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US Supreme Court vacates Alabama's win on redistricting plan, remands for new proceedings
The New York Times reports: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with black and Democratic lawmakers in Alabama who said the State Legislature had relied too heavily on race in its 2012 state redistricting by maintaining high concentrations of black voters in some districts.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court?s four more liberal members to form a majority.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, said a lower court had erred in considering the case on a statewide basis rather than district by district. He added that the lower court had placed too much emphasis on making sure that districts had equal populations and had been "too mechanical" in maintaining existing percentages of black voters.
The Supreme Court vacated the lower court's ruling and sent the two consolidated cases -- Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, No. 13-895, and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, No. 13-1138 -- back to it for reconsideration.
Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law at the University of California, Irvine, said Wednesday's decision might represent only a short-term victory for the plaintiffs.
"It seems likely on remand that at least some of Alabama's districts will be found to be racial gerrymanders," he wrote in a blog post. "This means that some of these districts will have to be redrawn to 'unpack' some minority voters from these districts."
"But do not be surprised," he continued, "if Alabama pre-empts the lawsuit by drawing new districts which are less racially conscious but still constitute a partisan gerrymander which helps the Republicans have greater control over the Alabama legislative districts." --Supreme Court Rules Against Alabama in Redistricting Case - NYTimes.com
Disclosure: I am one of the counsel for the prevailing Alabama Legislative Black Caucus in one of the two consolidated cases. James U. Blacksher (of Birmingham) is lead counsel, Eric Schnapper (U of Washington Law School) argued in the Supreme Court, and UW Clemon (of Birmingham) is also on the team.
Prof. Rick Hasen's analysis of the case is here.
Roundup of stories on Alabama redistricting argument
Thanks to Rick Hasen for collecting these.
Disclosure: I am one of the counsel for the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus plaintiffs.
Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, preview
Rick Hasen has written a preview of a case on which I am one of the counsel for the petitioners.
The Supreme Court has long ignored Justice Felix Frankfurter's warning to stay out of the political thicket. It regularly hears challenges to redistricting cases (not to mention lots of other types of election cases), raising issues from the one-person, one-vote rule to vote dilution under the Voting Rights Act, to racial and partisan gerrymandering claims. The Court's decision to hear a part of a challenge to Alabama's state legislative redistricting plan enacted after the 2010 census (in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, set for argument on November 12) brings all of these issues together in a seemingly technical but high-stakes case, showing the artificiality of separating issues of race and party in redistricting, featuring a bold role reversal in political parties' use of racial gerrymandering claims, and offering a surprising new threat to the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. - Argument preview: Racial gerrymandering, partisan politics, and the future of the Voting Rights Act : SCOTUSblog
Co-author, The USERRA Manual (Thompson West, annual editions since 2008) (with Kathryn Piscitelli)
Co-author, "Job Rights of Employees who Serve in the Military: USERRA Rights and Obligations," ATLA Docket (Ark. Trial Lawyers Ass'n), Spring 2008 (with Mary Dryovage and Kathryn S. Piscitelli) [This article has been published in two AAJ newsletters -- Employment Rights Section and Federal Tort and Military Advocacy Section]
Author, “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” “Right to Vote,” “Reynolds v. Sims,” in Encyclopedia of American Law (D. Schultz, ed.) (2002)
Author, “A Simple Agenda for Election Reform,” 50 The National Voter (2001)
Co-author, “Is There a Constitutional Right to Vote and Be Represented? The Case of the District of Columbia,” 48 Am. U. L. Rev. (1999) (edited transcript of conference session)
Co-author, “Alternative Electoral Systems as Voting Rights Remedies,” 18 FEC Journal of Election Administration (1997)
Co-author, “One Person, Seven Votes: The Cumulative Voting Experience in Chilton County, Alabama,” in Affirmative Action and Representation: Shaw v. Reno and the Future of Voting Rights (1997)
Co-author, “Alternative Voting: How it Works,” Voting Rights Review (Spring 1995) [HTML]
Co-author, “Cumulative Voting as a Remedy in Voting Rights Cases,” 84 National Civic Review (1995)
Author, “Alabama,” in The Quiet Revolution: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act in the South, 1965-1990 (1994)
Author, “Symposium: The Supreme Court, Racial Politics, and the Right to Vote: Shaw v. Reno and the Future of the Voting Rights Act,” 44 Am. U. L. Rev. (1994) (edited transcript of conference)
Author, “Cumulative and Limited Voting in Alabama,” in United States Electoral Systems: Their Impact on Minorities and Women (1992)
Author, “The Hunting of the Gerrymander”, 38 UCLA L. Rev. (1991) (review of Political Gerrymandering and the Courts)
Author, “Voluntary Constituencies: Modified At-Large Voting As A Remedy For Minority Vote Dilution In Judicial Elections,” 9 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. (1991)
Author, “Alternatives to Single-Member Districts,” in Davidson and Grofman, eds., Minority Vote Dilution (1984)
Author, "Election Reform Bill Will Add Uniformity to U.S. Voting System," op-ed piece in Birmingham News, 20 October 2002
Author, "State must consider what-ifs in revising election laws," op-ed piece in Birmingham News, 17 November 2002
My Cases: Redistricting
Gustafson v. Johns, 434 F.Supp.2d 1246 (S.D. Ala. 2006), aff'd 2007 WL 63999 (11th Cir. 2007) – represented legislative leadership defending against Republican challenge to legislative redistricting as partisan gerrymander; case dismissed after trial because of res judicata (claim preclusion)
Arvizu v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Case No. CV2002-004882 (Superior Court, Maricopa County, AZ) –challenge to competitiveness of congressional districts
Dailey v. DeFazio, Civil Action No. 01-1911 (W.D. Penn. 2002) – defense of Allegheny County Council’s redistricting plan against Republican Party claims of violation of Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, and violations of state law
Burton v. Hobbie, 543 F.Supp. 235 (M.D. Ala. 1982) (3_judge court) (interim injunction), aff'd 459 US 961 (1982); 561 F.Supp. 1029 (1983) — reapportionment of Alabama Legislature, raising deficiencies under federal and state constitution
Rice v. Sinkfield, 732 So.2d 993 (Ala. 1998) — white voters’ request for modification of consent judgment adopting legislative redistricting plan was moot because next legislative election would be held after Census 2000 results were published
Rice v. Smith, 988 F.Supp. 1437 (M.D. Ala. 1998); Thompson v. Smith, 52 F.Supp.2d 1364 (M.D. Ala. 1999); Kelley v. Bennett, 96 F.Supp.2d 1301 (M.D. Ala. 2000), vac. & rem. sub nom. Sinkfield v. Kelley, 531 U.S. 28 (2000) – defense of Alabama legislative districts against claim of racial gerrymandering [this is a continuation of the state court case of Rice v. Sinkfield]
Wesch v. Folsom, 6 F.3d 1465, 1472 (11th Cir. 1993), cert. denied 510 U.S. 1046 (1994) – Alabama congressional plan
Brooks v. Hobbie, 631 So.2d 883 (Ala. 1993) – on certified question, Alabama Supreme Court held that state trial courts do have jurisdiction to hear redistricting suits
Race and Election Reform, June 2001, 12 pages, [PDF]
A summary of the Voting Rights Act, 4 pages, [Word format]
Bailout under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 5 pages, [PDF]
Federal Restrictions on State and Local Campaigns, Political Groups and Individuals, December 2002, 27 pages [PDF]
Candidate Compliance with the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, February 2003, 4 pages [PDF]
Free and Fair Elections: A Quick Comparison on Election Administration in Florida and Bosnia, 17 pages, conference paper, early 2002, [PDF]
Speaking Engagements -- past
Mr. Still has been a guest lecturer on the history of voting rights litigation and on election methods at the Georgetown University Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law, Washington and Lee University (undergraduate and School of Law), Cumberland Law School, Birmingham-Southern College, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Pomona College, and University of Massachusetts at Boston.
He has also been a panelist or speaker at meetings of the State Conference of NAACP Branches in Alabama (1998), South Carolina (1999), North Carolina (1999), Florida (1999, 2000), Mississippi (1998), and Tennessee (1998); the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (1997); the Southeast Regional NAACP Annual Convention (1998); the Voting Rights Conference of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (1999); American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice (1999); the National Conference of State Legislators (1999); the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (2000); the National Election Standards Task Force of the National Association of Secretaries of State (2000); the Congressional Black Associates (2001); the National Association of Counties (2001); the National Association of County Civil Attorneys (2001 and 2002); and the International Municipal Lawyers Association (2001 and 2002); Women in Politics Leadership Institute, University of Alabama (2003); Center for Voting and Democracy, “Training the Trainers” workshop (Atlanta, Georgia) (2003); Alabama Democratic Confernece (2005).
He has been a panelist at several annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the XIIIth World Congress of the International Political Science Association, an annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, and a conference at the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (at SUNY Buffalo).
Mr. Still has given numerous continuing legal education programs on Supreme Court cases, expert witnesses, federal jurisdiction, and the rights of public employees. He spoke at the Election Law & Litigation program of Fulcrum Information Services, Inc. (2001); the NELA-Georgia CLE conference on “Using the ’Class of One’ Equal Protection Theory in Public Employment Cases” (2005); the National Employment Lawyers Association annual meeting on “USERRA Basic Training for Employment Lawyers,” co-written with Mary Dryovage and Kathleen Piscitelli and presented at the 2005 annual meeting.
My Cases: Defending Black-Majority District Plans
Fouts v. Harris, 88 F.Supp.2d 1351 (S.D. Fla. 1999), aff’d sub. nom. Chandler v. Harris, 529 U.S. 1084 (2000) -- court dismissed constitutional challenge to three South Florida congressional districts on grounds of laches; I represented black intervenors defending districting plan
Sanders v. Dooly County, GA, 245 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir 2001) -- defense of majority black districts used in county commission and school board elections; issue of laches in declaratory judgment cases
Thompson v. Smith, 52 F.Supp.2d 1364 (M.D. Ala) (3-judge court) -- defense of majority-minority legislative districts in Alabama; dismissal of some claims