only evidence officers had before the trunk search was marijuana he had for personal use, but Garland found that “too fine” a line. There was “a ‘fair probability’ that Turner may have hidden additional drugs not necessary for his current consumption in areas out of plain sight, including the trunk of his car,” he wrote.

In a 2000 case, Garland wrote that U.S. Customs agents were not required to get a warrant to install a tracking device in a package shipped from Thailand that contained heroin. The man who opened the package in a taxi in Washington, Abdul Gbemisola, claimed the drug evidence was obtained improperly.

Garland found that no warrant was required. “Adding the tracking device did not require any additional intrusion into anyone’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” he wrote. “One cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning an act performed within the visual range of a complete stranger.”

Sometimes, Garland wrote or joined rulings that sided with defendants.

In a 1999 case, Garland wrote the opinion vacating one of Andre Clark’s two gun-related convictions — one for possessing a gun and the second for the ammunition inside it. Garland reasoned that was two convictions for the same offense.

“Indeed, if the statute were read that way, it might just as readily permit 14 charges against Clark, one for the gun and one for each of its 13 bullets,” he wrote.

In a 2006 case, Garland wrote that prosecutors were wrong to pursue more than $63,000 in restitution from a man convicted of making a false statement to the FBI but acquitted of the main money-laundering charge. The ruling overturned a lower court’s decision that Daniel Dorcely of Washington should have to pay restitution despite the acquittal on the money count.

criminal justiceThe Supreme Court, Garland wrote, “made clear that a defendant charged with multiple offenses but convicted of only one offense cannot be ordered to pay restitution for losses resulting from the other charged offenses.”

A rare dissent in a criminal justice case came in 2007, when the full appeals court overturned the conviction of a D.C. police detective for accepting an illegal gratuity. The detective, Nelson Valdes, had been targeted in a federal sting operation for accepting money to look up license plates in a police database.

The majority found Valdes had not accepted money for an illegal act, so no crime was committed. Garland disagreed.

“A guy walks into a bar,” his dissent opens, referring to the first meeting between Valdes and a man who described himself as a “federal judge.”

“The detective cannot know who the ‘judge’ really is, or why he wants the information. He cannot know whether the ‘judge’ is a loan shark seeking to find and punish his debtors … nonetheless, in the end he takes the cash — repeatedly — and gives the ‘judge’ the information he seeks,” Garland wrote.

The majority’s decision overturning the conviction, he added, “undermines the prosecution of public corruption.”

GUN CASES

Garland’s votes in two gun cases have fueled opposition from gun rights advocates, who have announced they oppose his nomination.

In one, Garland voted to have the entire appeals court review a ruling by a three-judge panel that struck down the ban on handguns in the nation’s capital. Because the entire court declined to review the case, it’s unclear how Garland would have voted on the constitutionality of the gun ban.

The Supreme Court later sided with the three-judge panel, with the 5-4 majority opinion written by Scalia, who died Feb. 13.

In the other case, Garland joined a ruling that upheld a Justice Department rule allowing the federal agency to temporarily save gun buyers’ records. The National Rifle Association had sued, arguing that the Brady Handgun Violence Act required immediate destruction of personal information related to gun purchases.

But the department said it was important to keep some of the information for six months at most to allow audits of the background check system to ensure both accuracy and privacy. A federal district court judge dismissed the NRA’s complaint, and the appeals court affirmed that decision.

GUANTANAMO DETAINEES

Garland played a central role in deciding cases concerning detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than a decade. He largely deferred to the government’s arguments in preventing their access to the courts and their release — with one notable exception.

In 2003, Garland joined a majority opinion ruling that those held at Guantanamo could not access lawyers or challenge in federal court the legality of their detentions. The decision was based on Supreme Court precedent that dictated that U.S. civilian courts lacked jurisdiction to hear challenges brought by detainees who were foreigners not present on U.S. soil.

The Supreme Court would overturn that ruling the following year in Rasul v. Bush, finding that detainees were entitled to challenge their detention in federal court under the habeas corpus statute.

images - gun cases“Initially, Judge Garland was overly cautious in the detainee cases in not seeing the broader, fundamental interest at stake,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the New York-based nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented numerous detainees before the district appeals court. “The D.C. Circuit has been so consistently reflexively pro-government, and overall Garland has not staked out a particularly helpful position there.”

