The State Democracy Research Initiative at the University of Wisconsin Law School will be hosting a virtual kickoff event this Thursday, October 7, 2021, from 5-6pm CT. Please join us for a free, livestreamed panel discussion to hear current and former state solicitors general share perspectives on state government and state cases of interest. Confirmed speakers include Amit Agarwal (Former Solicitor General, Florida), Elizabeth “Bessie” Dewar (State Solicitor, Massachusetts), Michael Mongan (Solicitor General, California), and Ryan Park (Solicitor General, North Carolina). Registration is available here, and additional information can be found on the event website.
The University of Wisconsin Law School is delighted to announce the launch of the State Democracy Research Initiative, co-directed by Professors Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon. The Initiative will shine a spotlight on state democratic processes and institutions, which traditionally receive less attention from legal scholars and educators than those at the federal level. It will also serve as a resource on state-level governance issues for academics, policymakers, and advocates across the country. You can follow the Initiative on Twitter at @UWLawDemocracy, and save the date for a live hybrid kickoff event on Thursday, October 7, 2021, at 5:00 pm CT (3 PT/4 MT/6 ET). Mark your calendars!
Thanks to Rick for inviting me to blog for the past two weeks. There’s never a dull moment in the world of election law, and it’s helped me catch up on the many things I missed during my first year as Dean of University of Wisconsin Law School. My friend and colleague Ned Foley at Ohio State will be taking over for the next two weeks, from July 19 through August 1. You can send links and suggestions to him.
A Republican state lawmaker, bolstered by support from top Republican candidates, has launched a push for a “forensic investigation” of the presidential election results, a review modeled on the widely discredited process underway in Arizona….
The audit has fast become a litmus test in an election cycle where an open governor’s office and an open U.S. Senate seat — the political equivalent of a blue moon — have triggered fiercely competitive Republican primaries….
“Most of the Republicans I know, at the very least, have misgivings and, at worst, are like me and realize this is just really a blunder of epic proportions,” said former congressman Charlie Dent, a centrist Republican from the Allentown area. “Why bring the Arizona clown show to Pennsylvania?”
Michigan Republicans want to pass a blitz of legislation that restricts the right to vote in the key battleground state — and they have an audacious plan to get their ideas enacted, even though they have to contend with a Democratic governor who could ordinarily veto their bills….
[E]arly this month, the state’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) announced that Republicans plan to invoke a process that could allow them to bypass the governor’s veto and pass a package of “half a dozen” election-related bills. Under the state constitution, a relatively small group of voters can propose legislation through a petition and then this legislation can be enacted by the state legislature. Using this process, the GOP-controlled legislature could enact this package by a simple majority vote in both houses, and Whitmer would be powerless to veto it — although Democrats could potentially force a voter referendum on the GOP package.
Reuters: “Political foes of Alaska’s Republican governor have legally sufficient grounds to pursue their campaign to oust him from office through a recall election, the state’s highest court ruled on Friday.” You can find the opinion here.
Update: Joshua Spivak has this post on the ruling’s implications at the Recall Elections Blog.
Politico: “Forty-one candidates have met the qualifications to run in the California gubernatorial recall election, less than a third of the number who ran in the state’s memorable 2003 contest and well below what some political experts months ago had predicted, according to an official list released Saturday night.” Those on the list include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Rep. Doug Ose, former Olympian/reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, and (like last time) billboard star Angelyne.
I left California in 2003, but some things never change.
[O]ver 50 state House Democrats … fled Texas on Monday to deny Republicans a quorum for a major new elections bill that has stirred backlash: axing pandemic-era practices to expand voting access adopted in a large Democratic-leaning county, further restricting mail voting in the state and making election workers liable for new potential civil or criminal penalties. Democrats are in the minority in Texas, but Republicans can’t pass the legislation without them there — so they left for Washington, D.C.
In interviews with a dozen Texas lawmakers during their first week in Washington, they described a hectic, last-minute scramble to pack and get out of the state….
But their endgame is unclear. Every House Democrat who spoke to POLITICO indicated they intend to stay out of Texas until the current special legislative session is over, but they demur about what comes after that.
Dan Balz: “[U]ntil Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) agree to change the filibuster rules, Democrats are stuck, and the president’s rhetoric is mostly that, a call to action without the prospect of immediate action”
The U.S. Senate Rules Committee will hold a field hearing in Atlanta tomorrow, on Protecting the Freedom to Vote: Recent changes to Georgia voting laws and the need for basic federal standards to make sure all Americans can vote in the way that works best for them. It begins at 10 ET, and you can view at the above link. The scheduled witnesses are Senator Warnock, State Senator Sally Harrell, Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and José Segarra of Warner Robins.
Covering proceedings in Colorado on Friday, WaPo has the quote of the day:
“Did that ever occur to you? That, possibly, [you’re] just repeating stuff the president is lying about?” Federal Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter asked the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, during a hearing to consider sanctioning them.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on opening salvos in the long battles to come:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court for the time being reinstated the redistricting attorneys for Republican state lawmakers late Thursday in a decision that divided the justices along ideological lines.
The 4-3 ruling means the Republicans can resume working with private attorneys they hired at taxpayer expense while the high court considers the case….
The Republicans hired attorneys in December and January because of the anticipated litigation. A group of Madison teachers sued and Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke agreed with them in an April ruling that said lawmakers can hire attorneys when they are sued, but not when they simply expect they will be sued.
From WaPo. From the first takeaway on the hauls of pro-Trump and anti-Trump Republicans facing off in primaries:
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has emerged as perhaps the most passionate Trump critic …. raised a whopping $1.9 million. That’s one of the biggest hauls of any House member. It’s also notably more than her replacement in that No. 3 leader slot, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who raised more than $1.2 million for her House campaign….
In TPM, an excerpt from Orville Vernon Burton and Armand Derfner’s new book Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court. Here’s the last paragraph of the excerpt:
In 1989, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Blackmun made an observation that has seemed more prophetic with each passing day: “One wonders whether the majority still believes that race discrimination — or, more accurately, race discrimination against nonwhites — is a problem in our society, or even remembers that it ever was.”
Can’t wait to read the book!