President Trump appeared at the White House Rose Garden for a last-minute address to the nation in the wake of demonstrations, Monday evening, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "We will end it now," Mr. Trump said, calling himself, "your president of law and order."
Exactly one week after Minnesotan George Floyd's death in police custody, the president said he has recommended every state executive deploy its National Guard: "We will dominate the streets."
Mr. Trump added that if states or cities refuse to act in response to protests, "then I will deploy the U.S. military and quickly solve the problem for them." He also announced the federal government will dispatch "thousands and thousands" of "heavily armed soldiers" and police to enforce the 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C., tonight, adding that violators would be detained and prosecuted.
Loud explosions echoed through the Rose Garden as police deployed tear gas canisters and flash bangs on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park to clear the way for the president. Flanked by members of his cabinet and staff, Mr. Trump departed White House grounds for a visit to historic St. John's Church, a sanctuary where presidents past have long worshipped. Boarded up following last night's demonstrations that briefly set the church's basement ablaze, the president did not enter to pray, but vowed to keep the country "nice and safe" while wielding a Bible.
Only hours earlier, President Trump unloaded on the nation's governors Monday morning, calling them "weak" for failing to more aggressively enforce law and order over the weekend, as some of the nation's biggest cities burned in the wake of the death of George Floyd, reports CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe.
On a video teleconference, the president warned that the law enforcement presence across Washington would be set to intensify later Monday. He said the protests are ruining the nation's standing on the world stage. And he called on governors to pass new bans on flag burning, a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. "Washington was under very good control, but we're going to have it under much more control," Mr. Trump said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by CBS News. "We're going to pull in thousands of people." He added later, "We're going to clamp down very, very strong."
The president's comments came as Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the nation's capital would be under a 7 p.m. ET curfew for the next two nights. And the president spoke as his presumed Democratic Party rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, was praying and meeting with religious and community leaders in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, about the violence roiling the country.
During the call, the president repeatedly called into question the leadership and decisions made over the weekend by governors and big-city mayors, pressuring them to make broader use of the National Guard and other military capabilities.
"You're making a mistake because you're making yourselves look like fools," he told the governors at one point. "And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it's not – it's not a great day for our country." One participant on the call described the president's words and tone as "unhinged." "You have to dominate, if you don't dominate you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you. You're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate," the president told governors.
The president said that the violence "is coming from the radical left — you know, it everybody knows it — but it's also looters, and it's people that figure they can get free stuff by running into stores and running out with television sets. I saw it — a kid has a lot of stuff, he puts it in the back of a brand new car and drives off. You have every one of these guys on tape. Why aren't you prosecuting them? Now, the harder you are, the tougher you are, the less likely you're going to be hit." This kind of violence has happened before, Mr. Trump said. "It's happened numerous times. And the only time it's successful is when you're weak. And most of you are weak. I will say this, what's going on in Los Angeles — I have a friend lives in Los Angeles — they say all the storefronts are gone," the president continued. "They're all broken and gone. The merchandise is gone. It's a shame. It didn't look as bad to me — maybe it was the sunshine, I don't know. But in Los Angeles, the storefronts are gone. Philadelphia's a mess. What happened there is horrible."
Prior to his press conference this evening, the president himself hadn't been seen publicly since Saturday, when he attended a space shuttle launch and addressed the death of George Floyd in Florida. Mr. Trump was briefly moved to the White House bunker on Friday evening as protests were being held near the White House.
Mr. Trump was joined on the call by Attorney General William Barr — who he said he plans to "activate very strongly" — General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. "We can't play whack-a-mole," Barr told the governors — before the president interjected. "If you're weak and don't dominate your streets, they're going to stay with you until you finally do it," Mr. Trump said. "And you don't want it. Philadelphia, you'd better toughen up. Because what's going on in Philadelphia, like New York, is terrible. It's terrible. You'd better toughen — they'll never leave. I know you want to say, 'Oh, let's not call up the Guard, let's call up 200 people.' You've got a big National Guard out there that's ready to come in and fight like hell. I tell ya, the best, what they did in Minneapolis was incredible."
