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Tuberville ends blockade of most military promotions after months-long abortion fight

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Tuberville ends blockade of most military promotions after months-long abortion fight

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., announced on Tuesday he is finally backing down from his hold on hundreds of military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy.

Tuberville told reporters he would release all holds except for four-star generals after a nine-month long protest that angered several of his colleagues, including Republicans who feared the stalled promotions would impact military readiness. 

The former college football coach claimed he could not continue his hold after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., “changed the rules” in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual must-pass defense spending bill. 

“I’d love to have had five downs in football instead of four, but you can’t do it. It’s got to be fair for everybody,” Tuberville said. “So that being said, I’m not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer. We just released them.” 

TUBERVILLE NOT BUDGING ON MILITARY HOLDS OVER ABORTION POLICY AS DEMS EYE RULES CHANGE

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Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., arrives for the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.  (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Tuberville began blocking President Biden’s military nominations in February over what he said was the Pentagon’s “illegal” policy of providing travel expense reimbursement to service members who seek an abortion. The Biden administration adopted the policy last year in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and held the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. 

Almost 400 military nominations have since been in limbo due to Tuberville’s blanket hold on confirmations and promotions for senior military officers. It’s a Tuberville’s opponents say has left key national security positions unfilled and military families with an uncertain path forward.

PENTAGON ASKS FOR $114m TO SPEND ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION AND ACCESSIBILITY IN 2024

Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville

Tuberville maintained his hold on military promotions for nine months before Senate Democrats attempted to out-maneuver him with a rules change.  (Caroline Brehman/Pool via REUTERS)

In October, a bipartisan group of lawmakers planned to maneuver around Tuberville’s hold by introducing a rules change in the Senate Rules Committee that would allow them to approve a batch of nominees through 2024.

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Majority Leader Schumer last week said he would bring a resolution to the Senate floor that would adopt the rules change and circumvent Tuberville. 

DEFENSE SECRETARY AUSTIN VISITS UKRAINE AS PENTAGON URGES CONGRESS TO PASS ADDITIONAL AID TO FIGHT RUSSIA

Chuck Schumer speaks to press on debt ceiling

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would move forward with military promotions as soon as possible, and that he hopes no one will attempt Tuberville’s strategy again.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

After Tuberville’s announcement, Schumer spoke at a press conference and said that lawmakers would move the delayed military promotions as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to say, in regarding Senator Tuberville, in regards to Tuberville finally lifting his unnecessary and harmful holds on our nation’s military officials, I’m happy that we can finally move forward and give these men and women the promotions they deserve. I plan to move these promotions as soon as possible, possibly later this afternoon,” Schumer said.  

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He added, “I hope no one does this again, and I hope they learn the lesson of Senator Tuberville. And that is: He held out for many, many months, hurt our national security, caused discombobulation to so many military families who have been so dedicated to our country and didn’t get anything he wanted. It’s a risky strategy that will not succeed. I hope it doesn’t happen again.” 

Fox News Digital’s Jamie Joseph and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Column: For the second time in days, the Supreme Court helped make another Trump presidency possible

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Column: For the second time in days, the Supreme Court helped make another Trump presidency possible

The Supreme Court held Monday that a single state such as Colorado can’t prohibit Donald Trump from running for president as an insurrectionist under the 14th Amendment. It was the second time in less than a week that the court provided a crucial boost to the former president’s campaign to return to the White House.

The court’s strong inclination to restore Trump to the ballot was clear from the oral argument in the case last month, and indeed the justices reversed the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously. The “per curiam,” or “by the court,” opinion further emphasized that the court was speaking with a single voice.

But the justices were far from united on the rationale for reversal. There was a clear 5-4 split with two concurrences, one by the liberal justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — and the other by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The narrow, right-wing majority within the unanimous decision held that congressional legislation is needed to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits elected officials who engage in insurrection from holding office again. This clearly restricts the amendment’s force going forward.

All four of the concurring justices parted from requiring a federal law to enforce Section 3. For them, it was sufficient that the Colorado decision would impose an inconsistent and intolerable patchwork in which a major presidential candidate appeared on the ballot in some states but not in others. As the court wrote, “Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos.”

