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Full-Text Articles in Law

Judicial Diversity After Shelby County V. Holder, William Roth Sep 2014

Judicial Diversity After Shelby County V. Holder, William Roth

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In 2014, voters in ten of the fifteen states previously covered by the Voting Rights Act ("VRA") preclearance formula-including six of the nine states covered in their entirety-will go to the polls to elect or retain state supreme court justices. Yet despite the endemic underrepresentation of minorities on state benches and the judiciary's traditional role in fighting discrimination, scholars have seemingly paid little attention to how Shelby County v. Holder's suspension of the coverage formula in section 4(b) has left racial minorities vulnerable to retrogressive changes to judicial-election laws. The first election year following Shelby County thus ...


Mccain’S Citizenship And Constitutional Method, Peter J. Spiro Jan 2008

Mccain’S Citizenship And Constitutional Method, Peter J. Spiro

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Many things may obstruct John McCain’s path to the White House, but his citizenship status is not among them. The question of his eligibility, given the circumstances of his birth, has already been resolved. That outcome has been produced by actors outside the courts. . . . If non-judicial actors—including Congress, editorialists, leading members of the bar, and the People themselves—manage to generate a constitutional consensus, there isn’t much that the courts can do about it. In cases such as this one, at least, that seems to be an acceptable method of constitutional determination.


Why John Mccain Was A Citizen At Birth, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2008

Why John Mccain Was A Citizen At Birth, Stephen E. Sachs

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Senator John McCain was born a citizen in 1936. Professor Gabriel J. Chin challenges this view in this Symposium, arguing that McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone (while his father was stationed there by the Navy) fell into a loophole in the governing statute. The best historical evidence, however, suggests that this loophole is an illusion and that McCain is a “natural born Citizen” eligible to be president.


Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2008

Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The enigmatic phrase “natural born citizen” poses a series of problems for contemporary originalism. New Originalists, like Justice Scalia, focus on the original public meaning of the constitutional text. The notion of a “natural born citizen” was likely a term of art derived from the idea of a “natural born subject” in English law—a category that most likely did not extend to persons, like Senator McCain, who were born outside sovereign territory. But the Constitution speaks of “citizens” and not “subjects,” introducing uncertainties and ambiguities that might (or might not) make McCain eligible for the presidency.


Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun Jan 2008

Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The National Popular Vote (“NPV”) movement is designed to eliminate the federalist impact of the Electoral College without amending the Constitution. By fashioning an interstate compact to grant participating states’ electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, NPV proponents suppose they can induce states to forfeit their electoral “weights” and replace the current, federalist election process with a fully majoritarian one. But by leaving the Electoral College in place, the NPV movement is setting itself up for a double pushback: first, in the form of immediate legal resistance, and second, through states’ long-term involvement in a meaningfully ...


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Three Proposals To Introduce The Nationwide Popular Vote In U.S. Presidential Elections, Alexander S. Belenky Jan 2008

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Three Proposals To Introduce The Nationwide Popular Vote In U.S. Presidential Elections, Alexander S. Belenky

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The idea of reforming the Electoral College recurs each time a presidential election nears. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of respondents support abolishing the Electoral College in favor of direct popular election of the President. Yet, it is doubtful whether these polls really imply that such a move would be best for the country. Despite the seeming simplicity of direct popular presidential election, its introduction in the United States—a country in which the clear separation of powers between the states and the federal government has existed for more than two centuries—would have hidden drawbacks that the media ...


Equal Voice By Half Measures, John Mark Hansen Jan 2008

Equal Voice By Half Measures, John Mark Hansen

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In democratic theory, the ballot is the most perfect expression of the democratic commitment to the moral equality of persons. Every citizen, whether old or young, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple, enjoys the same endowment in an election: a single vote. The ballot not only gives citizens their voice in government, it also makes their voices equal. In practice, however, democracies have erected all sorts of impediments to the ideal of equal voice, such as restrictions on suffrage, legislative malapportionments, and discriminatory gerrymanders. Among the most egregious impediments, however, are surely the systems of indirect election purported to filter ...


Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch Jan 2008

Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The unfairness of the proposed California Presidential Election Reform Act is obvious: in a close election, the Act virtually assures that California’s fifty-five electoral votes, which would be expected to go entirely to the Democratic presidential candidate under the traditional statewide-winner-takeall system, will instead be split, with more than a third of them going to the Republican candidate. Implementing this “reform” in the nation’s largest Democratic state, but not in any of the large Republican states (like Texas), is roughly the equivalent of handing over to the Republicans the state of Illinois. What is less obvious is that ...


Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk Jan 2008

Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The genius of our United States Constitution is the delicate balance our Founding Fathers struck between empowering a national government and preserving the inherent sovereignty of individual states. Any proposed governmental reform that would interfere with that balance should be looked upon skeptically. Recent proposals to do away with the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote for President deserve such careful examination. But that does not mean that reform is out of reach. We have only to look to the Constitution itself to find that the answer lies in the self-interest of each state. I am an ...


An Unsafe Harbor: Recounts, Contests, And The Electoral College, Daniel P. Tokaji Jan 2008

An Unsafe Harbor: Recounts, Contests, And The Electoral College, Daniel P. Tokaji

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Although recent proposals for modifying the Electoral College process have focused mainly on how electoral votes are assigned, another problem with the current system has received less attention: the timetable for resolving post-election disputes over electors. Under 3 U.S.C. § 5, the so-called “safe harbor” provision of federal law, a state can be assured of having its chosen slate of electors recognized only if post-election disputes are resolved within thirty-five days of Election Day. As a practical matter, this provision doesn’t provide states enough time to complete recount and contest proceedings in the event of a close, contested ...


The Justiciability Of Eligibility: May Courts Decide Who Can Be President?, Daniel P. Tokaji Jan 2008

The Justiciability Of Eligibility: May Courts Decide Who Can Be President?, Daniel P. Tokaji

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The 2008 election cycle has been a busy one for legal disputes over the qualifications of presidential candidates, with federal cases having been filed to challenge both major candidates’ eligibility under the “natural born Citizen” clause. These cases unquestionably present vital questions of constitutional law, touching on matters of self-evident national importance. It is doubtful, however, that they are justiciable in lower federal courts. Standing requirements and the political question doctrine make it unlikely that a federal court will reach the merits in cases of the type filed to date.


Why Senator John Mccain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months And A Hundred Yards Short Of Citizenship, Gabriel Chin Jan 2008

Why Senator John Mccain Cannot Be President: Eleven Months And A Hundred Yards Short Of Citizenship, Gabriel Chin

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Article II, section 1 of the Constitution provides that “No Person except a natural born Citizen . . . shall be eligible to the Office of President . . . .” A person must be a citizen at birth to be a natural born citizen. Senator McCain was born in the Canal Zone in 1936. Although he is now a U.S. citizen, the law in effect in 1936 did not grant him citizenship at birth. Because he was not born a citizen, he is not eligible to the office of president.


Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark Jan 2008

Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Electoral College is a relic from another time and is in tension with the modern constitutional command of “one person, one vote.” But the Electoral College is, nevertheless, ensconced in our Constitution—and, as a result, we would need to amend the document to alter or abolish it from our political fabric. Still, some states are toying with state-based Electoral College reforms. Thus, irrespective of whether voters in those states favor the abolition of the Electoral College through a federal constitutional amendment, they must critically examine the democratic merits of these statebased reform options. Categorically rejecting all state-based reform ...


