Tag Archives: partisan

Court blocks Wisconsin redistrict plan, orders new maps

A three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Jan. 27 permanently blocked the state’s redistricting plan, which unconstitutionally denies voters the ability to elect lawmakers.

“Yet again, the federal courts have ruled clearly: Wisconsin’s district maps are an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, they violate the rights of millions of Wisconsin citizens, and it’s time to move ahead and draw new maps,” said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, which helped organize the lawsuit. “This is a victory for democracy and we look forward to a process to draw these maps that engage the community and invite public participation.”

This ruling by the court ensures that new district maps will be in place for the next state legislative elections, according to a news release.

The case is Whitford v. Gill

And the state is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lead plaintiff is Bill Whitford, who said, “Now, we will be keeping a watchful eye on the state Legislature as they draw the new maps and I ask them,  for the sake of our democracy, to put partisan politics aside and the interests of all voters first.”

Whitford and 11 Democrats are plaintiffs in the case being handled by the Campaign Legal Center and co-counsel Douglas M. Poland of Rathje & Woodward, LLC, Peter G. Earle, Michele L. Odorizzi of Mayer Brown and Nicholas O. Stephanopoulos of University of Chicago Law School.

Gerry Heber, director of voting rights and redistricting for CLC, stated, “This is truly another monumental victory for the plaintiffs in this case and for all Wisconsin Voters. Today, the court made a clear statement that holding yet another unconstitutional election under Act 43 would cause significant harm to the voters.”

Heber said the Legislature has continuously “demonstrated a disregard for the rights of the voters and an inability to craft a fair, legal redistricting plan” but a new plan would put voters, not partisan politics, first.

Poland said the court gave the state a Nov. 1 deadline for new maps.

He said, “The Legislature has plenty of time to hold hearings with broad participation from Wisconsin citizen. There is no excuse for limiting participation by all interested parties to draw a fair map in an open and transparent process. The time for cloaking the process in secrecy has ended. The plaintiffs, their lawyers, and all of Wisconsin, are watching.”


For the record …

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison: “The cornerstone of democracy is that the people should get to pick their legislators, not that legislators get to pick their voters. Today’s court ruling is a victory for Wisconsinites and democracy in our state, which has been under near-constant attack for the last six years. Voting should be fair, easy, and accessible, and today’s ruling only reinforces what Democrats have been saying for years.”

State senator seeks sponsors for non-partisan redistricting bill

State Sen. Dave Hansen is seeking sponsors for legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting process.

Seeking sponsors marks the next step toward introduction of the bill, according to Hansen, a Democrat from Green Bay.

Hansen is a long-time advocate of redistricting reform that would move responsibility from legislators and political parties to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau.

“Allowing politicians to draw district boundaries makes it too easy for the majority party to gerrymander the maps to their long-term advantage,” Hansen said in a press statement. “And when parties engage in that behavior it is the voters and the people who are hurt because they are no longer able to check extreme behavior by the majority party.”

In 2011 Republican leaders and staff worked in secret outside the Capitol to draw district lines designed to lock in their legislative majorities for ten years or more.

As a result, in the 2012 election Republicans took over 61 percent of the seats in the Assembly despite winning less than 49 percent of the vote.

“Gerrymandering as we are seeing it practiced is a form of cheating,” Hansen said. “Neither political party should be able to lock in their power by creating an unfair advantage in drawing district lines.”

A federal court has ruled the Republican-drafted maps are unconstitutional, drawn with the intent to lock in GOP control of the Senate and Assembly. The case is on track for a U.S. Supreme Court review.

Hansen said making the legislative change is important regardless of the outcome in the court case.

He said, “No one who looks at the evidence objectively is disputing that the maps drawn by Republican leaders are unfair to the voters. If competition is a good thing in other aspects of society then it is good for our political system. And that’s what we want, fair and competitive elections.”

Kennedy vote seems key to Supreme Court redistricting cases

Justice Anthony Kennedy appears to hold the decisive vote in two Supreme Court cases involving challenges from African-American voters to electoral districts in North Carolina and Virginia.

The court’s liberal and conservative justices seemed otherwise divided after arguments this week about whether race played too large a role in creation of congressional districts in North Carolina and state legislative districts in Virginia.

