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Section 2 After Section 5: Voting Rights And The Race To The Bottom, Ellen D. Katz Apr 2018

Section 2 After Section 5: Voting Rights And The Race To The Bottom, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Five years ago, Shelby County v. Holder released nine states and fifty-five smaller jurisdictions from the preclearance obligation set forth in section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). This obligation mandated that places with a history of discrimination in voting obtain federal approval—known as preclearance—before changing any electoral rule or procedure. Within hours of the Shelby County decision, jurisdictions began moving to reenact measures section 5 had specifically blocked. Others pressed forward with new rules that the VRA would have barred prior to Shelby County.


The Case For State Attorney General Enforcement Of The Voting Rights Act Against Local Governments, Perry Grossman Mar 2017

The Case For State Attorney General Enforcement Of The Voting Rights Act Against Local Governments, Perry Grossman

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The summer of 2016 showed that racial discrimination in voting is alive and well, as federal courts across the country struck down state statutes that disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, including voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting, and racially gerrymandered legislative districts. However, at the local level, discriminatory practices in the nation’s approximately 89,000 political subdivisions have gone largely uninvestigated and challenged. Recent conflicts between communities of color and law enforcement have highlighted the failure of local governments in places like Ferguson, Missouri to adequately represent the interests of minority voters. These failures of representation, which occur in ...


Justice Ginsburg's Umbrella, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2015

Justice Ginsburg's Umbrella, Ellen D. Katz

Book Chapters

Near the end of her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder, Justice Ginsburg suggested a simple analogy to illustrate why the regional protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) were still necessary. She wrote that “[t]hrowing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”


Enforcing The Fifteenth Amendment, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2015

Enforcing The Fifteenth Amendment, Ellen D. Katz

Book Chapters

This chapter examines efforts to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment in the period from United States v. Reese through Shelby County v. Holder. Reese and Shelby County expose the most rigorous stance the Court has employed to review congressional efforts to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, while the years in-between show Congress and the Court working more in tandem, at times displaying remarkable indifference to blatant violations of the Fifteenth Amendment, and elsewhere working cooperatively to help vindicate the Amendment’s promise. Defying simple explanation, this vacillation between cooperation and resistance captures the complex and deeply consequential way concerns about federal power ...


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 ...


Why Counting Votes Doesn't Add Up: A Response To Cox And Miles' Judging The Voting Rights Act, Ellen D. Katz, Anna Baldwin Jan 2008

Why Counting Votes Doesn't Add Up: A Response To Cox And Miles' Judging The Voting Rights Act, Ellen D. Katz, Anna Baldwin

Articles

In Judging the Voting Rights Act, Professors Adam B. Cox and Thomas J. Miles report that judges are more likely to find liability under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) when they are African American, appointed by a Democratic president, or sit on an appellate panel with a judge who is African American or a Democratic appointee. Cox and Miles posit that their findings “contrast” and “cast doubt” on much of the “conventional wisdom” about the Voting Rights Act, by which they mean the core findings we reported in Documenting Discrimination in Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 ...


Not Like The South? Regional Variation And Political Participation Through The Lens Of Section 2, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2007

Not Like The South? Regional Variation And Political Participation Through The Lens Of Section 2, Ellen D. Katz

Book Chapters

Congress voted last summer to reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Among the reauthorized provisions is the Section 5 preclearance process, which requires "covered" jurisdictions to obtain federal approval before implementing changes to their voting laws. It is widely assumed that the reauthorization of Section 5 will survive constitutional scrutiny only if the record Congress amassed to support the statute documents pervasive unconstitutional conduct in covered jurisdictions for which preclearance offers a remedy. This paper takes issue with that assumption, arguing that precedent requiring such a record for new congressional legislation enforcing civil rights ought not apply ...


The Politics Of Preclearance, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, Guy-Uriel E. Charles Jan 2007

The Politics Of Preclearance, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, Guy-Uriel E. Charles

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Essay examines recent charges of political motivation against the Department of Justice and its enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. These accusations appear well-deserved, on the strength of the Department's recent handling of the Texas redistricting submission and Georgia's voting identification requirement. This Essay reaches two conclusions. First, it is clear that Congress wished to secure its understanding of the Act into the future through its preclearance requirement. Many critics of the voting rights bill worried about the degree of discretion that the legislation accorded the Attorney General. Supporters worried as well, for this degree of discretion ...