Cultural Compactness, Daniel R. Oritz Jan 2006

Cultural Compactness, Daniel R. Oritz

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s opinions in LULAC v. Perry, the Texas redistricting case, confounded expectation. While many believed that the Court would develop the law governing partisan gerrymandering in one direction or another, it did not. As exactly before, such claims are justiciable but there is no law to govern them. In other words, the courthouse doors are open, but until some plaintiff advances a novel theory persuasive to five justices, no claims will succeed. On the other hand, few expected the Court to make any major changes to doctrine under the Voting Rights Act and Shaw v. Reno. But ...


This Way To The Egress And Other Reflections On Partisan Gerrymandering Claims In Light Of Lulac V. Perry, Bernard Grofman Jan 2006

This Way To The Egress And Other Reflections On Partisan Gerrymandering Claims In Light Of Lulac V. Perry, Bernard Grofman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

After winning control of both houses of the legislature and the governorship, Texas Republicans eventually succeeded in redistricting Texas’s congressional seats in 2003, replacing a 2001 court-drawn plan. LULAC v. Perry reviewed a number of challenges to that second redistricting. The decision deals with a multiplicity of issues, including, most importantly, the standard for violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the nature of tests for unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. While there are some clear holdings in the case, several of them reflect different combinations of Justices in the majority and, since there are six different opinions ...


Anthony Kennedy's Blind Quest, Scot Powe, Steve Bickerstaff Jan 2006

Anthony Kennedy's Blind Quest, Scot Powe, Steve Bickerstaff

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] v. Perry embraced, in the context of partisan gerrymandering, Felix Frankfurter’s conclusion that the Supreme Court should not enter the political thicket of legislative apportionment. Two years earlier in Vieth v. Jubelirer, the Court split 4–1–4 on the justiciability of partisan gerrymandering. O’Conner and the three conservatives held it was nonjusticiable. Each of the four moderate liberals offered a test showing it was justiciable. Kennedy dissented from the conservatives while simultaneously rejecting each of the four tests offered. He announced he was waiting for a better test. When far ...


Lulac On Partisan Gerrymandering: Some Clarity, More Uncertainty, Richard Briffault Jan 2006

Lulac On Partisan Gerrymandering: Some Clarity, More Uncertainty, Richard Briffault

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In League of United Latin American Citizens (“LULAC”) v. Perry, the Supreme Court, for the second time in two years, agonized over partisan gerrymandering. LULAC’s rejection of a Democratic challenge to the Texas legislature’s mid-decade pro-Republican congressional redistricting resembles the Court’s 2004 dismissal of a Democratic gerrymandering suit against Pennsylvania’s pro-Republican congressional redistricting plan in Vieth v. Jubelirer. As in Vieth, the Justices wrangled over justiciability, the substantive standard for assessing the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering claims, and the interplay of justiciability and constitutionality. As in Vieth, the Court was highly fragmented: Vieth produced five separate ...


Self-Defeating Minimalism, Adam B. Cox Jan 2006

Self-Defeating Minimalism, Adam B. Cox

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Everyone wants a piece of Tom DeLay. The former majority leader is under investigation and indictment, and even the Supreme Court threatened last Term to undo one of his signal achievements. In 2003, DeLay orchestrated a highly unusual mid-decade revision of Texas’s congressional map. The revised map was a boon to Republicans, shifting the Texas congressional delegation from 15 Republicans and 17 Democrats to 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The map was attacked as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear those challenges in LULAC v. Perry ...


Strict In Theory, Loopy In Fact, Nathaniel Persily Jan 2006

Strict In Theory, Loopy In Fact, Nathaniel Persily

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Most Supreme Court-watchers find the decision in LULAC v. Perry notable for the ground it breaks concerning Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the ground it refuses to break on the topic of partisan gerrymandering. I tend to think the Court’s patchwork application of Section 2 to strike down a district on vote dilution grounds is not all that dramatic, nor is its resolution of the partisan gerrymandering claims all that surprising. The truly unprecedented development in the case for me was Justice Scalia’s vote to uphold what he considered a racial classification under the Equal ...