The issue of race and redistricting one is a familiar one at the Supreme Court. States have to take race into account when drawing maps for legislative, congressional and a host of municipal political districts. At the same time, race can’t be the predominant factor, under a line of high court cases stretching back 20 years.

Kennedy said he had problems with a lower court’s reasoning in upholding 12 districts in Virginia, suggesting there could be a majority for throwing out that decision. He had less to say about the two North Carolina congressional districts, which were struck down by a lower court.

The arguments demonstrated the difficulty in distinguishing racial and partisan motivations, when African-Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

The justices soon could be asked to decide whether the Constitution also prohibits electoral maps that are too partisan, in a case from Wisconsin.

Justices on both sides of the divide voiced a certain fatigue with the issue. Justice Samuel Alito suggested states are being held to an impossible standard that is “just an invitation for litigation in every one of these instances.”

Justice Stephen Breyer said he had hoped his majority opinion in a case from Alabama “would end these cases in this court, which it certainly doesn’t seem to have done.” Breyer said lawmakers could not take not a “mechanically numerical” approach to redistricting.

In Virginia, lawmakers in 2011 used the results of the 2010 census to create 12 districts in which African-Americans made up at least 55 percent of the population of eligible voters, saying that level was necessary to ensure they could elect their candidate of choice. Black voters who sued contended lawmakers packed the districts with black voters, making other districts whiter and more Republican. The effect was to dilute black voting strength, they said.

Arguing for the Virginia challengers, attorney Marc Elias said the lower court was wrong to uphold a “one size fits all” standard regardless of the different voting patterns and demographics across the 12 districts.

He drew support from Justice Elena Kagan. “It sort of defies belief you could pick a number and say that applies with respect to every majority-minority district,” Kagan said.

Paul Clement, representing Virginia, said 55 percent actually is a reasonable number for all 12 districts. “So it’s not like this number comes out of thin air,” Clement said.

Nine of the 12 districts had greater black populations under the plan in effect before the 2010 census, and two others were at least 53 percent black.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who appeared to favor the state, questioned whether it is so easy to determine the most important reason for drawing a district a particular way when there are several considerations about its geographic size and shape, as well as the interests that unite its residents. “It’s easy to imagine situations where you cannot say that one dominates over all the others.”

The North Carolina case seemed to present more of a puzzle to the court. The lower court struck down two majority-black congressional districts, finding they relied too heavily on race.

The state, also represented by Clement, conceded the use of race in one district, but only to maintain a black-majority district. In the other, Clement said, race played no role at all in the creation of one district. “This was an avowedly political draw,” he said, meaning that Republicans who controlled the redistricting process wanted to leave the district in Democratic hands, so that the surrounding districts would be safer for Republicans.

Clement also suggested that the challenges in both cases were motivated more by Democratic politics than concerns about race.

Kennedy’s votes in redistricting cases can be hard to predict. He joined Breyer’s opinion in the Alabama case last year. In 2013, Kennedy sided with more conservative justices to effectively block a key component of the landmark Voting Rights Act that led to the election of African-Americans across the South. Its provisions requiring states to create and preserve districts in which minority voting groups can elect their candidate of choice remain in effect.

In North Carolina, the federal court also struck down some state House and Senate districts, and last week, those judges ordered new districts drawn and special elections held next year.

North Carolina Republicans have used the current districts to achieve veto-proof majorities in both chambers. In addition, they hold 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats. By contrast, statewide contests suggest a narrower gap between the parties. Two Republicans won statewide elections last month, President-elect Donald Trump with just under 50 percent of the vote and Sen. Richard Burr with 51 percent. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday conceded defeat in his closely fought bid for another term.

Decisions in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 15-680, and McCrory v. Harris, 15-1262, are expected by early summer.

Wisconsin Dems look to make gains in Legislature

Come Election Day, all eyes in Wisconsin will be on the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But voters face a choice likely to shape their lives closer to home — whether to hand Republicans or Democrats control of the state Legislature.

Here are the key things to know about state legislative races:


Republicans have had complete control of state government since 2011, when Scott Walker won the governor’s office and the GOP won majorities in the both the Senate and Assembly. The GOP enters Election Day with a 63-36 advantage in the Assembly and a 17-14 edge in the Senate.


