Evenwel v Abbott

Evenwel challenged Texas’ senate districts arguing the use of total population devalued her vote and thus violated the 14th Amendment. A three judge district court panel ruled use of total population as the base for districting purposes was permissible. The Court, with two judges concurring in judgment, affirmed. The majority held that the use of total population instead of voter age population or any other base was permissible given the constitutional history of the use of total population in the original constitution and in the 14th amendment itself, the lack of any holding in the Court’s precedent suggesting total population was an improper base amount and the universal practice of the use total population in federal, state and local districting for decades if not centuries. Thomas concurred in judgment arguing that the Constitution does not adopt any theory of the correct way to set up legislative districts, the Court’s precedent fails to identify any basis to choose voters over all population, the constitution requires representative government but does not require any particular form from the states and the majority continue the wrong course of trying to dictate how states organize their governments and create their legislative districts. Alito, joined in part by Thomas, concurred in judgment arguing that there is no constitutional requirement for use of total population, that federal system violates the principle in giving each state guaranteed representation in the Senate and at least one House member, the original constitutional structure and the allocation of seats under the 14th Amendment were about power not abstract theory.

Nichols v United States

Nichols challenged his conviction for failing to update his sex offender registration when he moved out of country. The 10th Circuit rejected his challenge. Resolving a circuit split on the issue, the Court unanimously reversed. It held that because foreign countries are not jurisdictions under the statute, and the statute only imposes duties to update registration in a jurisdiction that a covered person resides, works or is a student (all present tense verbs) Nichols had no obligation to change his information under the statute he moved from Kansas to the Philippines. The Court noted that Nichols can still face charges under Kansas law and Congress recently added statutory language covering registered offenders who leave the country.

Woods v Etherton

Etherton sought federal habeas relief arguing ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. A spilt panel of the 6th Circuit eventually granted relief. The Court reversed per curium reasoning that a fair-minded jurist could find no ineffective assistance as the complained of tip evidence was uncontroverted and in any event consistent with Etherton’s defense. Thus, Etherton could not prove a Strickland violation and the 6th Circuit additionally failed to apply appropriate deference to Michigan court rulings.