TEXAS REDISTRICTING & ELECTION LAW

Updates about ongoing redistricting litigation in the Lone Star State and coverage of election law more generally. This website's goal is to try to make sure the redistricting process and litigation over voting law is as transparent and accessible as possible to the public. Hopefully, it will be of some use to a broad range of interested parties, both lawyers and non-lawyers. Have questions, comments, suggestions, additional content, or a redistricting joke (or two)? Feel free to contact me: Michael Li, michael.li@mlilaw.com, 202.681.0641.
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Chief Judge David Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has appointed Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh and District Judge John Bates as members of the three-judge panel that will hear South Carolina’s voter ID case.

Bates and Kavanaugh join District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on the panel.

The South Carolina case, like the parallel Texas voter ID case, is widely being watched for the possibility that it may bring issues concerning constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act back to the Supreme Court.

Some background on the three judges:

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton in May 1997.  She received both her B.A. and J.D. from Catholic University of America.

From 1969-1972, Judge Kollar-Kotelly was an appellate attorney in the criminal division of the Justice Department, after which she served as chief legal counsel for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital from 1972 to 1984.

In 1984, President Reagan appointed Judge Kollar-Kotelly an associate judge of the D.C. Superior Court, where she served until her appointment to the district court bench by President Clinton.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s notable cases include presiding over the Microsoft antitrust case.

From 2002-2009, Judge Kollar-Kotelly served as presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Judge John Bates.

Judge Bates is a 1976 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law. After law school and a judicial clerkship, Judge Bates was an associate at Steptoe & Johnson for three years before serving as an assistant US attorney in the District of Columbia from 1980-1987 and then as chief of the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office from late 1987 until 1997 when left the Justice Department to join the firm of Washington law firm of Miller & Chevalier.  

From 1995-1997, Judge Bates also Deputy Independent Counsel in the Whitewater investigation.  President George W. Bush appointed Judge Bates to the bench in September 2001.

Judge Bates is author of recent opinions in Shelby County v. Holder and LaRoque v. Holder upholding the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. 

Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Judge Kavanaugh graduated from Yale College and Yale University Law School.  After law school, he clerked with Justice Anthony Kennedy at Supreme Court as well as Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Walter Stapleton of the Third Circuit.

Judge Kavanaugh later was an appellate partner in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis and also served as associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel under Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

In 2000, Judge Kavanaugh served as a member of then-Governor Bush’s legal team in the Florida recount litigation.  Subsequently, Judge Kavanaugh served in the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel where his responsibilities included screening judicial nominees. 

President Bush appointed Judge Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit in 2003; however, his nomination was stalled for three years over charges of partisanship.  Judge Kavanaugh was finally confirmed in May 2006 after negotiation of a compromise between Democratic and Republican senators.

Judge Kavanaugh frequently has been included in shortlists of potential Supreme Court nominees under a Republican president.

Chief Judge Sentelle’s order can be found here.

Rick Hasen of the UC Irvine School of Law has some additional thoughts about the panel here.