December 8 & 9 – voting rights & affirmative action

November cases involved a number of fairly arcane legal issues, but next week sees two important sets of arguments in areas of broad interest.

Tuesday, December 8

Both cases today involve voting rights and Congressional Districts.  An excellent overview of the history of “one person, one vote” is available here.  Briefly, Evenwel v. Abbott raises the question of who counts as a “person” within that “one person, one vote” framework–in other words, in deciding whether Congressional Districts are equal in size, should we look to total population, registered voters, eligible voters, or some other measure?  Oddly, this has never been decided.  Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission asks whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional and whether a desire to obtain pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act (which has since been struck down, but was purportedly on the minds of the commissioners when they drew these districts) can be a legitimate justification for the districts.  The cases have not been consolidated, so one hour for each.

Wednesday, December 9

The Fisher v. Univeristy of Texas at Austin case is back before the Supreme Court today.  This case has already generated one Supreme Court decision and two 5th Circuit decisions.  This case against affirmative action persists, even though UT says Fisher would not have been admitted to the university regardless of race, and notes that applicants of color with higher test scores and GPAs were not admitted.  There’s a great deal of speculation about why the Court has agreed to accept the case a second time.  The oral arguments should be fascinating and over-alayzed, and it is sure to draw a crowd both for getting into the Court and for demonstrating on the plaza.  This is the only case scheduled today, but is still set for one hour (UT’s counsel will share 10 minutes of that’s side’s half-hour with the Solicitor General).