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University of Michigan Law School

Election Law

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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.


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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...