Our Newsbeats:

  • The Federal Vacancy Count

    October 22, 2014

    This week’s Federal Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from October 15, 2014, to October 21, 2014. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on October 22nd will be reflected in the October 29th report. There were no changes in the federal judiciary this week. The vacancy warning level remained at blue this week after no new vacancies, no new nominations and no new confirmations. The vacancy percentage remained at 7.2% and the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation remained at 34. The number of vacancies of Article III judges remained at 63 out of 874. A breakdown of the vacancies on each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, see our Federal Court Vacancy Warning System.

    Vacancies by court

    New vacancies

    There were no new vacancies this week.

    New confirmations

    There were no new confirmations this week.

    New nominations

    There were no new nominations this week.

    Current judicial nominee statuses

    The following chart shows the number of nominees in any given step in the nomination process.


    Weekly map

    The weekly map is updated every week and posted here and on the Federal Court Vacancy Warning

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  • Sports betting passes in New Jersey, awaiting signature

    October 20, 2014

    This week’s tracker includes a look at another attempt to legalize sports betting in New Jersey.

    Last week, no state adjourned its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

    • New Jersey: In an attempt to help the struggling casinos and horse racetracks in New Jersey, the New Jersey State Senate and New Jersey General Assembly have passed legislation that would legalize sports betting. The Senate passed S2460 by a vote of 27 to 1, while the General Assembly passed A3711 by a vote of 73 to 4.[1][2] In 2011, New Jersey voters approved a referendum that would legalize sports betting, but after the Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie (R) agreed on legislation, the major American sports leagues and the NCAA sued seeking an injunction, which a judge granted in 2013.[3] The groups argued that the legislation was in violation of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans sports betting in all states, except Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.[3] Those four states chose to opt out at the time of the ban. Last year a federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling against New
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  • Polls show faltering support for medical cannabis initiative in Florida

    October 22, 2014

    Polls once projected a comfortable victory for Florida’s Amendment 2, a medical marijuana legalization initiative. An accurate projection, however, requires that social and political conditions, among other things, do not change over time, something hardly probable in political campaigns. While changing polls show a downswing in support for Amendment 2, they are showing an upswing in support for marijuana legalization in the nation’s capital.

    Probability of medical marijuana legalization falling in Florida

    Floridians, once receptive to Amendment 2, have become increasingly cautious, as an opposition organized and started attacking the initiative as a “de facto legalization” of marijuana.[1] From late 2013 through July 2014, Amendment 2 was polling, on average, at 73 percent, which is well above the required 60 percent majority vote. On multiple occasions, the Quinnipiac University Poll even found support nearing 90 percent.[2][3] Since August 2014, support for the amendment has averaged at 58 percent, and the most recent poll indicated that only 48 percent support the measure.[4]

    Both the pro-amendment campaign, People United for Medical Marijuana, and the anti-amendment campaign, Drug Free Florida, have big financial backers. John Morgan, who is actively campaigning for …

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  • Pension Hotspots: Phoenix, Arizona, and San Diego County, California

    September 27, 2014
    The Pension Hotspots Report is a monthly publication about local pensions and pension reform efforts.

    A new public citizens review process released statements about Proposition 487 in Phoenix in an attempt to clarify the pension reform initiative for voters. Meanwhile, in San Diego County, California, pension fund investors drew harsh criticism by placing all of the county’s pension assets on the line in a new high-risk, all-or-nothing investment strategy, hoping to drastically boost the fund’s health.

    As of September 26, 2014, nine pension related measures have been proposed in 2014. Three of these have been approved and one was defeated. Court decisions removed the initiatives in Pacific Grove, California, and Ventura County, California, from the ballot, leaving three measures scheduled for voter decisions.

    The state’s first Citizens’ Initiative Review releases pro and con statements about Phoenix Proposition 487:

    In a new effort to clarify issues, a Citizens’ Initiative Review process made its debut by reviewing Phoenix Proposition 487, a reform proposal for the city’s underfunded pension system. The review was conducted by an independent panel of voters which investigated and discussed arguments in favor of and opposition to the measure and read the full text of …

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      Pension Hotspots Report
  • JP Election Brief: Everything’s bigger in Texas, including ballots

    October 23, 2014

    October 23, 2014

     Spotlight on Texas

    Texas: The breakdown of Republican and Democratic candidates is as follows:


    Texas judicial elections process

    The winning candidates from each major party’s primary, as well as any additional minor party candidates, compete in a general election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. If a candidate was unopposed in the general election, their name will still appear on the general election ballot.

    Judges of the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Texas Court of Appeals are elected to 6-year terms. Judges of the district courts, county courts, and justice of the peace courts are elected to 4-year terms.[1][2]

    Texas Supreme Court races

    • Four supreme court seats are up for election in 2014.
    • Incumbents for all four seats will compete in the general election.
    • Chief Justice Nathan Hecht beat his Republican challenger in the primary and will face two opponents in the general election.
    • The Libertarian party has four candidates running for seats on the court, and the Green Party has two candidates on the ballot for seats on the court.

    Partisan stakes

    Currently, the Texas Supreme Court has nine …

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  • Governor Brown signs two bills reforming California ballot law and vetoes one

    September 30, 2014

    Changing the laws governing California‘s century-old initiative process in what supporters call a “simple but profound way,” Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 1253 and a supporting law, Assembly Bill 2219. While opponents labeled SB 1253 “one of the top ten terrible bills” and hoped the governor would veto it, the governor expressed full approval for the bill on September 28, 2014. He did, however, veto the added requirements for campaign contribution transparency on initiative petitions found in Assembly Bill 400, dismissing the bill as impractical and unnecessary.[1][2]

    The duo of Senate Bill 1253 – introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-6) – and Assembly Bill 2219 gives initiative proponents the power to withdraw their initiative much nearer the ballot printing deadline than previously permitted, allowing an initiative to be withdrawn at any point up until it qualifies for the ballot. The bill, which was approved 55-23 in the Assembly and 29-8 in the Senate, also provides for a 30-day public interaction and review period when the initiative is first proposed, allowing proponents to alter the proposal in response to public input. The bill allows 30 more days to collect signatures – 180 …

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      Ballot Law Update

Press Release

State Legislative Incumbents Cruise Through Election Season With Little Competition
Madison, Wisconsin–August 4, 2014: This year’s lineup of state legislative elections features record low levels of competition, according to an analysis by Ballotpedia.org. Where competition exists, Republicans are feeling the heat more so than Democrats. In total, 56% of this … Read More