"We're shocked that you're not using the greatest resource," the president added — urging governors to call up the National Guard. Esper told the governors that so far just two states had called up more than 1,000 Guard troops. "You've got to arrest these people. You've got arrest these people — and you've got to charge them," the president said to the governors. "And you can't do this deal where they get one week in jail. These are terrorists, these are terrorists, they're looking to do bad things to our country. They're Antifa and they're radical left."
Amid talk of more aggressive police tactics, the president made specific suggestions on how law enforcement should engage aggressive protesters: "When they have bricks — you know they come armed with bricks. And they have bricks and rocks, big rocks, and they have other big things, and they throw them. You know, you're allowed to fight back, folks. You don't have to have a brick hit you in the face, and you don't do anything about it. You are allowed to fight back," the president said. Mentioning Barr, the president said, "Bill —... if a brick is thrown at somebody, and it hits them, or maybe if it doesn't hit them, your very tough, strong, powerful people are allowed to fight back against that guy. And very strongly and powerfully."
FROM THE CANDIDATES
At Bethel AME church in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, Joe Biden sat in front of the altar area with a notepad in his hands and a mask on his face to listen to the ideas of local political and religious leaders on how to engage communities after the death of George Floyd, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports.
For his part, Biden said he would recommend a "police oversight board" within the first 100 days of his administration. In the next few weeks, Biden said he would make several national addresses about how the country should proceed. For these addresses, he was taking suggestions from the community members as they socially-distant gathered in the church pews.
Reverends and bishops spoke about engaging youth leaders and not hearing their ideas filtered through a "youth minister." Some of the political and business leaders said that economic help, including addressing poverty, was vital, too. One of the most emotional moments was when Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, an ally of Biden's, displayed her bracelet dedicated to Floyd's words during the arrest: "I can't breathe."
Blunt Rochester said Floyd's death is an example that minorities' "breath has been taken away, and we have to get it back." The congresswoman also was straightforward with Biden that the country has "so many programs" that have not been effective. "We need action and we need resources," she told him. Others gathered, like Reverend Shanika Perry, described to Biden that it was difficult to be his "surrogate" with young people she knows because they have hesitations about his role with the 1994 crime bill. Perry and one other bishop added that one way Biden could positively move forward is by picking a black woman as his running mate.
Later in the day, Biden virtually gathered with the mayors of major cities including Mayor Melvin Carter from St. Paul, Mayor Lori Lightfoot from Chicago, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from Atlanta and Mayor Eric Garcetti from Los Angeles. These mayors echoed many of the sentiments of the local leaders in the morning session. Biden reiterated to the mayors he believes it is important for their citizens to "find a balance" between understandable protests and emotions ("I'm angry too," Biden said) and the destruction that has occurred in some places.
Carter said St. Paul residents are not willing to "return to quiet" but instead are adhering to an approach of "peace but not patience." Lightfoot called the nationwide reaction to the alleged actions of Officer Derek Chauvin "momentous," as she described it as a rallying moment for people, politicians and uniformed officers alike. All four mayors expressed their own grievances with the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent protests.
Lance Bottoms explained that the president said he would send the military to help with the protests but doesn't send a "single dime" into communities like hers. "The simple answer," Garcetti said, was "we need money and morals" from the federal government.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters during today's briefing that President Trump has "a long history of condemning white supremacy and racism." But the president, in fact, has a long history of stoking racial tensions dating back to his time as a New York City real estate mogul, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga.
In 1989, the president called for the state of New York to adopt the death penalty following the conviction of the "Central Park Five," five black and Latino men who as teenagers were wrongly convicted of the raping of a jogger in Manhattan. As late as 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump falsely claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States. The president remarked there were "fine people" on "both sides" of violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, following a white supremacy rally in 2017.
And last year, the president said a group of four minority congresswomen should "go back" to the countries they came from, a factually inaccurate, racial trope. The White House confirmed President Trump is scheduled to travel to Maine, Friday. Earlier today on the president's call with state leaders, Maine Governor Janet Mills expressed her concerns with Mr. Trump that his trip might "cause security problems" following Maine's peaceful protests.
