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12th & High Shelby County v. Holder PROFESSOR EXPERT: Christopher J. Walker OVERVIEW: The Shelby County case

challenges Congress’s authority to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 for another 20 years. Section 5, one of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, requires nine states and parts of seven others to obtain official preclearance from the federal government before putting into effect any change in election laws or procedures.  While the Act and Section 5 have been upheld several times in the past, in a decision three years ago the court again avoided striking down Section 5 but strongly questioned the constitutionality of Congress’s decision to continue to use the pre-existing coverage formula to identify the states and subdivisions required

to seek preclearance – a coverage formula that has remained largely unchanged since the Act was originally passed in 1965. ANALYSIS: “Shelby County could

certainly be one of the blockbuster cases of the term,” Walker said. “The Voting Rights Act is an iconic law in American history, and Section 5 has played a critical role in helping to eradicate voting discrimination based on race. The court dodged the constitutional issue several years ago in Northwest Austin, so it may try to do so again.  But the district court upheld the law, the court of appeals upheld the law, and the Supreme Court usually doesn’t decide to hear a case just to say everything is fine with the lower courts’ decisions.”

Alleyne v. United States PROFESSOR EXPERT: Douglas A. Berman, Robert J. Watkins/Procter &

Gamble Professor of Law OVERVIEW: This case will take a look at the precedent the court estab­

lished in Harris v. United States, which came out two years after the landmark sentencing case, Apprendi v. New Jersey. In Apprendi, the court concluded juries, not judges, must find the facts that could raise a sentence beyond the maximum set fourth in a statute. In Harris and the current case, the question is whether a judge can find a fact that would raise the minimum sentence required by statute. In Harris, the court said a judge could, but it appears it may be willing to overturn that decision. This circumstance can often arise in federal cases when a defendant is convicted of a drug crime and, during sentencing, the question of whether the defendant brandished a gun, a fact that would increase the applicable minimum sentence. ANALYSIS: “ This case could be more important than all of the other cases

combined,” Berman said. “This isn’t just about sentencing. This is really a case about stare decisis. The court may completely overturn a previous de­cision in this case. If you have dreams of overturning Roe, Citizens United, Brown, or some other landmark decision, watch this case closely. This may be the case that sets a new standard stare decisis.”

Professor Christopher Walker

Davies, Walker submit amicus briefs n On Oct. 10, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Fisher v. Texas, which will clarify the use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions. In preparation for the case, two Moritz professors worked on amicus briefs. Professor Sharon Davies, director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, took the lead on drafting a brief on behalf of a Coalition of Black Male Achievement Initiatives in support of the University of Texas’ policy. Professor Christopher Walker filed a brief on behalf of business, industry, and government leaders who are alumni of the University of Texas, arguing that the current policy of ensuring a diverse student body “provides an invaluable state resource that is critical to nurture future leaders in government, business, industry, public education, and other organizations that serve the State and its residents.” Walker is a former clerk of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who played a pivotal role in the most recent Supreme Court case on this topic, Grutter V. Bollinger. - BP

Moritz College of Law | W I N T E R 2 0 1 3

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All Rise Winter 2013  

All Rise Winter 2013 - The Creepy Factor

All Rise Winter 2013  

All Rise Winter 2013 - The Creepy Factor

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