TILLIS AND BURR GUSH OVER UNQUALIFIED SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: “I think Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to go down in history as one of the great justices on the Supreme Court,” Tillis said in a seven-minute speech Monday on the Senate floor. “Judge Barrett has proven to be an exceptionally qualified and well-respected jurist. Throughout her distinguished career, she has demonstrated that she will faithfully serve as an impartial judge to defend the Constitution and rule of law,” Burr said in a statement after the vote. Barrett, a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame, has been an appellate court judge in the 7th U.S. Circuit since 2017, when she was nominated by Trump. Barrett is a mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti. In June, Burr and Tillis signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 law that allowed women the right to seek an abortion nationwide.
MIKE PENCE'S WIFE ALLOWS HIM TO MAKE MORE VISITS TO NC, BUT NO COED LUNCHES: Pence was scheduled to hold rallies at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro at midday Tuesday and at the Wilmington airport in the evening. He'll be in Greenville, South Carolina, for an event in between. Pence remains on the campaign trail after his chief of staff and other close contacts tested positive for COVID-19. Pence's aides said he tested negative and decided to keep traveling after consulting White House medical personnel. That included a campaign stop in Kinston on Sunday evening. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order limits attendance at mass outdoor gatherings, but political events are generally exempt. Health officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, said Pence’s advance team will encourage attendees to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer, according to county spokesperson Kate Oelslager.
MARK MEADOWS HAS BEEN AN ABJECT FAILURE AS WH CHIEF OF STAFF: Meadows’s uneven handling of the pandemic response and other West Wing crises has dismayed many staffers and campaign officials, who say he has largely proved to be an ineffective chief of staff, instead serving more as a political adviser and confidant. He also played a role last week in working to keep a lid on news of a spreading coronavirus outbreak in the office of Vice President Pence, with at least five aides or advisers infected as of Sunday. Many of those with whom he works, however, say the former House lawmaker has struggled with the management challenges of the chief-of-staff position — sending mixed messages in stimulus negotiations, bungling aspects of Trump’s recent coronavirus hospitalization and regularly failing to communicate inside the West Wing and with many other parts of the administration. A spokesman for Meadows declined to make him available for an on-the-record interview. This accounting is based on interviews with 18 White House officials, Trump advisers, Capitol Hill aides and others, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Meadows, for his part, has told others that he consults “The Gatekeepers,” a book on presidential chiefs of staff by Chris Whipple. Whipple was recently spotted in the West Wing for meetings, officials said. Whipple, however, does not agree with Deere. “It’s hard to count the ways Meadows has failed as chief of staff,” Whipple said. “It’s been an unmitigated disaster.”
SUPREME COURT BLOCKS BALLOT DEADLINE EXTENSION IN WISCONSIN: The Supreme Court on Monday night rejected a pandemic-related request from Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day in the key battleground state of Wisconsin. The vote was 5 to 3, with the Republican-nominated conservatives in the majority and the Democratic-nominated liberals in dissent. The court’s order showed the deep division within the court about the series of pandemic-related election cases that have come to dominate its agenda. The decision was a victory for Republicans and President Trump in a state where he narrowly won in 2016 and polls show him behind this year. While Democrats have embraced mail-in voting, Trump has railed against it. The court in coming days will consider a similar issue in other battleground states. Republicans in North Carolina are challenging an extension for ballots postmarked before and on Election Day but received afterward. And the Pennsylvania GOP has again asked the court to overturn an extension granted there by the state Supreme Court. The court last week allowed that decision to stand on a 4-to-4 vote, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. siding with the liberals. But new Justice Amy Coney Barrett begins work Tuesday and is set to shift the court’s balance yet again. In Wisconsin, a district judge had ruled with the plaintiffs, and extended by six days the deadline to receive ballots postmarked by Election Day. He accepted the argument that the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying surge in mail voting demand changes to accommodate voters and ensure ballots are counted. But the Republican National Committee, the Wisconsin Republican Party and the state’s majority-GOP legislature intervened to defend the existing deadline, and earlier this month a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reinstated the requirement that mail ballots be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
BATTLEGROUND STATES ARE EARLY-VOTING AT A RECORD PACE: A week before Election Day, more than 64 million Americans have already voted — and about half of them are in the dozen or so competitive states that will ultimately decide who wins the Electoral College. Possibly even more significant, early votes in these battlegrounds account for more than half of those states’ total votes in 2016. Nationally, voters have already cast about 46 percent of the total vote counted in 2016, according to the United States Elections Project. Democrats appear much more eager about early voting. In the five battleground states that report party registration, nearly two million more registered Democrats have voted than Republicans so far. In Pennsylvania — a state Mr. Trump narrowly won in 2016 — more than three times as many Democrats have voted than Republicans. The party breakdown is more even in Florida and North Carolina. Early voting has been less extensive in states that are more likely to favor Mr. Trump. These states tend to be less populous than many of the Democratic-leaning and battleground states, so it’s not surprising that they make up a smaller share of total early votes. But their early votes are also smaller as a percentage of the number of people who voted four years ago. Mr. Trump, who has railed against mail voting, is counting on a “red wave” of in-person voting on Nov. 3 to overcome what appears to be an early voting advantage for Democrats.