Racial Gerrymandering

It’s a given that the 2016 elections were “stolen”, but not in the way most American’s assume: Russia may or may not have had a direct, negative impact on Clinton’s election chances, but people like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach certainly did.

Kobach has been involved, both locally and nationally, with repressive voter registration laws. While Kobach loses most of the inevitable lawsuits filed against his illegal practices 1, that does not keep him from hindering minorities in their attempts to vote.

Kobach has as well consulted in gerrymandering schemes outside of Kansas. These bald attempts at dulling the effect of the minority vote are also nearly unanimously ruled against by the courts. However, that’s after the fact: Had SCOTUS ruled on Wisconsin’s obvious racial gerrymandering before the 2016 election, there’s a distinct possibility the results would have been different.

Same with the once great state of Virginia, where SCOTUS recently remanded the Virginia redistricting case back to a lower court with instructions to apply a more rigorous standard regarding racial bias.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave Virginia Democrats a fresh chance to challenge parts of the legislative map for the state’s House of Delegates[…]

“The upshot of all of this is that not much has changed with these cases,” Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in a blog post. “The fight will be over the details and application to particular cases.”

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer for the challengers in the case, disagreed, calling the decision a “major victory” that will help Democrats[…]

In 2015, a divided three-judge panel of Federal District Court in Richmond, Va., upheld 11 of the challenged districts because, it said, race had not been the primary factor in drawing them. Since the districts could be justified under traditional redistricting criteria like compactness, contiguity, incumbency protection and political considerations, the court said, race could not have been the predominant reason for drawing them.

That was the wrong approach, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The racial predominance inquiry concerns the actual considerations that provided the essential basis for the lines drawn,” he wrote, “not post hoc justifications the legislature in theory could have used but in reality did not.” […]

In assessing those challenges, Justice Kennedy wrote, the trial court identified “no fewer than 11 race neutral redistricting factors.” He called that kind of analysis too malleable.

“By deploying those factors in various combinations and permutations, a state could construct a plethora of potential maps that look consistent with traditional, race-neutral principles,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “But if race for its own sake is the overriding reason for choosing one map over others, race still may predominate.”

Justice Kennedy did not say the challengers would win under his less rigid standard. “The district court,” he wrote, “is best positioned to determine in the first instance the extent to which, under the proper standard, race directed the shape of these 11 districts.”

The Supreme Court affirmed one part of the trial court’s ruling, concerning a single district, which the trial court had upheld even after finding that race played the dominant role in drawing it. The trial court said the district was justified by an attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which forbade the reduction of minority voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice.

Traditionally gerrymandering redistricting has been the nasty, saliva-dripping hairball no one wanted to touch exactly because SCOTUS has heretofore refused to step in and describe legal boundaries. Today it’s still a hairball, but it appears that Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, No. 15-680, will eventually make racial gerrymandering a moot point.

Racial Gerrymandering

Show 1 footnote

  1. Barring “sanctuary cities”, for example, is as nonsensical as declaring a “war on terror”: Neither thing exits in the strict legal sense, ergo no laws prosecuting either notion can be passed.

Can’t Make This Shit Up

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch founded and led a student group called the ‘Fascism Forever Club’ at his elite high school, DailyMail.com can reveal.

The club was set up to rally against the ‘left-wing tendencies’ of his professors while attending a Jesuit all-boys preparatory high school near Washington D.C.

The name may be inconvenient for a Supreme Court nominee facing a tough confirmation battle. However it also shows the depth of Gorscuch’s right-wing credentials – and his penchant for mischief while attending his exclusive prep school in the 1980s.

[Our Manchurian president] nominated Gorsuch, a 49-year-old U.S. appellate judge, to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday.

Gorsuch founded the ‘Fascism Forever Club’ during his freshman year at Georgetown Preparatory, a now-$30,000-a-year private Jesuit school that is one of the most selective in the United States.

