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On the roster: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, R.I.P. - Dems prepare SupCo term limit bill - Fox Poll: Tight in Ohio, Biden tops in Nevada, Pennsylvania - Hurricane Donald bears down on Florida - Got stick?
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, R.I.P.
In the year that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born, the Supreme Court was notable for its ethnic and religious diversity. It included one Roman Catholic and the first two Jews to ever be confirmed to the high court.
All dudes, of course, but the fact that three of the nine seats were not held by WASPs was a matter of pride or consternation, depending on where you sat in 1933.
Justice James Clark McReynolds, for instance, was a bigot of such enthusiasm that he refused to speak directly with his new Jewish colleagues, justices Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo.
But back then, 30 of the 48 states had laws forbidding interracial marriage of one kind or another, and across the former Confederacy Black/White segregation was the law. But no law was required to enforce the social norms that forbade entry to the halls of power for Blacks, Jews and Catholics, especially of Eastern and Southern European Origin in much of the rest of the country.
We forget that the massive surge in popularity of the Ku Klux Klan in the decade prior to Ginsburg’s birth was more about excluding Catholic and Jewish immigrants in places like Indiana than the original version in the Reconstruction South.
In 1925, 30,000 Klansmen in white robes marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the evident delight of the Washington Post which described it thusly: “Phantom-like hosts of the Ku Klux Klan spread their white robe over the most historic thoroughfare yesterday in one of the greatest demonstrations this city has ever known.”
Right by the Capitol where Ginsburg’s body lies in state, Klansmen marched by for three hours with a message for people like her father, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine living in Brooklyn: This is our federal city, this is our government. And given how few were willing to oppose them, they were probably right.
But the message is just as loud today as she became the first woman and the first Jewish American to lie in state. Believers in the American creed of human equality and the natural rights of all people can mark today as yet another milestone in our long journey to live up to those aims.
The court on which Ginsburg was serving when she died included three women, one African American, a Latina, two Jews, five Roman Catholics and just one Protestant.
That’s neither good nor bad when it comes to the quality of the decisions of the court. A diverse court has every bit as much of a right to be wrong as a homogenous one.
But what it tells us is that we have come so far in the years Ginsburg was on this earth, and more than a little of it was thanks to her dogged refusal to accept the world as it was presented to her.
Rest in peace.
THE RULEBOOK: RISE UP
“There are strong minds in every walk of life that will rise superior to the disadvantages of situation, and will command the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which they particularly belong, but from the society in general.” – Alexander Hamilton, discussing the different classes of the community, Federalist No. 36
TIME OUT: NUMBERS MAN
WSJ: “For 65 years, Rand Corp.’s reference book ‘A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates’ has enjoyed a reputation as the go-to source for random numbers. Until, on a random whim, Gary Briggs came along and ruined it all. Mr. Briggs, a Rand software engineer, spent his spring rifling through the million digits and discovered that while the numbers inside are indeed quite random, the venerated book is not quite right. ‘It’s this seminal 65-year-old piece that we all herald and revere,’ says Mr. Briggs, an 11-year veteran of the Santa Monica, Calif., research organization, ‘so the idea that I’m finding errors that we’ve ignored for 65 years is upsetting.’ Before modern computers, he says, ‘it was really hard to get high-quality random numbers.’ The book changed that for a generation of pollsters, lottery administrators, market analysts and others who needed means of drawing random samples.”
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NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 43.4 percent
Biden: 50.8 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 7.4 points
Change from one week ago: Biden ↑ 1.6 points, Trump ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: Trump 42% - Biden 52%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 43% - Biden 51%; NPR/PBS News/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 52%; AP/NORC: Trump 40% - Biden 44%; Fox News: Trump 46% - Biden 51%; Kaiser Family Foundation: Trump 43% - Biden 48%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -9 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1.8 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS News/Marist: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 56% disapprove; Fox News: 48% approve - 51% disapprove.]
