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Voting Rights

Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 8-22-16 featuring Mark F. Hearne II
Mark F. Hearne August 22, 2016

On April 20, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. In 2012, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission redrew the map for the state legislative districts based on the results of the 2010 census. Wesley Harris and other individual voters sued the Commission and alleged that the newly redrawn districts were underpopulated in Democratic-leaning districts and over-populated in Republican-leaning ones and that the Commission had, therefore, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Commission countered that the population deviations were the result of attempts to comply with the Voting Rights Act. A three-judge district court ruled in favor of the Commission.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court by a vote of 8-0. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, which held that the federal district court did not err in upholding Arizona's redistricting plan.  The challengers failed to demonstrate, the Court explained, that illegitimate considerations more likely than not were the predominant motivation for the plan's population deviations.

To discuss the case, we have Mark F. “Thor” Hearne, II, who is Partner at Arent Fox LLP.

Protecting Eligible Voters: Evenwel v. Abbott and the Future of Redistricting - Podcast

Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast
J. Michael Connolly, Ilya Shapiro August 05, 2016

In Evenwel v. Abbott, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution’s one-person, one-vote rule allows States to draw their legislative districts based on total population. In doing so, the Court rejected the appellants’ argument that the one-person, one-vote rule protects eligible voters and thus required States to equalize the population of eligible voters, not total population. The Court explicitly declined to resolve whether States may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population.

Our experts analyzed the Supreme Court’s decision and reviewed the constitutional history underlying the one-person, one-vote doctrine. They discussed the impact of Evenwel on future redistricting decisions, including the Court’s willingness to accept legislative districts based on eligible voters.

Featuring:

  • J. Michael Connolly, Counsel, Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC
  • Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute

Wittman v. Personhuballah - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 6-15-16 featuring Derek Muller
Derek Muller June 15, 2016

On May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Wittman v. Personhuballah. In 2012, the Virginia State Legislature adopted a redistricting plan that altered the composition of the Third Congressional District by increasing the percentage of African-American voters in the district. In 2013, a number of Third District residents sued state election officials, arguing that the District was racially gerrymandered in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge district court agreed and held the redistricting plan to be unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that judgment and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of its intervening decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. On remand, the district court again held that the redistricting plan was unconstitutional and ordered the Virginia General Assembly to devise a remedial plan. When the Assembly did not do so the court devised its own remedial plan and ordered election officials to implement it.

Ten Members of Congress from Virginia, intervenors in the District Court below, appealed its rejection of the 2012 plan to the Supreme Court, alleging various errors in the District Court’s reasoning. By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Breyer indicated that the intervenors lacked standing to pursue their appeal.

To discuss the case, we have Derek Muller, who is Associate Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Evenwel v. Abbott - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 5-16-16 featuring Andrew Grossman
Andrew Grossman May 16, 2016

On April 4, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott. As required by the Texas Constitution, the Texas legislature reapportioned its senate districts after the publication of the 2010 census, formally adopting an interim plan that had been put in place for the 2012 primaries. Plaintiffs, who are registered Texas voters, sued the Texas governor and secretary of state, asserting that the redistricting plan violated the one-person, one-vote principle of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, by failing to apportion districts to equalize both total population and voter population. A three-judge district court ruled in favor of the state officials.

On appeal, the question before the Supreme Court was whether the three-judge district court correctly held that the “one-person, one-vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population, and does not require States to use voter population when apportioning state legislative districts.

By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the three-judge district court. Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court, holding that constitutional history, precedent, and longstanding practice demonstrate that a state may draw its legislative districts based on total population. The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined Justice GInsburg’s opinion for the Court. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which Justice Thomas joined except as to Part III-B.

To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman, who is Partner at Baker & Hostetler, LLP.

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

Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast
Hans A. von Spakovsky April 22, 2016

On April 20, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a case challenging Arizona's state legislative district map as partisan gerrymandering. Our expert discussed the opinion and what it means for the Court’s voting rights jurisprudence.

Featuring:

  • Hon. Hans A. von Spakovsky, Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation