Tuesday, June 30, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court upholds redistricting by independent panels

Great to speak with Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle for this piece

The court majority was clearly aware that a contrary decision “would also call into question a host of other laws using direct democracy to affect congressional elections,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

California GOP benefits from redistricting decision as bigger case looms

Wonderful to talk to Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times for this piece

"In Arizona, the Republicans are upset today, but in California the Democrats might be a little less happy than they might have been otherwise," said Jessica A. Levinson, clinical professor of law at Loyola Law School, who specializes in election law. "Redistricting can sometimes make for strange bedfellows."


"The independent redistricting commissions typically do make life and elections harder for incumbents," Levinson said. "The losers today are self-interested incumbents."

Supreme Court rules that citizens commissions can draw congressional districts

My latest op-ed is in today's Sacramento Bee.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Supreme Court upholds Arizona political map"

Great to speak with Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic for this piece.

Election-law professor Jessica Levinson said she was surprised by the ruling after arguments in March appeared to favor the Legislature.

"I thought that they would give the constitutional provision a strict and narrow reading," said Levinson, of Loyola Law School. "I thought this was going to be another one of the cases where the court undermines voters rights and protections. This seems like it's a validation of citizens' ability to use their lawmaking power through the process of direct democracy."

After marriage, LGBT activists prepare for next challenge

Always a true pleasure to talk with Carla Marinucci of the SF Chronicle. 

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says it is clear that “even if you have the right to be married, it doesn’t mean you are free from all discrimination — so the next frontier will be looking at discrimination laws.”

“You have to give couples the same rights in employment ... in hospital visits, and there are other instances of discrimination. It’s not the only question,” she said, “but it may be the biggest.”

More here. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"O.C. college district foundation closer to OKing Saudi consulting deal"

Great to talk to Ruben Vives of the Los Angeles Times for this piece.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who specializes in good governance, said even if it was an honest mistake there are consequences to violating open meeting laws.

"The public is injured when there is a Brown Act violation like this," she said. "The public is deprived from taking part in their government's decisions."

Supreme Court upholds another challenge to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)

The 6-3 decision, written by CJ Roberts, is here.

The Court rules that subsidies are available to those who bought their insurance on the federal exchange.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cost of a Seat: California Legislators Raise More than $1,000 a Day

Great to talk to Marisa Lagos of KQED for this post. 

And they don’t even take into account the millions of dollars spent by independent outside groups to influence these legislative races, said campaign finance expert and Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson. Even though she studies these issues, Levinson said the numbers surprised her.

“That is an astronomical amount of money to raise every day,” she said. “It’s not just the absolute value of the money — which is high — but it takes a lot of time to raise money.”

Levinson noted that there are “only 24 hours in a day,” so fundraising must take attention away from other duties.

“You are either not sleeping or not legislating for a lot of time,” she said.

You also have to factor in campaign contribution limits, Levinson added. In 2014, legislative candidates could receive a maximum of $4,100 from an individual or business entity.

“Because we have contribution limits, you have to go to a lot of different people and ask for money to raise those amounts — so you are left, in effect, owing a lot of people,” she said. “The other thing is, who are you talking to when you are fundraising constantly? Only people who can give you money.”

California 'Kill the Gays' ballot blocked

Good to talk to Anita Chabria of the Guardian for this piece.

Professor Jessica Levinson of Loyola Law School said: “I am a little surprised because of the tradition, in California in particular, that we wait until measures are passed before ruling on their constitutionality. What we have here is a judge who is laying out a ruling saying that there is no world in which this is valid, so we are not going to waste our time. So it’s a very strong statement from both the attorney general and the judge.” 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"California Gov. Jerry Brown notches another budget victory"

Great to speak with John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle for this one

“For voters, 2008 is still in the public memory,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches political ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “They still remember the days of deep budget cuts and state IOUs.”
The governor can get away with issuing ultimatums and brushing aside legislators’ concerns because he’s, well, Jerry Brown, said Levinson. After decades as a high-visibility player in California politics, a record 13 years as governor and a reputation, deserved or not, for reversing the state’s financial woes, voters are far more comfortable with his plans for the state’s future than those of little-known, term-limited legislators.
Democrats, at least for now, can only make the best of what the governor gives them, she added.
Legislative leaders “can agree that they pushed for more programs, but you didn’t see them fight too hard for them,” Levinson said. “This is Jerry Brown’s budget.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Kevin Johnson’s push for more staff reflects continued national ambitions"

Great to talk with Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee for this piece
Loyola Law School professor and political ethics expert Jessica Levinson said that like many other big city mayors, Johnson has made no secret of his desire to increase both his own and the city’s national profile. And that’s not problematic, as long as he’s “not just trying to make a name for himself,” she said.
“You want to make sure you are raising your profile to help the city, not raising the profile to help yourself,” she said. “In an ideal world, there is something concrete where you can tell people this is how spending this money (on city staff and travel) helped you beyond the broad platitude that it helped put the city on the map.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article23552944.html#storylink=cpy

"Measuring the impact of new rule preventing 'pay to play' in fighting traffic fines"

Great to be on KPCC's AirTalk to discuss.