Facing tight timeline, voter-led Michigan redistricting commission on steep learning curve

Michigan’s first-ever citizen redistricting commission is finding itself on a steep learning curve as members race against the clock to draw new maps ahead of the 2022 election, crunching a months-long process into a matter of weeks following an unprecedented delay in census data. … While some states include competitiveness in their redistricting criteria, the commission isn’t required to draw districts that ensure that candidates from each political party have an equal chance of winning. But the maps overall can’t give any party a leg up. The result is that Democratic and Republican voters will be treated fairly, said Ruth Greenwood, the director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, said during a recent event held by Voters Not Politicians. While those who make up a political minority in their district might not feel represented by the legislator from their district, Greenwood noted that individual voters are also represented by the entire legislative body. “When they make a decision, it doesn’t matter what your rep has said, it matters what the whole body does,” she said.

Facebook targets harmful real networks, using playbook against fakes

Facebook (FB.O) is taking a more aggressive approach to shut down coordinated groups of real-user accounts engaging in certain harmful activities on its platform, using the same strategy its security teams take against campaigns using fake accounts, the company told Reuters. The new approach, reported here for the first time, uses the tactics usually taken by Facebook’s security teams for wholesale shutdowns of networks engaged in influence operations that use false accounts to manipulate public debate, such as Russian troll farms. … An expansion of Facebook’s network disruption models to affect authentic accounts raises further questions about how changes might impact types of public debate, online movements and campaign tactics across the political spectrum. “A lot of the time problematic behavior will look very close to social movements,” said Evelyn Douek, a Harvard Law lecturer who studies platform governance. “It’s going to hinge on this definition of harm … but obviously people’s definitions of harm can be quite subjective and nebulous.”

Unions aren’t against vaccines. They just want a say.

An op-ed by Terri Gerstein, fellow and director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program: Earlier this month, Tyson Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers announced that Tyson meatpacking workers will, for the first time, be entitled to paid sick leave, as long as they’re vaccinated. They’ll also get paid time off for vaccinations and for any side effects. The deal resulted from a negotiation between the multinational and the UFCW in relation to the company’s new vaccination mandate. Given that lack of paid sick days is an impediment to vaccination, the deal is a great example of how union negotiation over vaccine mandates can lead to better outcomes for workers and for public health.

‘Am I scared? Absolutely,’ a Capitol Police officer says before Sept. 18 rally

A Sept. 18 rally outside the Capitol in support of those arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection is the first major test for law enforcement authorities since that infamous date. …The rally comes as a bitter partisan divide has emerged over Jan. 6: Republicans have sought to discredit the work of the Jan. 6 select committee and some House Republicans have gone so far as to prop up and support the accused insurrectionists. …Conversations with constitutional experts and lawyers with whom the Jan. 6 committee staff has consulted point to several potential obstacles to the investigation — the biggest one being Trump himself. …But even with potential stonewalling by Trump, investigators will still be much less constrained when pursuing documents compared to when Trump was in office, according to Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School who testified in the first public impeachment inquiry into Trump. “It’s a lot simpler when you have an administration in office who is not the one you are investigating,” said Feldman.

Want to save the planet? Share a ride

An op-ed by Ashley Nunes, a research fellow at Harvard Law School: “We don’t have any more time” was Joe Biden’s outcry last week as he urged climate action after visiting hurricane-wracked New Jersey. The storm made landfall in Louisiana before roaring up the East Coast. Along the way, it unleashed flash floods, fast-moving tornadoes, and high speed winds that prompted the evacuation of thousands and caused over 50 deaths. Biden’s response? A public spending hike he says will better protect Americans. The president’s $1.2tn infrastructure deal and a $3.5tn spending package — which are working their way through Congress — is stuffed with green goodies like power lines that can carry more renewable energy, upgraded insulation for homes and, most notably, subsidies for electric autos. …Luckily, when it comes to curbing emissions, there’s a solution. It doesn’t rely on electrification, automation, or any other technological knowhow, but it’s got teeth. It’s called ride-sharing. Our work shows that were the public to forego individual trips in favour of communal ones, emissions would fall and fall fast.

Can New Technology Tools Keep Redistricting Honest and Fair?

With the arrival of the 2020 Census redistricting data, voting maps have become the latest front in America’s never-ending, two-party battle for control of Congress and statehouses. …Attorney Ruth Greenwood shares Bradlee’s and Duchin’s belief that better and more data can improve redistricting outcomes, but she brings a different skill set to this challenge. The director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, she is actively engaged in election law litigation, and took two partisan gerrymandering cases from trial to the Supreme Court. Greenwood is a co-founder of PlanScore, a free online resource that measures partisan gerrymandering against four distinct measures. … “When we started, it would take 10 minutes to run a plan, which was still amazing compared to my many hours of work to analyze a plan,” says Greenwood. Since then, the software has evolved to be able to accomplish this task in under 90 seconds.

Amazon Faces Union Drive in Canada Months After Alabama Win

Amazon.com Inc. is facing a unionization effort at a fulfillment center in Canada, just months after defeating a similar drive in the U.S. …Amazon will have less time and less discretion to carry out an anti-union campaign in Alberta than it did in Alabama, said David Doorey, an associate professor at York University in Toronto. Authorities in Alberta are more likely to deem an onslaught of mandatory anti-union meetings illegally coercive, he said in an email. “Canadian labor law has less tolerance for aggressive anti-union campaigning by employers than the U.S. model,” said Doorey, who is also a research associate at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program and former attorney for the United Steelworkers.

National Park Service Announces Plan For Tule Elk Population At Point Reyes Amid Criticism From Activists

The National Park Service issued a record of decision Monday in response to reports of tule elk dying at Point Reyes National Seashore, allowing the continuation of commercial cattle ranching on park lands while making “improvements” to the elk population’s management…Environmental and animal rights activists have criticized the National Park Service over the last year for its handling of the tule elk population, arguing that more than 150 elk have died on park lands since last year, amounting to more than one-third of the species’ population. At the root of the criticism, underscored in a lawsuit filed in June by Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Clinic, is a fence on park service land that prevents the elk from grazing in the southern portion of their habitat, which is leased to private commercial ranchers.