The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would hear a case against a Virginia Republican-drawn state House district map. The plaintiffs claim the map protects Republicans and diminish the electoral power of black voters by packing the demographic into 12 state legislative districts. In a federal court ruling, one judge found that the Republicans had prioritized a rigid racial quota above all other factors in drawing the districts. The Supreme Court had previously ruled against this type of gerrymandering in a case concerning Alabama legislative districts in 2015. Last month, the Supreme Court rejected a different gerrymandered Republican map for Virginia congressional districts.
Democratic Party leaders and community advocates won a victory against Republican-backed Ohio voter identification requirements this week. Together, they had filed a lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State John Husted (R), arguing that voter ID requirements would disproportionately affect minorities and vulnerable voters. The federal judge overseeing the case rejected language in the law that required voting officials to fully complete provisional ballot paperwork before the ballot could be counted. The judge also blocked sections of the law reducing the time voters could correct errors and prohibiting poll worker assistance. In the ruling, the judge agreed with the arguments presented by Democrats, noting that the GOP-backed law would making voting more difficult for racial minorities.
A recording emerged recently of Ali Jimenez-Hopper, a Republican candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives, unleashing bigoted attacks on her Democratic opponent. In a video now available on Youtube, the candidate criticizes Democrat Erin Maye Quade for using her bi-racial heritage “as a strength.” In addition, Jimenez-Hopper claimed that Maye Quade’s decision to post pictures on social media of herself and her wife are examples of her support of the “LGBT lifestyle.” Jimenez Hopper further proclaimed her belief in “traditional marriage” and said that voters “need to have these values” when “think[ing] about [their] community.” Maye Quade responded by saying she wants “to focus on the issues that bring us together, not those that divide us.”
In South Carolina became the newest state to enact a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The law only provides for exceptions in the case of a non-viable fetus or a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother. Supporters of the 20-week ban usually refer back to the medically unfounded claim that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks in the womb. Planned Parenthood spokesman Alyssa Miller attacked the bill by arguing that “abortion later in pregnancy is extremely rare and often takes place in complex and difficult situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.” Pro-choice advocates have also argued that these measures are only meant to further the cause of establishing a total ban on abortion. Anti-choice South Carolina legislators such as Representative Wendy Nanney confirmed this to be true by explaining that the United States needs to “get rid of abortion all together.”
Backroom dealing between Michigan Republican legislators and the Governor led to the passage of an inadequate funding package to bailout Detroit’s collapsing school system. The ultimate approval process was criticized by Democrats, such as Senator Morris Hood, who protested the exclusion of Democratic leadership and city representatives from negotiations on the final legislation. Other Democrats lamented that the final bill included language limiting teacher opportunities for strikes and allowing uncertified teachers to teach in Detroit schools. Democrats favored an earlier version of the rescue plan that would have provided $200 million in transition costs.