Monthly Archives: November 2017

Where Do We Go From Here? MLK50 Symposium

Really looking forward to this:

Where Do We Go From Here?

MLK50 Symposium

A Symposium and Luncheon hosted by the
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and the
National Civil Rights Museum

Featured Keynote Speaker:
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
82nd Attorney General of the United States (2009-2015); Partner, Covington & Burling LLP

Monday, April 2, 2018
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law | 1 North Front Street, Memphis, TN 38103


The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will host the MLK50 Symposium to convene nationally renowned scholars, historians and thought leaders from across the country to present on the state of civil and human rights issues as well as racial and economic equity fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death.

With former United States Attorney General Eric Holder as the keynote speaker at the symposium’s luncheon, and featuring an array of nationally recognized panelists, this symposium will focus on the legal accomplishments, challenges, hurdles and opportunities related to aspects of Dr. King’s legacy, including housing, education, voting rights, equal employment opportunity and the criminal justice system.

Featured panelists include Mark Osler, Toussaint Losier, Roy Austin, Tracey Maclin, Dayna Matthew, Debo Adegbile, Rick Hasen, Pamala Karlan, Sherrilyn Ifill, Dorothy Brown, Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Dorothy Roberts, Claude Steele, Beverly Tatum, Charles McKinney, and Cornell Brooks.

All panel discussions at the Symposium will be held at the School of Law at 1 North Front Street; the luncheon and keynote speech by Mr. Holder will be at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. The panel discussions at the law school are free to attend (including CLE). The keynote luncheon at the Peabody is $75 per person.



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“Senate GOP campaign arm stole donor data from House Republican”


Staffers for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, three sources with knowledge of the breach told POLITICO.

The unauthorized raid on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s data created a behind-the-scenes rift with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the sources, who described NRCC officials as furious. It comes at a time when House Republicans are focused on preparing to defend their 24-seat majority in the 2018 midterm elections. And it has spotlighted Senate Republicans’ deep fundraising struggles this year, with the NRSC spending more than it raised for four months in a row.

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Update on DNC v. RNC Consent Decree: “Judge allows DNC to depose Spicer on election night activities”


A federal judge said Wednesday that he’ll allow the Democratic National Committee to depose Sean Spicer, the former Republican National Committee communications director and White House spokesman, on whether he violated a 35-year-old consent decree barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security or voter suppression efforts.

But the judge, Michael Vazquez, denied a DNC request for an evidentiary hearing on whether the RNC violated the consent decree.

The consent decree, which originated from RNC actions in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial election, is set to expire on Friday, but its future is uncertain. Vazquez said he’s not yet ready to rule on whether it will expire on Friday.

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Montana Secretary of State Backs Off Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims of Voter Fraud

Montana Public Radio:

Montana’s secretary of state said Tuesday that he’s looked into whether there was election fraud during this May’s special election and hasn’t seen any evidence showing a coordinated effort to cast mismatched, or illegal, signatures on ballots.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton raised the issue of potential voter fraud in August. At a meeting with state lawmakers, he said that just because it hasn’t happened in Montana before doesn’t mean it’s not happening now.

But in a Tuesday afternoon phone conference with clerks, Stapleton said that after examining results from a survey of illegal ballots from the May 25 special election, he now believes Montana has a healthy election system that could use some improvement.

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Alabama: “Secretary of state says some voters wrongly told they are not registered”


The Alabama Secretary of State’s office said today it has learned that some voters are receiving erroneous messages telling them that they are not registered to vote when, in fact, they are registered.

Two organizations that are contacting voters said they are not sending erroneous message.

Secretary of State John Merrill’s office sent out a press release about the erroneous messages today. Some erroneous messages are coming from people who claim to be members of the NAACP and of Open Progress, the secretary of state’s office said.

The Alabama NAACP said in a press release today that it used a database from the Voter Action Network System to notify voters that it believed were not registered.

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Trump Continues Claiming, Without Any Evidence, He Lost the Popular Vote Because of Widespread Voter Fraud

From this eye-popping NYT story on the President’s lies:

Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about the “Access Hollywood” tape are part of his lifelong habit of attempting to create and sell his own version of reality. Advisers say he continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact.

In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.

One senator who listened as the president revived his doubts about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday as recalled the conversation. The president, he said, has had a hard time letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. The senator asked not to be named to discuss private conversations.


