Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2021 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated May 11, 2021.

This is a preview of the November 2 elections in Kalamazoo County.

Kalamazoo City Commission

The mayor and three seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor David Anderson (on since 2005, mayor since 2019), Patrese Griffin (2019), Erin Knott (2015), Jack Urban (2013), Eric Cunningham (2017), Jeanne Hess (2019), and Chris Praedel (2019).

In 2014, Kalamazoo voters passed a charter amendment changing the charter by electing the mayor separately and implementing staggered four-year terms for the other seats (similar to the system Portage uses).  In 2019, Griffin, Hess, and Praedel got four-year terms.  The other three seats were up in 2017.

Mayor Anderson, a center-left democrat, is expected to run for reelection.  He defeated David Benac, a Bernie Sanders fan, in 2019 and could face a challenge from the left this year.

Cunningham will not run again.  It is unknown whether Knott or Urban will run again.

Other candidates will likely run.

Portage City Council

The mayor and three seats on the Portage City Council are up for election.  Patricia Randall was elected mayor in 2017 after serving on the council since 2009.  She was unopposed in 2019 and it is unknown whether she will be opposed this time.

The other councilmembers are Terry Urban (1997), Claudette Reid (2005), Jim Pearson (2011), Lori Knapp (2017), Chris Burns (2017), and Vic Ledbetter (2020).

The three seats up for 4-year terms are held Urban, Reid, and Knapp. It is unknown whether they will run for reelection, or whether other candidates will run.

Vic Ledbetter filled a seat vacated by the resignation of Richard Ford.  There will be an election for a 2-year term for that seat.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Is Third Party Vote Dropoff Evidence of Voter Fraud?

Stu Cvrk at RedState has yet another article promoting voter fraud conspiracy theories.  He claims that the drop in third party and write-in votes between 2016 and 2020 is evidence of voter fraud.  In particular, he claims that voting machines were programmed to declare third party votes needed adjudication, and then election officials declared these votes to be for Biden.

There is nothing unusual about the third party vote declining when an incumbent is running for reelection.  Consider recent pairs of elections when an incumbent sought first an second terms.

5.7% 2016 -> 2.8% 2020
1.4% 2008 -> 1.7% 2012
3.7% 2000 -> 1.0% 2004
19.5% 1992 -> 10.1% 1996
1.0% 1988 -> 19.5% 1992
8.3% 1980 -> 0.6% 1984

Thus in the last 40 years, third party total declined four times and increased twice (once by a trivial amount).  This shouldn't be surprising.  When an incumbent runs for reelection, the election tends to become a referendum on the incumbent.  In 2016, many voters disliked both candidates, so they voted for third party candidates or write-ins as a protest.  In 2020, Trump won back some disgruntled conservatives, while many leftists and centrist rallied to Biden to defeat Trump.

Another relevant factor is the strength of the third party candidates.  In 2016, the Libertarian candidate was Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico.  In 2020, they ran an obscure adjunct professor who didn't make any impact.  Of course, the huge jump in 1992 is largely explained by Ross Perot, a billionaire who spent a fortune to run a credible national campaign.

Also arguing strongly against this theory is that the decline in third party votes happened in every state (and probably every county as well) between 2016 and 2020.  Were the vote counting machines corrupted everywhere, regardless of location and manufacturer?  Note that vote adjudication is a manual process, so rigging this would require crooked operatives in tens of thousands of vote counting locations all across the country.  And if they missed any of them, the third party vote totals would be wildly out of sync with the rest of the country.

These theories keep getting dumber and dumber.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

May 2021 Judiciary News

Mayday! Mayday!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Diversity:  In President Biden's initial slate of judicial nominees, "nine of the eleven nominees are female, five are African American, three are Asian American—I’m including one who is Arab American (as well as Muslim)—and one is Latina".  Naturally, Latino groups are attacking the administration for not caring about them.

Diversity:  "A Biden Judge Would Be the First-Ever Muslim on the Federal Bench. Some Muslims Are Furious" due to his work for ICE and the US military during the Iraq War.

Nominations:
WD-WA: David Estudillo--Grant County Superior Court judge
WD-WA: Tana Lin--trial lawyer
D-NJ: Christine O’Hearn--trial lawyer

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
TBD

The Federal Judiciary:

Court packing:  Several progressive Ds in Congress introduced legislation to pack the Supreme Court, adding four seats.  There is essentially no nonpartisan argument for the change, as explained by Thomas Jipping.

Commission:  President Biden has appointed a commission on the Supreme Court.  Josh Blackman notes that about 2/3 of the members are on the left, and 1/3 are on the center or right.  The commission is tasked with surveying arguments on the issue but not to make recommendations, which suggests that Biden is not planning to pack the Supreme Court.

Breyer:  Justice Breyer came out against packing the Supreme Court in a speech at Harvard Law School.  He argued that it would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.  Get ready for progressives to declare Breyer a white supremacist.

Breyer:  Justice Breyer hired a full slate of four clerks for next year, leading observers such as David Lat to believe that it is likely he will not retire.  Retiring justices often, but not always, hire fewer than four clerks when they are planning to retire.

Chief Judges:  Jacob Finkel claims Trump appointees to circuit courts were picked so that several Trump appointees will become chief judge in the future.  Of course, it could just be that somewhat older candidates had the inside track on the first appointments.  He also speculates without evidence that Trump-appointed chief judges will manipulate 3-judge panels to help their preferred policy outcomes.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 106 current and future judicial vacancies.  The 13 appeals court vacancies are on the 1st (1), 2nd (3), 4th (1), 7th (1), 9th (2), 10th (2), DC (2), and Federal (1).  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
SD-NY: Colleen McMahon (Clinton) 4/10 (senior)
9th Circuit: Marsha Berzon (Clinton) TBD (senior)
D-UT: David Nuffer (Obama) 4/2/22 (senior)
ED-PA: Petrese Tucker (Clinton) 6/1 (senior)
D-DC: Ketanji Brown Jackson (Obama) TBD (elevated)
Claims: Lydia Griggsby (Obama) TBD (elevated)
ED-CA: John Mendez (W) 4/17/22 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Idaho:  The Idaho Judicial Council selected 3 applicants for seat on the Idaho Supreme Court being vacated by Justice Roger Burdick.  They are Idaho Court of Appeals judge Jessica Lorello, 
magistrate judge Diane Walker, and Idaho deputy attorney general Colleen Zahn.

Louisiana:  The Louisiana state senate passed a bill to increase the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven to nine seats, and to force redrawing of the Supreme Court districts each decade to reflect population shifts.  The bill passed by a bipartisan 36-2 vote.

