UPDATE to the post below: The information I had was incomplete. This settlement still must be approved twice by the Pasadena City Council, which likely will not happen until some time in November.
City will also pay $1 million (presumably in fees). Details to come. (Updated news story).
This is a big deal.
The findings of intentional discrimination against Latino voters were stark.
It was unclear what the 5th Circuit was going to do in this appeal, but the facts were pretty damning.
Now the ball looks like it will be in the Trump DOJ’s court to police Pasadena’s redistricting efforts.
Sara Mayeux for Bunk History:
How past is the past? That quandary, among the definitional puzzles of the human condition, is also the crux of the voting rights battles currently rending statehouses and federal courts around the country. Election law is an intricate tangle of constitutional doctrine, federal statutes and regulations, state laws and procedures, and local practices. It’s among the most complicated of legal specialties. And yet the blockbuster voting rights cases that federal courts in North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and elsewhere have decided in recent years—one of which, Gill v. Whitford, the Supreme Court will hear on October 3—are not, fundamentally, technical legal disputes. Fundamentally they are philosophical fights about the burdens of history.
Consider Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court decision that partially invalidated the Voting Rights Act. Congressman John Lewis implored the Court to save the Act in a powerful amicus brief. Quoting from Lewis’s memoir, the brief detailed the 1965 march across Selma’s Pettus Bridge, which ultimately impelled the Act’s passage, and in particular, the moment in the course of that march when an Alabama state trooper with a billy club cracked open the left side of the young John Lewis’s skull: “Bleeding badly and barely hanging onto consciousness,” Lewis “tried to stand up from the pavement only to find himself surrounded by women and children weeping, vomiting while ‘men on horses [moved] in all directions, purposely riding over the top of fallen people, bringing the animals’ hooves down on shoulders, stomachs, and legs.’”
Apparently unmoved by this image, a 5-4 majority of the Court joined the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, which depicted those men and horses not as still riding in the minds of those who saw them but rather as neatly suspended in a hermetically sealed “before” to which the present world had little connection. “History did not end in 1965,” Roberts insisted. “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
Wisconsin officials for a year were not told about specific attempts by the Russian government to gain access to the state’s voter registration database, the leaders of the state Elections Commission said Friday.
Friday’s statement from the commission comes after a week of conflicting reports about what Russian agents attempted to do and when state and federal officials knew about them.
\Wisconsin systems were targeted in July and August 2016. Wisconsin officials were aware of the attempts but not that Russian government actors were behind them, according to Friday’s statement and public records. In one of the incidents, the attack was targeted at a different state agency, not the Elections Commission.
A few final notes about the gerrymandering articles I flagged over the last few days: First, the Election Law Journal (where three of the pieces are forthcoming) has generously agreed to make them available free of charge. The McGhee article is here; the Chen article here; and the Caughey et al. article here.
Second, all of the authors worked on amicus briefs in Whitford that built on the pieces I cited. McGhee’s brief is here; a brief representing Chen and other political geographers is here; and a brief discussing the findings of Caughey et al. is here.
And third, in a recent paper of mine, I confirmed the findings of Caughey et al. at the congressional level. I determined, that is, that a pro-Democratic (pro-Republican) efficiency gap leads to a congressional delegation with a significantly more liberal (conservative) ideological midpoint, even holding constant voters’ preferences. The key chart is below; it shows large differences in representation, for states with similar electoral environments, based on whether their congressional plans exhibit pro-Democratic, pro-Republican, or more neutral skews.
Sam Bagenstos, in a fine amicus brief for former DOJ officials, makes a very strong textualist argument (along with other arguments) that Ohio’s voter purge process violates the plain meaning of the NVRA and HAVA. (Sam makes other persuasive arguments too, including pointing out that the current Trump Administration’s read of the statute conflicts with more than two decades of earlier consistent interpretation by DOJ.)
I’ll be watching closely to see whether Justice Gorsuch, who otherwise I would expect to have sympathy with Ohio’s position, follows the close textual reading in Sam’s brief.
Two events with great lineups from a new group headed by Reed Hundt dedicated to passing the national popular vote.
“Improving American Democracy” (Oct. 7 at Stanford, use link to RSVP).
“The Need for Presidential Selection Reform” (Oct. 12, Washington DC, use link to RSVP)
Nate Cohn for NYT’s The Upshot:
Democrats often lament that the House electoral playing field is stacked against them, but that’s not their only problem.
The Republican structural edge in the House is fully realized only with the added advantage of incumbency. The Democrats would be overwhelming favorites to retake the House in this political environment if no incumbents chose to run for re-election, even with all of the burdens of gerrymandering and geography.
Ryan Rodenberg and John Holden have posted this draft on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
We find PASPA’s partial and non-uniform ban on state-sponsored sports wagering to run afoul of the equal sovereignty doctrine’s general constraints as set forth in Shelby County and Northwest Austin. PASPA also fails equal sovereignty scrutiny for two other narrower reasons. First, for a law motivated to address a “national problem” with no geographic borders, PASPA’s various carve-outs for no fewer than nine states are irrational. Not only does the discrimination manifest itself between grandfathered states and non-grandfathered states, but there is also an unconstitutional differentiation between Nevada and the other exempt states. Second, PASPA’s grandfathered exceptions are perpetual in nature, making them more suspect than the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Shelby County. If the equal sovereignty question is presented to the Supreme Court in the current Christie II litigation or a later sports gambling-specific dispute, the appropriate remedy would be to sever out § 3704’s differential grandfather clause, not eviscerate § 3702’s blanket ban. Such a remedy would be an unwelcome result for New Jersey and Nevada, but a correct application of the equal sovereignty doctrine vis-à-vis PASPA.