In June 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration’s planned military commissions at Guantanamo violated U.S. and international law, allowing detainees to pursue their cases in federal courts. Congress and the Bush administration came up with new rules for the military trials later that year.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that foreigners held at Guantanamo had constitutional rights to challenge their detentions in civilian courts. By June of that year, Garland sat on the three-judge panel that was offered the first civilian judicial review of the government’s evidence for holding the detainees.

Garland wrote majority opinion in that case, brought by Huzaifa Parhat, a detainee who was a member of a Chinese Muslim minority group. Parhat should be released, transferred or be given a new military hearing, Garland wrote, because the government’s intelligence was unreliable.

“The government suggests that several of the assertions in the intelligence documents are reliable because they are made in at least three different documents,” Garland wrote. “We are not persuaded.”

Attorneys for detainees filed a flurry of cases seeking their clients’ release following that ruling, but when government lawyers appealed, the D.C. Circuit typically came down on the side of continued detention.

For example, Garland wrote a majority opinion upholding a lower court’s denial of detainee Shawali Khan’s petition for habeas corpus in 2011, citing “particularly incriminating evidence” that linked Khan to a force associated with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Three years later, Garland joined a majority opinion upholding a Guantanamo policy that allowed guards to search the genitals of detainees meeting with their lawyers. The opinion said Supreme Court precedent required deference to the government’s view that such policies were “rationally related to security.”

“Garland essentially has been a moderate who applied the law as it existed at the time in a faithful manner,” said David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown. “Some people may not like the law, but that is another story.”

GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS

Garland often shows deference to federal agencies but has ruled against the government in some cases involving government regulations.

He was part of a 2010 decision limiting the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of electronic cigarettes. The appeals panel ruled that the devices, which create a nicotine vapor inhaled by users, should be regulated as tobacco products rather than as drug delivery devices.

“In the absence of an authoritative agency interpretation, I conclude that, unless a product derived from tobacco is marketed for therapeutic purposes, the FDA may regulate it only under the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act,” Garland wrote in a concurring opinion.

He has joined decisions that struck down a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission increase in rental fees for hydropower projects on federal land; vacated a Federal Communications Commission penalty against AT&T related to long-distance charges; and sided with the United Mine Workers, which alleged that the Mine Safety and Health Administration had withdrawn a proposed air quality rule without explanation.

There’s an occasional glimpse of humor in his regulatory writings for the court.

One came in an opinion that sided with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board when the agencies determined a pilot was not medically fit to fly due to a history of problems with consciousness and awareness. Garland wrote that the best the pilot’s own medical expert could say about one incident, which occurred on a Boeing 757, was that the pilot “was acting like a teenager.”

“Had the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believed that expert, it might well have taken away the ‘teenager’s’ jet keys on that ground alone,” he wrote.

In a case involving a transit system providing transportation to professional baseball games, Garland wrote, “This appeal raises the following question: Can Congress constitutionally permit a federally-subsidized transit system to take the residents of Seattle out to the ball game?” The appeals court, citing goals of accommodating disabled fans and restoring affordable service, allowed the transit system to resume services to Seattle Mariners games over the objections of private charter carriers.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

As an appeals judge, Garland has joined in decisions that protected water from boat sewage, families from lead paint and even an endangered toad from land development.

But he has not sided so much with environmentalists as with government regulators. His rulings have backed federal agencies that allowed mines to pollute the air, swans to be killed, landfill to foul wetlands and storage of hazardous waste without permits.

The AP found at least 19 Garland cases since 1997 that clearly leaned either toward or against environmental controls. Of those, 10 favored stronger regulation while nine did the opposite. Only three went against government agencies that were under challenge.

environmental issuesIn December 2006, Garland joined a ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on power plant pollution that forms haze over natural areas.

In November 2012, he again backed an EPA regulation in a ruling that said it was enough that the agency’s legal interpretation “was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent.” This time, though, the agency had decided against air pollution controls for leach fields and other waste sites at gold mines.

The pattern is the same in water pollution cases. In February 2003, Garland joined the court in letting the EPA impose radioactivity limits for drinking water. The rules had been challenged by industry groups.

Then, in November 2011, Garland was part of a ruling that supported the Army Corps of Engineers and generally sided with developers of a Florida shopping mall. The ruling allowed fill to be dumped into wetlands, despite the heated objections of conservationists, though it left a single question open on potential impact to rare eastern indigo snakes.

In April 2003, Garland wrote an opinion that upheld a Fish and Wildlife Service decision. This time, he unequivocally favored wildlife protection, blocking a plan to build a California housing development that threatened rare arroyo southwestern toads.

In December 2006, though, when conservationists tried to stop the killing of male mute swans to manage the Chesapeake Bay population, Garland backed an opinion approving the plan. As usual, he sided with the regulating agency, in this case the Interior Department.

THE GLOBAL VIEW

In several high-profile cases, Garland sided with victims and their families when they sued foreign governments, terrorist groups and others for war and terrorism-related damages.

In one of Garland’s strongest dissents, he sided with Iraqi nationals who sued two U.S. contractors involved in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison scandal. In a 2-1 decision, the federal appeals court in 2009 dismissed the lawsuit, saying the companies had immunity as government contractors.

But Garland disagreed, saying no act of Congress barred the plaintiffs from suing private contractors “who were neither soldiers nor civilian government employees.”

“The plaintiffs in these cases allege that they were beaten, electrocuted, raped, subjected to attacks by dogs and otherwise abused by private contractors working as interpreters and interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison,” Garland wrote.

Garland said neither Presidents George W. Bush nor Barack Obama suggested the suit would “interfere with the nation’s foreign policy or the Executive’s ability to wage war.”

Four years earlier, Garland wrote an opinion reinstating a suit against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden filed by Kenyan victims of 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi. The victims sued bin Laden and his terrorist group for orchestrating the bombing that killed 200 people, including 12 Americans.

The district court had dismissed the suit, saying federal courts lacked jurisdiction. Garland disagreed. “The defendants engaged in ‘unabashedly malignant actions directed at (and) felt’ in this country. Bin Laden and al Qaeda should therefore ‘reasonably anticipate being hauled into court’ here by those injured as a result of those actions,” Garland wrote.

In another case, Garland was joined by two other justices, including now-Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, to allow the brother of a slain hostage to sue Libya for his killing.

Peter Kilburn had been an instructor and librarian at American University in Beirut, Lebanon, when he was kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1984. Two years later, in retaliation for a Berlin nightclub bombing that killed two American soldiers, the U.S. bombed Libya — and Libya sought revenge.

A group linked to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi paid Hezbollah $3 million for Kilburn, then murdered Kilburn and left his body along a roadside near Beirut with the bodies of two British hostages.

Kilburn’s brother, Blake, later sued Libya, and the country tried to have the suit dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity. A federal court denied Libya’s motion and Garland’s court affirmed that ruling. His opinion held that the suit could go forward because of a terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

CIVIL RIGHTS

Many of the civil rights cases that have come before Garland are about workplace discrimination, though some have had broader implications.

He was part of a 2004 decision that found a transit authority had waived its immunity from federal lawsuits under the Rehabilitation Act by accepting federal money.

The ruling came in a suit filed by an electrician who said he was fired by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority because of his bipolar disorder. The transit authority countered that he had been fired for insubordination and other behavior.

The authority, created by an interstate compact among Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, argued that it was legally immune to a suit for disability-based discrimination.

The three-judge panel split 2-1, with Garland and Roberts saying the transit authority had waived immunity by accepting the funds. “Congress reasonably can insist that decisions regarding the expenditure of federal funds not be based on irrational discrimination,” Garland wrote.

In 2002, he was part of a panel that reversed a district court that had favored the government in a suit by Catholic prisoners who claimed they were being denied religious rights to drink small amounts of wine during Communion. The panel sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether the prisoners met the threshold of showing a substantial burden on the free exercise of their religion.

In the case of an inmate who sued for sexual harassment at the D.C. jail, Garland ruled to uphold part of her award, but threw out punitive damages. The prisoner said she had been sexually harassed by corrections officers and inmates, including allegations that she was forced by corrections officers to dance naked on a table in front of hundreds of chanting, jeering inmates.

She was awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages in a lower court as well as $5 million in punitive damages. But the punitive damages were reversed because Garland said the district was immune from such damages.

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

When it comes to workers’ rights, many of Garland’s cases originated from the National Labor Relations Board. In a majority of those cases, he sided with labor board rulings, which usually supported pro-labor positions. When Garland dissented from his appeals court colleagues or disagreed with a regulatory ruling, it was usually in support of workers or a union.