Michigan:  Justice Richard Bernstein (D) has been working from Dubai for the past three months.  He is up for re-election next year.  State rep. Beau LaFave (R) commented, "Having enough privilege to leave Michigan, where you voted to let the Governor become a dictator, move to a proper dictatorship, continue ruling on cases, and keep getting paid, is the real Bernstein Advantage."

Missouri:  There are 25 applicants for the Missouri Supreme Court seat vacated by Laura Denvir Stith.  The Appellate Judicial Commission will begin interviewing candidates on May 19.

Montana:  Montana's new law eliminating the judicial nominating commission is being challenged in court.  Chief Justice Mike McGrath recused himself.  There was an organized effort to get lower court judges to take positions on the bill, including the judge who would have replaced McGrath.  The legislature issued a subpoena for the communications of the organizer of the effort.  The Supreme Court tried to quash the subpoena, but the attorney general refused to respect the ruling.

Ohio:  The state senate passed a bill to list the partisan affiliations of Supreme Court candidates in the general election.  Currently candidates run in partisan primaries but the general election is nonpartisan.  The Ohio Supreme Court has a 4 R 3 D breakdown.

Pennsylvania:  Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson has been endorsed by the NRA and GOA.  The other GOP candidates for an open Supreme Court seat, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick, and Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, are also courting pro-gun voters.  The primary is May 18, and the winner will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin (D) in the November 2 general election.

Wisconsin:  R candidates picked up two seats on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in the April 6 election.  In district 2, Shelley Grogan won 56-44 over incumbent Jeffrey Davis, who was appointed to replace Brian Hagedorn.  In district 3, Gregory Gill defeated Rick Cveykus 55-45 for the seat of retiring judge Mark Seidl.

Numbers and Trivia:

As of May 23, Jeffrey Sutton will be the Chief Judge of the 6th Circuit, taking over from R. Guy Cole. Cole was appointed by Clinton.  Sutton clerked for Scalia.  He was appointed by W in 2003, and is a feeder judge.

As of May 24, Kimberly Ann Moore will be the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, taking over from Sharon Proust. Moore was appointed by W in 2001 and Proust by W in 2006. 

The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts will be Clinton (4, 9), W (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (DC).

Here are the numbers of senior status declarations/retirements for the past few months.
1 December
20 January
19 February
8 March
7 April

History:

Court Packing:  Carrie Severino surveys statements by Senate Ds opposing court packing.  We shall see whether these statements have expiration dates.

Retirements:  Joan Biskupic reviews the history of presidents encouraging Supreme Court justices to retire.

Resources:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Facts about 2020 Election Lawsuits

One stumbling block to claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election is the large number of court rulings against lawsuits making such claims.  Some proponents of these theories have tried to argue that no judges actually examined the merits of these claims, but this is false.

A recent RedState article by Stu Cvrk takes a different tack, arguing that Trump and his allies actually won many election lawsuits.  It points to an interesting database of such lawsuits.

2020 US Presidential Election Related Lawsuits

The article and database try to spin the results as favorably for Trump as possible, but they omit a few pertinent observations.  Most of the wins are in the category of "rules", one in "process", and one "miscellaneous".  None of the wins involve vote counting machines or other voter fraud.

Changes to election laws and policies that occurred shortly before the election are a legitimate issue, though often overstated.  Many of these changes were reversed prior to the election.

All but one of the wins in cases filed by Trump and his allies occurred before the election or the next day.  Only one occurred later.  The time to challenge these changes was before the election, not after.  Overturning the election based on policies that weren't challenged before the election was never going to happen.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

April 2021 Judiciary News

Happy liberal judges day!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Garland:  The Senate approved Merrick Garland as Attorney General by a 70-30 vote.  The Senate Judiciary Committee previously him by a 15-7 vote.  His seat on the DC Circuit is now open for President Biden to fill.

DC Circuit:  President Biden has nominated judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the DC Circuit.  According to Ed Whelan, Jackson has a "middling reputation" for competence.  He lists several times she was overturned by D-appointed judges on the DC Circuit.

Blue slip:  Florida house Ds, apparently led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and impeached former federal judge Alcee Hastings, are trying to set up a judicial selection commission with the goal of bypassing Florida's R senators.  Senator Rick Scott is firmly opposing the effort.

D-NV:  Nevada's senators are planning to recommend Judge Jennifer Togliatti for a seat on the Nevada district court.  She was previously nominated by President Trump in 2019.  Her nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee 15-7 (with conservatives in opposition) and she did not receive a final vote.

Nominations:
DC Circuit: Ketanji Brown Jackson--clerk for Breyer, Judge (D-DC)
7th Circuit: Candace Jackson-Akiwumi--clerk for Roger Gregory (4th Circuit)
Federal Circuit: Tiffany Cunningham--clerk for Timothy Dyk (Federal Circuit)
D-MD: Deborah Boardman--Magistrate Judge
D-MD: Lydia Kay Griggsby--Judge (Claims)
D-DC: Florence Pan--clerk for Ralph Winter (2nd Circuit), Judge (DC Superior Court)
D-NJ: Julien Neals--Acting County Administrator for Bergen County
D-NJ: Zahid Quraishi--Magistrate Judge
D-CO: Regina Rodriguez--AUSA
D-NM: Margaret Strickland--trial lawyer

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
TBD

The Federal Judiciary:

2nd Circuit:  Judge Peter Hall of the 2nd Circuit died of cancer on March 11 at age 72.  He had not heard cases since August, and took senior status on March 4.  He was a moderate to liberal Vermont R who was appointed by W in 2004 after being the US attorney for Vermont.

8th Circuit:  Former Judge Kermit Bye of the 8th Circuit (ND) died on March 20 at age 84.  He was appointed by Clinton in 2000, took senior status in 2015, and retired in 2016.

10th Circuit:  This circuit now has an even split of R and D appointees, due to D appointees Carlos Lucero and Mary Briscoe taking senior status.  Of course, this split isn't likely to last very long.

Judicial conference:  The US Judicial Conference has its annual recommendations for new judgeships.  It is recommending two new judgeships for the 9th Circuit, down from five in previous years.  They are also recommending the addition of 77 new district judges, including 30 in California, 12 in Texas, and 11 in Florida.  They also recommend converting 9 temporary judgeships to permanent.

Judicial workload:  Ed Whelan is skeptical of the need for new appellate judges on the 9th Circuit.

