Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lessig: “I think it’s quite likely Justice Kennedy is about to flip” on Citizens United Issue

Via iWatch:

After the speech, Lessig, who worked as a clerk for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia before becoming an academic, added that he was confident that Citizens United will soon be reversed by the high court.

“I think it’s quite likely Justice Kennedy is about to flip,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court justice who cast the deciding vote in the controversial 5-to-4 decision. Although Lessig cautioned that he had no inside information, he said Kennedy “is completely surprised by how much damage this decision has done – even Scalia doesn’t like the world where all the money in the world is on one side.”

I am quite surprised by Larry Lessig’s statement. I too have no inside information, but all the Court watchers I speak to (including Supreme Court reporters) seem to believe that Justice Kennedy has no regrets, and indeed was emboldened by the criticism of the Court—seeing himself as the champion of the First Amendment.

In short, while I hope Larry’s right, I have no confidence that he is.

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“Minority groups object to new Texas political maps”

AP: “Minority groups in Texas objected Wednesday to new congressional and state House maps drawn by a San Antonio court, urging a separate court in Washington, D.C., to speed up a review that could mark the last opportunity to change the political boundaries ahead of the 2012 elections.”  (More on the filing from Texas Redistricting.)

Note no mention of a possible motion for a stay to the U.S. Supreme Court.  More at Texas Redistricting on what comes next and who won or lost.

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Richie: Michigan Primary: Winning Isn’t Everything (and Not the Only Thing)

Here’s a guest post from Rob Richie of Fairvote, making an important observation:

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote last night that “In politics, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. The score sheet only shows ‘W’s’ and ‘L’s’….When we look back in the history books, all it will say is that Romney won Michigan and Arizona.”

To be sure, Mitt Romney’s wins yesterday boosted his campaign, but Cillizza overstates their significance. In a nomination contest that may easily end up being all about convention delegates, the results were more divided. Rick Santorum has likely won half of Michigan’s voting delegates, and Romney’s Arizona delegate sweep faces a challenge at the convention due to the Arizona GOP’s flagrant violation of RNC rules.

In Michigan, Romney won the state vote by just under 3%. But winning doesn’t necessarily forecast future outcomes – consider the post-Iowa momentum shifts of Romney winning New Hampshire, Gingrich South Carolina, Romney Florida, Santorum’s three state sweep of February 7th and now Romney’s return. More to the point, Michigan’s voting delegates were allocated primarily by congressional district, not the statewide result. Although the Secretary of State bizarrely reports primary results according to Michigan’s old congressional district map, Michigan’s GOP instead uses results in the state’s 14 new districts. Santorum and Romney each have relatively secure leads in seven districts.

Because Michigan violated party rules by voting in February, the RNC stripped half of its convention delegates. Each district winner earns two voting delegates in Tampa. Although additional delegates will be awarded to Romney and Santorum based on their proportion of the statewide vote, only two statewide delegates will vote in Tampa. Romney forces maintain they’ll get both delegates, but Santorum backers argue for one each. Michigan ultimately seems likely to have 15 voting delegates each for Romney and Santorum – and Santorum would have won an 17-13 edge if he had won all the votes cast for withdrawn candidates like Bachmann, Cain and Perry and overcome Romney’s 0.8% edge.

Meanwhile, Arizona has joined Florida in violating the crystal clear RNC prohibition against winner-take-all allocation of delegates in contests held before April 1st. The RNC has left penalizing states for this infraction to the convention’s credentials committee, and if the race stays close or the delegate leader is seen as a weak nominee, expect fireworks — and potentially many delegates voting their conscience, as I’ve argued in POLITICO is permitted.

I see two key lessons here. First, pundits should calm down about order of finish in particular states. Let this contest unfold, give more voters a chance to participate and have the eventual nominee prove his mettle under fire, as clearly helped Democrats in 2008 despite similar grumbling early on. Second, congressional district outcomes don’t necessarily reflect popular vote outcomes –something the nation may discuss much more if Pennsylvania Republicans revive their proposal to allocate electors based on congressional district. Certainly, allocating delegates by district is not “proportional representation” – a term wrongly applied to a wide array of state rules this year.

Onto Super Tuesday and, quite possibly, state wins by all four remaining candidates.

–Rob Richie

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After All the Machinations at the Supreme Court, Was It Worth It for Texas to Appeal the Interim Maps?

The verdict appears to be “yes.”  Rothenberg Political Report:

 While neither party gets its ideal scenario, the proposed map is likely to result in a split of the state’s four new congressional districts by creating three new Hispanic-majority seats that should be won by Democrats. The new map strongly resembles a “compromise” map that emerged earlier this month between Attorney General Greg Abbott and a Latino interest group – but it was a map that many Democrats and other Hispanic coalitions didn’t endorse or like.

Still, the map won’t help the calculus Democrats need to take back the House. While Democrats concede privately that the map is slightly better than the one the GOP-controlled legislature produced last year, they would have liked to have seen more gains, with three of the new seats solidly in their column. While Democrats should pick up at least two seats, an Austin seat transforms into a solid GOP seat and the 23rd remains a toss-up. The map could result in a 25-11 advantage for Republicans – a two seat gain for both parties, resulting in no real net change from the current 23-9 split.

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s district was decimated in this proposal (as it was in the original GOP map), turning his 25th District into a GOP-leaning seat and likely forcing him to run in one of the new Hispanic districts, most likely the 35th District that stretches from Austin to San Antonio — a solidly Democratic seat with a 58 percent Hispanic population. Doggett will still likely face a primary from a Latino candidate, but with over $3.3 million in the bank, it would take a cash-flush challenger to take him on in an abbreviated primary campaign. State Rep. Joaquin Castro is still expected to run in the open 20th District, vacated by retiring Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.


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