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The opinion signed by the three Democratic-appointed justices, though styled as a concurrence, was fairly sharp in its differences with the majority. Most pointedly, they quoted Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s dissent in Bush vs. Gore, the 2000 opinion that remains a bête noire for liberals: “What it does today, the Court should have left undone.”

Barrett similarly felt that her five fellow conservatives had overreached. But she sounded a conciliatory note, writing that “this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency.”

So although the court was able to come together as to the result, surely a priority for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., its political divisions were evident just beneath the surface. It was no kumbaya moment.

In cases of this magnitude and political stakes, the court is better off when it’s unanimous or nearly so. Kagan and Jackson, who seemed to be leaning toward reversal at oral argument, and even Sotomayor, whose inclination was less clear, thereby stepped up in the service of the court’s institutional interest. Notwithstanding their fundamental differences with the majority, their concurrences permitted the court to conclude with a feel-good paragraph noting that “All nine Members of the Court agree with that result.” They were good soldiers and team players, which may engender goodwill with Roberts going forward.

Of course, with the rock-ribbed conservatives to the chief justice’s right, there may be scant prospect of similar goodwill. The court’s right has been in lockstep on ideologically divisive matters, and there’s no reason to expect that to change.

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Indeed, after last week’s decision to review the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution for Jan. 6, today’s decisive ruling is a second substantial victory for the president who appointed three of the justices.

Some observers speculated that the justices would view the two Trump cases, on immunity and the 14th Amendment, as a pair that they would split. Ruling for Trump on the Colorado case and against him on the Jan. 6 prosecution would communicate a sort of neutrality.

It’s difficult to see it that way now, though. Not that the court will hold that Trump is immune from the charges growing out of his perfidious attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 eleciton. The best he can hope for is a remand to the trial court and eventual loss on the merits of his immunity claim.

But the court last week gave Trump the invaluable gift of time, suspending the proceedings in Judge Tanya Chutkan’s U.S. District Court for at least several months, leaving serious doubt as to whether the case can be tried before the election.

If the polls are to be believed, a criminal conviction would likely persuade a significant number of voters to abandon Trump. That means the court’s decision to enter the fray and delay the case — when it could have let the D.C. Circuit’s thorough, bipartisan opinion stand — is probably the most important assist it could have given to Trump’s campaign.

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Moreover, while the court acted with some dispatch in the immunity case, it was nowhere near as quick as in other exigent cases. That includes the one it decided Monday, rushing to clarify the electoral landscape just in time for Colorado and other states to vote on Super Tuesday.

There’s plenty of room for debate as to why the court acted as it did in each case. But there’s no doubt about the impact. Should the country awaken on Nov. 6 to the horrifying prospect of a second Trump presidency, history will record that the Supreme Court played a critical role.

Harry Litman is the host of the “Talking Feds” podcast. @harrylitman

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Trump says Supreme Court ruling in Colorado case is 'unifying and inspirational'

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Trump says Supreme Court ruling in Colorado case is 'unifying and inspirational'

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EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling Monday is “both unifying and inspirational,” while stressing the importance of the high court’s pending decision in the issue of presidential immunity. 

The Supreme Court sided unanimously with the 2024 GOP frontrunner in his challenge to Colorado’s attempt to kick him off the 2024 primary ballot. 

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The high court ruled in favor of Trump’s arguments in the case, which will impact the status of efforts in several other states to remove the likely GOP nominee from their respective ballots. 

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR TRUMP BALLOT REMOVAL CASE OUT OF COLORADO

The court considered for the first time the meaning and reach of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars former officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office again. Challenges have been filed to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot in over 30 states.

Former President Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling Monday is “both unifying and inspirational.” (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

“A great win for America. Very, very important!” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Monday morning. 

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“Equally important for our country will be the decision that they will soon make on immunity for a president — without which, the presidency would be relegated to nothing more than a ceremonial position, which is far from what the founders intended,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “No president would be able to properly and effectively function without complete and total immunity.” 

He added, “Our country would be put at great risk.” 

