“Ballot Blocked: The Political Erosion of the Voting Rights Act”

New book from Jesse Rhodes: Voting rights are a perennial topic in American politics. Recent elections and the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down key enforcement provisions in the Voting Rights Act (VRA), have only placed further emphasis on the debate over voter disenfranchaisement. Over the past five decades, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have consistently voted to expand the protections…

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“After losses on voting laws and districting, Texas turns to Supreme Court”

…is not their first language. Two courts are considering whether the actions intended to discourage African American and Hispanic voters. If the courts find that the efforts were intentional, it could return Texas to the kind of federal oversight from which the Supreme Court freed it and other mostly Southern states in the landmark 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder….

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Utah: “San Juan County election maps must be redrawn again, U.S. judge rules”

…e. San Juan County, a roughly 7,800-square-mile county that touches Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, was ordered last year to redraw its county commission and school board election districts after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that they were unconstitutional. Last week, Shelby ruled that the county’s new maps are still unconstitutional and primarily drawn on race. From the district court’s opinion: The record establishes…

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“Race, Representation, and the Voting Rights Act”

…onger when Black voters composed larger portions of the electorate and in more competitive districts. This result is robust to a wide range of model specifications and empirical strategies, and it persists over the entire time period under study. Our findings have especially important implications given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder….

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“Confident and Assertive, Gorsuch Hurries to Make His Mark”

…ious on campaign finance and voting rights issues. Only later did they sign on to blockbuster decisions like 2010’s Citizens United campaign finance case (allowing corporations to spend unlimited sums in elections) or 2013’s Shelby County voting case (in effect killing off a key Voting Rights Act provision). Not so with Gorsuch. In a flurry of orders and opinions issued Monday, Gorsuch went his own way. The majority affirmed the right of…

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“Gorsuch is the new Scalia, just like Trump promised”

…ious on campaign finance and voting rights issues. Only later did they sign on to blockbuster decisions like 2010’s Citizens United campaign finance case (allowing corporations to spend unlimited sums in elections) or 2013’s Shelby County voting case (effectively killing off a key Voting Rights Act provision). Not so with Gorsuch. In a flurry of orders and opinions issued Monday, Gorsuch went his own way. The majority affirmed the right of…

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“Will Supreme Court Cut More of Voting Rights Act?”

Kimberly Robinson for Bloomberg BNA: After the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2013 decision in Shelby Cty. v. Holder, Democrats have increasingly turned to another part of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2, to challenge what they see as restrictive voting requirements. Despite recent victories under that provision, election law litigator Paul M. Smith questioned its validity in a “post-Kennedy” world. Smith, of the Campaign Legal Center,…

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Must-Read Lyle Denniston on the Coming Fight over Voting Rights Act Bail-in in Texas

…ce. That remedy, the state brief asserted, “must be sparingly and cautiously applied.” The state’s filing argued that “misuse” of that mode of pre-clearance “threatens to re-impose the same unwarranted federal intrusion that Shelby County found could not be justified under the Constitution.” The brief contended that Judge Rosenthal had engaged in such a “misuse” of this provision by imposing it for only a single incident of discrimination – the…

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What’s the Matter with Gorsuch?

…ifth conservative justice. That would return the court to the 5-4 posture that produced such decisions as the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which lifted limits on corporate money in elections, and 2013 Shelby County v. Holder, which curtailed voting-rights protections for racial minorities and others who face discrimination at the polls…. For his part, Gorsuch refused to explain his views of congressional authority…

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Sen. Sessions Noncommittal on DOJ Position on Texas and North Carolina Voting Cases; Agrees to Enforce VRA Section 2

…“relatively little present-day evidence” of voter discrimination. When the 2013 Shelby County decision struck down a central provision of the VRA, you argued that the decision was “good news…for the South” and observed that “Shelby County never had a history of denying the vote.” a. Since the Shelby County decision, some individuals have argued that there is no need to restore the protections of Section 5 because the Justice Department can still…

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“What happens now to Justice Dept.’s civil rights enforcement?”

