Category Archives: Constitution

Texas racial gerrymandering, Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering headed to SCOTUS

Slate has a good summary of the decision of the federal district court for Texas on Thursday that, once again, struck down the district lines drawn by the Texas legislature for intentional racial discrimination. Federal Court: Texas Intentionally Gerrymandered Its Districts to Dilute Minority Votes:

On Thursday, a three-judge federal court ruled that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing its state House district map in 2011. The decision follows a similar ruling by the same court in March holding that Texas also drew its federal congressional districts in an effort to dilute minority votes. Thursday’s ruling marks the third time in recent weeks that the federal judiciary has found Texas to have intentionally burdened its Hispanic voters.

The majority attached a 151-page findings of fact to its already lengthy opinion, reflecting careful analysis of Texas’ gerrymander that will be difficult for the Supreme Court to ignore on appeal. In short, the court found that Texas legislators drew multiple House districts that diluted Hispanics’ votes, a violation of both the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court also found that the legislature had engaged in race-based gerrymandering, which similarly runs afoul of equal protection and the VRA. Finally, the court concluded that the House map violated the one person, one vote principle by creating districts within unequal populations, another Equal Protection infringement.

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(Update) AZ Tea-Publican legislature aids and abets our corporate overlords in restricting your constitutional right to make laws

The Chamber of Commerce organizations got their lickspittle servants in our Tea-Publican controlled legislature and our “Koch-bot” governor to do their bidding in making it damn near impossible for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to make laws by citizens initiative. Buying a legislature and governor to do your bidding is the exclusive provence of our Plutocratic corporate overlords, and you will obey!

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, House passes two more bills tightening citizen-initiative laws:

Republican state lawmakers on Thursday agreed to impose two new sets of restrictions on initiatives that foes said in combination with already-approved measures will effectively deny the ability of voters to ever again propose their own laws.

SB 1236, approved by the House on a 35-23 party-line vote, would make the committee pushing a ballot measure financially responsible for any acts of fraud or forgery committed by anyone who is paid to gather signatures for the initiative. Those fines would be $1,000 for each violation.

That measure still needs final Senate approval.

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III visits Nogales, controversy ensues

Charles Pierce at Esquire covers this story in the way only he can, so let him tell this story. This Is What America Means to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III:

We’re going to have to make a semi-regular daily feature on the doings of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, presently the Attorney General and the only man in America who thinks Birth of a Nation was a documentary.

On Tuesday, he visited the Arizona-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and, by way of encouraging the law-enforcement types gathered there, according to Tiger Beat On The Potomac, these were his prepared remarks:

“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” he said. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

Nobody I know is in favor of depravity and violence—at least outside the studios of Fox News, anyway—nor is anyone I know in favor of machete attacks and/or beheadings, although some of our staunch allies elsewhere are rather high on the latter. But when you’ve got the attorney general of the United States planning to refer to other human beings, no matter how criminal they are, as “filth,” you’ve got the Department of Justice descending into the status of a Breitbart comment thread, and that is never good for anyone. When it came time for the speech, Sessions ultimately did not say “filth” out loud, but the Department of Justice doubled down on the word in a statement:

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the departure from prepared remarks, but said:

“As the Attorney General said in his statement, we must take a stand against filth like MS-13 and the cartels that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent people, and that profit by trafficking in drugs and people. It is unfortunate that there are misinformed people that think that we need to treat such violent criminals as if they deserve anything but the worse kind of condemnation.”

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Federal District Court for Texas again strikes down Texas voter ID law for intentional racial discrimination

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, on remand from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, has again ruled (.pdf) that the voter identification law the Texas Legislature passed in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Federal Judge Says Texas Voter ID Law Intentionally Discriminates:

In a long-running case over the legality of one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country, the judge found that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

Judge Gonzales Ramos had made a similar ruling in 2014, but after Texas appealed her decision, a federal appellate court instructed her to review the issue once more.

The appeals court — the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans — found that Judge Ramos had relied too heavily on Texas’ history of discriminatory voting measures and other evidence it labeled “infirm” and asked her to reweigh the question of discriminatory intent.

In her ruling on Monday, Judge Ramos wrote that the evidence cited by the Fifth Circuit “did not tip the scales” in favor of the state.

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Obamacare subsides to continue while House v. Price remains in limbo

I recently posted about this pending Obamacare lawsuit in Obamacare: ‘The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated’:

[T]his bizarre lawsuit that could still blow up the ACA insurance markets:

A pending court case, House v. Price (née House v. Burwell — and so much turns on the name change), has given the administration a bomb it could use to blow up insurance markets across the country. At stake is the legality of the payments the federal government makes to insurance companies to help cover the medical expenses of low-income people.

Destroying those markets, however, carries huge political risks. Trump’s full-throated support for a reckless replacement bill has convinced millions of Americans that he’s intent on taking away their insurance. If their insurance does go away, they’ll probably blame him. It’s his presidency, and his problem.

By moving to defuse House v. Price, the Trump administration could signal that it means to make the best of Obamacare. At the same time, however, the case may represent the last best chance to rip the statute up from the roots. Skittish insurers are watching closely to see what the administration will do. Time is short: Insurers will have to decide very soon whether they want to participate on Obamacare’s exchanges in 2018.

The New York Times reports today, Trump Administration to Pay Health Law Subsidies Disputed by House:

The Trump administration says it is willing to continue paying subsidies to health insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act even though House Republicans say the payments are illegal because Congress never authorized them.

The statement sends a small but potentially significant signal to insurers, encouraging them to stay in the market.

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Whitford v. Gill: Partisan gerrymandering case before SCOTUS

John Oliver on his “Last Week Tonight”show Sunday night did a segment on Gerrymandering (video) that, while informative and funny, barely mentioned towards the end of the segment what may become a landmark case in the next term of the U.S. Supreme Court (unless affirmed) from the state of Wisconsin, Whitford v. Gill (No. 16-1161).

It’s time to get up to speed on this pending case.

Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog explains the posture of this case, The WI Gerrymandering Case and the Costs of Mandatory Jurisdiction:

The 2-1 federal court decision striking down Wisconsin’s redistricting plans for the state legislature as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, Whitford v. Gill, is without doubt the most significant lower federal court decision on partisan gerrymandering the lower courts have ever issued. The case will also come to the Court in the Supreme Court’s mandatory, appellate jurisdiction — which now exists only for a tiny sliver of cases, including challenges to statewide redistricting plans.

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