The Power Of Observation: The Role Of Federal Observers Under The Voting Rights Act, James Thomas Tucker Jan 2007

The Power Of Observation: The Role Of Federal Observers Under The Voting Rights Act, James Thomas Tucker

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is one of the most successful civil rights laws ever enacted. Following its passage, the promise of the Fifteenth Amendment has become a reality for millions of Americans. Black voters in the South register to vote without being subjected to discriminatory tests or devices. Minority citizens can cast ballots free of intimidation and violence. Barriers posed by English-only elections have been removed for many language minority voters. Voters are permitted to receive assistance from the person of their choice. Federal observers play an indispensable role in serving as the eyes and ears of ...


Reviving The Right To Vote, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2007

Reviving The Right To Vote, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Losers in partisan districting battles have long challenged the resulting districting plans under seemingly unrelated legal doctrines. They have filed lawsuits alleging malapportionment, racial gerrymandering, and racial vote dilution, and they periodically prevail. Many election law scholars worry about these lawsuits, claiming that they needlessly "racialize" fundamentally political disputes, distort important legal doctrines designed for other purposes, and provide an inadequate remedy for a fundamentally distinct electoral problem. I am not convinced. This Article argues that the application of distinct doctrines to invalidate or diminish what are indisputably partisan gerrymanders is not necessarily problematic, and that the practice may well ...


Mission Accomplished?, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2007

Mission Accomplished?, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

My study of voting rights violations nationwide suggests that voting problems are more prevalent in places “covered” by the Act than elsewhere. Professor Persily’s careful and measured defense of the renewed statute posits that this evidence is the best available to support reauthorization. The evidence matters because if, as critics charge, the regional provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) are no longer needed, minority voters should confront fewer obstacles to political participation in places where additional federal safeguards protect minority interests than in places where these safeguards do not operate. In fact, minority voters confront more.


The End Of Preclearance As We Knew It: How The Supreme Court Transformed Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act, Peyton Mccrary, Christopher Seaman, Richard Valelly Jan 2006

The End Of Preclearance As We Knew It: How The Supreme Court Transformed Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act, Peyton Mccrary, Christopher Seaman, Richard Valelly

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Article’s analysis reveals that by the 1990s the intent, or purpose, prong of Section 5 had become the dominant basis for objections to discriminatory voting changes. During that decade an astonishing 43 percent of all objections were, according to this assessment, based on discriminatory purpose alone. Thus, a key issue for Congress in determining how to deal with the preclearance requirement of the Act due to expire in 2007-assuming it seeks to restore the protection of minority voting rights that existed before January 2000-is whether to revise the language of Section 5 so as to restore the long-accepted ...


Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt Jan 2006

Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt

Other Publications

The Voting Rights Initiative ("VRI") at the University of Michigan Law School was created during the winter of 2005 to help inform [...] the debates that led to this latest congressional reauthorization and the legal challenge to it that is certain to follow. A cooperative research venture involving 100 students working under faculty direction set out to produce a detailed portrait of litigation brought since 1982 under Section 2. This Report evaluates the results of that survey. The comprehensive data set may be found in a searchable form at http://www.votingreport.org or http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/votingrights. The ...


From Laredo To Fort Worth: Race, Politics And The Texas Redistricting Case, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2006

From Laredo To Fort Worth: Race, Politics And The Texas Redistricting Case, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

LULAC v. Perry held that Texas violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act when it displaced nearly 100,000 Latino residents from a congressional district in Laredo to protect the Republican incumbent they refused to support. At the same time, the Justices let stand the dismantling of a so-called “coalition” district in Fort Worth where African-American voters comprising a minority of the district’s population allegedly enjoyed effective control in deciding the district’s representative. Only Justice Kennedy supported the outcome in both Laredo and Fort Worth. His opinion marks the first time that he, or indeed a majority ...


Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt Dec 2005

Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt

Other Publications

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the most remarkable and consequential pieces of congressional legislation ever enacted. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("the VRA") targeted massive disfranchisement of African-American citizens in numerous Southern states. It imposed measures drastic in scope and extraordinary in effect. The VRA eliminated the use of literacy tests and other "devices" that Southern jurisdictions had long employed to prevent black residents from registering and voting. The VRA imposed on these jurisdictions onerous obligations to prove to federal officials that proposed changes to their electoral system would not discriminate against minority voters. Resistance ...


Not Enough Of A Minority?: Arab Americans And The Language Assistance Provisions (Section 203) Of The Voting Rights Act, Brenda Fathy Abdelall Jul 2005

Not Enough Of A Minority?: Arab Americans And The Language Assistance Provisions (Section 203) Of The Voting Rights Act, Brenda Fathy Abdelall

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

With the Voting Rights Act set to expire in 2007, debate has ensued regarding the protections it provides for minority groups. Section 203 of the Act protects language minorities, but under these protections, only four minority groups are afforded bilingual access to voting materials. This Note argues that the Act is imperative to the protection of minority voters, especially those belonging to a language minority group. This Note further argues that not only should the Voting Rights Act be renewed, but § 203 should be revised to include Arab Americans. The Note focuses on the Arab American community because it is ...