His dissent in a 2009 case involving FedEx drivers and the shipping giant is a case in point. Drivers for FedEx’s home-delivery unit filed a complaint with the labor board after the company refused to negotiate with the union they elected to represent them in collective bargaining.

The company argued that the drivers were independent contractors, not employees. As evidence, FedEx showed that home-delivery drivers had the option of selling their routes and hiring helpers.

But the labor board held that the drivers were employees because they were an essential part of FedEx’s home-delivery business and because the company exercised substantial control over them.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court overturned the labor board, finding that FedEx home-delivery drivers were independent contractors because they have “entrepreneurial potential,” can operate multiple routes and sell routes.

Garland disagreed, saying the drivers had little “entrepreneurial opportunity” and noted that FedEx actually put limits on drivers’ ability to sell routes. He said FedEx showed only a rare case or two of “a driver seizing an entrepreneurial opportunity.”

Two years earlier, Garland ruled against a proposed federal rule to increase the driving hours for long-haul truck drivers, citing safety concerns. The consumer group Public Citizen had opposed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulation to increase truck drivers’ daily driving limits from 10 hours to 11 hours as well as a provision to permit an off-duty period of 34 hours to restart the weekly on-duty limits. It said the FMCSA failed to provide an opportunity to comment on the methodology of the crash risk.

images - workers rightsCiting mostly procedural shortcomings, the appeals court granted the group’s petition and vacated the contested portions of the rule. Garland added that the agency’s rules could not be upheld without important aspects of its methodology being fully examined.

In other rulings, Garland:

—Joined a 2004 decision upholding a NLRB finding against a company that refused to recognize its workers’ union after moving them to a different location.

—Upheld a NLRB finding in favor of a woman who handed out fliers at work after hours that expressed concern over how the company was handling layoffs.

—Was part of a 2011 decision that supported an NLRB decision in favor of two employees fired for verbal outbursts against a policy they opposed as unsafe.

OPEN GOVERNMENT

Garland has staked out strong views for keeping government transparent and accountable to the public.

He worried in one of his rare dissents in July 2004 that fellow judges might have given the impression that a Freedom of Information request cannot expose prices paid by federal agencies to contractors. He questioned whether the law really says that and added that, if so, it “should be an exception rather than the rule.”

In September 2009, Garland wrote a powerful defense of the public’s right to know who lobbies Congress. He noted that the Supreme Court long had championed this principle and added that “nothing has transpired in the last half century to suggest that the national interest in the public disclosure of lobbying information is any less vital.”

But he also supported agencies that failed to hand over records. Sometimes, he agreed that they did reasonable searches that simply failed to turn up anything relevant.

In 12 of at least 22 open government cases that came before him since 1997, he has leaned in favor of access, opening the door to release government documents, electronic calendars, audiotapes and other material.

In March 2013, Garland wrote an opinion forcing deeper review of the CIA’s refusal to turn over records on its drone attacks to a civil rights group. Garland said that the intelligence agency could not simply cite national security.

In another case, Garland did not let possible mistakes in records prevent any chance of a full release. In November 2006, he joined in ordering a lower court to reconsider denial of a request for names of people in the U.S. illegally and being held states on behalf of federal authorities. The Justice Department had said releasing such records might embarrass the detainees and unfairly brand misidentified people. But Garland and fellow judges said that risk needed to be formally evaluated — not just asserted.

In November 2005, Garland parted with the court majority in a case involving government scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was largely exonerated of spying accusations in a case that made headlines. Garland urged the court to reconsider a reporter’s effort to protect a confidential source of a leak about Lee, saying the court should be more mindful to the First Amendment and “the importance of a vigorous press.”

In May 2007, Garland voted with the losing side in a ruling in favor of Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner, who later became speaker of the House. Boehner had sued Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington state, for releasing to reporters an illegal recording of a conference call among Republican politicians. Garland joined with other court dissenters who argued that, though the recording was illegally made, McDermott had not violated the law by accepting it.

But Garland did not always opt for openness in politically charged cases. In October 2001, he joined colleagues in blocking release of thousands of pages of Internal Revenue Service documents. A conservative nonprofit law firm wanted the records to examine claims that the agency had unfairly targeted conservative groups for audits.

Associated Press writers Garance Burke, Gene Johnson, Michael Graczyk and Larry Neumeister contributed to this story along with AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner.