Edward Blum

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National: Man behind gutting of Voting Rights Act: states may have ‘gone too far’ since decision | The Guardian

To his detractors, Edward Blum is one of the most dangerous men in America, a human wrecking ball on a mission to destroy the landmark achievements of the civil rights era and send the country back to a dark age of discrimination and harassment of minorities – in the workplace, in higher education and at the ballot box. That’s some reputation for a slightly built former stockbroker who answers his own phone, sounds nothing like the bullying demagogues who once held sway over the deep south, and even has some misgivings about the consequences of his actions. If anything, his soft-spoken, self-deprecating, consciously neurotic manner is reminiscent of Woody Allen from his early days in standup. Blum’s impact, though, is beyond question. For more than 20 years, working largely on his own, he has orchestrated lawsuits to challenge and, in some instances, dramatically reverse once sacrosanct legal principles. Case after case that he’s filed – on voting rights, on the drawing of electoral districts, on affirmative action – has made its way to the supreme court, often against the predictions of legal scholars, and found a sympathetic reception from the conservative majority.

Full Article: Man behind gutting of Voting Rights Act: states may have 'gone too far' since decision | US news | The Guardian.

Editorials: What Exactly Does “One Person, One Vote” Mean, Anyway? | Dahlia Lithwick/Slate

t is a complete accident of history that the Supreme Court hears a case about whether noncitizens are to be counted when states draw legislative districts on the day after Donald Trump suggested that it’s a good idea to prohibit all Muslims from entering the United States for a while. But the fact that the former idea gets as strong a reception at the high court as it does this morning really isn’t an accident, even as it’s rather surprising. The argument that looked like nothing more than a fanciful thought experiment born of a conservative think tank could well prevail this term. In the plainest sense, Evenwel v. Abbott simply asks the court to determine whether states—in this case Texas—should apportion legislative districts by counting the total population (as determined through the census) or the number of eligible voters. The plaintiffs, Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, contend that basing apportionment on persons rather than voters violates the line of 50-year-old cases, including Reynolds v. Sims, that established the principle of “one person, one vote” the court has located in the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Full Article: Evenwel v. Abbott: The Supreme Court hears arguments in a voter-apportionment case..

National: Latino Clout Turns on Supreme Court View of One-Person-One-Vote | Bloomberg

It turns out the idea of “one person, one vote” isn’t as simple as it sounds. The U.S. Supreme Court will put that half-century-old constitutional principle to the test Tuesday, hearing an appeal that liberal groups say would transform the way legislative maps are drawn, giving more voting clout to Republican strongholds and less to Hispanic communities. The debate centers on an issue that until recently had appeared to be settled. For decades, map-drawers virtually everywhere have tried to equalize the size of districts based on their total population. Now an appeal pressed by two Texans, including a Republican county chairwoman, says the measure should be eligible voters, an approach that would reduce representation for areas heavy with children and non-citizens.

Full Article: Latino Clout Turns on Supreme Court View of One-Person-One-Vote - Bloomberg Politics.

Editorials: A chance to clarify ‘one person, one vote’ | Edward Blum/Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will consider hearing Sue Evenwel, et al vs. Abbott, a constitutional challenge to how Texas created its state Senate districts. Evenwel merits the court’s attention because it could reestablish electoral fairness in dozens of voting districts — not just in Texas but throughout the country. In each of the 31 senate districts in Texas there are about 811,000 people, but there are wild disparities in the number of people per district who actually have the legal right to cast a ballot. For example, in Sue Evenwel’s mostly rural district, about 584,000 citizens are eligible to vote. In a neighboring urban district, only 372,000 citizens are eligible. As a result, voters in the urban district have more sway than in the rural district; their individual electoral preferences carry more weight.

Full Article: A chance to clarify 'one person, one vote' - LA Times.

Alabama: Shelby County won’t have to pay fees in voting rights case | Montgomery Advertiser

An Alabama county won’t have to pay a $2 million legal bill for winning a case that led the Supreme Court to throw out part of the Voting Rights Act, according to the man who spearheaded the lawsuit. “Shelby County owes nothing,” Edward Blum of the Project on Fair Representation said in an email. Blum, whose legal defense fund partnered with Shelby County to challenge portions of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional, said he has raised money from private donors to pay part of the legal costs. If he doesn’t raise more, the Wiley Rein law firm in Washington, which handled the case for the Project on Fair Representation, will absorb the costs, Blum said. Wiley Rein also is working to convince a federal court that the Justice Department, which lost the Supreme Court case, should have to pay the fees. A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department doesn’t have to pay, but the firm has appealed that ruling.

Full Article: Shelby Co. won’t have to pay fees in voting rights case.

National: Supreme Court raises doubts about Voting Rights Act | USAToday

Conservative justices who hold a slim majority on the Supreme Court expressed grave doubts Wednesday that the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement — remains constitutional nearly a half century later. The justices who could be the swing votes in an eventual ruling suggested that an outdated formula built into the law now discriminates against the South, much as Southern states discriminated against black voters by erecting barriers such as poll taxes and literacy tests. “Is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who argued that the law should remain intact. Roberts noted that Massachusetts has the worst black turnout in elections when compared with whites — and Mississippi the best. Although the more liberal justices defended Section 5 of the law, which requires all or parts of 16 states to clear any voting changes with the federal government, at times the die appeared cast inside the marble courtroom. That could mean a decision by June rendering that provision unconstitutional or sending it back to Congress.

Full Article: Supreme Court raises doubts about Voting Rights Act.

National: Behind U.S. race cases, a little-known recruiter | Reuters

Sometime in the next few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide two cases that could fundamentally reshape the rules of race in America. In one, a young white woman named Abigail Fisher is suing the University of Texas over affirmative action in college admissions. In the other, an Alabama county wants to strike down a law that requires certain states to get federal permission to change election rules. If they win, the names Fisher and Shelby County, Ala., will instantly become synonymous with the elimination of longstanding minority-student preferences and voting-rights laws. But behind them is another name, belonging to a person who is neither a party to the litigation nor even a lawyer, but who is the reason these cases ever came to be. He is Edward Blum, a little-known 60-year-old former stockbroker.

Full Article: Special Report: Behind U.S. race cases, a little-known recruiter | Reuters.