It's Trump arraignment week — but let's not ignore the other news
Trump is expected in court Tuesday. But don't forget about: DeSantis, West Virginia's anti-trans SCOTUS request, Tuesday's elections, state lawmakers, and a new Arizona death penalty challenge.
The former president of the United States is due to be arraigned on multiple criminal charges Tuesday, setting in motion the first of what could be as many as four criminal proceedings against Donald J. Trump in the coming months.
The arraignment in New York court — coming out of an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office and last week’s announced grand jury indictment of Trump — is scheduled to take place 19 months before the 2024 election, and it is reportedly focused on the hush money payment given to Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The moment is newsworthy, obviously. It deserves attention. And it will get it, here included.
But, it also is a moment where we’ll need to be careful to not let the Trump News Cycle™️ — yet again — overtake other important news. Tuesday could become the news dump day to end all news dump days (until, of course, the next Trump indictment).
So, what else is happening?
DeSantis’s weak week
Related to Trump’s indictment, there was, of course, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s feeble attempt to push his way into the news cycle by saying that Florida won’t help to extradite Trump — even though Trump is planning on turning himself in Tuesday.
I wrote about this at MSNBC, going through the legal logistics and discussing how DeSantis likely could complicate things but not much more than that, even if we got to that point. I also, though, took a step back to remind folks that this does, yet again, tell us something about DeSantis:
Trump will be in New York on Tuesday and DeSantis’ proclamations are no more than a political ploy by the Florida governor to win favor with his potential primary opponent’s devoted base.
It is, however, another example of how DeSantis is not a “better” Republican alternative to Trump. He is just different. And the coming months will give us all many opportunities to see how both men ignore the law when it conflicts with their interests and use any legal powers they have (or think they have) to advance the same.
Supreme Court silence
We still haven’t heard from the U.S. Supreme Court on West Virginia’s attempt, teaming up with the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, to stop a 12-year-old transgender girl, Becky Pepper-Jackson, from running on her middle school’s cross-country team.
At this point, it seems likely that at least one justice is writing in dissent to the court’s decision, whatever it might be, given that this is a shadow docket matter in which the briefing has been complete since March 22.
We are expecting orders at 9:30 a.m. today out of the March 31 private conference of the justices, but those generally do not include shadow docket rulings.
[Update, 11 a.m.:
The full orders list can be found here.]
We could, however, get a ruling in the West Virginia request as soon as later today.
Aside from those items, there are no oral arguments this week and the justices’ next private conference is not scheduled until April 14.
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Election Day on Tuesday
There are some very big elections on Tuesday, most notably for Wisconsin Supreme Court and for Chicago mayor.
In Wisconsin, it’s Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, the Democratic-backed candidate, in her race against former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, the Republican-backed candidate. The outcome of the race will determine whether a 4-3 majority of the court leans left or right. The outcome of Tuesday’s race could affect several issues in the state, including abortion and redistricting, but also national electoral questions given Wisconsin’s role as a key swing state.
In Chicago, it’s the race to be the next mayor of the third largest city in the country. With current Mayor Lori Lightfoot having come in third in the initial election, the two top vote-getters are facing each other in a runoff Tuesday. Brandon Johnson is the progressive Democrat in this race, and Paul Vallas is somewhere between the centrist Democrat and the man on the right, depending on who you talk to.
Legislating continues apace
State lawmakers are pressing forward.
First up, there’s Jessica Valenti, whose daily updates on abortion in our post-Roe America are essential reading.
Second, yes, there are many, many anti-LGBTQ bills moving forward and becoming law — even as some begin to face pushback in court. But, it’s definitely worth a moment to step back and note the power expressed by Trans Day of Visibility — captured so well by Erin Reed.
I’ll have more on the status of anti-LGBTQ legislation in a standalone post later this week.
Arizona death penalty questions
Finally, there was news from the Arizona Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins over the weekend. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has said executions will not take place in the state while a review that she ordered is ongoing. The Arizona Supreme Court already ruled that the court’s death warrant for Aaron Gunches — which was issued earlier this year and set his execution for Thursday — only authorizes his execution, it does not require it.
Nonetheless, Jenkins reported, family members of the man Gunches murdered, Ted Price, have gone to court again, seeking a ruling against Hobbs under the state’s provision protecting victims’ rights.
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