He served as president until he graduated in 1985, according to his senior yearbook.

Sweet Jebus, what a  ¡pendejo! Seriously, you just can’t make this shit up.

This should be a give me for the Dems: No vote, baaaaaaby! Same goes for cloture.

Of course what will happen is one or more of the Dems will bail, their spines once again suddenly failing.

And people still wonder why Sanders was so popular…

The Day After

Chuck Grassley: Coward

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says he will be going around speaking with constituents at more than a dozen events in his home state during the Senate’s two-week spring recess.

But most of the public will have no idea how to find him, because his office is keeping the details of those events secret to avoid protesters.

“Political operatives [from Washington, D.C.] are trying to hijack Sen. Grassley’s meetings with Iowans, and it’s more proof that they care more about politics than giving people a voice,” Levine told the World-Herald. She did not return additional request for comment from The Huffington Post on the need for secrecy and how Grassley’s staff members were publicizing those events.

Grassley epitomizes the obstructionist behavior of the ReThugs in Congress over the last generation.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but he is the sort of flaming fascist racist that needs to be taken out behind the barn. Carrying his own shovel. Who gives a flying fuck what his opinion on the matter is? The Constitution trumps his stupid personal beliefs.

Ultimately Grassley’s ability to get away with this behavior says more about the cowardice of the American people than it does about him.

After all, we already knew he was a self-involved, senile bigot.

Chuck Grassley: Coward

A SCOTUS High

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up a lawsuit filed by two of Colorado’s neighboring states over its legalization of marijuana.

Nebraska and Oklahoma said Colorado’s decriminalization has “increased the flow of marijuana over their borders,” forcing them to expend greater “law enforcement, judicial system, and penal system resources,” thereby harming the welfare of their residents…

The court turned the case away in an unsigned opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Writing for them both, Thomas said court should have taken the case because “the plaintiff states have made a reasonable case.”

There were no lower court decisions, because disputes between the states come directly to the Supreme Court.

Good news: perhaps mostly at the behest of the DoJ –which had urged the Supreme Court not to take the case– the Supreme Court denied cert in a case filed by two states challenging the legalization of marijuana in neighboring Colorado, saying that legalization increased the flow of pot into their own states and required them to expend more resources to fight it.

The case was brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma, whose citizens were apparently receiving more contact highs than those legislators could countenance.

A SCOTUS High

POTUS

You will never convince us that Obama didn’t make a huge tactical error by not making a recess appointment when he had the chance. Be that as it may…the latest from the White House:

Today, I will announce the person whom I believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

As President, it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a Justice and one of the most important decisions that I — or any president — will make.

I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision. I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.

Please join me in the Rose Garden at 11:00am Eastern for my announcement.

This is a responsibility I do not take lightly. In considering several candidates, I held each to three principles that reflect the role the Supreme Court plays in our democracy.

First, a Justice should possess an independent mind, unimpeachable credentials, and an unquestionable mastery of law. There is no doubt this person will face complex legal questions, so it is imperative that he or she possess a rigorous intellect that will help provide clear answers.

Second, a Justice should recognize the limits of the judiciary’s role. With a commitment to impartial justice rather than any particular ideology, the next Supreme Court Justice will understand that the job is to interpret the law, not make law.

However, I know there will be cases before the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. In those cases, a Justice’s analysis will necessarily be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment.

Therefore, the third quality I looked for in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly-changing times. In my view, that’s an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.

Today at 11:00am Eastern, I’ll introduce you to the judge I believe meets all three of these standards.

I’m confident you’ll share my conviction that this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote.

In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job. I hope that our Senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee. That is what the Constitution dictates, and that’s what the American people expect and deserve from their leaders.

President Barack Obama

P.S. If you’re looking for the latest on my Supreme Court nominee and the confirmation process in the Senate, check out @SCOTUSnom on Twitter. You’ll find all the facts and up-to-date information there.

POTUS