Pa. GOP calls in politically connected Georgia lawyers for SCOTUS fight over mail-in ballots | Friday Morning Coffee

October 2, 2020 7:07 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Politically connected lawyers from Georgia, including one who served as counsel to Mike Huckabee’s and John McCain’s presidential campaigns, will be going to bat for Pennsylvania Republicans in the U.S. Supreme Court as they challenge a state court ruling giving counties an additional three days to receive and count mail-in ballots.

Jake Evans, the chairman of  Georgia’s ethics commission, veteran appellate lawyer Laurie Webb Daniel, and election attorney Douglas Chalmers Jr., have filed an amicus brief in the high court on behalf of Pennsylvania House Speaker Brian Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, according to the Legal Intelligencer, an industry newspaper.

Chalmers was counsel to Huckabee’s 2016 presidential campaign, and served as the chief Georgia lawyer for McCain’s presidential campaign, the Legal Intell reported. He also is a former member of the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission, the newspaper reported.

Evans represented House GOP leadership as the case made its way through the state courts. He told the Legal Intell that “it’s a unique experience being before the U.S. Supreme Court on any case, especially one involving an important election issue on the eve of a U.S. presidential election.”

Both Evans and Webb Daniel are attorneys for the Georgia firm of Holland & Knight, whose Philadelphia practice is overseen by veteran Pennsylvania attorney Jim Schultz.

Schultz is a former Trump administration ethics attorney and a former Corbett administration official with deep ties to the state GOP.

Senate Republicans filed their appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 28, arguing that the state Supreme Court’s ruling on mail-in ballots had sowed chaos in a key battleground state just weeks before the Nov. 3 general election.

The amicus brief filed on behalf of Cutler and Benninghoff argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling “improperly rewrote” the state’s election law, the Legal Intell reported.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Say a big hello to the Capital-Star Election Mailbag. Between now and Election Day, we’ll try to answer as many of your voting-related question as we can. Today: What you’re allowed to wear to the polls — and what the heck is a provisional ballot anyway?

Stephen Caruso runs down the debate over a proposed election oversight commission that House Republicans say will improve electoral transparency. Democrats say the panel, which will get subpoena power, is a thinly veiled attempt to steal the election.

In the first of a series, Cassie Miller profiles the candidates for Pennsylvania Auditor General. Today, Republican Tim DeFoor and Green Party hopeful Olivia Faison.

To save money and improve efficiency, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency should shed a membership top heavy with state lawmakers and replace them with actual experts who could deliver better outcomes to Pennsylvania students, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday. Elizabeth Hardison has the story.

State Rep. Frank Schemel, R-Franklin, is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. The news scuttled Thursday’s House session, and, along with it, a planned vote on that election oversight commission we mentioned above. Your humble newsletter author has the story.

Also from your loyal correspondent: A federal appellate court in Philadelphia has allowed the Wolf administration’s crowd size restrictions to temporarily stand as it appeals a lower court’s ruling declaring them unconstitutional.

One more from your humble author: Kathryn Kolbert, the Philadelphia attorney who defended abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Caseytold a crowd in Chester County Thursday that “all the rights we hold dear,” are at stake if the U.S. Supreme Court swings to a conservative 6-3 majority.

In Pittsburgh, they’re looking at pedestrian and bike-friendly ‘Neighborways’ to make the streets a little safer, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page, occasional contributor Charles D. Allen, of Carlisle, Pa., explains how his community is putting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s exhortations of peace, justice, and unity to work.
Another occasional contributor, lawyer Michael Cozzillio, had the chance to come into contact with Judge Amy Coney Barrett in a professional setting a few years back. Though he disagrees with her on … everything …  he found her eminently qualified, which means she’s entirely too good for President Donald Trump, he argues.

En la Estrella-Capital, las Elecciónes Generales de Pa. del 2020: Su guía para las elecciones presidenciales y estatales del 3 de Noviembre.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

BREAKING: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both have tested positive for COVID-19. The news has reverberated across the United States government.

Parents are keeping their children out of kindergarten amid the pandemic, the Inquirer reports.
Allegheny County’s inspections team are still finding COVID-19 violations in bars and restaurants, the Post-Gazette reports.
Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 51-44 percent in the Lehigh Valley’s bellwether 7th Congressional District, the Morning Call reports, citing the results of a joint poll with Mulhenberg College. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by just 1 percent in the district, the newspaper notes.
Students in Luzerne County’s Crestwood School District will return to class two days a week starting Oct. 19, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day (Too Fall for Words Edition):

Activists are urging accountability for police actions during a Breonna Taylor protest in Philadelphia, WHYY-FM reports.
WPSU-FM profiles GOP 25th Senate District candidate Cris Dush. 
looks into how states are facing income tax collection problems because of the work from home boom.
That same Morning Call/Muhlenberg poll shows U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, leading GOP challenger Lisa Scheller 52-39 percent, PoliticsPA reports.
The Washington Post 
has live updates on the implications of the Trumps’ COVID-19 diagnosis.

Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 10 a.m. newser at PEMA HQ in suburban Harrisburg to announce his healthcare reform plan. If this isn’t some next-level Trumpian trolling, we don’t know what is.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Rep. Mike Reese holds an 8 a.m. golf outing at Laurel Valley Golf Club in scenic Ligonier, Pa.

You Say it’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to stalwart Morning Call courts reporter Laurie Mason Schroeder, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
By request, here’s one from The Chicks, from their new LP ‘Gaslighter.’ It’s the title track.

Friday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian has its weekly list of 10 things to watch for ahead of this weekend’s round of Premier League action.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.