Monthly Archives: June 2020

Hagerty, Sethi denounce Supreme Court decision blocking Trump from ending DACA

Then-Gov. Bill Haslam, Rep. Mark White, and Sen. Todd Gardenhire pose for a photo in March 2018 with supporters of offering instate tuition for students whose parents brought them to country illegally as children. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi are denouncing a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that President Donald Trump can’t immediately dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program from children brought to the country without legal authorization.

The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican appointee. He was joined by the high court’s four more liberal members.

Here’s the statement from Hagerty:

The Supreme Court’s decision to prevent the Trump Administration from dismantling DACA, an immigration policy created via Executive Order by the Obama Administration is appalling and another reminder as to why we need to confirm more constitutionalist judges to the federal bench. We need justices and judges who will not legislate from the bench, but respect the Constitution. Joe Biden and a Democrat Senate majority would confirm nominees who will get it wrong every time. In the Senate, I will support constitutionalist judges and work with President Trump to fix our broken immigration system and build the wall at our southern border.

And here is Sethi:

This is a travesty: My parents waited seven years to immigrate to America legally, and they gave back to the community here in Tennessee. It’s incredibly offensive to me as a first generation American to see other people break the law get benefits, and their children be rewarded for it. Congress needs to fix the system by building the wall, ending chain biased migration, and pausing all legal immigration until we get our economy back on track.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Marville), the man Hagerty is hoping to replace, struck a different tone about the decision:

The Supreme Court’s decision will provide temporary relief to current DACA recipients, but it is clear to me that Congress must act to fix our broken immigration system. Congress should work together to achieve a permanent result both for DACA recipients and border security, and any other improvements to legal immigration that we can agree on—this means something the Senate and the House can pass and that the president will support.

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House GOP picks an unusual bargaining chip in budget debate: Retaining the Hall income tax

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) presides over a House floor session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

For years, the contest among legislative Republicans was over who could move to eliminate the state’s Hall Income Tax the quickest. Now it appears House Republicans want to hold on to the last vestige of the tax on earnings from stocks and bonds for another five years.

The Daily Memphian‘s Sam Stockard reports the House plan would keep the 1% tax on the books until 2025, pulling in about $49 million per year as the state scrambles to make up for revenues lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate wants to keep the levy on it’s current path toward expiration on Jan. 1.

Look no further than House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) to illustrate the political importance of doing away with the Hall tax. As Sexton told the told the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce in 2011. ”

We don’t want to be a state that penalizes people for investments or for saving … It’s also bad policy. We shouldn’t penalize people for saving for the future.

Will Sexton really want to have to explain to constituents — a large portion of whom are retirees — why his first session as House speaker included a resurrection of the hated Hall tax? Probably not. Many political observers see the Hall tax item as a bluff by the House to try to negotiate concessions out of the Senate.

The question is whether House Republicans are really just negotiating with themselves.

Protesters blocked from entering Capitol while Senate candidate hobnobs with lawmakers

State troopers rushed to block demonstrators from entering the state Capitol on Monday. Meanwhile on the inside of the building, U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty pressed the flesh with Republican lawmakers inside the building.

The protesters were given several reasons for why the couldn’t attend Monday’s floor session, including that House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) had closed the building to visitors and that the THP was concerned protesters had previously been involved in defacing the building. The Senate side of the Capitol complex has been closed to all visitors since the General Assembly returned from its coronavirus hiatus.

Later on Monday night, 21 protesters were removed from the Capitol complex for violating a camping ban.

Supreme Court decision lauded by Nashville LGBT Chamber

The Nashville LGBT Chamber is lauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that employers can’t discriminate against gay and transgender employees.

Here’s the full release:

Nashville, TN (June 15, 2020) –  In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has now ensured no employer has the right to discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity through the expansion of Title VII. The ruling grants federal job protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender workers to further advance the cause of LGBTQ rights. Conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s four liberal justices in the majority. 

“This decision reminds us that change is possible when we pursue it from every avenue possible, advocating at the legislature, challenging discriminatory legislation through the courts, organizing and protesting in the community and voting for pro LGBT candidates in every election.” said Joe Woolley, CEO.  “We are particularly proud that even traditionally conservative justices agree that LGBT rights are human rights now enshrined in our laws.”

