Calendario

Agosto. 2017
LunMarMierJueVierSabDom
 << < > >>
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Anuncio

¿Quién está en línea?

Miembro: 0
Visitante: 1

rss Sindicación

21 Mar 2017 
Three years after recognizing a new cause of action for racial

redistricting in Shaw v. Reno,(1) the Supreme Court's voting rights

jurisprudence still teeters on the brink of legal incoherence and

political chaos. Concerned about the new extremes to which

self-interested redistricting has been taken in the 1990s--particularly,

but not exclusively, for racial purposes--the Court has been struggling

to articulate legal principles that might fix acceptable boundaries on

the power of politicians to define their constituencies.(2) But last

Term's unsurprising decisions striking down districts in North

Carolina and Texas,(3) like the previous Term's decision

invalidating a Georgia congressional district,(4) suggest that these

principles remain disturbingly elusive.(5) To be sure, some speculations

have been publicly confirmed, most notably that the five-member majority

crafting these new constitutional constraints is itself profoundly

fragmented.(6) Yet the precise extent to which election districts can be

designed to take race or ethnicity into account remains shrouded in a

doctrinal framework that provides scant practical guidance in the most

charged setting of all for identity and partisan politics.

The relationship of race to the construction of political


institutions is a prominent site in which themes of "Group Conflict


and the Constitution," the topic of this Symposium, are currently


being played out. In the redistricting arena, the Court now appears to


have settled on a doctrinal formula through which it will mediate this


particular form of group conflict. In each of the last two Term's


cases, the Court has consistently rehearsed this doctrinal principle:


Race cannot be "the predominant factor" in the drawing of


election district lines.(7) This approach to racial group conflict in


the political realm organizes constitutional inquiry around the


motivations of those who control the redistricting process.


This brief Essay seeks to make one narrowly targeted doctrinal

point: Whatever the merits of motive-based approaches to mediating group

conflicts in other constitutional contexts, in the redistricting arena

that approach will not be capable of sustaining constitutional doctrine

in a coherent, administrable, or useful form. This is not due to general

theoretical concerns about motive-based doctrines, but to pragmatic

reasons peculiar to the redistricting context. If the Court's

current project of imposing constitutional restraints on race and

redistricting is to be given principled legal content, it will have to

be through another approach. Toward the close of this Essay, I will

suggest the most likely alternative.

With respect to general problems of group conflict and the


Constitution, this Essay's discrete concerns might nonetheless


suggest a few broader implications. At the most general level, I will


argue that the Supreme Court's struggles stem from misguided


efforts to assimilate race-conscious districting to the constitutional


framework for other race-conscious government policies. The now reigning


approach to policing racial redistricting, the motive-based


"predominant factor" test, offers the allure of consistency


with other areas of constitutional law. By importing Washington v.


Davis(8) and City of Mobile v. Bolden(9) into redistricting, the Court


has cast the Shaw doctrine as continuous with established Fourteenth and


Fifteenth Amendment principles. But this portrait of continuity is an


illusion. At least in the area of race, constitutional problems of group


conflict cannot be approached effectively in universal terms. Contexts


in which issues of race-conscious policy arise turn out to differ in


pragmatic, but central, ways. Whatever the merits of more rigidly


"consistent" approaches in other institutional


arenas--approaches that argue for colorblindness or race-consciousness


in all-or-nothing terms--within the legal system, contextual variations


must be attended to if courts are to develop coherent, administrable


legal doctrines.


Thus, whether or not the intent standard of Davis is appropriate


for certain contexts, such as public employment, the effort to borrow


this standard for redistricting is fundamentally flawed. I will stress


three reasons that this is so, though others could be marshalled. First,


an intent standard is not properly linked at the conceptual level to the


nature of the constitutional harm that the Court's


racial-redistricting cases recognize. The injuries Shaw makes actionable


are expressive harms, as will be described later; such harms focus on


the social meaning of, and social perceptions about, government action,


rather than on individuated and more material harms to discrete


individuals. Once the role of these expressive harms in Shaw is


appreciated, the predominant motive test can be seen not to be a


coherent approach to implementing the decision's underlying theory.


Second, an intent standard emerges out of more conventional


individual-rights adjudication contexts. But Shaw is not best understood


as operating within an individual-rights model of the relevant harm.