Former President Donald Trump

The Supreme Court sided unanimously with former President Trump in his challenge to Colorado’s attempt to kick him off the 2024 primary ballot. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

SUPREME COURT DECISION ON CASE BARRING TRUMP FROM COLORADO’S 2024 BALLOT COULD ARRIVE AS EARLY AS MONDAY

The Supreme Court last week agreed to review whether Trump has immunity from prosecution in special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case. 

The justices moved to fast-track the appeal, and will hear oral arguments beginning April 22, with a ruling on the merits expected by late June. 

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Trump’s trial stemming from Smith’s investigation has been put on hold pending resolution of the matter. 

The decision will also impact Smith’s classified records case against the president. That trial has not yet been scheduled. 

As for Monday’s decision, Trump described it as a “big win for America.” 

“Today’s decision, especially the fact that it was unanimous, 9-0, is both unifying and inspirational for the people of the United States of America,” he told Fox News Digital. 

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In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court concluded that “states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office.” 

“But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the Supreme Court wrote.

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Supreme Court rules Trump will stay on Colorado ballot despite Jan. 6 attack

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Supreme Court rules Trump will stay on Colorado ballot despite Jan. 6 attack

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that former President Trump may not be disqualified from appearing on state ballots despite allegations he “engaged in insurrection” after losing the 2020 election and thereby should be barred under the Constitution from holding office.

Reversing a ruling by Colorado judges, the high court said states do not have the authority to interpret the post-Civil War 14th Amendment or use it to remove a presidential candidate from the state ballot.

It was an unsigned, unanimous decision.

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court decided that Trump was disqualified from running for president because he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. It says no person may “hold any office, civil or military” who took an oath to support the Constitution and then engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

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Legal scholars and historians told the court in friend-of-the-court briefs that the Reconstruction Congress sought to prevent “insurrectionists” from gaining power and subverting American democracy.

The justices did not dispute that reading of history, but they appeared more concerned about allowing state judges to remove from the ballot a candidate who is the overwhelming choice of Republican voters.

“Because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates, we reverse,’’ Monday’s ruling stated.

All nine justices said they agreed that Colorado or any state may not disqualify a presidential candidate based on the 14th Amendment.

But Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Amy Coney Barrett objected to part of the court’s opinion that said Congress must enact a law to enforce this provision in the 14th Amendment.

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“Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oath-breaking insurrectionist from becoming president. Although we agree that Colorado cannot enforce Section 3, we protest the majority’s effort to use this case to define the limits of federal enforcement of that provision. Because we would decide only the issue before us, we concur only in the judgment,” the court’s three liberals wrote.

Barrett filed a similar concurrence.

“I agree that states lack the power to enforce Section 3 against presidential candidates. That principle is sufficient to resolve this case, and I would decide no more than that. … In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home. “

The court moved with uncommon speed to hear Trump’s appeal and to rule for him. His lawyers asked the court to review the Colorado case Jan. 3. Two days later, the appeal was granted, and arguments were held Feb. 8.

The justices ruled for Trump in less than a month and in time for his votes to be counted in Colorado’s primary election on Tuesday.

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The court has moved less quickly to resolve Trump’s separate claim of presidential immunity from prosecution. As a result, the criminal trial over his role on Jan. 6 may not be held until after the November election.

Last week, the court announced it would hear Trump’s immunity claim, setting arguments for the week of April 22. Under that schedule, the justices are not likely to rule before June.

By then, it may be too late for the trial to be held before the November election.

The court’s Monday opinion does not discuss or decide whether Trump engaged in insurrection after losing the election in November 2020.

The lawyers who brought the suit in Colorado called that a victory of sorts.

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“While the Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump back on the ballot on technical legal grounds, this was in no way a win for Trump. The Supreme Court had the opportunity in this case to exonerate Trump, and they chose not to do so,” said Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW.

Election law experts also noted the Colorado decision does not prevent members of Congress from objecting to Trump’s election if he wins in November.

“This decision does not resolve the contentious insurrection issues, which will remain live and disputed in the public domain in the months ahead,” said Derek Muller, a Notre Dame law professor. “But it shuts the door on any exclusion of Trump from the ballot in any state, either in the primary or the general.”

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