Derek Muller, “Complexity Confronting State Judges and the Right to Vote” 7 Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore 65 (2016)

April 29, 2016 — Professor Derek Muller’s article, “Complexity Confronting State Judges and the Right to Vote,” has been published in the Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore.

From the Ohio State Journal Furthermore:

Professor Douglas offers valuable insight into state judiciaries and state cases regarding the right to vote. State judges, after all, do often adjudicate significant right-to-vote disputes and construe state laws that may impact the right to vote. And state constitutional guarantees, and corresponding judicial decisions, regarding that right to vote are too often underappreciated.

I would like to amplify Professor Douglas’s article by highlighting some of the reasons why litigants may prefer or the media may tend to emphasize federal voting rights over state voting rights. It is not simply because interpretations of voting rights under the federal Constitution would have an impact in all fifty states—although, to be sure, the universality is an important (and attractive) aspect for litigants. Instead, it is because state laws affecting the right to vote are far more complicated when one examines how state election laws operate.

This short piece runs orthogonally to Professor Douglas’s article and seeks to identify some of the complexity confronting state judges in these voting rights disputes, and why state courts may be more or less valuable in particular kinds of disputes. State constitutions, direct democracy, and the limited authority of the federal courts in some areas create unique challenges and opportunities for litigants in many states. Understanding these situations informs the scope of state judicial influence in construing the right to vote.

Read more on the Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore website (PDF).

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