Monthly Archives: May 2007

“DeLay, Doolittle and Ney”

Meredith McGehee has this post on the CLCBlog. It begins: “Five years ago, when the U.S. House of Representatives was going through several rounds of consideration of the so-called ‘Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act,’ better known those days as ‘Shays-Meehan’ after its bipartisan cosponsors Chris Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D- MA), there emerged three leading opponents on the Republican side of the aisle. They were what we reformers called ‘the aptly named’ DeLay (Tom of Texas), Doolittle (John of California) and Ney (Bob of Ohio, now residing in federal prison in West Virginia).”

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“Voter Fraud” Scandal Update [Updated]

The Los Angeles Times offers this front page report, “Minnesota case fits pattern in U.S. attorneys flap; A prosecutor apparently targeted for firing had supported Native American voters’ rights.” It begins: “For more than 15 years, clean-cut, square-jawed Tom Heffelfinger was the embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor. Named U.S. attorney for Minnesota in 1991, he won a series of high-profile white-collar crime and gun and explosives cases. By the time Heffelfinger resigned last year, his office had collected a string of awards and commendations from the Justice Department. So it came as a surprise– and something of a mystery — when he turned up on a list of U.S. attorneys who had been targeted for firing. Part of the reason, government documents and other evidence suggest, is that he tried to protect voting rights for Native Americans. At a time when GOP activists wanted U.S. attorneys to concentrate on pursuing voter fraud cases, Heffelfinger’s office was expressing deep concern about the effect of a state directive that could have the effect of discouraging Indians in Minnesota from casting ballots.” Josh Marshall comments and Paul Kiel fills in the Schlozman/von Spakovsky details.
Meanwhile, Murray Waas turns his attention to the Missouri angle in all of this, including a look at Thor Hearne, who is at the center of the collapse of the American Center for Voting Rights. Two snippets from the must-read article:

    In the case involving ACORN, Hearne had urged the Justice Department long before the election to investigate the activist organization and similar groups that registered Democrats. When Hearne came to believe that the U.S. attorney for western Missouri, Todd Graves, was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote, he took his complaints to senior officials in Justice’s Civil Rights Division and to the White House, according to a former Justice official and a private attorney who worked with Hearne. The private attorney said in an interview that Hearne boasted to him about having discussions with administration officials who wanted Graves replaced. The White House declined to comment on any of its discussions with Hearne.”

It is hard to imagine who that private attorney could be besides Jason Torchinsky. [UPDATE: Jason Torchinsky writes via email that he does not know who Waas’s source was, but it was not him.]
And a stunning admission in the article:

    Even Bryan Lunde, the former chairman of Hearne’s Center for Voting Rights, said in an interview that allegations by both political parties of voting fraud and voter suppression are overblown. “It has become a new tool in campaigns to make a charge just for the sake of making a charge…. But don’t ever let the facts get in the way of your accusation. Both sides seize on that one-hundredth of 1 percent of something that goes wrong in an election to make it something bigger. They try and make the anecdote the story. But there is very little voter fraud and very little voter suppression.”

While Waas notes that ACVR “now appears to be defunct” he does not report what Lunde or anyone else had to say about its sudden disappearance. My earlier Slate piece on Hearne and ACVR is here.
UPDATE: Connecticut Republicans are pushing an amendment to an election day registration bill to require voter id in the name of preventing voter fraud.]
UPDATE 2: Even more on Missouri/Schlozman in this Boston Globe report and this McClatchy report.
UPDATE 3: Via comments to this TPMmuckraker post, I found this video interview with former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias. About halfway through the interview, Iglesias makes the claim that Pat Rogers, working for ACVR (which he incorrectly identifies as “American Citizens for Voting Reform”), pressured Iglesias to bring voter fraud prosecutions at the behest of Karl Rove. It is worth listening to the interview.

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Persily on “The Promises and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act”

Nate Persily’s must-read article on VRA renewal (forthcoming Yale L.J. October 2007) is now posted here on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

    This article, forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, describes the legislative history surrounding the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and provides an interpretation of its key provision. The legislative process was unprecedented in many respects. Despite unanimous support for the law in the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor, the Committee Report was submitted after passage of the legislation with only Republican signatures and with all Committee Democrats dissenting. The legislative history suggests the political parties’ differing interpretations of the Act that only came to light once the President had signed the bill into law. This article concludes with an evaluation of potential interpretations of the new retrogression standard: that covered jurisdictions may not diminish the ability of minorities to elect their preferred candidates of choice.

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Judicial Elections in the News…

Recent conferences have focused on judicial elections, both on the question of campaign financing and judicial campaign speech. Ruth Marcus offers this Washington Post column, discussing’s conference and this Brennan Center report. Bob Bauer comments on quotes from Justice O’Connor in the Marcus column. Meanwhile, Jim Bopp has won another judicial speech lawsuit . From his press release:

    Federal District Court Judge John Shabaz has granted a permanent injunction against provisions of the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct that prohibited state court judicial candidates from responding to a questionnaire asking their views on legal and political issues. Wisconsin Right to Life had sent a questionnaire to candidates for judicial office in the November 2006 and April 2007 elections requesting that they state their views on policies and court decisions related to such matters as assisted-suicide and abortion. Several of the judicial candidates refused to do so, stating that they could be disciplined for expressing their views by responding the questions posed in such questionnaires. A 2006 opinion by the state’s Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee had found that judicial candidates were prohibited from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues.
    The District Court disagreed, finding that the provisions were unconstitutional to the extent that they prohibited candidates from announcing their views. The Court held that one of the provisions of Wisconsin’s Code, which required judges to recuse themselves if they had previously made statements that “appear to commit” the judge on issues likely to come before the court, was indistinguishable from a provision struck down by the Supreme Court in 2002. That case, Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), found unconstitutional on First
    Amendment grounds a Minnesota rule that prohibited judicial candidates from “announcing their views on disputed legal or political issues.” Similarly, the Court held that a Wisconsin Code provision prohibiting judicial candidates from making “pledges and promises” regarding future cases could not be used to prohibit candidates from answering Wisconsin Right to Life’s questionnaire.

For those wanted a more extended academic treatment of these issues, check out Running for Judge from NYU Press (Matthew Streb, ed.). A draft of my chapter in that book on constitutional limits on judicial speech rules is posted here.

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“GOP Plots Blue-Slip Attack”

The Hill offers this report, which begins: “House conservatives are ready to stop the Senate immigration bill in its tracks with a potent procedural weapon should the contentious measure win passage in the upper chamber. The trump card conservatives may hold is a constitutional rule that revenue-related bills must originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming citizens, opening the door to a House protest, dubbed a ‘blue slip’ for the color of its paper.”

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