…nd it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. And that’s not who we are. That shouldn’t be who we are. That’s not when America works best.” But that is the way America works, especially after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision that largely emasculated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That ruling “dealt the Department of Justice a pretty devastating blow,” Gupta said. “It took away a critically important tool that we…

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Court Holds Pasadena, Texas Discriminated in Move to At-Large Districts, Places City under Preclearance

…Latino voters. The court not only ordered the restoration of district elections; it put the city back under federal supervision for elections (supervision which was eliminated with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County).  For background on this case, see Jim Rutenberg’s excellent NYT magazine article, The New Attack on Hispanic Voting Rights. From the opinion’s introduction: For the reasons stated in detail below,…

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DOJ Report Highlights Obama Administration Voting Rights Achievements

…forms the bedrock of our democracy. The division works to ensure that every eligible voter enjoys the full range of voting rights protected by federal law. Even with the severe setback of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the division has continued to use every tool at its disposal, including the Voting Rights Act, to protect voters from discrimination and provide the opportunities federal law guarantees. One thing…

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“Civil Rights Déjà Vu, Only Worse”

Sam Bagenstos for TAP: Voting Rights. After the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision cutting the heart from the Voting Rights Act, states formerly covered by the statute’s preclearance requirement initiated a wave of new vote-suppression measures. Other states also adopted voting restrictions in advance of the 2016 election. The Civil Rights Division responded with an aggressive program of lawsuits that limited the worst abuses, even if…

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“SCOTUS hearing VA & NC Gerrymandering cases today. Suffice to say, Racial Gerrymandering in Deep South states is even worse”

…s leave no doubt that a considerable reduction in majority-minority state legislative district populations can be accomplished while ensuring black descriptive representation. In light of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which scrapped the federal enforcement of the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, we expect in the next decennial round of redistricting most Democrats will push for a…

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FSU Law of Democracy Symposium Now in Print

…ist Manifesto” for Election Day: How to Prevent Mistakes at the Polls, by Joshua A. Douglas The Coordination Fallacy, by Michael D. Gilbert & Brian Barnes Reining in the Purcell Principle, by Richard L. Hasen Race, Shelby County, and the Voter Information Verification Act in North Carolina, by Michael C. Herron & Daniel A. Smith The Nineteenth Amendment Enforcement Power (But First, Which One Is the Nineteenth Amendment, Again?),…

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“Voting Rights in the Age of Trump”

…e for attorney general, charged black civil rights activists in Alabama with voter fraud. (They were acquitted.) He has called the Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation,” and supported the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision, saying “if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.” Things are hardly better at the state level. After the 2016 election,…

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My One Personal Interaction with Sen. Sessions Does Not Give Me Confidence About Strong Voting Rights Enforcement with Him as AG

…e Court could well strike the law down as an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power. (We know how this story ends. Congress did not make the changes, and the Supreme Court indeed struck these provisions down in the Shelby County case.) The hearing was odd, a bunch of liberal law professors called to question the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Sen. Arlen Specter headed the committee, but he was seen as too liberal, and to…

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Bert Rein, Lawyer for Shelby County, Says Maybe #SCOTUS Decision Good Because It Deterred “Some Illegals” from Voting

…the election is less important than whether it unnecessarily disenfranchised any number of voters, even if it was less than a substantial amount. We put the same question to Bert Rein, of Wiley Rein, who argued on behalf of Shelby County, Alabama that the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. “You know, I saw that in Rick Hasen’s blog,” he acknowledged. Rein laid out the issue as he sees it: “Were those changes sufficiently impactful to…

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Democrats Blame “Voter Suppression” for Clinton Loss at Their Peril

…ok, The Voting Wars, but it is one of the top topics on this blog.) Yes, the conservative Supreme Court made it easier for Republican legislatures to pass these laws by gutting a key part of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case and by giving the green light to restrictive voter id laws in the 2008 case, Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board. (And, thanks in part to the irresponsible decision of Justice Ginsburg not…

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Linda Greenhouse, Changing Tone, Urges CJ Roberts to Rise Above Politics in North Carolina Voting Case

…Roberts court is not a tool of partisan politics, that the Supreme Court has not turned irrevocably away from protecting civil rights, including the right to vote. Three years ago, he was the author of the 5-to-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on the ground that “things have changed dramatically” and the protections of the law were no longer needed. That was a dubious sentiment in 2013. In 2016,…

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“The Supreme Court and Voter Suppression”

…en: I wonder what goes through the mind of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts these frantic days as he reads one account after another of voter suppression in the 2016 election. Does he regret his decisive vote in Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 decision that struck down the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act? Does he acknowledge, even to himself, that by stripping federal officials of much of their power to preclude…

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“Amicus: Intimidation Nation — Lawyers challenging punitive voting restrictions in Ohio are making an eleventh hour appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Dahlia Lithwick podcast: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, many states made changes to their voting laws that may disproportionately harm minorities. This week, lawyers in Ohio filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court requesting a suspension of post-Shelby voting restrictions in their state. One of those lawyers, Subodh Chandra, joins us to explain why. We also speak with Wendy Weiser, director…

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“Why the Justice Dept. Will Have Far Fewer Watchdogs in Polling Places”

…me to a grinding halt,” she said, “and that’s a game changer this election cycle.” The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the height of the civil rights era. In the Shelby County decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “our country has changed” since those days of rampant voter discrimination. The decision — which freed nine states, mostly in the South, to change their…

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Why Did Paul Clement Craft His NC Voting Brief as If Scalia Was Still Alive? A Theory

…Indeed, my UCI Law colleague Leah Litman playfully edited Clement’s brief to make the point that liberals on the Court would be delighted if the 4th Circuit found a way to undermine Crawford and reverse the effects of Shelby County. Surely Clement knows this, and a better pitch in the brief would have been to argue solely that 4th Circuit ruling came too close to the election, violating the Purcell principle. So what gives? Here’s…

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Guy Charles on the NC Voting Decision

…stay was very strong and obviously attractive to the conservative Justices, presumably the applicant’s primary target.  The application was addressed to the soft spot in the lower court opinion, including the Fourth Circuit’s understanding of intentional discrimination and the manner in which the Fourth Circuit’s analysis limited the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County. Query whether this is the right way to craft a…

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“Turnout, Tenuousness, and Getting Results in Section 2 Vote Denial Claims”

…t of a confluence of forces. The Voting Rights Act’s preclearance regime, which had significantly prevented new forms of vote denial in covered jurisdictions effectively disappeared after the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. And increased partisan polarization, combined with politicians’ views about the relationship between turnout and election results led Republican-dominated legislatures to impose new restrictions and…

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“On Voting, North Carolina Case Is Test for Justices”

Jost on Justice: For Roberts, the case tests his prevailing view in the decision in Shelby County v. Holder to eliminate the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance decision on the ground that things have changed in the South since the law was enacted in 1965. The recent spate of voter ID laws and other vote suppression laws provides an ironic confirmation of sorts: disenfranchising minority voters is now practiced not just in the South but in other…

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Trump Again Threatens Voter Intimidation Methods

…hat the Trump campaign does not organize any efforts at voter intimidation. And even if this is just puffing, there’s the real danger that Trump supporters go rogue. Election protection efforts will be more important than they have been in decades, especially with the loss of federal observers after the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County….

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“Opinion: Three ways Congress can muscle-up to your voting rights”

…igged districts, it is time to take action. Clinton supports such action. Not a word from her opponent. Second, BTP would restore essential provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which was eviscerated by the Supreme Court 2013 Shelby v. Holder ruling; promote automatic voter registration for all Americans when they turn 18; and expand early, in-person voting in every state. Clinton supports these actions. Not a word from her opponent. Third, and…

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“Voting Rights Success? Not So Fast”

…o look for ever new and creative ways to disenfranchise minorities. Voting rights groups will have to fight each change individually, without the benefits of a preclearance system that the Supreme Court wrongly eliminated in Shelby. This drive to limit the franchise and the findings of the Fourth Circuit in the North Carolina case show the fallacy of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s contention in Shelby that intentional racial discrimination…

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“Is North Carolina Trying To Lose One Of The Biggest Voting Rights Cases In The Nation?”