Business will continue to be the catalyst for continued advancement and positive change for our diverse and marginalized communities. Our 500+ members understand the economic imperative of inclusion and diversity within their businesses and through their policies.  

Woolley continued, “After marriage equality 5 years ago next week, many LGBT and ally people thought the movement for equality was over. They did not realize that you could be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday in over half the country. 28 states had little or no workplace protections for the LGBT community. About 4.5% of the U.S. population, or roughly 11 million people, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer; 88% of them are employed.” 

The LGBT community is a vital part of the American economy and deserves equal treatment under the law. This decision is a shining light in an otherwise tumultuous climate. This is a victory for our community and exemplifies the work of organizations like the Nashville LGBT Chamber. We will continue to advocate for LGBT rights in the workplace. 

 

New Hagerty ad touts business experience (and Trump)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty’s latest TV ad touts his business experience. But don’t call it a pivot — the 30-second spot still contains three references to President Donald Trump.

Here’s what the transcript:

Just like President Trump, Bill Hagerty is a can-do  businessman. Hagerty led economic development in Tennessee, making our economy one of the strongest in America. That’s why President Trump put Hagerty on his advisory board to rebuild America’s economy.  Bill Hagerty will fight to bring manufacturing jobs back from China while cutting taxes for small businesses and workers. Endorsed by President Trump, Bill Hagerty is the proven job creator. 

 

[TRANSCRIPT] Judge says ‘shame on’ state for not following absentee ballot order

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle on Thursday found the state had failed to follow her order to make absentee ballots to anyone concerned about the coronavirus. But the judge stopped short of finding the state in contempt of the court.

“Shame on you for not following that procedure and just taking matters into your own hands,” Lyle said. “So, I’m calling the state out on that, for not adhering to the standards of a legal process, and not adhering to the order.”

Read the judge’s whole ruling from the bench here:

Before the court is the motion of the plaintiff under Tennessee Civil Procedure Rule 65 for me to enforce, compel, require the state to comply and adhere to the injunction order that was entered by the court of June 4, 2020. And in addition, the plaintiffs have asked the court to order sanctions asserting that the state has acted willfully in not complying with the court’s order.

The court’s ruling is that it grants the part of the motion concerning enforcement. The court denies the motion for sanctions. And the court’s reasoning is as follows: With respect to enforcement of the temporary injunction, the court finds the state did violate the court’s order, and did not adhere to the order, and did take steps which  were in direct contradiction of the court’s order.

No private litigant or business would take a court’s order where they had been told to do something and say, well, I think I’ve got a better idea about how this should be done and just do it their way in derogation of what the court has said. And that’s what the state did in this case. They took my order — I did not segregate COVID voters from other voters who had that excuse No. 3, and they changed and modified my order and added a step and a nuance and maybe even a chilling effect, it’s not clear, that the court had contemplated and determined was not correct.

I just have to say that it’s a matter of standards of legal process that the way that’s done and has always been done, is that  you file a motion to modify, you file a motion to alter or amend, you ask for a conference to discuss the remedy. And that’s done every day in this court. And if you think you know a better way to do something, then you come in with a motion and you the court and give the other side an opportunity to have input. And that’s not just the practice, that’s the rule. And it’s followed daily by all attorneys and parties and litigants in this court.

I just really have to say to that point, you know, shame on you for not following that procedure and just taking matters into your own hands. So, I’m calling the state out on that, for not adhering to the standards of a legal process, and not adhering to the order.

What I’m now going to have to do to straighten it out I’m going to have to take down that form they’ve put together and issue a new form along the lines we discussed today, to change Boxes 3 and 4. I’ll get that order out this afternoon and the state will be ordered to change the forms and post them and require election officials to post these new forms by noon tomorrow, and then to change their instructions to comply with this new form, and that will be done by 5 o’clock tomorrow.

In light of the declarations that had been filed with the court about comments and instructions that are being made to voters about voting absentee, the court will look at the compliance order for these state officials to give direction or instructions to the county officials so they will know what to do and what to say. That order will take me longer. And I hope to have that out tomorrow.

