Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
A bill to reform the Electoral Count Act is gaining bipartisan support in Congress.
- Following the January 6th attack on the Capitol, many members of Congress have floated the possibility of reforming the process to certify the presidential election results.
- Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Presidential Election Reform Act, a bill that would clarify the Vice President’s ceremonial role in the certification process and heighten the requirements for members of Congress to object to a state’s election results. Only nine Republicans supported the measure — all of whom will not return to Congress next year either because they lost their primary election or they decided to retire. Every Democratic member of the House voted in favor of the bill.
- A similar bill is now advancing in the Senate. The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, introduced by Senators Joe Manchin and Susan Collins, would largely implement the same changes as the House bill.
- The Senate bill is on track to gain significant Republican support after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted in favor of the bill in an initial committee vote. Speaking about the bill on the Senate floor, McConnell said, “The chaos that came to a head on Jan. 6 of last year certainly underscored the need for an update.” “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion…but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path,” he continued.
- The Senate bill, among other things, raises the threshold for challenging a state’s election results to one-fifth of the members of each Congressional body, declares that the vice president has no power to reject a state’s electors, and designates each state’s governor, unless otherwise specified in the state’s laws, as the individual responsible for submitting to Congress the state’s electors.
The January 6th Committee continues its investigation.
- Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, met with the Committee on Thursday. Thomas engaged in a pressure campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In the days following the election, she emailed dozens of state lawmakers and exchanged texts with Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows urging him to assist in the efforts to subvert the election results.
- The Committee issued a subpoena to Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. According to Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, former President Donald Trump pressured Vos to overturn the 2020 election results and Vos spoke on the phone with Trump earlier this year. Vos filed a lawsuit seeking to block the subpoena.
- With the midterm elections approaching, the Committee reportedly has yet to decide whether to request testimony from Trump or former Vice President Mike Pence. The Committee also must decide whether to further push for testimony from the members of Congress who have rebuffed subpoenas thus far.
- The Committee also postponed a public hearing planned for Wednesday, due to Hurricane Ian. Though members of the Committee have made conflicting statements, the hearing reportedly would have been the last public hearing before the Committee releases its final report.
Week In a Nutshell is part of the free weekly CAFE Brief newsletter.
Sign up free to receive the CAFE Brief in your inbox every Friday: cafe.com/brief