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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.


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 ...


Dismissing Deterrence, Ellen D. Katz Apr 2014

Dismissing Deterrence, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The proposed Voting Rights Amendment Act of 20144 (VRAA)[...]’s new criteria defining when jurisdictions become subject to preclearance are acutely responsive to the concerns articulated in Shelby County[ v. Holder]. The result is a preclearance regime that, if enacted, would operate in fewer places and demand less from those it regulates. This new regime, however, would not only be more targeted and less powerful, but, curiously, more vulnerable to challenge. In fact, the regime would be more vulnerable precisely because it is so responsive to Shelby County. Some background will help us see why.


Universalism And Civil Rights (With Notes On Voting Rights After Shelby), Samuel R. Bagenstos Jan 2014

Universalism And Civil Rights (With Notes On Voting Rights After Shelby), Samuel R. Bagenstos

Articles

After the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights activists proposed a variety of legislative responses. Some proposals sought to move beyond measures that targeted voting discrimination based on race or ethnicity. They instead sought to eliminate certain problematic practices that place too great a burden on voting generally. Responses like these are universalist, because rather than seeking to protect any particular group against discrimination, they formally provide uniform protections to everyone. As Bruce Ackerman shows, voting rights activists confronted a similar set of questions—and at least some of them opted for a universalist approach ...


What Was Wrong With The Record?, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

What Was Wrong With The Record?, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Shelby County v. Holder offers three reasons for why the record Congress amassed to support the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was legally insufficient to justify the statute's continued regional application: (1) the problems Congress documented in 2006 were not as severe as those that prompted it to craft the regime in 1965; (2) these problems did not lead Congress to alter the statute's pre-existing coverage formula; and (3) these problems did not exclusively involve voter registration and the casting of ballots.


South Carolina's 'Evolutionary Process', Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

South Carolina's 'Evolutionary Process', Ellen D. Katz

Articles

When Congress first enacted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965, public officials in South Carolina led the charge to scrap the new statute. Their brief to the Supreme Court of the United States described the VRA as an “unjustified” and “arbitrary” affront to the “Equality of Statehood” principle, and a “usurp[ation]” of the State’s legislative and executive functions. Not surprisingly, the Warren Court was unpersuaded and opted instead to endorse broad congressional power to craft “inventive” remedies to address systematic racial discrimination and to “shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of evil to ...


Shelby County V. Holder: Why Section 2 Matters, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

Shelby County V. Holder: Why Section 2 Matters, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Editor’s Note: Professor Ellen D. Katz writes and teaches about election law, civil rights and remedies, and equal protection. She and the Voting Rights Initiative at Michigan Law filed a brief as amicus curiae in Shelby County v. Holder, on which the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments February 27. Here, she examines why Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bears consideration in the case, which involves a challenge to Section 5 of the act.


A Cure Worse Than The Disease?, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

A Cure Worse Than The Disease?, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The pending challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act insists the statute is no longer necessary. Should the Supreme Court agree, its ruling is likely to reflect the belief that section 5 is not only obsolete but that its requirements do more harm today than the condition it was crafted to address. In this Essay, Professor Ellen D. Katz examines why the Court might liken section 5 to a destructive treatment and why reliance on that analogy in the pending case threatens to leave the underlying condition unaddressed and Congress without the power to address it.


On Overreaching, Or Why Rick Perry May Save The Voting Rights Act But Destroy Affirmative Action, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2012

On Overreaching, Or Why Rick Perry May Save The Voting Rights Act But Destroy Affirmative Action, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The State of Texas is presently staking out two positions that are not typically pursued by a single litigant. On the one hand, Texas is seeking the invalidation of the Voting Rights Act, and, on the other, the State is now defending the validity of the expansive race-based affirmative action policy it uses at its flagship university. This Essay presses the claim that Texas has increased the chance it will lose in bothTexas v. Holder andFisher v. University of Texas because it has opted to stake out markedly extreme positions in each. I argue that Texas would be more likely ...


Poll Workers, Election Administration, And The Problem Of Implicit Bias, Antony Page, Michael J. Pitts Jan 2009

Poll Workers, Election Administration, And The Problem Of Implicit Bias, Antony Page, Michael J. Pitts

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Racial bias in election administration-more specifically, in the interaction between poll workers and voters at a polling place on election day-may be implicit, or unconscious. Indeed, the operation of a polling place may present an "optimal" setting for unconscious racial bias. Poll workers sometimes have legal discretion to decide whether or not a prospective voter gets to cast a ballot, and they operate in an environment where they may have to make quick decisions, based on little information, with few concrete incentives for accuracy, and with little opportunity to learn from their errors. Even where the letter of the law ...


