Supreme Court opinion is a big victory for the First Amendment

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. I drafted the cert petition and litigated the case with my colleagues at Pacific Legal Foundation.

You can read more about the decision in my op-ed for the Hill. Here’s a snippet:

A key argument in the case was that the apparel law inevitably would be enforced in an unequal manner. Conservative poll workers might be more willing to enforce a political-apparel ban against voters wearing the apparel of the AFL-CIO; liberal poll workers, against voters wearing Chamber of Commerce t-shirts.

Thorny First Amendment questions with redistricting

Two of the cases at the Supreme Court this term involve redistricting. Can a state draw district lines in a way that favors the politically powerful party? Or are some districts so blatantly discriminatory that they violate the First Amendment. I don’t have fully formed views on Gill (Wisconsin) and Benisek (Maryland), but here are some initial thoughts.

First, there are difficult line-drawing problems with most cases. Yet the line-drawing problem in this case seem particularly challenging. As the Chief Justice noted during oral argument in Benisek, nearly everyone would agree that some degree of politics is acceptable in redistricting decisions. How political is too political? How is the Court supposed to police the line?

Second, there are quite a few things that alter voter efficacy. Wyoming and California both get two senators. Because there are more people in California, the average voter in California has less say on who gets elected than her counterpart in Wyoming. Under this system, some people’s vote matters more, yet few would say that this raises constitutional concerns.

On the other side, though, it seems that blatant forms of political redistricting call for redress. Consider a state with 100 residents — 30 Republicans and 70 Democrats. Could the state make a district for each Republican and just one for all 70 Democrats? Nor do the problems go away with proportional representation. If the state had a district for every 10 residents, a creative redistricting Republican-leaning commissioner could draw districts in a way to give the Republicans even numbers in the legislature despite being outnumbered 30 to 70. (Five districts with 10 Democrats; five districts with 6 Republicans and 4 Democrats). This seems like a classic political process failure that demands judicial intervention.

The redistricting cases are some of the hardest cases this term. We’ll see what the Court does before July.


Upcoming events for Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

Oral argument in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky is just 13 days away. I’ll be in Washington D.C. for most of the next two weeks to talk about how this case affects the Free Speech rights of everyone from members of the Tea Party to the NAACP.

On Thursday, February 22, I’ll be on a panel at the Cato Institute with Cato’s Trevor Burrus and Munger Tolles partner Ginger Anders. Anders, who has argued 18 cases before the Supreme Court, is one of the lawyers for the government in Minnesota Voters Alliance. You may register for the event here or watch it online.

On Monday, February 26, I’ll be speaking to the America’s Future Foundation during Happy Hour at Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington. Read more about the event on Facebook and register on Eventbrite.

On Tuesday, February 27, I’ll be speaking at 12:15 to the Georgetown Law Federalist Society in McDonough 201. Come get a preview of the case the day before it is argued before the Supreme Court.

Fed Soc talk and press call on MVA v. Mansky

Two events next week on Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, a case that will be argued in the Supreme Court of the United States in just 18 days.

On Monday, I will be speaking to the Federalist Society at the University of Minnesota Law School. The event will take place at 12:15 p.m. in Mondale Hall Room 30.

On Tuesday, Andy Cilek, Dave Breemer, and I will host a press call at 2 p.m. EST. Contact Pacific Legal Foundation Media Director Kate Pomeroy ( if you’re a member of the press and would like to join the call.

My speech to the Sacramento Federalist Society on MVA v. Mansky

On Tuesday, I spoke to the Sacramento Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society about Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. In Minnesota Voters Alliance, we’re asking the Supreme Court to invalidate a ban on political apparel (including shirts featuring the logo of the Tea Party, the Chamber of Commerce, or the AFL-CIO) at polling places across Minnesota. The Court will hear argument in the case on February 28.

Continue reading “My speech to the Sacramento Federalist Society on MVA v. Mansky”