The president said he expects a "tremendous crowd" but no problems. "I think most of them are very favorable," Trump said of the anticipated audience. "They like their president."
LIFE AFTER 2020
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced the framework for policing reform legislation says CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. The former presidential candidate called for reforming 18 U.S.C. Section 242, a federal statute that governs police misconduct, for greater police accountability in the federal court system.
Part of the legislation also includes the creation of a national police misconduct registry that would provide increased transparency in police misconduct data. In addition, Booker wants to improve police training by banning religious and racial profiling, funding racial bias training and "incentivizing states to adopt policies banning the use of choke-hold and other airway restrictive holds in their use-of-force policies."
In a press call, Booker said, "Persistent and unchecked bias in policing and this deep history of a lack of accountability are wreaking havoc in African-American communities. And we are seeing the protests. Millions of people expressing outrage for change."
ISSUES THAT MATTER
President Trump has signaled the federal government "will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization," even though there is no existing legal authority for the move, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. As protests over the death of George Floyd continue for a second week, President Trump is holding left-wing extremists groups responsible for the damage and discord on the streets of America.
This morning on a call with governors, the president said that the violence "is coming from the radical left, you know it, everybody knows it." A new report from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism says an initial assessment of protests revealed that "while a number of extremists – including anti-government agitators, anarchists and a handful of white supremacists – are taking an active role, these protests should not be categorized as "extremist" events at this point." According to the ADL assessment "a handful of white supremacists have shown up at Black Lives Matter rallies around the country," while other white supremacists are using violent images and videos of the protests as recruitment tools. On social media, ADL found that some white supremacists, especially those supportive of "accelerationism" – the view that a long-promised race-war is imminent – are celebrating the prospect of increased violence and urging others to take full advantage.
The ADL assessment also found that right-wing anti-government extremist groups like the "boogaloo" movement, are also reacting to the protests. While most boogalooers are not white supremacists, the ADL says, they variously anticipate and prepare for a future civil war. "Many boogalooers have seen the protests as an opportunity to further their anti-police crusade and make common cause with others angry at police," the ADL report reads.
"In sharp contrast to the boogalooers, members of the militia movement and allied groups have expressed very little empathy with the protesters. Their reactions have been far more hostile, in part because the militia movement views the protests as organized by the extreme left for nefarious purposes." While the ADL assessment provides several examples of right-wing groups showing up at protests across the country and using the moment for personal gains on social media, it only makes one reference to Antifa, simply mentioning that they have "also shown up at protests."
Asked about extremist groups showing up at protests to cause chaos, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said during a press conference Monday there will be investigations about who is causing the damage and admitted "I got out over my skis a little bit on this and as I said, I think it was probably hard for me to fathom that this was coming internally. You cannot have a blind spot."
Walz said in addition to the social media posts from extremist groups, the data set "has to be much broader" in order to provide a better understanding of the issue. John Harrington, commissioner of Minnesota Department of Public Safety, also said there is a need for more data outside of social media to understand and prove the involvement of extremist groups at protests. Harrington said he heard "crazy stuff" about the "Klan marching down the street and we've got traffic cams, we've got – none of that happened." He added that "some of it looks like it is deliberately being planned as misinformation."
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he cares more about unity "than some of the noise" he heard on a phone call with President Trump this morning. Newsom said his reaction to Monday morning's call where the president called governors "weak" is "to focus on the things that unite us not what divides us."
CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Newsom added that California will provide resources needed to local officials and community leaders to address the rise in violence "but we must resolve to provide those resources to address the systematic problems."
Reacting to the calls for justice that have led to nationwide protests, Newsom said "the black community is not responsible for what is happening in this country right now. We are. We are. Our institutions are responsible. We have a unique responsibility to the black community in this country and we've been paying lip service about that for generations."
The California governor said people have lost patience "because they haven't seen progress." In order to meet the moment, Newsom said leaders need to listen, adding "society becomes how we behave, we are our behaviors. Each and every one of us has an obligation to do better."