Judicial vacancies:  Ed Whelan asks why there has been a relatively small number of appellate vacancies announced since Joe Biden took office.  He cites parochial reasons including judges' roles on 3-judge and en banc panels.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 100 current and future judicial vacancies.  The 12 appeals court vacancies are on the 1st (1), 2nd (3), 4th (1), 7th (1), 9th (1), 10th (2), DC (2), and Federal (1).  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
SD-NY: George Daniels (Clinton) 5/1 (senior)
D-CO: Richard Jackson (Obama) 9/30 (senior)
2nd Circuit: Peter Hall (W) 3/4 (senior)
DC Circuit: Merrick Garland (Clinton) 3/10 (confirmed AG)
D-MA: William Young (Reagan) 6/1 (senior)
Federal Circuit: Evan Wallach (Obama) 5/31 (senior)
Trade: Timothy Stanceu (W) 4/5 (senior)
SD-IA: John Alfred Jarvey (W) 3/18/22 (retired)

State Supreme Courts:

Arizona:  Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould will retire from the court on April 1.  He is expected to run for Attorney General, as AG Mark Brnovich is term-limited.  Gould was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey in 2016.  Ducey will get to make his sixth appointment to the court.

Idaho:  Nine attorneys have applied for the seat on the Idaho Supreme Court being vacated by Justice Roger Burdick.  The Idaho Judicial Council will select 2-4 applicants for Governor Brad Little to select from.

Maine:  As of April 14, a seat on Maine Supreme Judicial Court will have been open for one year.  Governor Janet Mills has yet to name a new chief justice to replace Leigh Saufley, who left to become Dean of the University of Maine School of Law.

Montana:  Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill to make judicial appointments directly without a nominating commission.  Judges will still have to contest the next general election after their appointment.

New Jersey:  Governor Phil Murphy will nominate Rachel Wainer Apter, age 40, an ACLU attorney and Ginsburg clerk to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  She would replace Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who will retire August 31.

New York:  Justice Paul Feinman retired on March 23 and died 8 days later.  There are two other impending vacancies due to the retirements of Leslie Stein on June 4 and Eugene Fahey on December 31.  All three were appointed by Andrew Coumo.  Coumo can nominate successors, though his legal troubles may make it harder to confirm them.

Oklahoma:  Eight individuals have applied for the open seat on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, District 6 (Congressional District 1).  The Judicial Nominating Commission will interview the candidates.

Pennsylvania:  The GOP candidates for the open Supreme Court seat are Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick, and Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough.  The primary is May 18, and the winner will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin (D) in the November 2 general election.

Numbers and Trivia:

The ages of the circuit judges who have taken senior status under Biden are 67, 66, 71, 71, 80, 73, 68, 78, 71.

Resources:

Monday, March 08, 2021

Jack Welborn, RIP

State Senator Jack Welborn passed away on Sunday.  Welborn was a conservative leader in Kalamazoo County from the 1960s through the 90s.  The article below mostly does a good job covering his career.  One omission is that Welborn was one of a very small number of legislators to support Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford for president in 1976.  At the time the Michigan GOP was dominated by moderate Milliken supporters.  Welborn contributed to conservatives becoming dominant in the Michigan GOP.

Former State Sen. Jack Welborn Passes Away at 88

By Tim Collins, WBCK

Former State Senator Jack Welborn, a longtime conservative leader in Michigan politics has died.  He was 88.  Wellborn who was well known for his anti-tax, smaller government, and pro-life stands died overnight Sunday, March 7, 2021, at the home he built at the family farm on Riverview Drive north of Parchment.  He was recently diagnosed with kidney failure and declined dialysis treatment.   Many thought of Welborn as a Reagan Conservative, before Reagan was one.

The Cooper Township dairy farmer first entered politics in 1966 when he was elected Cooper Township Supervisor, unseating long-time incumbent Willard Doster. The story goes that the entrenched incumbent, Doster, was so mad about losing that he piled all of the township's official documents in a big stack in the middle of the room, leaving Welborn to sort it all out. And sort things out he did.

Welborn mounted a legal challenge against the State of Michigan over the taxation of township residents and developed a reputation as a strong advocate of fair taxes and less government. Cooper Township fought long and hard, and ultimately won the suit, and several state reforms were enacted as a result. The attorney in the case, Richard Reed, recalled that later when Welborn was elected to the legislature, he was able to pass legislation to create the Michigan Tax Tribunal.  Reed said Michigan was one of the first states to enact such reforms, to ensure that an independent body would review municipal tax issues. Until then, and in the early 1970's case, Reed characterized the State Tax Commission review of cases as something like the fox guarding the henhouse. Reed said that Welborn was "very knowledgeable and had good ideas, but didn't try to run the case. He was fearless and honest."

In 1972, Welborn was elected to the State House of Representatives, and later to the State Senate, where he served from 1974 to 1982.  He left the Senate to stage an unsuccessful bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and then returned to the Senate when his brother, State Senator Bob Welborn died of cancer in 1985. Welborn served in the State Senate until 1994.

Former 63rd State Rep. Jerry  Vander Roest knew Welborn for more than 50 years and even served as his chief of staff in Lansing for a few months, before getting elected to the state house. “Jack was strong in his convictions and principles and everyone knew they could take him at his word.”  Vander Roest said that he was respected on both sides of the aisle, and he would always listen to what others had to say.

Vander Roest recalled Welborn’s retirement from the State Senate. “Almost every Democratic senator got up and spoke highly of him.  At that time no one was harder on the Democratic Party than Jack. That was such a great compliment that the people that were viewed as his political enemies spoke so highly of him.”

Vander Roest’s son Jeff said Welborn reminded him of Donald Trump, in that he wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed. “When the Kalamazoo Gazette was attacking Jack back in the 80s, Jack paid for a full-page ad in the Gazette to show how the paper had supported slavery during the beginning of the Civil war.”

Dave Culver knew Welborn from the early 50’s when both were in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. “Jack was as honest as a man could be,” remembered Culver. “He had great people skills, probably because he had great empathy for people.”

Culver’s wife Carole was appointed Cooper Township Clerk by supervisor Welborn in 1970 and served as an elected official for 30 years. “The Amish people in Michigan adored Jack,” said Culver. “He went to bat for them in the legislature over freedom of religion issues that were related to homeschooling, and exemptions for worker’s comp and other things. He also helped lead the effort, along with Dr. Clarence M. Schrier and others to save the historic Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital Water Tower from the wrecking ball in 1974.”

