Tag Archives: voting rights

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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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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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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Action Alert HB 2244: Kill This Bill (update: bill passed; SB 1236 is up Wednesday)

Not content to make gathering petition signatures for citizen initiatives more difficult, the Chamber of Commerce organizations and their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature are now moving to impose “strict compliance” procedural requirements on citizens who want to propose their own laws.

A strike everything amendment to HB 2244 is set for debate today at 2:00 p.m. in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Call your state senator to oppose this attempt to undermine your constitutional right to propose laws, and sign up to testify today. kill this bill!

Howard Fischer reports on More hurdles for initiatives:

HB 2244 being pushed by Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, would allow a court to keep an initiative off the ballot if backers are not in “strict compliance” with all election laws. That would overturn a series of existing court rulings which have erred on the side of giving voters their say and measures to remain on the ballot if there is “substantial compliance” with the law.

Lesko said she is particularly miffed that Arizonans were allowed to vote in 2012 on a proposal which would have made permanent the state’s one-cent sales tax surcharge.

It is undisputed that a copy of the initiative filed electronically with the secretary of state’s office differed from the one filed on paper and was actually circulated. But courts concluded the circulators had been in “substantial compliance” and allowed the vote to go forward.

That annoyed Lesko.

“What’s the point of having laws,” she said.

And what’s the point of having a constitutional right to citizen initiatives if  our legislators can simply make it damn near impossible to ever exercise  that right to put a citizen initiative on the ballot?

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Chamber of Commerce organizations continue their assault on worker’s benefits in court

The Chamber of Commerce organizations lost their battle to overturn Prop. 206, the 2016 minimum wage and paid time off initiative in court, but they are not done using their lickspittle servants in Arizona’s Tea-Publican controlled state legislature to try to reverse citizens initiatives voters approved for paid time off and worker’s benefits.

Howard Fischer reports, State seeks to block cities from regulating private workers ‘benefits’:

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is asking a judge to rule that the word “benefits” in a voter-approved measure is not the same as “fringe benefits.”

And the goal of this judicial war of words is a bid by Brnovich to block local governments from telling private companies what benefits they have to offer their workers.

Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell, writing on behalf of Brnovich, is trying to preserve a 2016 measure [HB 2579] adopted by Republican legislators to block local governments from telling private companies everything from how much time off they will offer workers to vacation mandates and even how far ahead of time workers need to be told of schedule changes.

Note: Both the Minimum Wage Act, Prop. 202, approved by voters in 2006, and Prop. 206 approved by voters in 2016, provide for local governments being able to require “benefits” for employees. Prop. 206 was specifically designed to supersede HB 2579 by mandating paid time off benefits.

I explained this lawsuit last year. Arizona sued for unconstitutional attempt to preempt the Arizona Minimum Wage Act.

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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 ink hadn’t even dried on the bill before Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill banning pay-per-signature for initiative petitions:

Gov. Doug Ducey late Thursday signed into law a bill that will reshape how citizen-initiative campaigns are conducted in Arizona.

The measure, House Bill 2404, was [fraudulently] promoted as a way to fight fraud in petition-signature gathering by banning the paying of circulators for each signature they collect. Instead, they would most likely earn an hourly wage.

Critics denounce it as an attempt to throttle the citizen-initiative process, arguing it will remove the incentive for circulators to gather the thousands of signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot.

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