Yesterday, in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a lower court had been too indulgent toward race-based drawing of district lines, a process subject to scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. Although the decision makes at most a small difference in the law, I write at Cato that the Court’s relatively unified stand serves as a testament to the far-sightedness of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was roundly excoriated in the New York Times and elsewhere after warning in a landmark 1993 decision that “Racial gerrymandering, even for remedial purposes, may balkanize us into competing racial factions.” Two more views: Rick Hasen, Richard Pildes. (Also reprinted Newsweek; and see Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson, BNA Bloomberg coverage, thanks for quotes).
I wrote the new chapter on redistricting reform in the just-out 8th Edition of Cato’s Handbook for Policymakers. The issue continues to rise in visibility with new federal court rulings on the topic, notably in Wisconsin (Whitford v. Gill), and former President Barack Obama’s announced intention of being active on the topic.
Closer to home for me, the Maryland legislature will again consider Gov. Larry Hogan’s bill to create an independent redistricting commission to replace the state’s current insider-dominated method of drawing Congressional and state legislative district lines. Last month (see above) I joined WAMU radio host Kojo Nnamdi, former Del. Aisha Braveboy and Maryland GOP chair Dirk Haire to discuss the prospects for reform (audio link). Hearings are this Friday in Annapolis and I’ll be there, not wearing my Cato hat but as part of my civic involvement.
- High court should review Washington coastal exaction as a taking without just compensation [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber, Cato, on Common Sense Alliance v. San Juan County]
- Redistricting: unanimous Court declines to strike down population variance that may have assisted Arizona plan in VRA compliance [ABA Journal]
- “Supreme Court Should Protect Workers Against Government-Union Collusion” [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber, Cato on D’Agostino v. Baker, challenge to Massachusetts law designating day-care providers as state employees for purposes of unionization]
- Followup on CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC: “An open love letter to Justice Clarence Thomas” [Marcia McShane, earlier]
- “Supreme Court declines to reconsider deference to agency interpretations of agency regulations” [Jonathan Adler on cert denial in United Student Aid Funds, earlier here and here]
- “Supreme Court Kills Minimum Wage Lawsuit Against Seattle” [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, earlier]
I’ve been doing a fair bit of speaking on the cause of redistricting reform in Maryland, which is sure to be back next year although the powers that be in the legislature just adjourned for the year without letting it reach floor consideration or even a committee vote. I joined popular D.C.-area radio host Kojo Nnamdi and had a chance to explore the issues at more depth on Frederick County’s “Eye on Our Community” with Kai Hagen.
In the Herald-Mail, Tamela Baker also has a great write-up of my speech this week (with PowerPoint!) at Hagerstown Rotary. Don’t hesitate to invite me to speak on this topic just because you’re in another state — the issue is a national one.
- Never know who’ll benefit: supersedeas appeal bond limits, sought by tort reformers, may now save Gawker from ruin [WLF, earlier] Plus a Florida appellate court ruling on newsworthiness, and other reasons the scurrilous media outlet is hoping for better luck on appeal if it can get past the bond hurdle [Politico New York]
- Governance in Indian country: Native American lawyer Gabe Galanda disbarred by Nooksack tribe while fighting disenrollment of some of its members [Seattle Times, followup (tribal judge rules due process was lacking, but in so doing, as employee serving at tribe’s pleasure, “potentially left herself open to being fired”)]
- Revenge of the broken-winged pterodactyl: Maryland Democrats accuse each other of complicity in gerrymander in fight for Van Hollen’s House seat [me at Free State Notes]
- Oh, DoJ: “enforced donation to ‘public service’ organizations that just happen to support the ruling party’s goals” [Jeb Kinnison citing this post of ours on mortgage settlements]
- “Trump’s long trail of litigation” [Brody Mullins and Jim Oberman, WSJ; our earlier here, here, here, etc.]
- Lansing prosecutor, an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution,” now facing charges of go ahead and guess [WILX; our Eliot Spitzer coverage]
I’ll be speaking over the next two weeks in Philadelphia, St. Louis, D.C., and Maryland’s Eastern Shore:
Tues. March 8, Washington, D.C., Common Cause “Blueprint for a Great Democracy” conference, panel on Article V constitutional convention proposals.
Mon., March 14, Philadelphia, Temple Law School Federalist Society, on the life and work of Justice Scalia.
Tues., March 15, Centreville, Md., Queen Anne’s County Republican Club, on redistricting.
Tues., March 22, St. Louis, Mo., Intercollegiate Studies Institute debating Michael Farris on Article V constitutional convention proposals.
For details on any of these events, or to invite me to address your group, inquire at editor -at – overlawyered – dot – com.
- Fee-vergnügen: John Edwards, who knows a thing or two about tactical concealment, seeks to rep Volkswagen owners in mass litigation [Grist, Politico]
- Speaking of auto litigation: first General Motors ignition case goes to trial, automaker charges fraud, plaintiffs hire criminal counsel [Bloomberg, more]
- The Maryland redistricting project I was involved in this past fall has now resulted in a bill filed with the legislature by Gov. Larry Hogan [Danielle Gaines/Frederick News-Post, WBAL, Anjali Shastry/Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, earlier]
- Discovery and other procedural reforms in the federal courts: “Chief Justice Roberts on speedier civil litigation … and dueling?” [Howard Wasserman, PrawfsBlawg]
- Shackled Philly priest died in prison, accused by “Billy Doe.” But how well does Doe’s story hold up? Questions about another big sex assault story from Rolling Stone/Sabrina Rubin Erdely that preceded their U.Va./”Jackie” tale [Ralph Cipriano/Newsweek, Robby Soave/Reason].
- “Oversimplification is at the heart of a Coates-style approach to the reparations issue.” [John McWhorter on an unexpected bid to get me to side with Bernie Sanders; more on reparations, Glenn Loury and (missed this earlier) Jonathan Blanks, Rare, 2014]
- Federal Trade Commission went after LabMD on data security complaint. Unlike so many targets, LabMD chose to fight the FTC. And then… [Steven Boranian, Drug and Device Law, earlier]
- Malheur standoff: here come the self-styled “citizens’ grand jury” hobbyists [Oregonian, my two cents on this branch of folk law, earlier]
- Your egg-flipping, coffee-guzzling grandma was right all along about nutrition, federal government now seems gradually to be conceding [Washington Post]
- “Obama’s State of the Union pledge to push for bipartisan redistricting reform was a late add” [L.A. Times, Politico, American Prospect, Todd Eberly on Twitter, some earlier takes here and here]
- More Charlie Hebdo retrospectives after a year [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Another bad year for blasphemers [Sarah McLaughlin, more] The magazine’s false friends [Andrew Stuttaford; hadn’t realized that departing NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, who so curiously compared the magazine’s contents to “hate speech unprotected by the Constitution,” has lately held “the James Madison Visiting Professorship on First Amendment Issues” at the Columbia School of Journalism]
- “The Ten Most Significant Class Action Cases of 2015” [Andrew Trask]
- More from Cato on Obama’s “mishmash” of executive orders on guns [Adam Bates, Tim Lynch, Emily Ekins]
- The “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter on move by ACLU of Maryland/NAACP Legal Defense Fund to challenge as racially discriminatory the decision to cancel construction of a new Baltimore subway line]