Sunday, February 28, 2021

March 2021 Judiciary News

Happy one year anniversary of judiciary news!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Judiciary Committee:  The Senate Judiciary Committee now has 11 members of each party.  Ds have added Senators Jon Ossoff (GA) and Alex Padilla (CA) to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Neither are lawyers.  Ossoff is a somewhat odd choice, as he comes from a competitive state.  R senators Mike Crapo (ID) and Joni Ernst (IA) have been removed from the committee, and Tom Cotton (AR) has been added.  Cotton has a JD from Harvard and clerked for Jerry Smith (5th Circuit).

Garland:  The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, a DC Circuit judge.  It was a somewhat rocky hearing.  Garland confused equity and equality, said he hasn't thought about whether illegal border crossing should be a crimedodged questions about the Durham probe and transgender athletes competing in girls' sportsdefended DOJ nominee Kristen Clarke, who called Blacks superior, referenced a Capital 'bombing', and suggested Antifa attacks on federal courthouse may not be domestic terrorism because they happened at night.  None of this will stop the media from referring to him as a moderate.

ABA:  The Biden administration will not wait for a rating from the American Bar Association (ABA) before making judicial nominations.  We can't wait for all the D senators who condemned the Trump administration for the same policy to object.

Diversity:  Colorado's D senators are promoting Regina Rodriguez for a district court vacancy.  She is a half Mexican, half Japanese woman, who might seem to embody the diversity the left wants on the courts.  But Brian Fallon of Demand Justice is opposing the nomination because she worked for a corporate law firm.

Biden nominees:  Harsh Voruganti of the Vetting Room offers his predictions for possible Biden nominees for judicial vacancies.

Supreme Court:  Maneuvering to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy is already underway.  House Majority Whip James Clyburn, whose endorsement was key to President Biden's nomination, is pushing Judge Michelle Childs (D-SC) for the seat.  Childs, age 54, was appointed by Obama in 2010.  Biden has pledged to appoint a black woman, but there is some resentment in the black caucus towards potential nominees from the Ivy League such as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson (D-DC) and Justice Leondra Kruger (CA-SC).

Nominations:
TBD

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
March 1 (business):  Merrick Garland (attorney general) was approved 15-7.
March 9 (nominations):  Lisa Monaco and Vanita Gupta (DOJ positions) will be considered.

The Federal Judiciary:

Commission:  The Biden panel on reforming the judiciary is unlikely to recommend packing the Supreme Court.  More likely proposals include nonpartisan ideas like judicial term limits and ethics reforms.

Judicial expansion:  Various liberal groups are pushing for an expansion in the number of federal judges.  Somehow, they didn't demand this during the previous four years.  While there is a legitimate need for more judges in some districts, neither party wants to allow a president of the other party to make more appointments.

En Banc:  Partisan splits on en banc panels have become much more common in the past few years.  The article tries to blame Trump, though a partisan split requires both sides to be partisan.

2nd Circuit:  Retired judge Chris Droney revealed in an interview that "I had some role in the appointment of my successor", William Nardini.  This helps to explain the otherwise underwhelming appointment of Nardini, a clerk for Sandra Day O'Connor.

3rd Circuit:  Senior Judge Morton Greenberg died on January 28 at age 87.  Reagan appointed him to the 3rd Circuit in 1987.  He took senior status in 2000.

11th Circuit:  Senior Judge Peter Fay died on January 31 at age 92.  Nixon appointed him to SD-FL in 1970 and Ford appointed him to the 5th Circuit in 1976.  He was assigned to the 11th Circuit when it was created in 1981.  He took senior status in 1994.

SD-TX:  The 5th Circuit reversed Judge Lynn Hughes' improper dismissal of a female professor’s sex discrimination claims and removed him from the case.  Hughes has a history of controversial comments, including saying to a female prosecutor that "we didn’t let girls do it in the old days.”  Hughes, who is 79, was appointed by Reagan in 1985.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 91 current and future judicial vacancies.  The 9 appeals court vacancies are on the 1st (1), 2nd (2), 4th (1), 7th (1), 9th (1), 10th (2), and DC (1).  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
WD-LA: Elizabeth Foote (Obama) 1/21/22 (senior)
WD-MI: Janet Neff (W) 3/1 (senior)
D-CT: Janet Hall (Clinton) 1/21 (senior)
SD-OH: Solomon Oliver (Clinton) 2/15 (senior)
D-DC: Emmet Sullivan (Clinton) 4/3 (senior)
10th Circuit: Mary Briscoe (Clinton) 3/15 (senior)
WD-VA: James Parker Jones (Clinton) 8/30 (senior)
ND-GA: Thomas Thrash Jr. (Clinton) 5/8 (senior)
DC Circuit: David Tatel (Clinton) TBD (senior)
ED-PA: Darnell Jones II (W) 3/15 (senior)
D-KS: Julie Robinson (W) 1/14/22 (senior)
D-CT: Vanessa Bryant, (W) 2/1 (senior)
9th circuit: Susan Graber (Clinton) TBD (senior)
D-PR: Carmen Cerezo (Carter) 2/28 (retired)
D-NH: Paul Barbadoro (HW) 3/1 (senior)
CD-CA: Virginia Phillips (Clinton) 2/14/22 (retired)
ND-GA: Amy Totenberg (Obama) 4/4 (senior)
4th Circuit: Barbara Keenan (Obama) 8/31 (senior)
WD-TX: Philip R. Martinez (W) 2/26 (death)

State Supreme Courts:

Judicial Selection:  Many states are considering changes to how judges are selected.  In particular, R legislators in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina are trying to reduce or eliminate the role of judicial nominating commissions that are influenced by liberal bar associations.

Georgia:  Chief Justice Harold Melton will retire on July 1.  He is the only black justice on the all-R nine-member court.  He was appointed by Sonny Perdue in 2005, and is only 54 now.  His successor will be the third appointee of Governor Brian Kemp.

Idaho:  Justice Roger Burdick will retire on June 30.  He is 73, and was appointed by Dirk Kempthorne in 2003.  His successor will be the first appointee of Governor Brad Little.

Missouri:  Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith will retire on March 8.  She had to retire no later than 2023 due to the age limit of 70.  She was appointed in 2001 by D governor Bob Holden.  The Missouri Supreme Court has 4 D and 3 R appointees, but the Rs may not always be conservative.  Missouri has a "merit selection" system that sometimes makes it difficult to appoint conservative judges.

Montana:  Now that Montana has an R trifecta, the legislature is considering how to reform judicial selection.  Governor Gianforte is supporting a bill to make appointments directly without a nominating commission.  Meanwhile, the state house passed a bill to elect judges by district.  Electing judges on a partisan basis is also being considered.  Montana is in the sad group of red states with liberal supreme courts, along with Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Numbers and Trivia:

District Judges:  Senate Ds seem to have decided not to eliminate the blue slip for district judges.  The numbers below show that there are more district judgeships assigned to blue states than to red states, so in the long run, there may be more downside to Ds to eliminate the blue slip.

