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This Case May Decide Whether People of Color Have a Vote That Counts

A big voting rights fight just reached the Supreme Court.

The 2016 election cycle might be over, but that doesn't mean voting rights issues are resolved. The first general election since the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act was replete with voter access issues, voter registration problems, and Election Day technical problems, but issues around partisan redistricting and racial gerrymandering largely flew under the radar. Not anymore.

Two gerrymandering cases were argued before the US Supreme Court on Monday.Each of them will try to sort out how much state redistricting bodies can and should take race into account while drawing new legislative districts. Determining voting districts to preserve partisan control is not illegal, but depriving a racial group of its broader electoral voice as the motivating factor for redistricting is.

"If it's politics, it's fine," Justice Elena Kagan said, according to the New York Times. "If it's race, it's not."


On Monday, the court heard arguments in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and McCrory v. Harris. The first case stems from the redistricting of state legislative districts in Virginia after the 2010 census. The Republican dominated state Legislature redrew the districts so the state's 12 majority-minority districts that were already 55 percent African American included some African Americans from other districts. The dozen parties in the case each live in the 12 majority-minority districts. They argued that the Legislature's redrawn districts effectively diluted African American voting power in the surrounding districts, thereby ensuring Republican control. Republicans in the state explained they were merely trying to maintain African American voting power, and that by doing away with the 55 percent majority distribution they risked running afoul of the Voting Rights Act by creating districts in which minority voters were no longer the majority.

"If it's politics, it's fine. If it's race, it's not."

By setting a floor of 55 percent of the African American voting-age population, the plaintiffs argued, the Legislature was explicitly creating districts based on race. In October 2015, the case went before a three-judge district court panel and they ruled race was only the predominant motivating factor in one of the districts, but not the others. The plaintiffs are now asking the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court's ruling and find that the 55 percent floor violated the 14th Amendment's equal protection mandate by placing voters in districts purely on the basis of the color of their skin. Justice Samuel Alito said requirements under the law are "very, very complicated" and a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could spark litigation every time a state redraws legislative district boundaries.

Kagan said it seemed that a standard floor for all districts didn't make much sense. "It sort of defies belief you could pick a number and say that applies with respect to every majority-minority district," she said, according to the Washington Post.

It's worth noting that at the time the districts were drawn, Virginia still was covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which forced states with a history of racial discrimination to clear changes to voting laws or procedures with a federal judge or the US Department of Justice. In this case, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder approved Virginia's changes. Section 5 was gutted in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which found that the mechanism for determining which jurisdictions needed to get approval was unconstitutional because the formula used to determine the requirements was out of date.

McCrory v. Harris is also about racial gerrymandering, but this case concerns two of the state's 13 congressional districts that North Carolina argues are not packed with African Americans as part of a racial quota in order preserve a 10-3 Republican advantage in the state's congressional delegation. David Harris and Christine Bowser were residents of the two districts when they sued the state of North Carolina saying state Republicans packed two districts with African American voters and diluted the African American vote in surrounding districts. Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina State Board of Elections were named in the suit. In February, 2016, a lower court ruled in favor of Harris and Bowser and ordered lawmakers to draft a new map.

Republicans argued they were trying to preserve majority-African American districts to avoid running afoul of the Voting Rights Act while also maintaining a 10-3 Republican advantage. In that sense, according to state Republicans' rationale, the districts weren't drawn to dilute black votes because the voter was black—they were drawn to concentrate black votes because they tend to vote Democratic. The state petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay in the ruling because the election process had already begun. 

The balance between protecting minority voters' ability to elect candidates of their choice and not using race to create districts is "very, very complicated," said Justice Samuel Alito Jr., adding that any state legislature that tries to sort this out is extending "an invitation for litigation," according to the Post.

Representing the minority communities in both cases is Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer known for his high-profile clients, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and many Democratic members of Congress. He has also been engaged in sometimes controversial work on the voting rights front. In May, Elias successfully defended court-drawn congressional districts in Virginia before the Supreme Court, in a dispute that also involved race-based redrawing of district boundaries. Republicans had challenged a lower court's ruling that found that state Republicans had diminished black voting power by packing a congressional district, and ordered the lines redrawn. The state Legislature didn't redraw the map, so the court did, and Elias successfully defended that version of the district map.

The cases will be a test not only of when race-based redistricting goes too far, but also of a potentially deadlocked Supreme Court itself. As SCOTUSblog noted, the court only has eight justices at the moment, and it might be hard to reach a consensus that reconciles conflicting lower-court rulings while also establishing a legal framework for future gerrymandering cases.










"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









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  This is why it is imperative to stay in tune with your congress.  Be all up in the business.  Cuz I knew this was next cuz they never eradicated during both Bush, Jr and Obama's presidencies.  This has been on the table for a long time.  Well...while West and Smiley were screaming about Obama, they were tip toeing behind our backs leaving this at bey until the right time.   Which by the way is now.  This will affect a lot of people including European immigrates as well-any immigrate for that matter not just blacks.  Cuz if they go back to the grandfather's law...or test taking etc for those fitting the will have an impact on the entire country...not just a few.   And since there are 32 million people in America who can not read or write, 70 percent of them incarcerated any stipulations regarding having that ability in order to vote will further divide an already divided country even more.  Throw in red lining districts and having important issues voted under those regents only [deliberately absent of the black vote] is an open approach to snatching away the voting rights of black people.  And here's where "housing" discrimination begins....  But!    

Black people who refused to vote, millennials, women, Latinos, and all non-White minorities in America that refused to vote or who voted for Trump, still have no idea that they merely cut off their nose to spite their own face.

They have no idea just how much power they have single-handedly put in the hands of America's most vile racists, most vile sexists, most vile Islamophobes, and most vile anti-immigrant hatemongers, who are either beholden to the most racist, xenophobic, sexist, misogynist, hate groups in America, like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, White Nationalists, White Seperatists, White militias, and all run-of-the-mill racist psychopaths, and into the hands of all of America's and Foreign Nation's corporate puppet-politicians.

Thanks to none-voting African Americans and other minorities, and those of which were stupid enough to actually vote FOR Trump, the racist republican party now controls both the House and the Senate, and are only ONE (1) State away from being able to change the United States Constitution.



 That's exactly what I've been saying my sista.  They really don't know what they did.  For's now sinking in.  I was talking to a student and I told her she have no idea what her generation has done.  We've only had our human rights since the civil rights they gon to try and fock with that.  All because of some snot nose and white trash.   I just heard that some state has overturn the law about abortions or something like that  and now it's opened to be eradicated there. Pro choicers are having a ball!   See these heifers traded alladat?  You know them rights with have now?  Which took at least 100 years to get....just to wear lipstick  and high heels....cuz that's all it is.  It's a different day.  They think theys gon have it all...But!  As soon as abortion is banned in every state...cuz of them...we gon see how they gonna whippin it up in a pan, raise children and never let dude forget he's a man-ain't gon be easy like they think.  They gon have to do it all by themselves....and you know they don't anything about running a household...let alone being mothers.  And these youngins who can't read or write or have reading proficiency level over basic 8th grade?  Are in deep shyte trouble.   Cuz you gotta be able to read what's in the constitution.  Gotta know how to read what's on the ballot.  They are serious in eliminating us out of the voting they have a window to do it.  Pitiful.     See I stopped being pissed cuz I did what I could do.  Talk to em.  Try to reason with the ones I came in contact with.  They wouldn't listen.  Didn't wanna hear it.  Many were protesting too loud.  So. As they say...can't force a horse to drink.  Guess they wish they could listen/drink now.  But!  Too late. 

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