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Newsom has been hesitant about directly criticizing President Trump, but he's often said the country lacks leadership. During Monday afternoon's press conference Newsom said leaders can be found everywhere.
"Leadership is not just some fancy title," Newsom said. "We are desperate for leadership in this country," he added. President Trump has recently blamed ANTIFA, left-wing anti-fascist extremists, for inciting the violence at protests. Mr. Trump also tweeted Monday afternoon a video with the caption "Anarchists, we see you!" But Newsom refused to name any specific groups on Monday. "You have groups that are hell-bent on creating problems and anarchists groups. You've got folks that are well defined that have been highlighted by the president and others," Newsom said.
He added that he's not suggesting the names of the groups should be hidden, "but I also see every time elected official like me mentions them, they start to be spread between their supporters, and with all due respect of some of these groups, I'm not going to give you that privilege right now."
Amid ongoing protests that took place over the weekend in response to the killing of George Floyd, Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini warned "fake protesters" in a tweet Sunday that an AR-15 rifle "will be a very common sight upon illegal entry" into businesses in Lake County. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the post, which included a photo of an AR-15, has garnered more than 18,000 likes and 9,000 retweets within the past day.
"The tweet is a warning. It warns people that in places like Lake County and any more medium-sized county or a rural county, you won't be able to just loot a business without consequences," Sabatini told Mitchell.
Sabatini, who also works part-time as an officer for the Florida Army National Guard, added that his message was a "sincere warning" that if people "try to rob a business, they're going to be shot, period. It's just the way it works." Sabatini continued. "Those who are peacefully protesting — first of all, all 330 million Americans, I think agree with them…Nobody's defending the actions of that horrible police officer. But one thing I would tell them is to be very careful to disassociate with anyone who believes that breaking laws is justified to further their protest…"
The Florida Democratic Party called on Twitter to remove Sabatini's account for violence but in a message sent to the Lake County representative, Twitter said it couldn't identify any violations of their rules. "Although Twitter may think it's okay to incite violence, Florida will not stand for it," the FLDP tweeted Monday. "Representative, be prepared to get voted out."
Next week voters in Georgia will participate in their primary – one that has been delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While former Vice President Joe Biden will essentially run unopposed, the senate race bidding for the seat of incumbent Senator David Perdue has its fair share of excitement.
The Democratic Primary for the seat remains unpredictable and crowded. One candidate, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, spoke with CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry about the protests taking the country by storm and some of her proposals in addressing policing.
"What we have seen this last three and a half years in this current administration and the complicity of the Republicans is really a dissolving of those civic structures that kept us together as a people," Tomlinson said. She spoke about the need to amend the Civil Rights Act to address the issue of qualified immunity, that some say has prevented police from facing consequences for their alleged misconduct.
"We need to go ahead and legislatively take the responsibility of defining how much immunity is going to apply to the work the police officers do," Tomlinson said and added, "no way is there immunity for these types of brutal killings." Finally Tomlinson took a jab at one of her Democratic primary rivals, Jon Ossoff, who, along with another contender, Sarah Riggs Amico, transferred their personal money into their respective campaigns. "I believe they made the miscalculation that this race can be run on money and ads." Tomlinson also added that she has continued to outraise her opponent in dollars raised from Georgia residents.
Iowa Congressman Steve King is facing his toughest primary race in years on Tuesday, as Republicans who usually safeguard their incumbents have either shied away from defending him or backed his challengers, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro.
While King has drawn headlines for years for his controversial comments, the message from those hoping to unseat him has focused more on what King isn't able to do in Washington. In 2019, King was stripped of his House committee assignments after comments he made about white nationalism and white supremacy, which prompted a swift bipartisan backlash.
"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" King said in a New York Times interview in January 2019. Republican candidates and outside groups have honed in on King's waning influence. He has not only lost his committee assignments, but Republicans aren't even listening to his opinions, says Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa Republican leader who has endorsed King's main primary opponent, Iowa state Senator Randy Feenstra.