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
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DEMS PREPARE SUPCO TERM LIMIT BILL
Reuters: “Democrats in of the House of Representatives will introduce a bill next week to limit the tenure of U.S. Supreme Court justices to 18 years from current lifetime appointments, in a bid to reduce partisan warring over vacancies and preserve the court’s legitimacy. The new bill, seen by Reuters, would allow every president to nominate two justices per four-year term and comes amid heightened political tensions as Republican President Donald Trump prepares to announce his third pick for the Supreme Court after the death on Sept. 18 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with just 40 days to go until the Nov. 3 election. ‘It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,’ said California U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, who plans to introduce the legislation on Tuesday, along with Representatives Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts and Don Beyer of Virginia.”
Who’s Biden looking at? - Axios: “In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Democrats are compiling lists of Black women they want Joe Biden to consider for the bench if he's elected — with an eye toward people from outside the traditional legal establishment. Supreme Court appointments are one of the most consequential parts of any president's legacy, and a President Biden would need to find picks who could try to wrangle liberal victories from a solid conservative majority. Biden has stayed silent on who he might appoint to the Supreme Court, and has said he won't release a list of potential nominees, the way President Trump did in 2016. But he has pledged to select a Black woman if elected and presented that opportunity. Ketanji Brown Jackson, a district court judge in D.C., is an obvious contender. She was on President Obama's shortlist to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and has all the standard qualifications for modern nominees — Harvard Law, prominent clerkships and a spot on the federal bench.”
White House begins reaching out to key senators - WaPo: “The White House has started its outreach to key senators who will play influential roles in the confirmation fight for President Trump’s yet-to-be-named nominee to the Supreme Court, a sign that the administration is preparing to move rapidly once the president reveals his pick Saturday afternoon. White House officials have asked several members, both Democratic and Republican, of the Senate Judiciary Committee if they would like to meet personally with the nominee starting next week, according to two officials directly familiar with the invitations. The administration has not disclosed the identity of the nominee in its outreach to senators, but Trump’s choice is widely believed to be Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The courtesy one-on-one meetings between a Supreme Court nominee and senators are a traditional fixture of the confirmation process. Depending on the senator, the visits range from quick photo ops to lengthy, in-depth discussions about a nominee’s judicial philosophy.”
FOX POLL: TIGHT IN OHIO, BIDEN TOPS IN NEVADA, PENNSYLVANIA
Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in the battleground states of Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, according to Fox News statewide likely voter surveys. In each of the three states, majorities disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, pluralities say coronavirus is ‘not at all’ under control, and Biden is the preferred choice when it comes to handling the virus. Plus, he’s favored over Trump to nominate the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. There are few undecided voters, and Biden’s support is 50 percent or better in each state. His advantage over Trump is outside the margin of error in Nevada and Pennsylvania, but not Ohio. Across the states, Biden’s edge comes mainly from women, nonwhites, voters under age 35, and those ages 65 and over. … About 9 in 10 of both Biden and Trump supporters in each state are extremely or very interested in the election.
Nevada - Hispanic likely voters favor Biden in the presidential race -- and that helps give him a 52-41 percent lead over Trump in Nevada. … Trump lost Nevada in 2016 by less than 3 points, receiving about 46 percent of the vote. Today, that same number, 46 percent, approve of his job performance, while 53 percent disapprove.
Ohio - It’s a 5-point race in Ohio, Biden 50 percent vs. Trump 45 percent. Here’s why it’s tight. Men back the president by 4 points, while women go for Biden by 14. White voters without a college degree pick Trump by 18 points, while Whites with a degree back Biden by 7. And Trump is the choice among rural voters by 17 points, while suburbanites like Biden by 10. Biden’s overall advantage comes mainly from his 75-point lead among nonwhites. Whites favor Trump by 7.
Pennsylvania - Likely voters in Pennsylvania favor Biden over Trump, 51-44 percent. In 2016, Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania (by less than one percentage point). It was the first time since 1988 that a Republican presidential candidate had won the state. Eight percent of those who backed him in 2016 are Biden supporters today.
Pollpourri - Over half of those planning to cast their ballot in person favor Trump in Nevada (53 percent), Ohio (59 percent), and Pennsylvania (62 percent). Majorities of those voting by mail support Biden: 71 percent in Nevada, 67 percent in Ohio, and 79 percent in Pennsylvania.”
