Packing Districts?: Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission - Podcast

Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast
Mark F. Hearne December 18, 2015

Last term, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s independent redistricting commission. State legislators had challenged the creation of such a commission, arguing that transferring their redistricting authority violated the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Now, in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Court will consider a challenge to state legislative districts drawn up by the commission. A group of voters argue that the commission overpopulated Republican-dominated districts by packing in non-minority voters while placing minority voters in smaller, Democrat-dominated districts. The result, they argue, is the dilution of votes in GOP districts, which violates the “one person, one vote” guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Mark “Thor” Hearne, counsel for Harris in the case, discussed his impressions of oral arguments and made predictions about how the Court might rule in this important case.


  • Mark F. Hearne, II, Partner, Arent Fox LLP

Redistricting Litigation Update - Podcast

Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast
Justin Levitt, Ilya Shapiro, Dean A. Reuter April 03, 2012

Redistricting Litigation Update - PodcastThe decennial census has again produced the decennial redistricting litigation -- not least in Texas, whose attempts to draw districts for the 2012 elections have engulfed two three-judge district courts, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court. The Texas litigation has been complicated by what some see as the conflicting demands of Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. In Perry v. Perez, the Supreme Court vacated the interim maps a lower court drew and gave that court instructions on how navigate the legal tangle. That may have expedited the resolution of Texas's election conundrum but by no means resolved the broader issues involved. Join us for a Federalist Society Teleforum on Perry v. Perez, the Voting Rights Act, and other developments in election regulation. Featuring: Prof. Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School Los Angeles and Mr. Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute. [Listen now!]

Perry v. Perez - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 02-03-12 featuring Ilya Shapiro
Ilya Shapiro February 03, 2012

SCOTUScast boxOn January 20, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Perry v. Perez.  This case involved efforts to redraw Texas’ electoral districts due to an increase of four million residents identified by the 2010 Census.  Texas proposed a new electoral plan, but as a “covered jurisdiction” was required by the Voting Rights Act to obtain preclearance from a special court in Washington, D.C. before the plan could take effect.  While Texas’ petition for preclearance was pending, several groups challenged the proposed plan in federal court in Texas, which then drafted an interim electoral plan for use in upcoming 2012 elections.  The question before the Supreme Court was whether this interim plan improperly disregarded details of the plan proposed by Texas.

In a per curiam opinion, the Court unanimously held that it was unclear whether the federal court in Texas had followed appropriate standards in drafting its interim plan.  The Court therefore vacated the interim plan and remanded the case for further proceedings.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion.

To discuss the case, we have Ilya Shapiro, who is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.

Census Methods Raise Constitutional Flags

Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 2, Summer 1999
Matthew J. Glavin August 11, 2009
A recent pair of Supreme Court decisions addressed the method for conducting the decennial census in the year 2000 — a decision of profound importance to the composition of Congress and the structure of the government.  The U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Bureau of the Census had proffered an unprecedented plan to conduct the census through the use of statistical sampling rather than the “actual Enumeration” head count mandated by the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

SCOTUScast 11-18-08 featuring Hans von Spakovsky

Bartlett v. Strickland
Hans A. von Spakovsky November 18, 2008

On Tuesday, October 14, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Bartlett v. Strickland. Here the Supreme Court considers the problem of minority vote dilution in a case arising from a dispute about North Carolina state House District 18, which includes parts of Pender and New Hanover Counties. The district was created as a "cross-over district," with about 39% of the voting population being black, who with "cross-over" votes have been able to elect a black representative for the past 16 years. In 2004 Pender County challenged the district, claiming that as drawn it violated the North Carolina State Constitution by splitting Pender County into multiple districts. The trial court upheld the district as drawn, claiming that it was necessary under the Voting Rights Act to prevent vote dilution of the minority, but the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the ruling, deciding that only minorities who composed an actual majority of a potential district could state a vote dilution claim. The Supreme Court now considers under what circumstances a minority may state a vote dilution claim under the Voting Rights Act. Former Federal Election Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky discusses the case.