The majority sets the political agenda. Walker isn’t up for re-election until 2018, so if the GOP keeps both houses they’ll be able to pass anything they can agree on and Democrats will be powerless to stop them for the next two years. If the Democrats wrest control of either house, they can block Walker’s initiatives and create gridlock in Madison. The Legislature’s first task will be putting together the state budget; divided control could delay the spending plan’s approval beyond the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.


Not in the Assembly. All 99 seats are up, but Republicans’ majority appears insurmountable. Seventeen GOP incumbents don’t even have opponents.

Things look a little brighter for Democrats in the Senate. Eight seats are in play, including five held by Republicans and three by Democrats. The Democrats need to take six of those eight to win the majority.


Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca has his sights on three open seats. He’s banking Mandy Wright can defeat Republican Patrick Snyder for a seat representing north-central Wisconsin. Wright held the seat until she lost it to Republican Dave Heaton in 2014. Heaton is not running for re-election. He also has high hopes that Dennis Hunt can beat Republican Rob Summerfield for an open seat representing northwestern Wisconsin and Scott Nelson can defeat Republican Shannon Zimmerman for an open seat representing the Hudson area across the border from Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

As for targeted GOP incumbents, there aren’t many. Democrats want to unseat freshman Todd Novak in southwestern Wisconsin’s 51st district and two-termer Kathy Bernier in the 61st, which includes parts of Eau Claire, Chippewa and Clark counties.


Democrats have targeted an open seat in the 18th Senate district, which includes parts of Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties. Democrats have put their faith in Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris to defeat Fond du Lac Republican Dan Feyen. Walker signed a bill earlier this year barring county executives from serving simultaneously in the Legislature, which means Harris would have to trade his $102,800 county job for a $50,950 senator’s salary. Democrats complained the bill was designed to make Harris quit the race but Harris has refused to drop out.

Democrats also believe Sen. Luther Olsen, a moderate Republican from Ripon, Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, who made a name for himself by writing a bill that relaxed Wisconsin’s iron mining regulations, and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls are vulnerable.


They’re going after the Democrats’ most powerful figure in the chamber, Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling. She faces a challenge from Dan Kapanke for her seat representing the La Crosse area. Shilling took the seat from Kapanke during the 2011 recall elections spurred by anger over Walker’s public union restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Republicans also are targeting Julie Lassa, who represents the Stevens Point area, and Dave Hansen, who represents the Green Bay area.

Fitzgerald said he believes support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will ripple down the ballot and help the state GOP. He predicted Republicans will come back with 19 seats again this session.

Supreme Court declines to reopen Walker campaign case

The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up an appeal on the John Doe 2 case, permanently ending a probe into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign against a recall.

The high court declined to reopen the John Doe 2 investigation, leaving in place the state supreme court’s decision that halted the John Doe probe into whether the Republican governor illegally coordinated with outside interest groups, specifically the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth. The state court’s decision was considered highly partisan.

In the probe, prosecutors were looking into whether Walker’s campaign coordinated with conservative groups on campaign ads in 2012. The governor was fighting off a recall effort after he signed his bill stripping public unions of collective bargaining rights.

The Wisconsin Justice Initiative on Oct. 3 said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision highlights a need to reform state judicial campaign laws.

“This unfortunate decision doesn’t erase the perception that money corrupted the deliberative process of the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” WJI executive director Gretchen Schuldt said. “That court’s majority took too much in campaign funds from too many players with interests in the case. The money raises suspicions that will never go away.”

The state should bar judges from participating in cases that include or might affect campaign donors, according to WJI. Also, judges should be blocked from participating in cases involving groups or individuals who have provided endorsements in the judges’ races.

“The integrity of the state supreme court has rightly been called into question,” Schuldt said. “The court itself does not want to restore it and the U.S. Supreme Court does not want to restore it. It is up to Wisconsin voters to insist that their legislators enact laws that will ensure the state supreme court is the pride of Wisconsin, not the huge embarrassment it is now.”

Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm issue a joint statement after learning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision: “We are disappointed by today’s Supreme Court order denying our Petition for Certiorari. The state supreme court decision, left intact by today’s order, prohibits Wisconsin citizens from enacting laws requiring the full disclosure of disguised contributions to a candidate, i.e., monies expended by third parties at the direction of a candidate for the benefit of that candidate’s election. We are proud to have taken this fight as far as the law would allow and we look forward to the day when Wisconsin adopts a more enlightened view of the need for transparency in campaign finance.”