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 ...


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.


Congressional Power To Extend Preclearance: A Response To Professor Karlan, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2007

Congressional Power To Extend Preclearance: A Response To Professor Karlan, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Is the core provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional? Many people now think that the Act's preclearance requirement is invalid, but Professor Karlan is not among them. In part, that is because she is not convinced the problems that originally motivated Congress to impose preclearance have been fully remedied. Professor Karlan points out the many ways section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) shapes behavior in the jurisdictions subject to the statute--not just by blocking discriminatory electoral changes, but also by influencing less transparent conduct by various political actors operating in these regions. Do not be so ...


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 ...


Resurrecting The White Primary, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2004

Resurrecting The White Primary, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

An unprecedented number of noncompetitive or "safe" electoral districts operate in the United States today. Noncompetitive districts elect officials with more extreme political views and foster more polarized legislatures than do competitive districts. More fundamentally, they inhibit meaningful political participation. That is because participating in an election that is decided before it begins is an empty exercise. Voting in a competitive election is not, even though a single vote will virtually never decide the outcome. What a competitive election offers to each voter is the opportunity to be the coveted swing voter, the one whose support candidates most seek, the ...


Reinforcing Representation: Enforcing The Fourteenth And Fifteenth Amendments In The Rehnquist And Waite Courts, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2003

Reinforcing Representation: Enforcing The Fourteenth And Fifteenth Amendments In The Rehnquist And Waite Courts, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

A large body of academic scholarship accuses the Rehnquist Court of "undoing the Second Reconstruction," just as the Waite Court has long been blamed for facilitating the end of the First. This critique captures much of what is meant by those generally charging the Rehnquist Court with "conservative judicial activism." It posits that the present Court wants to dismantle decades' worth of federal antidiscrimination measures that are aimed at the "reconstruction" of public and private relationships at the local level. It sees the Waite Court as having similarly nullified the civil-rights initiatives enacted by Congress following the Civil War to ...


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 ...


Lowering The Preclearance Hurdle Reno V. Bossier Parish School Board, 120 S. Ct. 866 (2000), Alaina C. Beverly Jan 2000

Lowering The Preclearance Hurdle Reno V. Bossier Parish School Board, 120 S. Ct. 866 (2000), Alaina C. Beverly

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Case Note examines a recent Supreme Court decision that collapses the purpose and effect prongs of Section 5, effectively lowering the barrier to preclearance for covered jurisdictions. In Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board II the Court determined that Section 5 disallows only voting plans that are enacted with a retrogressive purpose (i.e., with the purpose to "worsen" the position of minority voters). The Court held that Section 5 does not prohibit preclearance of a plan enacted with a discriminatory purpose but without a retrogressive effect. Evidence of a Section 2 violation alone will not be enough to ...


Race And The Right To Vote After Rice V. Cayetano, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2000

Race And The Right To Vote After Rice V. Cayetano, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Last Term, the Supreme Court relied on Gomillion [v. Lightfoot] to hold that Hawaii, like Alabama before it, had segregated voters by race in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. The state law at issue in Rice v. Cayetano provided that only "Hawaiians" could vote for the trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs ("OHA"), a public agency that oversees programs designed to benefit the State's native people. Rice holds that restricting the OHA electorate to descendants of the 1778 inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands embodied a racial classification that effectively "fenc[ed] out whole classes of ...ci ...


Identifying The Harm In Racial Gerrymandering Claims, Samuel Issacharoff, Thomas C. Goldstein Jan 1996

Identifying The Harm In Racial Gerrymandering Claims, Samuel Issacharoff, Thomas C. Goldstein

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Article proceeds along two lines. First, it reviews the theories of harm set forth in the Justices' various opinions, i.e., the articulated risks to individual rights that may or may not be presented by racial gerrymandering. What is learned from this survey is that Shaw and its progeny serve different purposes for different members of the Court. Four members of the Shaw, Miller v. Johnson, and United States v. Hays majorities-Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas- are far more concerned with "race" than "gerrymandering." In particular, they consider all race-based government classifications to be ...


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 ...