Federalism, Preclearance, And The Rehnquist Court, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2001

Federalism, Preclearance, And The Rehnquist Court, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Lopez v. Monterey County is an odd decision. Justice O'Connor's majority opinion easily upholds the constitutionality of a broad construction of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in language reminiscent of the Warren Court. Acknowledging the "substantial 'federalism costs" resulting from the VRA's "federal intrusion into sensitive areas of state and local policymaking," Lopez recognizes that the Reconstruction Amendments "contemplate" this encroachment into realms "traditionally reserved to the States." Justice O'Connor affirms as constitutionally permissible the infringement that the section 5 preclearance process "by its nature" effects on state sovereignty, and applies section 5 ...


Vote Dilution And The Census Undercount: A State-By-State Remedy, Christopher M. Taylor Feb 1996

Vote Dilution And The Census Undercount: A State-By-State Remedy, Christopher M. Taylor

Michigan Law Review

This Note argues that groups seeking to correct underrepresentation caused by the differential undercount do not have standing to sue the Secretary of Commerce but that they can sue their state governments in an effort to force them to use the best population data available in the construction of congressional districts. Part I details the deeply rooted character of the differential undercount, describes statistical means that could have been employed to adjust the 1990 census, and demonstrates that the adjusted count surpasses the official census as an accurate representation of the true population. Part II examines recent litigation that has ...


Drawing The Line On Incumbency Protection, Sally Dworak-Fisher Jan 1996

Drawing The Line On Incumbency Protection, Sally Dworak-Fisher

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

In an effort to fill the void in scholarly debate and legal analysis, this Note evaluates incumbency protection as a redistricting principle and analyzes its treatment in various court opinions. After arguing that protecting incumbents is not a legitimate redistricting objective, this Note illustrates how the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have been reluctant to pass judgment on incumbency protection. This Note contrasts this "hands-off" approach to the strict scrutiny afforded claims of racial gerrymandering and argues that such an approach enables incumbents to manipulate the Voting Rights Act for their self-interest. Additionally, this Note argues that incumbents, a ...


Can Minority Voting Rights Survive Miller V. Johnson, Laughlin Mcdonald Jan 1996

Can Minority Voting Rights Survive Miller V. Johnson, Laughlin Mcdonald

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Part I of this Article reviews the congressional redistricting process in Georgia, particularly the State's efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act and avoid the dilution of minority voting strength. Part II describes the plaintiffs' constitutional challenge and the State's asserted defenses, or more accurately its lack of asserted defenses. Part III argues that the decision of the majority rests upon wholly false assumptions about the colorblindness of the political process and the harm caused by remedial redistricting. Part IV notes the expansion in Miller of the cause of action first recognized in Shaw v. Reno. Part ...


The Empitness Of Majority Rule, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer Jan 1996

The Empitness Of Majority Rule, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

In this Note, the author steers away from the current substantive debates surrounding the Voting Rights Act, its various amendments, and the "correct" way of interpreting its intended benefits and constitutionally accepted mandates. Instead, indirectly joins the many "radical" voices advocating for a departure from the majoritarian stranglehold-the decision-making process where fifty percent plus one of the voting population carry the election. The author does so not by suggesting yet another mechanism by which representatives may be elected, but by critiquing the perceived underpinnings of our democratic system of government. The author does not profess to delineate a definitive interpretation ...


Democracy And Dis-Appointment, Lani Guinier May 1995

Democracy And Dis-Appointment, Lani Guinier

Michigan Law Review

A Review of The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy


Expressive Harms, "Bizarre Districts," And Voting Rights: Evaluating Election-District Appearances After Shaw V. Reno, Richard H. Pildes, Richard G. Niemi Dec 1993

Expressive Harms, "Bizarre Districts," And Voting Rights: Evaluating Election-District Appearances After Shaw V. Reno, Richard H. Pildes, Richard G. Niemi

Michigan Law Review

This article attempts to define the constitutional principles that characterize Shaw and to suggest how those principles might be applied in a consistent, meaningful way. Part I, in which we argue that Shaw must be understood to rest on a distinctive conception of the kinds of harms against which the Constitution protects, is the theoretical heart of the article. We call these expressive harms, as opposed to more familiar, material harms. In Part II, we briefly survey the history of previous, largely unsuccessful, efforts in other legal contexts to give principled content to these kinds of harms in redistricting. Parts ...


