- I don’t object to the fact that Senators are concerned about the ideology of judicial candidates; the President is concerned, so why shouldn’t the Senators be? Anyone who is realistic about the American judicial process knows that ideology affects decisions, especially the “hot button” decisions that engage the attention of politicians; and Senators are politicians. What is objectionable about the current process is the length of time it takes. I don’t see why it couldn’t be compressed. Between the time that I agreed to accept appointment as a judge, which was near the end of June 1981, to the time I was confirmed by the Senate, which I think was sometime in November, about five months elapsed, and I don’t see why the process should take any longer than that.
See this FOXNews story and this Los Angeles Times story. What a spectacle it is to see Republicans, many of whom support a system of unlimited campaign spending (often coupled by a call for strict disclosure rules), condemn Soros’s spending plans to defeat Bush, and to see Democrats, many of whom promoted McCain-Feingold as a way to get “big money” out of politics, rejoice in Soros’s spending.
A supporter of a Democratic candidate for President other than Howard Dean directs me to this request for an advisory opinion by the Gephardt campaign, which basically asks whether a presidential candidate who has agreed to accept public financing and then later changes his or her mind must tell donors of the switch and give them the option of a refund. The writer suggests that Dean “bait and switched many donors who gave under the now-invalidated belief (encouraged by the Dean campaign) that their dollars would be matched by the feds.” It will be interesting to see how the FEC responds to the request for the advisory opinion. My guess is that if Dean is required to offer donors refunds, few would ask for their money back.
Byron York writes here about the memos stolen (perhaps by a GOP staffer, who has now been put on administrative leave pending investigation) from Senate Democrats about judicial nomination strategies. York castigates the mainstream media for not picking up the story of the substance of the memos. What precisely is that substance? According to York:
- The memos, dating from 2001 until April 2003, show Democrats working in close consultation with such groups as People for the American Way, the Alliance for Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
A.P. offers this report.
The New York Times offers this front-page report.
Joe Conason offers this oped, originally appearing in the New York Observer.
The Supreme Court is back in session on Monday, and the next chance that they could issue the opinion in the BCRA (McCain-Feingold) campaign finance case is Tuesday, December 2. My prediction had been a decision between mid-October and November, and that is about to be proven wrong. Some are betting on a December 15 decision, the last date that the Court is in session before a month-long break, and about a month before the first primary (meaning just when the electioneering communications provisions of BCRA kick in, requiring disclosure and the use of separate segregated funds by unions and corporations for broadcast spending that mentions a candidate and is targeted at the relevant electorate). Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Over at SCOTUSblog, Marty Lederman reports that the Court will issue opinions on Tuesday, but not Wednesday, of next week. We do not know if the BCRA opinion will be issued on Tuesday or not.
FOXNews offers this report. Of course, we know that many of the problems cannot be fixed by 2004. In Illinois, for example, punch cards will be used in 2004; under a recent settlement of a lawsuit challenging the use of the cards, the state agreed to eliminate them, but not in time for the next election. Indeed, Democrats almost passed legislation allowing a “dimpled chad” to count as a vote in a punch card recount—the legislation was blocked by Republicans, though it passed in the Illinois lower house as part of a bill that would have allowed President Bush’s name to appear on the ballot despite the late date of the Republican convention.
So despite the optimistic “vow” in the title of this article, I know of no one who believes the serious problems will be eliminated in 2004. Instead, we must rely on the election officials’ prayer that the election not be close.
Law professor Dan Tokaji sends along the following thoughts regarding potential disability rights issues related to the DRE paper trail issue:
- In response to the question posed in your blog, I think the best Americans with Disabilities Act/Section 504 theory is something along the lines that Eve suggests, namely that Shelley’s decision will make it very difficult if not impossible for counties to convert to more accessible DRE systems. None of the DREs presently certified can do what he would require. There are apparently some prototypes, but they’ve not successfully been implemented in a real-world election environment. Thus, I fear it’s very likely that the decision will lead counties to either stand pat with their existing paper-based systems (the only ones who can’t do this are the 9 pre-scored punchcard counties affected by the consent decree in Common Cause v. Jones) or convert to optical scan systems (they could even go to the still-certified Datavote punchcard machine, though I think this is unlikely). By the time a DRE-with-contemporaneous-paper-replica that actually works is developed, the federal and state money may well have dried up — even assuming that such a machine isn’t prohibitively expensive. There’s also a question about whether or not a DRE-with-paper-trail, once it developed and implemented, will accommodate visually impaired voters.
An ADA/504 claim might draw support from a district court decision in Florida, denying a motion to dismiss ADA and Section 504 claims brought by disabled voters challenging the failure to adopt voting technology accessible to people with visual and manual dexterity impairments. AAPD v. Hood, 278 F. Supp. 2d 1345 (M.D. Fla. 2003). The best targets for ADA claims may be counties that decide to go with optical scan systems rather than DREs as a result of Shelley’s decision — and I suspect that we will see such litigation in California at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Another possible theory is that the requirement contravenes Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it will lead counties to choose (or stay with) systems that result in a disparity in uncounted votes. There are studies showing that optical scan and punchcard systems lead to a significant black/white disparity in residual votes, a disparity which virtually disappears with DREs. See http://www.stanford.edu/~tomz/pubs/gap.pdf (Tomz & Van Houweling)
Incidentally, I’m quoted in the SJ Mercury News as saying that Shelley’s decision “could lead to legal challenges under both the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the federal Help America Vote Act.” This is a correct transcription of a quotation taken from a press release opposing Shelley’s decision (issued by California Common Cause, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and Western Law Center on Disability Rights), and the part about the ADA is right. However, the end of this sentence should have read “the Voting Rights Act” rather than “the federal Help America Vote Act.”
I’m curious as to whether there might be a cause of action under the state elections code as well. Looking forward to seeing whether your blog readers who know more than I do about state requirements for certification and decertification of voting systems think about that.
One final note: Your blog makes reference to a split between the voting rights and disability rights community. I think that split may be more apparent than real. The California voting rights advocates that I know are concerned with, if not outright opposed to, Shelley’s decision. That includes groups such as the APALC and California Common Cause, which signed on to the press release the other day, as well as national groups like the League of Women’s Voters-US and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights which have previously opposed a VVPAT (although I understand they’re now under considerable pressure to change their position). There may be some voting rights advocates who support the VVPAT, but the ones I’ve been working with don’t think it should be required — and actually believe that the end-result of Shelley’s decision will be harmful to the voting rights of people of color and linguistic minorities.
Thanks for writing.
The Hill offers this report.