Tag Archives: Voting Rights Act of 1965

SCOTUS upholds Tucson city council election system

Can we finally stop hearing from Tucson’s Whiny Ass Titty-Baby Tea-Publicans how the City of Tucson’s city council election system is unconstitutional?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition for review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the City of Tucson’s city council election system. End of the road, whiners.

Howard Fisher reports, US Supreme Court affirms Tucson’s method of electing council members:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by a group representing some Republicans to void the system of nominating council members by ward but having them elected at-large. The justices gave no reason for their ruling.

Monday’s action is the last word in the multi-year bid by the Public Integrity Alliance to have state and federal courts declare that the practice was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney Kory Langhofer, who represented the challengers, argued that the system gave some voters more power than others and, in some cases, effectively nullified their votes.

But that contention was most recently rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Tucson’s hybrid system for electing members of its city council imposes no constitutionally significant burden on voters rights to vote,” the appellate court concluded. “And Tucson has advanced a valid, sufficiently important interest to justify its choice of electoral system.”

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U.S. District Court for Texas strikes down congressional district maps for intentional racial discrimination

On Friday, a three judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, once again, ruled that a handful of Texas congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated state Legislature in 2011 discriminated against black and Hispanic voters and violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Texas Congressional Maps Are Struck Down for Discrimination:

It is the latest development in a long-running and racially charged redistricting case that locked Democratic lawmakers, minority groups, the Obama administration and the Texas Republican leadership in a legal battle for nearly six years. Democrats and civil-rights lawyers accused the majority-white Texas Republican leadership of drawing district maps in ways that diluted the voting power of Democratic-leaning minority voters, accusations that Republicans denied.

“The court’s decision (and findings of fact and conclusions of law) exposes the Texas Legislature’s illegal effort to dilute the vote of Texas Latinos,” said Nina Perales, the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which represented a coalition of Latino organizations that sued Texas over the redistricting maps. “Moving forward, the ruling will help protect Latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout.”

The next steps in the case were unclear. Texas is likely to appeal the decision, and because of the legal dynamics, any appeal would go directly to the Supreme Court. The process of redrawing the maps may be delayed not only by an appeal but also because the San Antonio panel has yet to rule on another aspect of the case, the district maps drawn for the state’s House of Representatives.

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Hold Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III accountable as the new Attorney General

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL) — Geezus! You can almost hear the Confederate flags snapping in the breeze, can’t you? — was approved on a near party-line vote with only one Democratic defection, to become the next Attorney General of the United States after a contentious Senate vote. Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General, Capping Bitter Battle:

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, an Alabama Republican, survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Mr. Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support of a colleague who will become the nation’s top law enforcement official after two decades in the Senate. [Joe Manchin (D-WV) broke ranks with Democrats.]

But the confirmation process — ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years — laid bare the Senate’s deep divisions at the outset of the Trump presidency. At the same time, the treatment of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was forced to stop speaking late Tuesday after criticizing Sen. Sessions from the Senate floor, rekindled the gender-infused politics that animated the presidential election and the women’s march protesting Mr. Trump the day after his inauguration last month.

Sen. Sessions cast his final vote as a senator to note that he was present for Wednesday’s tally. His confirmation was met by applause from his colleagues, including a few Democrats, on the Senate floor.

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SCOTUS divided on racial gerrymandering cases

On Monday, cases from North Carolina and Virginia came before the eight justices of the Supreme Court, presenting the challenge of finding the delicate balance in considering race when redistricting political boundaries — and the court’s reluctance to weigh in on partisan politics. Questions Of Race And Redistricting Return To The Supreme Court:

The_Gerry-Mander_EditThe North Carolina case comes from a group of voters who went to court challenging the state’s first and 12th districts. They contend that the Legislature packed more minority voters into these two districts in an effort to dilute their voting strength in neighboring districts.

The state defends the lines drawn for one of the challenged districts by saying it was trying to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act that minority voters have the chance to elect their chosen representatives. It defends the other as based on the goal of increasing a partisan advantage, not on race.

So far at least, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently that race may not be the predominant factor in redistricting except in narrow circumstances. But the court has refused to get involved in partisan gerrymandering.

“If your claim is ‘we were just exercising naked political power,’ well, the courts are not touching that, at least not yet,” observes Richard Hasen, an election law specialist at the University of California, Irvine. “But if the claim is about race, then the courts are going to get involved.”

The distinction is often “nonsensical,” he says, especially in places in the South, for instance, where the vast majority of African-Americans are Democratic voters, the majority of whites vote Republican, and the overlap between race and party is enormous.

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Rigged elections: GOP voter suppression and the Voting Rights Act

The egomaniacal Twitter troll Donald Trump spent more than a year seeking to undermine American’s confidence in their electoral system, first claiming without evidence that the GOP primaries were rigged, then spending months claiming the general election was rigged. Trump falsely claimed without evidence that millions of illegal voters voted to explain losing the popular vote by well over 2 million votes.

Trump even suggested that his supporters might resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if the election did not go his way, Donald Trump Suggests ‘Second Amendment People’ Could Act Against Hillary Clinton, eschewing the American tradition of deciding elections by the ballot box, not bullets.

This is the man who is now in a position to impose GOP restrictions on voting in pursuit of the GOP’s mythical “voter fraud” fraud — in reality, voter suppression of Democratic-leaning voter constituencies. After Bitter Campaign, Election Positions Trump to Shape Rules on How You Vote:

Voting-RightsAfter an extraordinarily contentious election, crucial elements of the rules that determine how Americans vote will be under assault from conservatives and facing legal challenges heading toward the Supreme Court as Donald J. Trump prepares to become president.

Mr. Trump’s claims of a “rigged” election — made before he won — and his false declaration after his victory that “millions of people” had voted illegally for Hillary Clinton made headlines.

They also amplified longstanding Republican claims that rampant voter fraud justified a welter of state laws making it more difficult to register and vote. Democrats say the laws are not about combating fraud but about suppressing the vote of minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies.

Mr. Trump will have enormous power to shape future policy on voting.

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Updates on Arizona election law challenges (Updated)

Two of the legal challenges to Arizona election law that we reviewed yesterday now have a decision from the court. I’m still waiting on a third case.

The case to block Arizona’s ballot collection law: U.S. court blocks Arizona ban on groups collecting ballots:

Voters[The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals] has blocked an Arizona law making it a felony to collect early ballots, a win for the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort shortly before Election Day.

The order (.pdf) [granting the injunction based on the dissenting opinion from the 3 judge panel] from an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means it won’t be a crime for groups to go door to door to collect early ballots from voters and deliver them to the polls. It’s a tactic especially effective in minority communities.

The en banc 9th Circuit panel said it was preserving the status quo for this election and set a full hearing for January on the Democrats’ request to permanently block the law. (The en banc hearing for oral argument is scheduled for January 17, 2017, in San Francisco).

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