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Gov. Gina Raimondo nominated two women Tuesday to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, including one who, if confirmed, would become not only the first Black justice, but also the first person of color on the state's highest court.

Superior Court Judge Melissa Long was nominated to replace Justice Francis X. Flaherty, who announced his retirement in October.

Long was appointed by Raimondo to the Superior Court in 2017. Before that, she was deputy secretary of state and director of administration in the secretary of state's office. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the George Mason University School of Law.

Raimondo also nominated state Sen. Erin Lynch Prata to the high court. She is the chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee and would replace Justice Gilbert Indeglia, who retired in June. She has degrees from Boston College and the Catholic University of America law school.

If Long and Lynch Prata are confirmed, the five-member court will be majority female for the first time. Raimondo also announced several other judicial nominations.

The Democratic governor named Linda Rekas Sloan to the Superior Court. If approved, Rekas Sloan would be the first Asian-American on the court.

The governor also named Central Falls Municipal Judge Elizabeth Ortiz to the Family Court bench, making Ortiz the first Latina nominated to the court that oversees child custody, divorce and juvenile matters.

“I am thrilled to appoint this group of talented public servants to our state’s highest courts,” Raimondo said in a statement. “As governor, one of my most important and sacred responsibilities is to appoint high-caliber judges who reflect the diversity of the Rhode Islanders they serve. I am confident that each of these nominees will fairly and honorably uphold the laws and values of our state.”



A judge hearing President Donald Trump's federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's win in Wisconsin said Friday that the president's request to “remand” the case to the GOP-controlled Legislature to pick new electors was “bizarre.”

The federal case is one of two Trump has in Wisconsin making similar arguments. He filed another one in state court, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear before it first goes through lower courts.

Hearings on both lawsuits were scheduled for Thursday, with the judges noting the importance of resolving the legal battles before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. Trump, who argues that hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots cast in accordance with state guidelines were illegal, wants a federal judge to give the Republican-controlled Legislature the power to determine who won the election.

“It’s a request for pretty remarkable declaratory relief," said U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig during a conference call to set deadlines and a hearing date. Ludwig, who said it was “an unusual case, obviously,” also cast doubt on whether a federal court should be considering it at all.

“I have a very, very hard time seeing how this is justiciable in the federal court,” Ludwig, a Trump appointee, said. “The request to remand this case to the Legislature almost strikes me as bizarre.”

The judge questioned why Trump wasn't going directly to the Legislature if he wants lawmakers to get involved with naming electors. Bill Bock, the Trump campaign attorney in the federal lawsuit, said Trump needed the court to rule that the election was “invalid" so the Legislature could get involved. He also said that the term “remand,” which is typically used to describe when one court sends a case to a lower court, was “inartful.”

Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke cast serious doubt in the week on whether the Legislature might change the state's electors from Biden to Trump backers. Steineke tweeted a clip of actor Dana Carvey playing President George H.W. Bush saying, “Not gonna do it.”

In his state lawsuit, Trump is seeking to disqualify 221,000 ballots he claims were cast illegally. Judge Stephen Simanek, who is hearing that case after the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to take it initially, said Friday he would rule from the bench following next week's hearing that's scheduled to start hours after the one in federal court.

The high court also declined Friday to hear a lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Voters Alliance over Trump's loss. Two others filed by Trump allies — one in federal court and one in state court — remain. Trump has lost multiple lawsuits in other battleground states as part of a longshot effort to overturn Biden's victory. Even if he were to prevail in Wisconsin, the state's 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to hand him reelection.



A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.

In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.

The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.

Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.

Trump's attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”

“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump’s team made the filing late Thursday evening.

In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.

Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump’s allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.

“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even ? and maybe especially ? in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”

Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday. Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.

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