Wisconsin Club for Growth president Eric O’Keefe, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, said, “From its inception, this proceeding was a politically motivated attack and a criminal investigation in search of a theory.”

The high court announced the decision without explanation on Oct. 3, the court’s first day of the fall term. The order said, “The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.”

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.


Wisconsin ethics commission votes to allow members to contribute to state campaigns

By Jay Heck, Common Cause in Wisconsin

This week, the newly-constituted partisan Wisconsin Ethics Commission voted 4-2 to allow its members to make political contributions to state candidates for election.

This is insanity.

As Ethics Commission member Robert Kinney, a former Oneida County circuit judge, argued, “it’s a matter of perception and public confidence.”

“We have, right now, people claiming that elections are rigged,” Kinney said. “We don’t want to create a situation where there’s less confidence in government, less confidence in fairness, less confidence in nonpartisanship.”

Kinney and Republican Pat Strachota, the former Assembly majority leader, effectively voted against allowing contributions according to an AP article about the vote.

But much shame on Peg Lautenschlager, the former Democratic Attorney General, for voting against the ban on contributions from the partisan commissioners.

As well as to Democratic, hyper-partisan attorney, David Halbrooks, Republican Party partisan Katie McCallum and former Republican state Senator and Waukesha County Judge Mac Davis for their support of allowing commission members to make contributions.

Just how stupid do they think Wisconsinites are?

The nonpartisan retired judges, who comprised the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board prior to June 30 did not make political contributions to candidates for state office. But these commissioners, by a 4-2 vote, decided “it’s fine.”

No, it isn’t.

How far we have fallen, so quickly.

Wisconsinites already have very little confidence in the newly-constituted, hyper-partisan GAB to effectively oversee elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying in Wisconsin, which was formed by Republican legislators and Gov. Scott Walker after they destroyed the nonpartisan GAB late last year.

This latest decision destroys what little confidence there may have been.

Common Cause in Wisconsin is a non-partisan, nonprofit citizen’s lobby that focuses on campaign finance, election and lobby reform, open meetings law and other issues concerning the promotion and maintenance of “clean,” open, responsive and accountable government.

Campaign cash: Wisconsin GOP gains most from higher contribution limits

Republican statehouse candidates benefited more than Democrats from Wisconsin’s doubled campaign contribution limits during the first six months of the year, a new analysis has found.

The net GOP advantage was about $25,000, or less than 1 percent of the $2.6 million raised by all legislative candidates in the first half of 2016, the Wisconsin State Journal reported over the weekend.

But Matthew Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which conducted the analysis, said it reflects how a smaller number of people are playing a larger role in funding candidates and influencing public policy.

“That is not a healthy development,” Rothschild said. “Our democracy should not be a tug of war between a few extremely rich people on the left, and a few extremely rich people on the right, which is what it’s becoming. Instead, we all, as citizens, should have an equal voice and an equal say.”

The watchdog group found 290 donations that exceeded the old limits, which were doubled under new laws that took effect at the beginning of the year.

Previously, individuals could give $500 to Assembly candidates, $1,000 to Senate candidates and $10,000 to statewide candidates annually. This year marked first time the amounts were raised since the 1970s.

GOP legislative campaigns collected $90,402 extra thanks to the change, or about 38 percent more than the extra $65,491 that Democratic legislative campaigns took in.

There were 159 donations that exceeded the old limits for legislative Republicans and 120 such donations for Democrats. Altogether Republican Legislative campaigns raised $1.35 million and Democratic Legislative campaigns raised $1.29 million in the first half of the year.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign raised an extra $50,000. Nonpartisan and independent candidates raised about $46,000 extra.

The analysis looked at single donations that exceeded previous limits, and didn’t include donors who exceeded the old caps via multiple donations.

Poll: Political parties lacking appeal for young Americans

Most young Americans say the Republican and Democratic parties don’t represent them, a critical data point after a year of ferocious presidential primaries that forced partisans on both sides to confront what — and whom — they stand for.

That’s according to a new GenForward poll that shows the disconnect holds true across racial and ethnic groups, with just 28 percent of young adults overall saying the two major parties do a good job of representing the American people.

The poll shows that despite this across-the-board feeling of disenchantment with the two-party system, the Democratic Party holds a clear advantage in appealing to young people of color.

