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Supreme Court grapples with Republican bid to overturn US elections. By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sunset at the US Supreme Court building after a stormy day in Washington, US, on November 11, 2022. REUTERS/Lea Melis

Written by Andrew Chung and Nate Raymond

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court got into tense arguments on Wednesday on a Republican appeal that could transform the U.S. election by giving politicians more power over voting rules and limiting state courts’ ability to scrutinize their actions in a major case involving North Carolina. congressional districts.

The court, which includes a 6-3 majority of conservatives, heard about three hours of arguments, as some conservatives including Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas indicated sympathy for the Republican arguments. It was difficult to read the position of others including Chief Justice John Roberts, raising the possibility of a less broad ruling from the Republican state lawmakers who sought the appeal. The three liberal justices indicated opposition to the Republican arguments.

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Lawmakers are appealing a North Carolina Supreme Court decision to toss a map designating the state’s 14 House districts — approved last year by the Republican-controlled state legislature — as unlawfully biased against Democratic voters.

Republican lawmakers are calling on the Supreme Court to adopt a previously fringe legal theory that has won support from some conservatives called the “independent state legislature” doctrine. Under this principle, they claim, the United States Constitution gives state legislatures—not other entities such as state courts—authority over election rules and electoral district maps.

Critics said the theory, if accepted, could upend American democratic norms by restricting critical examination of partisan political power and generating voter confusion with rules that differ between state and federal contests. The North Carolina Department of Justice is now defending the state Supreme Court’s actions alongside voters and voting rights groups that have challenged the Republican map. They are supported by the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.

“This is a proposal that throws away the normal checks and balances on the way big government decisions are made in this country,” said liberal Justice Elena Kagan, referring to the interaction between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. “And then you might think he’s getting rid of all those checks and balances at exactly the time when it’s needed most.”

The United States grapples with sharp divisions over voting rights. Republican-led state legislatures have pursued new voting restrictions in the wake of former Republican President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.

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“Think about the consequences,” Kagan said, “because this is a theory with major consequences.”

Kagan said the theory would free up state legislatures to engage in “the most extreme form of apportionment manipulation” — drawing electoral districts to unfairly improve a party’s electoral chances — while enacting “all kinds of restrictions on voting” and ending “all kinds of voter protection.”

State lawmakers often have incentives, in order to win re-election, to suppress, dilute and banish votes, Kagan said. Kagan said the theory could also free up legislatures to insert themselves into certifying a federal election result — a sensitive issue in light of the Jan. 6, 2021 rampage at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who sought to block Congressional confirmation of Biden. 2020 election victory.

Alito rejected arguments that the state legislatures would not be subject to oversight if the Republican position persisted.

“Under any circumstance, no matter what we say ‘election clause’ means, Congress can always come and determine the way congressional elections are conducted,” Alito said, referring to the election language in the Constitution.

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“The reason we have a case is because power does not simply come from the state constitution but power comes from the federal constitution, which empowers the legislature to come into effect,” Roberts said.

“lack of power”

David Thompson, attorney for state representatives, told the justices that the Constitution “requires state legislatures specifically to perform the federal function of setting regulations for federal elections. States lack the power to constrain the substantive discretion of the legislature when performing this federal function.”

The Supreme Court’s final decision, due by the end of June, may apply to the 2024 elections including the US presidential race.

The doctrine is based in part on the language of the Constitution which states that “the times, places, and manner of ‘federal elections’ shall be fixed in each state by its legislature.”

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Roberts noted that state legislators have recognized that even under their legal theory, the Constitution still allows the state governor to veto any actions passed by the state legislature.

“Granting veto power over the legislature’s actions greatly undermines the argument that he can do whatever he wants,” Roberts said.

Republican lawmakers argued that the state court unconstitutionally usurped the power of the North Carolina General Assembly to regulate federal elections. Thompson also argued that state constitutions cannot place substantive limits on the actions of legislatures in federal elections.

Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh told Thompson that his position on the breadth of the independent state legislature’s theory “seems to go further than that envisioned by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a 2000 ruling on the outcome of the presidential election — a view that holds state courts to overreach.” toward the federal election.

Empowering state legislatures the way Republican lawmakers want them would “wreak havoc on election management across the country,” Elizabeth Prilogar, who has defended the Biden administration, said, flooding federal courts with lawsuits asking them to influence state-elections. managed.

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Neil Katyal, speaking on behalf of voting rights groups, said accepting the independent state legislature theory would mean that for 233 years, election language in the US Constitution has been misread.

Thomas wondered if Katiel, who served as acting attorney general under former Democratic President Barack Obama, would make the same arguments if the North Carolina legislature adopted a congressional map that was “too generous to minority voters” and the state supreme court then invalidated it.

The North Carolina legislature approved his map for Congress in November 2021. Two groups of plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit, arguing that the map violates provisions of the state constitution related to free elections and freedom of assembly, among other things. The North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the map in February. Later, a lower state court rejected the redrawn legislature’s map and adopted a map drawn by a bipartisan team of experts.

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MicroStrategy is at its lowest level since 2020 after the sales were revealed

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(Bloomberg) — Shares of MicroStrategy touched their lowest level since August 2020 after the enterprise software company, which in recent years has been known as the largest buyer of bitcoin, revealed its first sale of the token.

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The stock fell 1.1 percent to $136.63 on Thursday, down 75 percent this year. Bitcoin rose less than 1% to around $16,590 and is believed to have fallen 64% since the start of the year.

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In a filing on Wednesday, MicroStrategy said it acquired approximately 2,395 Bitcoin between the beginning of November and December 21 through its subsidiary MacroStrategy, and paid out approximately $42.8 million in cash. It then sold 704 of the tokens on Dec. 22 for a total of about $11.8 million, citing tax purposes, before buying another 810 of them two days later.

Matt Malley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak + Co. Step down as CEO. This news means they don’t seem to want to do that anytime soon.”

Overall, MicroStrategy held about 132,500 bitcoins worth over $4 billion USD as of December 27th. The company paid an average purchase price of $30,397 per bitcoin.

“Given MicroStrategy’s $2.4 billion in leverage, we believe the company may have a lot of leverage over Bitcoin, and may face some liquidity risk,” Jefferies analyst Brent Thiel wrote in a note on Wednesday. Thill has an “underperform” rating on the stock and a price target of $110.

Over the years of the pandemic, MicroStrategy has become well known for its Bitcoin takeovers, largely led by Saylor. Earlier this year, Saylor stepped down from that role and now serves as CEO at the company and continues to lead its bitcoin strategy.

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MicroStrategy was trading around $120 before Saylor first announced the company’s Bitcoin purchases in 2020. The stock reached an all-time high of $1,315 in February 2021.

(Updates to include the stock’s closing price in the second paragraph.)

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Bankman-Fried May File Petition in New York Federal Court Next Week Before Judge Louis Kaplan By Cointelegraph

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Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is set to appear in court on the afternoon of January 3 to enter a lawsuit over two counts of wire fraud and six counts of conspiracy against him related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to Reuters. mentioned on December 28, citing court records. Bankman-Fried will appear before District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.

Judge Kaplan was appointed to hear the case on December 27 after the original judge in the case, Ronnie Abrams, Resigned herself because of connections between FTX and the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, where her husband is a partner. The company provided advisory services to FTX in 2021.