Third, in the redistricting arena, the Davis approach will be


intractable at the practical level. Sensible doctrine in this area must


recognize that carving states into election districts differs in


essential ways from choosing one of two applicants for a particular job,


or awarding a public construction contract to one of two competing


firms, or granting a broadcasting license to one of two bidders. In


particular, race and partisan politics are too compounded in


redistricting to be separable through motive-based "predominant


factor" tests. Whatever precision such tests might have elsewhere,


in the redistricting context they can only dissolve into ritualistic,


vaporous incantations. Inevitably, this approach will lead to


disingenuous judicial decisions; courts simply are not likely to be able


or willing to apply such a standard faithfully. Indeed, this evasion of


artificial doctrinal formulas is already evident in the Supreme Court


itself: The Court has begun to decide cases in ways that cannot be


reconciled with a primary emphasis on ferreting out legislative


intent.(10)


Doctrinal stumbling and confusion about race-conscious districting

poisons politics and culture in particularly pathological ways. Under

the best of circumstances, the drawing of election districts by

politicians is nasty, brutish, and anything but short. Adding race and

ethnicity makes the mix even more combustible. Unless the Court quickly

brings more principled legal ordering to the framework of racial

redistricting, political institutions will become the site for the most

divisive racial and ethnic confrontations seen in many years. Already in

the aftermath of the Court's recent decisions, several states have

become too politically paralyzed to redistrict at all; instead, they

have defaulted the task to federal courts.(11)

This Essay is directed primarily to courts struggling to implement


the Shaw doctrine. The approach here also differs from what might be


called "the ideological turn" that legal scholarship has taken


in recent years.(12) Increasingly, legal scholarship has merged into


fields like political theory and cultural critique as it has sought to


tease out the general systems of beliefs, assumptions, and structures of


values embedded within legal decisions. For some purposes, this work has


been immensely valuable; yet it necessarily downplays characteristic


qualities of legal decisionmaking and more internal styles of legal


analysis. Rather than focusing on the fine-grained distinctions between


cases and contexts that more conventional legal analysis stresses, for


example, ideological critique tends to see cases as raising fundamental


choices between competing, broad ideologies.(13) Rather than seeing


legal issues as arising amid specific institutional constraints and


within particular complexes of fact, ideological analyses tend to be


framed in terms of clashes between competing frameworks of values, often


conceived at high levels of abstraction. Because my aim is limited here


to the judicial implementation of Shaw, this Essay is more in the nature


of internal doctrinal critique. Thus I do not engage in the


"fundamental" debate that has preoccupied much academic


commentary on the decision: whether race-conscious districting, in the


extreme geographic forms Shaw condemns, ought to be constitutional. Much


of the response to Shaw has predictably, but unproductively, urged that


it be overruled.(14) Yet with five cases now decided in the last four


Terms, even dissenting Justices have recognized that "the Court


seems settled in its conclusion that racial gerrymandering claims such


as these may be pursued."(15) I take the principle of Shaw to be


settled, at least for now, and for implementation purposes seek to


understand the doctrine on its own terms.


Part I begins by explaining Shaw and then challenges prevalent


mythologies concerning racial redistricting and the Voting Rights Act


(VRA). I argue, for example, that certain familiar criticisms of Shaw


misunderstand both the history of the VRA and the present context of


redistricting. To address Shaw effectively requires understanding it as


a specific response to distinct developments in the voting arena.


Ironically, however, the specific means the Court invokes fail to


recognize what is distinct about the logic of voting rights. Thus Part


II seeks to demonstrate that the current "predominant motive"


test will necessarily fail as a means of implementing the values Shaw is


best understood to reflect. Finally, the Essay ends with suggestions on


how the realities of the entanglement between race and politics in


redistricting can be better recognized through an alternative approach


that provides more principled guidance in this highly charged arena.


I. VOTING RIGHTS MYTHOLOGIES


Shaw and subsequent decisions hold that race-conscious election


districting will be subject to strict scrutiny and held unconstitutional


in certain specific circumstances. Questions abound at each stage of


this inquiry: (1) what precise triggering facts bring strict scrutiny


into play; (2) what state justifications are sufficiently compelling


once strict scrutiny is applied; and (3) what means are the most


narrowly tailored forms of districting once strict scrutiny is applied.


Although the same issues can arise under more than one of these


inquiries, this Essay focuses on the first question as the point of


greatest complexity in the current formulation of Shawl To begin


unpacking that aspect of Shaw, it is perhaps easiest to start with what


the decision does not hold regarding when strict scrutiny will be


applied.