"He can't even influence the committees because they're not accepting his voice," said Vander Plaats, who is president and CEO of the Family Leader, a Christian conservative group in Iowa. "Just because you can scream conservative issues really, really loud in the middle of the street, the fact is, if nobody's listening to you, it doesn't make a difference anymore."
King has chalked up his white nationalist comments in The New York Times to a misquote and "weaponizing" of the term. At a debate on Tuesday, he said the backlash and his removal were "ginned up" by the "never-Trumpers." King has comfortably held the rural, conservative Iowan district since 2002, but in 2018 his seat was very much in play.
First-time congressional candidate Democrat J.D. Scholten lost to King by just three points and Scholten is poised to be the Democratic nominee again in 2020. In deeply Republican Sioux County, where King got 72% of the vote in 2018 and 80% in 2016, Republican county chair Tammy Kobza is backing King.
"He's the one that will best defend America, its greatness and Donald Trump's agenda," she said.
In addition to the U.S House primaries in Iowa, there is a Democratic Senate primary where four candidates are competing to take on Republican Senator Joni Ernst in November, notes CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has endorsed businesswoman Theresa Greenfield who has led the pack in total contributions in fundraising reports filed ahead of the primary. Greenfield is up against Eddie Mauro, Michael Franken, and Kimberly Graham. In total, Democratic candidates and outside groups have booked almost $11 million in ad reservations from the start of the year through the primary, according to data from Kantar/CMAG. The Senate Majority PAC has contributed the bulk of that figure by spending almost $7 million on ads supporting Greenfield.
Monday was the deadline for candidates to file to run in the U.S. Senate primary in Kansas, and after months of speculation Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not file to run, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
Pompeo has told reporters numerous times over the past few months that his intention was to continue to serve as secretary of state but speculation continued in part because there is a large pool of relatively unknown Republican candidates and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wished Pompeo would run. The Kansas secretary of state's office posted the unofficial list of candidates who have filed for the open seat, and the list includes 11 GOP candidates and two Democratic candidates.
The seat will be open since Republican Senator Pat Roberts announced last summer he would retire at the end of his term.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said of President Trump's teleconference with governors that the call was "deeply disturbing." She said at a press conference later Monday that "[Mr. Trump] repeatedly and viciously attacked governors who are doing everything we can to keep the peace while we're working to save lives in a once in a generation pandemic." Whitmer added that the country is in a moment that requires "empathy and humanity and unity."
Whitmer also announced Monday she is rescinding Michigan's safer-at-home order and allowing businesses and restaurants to begin opening with capacity limits in the next week, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.
The controversial order was at times one of the strictest in the country and has drawn legal challenges from Republicans in the state legislature.
Retailers will be able to open on June 4 and restaurants will be able to open on June 8. Restaurants will need to operate at 50% capacity and maintain six feet of distance between groups.
Whitmer is also allowing day camps for children to open on June 8. Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to conduct outdoor classes, practices, training sessions or games as long as "coaches, spectators, and participants maintain six feet of distance from one another during these activities."
Effective immediately, Michigan is also allowing groups of up to 100 people to gather outdoors as long as people practice social distancing. Whitmer is still requiring Michiganders to wear face masks while in enclosed public spaces and asking people to work from home as much as possible. Some businesses that involve "close contact and shared surfaces" will remain closed, including "gyms, hair salons, indoor theaters, tattoo parlors, casinos, and similar establishments."
In testimony before a House subcommittee on Tuesday, Whitmer is expected to criticize the Trump administration for the "confusion" in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic over the allocation of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the federal government, according to her prepared remarks obtained by CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman.
Her prepared remarks note that the state was directed to receive PPE from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but Whitmer says there was confusion, since Mr. Trump had also suggested states think about buying equipment from private suppliers.
"As the state pursued PPE on the national and international markets, the lack of centralized coordination at the federal level created a counterproductive competition between states and the federal government to secure limited supplies, driving up prices and exacerbating existing shortages," her remarks read.
Whitmer is also planning to call for clearer information from the federal government on testing supplies. The Democratic governor is expected to ask Congress for more federal assistance as the state faces a projected budget shortfall.
