Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Arizona Primaries and Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

In parts of Arizona that are heavily non-white, voters were waiting in line for hours to vote in the Democratic primary last week.  Critics of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision which struck down the preclearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Section 4, which required certain states and regions to ask permission before changing any of their voting procedures) blame that ruling for what happened, because Arizona was in the act’s preclearance zone.

Washington Post Editorial



Why Stopping Trump at the Convention Won’t Be Easy


General note:  In both parties, both the primaries and the conventions are governed by a patchwork of rules that are constantly changing and that are the product of this or that power group wanting to make this or that outcome more likely in some past scenario.  The Republican Party’s Rule 40, a temporary rule written in 2012 for Romney’s convenience (perfect example of that above-mentioned phenomenon), which would limit the contest to Trump and maybe Cruz, can be changed at the outset of the Convention by the Rules Committee, but changing it without sparking a big revolt would be easier said than done.

This is a good article:



July May Be a Busy Month for Trump


In addition to the convention, there’s also that little matter of the class action suit against him for fraud, with his Trump University venture.

Here’s some more of what’s going on in the whole Trump saga:

Insights on who is voting for him.

More protests.

Fox News says he has a sick obsession with Megyn Kelly.

Here’s a familiar character who likes Trump, and it’s no surprise.

Final note from me:  Please wake me when it’s OVER!

The Fight over the Merrick Garland Nomination

The battle began within hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing that the Senate Republicans would not consider a nominee by Obama to replace him, but rather, would wait until after the election and let the new president pick the justice.  Of course, this relates to both their complete contempt for Obama and their desire for the departed conservative justice to be replaced by another conservative justice, not a liberal or even a moderate.  The battle lines were drawn before the President had even opened his mouth on the subject.

Now, President Obama has nominated someone: Merrick Garland, a man who ordinarily would have no trouble getting Republicans to support his confirmation–and who in fact didn’t have trouble getting Republicans to confirm him for the position he holds now on the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals.  But from the Republicans’ point of view, it’s the “principle.”

Democrats are putting pressure on certain Senate Republicans who are coming up for re-election this year in states that are not securely Republican.   This guy is one of them.

Other relevant pieces:

And all of this is relevant to material discussed in class about (1) the configuration of the COurt and its effect on outcomes of hot-button cases, (2) the confirmation process in the Senate, (3) the fact that a third of the Senate comes up for re-election at a time, and (4) everything concerning the behavior of political parties in Congress and elsewhere.

Tuesday Night Memo

Esteemed Associates:

It is just after 9:00 as I wrote you this note, urging you to be looking in on the news websites later on tonight for updates.  In addition to anything else you look at, here are the numerical updates from today’s primary elections, at Politico:

Here’s what we know now:

(1) Marco Rubio lost his home state of Florida to Ted Cruz and has pulled out of the race.  (Story here.)

(2) John Kasich has just been announced the winner in his own state of Ohio.  (Story here.)  In order for that to really change anything, he needs to pick up a momentum now that he hasn’t had before, and it will really help if Trump does something outrageous that alienates his power base.  The trouble is, Trump may well have been right when he said that he could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and they’d still vote for him.  (I did mention to you, didn’t I, that I do not understand my country at all?)

(3) Hillary Clinton seems to be prevailing over Bernie Sanders across the board.  (Story here.)

(4) There may be a new conservative party forming now.  (Story here.) This is a brand new development and I have no idea how far it will go,  Realize this, though: the idea of a separate conservative party, like all kind of separate “third parties”–that’s not what’s new here.  What’s new is that so many Republicans find the Republican front runner so repulsive and loathsome that they would rather see the Republican Party lose than see Trump win. Second, if this new party does field a major candidate, their top concern won’t be winning this year (which means they won’t mind that they’re helping the Democrats win), but the start of a new movement.  In other words, we may be seeing a permanent realignment, with the fracturing of the Republican Party as we know it.  As I’ll be saying more about in class, the Donald Trump campaign is not, by any means, the only factor threatening to break up the Republican Party.  It may, however, be the most deadly.

Okay, that’s all.  Keep checking the news, post your thoughts on the discussion board (or right here, if you like), and I’ll see you all in our next class.


Imminent lawless action?

Friends:  The things we’re studying academically are becoming more and more relevant by the minute to what will affect our immediate lives.

As we saw in Chapter 4, speech that advocates violence is protected by the First Amendment if it is sufficiently vague and abstract, but not if it attempts to incite “imminent lawless action.”  The big question now is, might we see Donald Trump facing charges of inciting a riot, for the remarks he makes at rallies that seem to encourage violence against protesters?

In this article, the message seems to be that it probably won’t happen this time, but it could happen at some point.

Again, this week’s Tuesday primaries are going to be huge.  You should all be looking in on news sites Tuesday night.  In addition to anywhere else you look, please be glancing in regularly at



Next Tuesday

Tuesday, March 15, is going to be a game-changing day.  The point is this: if Marco Rubio wins his home state of Florida and John Kasich wins his home state of Ohio, then there will be some chance of the anti-Trump candidates getting enough delegates for the convention to outnumber Trump’s delegates.  They’ll have a hard time agreeing on whom to nominate instead, but they’ll at least outnumber Trump and presumably knock him out of the running.  But if either one of them loses his respective home state, Trump will be much closer to being assured of enough delegates to nominate him.

News media outlets seem to be doubtful that Rubio and Kasich will pull it off, but they’ve been wrong before.  I don’t know.  I’ll just say this much: I really didn’t think this many Americans would want somebody like Donald Trump to be their president.  So I’m truly in no position to say what’s going to happen next.  And for me, wondering what’s going to happen next is, at the moment, not fun at all.

Who’s Voting for Trump?

Who’s voting for Trump?  This guy, for one.

(NPR interview, March 6, 2016.)

Is he making coherent sense, or does he seem to be seeing what he wants to see and believing what he wants to believe?

Would it make any difference to him if he were told that migration from Mexico has already pretty much dried up?

And wow, he actually takes that nonsense about building a wall seriously!