Race And Redistricting: Drawing Constitutional Lines After Shaw V. Reno, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Samuel Isaacharoff Dec 1993

Race And Redistricting: Drawing Constitutional Lines After Shaw V. Reno, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Samuel Isaacharoff

Michigan Law Review

Shaw is no doubt a major opinion that attempts to define limits on the use of racial or ethnic classifications in electoral redistricting. The main thrust of this article is to assess the critical question of whether Shaw renders unconstitutional the type of race-conscious realignment of electoral configurations that have given meaning to the voting rights reforms of the past two decades. In making this assessment, we try to ascertain exactly how the Court has limited the use of race-conscious districting, and we try to determine whether there is any jurisprudential coherence to the Court's latest confrontation with the ...


Ugly: An Inquiry Into The Problem Of Racial Gerrymandering Under The Voting Rights Act, Daniel D. Polsby, Robert D. Popper Dec 1993

Ugly: An Inquiry Into The Problem Of Racial Gerrymandering Under The Voting Rights Act, Daniel D. Polsby, Robert D. Popper

Michigan Law Review

In the discussion that follows, we focus on the case of congressional districting rather than on districting in general. Although we proceed in this manner for the sake of clarity, it is also true that no single, all-purpose normative theory of electoral mechanics will cover every case of democratic representation, from county commissions to mosquito control districts to sovereign legislatures. We do not claim that one can generalize our argument to every sort of election to which the VRA might apply. Yet we think our argument does approximate a theory of general application.


Voting Rights Act Section 2: Racially Polarized Voting And The Minority Community's Representative Of Choice, Evelyn Elayne Shockley Feb 1991

Voting Rights Act Section 2: Racially Polarized Voting And The Minority Community's Representative Of Choice, Evelyn Elayne Shockley

Michigan Law Review

A much needed congressional effort to give substance to African-American suffrage resulted in the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (the Act). Although the fifteenth amendment gave African-American men the right to vote in 1870, almost a hundred years later they were still largely unable to exercise the right. This condition did not result from apathy on the part of African-American voters, but rather from their inability to overcome barriers set up by white racists. Practices whites instituted, such as "[l]iteracy and 'understanding' tests, poll taxes, the white primary, intimidation, [and] violence," prevented African-Americans from realizing their ...


Racial Vote Dilution In Multimember Districts: The Constitutional Standard After Washington V. Davis, Michigan Law Review Mar 1978

Racial Vote Dilution In Multimember Districts: The Constitutional Standard After Washington V. Davis, Michigan Law Review

Michigan Law Review

This Note argues that the effect-oriented standard for multimember-district vote-dilution claims is unaffected by the Washington intent requirement. Part I outlines the manner in which multimember districts can dilute minority voting strength. After summarizing Washington's intent requirement, Part II surveys the post-Washington vote dilution cases and demonstrates that the applicability of the intent standard to vote dilution claims is uncertain. Part III first suggests two ways in which White and Washington may be reconciled. That section then argues that White is unaffected by the intent requirement because the standard for vote dilution fits within a fundamental interest analysis ...


Proportional Representation By Race: The Constitutionality Of Benign Racial Redistricting, Michigan Law Review Jan 1976

Proportional Representation By Race: The Constitutionality Of Benign Racial Redistricting, Michigan Law Review

Michigan Law Review

Wilson raises two questions that are basic to the use of "benign" racial classifications in drawing legislative districts. First, is there a constitutional right to proportional representation and, second, if there is no such right, are there circumstances under which a scheme devised to provide proportional representation is constitutionally permissible. This Note will demonstrate that, while the Supreme Court recognizes the constitutional right of each individual to participate on an equal basis in the community's political process and to enjoy an undiluted vote, it denies any constitutional right of groups to proportional political representation. It will then show that ...


Effective Representation And Multimember Districts, Michigan Law Review Aug 1970

Effective Representation And Multimember Districts, Michigan Law Review

Michigan Law Review

The Supreme Court has not decided a case involving an assertion of the claim that a multimember district denies the right of effective representation since Fortson and Burns. However, there have been several subsequent challenges in lower courts to the validity of such districts, and these challenges have generally failed because the factual evidence did not demonstrate conclusively that the voting strength of a legally cognizable racial or political element had been minimized or cancelled. In Chavis v. Whitcomb, however, a three-judge federal district court in Indiana found that the plaintiff had presented sufficient factual evidence to sustain his claim ...