After sending two gerrymandering cases back to the lower courts for further deliberation last week, SCOTUS punts on two gerrymandering cases, the Court had two additional redistricting cases currently under consideration.
The Court also sent the case from North Carolina, Rucho v. Common Cause, back to the lower court this morning as well, Supreme Court sends case on North Carolina gerrymandering back to lower court:
The Supreme Court on Monday sent back to a lower court a decision that Republicans in North Carolina had gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts to give their party an unfair advantage.
The lower court will need to decide whether the plaintiffs had the proper legal standing to bring the case.
* * *
When a three-judge panel invalidated the map of congressional districts, it became the first to strike a congressional map on the grounds that it was rigged in favor of a political party [i.e., partisan gerymandering].
North Carolina has a past at the Supreme Court, with redistricting plans struck down as racial gerrymanders. So when the state legislature adopted new plans in 2016, Republican leaders made clear they were drawing the lines to help their party, instead of basing their decisions on racial data.
What these three remands mean is that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not yet ready to rule on partisan gerrymandering cases.
The conservatives on the Court did decide a racial gerrymandering case today from Texas, Abbott v. Perez (.pdf), in which a divided court split along ideological lines 5-4 largely siding with the state of Texas. Some disturbing opinions from Justices Thomas and Gorsuch suggested that the Voting Rights Act does not apply to racial gerrymandering in redistricting, in the conservatives continuing efforts to further gut the Voting Rights Act.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Civil Rights, Constitution, Courts, Election Integrity, Elections, GOP War On..., Party Politics, Racism, Redistricting
Tagged gerrymandering, voting rights, Voting Rights Act of 1965
On Monday, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced his decision to add a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 census came in the face of opposition from career officials at the Census Bureau who fear it will depress response rates, especially from immigrants. Wilbur Ross Overruled Career Officials at Census Bureau to Add Citizenship Question:
It would be the first time since 1950 that the full, once-a-decade census asks people about their citizenship. The Constitution requires a count of all residents of the country every ten years. The Census Bureau conducts a separate detailed survey of a sample of U.S. households that includes questions about citizenship.
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In a memo announcing his decision, Ross said that “The Census Bureau and many stakeholders expressed concern that [a citizenship question] would negatively impact the response rate for non-citizens.”
But Ross added that “neither the Census Bureau nor the concerned stakeholders could document that the response rate would in fact decline materially.”
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A Commerce spokesman said that Ross “took a hard look” at an alternative proposal by the Census Bureau to get citizenship data without adding the question. But he ultimately decided the proposed method “would provide an incomplete picture.” The Ross memo argues that the value of the data collected from the new question will outweigh any harm.
ProPublica first reported in December that the Justice Department had submitted a last-minute request that the Census Bureau add a question on citizenship to the 2020 survey. The Justice Department argued that better data on citizens was needed to better enforce voting rights protections for minority groups.
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The driving force behind the request for the new question, according to internal emails, was a Justice Department political appointee, John Gore, who spent years as an attorney in private practice defending GOP redistricting maps around the country.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, GOP War On..., Party Politics, President, Racism, Scandals
Tagged Attorney General, Census, Secretary of Commerce, voting rights, Voting Rights Act of 1965
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.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Constitution, Courts, Election Integrity, Elections, GOP War On..., Party Politics, Redistricting
Tagged Equal Protection, First Amendment, gerrymandering, Voter Purges, voter suppression, voting rights, Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Houston Chronicle reports that Federal judge again tosses out Texas voter ID law:
A federal judge who has compared Texas’ voter ID requirements to a “poll tax” on minorities once again blocked the law Wednesday, rejecting a weakened version backed by the Trump administration and dealing Texas Republicans another court defeat over voting rights.
You can read the 27 page opinion and order HERE (.pdf).
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected changes signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this summer as not only lacking but also potentially chilling to voters because of new criminal penalties. The new version didn’t expand the list of acceptable photo identifications — meaning gun licenses remained sufficient proof to vote, but not college student IDs.
Instead, the changes would allow people who lack a required ID to cast a ballot if they signed an affidavit and brought paperwork that showed their name and address, such as a bank statement or utility bill. Those revisions were supported by the U.S. Justice Department, which under President Barack Obama had joined Democrats and minority rights groups in suing over the law.
But that position has changed with President Donald Trump in charge, who has established a “fraudulent voter fraud commission” to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections. In February, the Trump Justice Department abandoned the argument Texas passed voter ID rules with discrimination in mind and said changes signed by Abbott should satisfy the courts.
Texas first passed the voter ID law in 2011, the same year the GOP-controlled Legislature adopted voting maps that were also struck down as discriminatory [in mid-August]. See Rick Hasen, Breaking: 3-Judge Court Issues Latest Order in Texas Redistricting Case (Congressional Seats), Finding Continued Intentional Racial Discrimination. You can read the court’s 107-page order here.
UPDATE: The Texas Tribune reports:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed Friday that Gov. Abbott won’t ask lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional map — found by a federal court this week to discriminate against Latino and black voters — in a fresh round of legislative overtime.
Instead, Paxton is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and trying to keep the boundaries intact for the 2018 elections, according to his filing to a panel of three judges in San Antonio.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Civil Rights, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Election Integrity, Elections, GOP War On..., Justice, Law Enforcement, Legislation, Party Politics, Racism, Redistricting, Scandals
Tagged voting rights, Voting Rights Act of 1965
Why is it every time I see a piece of bad legislation in the Arizona legislature, this guy’s name appears to be attached to it? What the heck is wrong with voters living in legislative district 6 (specifically in Navajo, Gila and Yavapai Counties)? You ought to be embarrassed to send someone as backwards as this to the Arizona legislature.
The latest bad legislation is yet another GOP voter suppression plan sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe still seeking to bar student voting on campus:
The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe would put a provision that students who want to vote would be able to do so only by signing up to get an early ballot from the voting precinct where they were living before they went to college, presumably the address of their parents.
More to the point, they would not be able to use their college address. And that would apply not only to those who live in a campus dormitory but even those who have off-campus apartments or houses.
This is where Howard Fischer in his reporting should have stated up front (he puts it at the very end of his report) that the U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed (no opinion) that this was unconstitutional in SYMM v. U.S., 439 U.S. 1105 (1979), in which the Court summarily affirmed United States v. Texas, 445 F.Supp. 1245 (S.D.Tex. 1978), holding unconstitutional the denial to Prairie View students of the presumption of bona fide residency extended to other Waller County students. The three-judge District Court panel relied on a series of college student voting rights precedents under the Voting Rights Act and the 26th Amendment.
In other words, this issue has long ago been decided. Yet every election cycle some jurisdiction tries to keep college students from voting where they are attending college, and every election cycle this unconstitutional voter suppression effort is enjoined by the courts. The baffling part is the regularity with which jurisdictions keep trying to do this even when the law is clearly established.
Posted in Arizona State Legislature, AZBlueMeanie, Civil Rights, Constitution, Courts, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, GOP War On..., Legislation, Party Politics, Scandals
Tagged Twenty-Sixth Amendment, voting rights, Voting Rights Act of 1965