HURRICANE DONALD BEARS DOWN ON FLORIDA
AP: “President Donald Trump tried on Friday to chip away at his Democratic rival’s support among Hispanic voters in Florida, who could determine the election outcome in this crucial battleground state. ‘Joe Biden betrayed Hispanic Americans and I’m fighting for you,’ Trump said at a ‘Latinos for Trump’ roundtable at his golf club in Doral, where he spent the night after a rally in Jacksonville. It’s part of a two-day campaign swing that is ticking off boxes, both geographically and with key constituencies. Trump started his trip talking health care in North Carolina, where polls show him and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden effectively tied, and will end it with a rally Friday night in Newport News, Virginia. Biden is well ahead of Trump in the state, which the president lost by more than 5 percentage points in 2016. But the location is close to key North Carolina counties that are difficult for the president to visit, according to the campaign, because not all airports can accommodate Air Force One and its landing requirements.”
Despite the talk, Trump White House prepares for transition - Politico: “President Donald Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. But his team is carefully developing plans for that very outcome. One of the most organized and functional parts of the Trump White House these days is a surprising place — the West Wing office planning a potential presidential transition. As the president rails against mail-in ballots and ‘Sleepy Joe Biden,’ assistant to the president Chris Liddell has spent weeks mapping out a possible handover of power to Democrat Joe Biden. Liddell has met the congressionally mandated deadlines to file two different transition reports in May and August. He is working closely with a career government official who is serving as the federal transition coordinator — typically the type of worker Trump would label as part of the ‘Deep State.’ And the Justice Department has already agreed to start pre-processing Biden officials’ security clearances just in case he wins, according to people familiar with the planning.”
We may know quite a bit on election night - WSJ: “Pundits are warning that election night in November may turn into election week or even election month. … These nightmare scenarios ignore several key facts, however. Most states begin processing their ballots before election day, and almost all begin putting them through scanners before the polls close. Many states intermingle sent-by-mail and election-day ballots at the polling places, where they are scanned together, so that when the precinct count is released, it contains both in-person and mail ballots. In such states—which include such battlegrounds as New Hampshire and most of Wisconsin—the polling place counts may be released a few hours later than they might in another year, but not days later. More generally, local jurisdictions have been preparing all summer for a surge in mail ballots; most will be counted on election day in parallel with the day’s in-person ballots, so that the results of many ballots cast in advance can be announced early on election night.”
Obama, Harris to hold joint fundraising events next week - Bloomberg: “Barack Obama will join Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris at a pair of fundraising events next Friday, according to people familiar with the former president’s plans. The two will hold a virtual small-dollar fundraiser and also a virtual event for high-dollar donors, with tickets selling for $100,000 or $250,000. The events will be Obama’s first fundraisers with Harris since Democratic nominee Joe Biden selected her as his running mate in August. Earlier this month, the Biden campaign released a video of a conversation between Obama and Harris in which he gave tips and shared stories about working with Biden, his vice president for eight years. Obama and Biden held a grassroots fundraiser in June that brought in $7.6 million. An additional $3.4 million was raised from an event reserved for high-dollar donors. Obama also headlined a fundraiser for the Biden campaign in July with actor George Clooney.”
SENATE TO TAKE UP FUNDING BILL NEXT WEEK
Reuters: “The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to take up a stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government operating through Dec. 11, paving the way for final passage that would avoid a government shutdown next week. But work on the measure appeared unlikely to finish before the deadline next Wednesday, after Democrats used procedural rules to extend the debate as part of their protests over Republicans’ rushing to fill a Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week. With government funding running out next Wednesday, the legislation would continue funding most programs at current levels, and thus avoid a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic and ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. election. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 93-2 to open debate on the measure. Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said the vote on final passage was expected next Wednesday. Thune said the Senate could have finished work on the bill this week but that Democrats insisted on delay.”
Pelosi tells leadership to ready corona relief bill just in case - Politico: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed her committee chairs to assemble a scaled back coronavirus relief package as a basis for potential talks with the White House, according to Democratic sources. But an agreement still seems out of reach, and the House could vote on the new proposal next week even without GOP support. Pelosi and House Democratic leaders met Thursday afternoon to decide on what course they will take. ‘We are still striving for an agreement,’ Pelosi told her leadership team, according to a source familiar with the meeting. ‘If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor.’ … Putting the bill on the floor would also be a win for Pelosi’s deputy, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has been pushing the idea for weeks. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) confirmed the plan later Thursday, saying a vote, if it were to happen, would likely occur next week before the chamber leaves for recess.”