261 Red (Two R senators)
78 Purple (One R, one D senator)
317 Blue (Two D senators)
26 None (DC and territories)

History:

Sotomayor:  Thanks to RightInMA for compiling a list of times the media referred to Sonya Sotomayor as a "moderate".

Sunday, January 31, 2021

February 2021 Judiciary News

Leave every vacancy unfilled.

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Biden:  Law360 has a list of possible Biden appeals court nominees.  Many are district judges appointed by Obama, and several were previously rejected by senate Rs.

Biden:  Ed Whelan outlines three questions about Biden judicial nominees.  Will another Supreme Court vacancy arise?  Will many new vacancies open up on the federal appellate courts?  Will the Biden White House make nominations expeditiously?

Retirements:  Harsh Voruganti of the Vetting Room lists all appeals court judges who are currently eligible for senior status now or in the near future.

Renominations:  Harsh Voruganti lists all recent cases of a president renominating an unconfirmed nominee of a predecessor.  It is likely that some previous Trump and Obama nominees will be nominated by President Biden.

First nominations:  Harsh Voruganti discusses how quickly (or slowly) new presidents submit their first judicial nominees.

Court packing:  Ilya Somin argues that President Biden's commission on judicial reform is unlikely to support court packing.  Bob Bauer, the chairman of the commission, previously wrote an article opposing court packing.

Judiciary Committee:  The Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet organized itself for this session.  It currently has 12 Rs and 9 Ds.  It will presumably have equal numbers of Rs and Ds, but it is unknown whether any Rs will have to give up their seats.

Garland:  President Biden announced that judge Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit is his nominee for Attorney General.  Garland was nominated to the DC Circuit by Clinton in 1997, and Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court in 2016, but the R senate did not give him a hearing.  Garland was only nominated after the Georgia runoffs.  Some progressive groups want the senate to have hearings for Biden judicial nominees first, even though there are no Biden judicial nominees yet.

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:
TBD

The Federal Judiciary:

Breyer:  Justice Stephen Breyer is getting pressure from the left to step down so that President Biden can appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court.

Trump judges:  Reuters gives an overview of the impact that Trump appointees are having on the judiciary.

Federalist Society:  The Federalist Society is debating what to do in the wake of the Capital riot.  David Lat argues that it should take steps to separate itself from partisan politics.

Many judges have announced that they are taking senior status, mostly liberals who were waiting for president Biden's inauguration.  Only two are circuit court judges so far.
ED-NY: Roslynn Mauskopf (W) 2/1 (uscourts director)
ED-MI: Victoria Roberts (Clinton) 2/24 (senior)
2nd Circuit: Robert Katzmann (Clinton) 2/21 (senior)
ND-CA: William Alsup (Clinton) 1/21 (senior)
D-ID: B. Lynn Winmill (Clinton) 8/16 (senior)
D-MD: Hollander (Obama) TBD (senior)
D-MD: Blake (Clinton) 4/2 (senior)
SD-TX: Gilmore (Clinton) 1/2/22 (retire)
ND-OH: Polster 1/31 (senior)
ND-CA: Hamilton (Clinton) 2/1 (senior)
ND-CA: White (W) 2/1 (senior)
D-OR: Mosman (W) 12/27 (senior)
SD-FL: Ursula Ungaro (HW) 5/1 (senior)
D-SD: D. Viken (Obama) 10/01 (senior)
SD-CA: A. Battaglia (Obama) 3/31 (senior)
ED-WA: R. Peterson (Obama) 10/1 (senior)
10th Circuit: Carlos Lucero (Clinton) 2/1 (senior)
ND-OH: James Gwin (Clinton) 2/1 (senior)
2nd Circuit: Denny Chin (Obama) 6/1 (senior)
ED-PA: Timothy Savage (W) 3/1 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Gerrymandering:  Billy Corriher observes that house Ds have a majority thanks to D gerrymanders imposed by courts in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Alaska:  The Alaska Judicial Council released the names of the seven applicants for a seat on the Alaska Supreme Court.  Three of them, Superior Court Judges Dani Crosby, Jennifer Stuart Henderson and Yvonne Lamoureux, were finalists for the previous vacancy.

New Hampshire:  Governor Chris Sununu appointed Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, age 60, to be the next Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  The Hampshire Supreme Court has 2 D and 2 R appointees, with one seat vacant for over one year.  Former Justice Robert Lynn retired on August 23, 2019, as he was age-limited.  Governor Chris Sununu nominated MacDonald in 2019, but the state Executive Council, with a 3-2 D majority, blocked the nomination.  The council, which now has a 4-1 R majority, confirmed MacDonald on January 22.

Oklahoma:  Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert will retire on February 1.  He was appointed by D governor Brad Henry in 2004.  Gov. Kevin Stitt will appoint a successor from applicants screened by the Judicial Nominating Commission.  This will be his third appointment.  The court has 5 D and 4 R judges, but only three conservatives.

South Carolina:  The legislature is considering adding two more justices to the five-member court.  Justices are appointed by the legislature after being screened by a panel.  The proposal would have to be approved by the voters.  The current chief justice, Donald Beatty, is a D appointed by the legislature in 2007.

Numbers and Trivia:

With the end of the Trump presidency, here are the final numbers of Trump-appointed judges.  He appointed 226 total article 3 judges.
3 Supreme Court justices
54 appeals court judges (net 53)
174 district court judges (net 170)
55 are women (24%)
37 are non-White (16%)

He also appointed the following judges to other courts.
3 Court of International Trade
10 Court of Federal Claims
7 Tax Court
6 Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
2 Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
1 Court of Military Commission Review

2021: January

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Is Peter Meijer Vulnerable in MI-3?

Of the ten house Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump, two are from Michigan--Fred Upton of the sixth district, and Peter Meijer of the third district.  Upton is likely to retire in 2022, and would be highly vulnerable if he didn't.  The third district is more complicated.

DEMOGRAPHICS OF MI-3

Understanding MI-3 requires understanding Dutch Reformed conservatives.  Around 100 years ago, many Dutch immigrants settled in West Michigan.  They were predominantly Reformed Christians (Calvinists), who emphasized hard work, frugality, and social conservatism.  They were natural Republicans.  The biggest denominations are the Mainline Reformed Church of America (RCA) and Christian Reformed Church (CRC).  The RCA has both liberal and conservative wings, with liberals more common on the east coast.