Also in Michigan, the state's Republican party is calling on Whitmer and Senator Gary Peters to respond to a statement from Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes that said people who support President Trump are racist.
"If you support Donald Trump, you are a racist. Here is where it gets tricky and uncomfortable. Donald Trump is a racist, and if being a racist is not a dealbreaker for you, you are the reason Black people are being murdered for being Black," Barnes said in a statement Sunday in the wake of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.
"We have arrived at the turning point, where silence is not an option. I hope we can all see the difference between protesting and rioting. There is so much anger, I am angry also, but I am not moved by pleas for understanding. Here is what I want to see: I want the economic oppression of Black communities to stop, including holding the oppressors accountable. I want meaningful criminal justice reform. And I want law enforcement to actually do their jobs and prosecute hate crimes, and when law enforcement participates in racist conduct I want them held accountable — not by the prosecutors and colleagues they work with every day, but by an independent body, that they hold no sway over," Barnes' statement continued.
Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox responded to Barnes today, calling it "inflammatory" and accusing her of "fanning the flames that are burning in our cities." In a statement Cox said, "Far too often, African-Americans receive unfair treatment from law enforcement, and we must do more as a nation to ensure that due process rights are guaranteed for all citizens regardless of race." She continued, "However, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes calling over 2 million Michiganders "racist" is unacceptable and only makes this tragedy worse." In a separate statement, Cox wrote, "As representatives for all Michiganders, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Senator Gary Peters must condemn Lavora Barnes' statement immediately. It is time to put the people of Michigan above politics."
With the clock ticking on the deadline for counties to receive mail-in ballots in for the June 2 Pennsylvania primary, Governor Tom Wolf said he would extend their deadline by a week, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak.
"I can't do anything about the election date, but I am extending the time to actually get votes in," Wolf said in a press conference in Philadelphia. In the first year of no-excuse mail-in voting in the state, over 1.8 million Pennsylvanians applied to vote by mail, straining local elections boards with nearly 18 times the number of voters who applied to do so in the 2016 primary. As of Monday morning, counties had processed over a million mail-in ballots, but over a third remained.
Wolf's decision came after counties and voting rights advocates argued voters who applied toward the deadline to apply for mail-in voting could end up without enough time to get their ballots in before election day. Pennsylvania residents had until May 26, a week before the primary election, to apply for mail-in ballots, leaving only a week for their ballot to be issued and returned. The issue has been playing out across court levels in the state.
Counties across the state have installed drop-off boxes for mail-in ballots, and voters who applied for mail-in ballots but didn't mail back can file a provisional ballot in person. But there will be far fewer polling places in the state, since the State Department approved a 60% polling place cut across all counties and major polling place slashes for the state's largest counties, from 831 to 190 in Philadelphia and by nearly 90 percent in Allegheny.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court today agreed to hear a case that could take about 130,000 voters off of the state's voter rolls before the November election, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.
The case involves voters who the state believes may have moved and haven't responded to a mailing from October 2019 either confirming they stayed at a location or registered at a new address. The letter was initially sent to about 230,000 voters last fall, but some have confirmed their address, re-registered at a new address or been removed from the active voter list for other reasons.
A county court initially ruled to remove the voters from the rolls, but the state appeals court overturned that decision in February. The Wisconsin Supreme Court deadlocked earlier this year on whether to hear the case before the appeals court weighed in.
In late April, conservative Justice Dan Kelly announced he would be participating in the case once again, since the April election where he was on the ballot had passed. One interesting angle for the case is the schedule for filing briefs. The court is allowing up to 60 days for briefs to be filed and if the full time is used, there could be a new justice on the bench.
Liberal Justice Jill Karofsky will be sworn in on the court on August 1 to replace Kelly. That would narrow the conservative edge on the court to a 4-3 majority. If the court rules to remove the voters, they could still re-register in time for the November election, but some activists have said it's more difficult to do so during the coronavirus pandemic. The case will be closely watched. since Wisconsin's 2016 presidential election was decided by about 23,000 votes.