Tag Archives: voting rights

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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(Update) AZ Supreme Court oral argument on Prop. 206, Minimum Wage Initiative

It looks as if our corporate overlords at the Chamber of Commerce organizations seeking to overturn the will of the voters on Prop. 206, the Minimum Wage Initiative — and by extension to eliminate your constitutional right to pass laws by citizen initiatives — had a bad day in court on Thursday.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court skeptical of minimum wage challenger arguments:

Arizona’s Supreme Court justices spent time March 9 imagining a world in which the state’s voters may never get to pass laws by the ballot again.

Justices repeatedly posed that scenario to Brett Johnson, an attorney representing the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other plaintiffs in their challenge to a higher minimum wage approved overwhelmingly by voters in November.

Johnson argued that parts of Proposition 206, including new mandates for benefits such as paid sick leave, are a direct mandate for the state to spend money, which violates the Arizona Constitution’s revenue source rule. That rule is a measure adopted in 2004 that requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales opened the hearing with a question that cut to the case’s potentially dramatic implications: If even indirect expenditures are sufficient to violate the revenue source rule, is there realistically any initiative that could be proposed that wouldn’t violate the Constitution?

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(Update) House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws

The unrelenting assault on your constitutional rights by the Chamber of Commerce organizations and their lickspittle lackeys in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature continues unabated.

Howard Fischer reports that Tea-Publican lawmakers agreed Wednesday to ask voters to throw another hurdle in the path of their ability to write their own laws. Number of signatures needed for petitions may change:

HCR 2029 would leave in place the existing number of signatures required to put a measure on the ballot. That is based on a percentage of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

But it would add the additional burden of having to obtain signatures in each of the state’s 30 legislative districts — and in proportion to the number of gubernatorial votes in each district.

Using the 2014 election results, it takes 150,642 valid signatures on petitions to propose a statutory change, equivalent to 10 percent of those who turned out. Constitutional changes require 15 percent — 225,963 signatures — to get on the ballot.

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(Update) House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws

The unrelenting assault on your constitutional rights by the Chamber of Commerce organizations and their lickspittle lackeys in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature continues unabated. The Chambers’ package of bills to take away your constitutional rights passed in the House on Thursday.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona House passes bills to restrict citizen initiatives:

In an attempt to gain control over laws proposed by citizens, [Tea-Publicans in] the House on Thursday night approved a package of bills designed to rein in the century-old initiative process enshrined in the Arizona Constitution at statehood.

Opponents say the moves would undercut the power of the people to shape laws, and run counter to the citizen initiative process, while proponents argue lawmakers need the flexibility to fix unforeseen problems that might arise from a ballot measure. The measures now move to the Senate for consideration.

Four bills affect the initiative process. Two ask the voters to review the 19-year-old Voter Protection Act that blocks the Legislature from changing voter initiatives; the other two make changes to the laws governing initiatives. They passed along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed, in a contentious session that lasted late into the night.

Even if the bills win Senate approval in the coming weeks, two would need voter approval in November 2018. Two others would go to Gov. Doug Ducey for his signature.

Still pending is a bill that would change the way signatures are gathered on citizen initiative petitions. House Concurrent Resolution 2029 won approval from a committee late Wednesday but was held up from a full vote over questions about its constitutionality.

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(Update) House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws

Last week I posted about how Tea-Publican newbie legislator Rep. Todd Clodfelter (R-Tucson) was the decisive vote in committee to advance a package of bills from our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations to restrict your constitutional rights to the initiative and referendum process. House Tea-Publicans vote to restrict your constitutional right to make laws.

This week it is Rep. Vince Leach (R-Tucson) who is carrying water for our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations and doing the bidding of his “dark money” masters. Arizona lawmakers advance bill to limit voter initiatives:

Spurred by business interests in the wake of a voter-approved minimum-wage hike, Republican lawmakers approved legislation Thursday that could curtail the ability of citizens to create their own laws.

The most significant provision of HB 2404 would effectively eliminate the ability of groups to use paid circulators by prohibiting payment by the number of signatures gathered.

Paid circulators would still be allowed — but only if compensated on an hourly or other basis. But that removes any incentive for circulators to gather as many signatures as possible.

“It reforms the incentive for fraud and forgery,” said Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, who is carrying the legislation that was largely crafted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The measure approved by the House Government Committee on a party-line vote and sent to the full House also imposes a series of new procedural hurdles and gives those who oppose initiatives new rights to try to have them knocked off the ballot before voters get a chance to weigh in.

The legislation also requires strict compliance with all initiative requirements, something Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr said could result in disqualifying petitions simply because their margins are not the right size.

And it would require any initiative committee that uses paid circulators to purchase a bond of up to $50,000.

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