Finally, with respect to the awarding of attorneys’ fees or coming up with some dollar amount by the state, we’re in a time of some budget issues and a time of a pandemic when people have got  a lot of concerns. So the court is not going to issue the sanctions. However, there always is the specter of criminal contempt if after today’s orders. If there’s still noncompliance and there’s disobedience, then that’s a route that the court can go.

Tom Cotton endorses Hagerty in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is endorsing Republican Bill Hagerty in the Tennessee Senate race.

Cotton, like Hagerty, was a proponent of calling in active-duty military troops to put down rioting during national protests over police brutality. Manny Sethi, one of Hagerty’s main rivals for the GOP nomination, said the National Guard was better equipped for the task.

The publication of a Cotton op-ed in the New York Times titled “Send in the Troops” led the to resignation of the paper’s editorial page editor.

“Senator Cotton is a true conservative leader, and there are a lot of issues we see eye-to-eye on: namely, China,” Hagerty said ina release. “Senator Cotton has been leading the way on calling out the Communist Chinese Party for what it is – an authoritarian regime that has lied repeatedly to the world about the Wuhan virus. I’m honored and humbled to have Senator Cotton’s support, and I look forward to working with him to protect our conservative values in the Senate.”

Sethi on the air with new ad hitting ‘Leftwing Lockdown’

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi has a new TV ad out in which he goes after what his campaign is calling liberals’ double standard on the coronavirus lockdown.

Here’s the text of the ad:

Across America, opening a business is a crime. Burning a business is not? Dinner with neighbors gets you arrested. Beating neighbors does not? Church with too many people is a crime. Thousands of people protesting is not? Got a problem with any of that? You’re a racist! And you want to kill Grandma. Had enough? Me too. That’s why I’m running. Send me to the Senate. I’m Dr. Manny Sethi, and I approve this message. 

Report: Jacksonville now frontrunner for RNC convention

Jacksonville has been tentatively chosen as the new site for the Republican presidential convention, according to The Washington Post. Tennessee Republicans had hoped to draw the event to Nashville.

Officials tell the paper many of the lower-profile meetings would still take place in Charlotte, N.C., while holding the finale elsewhere. The move is aimed at shielding the party from lawsuits over moving the event after it couldn’t resolve a dispute with the state’s Democratic mayor over social distancing requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can’t do social distancing,” Trump told Gov. Roy Cooper in a phone call last month, according to the Post. 

The dispute led governors in Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee to lobby the White House to bring the event to their states.

Jacksonville, like Nashville, is still under restrictions on large gatherings and orders restricting businesses fr0m fully reopening.

Plaintiffs in absentee voting case file contempt motion against state

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit over Tennessee’s absentee voting law have filed a contempt motion against the state for alleged violations of the judge’s order to immediately begin supplying mail-in ballots to anyone who asks for one.

Following last week’s ruling, State Election Coordinator Mark Goins sent an email to local officials telling them to “hold off” on sending absentee voting applications until the state could revise its forms or seek a stay in the judge’s order. The state then created a new category on its ballot application form that states voters are requesting to vote by mail because they have “determined it is impossible or unreasonable to vote in person due to the COVID-19 situation and therefore qualify as hospitalized, ill, or disabled and unable to appear at my polling place.”

The plaintiffs argue that the creation of that category wasn’t permitted by the court order, that it includes no definition of the “impossible or unreasonable” standard, and that there is no provision for someone to certify they can’t vote in person because they are caring for someone else.

“This unilateral disregard of the Court’s Order is designed to place increased scrutiny on voters who wish to do nothing more than to rely on this Court’s Order, lead to voter confusion and intimidation, and enable the state to segregate these voters’ absentee ballot requests and refrain from processing them,” according to the motion.

“The State has made calculated decisions to act contrary to the plain text of the Order and has instructed county election officials to do the same,” the plaintiffs said.

Goins told The Associated Press the state is complying and the plaintiffs aren’t citing the most up-to-date guidance.

“We are disappointed that plaintiffs have chosen to pursue a false narrative by leaving out updated guidance we distributed to counties on Friday that is being implemented,” Goins told the AP.

A hearing before Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has been scheduled for Thursday.