(President Trump once identified as an RCA member, attending a church led by Norman Vincent Peale, the author of  The Power of Positive Thinking, which borders on the prosperity gospel.  Trump later called himself a Presbyterian, the more common theological cousins of the Reformed church founded by Scottish Calvinists.)

The CRC is more conservative than the RCA.  It is headquartered in Grand Rapids, and Calvin College, its flagship educational institution, is located there.  The CRC has some liberal influences itself, often emanating from Calvin.  Senator Scott Brown, rep. Bill Huizinga, and former rep. Vern Ehlers are prominent members.  Several smaller Reformed denominations have split from the CRC, viewing it as too liberal.  The CRC (and the splinter denominations) have long supported Christian schools over public schools, and in recent decades, many Reformed Christians have embraced homeschooling.

The Reformed churches have tended to be skeptical about military engagements, and MI-3 has one of the more anti-war bases of R congressional districts.  The other counties in the district have more conventional Republicans, and Calhoun County (added in 2012) has a more working class demographic.

Today, I would divide the R base in MI-3 into four groups, along with typical representatives.

  • Country-club moderates (Brian Ellis) centered in East Grand Rapids and upscale areas around Grand Rapids.
  • Establishment conservatives (the DeVos family)
  • Conservative/libertarian Trump sceptics (Justin Amash, Steven Johnson)
  • Trump conservatives (Tom Norton).  The latter two groups were both active in the Tea Party movement, but separated over Trump.
I won't try to estimate the sizes of the four groups, except to say that establishment conservatives are definitely the largest.

POLITICAL HISTORY OF MI-3

The Kent County area was represented by Gerald Ford from 1948 until he became vice-president in 1973.  Ford was succeeded by democrat Richard Vander Veen (1974-1976), whose election was a major upset in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  He was succeeded by R prosecutor Harold Sawyer (1976-1984) and former Calvin College political science professor and state legislator Paul Henry (1984-1993).

Vern Ehlers represented the 3rd from 1993 to 2010.  Ehlers was previously a physics professor at Calvin College, and a state legislator.  Ehlers was fairly moderate, though strongly pro-life.  He won easily with the support of the moderates and establishment conservatives.

The DeVos family has had a major impact in the Michigan Republican Party, and particularly in MI-3.  In 1959, Rich DeVos co-founded Amway, a company that sells home products using multi-level marketing.  He became a billionaire and Republican mega-donor.  In the early 1980s, his son Dick DeVos worked with young state senators John Engler and Dick Posthumus to displace the allies of liberal governor Bill Milliken from control of the state GOP, resulting in a relatively conservative party.  The DeVos family continued to be prolific donors.  Betsy DeVos (wife of Dick) was MIGOP chair 1996-2000 and 2003-2005, and US Secretary of Education 2017-2021.

Justin Amash was elected to the Michigan state house in 2008.  With the rise of the Tea Party movement, local activists were unhappy with Ehlers, and the libertarian Amash challenged him in the 2010 primary.  Ehlers decided to retire.  Amash defeated several other candidates in the primary with the support of the DeVos family and Club for Growth.  While he was one of the most anti-establishment members of congress, he maintained the support of the DeVos family.

In 2014, Amash was challenged by Brian Ellis, a moderate.  Ellis had the support of the Chamber of Commerce and former rep Pete Hoekstra.  Amash won 57-43, with the help of the DeVos family and Club for Growth.

Amash became increasingly critical of President Trump, and in May 2019, the DeVos family announced that it would no longer support him.  He left the GOP in July, and later became a Libertarian.

Peter Meijer was elected in 2020.  He is a 33-year-old Army veteran and heir of the Meijer retail chain.  He ran a rather bland campaign, with the exception that he opposed military interventionism.  He had the backing of the DeVos family.  He won the primary with 50%, with state rep Lynn Afendoulis (establishment) getting 26%, and Tom Norton (super-Trumpy) getting 16%.  Meijer won a relatively narrow 53-47 victory over Hillary Scholten in the general.

FOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE

Will Meijer face more than one challenger?  Tom Norton, a Trump die hard who was a Tea Party activist has already announced a primary challenge to Meijer.  Norton has a poor electoral track record, finishing fifth in primaries for state house in 2010 and 2014.  He also has a history of controversial statements.  Shortly after announcing his primary challenge of Amash, Norton "passed out press releases calling on the House to expel Amash for allegedly failing to represent constituents in a district that backed Trump."

Amash has said it’s his duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But the congressman's “first duty” is to represent constituents, and “he’s failing at that miserably,” Norton said.

Norton would struggle to gain much support beyond Trump conservatives, and Meijer would most likely beat him.  Defeating Meijer would require a more mainstream challenger who could attract at least part of the establishment along with Trump supporters.  But will such a challenger emerge?

Does Trump endorse a primary opponent?  It seems likely that he would, though a lot can happen in two years.  If there is more than one challenger, will the other(s) drop out?  Meijer would be more likely to win the primary if opposition to him is split.

Does the DeVos family continue to back Meijer?  Betsy DeVos recently resigned as Secretary of Education, harshly criticizing President Trump's role in inspiring the Capitol riot.  It seems likely that they will continue to back Meijer, but if not, his position would weaken.

How will redistricting change MI-3?  Michigan's congressional districts will be redrawn by an independent commission.  There will presumably be a district containing the bulk of Kent County where Meijer will run.  What else is attached will matter, though.  The current district contains several Trump-friendly rural counties.  If they are removed in favor of more of Kent County or part of Ottawa County, Meijer's chances will improve.

Peter Meijer is in for a tough fight.  The answers to the questions above will determine whether he survives.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

6th District Committee Criticizes Upton Impeachment Vote

Republican leaders of the 6th District Committee and all six county GOP chairs in the district issued a statement criticizing Upton’s vote for impeachment of President Trump. While worded tactfully, this is still a big deal. As far as I know, none of them were anti-Upton before now, and most were slavishly loyal. In addition, the Allegan GOP voted to censure Upton.

About a third of the R base in MI-6 has never liked Upton, and he has periodically faced primary challengers.

