Friday, June 07, 2013

Alabama and Alaska Waiting To Hear the US Supreme Court Shelby County v Holder Decision [UPDATED]

The Alaska Redistricting Board meets at 11am Friday to hear a legal report from its attorney Michael White.  Much of the discussion, surely, will relate to the Superior Court's recent decision telling the Board to get moving and stop delaying completing their plan.

Another part of the discussion will be about Shelby County v. Holder - a US Supreme Court case expected to be decided sometime this month.  It challenges section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires Shelby County (and Alaska) to get pre-clearance before promulgating a redistricting plan.  Based on the discussion at a March Redistricting Board meeting, it would appear that the Board is hoping that requirement will be struck down for Shelby County and for Alaska.

Below is a C-Span recording of the one hour and sixteen minute Supreme Court hearing on Shelby County.  I also have links below that help explain the case in writing.  [UPDATE 6/9/13:  You can read the transcript of the oral arguments here.]

Cornell's Law Information Center has a good overview of the case and the issues.

This site seems to have most, if not all, of the documents filed in this case.

One more site which a good explanation of the VRA and the implications of the decision and analysis of the Court's politics on it.

For the Alaska Redistricting Board, there are several possible outcomes:

1.  The Court leaves the Voting Rights Act intact and does not end section 5's requirement for pre-clearance for Shelby County or anyone else.
Result for Alaska:  Nothing changes.

2.  The Court lifts the pre-clearance requirement for Shelby County, but leaves it for everyone else.
Result for Alaska:  Nothing changes.

3.  The Court lifts the pre-clearance requirement for all the jurisdictions currently required to get pre-clearance.
Result for Alaska:  The Board only has to use the Alaska Constitution to establish the new plan.  However, the rest of the VRA is likely to stand and if the Board violates the VRA, they are sure to be sued.  However, as I understand it, the level of proof of discrimination is much higher in the other sections than in section 5 which just looks at the outcome, not at intention.

There are other possible variations - say, the Court says that certain jurisdictions that meet certain standards are released from getting pre-clearance.

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