More than two-thirds of young adults, including vast majorities of young Asian-Americans, Hispanics and blacks, say the Republican Party does not care about people like them.

Democrats fare a bit better among young people overall, with a small majority — 53 percent — saying the party cares about people like them. Among young African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, most believe the party does care about people like them.

Among young whites, majorities say both parties don’t care much about them, including 58 percent who say that of the Republican Party and 52 percent who say it about the Democratic Party.

GenForward is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

The results of the survey of Americans age 18-30 reflect something of an identity crisis for both parties heading into the future, driven in part by deep antipathy toward the presidential candidates they nominated.

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the two least-popular presidential nominees in the history of modern polling, were opposed by large and bitter swaths of their parties.

Young people aren’t certain to fall in line behind the nominees, the survey found.

Three-quarters of young adults say the billionaire real estate magnate is unqualified to be president even after he vanquished 16 GOP rivals.

Half say the same of Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, after unlikely rival Bernie Sanders forced her to fight for the nomination for a year.

But for all the disenchantment, young adults across racial and ethnic groups are mostly unfamiliar with their alternatives.

Seven in 10 say they don’t know enough about Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson to have an opinion about him, and nearly 8 in 10 say the same about Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

The 18-30 age group tends not to be a conservative constituency, so the survey contains critical data particularly for Democrats and Clinton, who has said she knows she has “work to do” to appeal to the young people who flocked to Sanders during the primary.

Young people across racial and ethnic groups were more likely to support Sanders than Clinton in their primary battle this spring, and among young Sanders supporters, less than half — 43 percent — say they’ll support Clinton against Trump in the fall election.

Three percent say they’ll support Trump, with the rest saying they’re undecided, will vote for a third-party candidate or will not vote.

The poll of 1,940 adults age 18-30 was conducted July 9-20 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.


On the web

GenForward polls: http://www.genforwardsurvey.com/

Black Youth Project: http://blackyouthproject.com/

AP-NORC: http://www.apnorc.org/

Guns, zika, immigration, Trump on Congress’ short agenda

Gun control, immigration and money to combat the Zika virus top the congressional agenda as lawmakers sprint toward the political conventions this month and a seven-week summer recess.

Amid all that, Republicans plan to squeeze in a meeting with Donald Trump on Thursday.

The House and Senate have just eight legislative days before their break, and lawmakers have scheduled a handful of politically charged votes with implications for incumbents in November’s election. In the House, legislation to fight terrorism and a gun control measure that already failed in the Senate are planned for this week.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said a GOP plan to keep suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms would do so “without compromising a citizen’s basic bill of rights,” including the rights to bear arms and receive due process under the law.

In the Senate, immigration bills and legislation to impose labeling on genetically modified food are on tap. Unclear is whether Republicans and Democrats can resolve the dispute over funds for the mosquito-borne Zika virus now that summer is in full swing, or whether the matter will have to wait until September when Congress returns.

A look at the issues:


Back in February, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency money to fight Zika, which causes grave birth defects and has infected 287 pregnant women in the United States and 250 in U.S. territories, according to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

Congress has failed to fund the request as the issue has been caught up in partisan fights and the typical dysfunction. House Republicans rammed through a bill that would provide $1.1 billion by cutting money from other government agencies. The legislation, to the anger of Democrats, would bar new funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico and allow pesticide spraying that environmentalists argue would be harmful.

Senate Democrats have blocked the bill and another vote is expected this week, although progress is unlikely.


Bowing to election-year pressure from Democrats, Ryan, R-Wis., says the House will vote on a GOP proposal aimed at keeping suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms, a measure backed by the National Rifle Association.

Democrats want to vote on their own gun control bills, and they haven’t ruled out a return to disruptive tactics if they’re rebuffed. Ryan indicated on Tuesday that Democrats are unlikely to get a vote.

Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor that lasted nearly 26 hours last month to call attention to their demand for gun-control votes.

The sit-in followed the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and heightened attention on the national toll taken by firearms.

The GOP bill would let the government block firearms purchases for suspected terrorists, but only if prosecutors can prove in court that the buyer is involved in terrorism. It would also establish a new office within the Department of Homeland Security to focus on preventing extremist groups from recruiting followers.

Democrats say the Republican bill is too weak. They want votes on one measure expanding background check requirements for gun buyers, and a second banning firearms sales to terror suspects without requiring prosecutors to first prove the buyer was embarking on terrorism.