  • 1990: defeated state senator Ed Fredericks 63-37
  • 2002: defeated state senator Dale Shugars 66-32
  • 2010: defeated state rep Jack Hoogendyk 57-43
  • 2012: defeated Jack Hoogendyk 67-33
  • 2014: defeated Jim Bussler 71-29
  • 2020: defeated Elena Oelke 62-38

Oelke's strong performance was a surprise, since she had little fundraising or institutional support.  I don’t think Upton would get a majority in the 2022 primary. I’m almost certain that he will retire in 2022.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Voter Fraud Conspiracy Nonsense Debunking Roundup

There have been many claims of voter fraud or other misconduct in the 2020 election.  Most of these claims simply do not stand up to scrutiny, and most of the people passing on these claims seem not to be checking their accuracy.  A catalogue of unverified allegations appears at https://hereistheevidence.com/.  I have been trying to check these allegations, and here is what I have found about some common claims.  Please click the links for more detailed explanations.

VOTING MACHINES

Did Vote Counting Machines Flip Votes from Trump to Biden?

There are all sorts of wild claims about Dominion Voting Systems, from who owns it to how its program in written.  It is not necessary to analyze the machines themselves to know whether they produced an accurate count.  The states that Trump contested use paper ballots, which can be recounted if there is any question about the machine vote count.  The Trump campaign asked for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane County in Wisconsin, which use a different vendor.  The Wisconsin recounts found no vote-flipping.  In Georgia, a hand recount was conducted automatically; it was not requested by the Trump campaign.  The recount found some human error; it did not find any vote-flipping.  In Michigan, Trump improved from 2016 in counties that use Dominion machines, and declined in counties that use other vendors.

Did Dominion Flip Votes in Antrim County?

There was an error in the initially reported result in Antrim County, MI, which the clerk has attributed to a problem with updating the software.  The magnitude of this error makes it unlikely that fraud could explain it.  A hand recount verified that the corrected machine count was accurate.

What about Hammer and Scorecard?

That story is a hoax.

ELECTION DATA

Anomalies in the reported election results could provide evidence of fraud, or at least suggest areas that merit further investigation.  However, many such claims don't stand up to scrutiny.

Does High Voter Turnout Prove Voter Fraud?

Voter turnout was high, but not unreasonably so.  Reasons for high turnout include population growth, more absentee/mail voting, and intense support and opposition to Trump.  Turnout was up in every state, and many safe states had big turnout increases.

Turnout in Detroit was over 100%!

President Trump claimed that Detroit had "far more votes than people".  Russell Ramsland claimed that turnout in Detroit was 139%.  The turnout was actually 51%.  Similar claims about other jurisdictions are also false.

Did Trump lose due to surges of turnout in Detroit, Philadelphia, and other big cities?

Biden got 1000 FEWER votes than Hillary did in 2016 and Trump got 5000 MORE votes than he got four years ago in Detroit.  Biden's margin in Philadelphia also declined compared to Hillary in 2016.  Biden won by improving his margins in upscale suburbs in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Biden did improve in other cities like Atlanta and Milwaukee, but the improvements were not only in swing states, as some claimed.

Do US Senate election results prove tens of thousands of Biden-only ballots?

It is perfectly normal for some voters to only vote in the most high-profile race.  This has often happened in the past, and it happened more in Michigan in the past than in 2020.

How could Trump lose when he improved with minorities?

There is solid statistical evidence that Trump had a small improvement with blacks and a significant improvement with Hispanics.  Trump lost because he lost ground with white voters, particularly college-educated voters.  With all the discussion of minority voters, it is easy to forget that the majority has more votes than the minority.

Did Battleground States Stop Counting Votes Before the Results Swung to Biden?

North Carolina (which Trump won) stopped counting because it ran out of votes to count.  Some localities did break for the night.  Michigan, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia did not stop counting.

Why were the late election results bad for Trump?

In many states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin, Trump led early, but Biden gained until winning the election later.  There is a clear reason for this.  These states all counted election day votes first and absentee votes later.  Rs disproportionately voted on election day due to concerns about the security of mailed votes, while Ds disproportionately voted absentee due to concerns about COVID.  Thus it is no surprise that Trump won election day votes while Biden won absentee votes.  Note that Ohio counted absentee votes first, and Trump trailed early but won late.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES

Charles Cicchetti found the chance of Biden winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin after Trump's early lead is less than one in a quadrillion!

For this calculation to be correct, votes would have to be counted in random order, so that a vote counted late was no more likely to be for Biden than a vote counted early.  However, this is false, since in these four states, absentee votes were counted after election day votes.  Biden did better in absentee votes than in election day votes.  Matt Parker and Robert VerBruggen have longer explanations.

Does Benford's Law prove that Biden's vote totals were fraudulent?

Benford's Law is a tool that can provide evidence of fraud in some data sets.  Some precinct data seems to violate this law.  To be applicable, the data set must follow a "power law", and must vary over several orders of magnitude.  Neither assumption is likely to hold for election data, so Benford's Law does not apply.  Matt Parker has a longer explanation.  Also, it is unlikely that Benford's law would catch most types of voter fraud, unless someone were making up vote totals from scratch.

Has Dr. Shiva Proven Michigan Voter Fraud?

Dr. Shiva made a serious mathematical error in his analysis and his conclusion is based on a false assumption.  The effect he found for Trump votes applies similarly to Biden votes.

"Mathematician" Bobby Piton was kicked off of Twitter after presenting evidence of fraud in Arizona!

It isn't clear whether Piton was ever kicked off Twitter, but he is there now.  Piton is not a mathematician, he is a financial adviser.  He describes his approach on his website:

Bobby has read well in excess of a million pages over his career and has extensively studied physics, quantum mechanics, mathematics, economics, trading, portfolio construction, model development, asset valuation, and alpha generation to develop and refine his methodology.

Piton's presentation in Arizona is on Youtube and the associated write-up is on his website.  Good luck following his argument.  He does compare (19:30) the turnout for the 1998 (governor) election to the 2020 presidential election.  Midterm elections almost always have lower turnout than presidential elections, so this is not a relevant comparison.

ISOLATED CLAIMS

Many election observers have signed affidavits concerning their experiences on election night.  It is often noted that these are sworn under penalty of perjury, and therefore they are proof of fraud.  Realistically, it is unlikely that anyone would be charged with perjury, which would require proving beyond a reasonable doubt that they are lying.  That is not to say that most of them are lying.  Some are clearly just misunderstandings, many don't actually allege fraud, and many are impossible to check.  Some specific claims are addressed below.  Recall that Trump improved in Detroit and Philadelphia relative to 2016, which is hard to square with massive fraud in those cities.

Detroit's election workers input a false birthdate of 1/1/1900 for absentee ballots!

Yes, they did.  Detroit's election software required a birthdate to input the ballots, which election workers would not have.  The city clerk instructed workers to input that date as a placeholder so that the real birthdates could be filled in later.  Note that it would not make sense for anyone committing fraud to claim that a voter was 119 years old!

