discrimination

Shelby County v. Holder

In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) for 25 years. Section 5 of the VRA requires certain “covered” jurisdictions to obtain federal preclearance before making any alterations to their election laws. Section 4(b) sets forth a formula for determining if a jurisdiction is covered. Petitioner Shelby County, Alabama, a covered jurisdiction, asserts that the preclearance regime exceeds Congress’s power to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and violates the Tenth Amendment and Article IV. Other covered jurisdictions, amicihere, complain that the VRA’s restrictions subject them to a double standard and infringe on their state sovereignty rights. Attorney General Holder, the Respondent, contends that these restrictions are necessary to fight regression among states with a history of voting rights abuses. Shelby County argues that current conditions no longer justify preclearance at all, and that the coverage formula is antiquated in any case. Holder argues that preclearance remains a valid exercise of congressional power and that the formula, in combination with the VRA’s “bailout” provision, creates a coverage regime that meets the requirements of the Constitution.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether Congress’s decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the VRA under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) exceeded its authority under the Fifteenth Amendment and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.

top

Issue

Whether Congress’s twenty-five year extension of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its power to enforce the protections of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

top

Edited by: 
Acknowledgments: 

The authors would like to thank former Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions Frank Wagner for his assistance in editing this preview.

Submit for publication: 
0

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (11-345)

Petitioner Abigail Fisher, a white Texan, was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin for the Fall 2008 entering class. Fisher sued the university, arguing that the denial violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection because she was denied admission to the public university in favor of minority applicants with lesser credentials. Fisher contends that the university’s admission policy cannot survive strict scrutiny as required by Grutter v. Bollinger. The university argues that its admissions policy is essentially identical to the policy upheld in Grutter. It asserts that its use of a holistic admissions process, considering race as one factor for admission, creates a diverse student body that benefits the entire university. This case allows the Supreme Court to reexamine Grutter, and it will have far-reaching implications for university admissions policies and racial demographics in schools throughout the United States.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

May the University of Texas at Austin consider race in undergraduate admissions decisions under the Fourteenth Amendment?

Issue

Does a public university violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when it considers race in admissions decisions?

top

Edited by: 
Additional Resources: 
Submit for publication: 
Submit for publication

Kloeckner v. Solis (11-184)

In 2005, Carolyn M. Kloeckner (“Kloeckner”) left her job as a Senior Investigator for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration in the St. Louis office. Soon after, she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging sex and age discrimination and a hostile work environment. The DOL charged her with being “absent without leave” and fired her a year later. The dismissal, coupled with the discrimination complaint, result in what is known as a "mixed" case, and is therefore subject to certain forum restrictions.  After an unsuccessful outcome with her EEO complaint, Kloeckner appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) which dismissed her claims as untimely. Kloeckner tried to challenge this MSPB decision in federal district court, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, holding that only federal circuit courts had jurisdiction over mixed cases that were dismissed on a procedural ground. The federal circuit courts disagree on this issue, and so the Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine whether a federal district court or a federal appellate-level court can hear an appeal of an MSPB decision to dismiss a mixed claim for being untimely.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is authorized to hear appeals by federal employees regarding certain adverse actions, such as dismissals. If in such an appeal the employee asserts that the challenged action was the result of unlawful discrimination, that claim is referred to as a "mixed case."

The Question Presented is:

If the MSPB decides a mixed case without determining the merits of the discrimination claim, is the court with jurisdiction over that claim the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or a district court?

Issue

Can a federal district court hear an appeal of a decision by the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) if the MSPB decided on a procedural ground and the case was “mixed” and so involved both unlawful employment termination and discrimination claims?

top

Edited by: 
Submit for publication: 
Submit for publication
Subscribe to RSS - discrimination