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The Measure of a Metric, Part Three

Yesterday I pointed out that the efficiency gap complies with a series of criteria that, Eric McGhee and I argue in a forthcoming article, can be used to evaluate measures of partisan gerrymandering. To determine if the same is true of other metrics, we simulated several thousand more district plans, allowing the major parties’ vote shares to vary between 25% and 75%. The below charts show how often partisan bias (on the left) and the mean-median difference (on the right) violate the principle that if a party wins more seats with the same votes, a measure should indicate a larger advantage for this party. Party vote share is on the x-axis; the frequency of violations of this principle is on the y-axis.

In competitive jurisdictions, where the statewide vote is close to split, partisan bias and the mean-median difference perform reasonably well. They infrequently show a party scoring the same (or worse) while winning more seats with the same votes. But in uncompetitive jurisdictions, where one party predominates statewide, violations of the principle rise sharply. By the time one party earns 60% of the statewide vote, partisan bias and the mean-median difference produce counterintuitive results about half the time.

To see if this analysis has real-world implications, we constructed a series of regression models. The dependent variable in each case is the average ideology of a state’s House members in a given term. The key independent variable is a measure of partisan gerrymandering: the efficiency gap, partisan bias, or the mean-median difference. And we ran separate models for each metric and for competitive elections (closer than 55%-45% statewide) and uncompetitive elections (further apart than 55%-45%).

The below chart displays the results of these models. Each point indicates the impact on a congressional delegation’s average ideology of increasing a particular gerrymandering metric by one standard deviation. It is apparent that in competitive electoral settings, all three measures have large and statistically significant effects. If a swing state’s efficiency gap, partisan bias, or mean-median difference becomes more pro-Democratic (or pro-Republican), the state’s delegation becomes more liberal (or conservative) on net. But in uncompetitive environments, only the efficiency gap remains statistically significant. It continues to show that gerrymandering influences congressional representation. Partisan bias and the mean-median difference, on the other hand, wrongly suggest that gerrymandering in safe states has no impact on delegations’ ideological makeups.

The conclusion we draw from these studies is that in the competitive states where most recent partisan gerrymandering lawsuits have been filed (e.g., North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin), all of the common gerrymandering metrics can and should be used. But if scholars or litigants want to analyze gerrymandering in uncompetitive states, they should not use partisan bias or the mean-median difference. These measures frequently violate the seat-vote principle in these settings, and are no longer connected to the substantive value—the quality of representation—that gerrymandering offends.

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“Ethics group demands investigation into vice chair of Trump’s election commission”

Washington Examiner:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Tuesday asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Kris Kobach is improperly getting a financial benefit by serving as vice chairman of the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

According to the complaint, Kobach has been paid for writing columns for Breitbart News. One of those was written in his official capacity with the election commission, which alleged serious voter fraud in New Hampshire.

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Unanimous En Banc DC Circuit Rejects Challenge to Separate Federal Campaign Contribution Limits in Primary and General Election Campaigns

This one always struck me as a weird challenge, and today, per Judge Srinivasan, the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, unanimously rejected the argument:

Congress’s choice of a per-election structure thus is not a “prophylaxis-upon-prophylaxis”—a second anti-corruption measure layered on top of the base limits. Instead, the per election  structure is an essential ingredient of the base limits themselves—the first layer of prophylaxis. Unlike in McCutcheon, then, there is no warrant for attempting to ascertain whether the per-election timeframe of the $2,600 base limit itself combats corruption. Rather, it is enough if that base limit as a whole (of which its time period is an integral element) prevents the appearance or actuality of corruption in a manner satisfying the closely drawn standard.

I think it is very unlikely that the Supreme Court would want to take this case, which does not challenge the constitutionality of a $2,600 contribution limit itself.

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“State Board of Elections certifies disputed Fredericksburg-area results despite 147 people voting in the wrong House race”

Richmond Times Dispatch:

Virginia’s State Board of Elections on Monday certified the results of two Fredericksburg-area House of Delegates elections, despite Democrats asking the board to delay the process because 147 people voted in the wrong House district.

The elections board’s 3-0 vote to certify the results showing Republicans winning the 28th and 88th District races does not finalize the outcome. But it closes an initial, chaotic chapter in the legal battle over a close 28th District race that could decide which party controls the House after Democrats picked up at least 15 seats in a wave election on Nov. 7.

In the 28th District, Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by just 82 votes. Democrats who appear to be on the losing end in the 28th and a handful of other tight finishes can still pursue recounts or contest the final results at the General Assembly. Under state law, recounts cannot begin until the elections board certifies the results as official.

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