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Ilsa Bartlett
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Are you or do you think of your self as a Practicing CITIZEN? Then is case in front of the United States Supreme Court Matters A LOT! What Can We Do?

Symposium: Does “one person, one vote” really mean what it says?
Posted: 27 Jul 2015 09:01 PM PDT

Evenwel v. Abbott may wind up being the most important voting case in sixty years. Its political ramifications could rival those of Reynolds v. Sims, the 1964 case that established the principle of “one person, one vote” under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The key question in Evenwel is what population does that principle require legislatures to use when they are redrawing legislative districts?
Prior to Reynolds, states like Alabama and Tennessee had refused to redistrict for more than half a century, despite a dramatic, nationwide population shift from rural to urban areas. These state legislatures were dominated by rural legislators, who were not willing to reapportion and lose their power and control.
Under the principle established in Reynolds, districts have to be drawn “on a basis that will insure, as far as is practicable, that equal numbers of voters can vote for proportionally equal numbers of officials.” Within two years of the Reynolds decision, legislative districts had been redrawn in almost every state, and urban areas gained a substantial number of legislative seats.
Today, lawmakers from urban areas dominate many state legislatures because of the huge influx of non-citizens, both legal and illegal, into predominantly urban settings. This greatly increases the population of non-voters who can be and are used to fill in urban legislative districts. If the Court rules for the plaintiffs, there could be a similar loss of clout by urban areas that rural districts experienced after Reynolds.
In this case, Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger are contesting the state senate districts drawn by the Texas legislature in 2013. The legislature used total population in determining whether the population of each senate district met equal protection requirements. Evenwel, a registered voter in Senate District 1, and Pfenninger, a registered voter in Senate District 4, filed suit because both the number of citizens of voting age and the number of registered voters in these two districts deviate substantially – between thirty-one and forty-nine percent – from the “ideal” population of a Texas senate district.
Evenwel and Pfenninger argue that this disparity significantly dilutes their votes in comparison to those of voters who live in districts with large numbers of non-voters, particularly districts with large numbers of non-citizens who are ineligible to vote and may not even be in the country legally. According to this logic, their votes were worth roughly half that of voters in other districts.
Evenwel and Pfenninger lost their constitutional challenge before a three-judge panel, however, and appealed directly to the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argue that the “one-person, one-vote principle protects the rights of voters to an equal vote.” They contend that a “statewide districting plan that distributes voters or potential votes in a grossly uneven way, therefore, is patently unconstitutional under Reynolds and its progeny.”
The Supreme Court has left unresolved the issue of what is the appropriate population to use for redistricting, whether it is total population, voting age population, citizen voting-age population, citizen-eligible voting-age population, or some variant thereof. In Burns v. Richardson (1966), the Court said it was up to states to choose what population to use “unless a choice is one the Constitution forbids.” They did warn in Burns about using registered voters or “actual voter basis,” because that population is “susceptible to improper influences by which those in political power might be able to perpetuate underrepresentation of groups constitutionally entitled to participate in the electoral process.”
But the Court also said states are not “required to include aliens, transients, short-term or temporary residents, or persons denied the vote for conviction of crime.” Additionally, while absolute parity of population is not required, the Court has established that a state legislative redistricting plan with a population deviation that exceeds ten percent creates a prima facie case of discrimination.
In 2001 the Court denied certiorari in another case out of Texas that raised this same issue, Chen v. City of Houston. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the denial in that case, saying the Court should have taken up the case because it had “left a critical variable in the [“one person, one vote”] requirement undefined. We have never determined the relevant ‘population’ that States and localities must equally distribute among their district.” According to Thomas, this failure means that the “one-person, one-vote principle may, in the end, be of little consequence if we decide that each jurisdiction can choose its own measure of population.”
The plaintiffs obviously agree. In their “Jurisdictional Statement” they point out that, absent such a determination, the legislature could have drawn a senate districting plan with thirty-one districts of equal population without violating the “one person, one vote” principle “even if 30 of the districts each contained one voter and the 31st district contained all other voters in the State.” As they argue, “That cannot be correct.”
