Fig Leaves and Tea Leaves in the Supreme Court's Recent Election Law Decisions
42 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009 Last revised: 28 Apr 2009
Date Written: 4 24, 2009
This Article, which will appear in the Supreme Court Review, reads the fig leaves and tea leaves in the five election law decisions the Supreme Court handed down during the 2007-2008 term. The fig leaves are the strategies the Chief Justice has used to craft consensus in these cases. In particular, the Court has massaged the doctrine concerning facial and as-applied challenges in such a way as to leave more divisive election law controversies for another day. It has also buried any concerns the Justices have previously voiced concerning incumbent or party entrenchment in the enactment of election laws. In reading the tea leaves from these decisions, the Article describes the signals the the Court has sent regarding most of the critical election law controversies that have preoccupied it in recent years: campaign finance, voting rights, redistricting and regulation of political parties.
Keywords: election law, redistricting, voting rights, campaign finance
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