As summer heats up, so does the judicial season, as SCOTUS begins to wrap up releasing its decisions on this year’s cases. Here’s what else happened around the country this month:
SCOTUS Issues Stay on Redistricting
Late in April, a panel of federal district judges ruled in favor of LWV of Michigan in their First and Fourteenth Amendment challenges to the state and congressional redistricting plans, saying the state will be required to implement new maps in time for the 2020 election and before the next redistricting cycle in 2021.
And, this month, a three-judge panel from the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in favor of the LWV of Ohio in its redistricting case, declaring the maps an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, to be redrawn in time for the 2020 elections.
However, just as these remedial plans were beginning, last Friday the Supreme Court issued a stay, putting partisan redistricting on hold pending the decision in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina, expected in June.
Along with the ruling in Michigan, the Ohio district court’s order shows that there are fair solutions to gerrymandered maps. The decisions to strike down unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps gives voters confidence that they will be represented equally in future elections.
Keep an eye on us in June as we await the high court’s decision on Rucho.
Tennessee Challenges Voter Registration Law
This month, LWV of Tennessee, along with other democracy groups, filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new Tennessee law that undermines voter registration.
Tennessee ranks 44th in voter registration but, during the 2018 midterm election, the state saw a surge in registrations. Instead of providing greater resources to help election offices process the influx, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a measure that creates criminal and civil penalties against those who fail to comply with onerous requirements and turn in “incomplete” applications. The governor signed the bill into law last week.
This new law violates freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, and the fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
“Voter registration surges like what Tennessee saw in 2018 should be celebrated, not penalized. We see this law as a threat to democracy and a direct violation of our Constitution,” said Marian Ott, president of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee.
Building a Record for the Voting Rights Act
We’re continuing our nationwide push for voting rights reforms, by participating in field hearings in places like Florida and the Dakotas.
Those testifying at the field hearings across the nation offered evidence to a Congressional subcommittee about discriminatory practices in voting since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder. Restoring the Voting Rights Act (VRA) would alleviate many of the effects of the suppressive tactics that have recently been put into practice around the country. The restoration of the VRA is a necessary step toward voting equality and ensuring full participation in our democracy.
“If there are five ways to vote; don't give Native Americans three and then say that we're equal,” said OJ Semans, Sr., Co-Executive Director of the Native voting rights organization Four Directions, during the Dakotas’ field hearing.
We are taking a stand in Congress, statehouses, and courtrooms nationwide to ensure no voters are left behind. Stand with us in our fight to ensure our elections are always free, fair, and accessible. Make your voice heard today.