FBI OFFICIAL: FLYNN PROSECUTION HAD ‘GET TRUMP’ ATTITUDE
Fox News: “An FBI official who served on Robert Mueller’s team said he believed the special counsel’s prosecution of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was part of an attitude to ‘get Trump,’ and that he did not wish to pursue a Trump-Russia collusion investigation as it was ‘not there’ and considered it to be a ‘dead end.’ FBI agent William J. Barnett made the comments during an interview on Sept. 17 at the Justice Department, before Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Jeffrey Jensen, who was tapped by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the case against Flynn. Jensen has joined U.S. Attorney John Durham’s team in his review of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. Those comments have surfaced in new government documents. Fox News reviewed Barnett’s FBI 302, which was filed by the U.S. government early Friday as part of the Flynn case.”
Concerns rise from Pennsylvania ballot investigation - Politico: “Election experts and lawyers are bewildered by a press release from the Department of Justice, in which the department said it had begun an inquiry into a handful of military ballots in a northeastern Pennsylvania county. Most unusually, the release revealed that the voters had cast their ballots for President Donald Trump. On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced it had opened an inquiry into nine ballots that were found ‘discarded,’ without elaborating on what exactly that meant. All nine ballots had been cast for Trump, the release said. The Justice Department later issued an amended statement, saying that in fact seven had been cast for Trump and two had been resealed, meaning it could not be determined for whom the other ballots were cast. The press releases did not specify any particular crime or allege any wrongdoing, and said election officials were cooperating in learning what went wrong.”
Axios: “The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week. There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like. The U.S. is now averaging roughly 43,000 new cases per day, a 16% increase from a week ago. The biggest increases are largely concentrated in the West and Midwest, though Maine and New Jersey also saw their new infections tick up over the past week. Seven states — Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — saw their daily infections rise by at least 60% over the past week. Testing was up by almost 22% over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting about 860,000 coronavirus tests per day. There's every reason to believe the next several months will be a particularly high-risk period.”
Judges skeptical of Team Trump arguments on tax returns - Reuters
Trump campaign unveils ‘Platinum Plan’ in appeal to Black voters - Fox News
Court rules to extend Census counting through Oct. 31 - NPR
Pentagon prepares for post-election nightmare scenario - NYT
Ron Paul hospitalized for ‘precautionary’ reasons in Texas - Fox News
AUDIBLE: WARNING SIGN?
“The question at hand is not whether or not we are going to ultimately lose. It’s whether or not we are going to be able to extract any flesh and bone from the other side in the process, and to what extent we can use this process to help determine which of these Democratic senators need to be kicked the f*** out of office the next time they come up for reelection.” – Patriotic Millionaires president Erica Payne, per the National Journal, urging Democrats to “use every possible procedural tool at your disposal to disrupt” the Supreme Court nomination process.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Brit Hume anchors for Mr. Sunday from the site of the first presidential debate in Cleveland! Tune in as he sits down with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Plus, tune in for a special legal panel with Ken Starr and Laurence Tribe. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Tampa Bay Times: “A misunderstanding over a few Lightning fans' passion for their team during the Stanley Cup final Wednesday night produced a scene in Tampa rife with cops and, in the end, comic relief. Devon Garnett, a bay area super fan of sorts recently profiled by the Tampa Bay Times, was watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday evening with two buddies at Radius Palms apartments near USF. In one first-period sequence, when Victor Hedman controlled the puck in the Lightning’s offensive zone, the friends began screaming, ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ at the TV. Evidently, that prompted a neighbor to call police. Minutes later, a handful of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies were at their doorstep. … In a sheriff’s office dispatch report released late Thursday afternoon, the complainant told police he heard a couple screaming at each other, with one yelling, ‘I dare you to shoot!’ … ‘It was a roommate screaming at the TV in regards to a Lightning game.’ With that, the cops went on their way, Garnett said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“For euphemism, dissimulation and outright hypocrisy, there is nothing quite as entertaining as the periodic Senate dust-ups over Supreme Court appointments and the filibuster.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) in a column about the power of the filibuster in the Washington Post on April 6, 2017.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.