Election 2024: Eclipse 2024

Today was the second of the two Great American Eclipses of the first quarter of the 21st century.

Back in 2017, when I still used this blog for occasional posts unrelated to politics (or genealogy), I had written about the previous eclipse. As was true 7 years ago, I spent today working in cloudy Minnesota, outside the path of totality, while other members of my family managed to partake in the full experience. In particular my eldest son will have the distinction of being the only member of the family to have seen both total eclipses, having gone road-tripping today with some of his University of Illinois frat brothers to Washington, Indiana.

As I was watching the TV coverage early this afternoon, I was suddenly overcome with remorse for not having made an effort to see the eclipse — particularly since today’s path of totality included Kingston, Ontario where my parents live. Adult life gets complicated. Still, it was wonderful to watch the TV coverage, and see glimpses on social media of friends’ eclipse experiences.

And now we return to our irregularly programmed schedule

Today is the deadline for submission of the government’s reply brief to SCOTUS, and amicus briefs aligned with the government, in Trump v. U.S. Just checked and I do not see the reply brief yet, but many amicus briefs have trickled in. I will write more about that case in a couple days once the government’s brief is out.

Trump has continued to make various last-ditch efforts to avoid the trial in New York v. Trump from starting as scheduled a week from today, including apparently filing a lawsuit against Judge Merchan yesterday, although as of this point those proceedings are sealed.

As previously reported, Trump obtained an appeal bond in the amount of $175 million from Knight Security Insurance Company in connection with the New York v. Trump et al judgment. However, a number of questions have arisen about the legitimacy of that bond, including but not limited to the fact that KSIC is not an admitted insurer in New York and that KSIC’s statutory surplus appears to be less than the face amount of the bond. There will be a court hearing related to the appeal bond two weeks from today.

Turning from law to politics:

Trump was apparently pressuring Republican politicians in Nebraska to end that state’s practice, shared only with Maine, of awarding 1 electoral vote for each congressional district won. This is salient because the Nebraska 2nd (Omaha) voted 52-45 for Biden in 2020, even though Republican Representative Don Bacon managed to hold onto his seat, 51-46. However it is now looking unlikely that such a change will get enacted before the April 18th end to the Nebraska legislative season.

In Ohio, the Democrats may have boxed themselves into a corner that could result in Biden being excluded from the presidential ballot. Ohio has an unusual law requiring that presidential candidates be named by their parties more than 90 days before election day. The 2024 DNC is scheduled less than 90 days before election day, while the 2024 RNC is scheduled more than 90 days before. As such, without state legislative action–which had occurred in a previous cycle when both parties’ conventions were within the 90 days, but may not be forthcoming this year in a state whose state-level politics have turned bright red in recent years–is it possible Biden will not appear on the ballot in Ohio? If somehow he didn’t, the resulting expected depression of Democratic turnout would perhaps be fatal to Senator Sherrod Brown’s effort to hold his seat for the Democrats.

In Florida the State Supreme Court recently overruled precedent that the State Constitution’s 1980 amendment to create a “right to privacy” protected abortion rights in Florida, thus allowing Governor DeSantis’ vaunted 6-week abortion ban to take effect. However, at the same time SCOFL allowed a proposed constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights to be placed on this fall’s ballot. It will be interesting to see if having abortion explicitly on the ballot in Florida is enough to bring this state, once the purplest of purple states but more recently solidly red, back into play in 2024.

Finally, speaking of abortion Trump made an announcement this morning that while he remains proud of his role in enabling the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, he believes that abortion rights should be a state issue. This immediately attracted criticism from all sides. Quoting from the AP: “Religious conservatives said they were deeply disappointed. Progressives said he was lying.” It is unclear if, politically, he is better off trying to walk a fine line on abortion to attract independents, at the risk of demotivating his base who would like to see something like a 15-week federal ban.