“Wall Street Campaign-Cash Restrictions Face Legal Attack”

Bloomberg: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances to be the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee were hampered by a U.S. regulation that could have an even bigger impact on the next race for the White House. The three-year-old rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission effectively bars governors and other state officials from raising money from Wall Street for state or federal elections. Having Christie on the ticket would have…

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“FairVote Proposes Solutions to Florida’s Congressional Redistricting Dilemma in 2014″

FairVote wants to use multimember districts even though those aren’t allowed under a federal statute. “Although one of the remedies conflicts with federal law, there is precedent from Louisiana in 2008 for state action overriding federal law involving congressional elections.”…

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“New Report Shows Continued Pattern of Voting Rights Discrimination—African American, Latino, Asian American and Native American Voters More Vulnerable Than Ever”

Major new report issued by the National Commission on Voting Rights: On the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act and a year after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v Holder decision gutted a vital protection of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the National Commission on the Voting Rights has released a new national report showing where and how that minority voters continue to be hurt by discrimination in the U.S. The report, Protectin…

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Time to Loosen Campaign Finance Restrictions in Louisiana?

Gannett editorial: In a rare show of solidarity, the leaders of the Democratic Party of Louisiana and the Republican Party of Louisiana have joined forces in an effort to loosen restrictive campaign finance laws. And well they should. The campaign finance laws at the state and federal levels were created with the intention of reducing the possibility of corruption. They were also intended to ensure that all candidates had a fair shot at being el…

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After McCutcheon, New RNC Challenge to Soft Money Rules

On the day the Supreme Court decided McCutcheon, I wrote in Slate: Third and most dramatically, the court seems to open the door for a future challenge to what remains of the McCain-Feingold law: the ban on large, “soft money” contributions collected by political parties. These contributions were banned because it had become clear that political parties were becoming conduits for access between elected officials and big donors. Today Roberts rej…

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“Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon resigns after arrest on corruption charges”

News and Observer story. On Jan. 17, 2013, agents met Cannon at a SouthPark apartment rented by agents for $2,100 a month. It was outfitted with secret recording equipment. That day, the undercover agent gave Cannon the $12,500 in cash by putting it on a coffee table in front of him. Cannon, according to the affidavit, looked nervously toward a window and covered the cash with a folder. After the agent shut the blinds, Cannon put the bills to hi…

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NAACP LDF Suit in Louisiana Seeks Voting Rights Act Bail-In

Press release: LDF and cooperating Louisiana attorney, Ronald L. Wilson, filed a challenge under the Voting Rights Act and the U. S. Constitution to Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana’s 32nd Judicial District Court. A Black candidate has never been elected as a judge on this parish court. A sitting judge on the court has been suspended for wearing blackface, an orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffs, and an afro wig to a Halloween party as part of his offe…

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“Can Three Lawmakers Revive the Voting Rights Act After the Supreme Court Trashed It?”

Kevin Drum: And now for the big question: does this legislation have any chance of passing? It doesn’t seem likely. The shiny new formula might satisfy Justice Roberts, but it would put four deep-red states back into preclearance jail: Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. And what would Republicans get in return? They seem to have given up entirely on appealing to non-white voters, so there’s nothing for them there. And while…

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New Proposed VRA Would Subject to Preclearance GA, LA, MS [corrected], and TX with More Possibly to Come, and Make Bail In Much Easier

Ari Berman reports: The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local ju…

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“Understanding Online Voter Registration”

Pew: In June 2013, The Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a survey of the 13 states that offered online voter registration at that time: Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington. This brief provides a summary of the survey’s major findings in five areas—cost, implementation, voter convenience, system management, and online security—and then examines ways in w…

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How Washington Works Dept.

NYT: Now they are happy to hand the Finance Committee gavel to Senator Ron Wyden, the mercurial Oregonian who currently leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, because it puts Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the most endangered Democrats up for re-election in 2014, at the energy helm — a position that will help her campaign rake in cash from industry and press her pro-oil politics in her fossil-fueled state….

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True the Vote Calls Those Supporting Expansion of Voter Registration Opportunities Through NVRA “Super Bullies”

See third item here: Bullies in the Courthouse By Anita MonCrief Anyone who ever spent time in a children’s schoolyard can spot a bully a mile away; their aggressive swagger, their entourage of enablers, and of course, their brutish intimidation of vulnerable targets. The schoolyard bully complex is an archetype as old as time, endured by societies throughout the ages, but usually kept in check through the bully’s own recognition of…

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Election Law Journal 12:3 — Responses to Shelby County

…munity Can, by Edward B. Foley Book Review African American Legislators and Substantive Representation in Louisiana, by Richard L. Engstrom (reviewing Jas M. Sullivan and Jonathan Winburn, The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus: Race and Representation in the Pelican State) The winter issue (12:4), due out in December, will feature papers on Deliberative Democracy from a conference at NYU in the spring, organized by Ron Levy and our Internationa…

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VRA Preclearance (A Response to Pildes/Tokaji, pt. 1)

(Re-posted on behalf of Mike Pitts, from a listserv email, with permission, in response to this post): I have great respect for Dan Tokaji and Rick Pildes.  They are smart folks and excellent scholars.  And they may well be right that Section 5 did not do a wonderful job of protecting access to the ballot for minority voters.  But I am not convinced of that argument by the statistics presented in their blog post. Dan and Rick make their case tha…

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Literacy tests from the 60s

This isn’t a news item, but rather a collection of actual literacy tests from the 60s. This Slate piece linked to this site hosted by the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, and their collection of literacy tests.  As the Slate snippet notes, many of the literacy tests were ostensibly connected to civics, but I’m particularly intrigued by Louisiana’s mind-teaser version. (The originals, it always bears repeating, were tools…

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Prop 8 and the Possible DIG: Evidence From This Week That It’s Possible.

