MENU

Election Law

Shapiro v. McManus - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 12-14-15 featuring Michael T. Morley
Michael T. Morley December 14, 2015

On December 8, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Shapiro v. McManus. In this case several Maryland citizens sued state election officials claiming that a 2011 redistricting plan violated their rights to political association and equal representation under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  Although federal law normally requires such claims to be heard by a three-judge federal court, a single judge dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether a single-judge federal district court may determine that a claim governed by the Three-Judge Court Act is insubstantial, and that three judges therefore are not required--not because it concludes that the complaint is wholly frivolous, but because it concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

By a vote of 9-0, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Fourth Circuit and remanded the case. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, holding that the citizens’ redistricting challenge was not so insubstantial that it could be dismissed by a single judge, and should have been considered by a three-judge Court.

To discuss the case, we have Michael T. Morley, who is Assistant Professor at Barry University School of Law.

The Voting Rights Case

Short video featuring Hans von Spakovsky and Derek Muller discussing Evenwel v. Abbott
Hans A. von Spakovsky, Derek Muller December 07, 2015

Hans A. von Spakovsky,  Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for legal and Judicial Studies, and Pepperdine Law Professor Derek Muller debate the meaning of one-person/one-vote in the Supreme Court’s upcoming case Evenwel v. Abbott.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Shapiro v. McManus - Post Argument SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 11-24-15 featuring Michael T. Morley
Michael T. Morley November 24, 2015

On November 4, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Shapiro v. McManus. In this case several Maryland citizens sued state election officials claiming that a 2011 redistricting plan violated their rights to political association and equal representation under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  Although federal law normally requires such claims to be heard by a three-judge federal court, a single judge dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

The question before the Supreme Court is whether a single-judge federal district court may determine that a claim governed by the Three-Judge Court Act is insubstantial, and that three judges therefore are not required--not because it concludes that the complaint is wholly frivolous, but because it concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

To discuss the case, we have Michael T. Morley, who is Assistant Professor at Barry University School of Law.

Free Speech, Anti-Corruption, and the Criminalization of Government Affairs - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Todd P. Graves, Edward T. Kang, Eugene Volokh, Peter R. Zeidenberg, Raymond W. Gruender, John G. Malcolm November 18, 2015

If we accept the premise that government, and government power, is growing, then the stakes for elective office have never been higher. With the levers of power at stake, are we seeing an increase in the use of the criminal justice system to attack legitimate political activity? Or are we perhaps seeing the proper policing of increased fraud and abuse by those in the political sphere? In a media climate in which a mere investigation can be fatal to a political campaign or career, what actions are political and what actions are criminal, and who should decide?

Criminal Law: Free Speech, Anti-Corruption, and the Criminalization of Government Affairs
12:00 noon – 2:15 p.m.
State Room

  • Mr. Todd P. Graves, Partner, Graves Garrett LLC
  • Mr. Edward T. Kang, Partner, Alston & Bird LLP
  • Prof. Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  • Mr. Peter R. Zeidenberg, Partner, Arent Fox LLP
  • Moderator: Hon. Raymond W. Gruender, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 5-28-15 featuring Stephen Davis
Stephen Davis May 28, 2015

On March 25, 2015 the Supreme Court decided Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which was consolidated with Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.

These cases ask whether Alabama's 2012 legislative redistricting plans classify black voters by race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge federal district court rejected plaintiffs’ challenge to the redistricting plan.  By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.

In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court determined that the district court made four key errors: (1) treating the racial gerrymandering claim as referring to the State “as a whole,” rather than district-by-district; (2) finding that the Alabama Democratic Conference lacked standing.; (3) improperly calculating “predominance” in the alternative holding that “[r]ace was not the predominant motivating factor” in the creation of any of the challenged districts; and (4) concluding that “the [challenged] Districts would satisfy strict scrutiny.”

Justice Breyer's opinion for the Court was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia filed a dissent, which was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito.  Justice Thomas also filed a separate dissent.

To discuss the case, we have Stephen Davis, who is an associate at the Washington, D.C. office of Arent Fox.