Despite exaggerated claims from both critics and supporters,(16)


the Shaw doctrine is neither a broad attack on section 2 of the VRA nor


an assault on all intentional race-conscious districting. To be sure,


some Justices would subject all such districting to strict scrutiny;


some have gone further and intimated a willingness to hold the


"results" test of section 2 unconstitutional.(17) As an


institution, however, the Court has explicitly stated that Shaw reflects


a judicial effort to distinguish "appropriate and reasonably


necessary uses of race from its unjustified and excessive


uses."(18) The excessive use of race, not racial classification per


se, generates Shaw harms. That is the principle that critics and


supporters of Shaw should be contesting, not the role of race per se in


districting. It is also the principle to which courts implementing Shaw


must give content.


If race-consciousness per se is not harmful except when taken to


certain extremes, one may view Shaw as a judicial effort to draw the


highly contestable line that plagues all civil rights policies, the line


between (to use loaded terms) "nondiscrimination" and


"affirmative action." As difficult as this line is to define


in other contexts, it is even more difficult in the area of voting


rights. In contexts like employment policy, it is at least arguable in


theory that nondiscrimination can be achieved through the adoption of


employment practices that do not themselves require race-consciousness.


The VRA addresses the way public electoral structures respond to private


voting patterns; public law must first look to whether those patterns


reflect racially polarized voting, and then, because private voting


behavior cannot itself be directly regulated, reactive public


institutions can only respond by themselves adopting race-conscious


programs designed to countervail private race-conscious voting. That is


what the post-1982 VRA does.


As the Court appears to see it, race-consciousness in


redistricting is permissible to ensure evenhandedness; equal rights


means that minority voters have similar opportunities as majority voters


to elect "representatives of their choice." Section 2 of the


VRA bans vote dilution, and thus requires that districting be racially


evenhanded; but as the Court construes it, this process of


race-conscious districting is permissible when necessary to ensure equal


rights. When race-consciousness goes beyond this point, the shadow of


strict scrutiny falls. All this sounds tautological, of course. The


Court gives content to these principles by implicitly comparing what is


done when majority and minority districts are being created. When


majority-minority districts comply with traditional districting


principles, and are drawn to redress racially polarized voting, the


Court treats them as constitutionally appropriate because necessary to


secure evenhanded treatment. When race-conscious districting goes


further, by abandoning the principles typically used to draw other


districts, the Court treats race as having been singled out for


exceptionally preferential treatment. The Shaw Court can be understood,


then, as holding that when this point has been crossed, the VRA has been


illicitly transformed from a regime of "nondiscrimination" to


one of "affirmative action." Moreover, redistricting signals


this shift more visibly and publicly than other policies: The maps speak


for themselves (the frequency with which editorial page writers and


judges reprint them attests to this belief).(19)


Seen in this light, Shaw's concern with the "excessive


and unjustified" use of race can be seen as cousin to last


Term's decision in Romer v. Evans,(20) as well as other recent, but


less controversial, voting-rights cases.(21) The fact that


Colorado's Amendment 2 went beyond depriving homosexuals of


"special rights," and so broadly denied legal protections


"taken for granted by most people either because they already have


them or do not need them," led the Court to conclude both that the


Amendment failed the rational basis test and that it rested on an


impermissible animus.(22) Although Romer reaches a result liberals


applaud, and Shaw one that liberals deride, in both the Court's


legal conclusions implicitly require it along the way to give content to


the elusive line between "equal rights" and "special


preferences." Indeed, that distinction is now emerging as one of


the philosophical touchstones of the current Court's constitutional


jurisprudence.


To provide the factual matrix within which this distinction must


be assessed in the redistricting context, this Part seeks to undermine


several common mythologies prevalent in academic and popular critiques


of Shawl In previous work, I have addressed voting rights mythologies


typically associated with political conservatives.(23) Here, I note four


mythologies typically associated with critics of Shawl


A. Myth #1: Minority-Controlled Districts in the 1990s Are No More


Bizarre than Districts Traditionally Have Been


Some charge that the Supreme Court has become worried about


"bizarre" districts only now that such districts have emerged


to benefit racial and ethnic minorities.(24) In a literal sense, this is


true: Shaw does not condemn "extremely bizarre" districts


across the board, only those in which race can be viewed as having


played too dominant a role. Should politicians craft highly contorted


districts to protect incumbents, the Constitution would not be


implicated;(25) should politicians do so for partisan reasons, the


Constitution is only implicated in theory, not in practice.(26) Some


critics go so far as to view this as a "racial double


standard": Bizarre minority-majority districts are subject to


constitutional challenge, while bizarre white-majority districts are


not.(27)