The plaintiffs also cite Judge Alex Kozinski’s partial dissent in Garza v. County of Los Angeles (1991), in which the Ninth Circuit held that total population was the correct population to use regardless of voters because “the people, including those who are ineligible to vote, form the basis for representative government.” However, Kozinski disagreed, because the theory “at the core of one person one vote is the principle of electoral equality, not that of equality of representation.”
Kozinski added that a “districting plan that gives different voting power to voters in different parts of the county . . . even though raw population figures are roughly equal. . . certainly seems in conflict with what the Supreme Court has said repeatedly” with regard to equal protection and “one person, one vote.” Equal protection “protects a right belonging to the individual elector and the key question is whether the votes of some electors are materially undercounted because of the manner in which districts are apportioned.”
Groups claiming to represent the interests of Hispanics are upset that the Supreme Court took this case. Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund claims this is “an attempt to cut back on growing Latino political strength in [Texas] by packing Latinos into a smaller number of districts.” But those groups and the U.S. Justice Department, with whom they are almost always allied in lawsuits filed under the Voting Rights Act, will have a tough time making these arguments. In redistricting suits that it brings under Section 2 of the VRA, the department almost always bases its claims on citizen voting-age population rather than total population.
That policy is plain on the face of the lawsuits the Justice Department filed in cases ranging from Lake Park, Florida, to Boston, Massachusetts. In its complaint against the School Board of Osceola County, Florida, for example, on behalf of Hispanic voters, the department made it very clear that it was suing under Section 2 in order to obtain a school board district in which “Hispanic persons would constitute a majority of the citizen voting-age population in one out of five districts.”
Conservatives are being faulted in this case for supposedly wanting some people to count more than others. That is categorically untrue. What is true is that if the Supreme Court really meant what it said when it established the “one person, one vote” principle, then the votes of voters must be valued the same as other voters. That can’t happen when you included millions of non-citizens in the populations you use to determine legislative districts. In fact, as Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger demonstrate, their votes were diluted to make them less valuable than those of other voters. So, in fact, those who support what Texas did here do want some people’s votes to count more than others – specifically, they want the votes of certain groups to count more than those of other voters.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, what effect could it have? Democratically controlled legislative seats tend to have larger numbers of non-citizens than do Republican seats. Sean Trend, the senior elections analyst at RealClearPolitics, points out for example that in the heavily Democratic areas of Queens and Kings County, New York, only seventy-eight percent of the residents are citizens. Compare this to more Republican Nassau County, where ninety-one percent of the residents are citizens. Similarly, in the 2012 election, “counties with high citizen populations were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney” than Barack Obama. Legislative districts would probably get redrawn in parts of the country with large non-citizen populations, with a noticeable shift towards Republicans.
But in the final analysis, it is not the potential political effects that make this case important. What makes it important is the principle of “one person, one vote.” While states have a great deal of leeway under our federalist system, the Supreme Court determined sixty years ago that they have to apply equal protection to the election process, particularly when determining the districts in which voters exercise their basic right to choose their representatives.
As Judge Kozinski said, that principle protects the value of the vote of individual voters. When the value of the vote of Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger is half the value of their neighbor’s vote, it seems pretty clear that principle has been violated.
A Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former Federal Election Commissioner and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Justice Department. He is the co-author of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter 2012) and Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (HarperCollins/Broadside 2014).
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isn't gay marriage legal there & also MJ?
just asking cuz it seems like they want folks to go there & think it would ruin it~
it is small.....
Bernie is too good to be true & unfortunately a long shot...though i would vote for him IF i ever vote again
kinda on the fence w/that+
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Socialist senator and rumored 2016 candidate says he is still deciding whether to enter Democratic primary
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Who is this woman?
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Is that you?
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Love is doing nothing which bruises others; it is putting the interests of others above our own. It is not being irritable, bitter, aggressive or searching for the evil in others; it is not rejoicing in injustice. It is seeking truth in all things.


Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p.134
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Privacy: Do you remember how you lived and felt? It is time to OCCUPY the Governments who are removing our ability to be free independent individuals. I have experiences the abuse of police power first hand. I want my Privacy back.
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I feel strongly that Snowden is the Hero of this Century.

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Snowden strikes again.
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National Security
Court Backs Snowden, Strikes Secret Laws
6 May 7, 2015 2:25 PM EDT
By Noah Feldman
In a major vindication for Edward Snowden -- and a blow for the national security policy pursued by Republicans and Democrats alike -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency’s metadata collection program is unlawful.  This is the most serious blow to date for the legacy of the USA Patriot Act and the surveillance overreach that followed 9/11.
The central question depended on the meaning of the word "relevant": Was the government's collection relevant to an investigation when it collects all the metadata for any phone call made to or from anywhere in the U.S.?
The court said no. That was the right decision -- not so much because it protects privacy, as because it broke the bad precedent of secret law created by the NSA and endorsed by the secret national security court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The first striking thing about the court’s opinion was how openly it relied on Snowden’s revelations of classified material.  The court described how the program was known -- by Snowden’s leaks. It also analyzed the NSA order to Verizon, leaked by Snowden, that proved the existence of the program and revealed indirectly the legal reasoning that the government relied on to authorize the metadata collection.
The Second Circuit seemed supremely untroubled by the origin of the information in a violation of classification laws. At one point, it noted that the government disputed the claim that virtually all metadata are being collected -- then dismissed the government’s suggestion as unconvincing in the light of the evidence. Today, it would seem, the Snowden revelations are treated as judicially knowable facts, at least in this court.
Then there’s the legal reasoning, which was equally striking. To get to the conclusion of unlawfulness, the Second Circuit initially had to find that anyone who has had metadata collected -- that is, anyone in the U.S. -- has the right to sue and challenge the statute.
The government said no one could challenge the NSA program except the telephone companies, like Verizon, who received the order. Its logic was particularly Orwellian. The Department of Justice argued that the Patriot Act demanded secrecy in reviewing challenges to the surveillance program. The secrecy, in turn, implied that the statute meant to preclude anyone from challenging the program under the non-secret provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, the catch-all statute for challenging unlawful government programs.
The Second Circuit wisely rejected what it called this “argument from secrecy.” It reversed a lower district court that had refused to allow the suit to proceed, and set the stage for an analysis of relevance under the statute.
Relevance, the court said, should be measured the way the idea is used in ordinary grand jury investigations. That standard of relevant documents or objects to be brought under subpoena is pretty broad. It’s often said a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. Well, a prosecutor can also subpoena the recipe the cook used to make it.
The government argued that this broad standard of relevance covered the metadata it’s been gathering. After all, once the metadata is in hand, the government uses it to look for patterns connected to terrorism or other national security threats -- so the body of data must be in this sense relevant to the investigation.
The court wasn’t buying this expansive notion of relevance. It pointed out that only some of the metadata collected turns out to be relevant to investigations -- meaning most or all of it doesn’t matter at all.
Although the court didn’t use this language, it was essentially saying that the collection of all metadata is an overbroad search, well beyond even the most expansive conception of relevance.
The court didn’t address the question of whether it would be constitutional for Congress to order such broad searches; it just held that Congress didn’t intend to authorize them. That left Congress and the President with the option of changing the law to authorize the metadata collection, assuming political will were to exist.
This was the right result -- but not necessarily because of privacy, which the court didn’t address directly at all. What was most wrong with the secret NSA orders was that they depended on a secret interpretation of the law, according to which “relevant” was assigned the broadest possible meaning. By implication, the secret intelligence court endorsed this interpretation. But the public never knew about it, at least not until Snowden.
Secret laws are anathema to democracy. The text of the Patriot Act wasn’t secret, but the government's legal interpretation of it was. Secret interpretations of laws have the same effect as secret laws -- and are therefore just as bad. The public can’t approve or disapprove of what it doesn’t know.
Now that we do know, the Second Circuit will push the government to pass its next law, if any, with full public knowledge. That’s democracy -- and we have the courts to thank for it.
The Ninth and D.C. circuits have similar cases before them now. Here’s hoping they rule the same way, and that the Supreme Court can then stay out of it. The legal story may or may not be over. But it should be.
To contact the author on this story:
Noah Feldman at nfeldman7@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor on this story:
Christopher Flavelle at cflavelle@bloomberg.net
.
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yup
 
Go ahead and wallow in despair if you must, but don't make the rut your permanent address. 
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My friend in Austria sent me this contest. He says it is a possible win.
The New MacBook Giveaway - Get Your Hands on the Lightest and Most Compact MacBook Ever
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Happy "M" Day Meditation of World Peace

Sharing Gifts Even very limited and fragile people, if they can work with a leader who has vision, compassion and firmness, can do marvelous things. They participate in the leader's vision and they benefit from his gifts. The wealth of a community lies in the fact that all its members can share the qualities and gifts of others. Jean Vanier, /Community and Growth,/ p. 218 L'Arche Canada <http://www.larche.ca> | L'Arche Canada Foundation
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thank you for this.....
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I love LIFE! Life long learning NIF,CERN,EFF, I have a life-long interest of the particle, vibrating quality of life. Since 1989 I have been a student of the Venerable Lobsang Samten. In 1984 Ilsa made a brief study of Tanka painting with Pema Wangal of Dolpa. In 1985 he took her by the hand and introduced her to the monk doctor, Ven. Lobsang Rampgay, who suggested Roerich, Agni Yoga. The Mountain  has a broad base but a singular peak. blog: http://rewiringangel.wordpress.com/
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