Key House and Senate lawmakers are close to a deal on a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s programs and policies, which are due to expire on July 15. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has agreed to temporarily drop his contentious plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system in order to allow a bill to move forward.

Negotiations have focused on what policy provisions to include in the extension. There is strong support in both chambers to include an array of proposals to enhance airports security in light of recent airport attacks in Istanbul and Brussels. Proposals to extend new protections to airline consumers, relax medical requirements for private pilots and lift some restrictions on commercial drone flights are also under discussion.


House and Senate Republicans are slated to meet with the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee less than two weeks before the party convention in Cleveland. Among those expected to attend the separate sessions are Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Joni Ernst of Iowa, all of whom have been mentioned as possible running mates for the blustery billionaire.

Trump’s short list of possible vice presidential candidates is heavy with Washington insiders who could help usher his agenda through Congress.


Senate Democrats are expected to block a GOP bill that would withhold congressional funding from so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Republicans also are proposing a bill to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for any person who illegally re-enters the country after being removed.

Republicans have pushed for action since last year when 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was shot in San Francisco. The man charged in the killing was in the country illegally despite a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations. He had been released by San Francisco authorities despite a request from federal immigration authorities to keep him detained.

Supreme Court deadlocks on immigration case

Karla Cano faces uncertainty. She had expected to qualify for deferred action under the Obama administration’s executive orders on immigration. But a tied decision by the U.S. Supreme Court creates uncertainty for Cano and her family.

“All that is unjust about my situation will continue,” said Cano, 21, a senior at Mount Mary University and the mother of a 2-year-old son.

“I am in college so I can have a career helping others, but I cannot start a career like that without work authorization,” she said. “We just want to help this country and support our families like anyone else.”

The court on June 23 deadlocked on President Barack Obama’s executive actions taken to shield millions living in the United States from deportation.

The 4–4 tie means the next president and a new Congress will determine any change in U.S. immigration policy. The president said the court’s deadlock “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.”

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, called the court ruling unacceptable and pledged to “do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families.”

The dispute before the eight justices — the case was heard in April, after the death of Antonin Scalia — was over the legality of the administration’s orders creating “deferred action for parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents” or DAPA and expanding “deferred action for childhood arrivals” or DACA.

Basically the actions would have provided protection from deportation and three-year work permits to about 5 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as undocumented people who came to the United States before the age of 16.

The president announced the orders in 2014 and, soon after, they were challenged by 26 states led by Republican governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Federal district and appeals courts sided with the states and said the executive office lacked the authority to issue orders shielding immigrants from deportation.

The high court tie means the appeals court ruling stands. But the ruling in United States v. Texas did not set any landmark standards in the dispute over immigration.

The U.S. Justice Department brought the case to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the appeals court decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union was among the many groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, the “4–4 tie has a profound impact on millions of American families whose lives will remain in limbo and who will now continue the fight. In setting the DAPA guidelines, President Obama exercised the same prosecutorial discretion his predecessors have wielded without controversy and ultimately the courts should hold that the action was lawful.”

Reaction from the U.S. progressive community was swift and compassionate.

“This split decision deals a severe blow to millions of immigrant families who have already been waiting more than 18 months for the DAPA and DACA programs to be implemented,” said Alianza Americas’ executive director Oscar Chacón. “The cold fact is that millions of parents and children will go to bed tonight knowing once again that their families could be torn apart at any moment.”

At the Center for Popular Democracy, co-executive director Ana Maria Archila said, “If the highest court in the land cannot find a majority for justice and compassion, there is something truly broken in our system of laws, checks and balances.”

In Wisconsin, Voces de la Frontera held news conferences in Green Bay, Madison and in Milwaukee. LULAC, Centro Hispano and the Southside Organizing Committee also were involved.

“This is very sad for me,” said Jose Flores, a factory worker, father of four and also the president of Voces de la Frontera. “I have been waiting and fighting for reform like DAPA for years. But we are not giving up. I refuse … to shrink back into the shadows.”

Cano, a member of Voces de la Frontera, said, “I am not giving up on the struggle. We need more people to get involved in the upcoming elections, because this decision shows the importance of both the presidential and U.S. congressional elections and whom the next president will nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court.”