Could Florida Decide the Election Again?

Ian Millhiser in Think Progress: “Elections are not simply fought out at the polls … after legislators enact laws that could change who actually gets to cast a ballot, elections are fought in courts as well.”

“As election law expert Rick Hasen notes, there is already one early sign that Scalia’s death has moved the Court’s center of gravity in voting rights cases. After a lower federal court held that two of North Carolina’s congressional districts are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, many experts (including Hasen) expected the Supreme Court to stay this decision. It didn’t.”

“Because the Court denied such a stay without explanation, it is impossible to know what the vote was among the justices or why the stay was not granted. Nevertheless, as Hasen explains, the Court’s decision in this North Carolina case may be a sign that the justices will no longer keep such a tight leash on lower court judges who decide voting rights cases close to elections.”

Of the ten closest states in the 2012 presidential election, half (North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Hampshire) are located in federal appellate circuits with fairly solid left-leaning majorities. Meanwhile, two states, Iowa and Ohio, are located in conservative circuits. The remaining states, Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin, are located in circuits that are evenly divided or that are close to evenly divided … The biggest wildcard, meanwhile, may be Florida.

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