In the redistricting context, at least, this rhetorically forceful


charge ignores dramatic recent developments evidenced in the 1990s round


of redistricting. For several reasons, the creation of bizarrely


configured districts exploded in the 1990s. Much of this development is


directly attributable to race-conscious districting. Even where it is


not, there is reason to believe that such districting indirectly


influenced the rise of bizarre districting through its effects on the


culture, as opposed to the formal law, of redistricting. To the extent


minority-controlled districts are far more extreme in shape than other


districts, or to the extent that the VRA and race-conscious districting


is a significant cause of whatever new extremes might be found in


white-majority districts, Shaw needs to be assessed as a response to


genuinely novel developments. The evidence does indeed establish that


this is the case.


One means of documenting these changes is to quantify the rise of


"highly bizarre" congressional districts in the 1990s. This


can be done through numerical techniques that assess district


shapes.(28) For purposes of Shaw, one relevant measure focuses on the


perimeter of districts, assaying the extent to which borders meander to


include selected voters. A second relevant measure focuses on the


dispersion of districts, testing how efficiently a district encompasses


its territory. Both measures start from the baseline of a circle as the


ideal district shape. At this stage, we need not ask the normative


question of what values reasonably compact districts might serve, nor


what the ideal baseline for assessing compactness ought to be. The aim


initially is to see whether we can identify significant recent changes


in districting practices before turning to the possible legal


implications.


Using these measures, I have compared the compactness of


congressional districts in the 1980s and 1990s on a state-by-state basis


as well as nationwide in the aggregate. The results are reproduced in


Appendix I. Nationwide, substantially more congressional districts in


the 1990s than in the 1980s can be considered "highly


bizarre."(29) With respect to district perimeters, taking an


arbitrarily selected threshold, there were only sixteen districts below


this level in the 1980s, while in the 1990s there were fifty


districts--more than three times as many. Similarly, using an arbitrary


threshold for the dispersion measure, there were twenty-five districts


in the 1980s spread out more diffusely than this level, while there were


forty in the 1990s. In other words, congressional districts became


dramatically more bizarre in the 1990s than they were in the 1980s.


Moreover, these aggregate nationwide data obscure even more remarkable


changes in states that created new minority congressional districts in


the 1990s. Using the perimeter measure, in North Carolina, the average


compactness of congressional districts fell a dramatic 70% in the 1990s;


in Louisiana, it fell 62%; in Texas, 50%; in Virginia, 43%; in Georgia,


35%. In four states, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas,


dispersion scores dropped at least 20%. In states with new minority


districts, therefore, the average compactness of all districts


plummeted.


This transformation in the pattern of districting can be


documented in another way. We can compare the frequency with which


political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, and towns, were


divided across multiple congressional districts in the 1990s compared to


the 1980s. From judicial findings and documents discovered in


litigation, Professor Timothy O'Rourke has collected such


information; the results parallel those in the compactness studies.(30)


In North Carolina, congressional lines had largely adhered to county


boundaries in preceding decades. In the 1980s plan, only four of the


state's hundred counties had been split. In the state's


original plan for the 1990s, subsequently invalidated in the Shaw


litigation, forty-four counties were split; indeed, seven counties were


fragmented into three congressional districts. Not only were counties


split, but "`a large number of divided precincts'" also


emerged in the 1990s.(31) In Texas, the 1990s redistricting plan, since


struck down, split thirty-five counties and more than 160 cities, while


the 1980s plan had fractured only ten counties. In Georgia, the 1980s


plan had divided three counties, while the 1990s plan, also invalidated,


split twenty-six counties. Yet another since-invalidated 1990s


redistricting plan, Louisiana's, fragmented twenty-eight of the


state's sixty-four parishes; that state's 1980s plan had


divided only seven parishes. Recent judicial findings from Virginia


reveal that that state's 1980s districting plan had split three


counties and two cities between districts; the 1990s plan divided eight


cities, all split by the one majority-black district (the Third


Congressional District) the state created in the 1990s.(32) Of the


seventeen localities comprising this district, eleven were split between


two congressional districts, with the borders closely tied to racial


demographics.(33)


To be sure, partisan aims have driven gerrymandering as long as


districted elections have existed, and on occasion, have generated


similar tactics.(34) And thus far, the available data enable relatively


easy systematic comparisons only of congressional districts between the


1980s and 1990s.(35) Nonetheless, it is clear that the 1990s have


witnessed a precipitous and systematic decline in the regularity of


congressional districts.