…Ian Millhiser for Think Progress. Millhiser: “The whole brief is written to piss off liberals. Opening with Crawford & Shelby County? Why not Lochner & Korematsu!” Farias: This from North Carolina to # SCOTUS strikes me as rather … odd: Leah Litman: “Great news! I found RBG SGB EK & SS edits to NC’s request to stay CA4 voting rights ruling”…

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“In Several States, Trump’s Poll Monitors May Be ‘Second Amendment People’”

…rearms from polling places.” The effort failed, and the attorney general reiterated that polling places are not included in the list of banned firearm locations in Alabama. Several counties still insisted on a ban, including Shelby County, whose sheriff said that he would ban open-carry at polling places in his county unless he was otherwise directed. Fears may be compounded this year given Trump’s presence on the ballot. Throughout his…

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“Redistricting, Voter ID Laws, Early Voting, And The Post-Shelby World”

…w bookAmerica Votes (affiliate link), which Griffith also edited. In a wide-ranging discussion about voting rights restrictions, they share the less well-known backdoor to the Voting Rights Act that could alleviate the sting Shelby County laid on activists in the old pre-clearance jurisdictions. On the other side of the fence: Representative Paul Stam, Speaker Pro Tempore of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and a defender of the both…

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New Edition of The Law of Democracy Available

…approach; a new Chapter 6 now presents the constitutional vote dilution issues first in the race context and then in the partisan gerrymandering context. Chapter 7 is devoted exclusively to the Voting Rights Act. We have shortened the legislative history of Section 2, and tightened our coverage of Section 2 vote-dilution claims, while adding coverage of Section 2 vote-denial claims. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v….

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“Turning the Tide on Voting Rights”

…ision to the full Fourth Circuit, the state probably would have won. But retirements and new judges have turned the Fourth Circuit into a much more liberal court. Second, Republican legislatures overplayed their hand. After the Supreme Court gave the green light in 2008 to Indiana’s strict voter identification law in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and effectively gutted preclearance in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, Republican…

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“Will the Court Revisit Shelby County?”

…th a history of racial discrimination in voting to get their election changes pre-approved by the federal government. With Section 5 no longer in effect, most experts think it would be difficult to fashion a case challenging Shelby, and that even if you could, restoring Section 5 by judicial fiat might be too aggressive for some of the court’s liberals. More likely, for now, is that the court takes a different approach. Since Shelby, another…

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“Lawyers’ Committee Expresses Disappointment with U.S. Department of Justice Decision to Terminate Critical Federal Observer Program”

…federal judges have found that it violates the Voting Rights Act – three of them before Shelby County and four of them after.  The case is currently before the full Fifth Circuit, with a decision due any day.  But because of Shelby County, Texas’s law remains in force while we wait for a final decision – and it is not the only one.  Because of Shelby County, other states have also enacted laws that restrict voting rights.  And these laws have…

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2016 Election Law Supplement Shipping Aug. 2; Instructors Can Get Electronic Copy Now

…d Materials is up to date through the end of the Supreme Court’s October 2015 term. It includes excerpts of the Supreme Court’s decisions in McCutcheon v. FEC and other post-Citizens United campaign finance cases, as well as Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. This year’s supplement covers recent redistricting cases from Alabama, Arizona, Texas, and Virginia, including Evenwel v. Abbott, the…

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“Lawyers’ Committee Releases New Report Examining Voting Rights Restrictions Following 2013 Supreme Court Ruling”

…Release: Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) released a new report, “Voting Rights Communication Pipelines: Georgia After Shelby County v. Holder” – examining Georgia, one of fourteen states that was subject to protections provided by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, before the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gutted this key provision in Shelby County v. Holder….

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