As a general rule, state and federal lawmakers are used to doing whatever they please, and rarely being held accountable for it. But when New Hampshire state lawmakers turned a fourth-grade class project into a circus freak show, their actions came back to bite them in a big way.
Thanks to a segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, state lawmakers got a lesson in why you don’t treat…
On Friday, March 18, 2016, in my city of Fayetteville Arkansas one of our city councilman Alderman La Tour entered a long-standing locally-owned business and harassed a respected employee, demanding she announce her gender for him. During the exchange, he suggested he would prove his own gender by exposing himself in a public restaurant with children around.
Alderman La Tour’s disrespect for the image, staff, businesses and people of Fayetteville, and his deplorable public spectacle make him unfit to be our legislative representative. We, the undersigned, demand his immediate resignation.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up a Texas case that challenges the way nearly every U.S. voting district – from school boards to Congress – is drawn. The case, in essence, asks the court to specify what the word “person” means in its “one person, one vote” rule. The outcome of the case could have major impacts on Hispanic voting strength and representation from coast to coast.
Ever since a series of landmark rulings in the 1960s, districts have been drawn “as nearly of equal population as is practicable.” (As Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the majority in Reynolds v. Sims, “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”) The high court didn’t directly say what “equal population” meant, but states and localities have almost invariably used total population figures. And that population is determined by the decennial census.
However, the appellants in the Texas case, Evenwel v. Abbott, argue that districts instead should be drawn to have equal numbers of eligible voters.
That’s a big distinction, because in many states, districts with nearly equal total populations can have dramatically different numbers of eligible voters.
And as the chart above, and map below, might suggest, there’s a strong negative correlation between share of eligible voters and share of Hispanic population.
One of the most conservative courts in the nation is hearing a challenge Tuesday to Texas’ voter ID law from from the state conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. These groups, represented by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argues that the voter ID requirement suppresses the votes of people of color, who are much less likely to have a proper ID and much more likely to face barriers to getting one.
Despite loud warnings from many quarters—including foreign policy experts, the anti-war left and dissenting CIA analysts—that such a move could prove disastrous, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve $500 million in government funds to help arm, train, and support so-called moderate military forces inside Syria.
Approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives, the legislation is now headed for President Obama’s desk where he is likely to sign it.
Obama has said that he does not think he needs Congressional approval for his overall strategy to confront the militant group known as the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has no taken over large swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Simultaneously, however, the president has tried to garner as many visible signs of support from lawmakers as possible. The votes this week offer him plenty of cover as the Pentagon continues to make plans for expected, though deeply controversial, airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Syria.
A federal court on Tuesday ordered North Carolina to hold a special
legislative election next year after 28 state House and Senate districts
are redrawn to comply with a gerrymandering ruling.
Court judges earlier this year threw out the current legislative
district map, ruling that 28 of them were unconstitutional racial
gerrymanders. They allowed the 2016 election to continue under the old
maps, but ordered legislators to draw new districts in 2017.
order settled the question of whether the new districts would take
effect for the regularly scheduled 2018 election cycle, or if a special
election would be required.
“While special elections have costs,
those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens
to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a
racial gerrymander,” the three-judge panel wrote in the order.
court recognizes that special elections typically do not have the same
level of voter turnout as regularly scheduled elections, but it appears
that a special election here could be held at the same time as many
municipal elections, which should increase turnout and reduce costs.”
order gives legislators a March 15 deadline to draw new district maps.
Every legislator whose district is altered will have their current term
A primary would be held in late August or early
September – the legislature is responsible for setting the exact date –
with the general election in November, the order says.
Republican legislators who oversee redistricting blasted the decision in a news release Tuesday evening.
politically-motivated decision, which would effectively undo the will
of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their
ballots, is a gross overreach that blatantly disregards the
constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to
biennial terms,” Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Bob Rucho said in the
release, adding that they have already appealed the original U.S.
District Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the Supreme
Court hears the case and overturns the ruling, the special election
would be canceled and current districts restored for the 2018 election.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuit, praised Tuesday’s order.
Carolinians deserve fair representation in the state legislature, and
that is impossible to achieve with racially gerrymandered districts,”
executive director Anita Earls said in a news release. “A special
election in the affected districts in 2017 is the best way to protect
the rights of all North Carolinians.”