Election workers ran the same stack of ballots through the machine multiple times!

Each precinct has a list of everyone who voted, called a poll book.  If many ballots are run through a machine repeatedly, this will create a mismatch between the number of votes and the number of recorded voters in the poll book.  While many of Detroit's precincts did have mismatches, they were generally small, not hundreds or thousands of votes.

Almost half or 48% of the 134 counting boards were individually off by plus or minus four votes or fewer each, according to results certified by the county's bipartisan board of canvassers. Another 39 boards, or 29% of them, were in balance, while 31 boards, or 23% of the total, were off by five or more votes.

The total "difference in absentee ballots tabulated and names in poll books in Detroit was 150".

In Georgia, were there problems with secret vote counting, illegal voters, signature matching, etc?

Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who is Georgia's voting system implementation manager, debunked these claims in a press conference.

HISTORICAL COMPARISONS

While these do not directly prove voter fraud, they are supposed to show that something strange happened.  In many cases, there are perfectly reasonable explanations.

Was There are Red Wave Downballot in 2020?

The election results for president and congress were quite consistent.  Rs picked up house seats relative to 2018, not relative to 2016.

Do Incumbent Presidents Who Increase Their Votes Always Win?

There are few elections where incumbent presidents lose, so there are few relevant elections to consider.  Also, this anomaly has happened before.

Can a President Lose While His Party Gains House Seats?

This is another claim which applies to only a few elections.  It has also happened before.

How could Trump lose when he won most bellwether counties?

A bellwether county is a county which always, or almost almost always voted for the winner in recent elections.  They are not crystal balls, they are statistical anomalies--counties that happen to swing the same way as the nation when party coalitions change.  These counties are mostly rural, and Trump did well in them in both 2016 and 2020.  Biden won by improving in large suburban counties, not rural areas.

ELECTION LAWS AND LAWSUITS

The Trump campaign and supporters have filed around 60 lawsuits challenging the election results.  They have lost all of them, with one minor exception.

Did any judges rule on evidence of voter fraud, or were all the suits dismissed for lack of standing?

The suits not filed by the Trump campaign were generally dismissed for lack of standing.  This is something that the plaintiffs should have considered before filing, as not just anyone can challenge the results of an election.  However, some judges did rule on the merits of the claims.  Note that some of the more wild claims of fraud were not actually made in court, where lawyers can be disbarred for lying.

In Wisconsin, a Trump-appointed judge allowed the Trump campaign to present evidence.  However, they declined to present any evidence ("stipulated [the] set of facts") and only contested election law issues.  A Republican judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit, saying "this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence."  The Nevada Supreme Court (which is ideologically mixed), similarly upheld the dismissal of a Trump campaign lawsuit on the merits.  In Michigan, the Trump campaign dropped its lawsuit before its claims could be heard.

Were election laws changed before the election?

Some legislatures and judges changed laws before the election.  The reason cited was generally the COVID pandemic.  It is likely that some judges were hoping to help Ds with their rulings.  This help could mean either encouraging more Ds to legally vote, or making it easier for fraud to be committed.  Some of these decisions were challenged before the election, and some were overturned, but others were not challenged before the election.

After the election, the Trump campaign filed challenges to many of these decisions.  Their complaints in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin seemed to have some merit.  The problem with this is that there is no way to know whether these decisions changed the outcome of the election.  So if the judges' decisions were illegitimate, what is the remedy?  The Trump campaign was asking for hundreds of thousands of votes to be thrown out, or even the entire election.  But this would disenfranchise millions of legitimate voters, including those who voted in good faith based on the rules presented at the time.  This would be a bigger injustice than the original decisions.  Many rulings have cited the doctrine of "laches" to toss out Trump campaign lawsuits.  Essentially, this means they waited too long to file.  The issues could have been resolved before the election with far less disruption, so waiting until after the election to file is too late.

Can state legislatures appoint the electors themselves?

The Constitution gives states the power to decide how presidential electors are chosen. Since the early 1800s, all states have passed laws to choose presidential electors by popular election.  A state legislature could theoretically repeal this law and choose the electors itself for a future election, but none have tried to do so since this would be very unpopular.  A legislature cannot unilaterally appoint its own slate of electors in defiance of the laws that are already on the books.  It is very dubious whether it could repeal the law for an election that has already taken place.  In any case, no legislature attempted to appoint its own electors.

Why was the Texas lawsuit thrown out by the Supreme Court?

In the Texas lawsuit, a group of states was attempting to get the Supreme Court to change their election laws.  This is a violation of federalism, as states can make and interpret their own laws unless there is a violation of federal law involved.  The case was basically a political stunt, and all nine justices viewed it as such.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

The COVID pandemic led to a surge of absentee/mail voting.  Absentee voting can be more vulnerable to fraud, since the person who votes is not actually seen casting the vote.  However, we have a list of the people who voted, or at least the name they gave, so if there were many ineligible or fake voters, it should be possible to identify them.

Were there many dead people, minors, felons, illegals among the voters?

This has been claimed by Matt Braynard of the "Voter Integrity Project".  It isn't entirely clear what methodology he used to conclude this, but it seems likely that he compared lists of voters to lists of people who are prohibited from voting and looked for matching names.  The problem with this is that there are many people with the same name, so this will lead to many false matches.  This seems to be the case in Georgia, where a D state representative was able to discredit many of the names cited by Braynard.  The voter lists should certainly be investigated by authorities, but claims of hundreds of thousands of illegal votes should not be endorsed without proof.  A Georgia audit of 15000 signatures found only two with problems.

Did Steven Crowder find Massive Voter Fraud in Detroit?

Crowder simply misunderstood the way that Detroit reports absentee ballots.

PLAUSIBLE ARGUMENTS FOR VOTER FRAUD

There are a few arguments for voter fraud that seem plausible to me.  That does not mean that they are definitely true, but at least I don't see any obvious flaw in them.

Were there differences in the absentee ballot voting rates on the borders of counties?

John Lott argues that there are differences in the absentee ballot voting rates in precincts on opposite sides of county lines, where one of the counties is an urban center controlled by Ds.  He says that differences do not exist for in-person voting, and there was no such difference in 2016.  This analysis could be vulnerable to cherry-picking, so it would be good to see it checked with a larger data set.

Did more than 1700 Georgians vote twice in 2020 elections?

It appears so.  These voters apparently voted both in person and by absentee ballot.  It is important to recognize, however, that the number 1700 combines multiple elections.  For the November election, the total claimed is "at least 400".