On March 28, I posted on the possibility that the Court in the Prop 8 case might dismiss the case as improvidently granted (or “DIG”) the case, thereby allowing the lower court ruling barring enforcement of Prop. 8 to stand, but not setting any precedent on the gay marriage issue.  This would allow likely swing Justice Kennedy to avoid the issue, at least for a while.  But I noted a catch:   The issue arises because it takes only fou…

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“DOJ Responds to Vitter on Voting Issue That Could Hinder Perez Nomination”

Roll Call: “The Justice Department responded Friday to Sen. David Vitter’s request for more information about its enforcement of a federal voter registration law — a response the Louisiana Republican demanded before deciding whether to drop his threat to block the nomination of Thomas Perez as the next Labor secretary.”…

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“FEC Deadlocks Over ‘Willful’ Finding In Case of La. Contractor Contributions”

Bloomberg BNA: ” The Federal Election Commission deadlocked along party lines regarding whether a Louisiana contractor committed “knowing and willful” violations of campaign finance laws by funneling illegal contributions to the campaign of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), according to documents in a newly released FEC enforcement case (Matter Under Review 6623).”…

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“Federal Court Rules Louisiana Systematically Violates the NVRA”

Project Vote: “On January 23, voting rights advocates won a major legal victory on behalf of Louisiana’s public assistance agency clients, the state’s most vulnerable and most marginalized residents. In a 36-page ruling, following a trial in October 2012 in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Jane Triche Milazzo found that the state of Louisiana violated federal law by failing to offer an opportunit…

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The Court and the Constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA

A couple months ago, the SCOTUS blog ran a Symposium on the constitutional issues concerning Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In light of today’s Supreme Court decision to address those issues in the Shelby County case, here’s an excerpt from my contribution to that Symposium (the full contribution is here, the full Symposium here): Congress has put the Supreme Court in an excruciatingly difficult position. The parts of the cou…

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“State seeks review of ruling on La. Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson”

AP: “The State of Louisiana is appealing a judge’s ruling that Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson has the seniority that entitles her to become the court’s next chief justice. Friday’s court filing by a lawyer representing Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s office asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan’s ruling. Morgan sided with Johnson’s bid to become the…

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“LDF and Project Vote Win Important Legal Victory for Public Assistance Recipients in Louisiana”

Press release: “Yesterday, voting rights advocates won an important legal victory that will ensure that Louisiana’s public assistance agency clients—the state’s poorest and most marginalized residents—will be offered an opportunity to register to vote. In a forceful decision, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP that Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires that all p…

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“High court turns down Louisiana bid on Census”

AP reports.  From my earlier coverage: Louisiana Files Original Suit in SCOTUS Claiming Illegals Should Not Count for Apportionment Purposes Posted on November 16, 2011 1:16 pm by Rick Hasen Lyle Denniston reports for SCOTUSBlog on this new petition.  Justin Levitt: “New LA # redistricting suit (http://redistricting.lls.edu/cases.php) will lose, and lose badly, for lots of different reasons.” How appealing will be an argument to a bunch of or…

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Bagenstos Responds to Oremus Slate Piece on Voting Rights Act

Sam Bagenstos sent the following message to the Election Law Listserv, which I am reposting here with permission: Will Oremus’s piece is long on rhetoric and short on argument.  He writes that the Department of Justice has taken a “laissez-faire approach” to Section 5 preclearance, that it’s “no longer willing to defend a robust interpretation of the law,” that it’s “letting [Section 5] waste away,…

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“The Virtual Reality of ‘One-Person, One-Vote’”

Kirsten Nussbaumer: “In Louisiana v. Bryson, the state of Louisiana has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to exclude so-called “non-immigrant foreign nationals” from the federal census count for purposes of interstate apportionment of congressional representatives.  If Louisiana has a shot, this would be an important case.”…

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Louisiana Files Original Suit in SCOTUS Claiming Illegals Should Not Count for Apportionment Purposes

Lyle Denniston reports for SCOTUSBlog on this new petition.  Justin Levitt: “New LA # redistricting suit (http://redistricting.lls.edu/cases.php) will lose, and lose badly, for lots of different reasons.” How appealing will be an argument to a bunch of originalists/textualists that the term “persons” in the Constitution does not include all people, and in fact excludes non-legal residents?…

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Turning to D.D.C. for preclearance

Stateline’s report on an intriguing apparent trend, in which states file for preclearance simultaneously with the DOJ and with the federal district court in D.C. Seems to me like this would just add to the burden on DOJ, and thereby slow the preclearance process down rather than speed it up, but Louisiana and Virginia have thus far found it a useful means to make a political point. I’ve got a brief summary on the preclearance proces…

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DrawCongress.org

Nate Persily sent the following announcement to the election law listserv via email (reprinted with permission): The website DrawCongress.org is now live. On this website you will see congressional redistricting plans drawn by students in my Redistricting and Gerrymandering Course at Columbia. Thus far, we have plans up for Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Arkansas. Each posted plan includes a statew…

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“The Recusal of American Judges in the Post-Caperton Era: An Empirical Assessment of the Risk of Actual Bias in Decisions Involving Campaign Contributors”

Vernon Palmer has posted this draft at BePress. Here is the abstract: This article is an empirical investigation of the relation between campaign contributions and the ability of elected judges to remain impartial in their rulings. Its principal aim is to assess the risk to impartiality that unrecused rulings in favor of contributors may entail. The tense if not conflictual relationship between campaign support and judicial detachment became a…

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