Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Has Power Tipped in Favor of the High Court?”

Amanda Becker has written this piece for Roll Call, which begins with comments made at yesterday’s Supreme Court oral argument in Shelby County about Congress.

The article discusses my soon to be published Southern California Law Review article, End of the Dialogue? Political Polarization, the Supreme Court and Congress.

Share this:

Hebert and Derfner on Section 5 vs. Section 2

Important blog post:

We were both in the courtroom yesterday for the oral argument in the Shelby County, Alabama, voting rights case, and were particularly struck by one aspect of the arguments:  the strange persistence of the myth that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is an adequate substitute for Section 5.  The working theory seems to be that if Section 5 is declared unconstitutional or the coverage formula in Section 4 is struck down, there’s always Section 2 of the Act.  We call that a theory because there is no basis in reality for believing it.

Solicitor General Don Verrilli told the Justices that Section 2 cases are not an adequate substitute for Section 5, emphasizing that the voter has to bear the burden of proof and other heavy burdens, including cost.  Attorney Debo Adegbile followed that up with the point that Sections 2 and 5 work in tandem, with Section 5 often needed to insure that gains won in Section 2 cases are protected.

From our own perspective as two lawyers with more than a hundred Section 2 cases in our combined nearly 90 years of practice (forty years plus each), we have some points we think are important to consider as the Justices decide this case.  We would also note the importance of Supreme Court cases like United States v. Raines.

Share this:

“True The Vote Fudges the Numbers in New Turnout Study”


True the Vote, an organization dedicated to eradicating voter fraud through controversial methods, issued a report on February 27 concluding that voter ID laws and other election changes allegedly meant to reduce voter fraud not only did not have an adverse impact on turnout in the 2012 elections, but may have helped to increased turnout. Its findings have been trumpeted by many news outlets who do not believe such laws suppress voter turnout.

But it turns out the report’s authors made a huge methodological mistake. They compared turnout of eligible voters in 2008 to turnout of registered voters in 2012. Correcting this error reverses their findings. All but one of the states with these new laws experienced a decline in voter turnout, and most experienced a decline greater than the national turnout decline from 2008 to 2012.

Share this:

Mary Orndorff Troyan on Shelby County Case

One of the best reporters covering how Shelby County is playing in covered jurisdictions is Gannett’s Mary Orndorff Troyan.  Gannett stories often don’t come up in my news searches for some reason, so here’s some catchup on three recent stories:

Voting Rights Act debated at U.S. Supreme Court: Shelby County asks if the law is still needed

Record number of exemptions complicates voting rights case

S.C. among states seeking to end review of their election procedures

Share this:

“Stacked Deck: How the Dominance of Politics by the Affluent & Business Undermines Economic Mobility in America”

Demos has released a new report. The takeaway, according the Center for Public Integrity, is that “The U.S. political system is increasingly gamed against Americans of modest means — a situation exacerbated in recent years by major changes in the nation’s campaign laws.”

As I argue in this draft, it is time to put political equality back at the table in the discussion of campaign finance balancing, along with First Amendment rights of speech and association as well as concerns about corruption and conflict of interest.


Share this: