National Briefs: Redistricting on the docket

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WASHINGTON — About 10 years ago, the justices of the Supreme Court took a good, hard look at the way politicians bend, tweak and manipulate electoral boundaries to protect themselves and punish their enemies — and threw in the towel.

The Constitution, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for a plurality in Vieth v. Jubelirer, does not provide “a judicially enforceable limit on the political considerations that the states and Congress may take into account when districting.”

This fall, the court has another chance.

It will hear a challenge from Alabama in which Democrats say Republicans in charge packed black Democrats into legislative districts at greater rates than necessary so they could create safer Republican seats.

Four of the nine justices in the Pennsylvania case Vieth v. Jubelirer 10 years ago are gone. The new cases, Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, will be a new gerrymandering test for the reconstituted court.

Mainstream GOP fights

LANSING, Mich. — Backed by outside groups and their own fortunes, two insurgent Republicans are trying to knock off a pair of incumbent House members in today’s Michigan primary.

But it’s not what you think.

These primary challengers are more at home in the party’s establishment as both are wealthy, business-oriented candidates looking to upend tea party-backed conservatives elected in the past two elections. It’s a reversal from June’s primary shocker in Virginia where upstart Dave Brat defeated then Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The first is Dave Trott, a lawyer and businessman running in suburban Detroit, where many consider GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio to be an “accidental” representative. In western Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, Brian Ellis, an investment adviser from Grand Rapids, is challenging libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash.

NYC youth jails audited

NEW YORK — New York City’s juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force,” the federal government said in a scathing report released Monday.

The report, the result of a 2 ½ -year Justice Department investigation into violence at three Rikers Island juvenile jail facilities, recommended major overhauls to almost every aspect of how young offenders are treated.

SpaceX plans Texas site

McALLEN, Texas — SpaceX will build the world’s first commercial site for orbital rocket launches in the southernmost tip of Texas.

The state of Texas said Monday that it added $15.3 million in incentives to the geographic value of a location east of Brownsville that will allow SpaceX to have greater control over the timing of its launches. The company has said it plans to launch 12 rockets a year from the Boca Chica Beach, a short walk from the Gulf of Mexico and just a couple miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also in the nation …

Texting bans can reduce teen traffic fatalities by as much as 11 percent, a team of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found in a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health. … Five thousand words have been added to “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary,” out Monday from Merriam-Webster.

—Compiled from news services


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