Tag Archives: First Amendment

Partisan gerrymandering cases headed to the U.S. Supreme Court

There has been a lot happening in partisan gerrymandering lawsuits lately, and luckily Rick Hasen at Elction Law Blog has put together a summary of where these cases stand today that will save me a lot of time. The State of Play on Partisan Gerrymandering Cases at the Supreme Court:

Back in 2004 the Supreme Court in Vieth v. Jublelirer split 4-1-4 over what to do about claims that partisan gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution. Four Justices said it was non-justiciable, four Justices said it was justiciable and raised a variety of challenges, and Justice Kennedy, in the middle, agreed with the Court’s liberals that the cases were justiciable, but agreed with the Court’s conservatives that the proposed standards didn’t work.  He essentially told everyone to keep working on the issue and come back, maybe looking at the First Amendment, maybe history, and maybe computers.  The cases at or coming to the Court seek to satisfy Justice Kennedy in various ways.

Here’s the state of play; the Supreme Court heard argument in October in Gill v. Whitford involving a challenge to state legislative districts in Wisconsin. Gill raises a partisan gerrymandering challenge under the Equal Protection Clause, and the McGhee/Stephanopoulos “efficiency gap” figured in (but was not the entire basis) for the analysis. Last month, the Court somewhat surprisingly also agreed to hear full argument in Beniske v. Lamone, a case challenging a Maryland congressional district as a partisan gerrymander under the First Amendment. I explained in this LA Times piece why the Court might have agreed to full argument in Benisek v. Lamone. Argument in the Maryland case will be later in the Spring.

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Constitution Applies to All

I was honored to do the coin toss for Military Appreciation Night at a high school football game recently. Thankfully, the loss of the toss didn’t determine the outcome of the game for the home team. They went on to win the game and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to many of the other veterans who had attended the game.

One Air Force vet thanked me for my service and after some small talk, he told me how horrible he thought it was for NFL players to “take a knee” during the National Anthem. I told him I had a different take that I’d like to share with him.

I said my perspective was that I had served to ensure those players had the freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights. He hesitated a second and then said “well, I just don’t think it’s right”. I told him that I didn’t think the Ku Klux Klan’s views are “right” nor do I like how they express them. But, to paraphrase what Michael Douglas’ character said in The American President, “I may hate to the core what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it”.

I believe those football players who “take a knee” have as much right to make a statement in any legal way they see fit, as the Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville had to express their displeasure with the statute removal. But…when such expressions turn dangerous and deadly, that’s another matter entirely.

To all those who claim they love our country and support our Constitution, I say you can’t pick and choose who gets to enjoy the rights bestowed on citizens of these United States. Millions of servicemembers paid the ultimate price because they believed in our ideals. We best honor their sacrifice by continuing to live by, and protecting, those ideals.

Trump is mentally and emotionally unfit to serve as president – invoke the 25th Amendment

There has never been any question that our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief is a serious head case. He is mentally and emotionally unfit to serve as president.

The one and only true statement that White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders made this past week was ‘America knew what they were getting’: Sarah Huckabee Sanders blames you for Trump’s despicable tweets.

Trump’s unhinged attacks on the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe over the past week, Lawmakers blast Trump’s ‘crude, false, and unpresidential’ CNN tweet, is just the latest skirmish in a war against the independent media and the First Amendment that he has been waging since announcing that he was a candidate for office.

The first thing that any autocratic authoritarian leader does is to silence the independent media, often having reporters arrested and jailed, or even killed. The authoritarian state establishes its own media as the sole voice of what is truth.

Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted that all independent media that is critical of him is “fake news.” Trump’s media team openly states that they are creating an “alternate reality” with “alternative facts” (i.e., propaganda). Trump regularly tells his sycophant supporters that only he can be believed — even though it is well documented that virtually everything he says is a demonstrable lie, Trump’s Lies, the Definitive List — and during his campaign he encouraged his supporters to engage in violence against reporters. Donald Trump Encourages Violence At His Rallies. His Fans Are Listening.

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The Arizona Republic is indifferent to the constitutional freedom of association

The media villagers are a forceful defender of their own freedoms under the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of the press and free speech. Infringe on their freedoms, and they will howl like a scalded dog.

But when it comes to the First Amendment freedom of association of political parties, the media villagers are all “Meh, who cares? We hate political parties.”

Constitution

Thus after Arizona’s election debacle last Tuesday, the usual suspects at The Arizona Republic used the fiasco to argue in favor of open primaries, and even Paul Johnson’s damn fool idea of the Top Two Primary (entirely unrelated to the Presidential Preference Election). Exemplary of this was E.J. Montini. Arizona – Where registered voters..CAN’T VOTE!

Arizona law already effectively disenfranchises 36 percent of registered voters.

These would be voters who are unaffiliated with any political party.

Independent. The only way those individuals can vote in a presidential primary is to re-register with a political party. And they have to do so 29 days before the election.

It’s ridiculous to think that 36 percent of Arizona voters — can’t vote.

They represent a constituency that is larger than the state’s Democrats.

They represent a constituency that is larger than the state’s Republicans.

How is such exclusion possible?

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