To what extent are the VRA and race-conscious districting


responsible for this proliferation of extreme district shapes? Appendix


II lists the twenty-eight most bizarrely shaped congressional districts


in the immediate aftermath of the 1990s redistricting; certain of these


districts were later judicially invalidated under Shawl Of these


twenty-eight districts, thirteen were minority-dominated districts. Of


the remaining fifteen, between five and eight shared substantial borders


with one of these contorted minority districts and were therefore


necessarily contorted as well. Of the remaining seven to ten districts,


two reflect the contorted geography of the unusual terrain they


encompass: District 36 in California is noncompact because it includes


two islands, and District 10 in Massachusetts includes Cape Cod and


nearby islands. Thus, as few as five and as many as eight of the


twenty-eight most bizarre districts were white districts neither mapping


onto contorted natural geography nor adjoining oddly shaped minority


districts.(36) Put another way, the direct effect of race-conscious


districting on the general pattern of declining compactness appears


quite substantial. But there is a more subtle and indirect way that the


VRA and racial redistricting in recent years might have contributed even


to those few extremely bizarre white-majority districts not adjoining


minority ones.


Although it would be difficult to prove conclusively, I suspect


that race-conscious districting has intersected in the 1990s with other


developments that together have brought about a general decline in tacit


constraints that previously constrained interest group politics,


including pursuit of partisan self-interest, during the intensely


political process of districting. Three factors changed during the 1980s


that account for this transformation: technology improved;


constitutional doctrine shifted in the reapportionment area; and


statutory obligations to avoid minority-vote dilution under the VRA were


substantially enhanced. Taken together, these factors have facilitated


gerrymandering on a new scale. In assessing Shaw, it is tempting to try


to isolate the distinct and direct contribution to the proliferation of


bizarre districts of recent race-conscious districting under the VRA.


After all, Shaw is not a comprehensive antigerrymandering doctrine; it


is directly targeted at racial gerrymandering alone. Thus if Shaw is to


be justified as a response to the general new context of redistricting,


it seems appropriate to ask how much the particular factor Shaw


addresses--race-conscious districting--has contributed to this general


phenomenon. Yet the effort to isolate the independent contribution of


each of the three new factors might well be mistaken. In practice, these


contributing factors are probably not independent, but synergistic. Each


has enhanced the role of the other in fostering more aggressive


gerrymandering in general.


For example, the statewide data in Appendix I are striking in that


every state in which perimeter or dispersion measures plunged


dramatically (including those involving far more pervasive splitting of


counties) had created at least one new minority district in the 1990s


under the pressure of the post-1982 VRA. Redistricting is ugly and nasty


precisely because, for political parties and incumbents, self-interest


and even survival is so strongly at stake. Given the incentives, the


question is why should any constraints check the process at all? My


speculation is that, like many public processes, redistricting was


structured not only by formal legal requirements regarding what is


permitted and prohibited, but also by a set of taken-for-granted


background cultural norms.(37) Collective understandings accepted on all


sides, some explicit, some tacit, constrained to some extent the


crassest forms of the pursuit of political self-interest. In some


states, such as North Carolina, there were strong presumptions against


dividing counties. In others, certain districts were so irregularly


shaped that were they proposed, they would immediately have been laughed


off the table.


Apart from its direct effects, the VRA in the 1980s might have


influenced this general culture of redistricting. Once it became


permissible to violate various traditional tacit norms such as


compactness to comply with the VRA, these tacit understandings might


have eroded more generally. Texas, for example, was aggressively and


successfully gerrymandered for partisan purposes in the 1990s, including


several extremely bizarre white districts whose contorted shapes were


not necessary to accommodate minority districts.(38) The VRA was not the


only source of attack on the tacit norms of the prior redistricting


culture. The sharp drop in general compactness in those states that


created new minority districts might reflect, in part, the indirect


effect of the VRA on these important, previously assumed


constraints.(39) Finally, as discussed later,(40) a new constitutional


doctrine created in the 1980s and technological advances also encouraged


and facilitated the recent rise of bizarre districts.


The principal point is that redistricting in the 1990s cannot be


portrayed as business as usual. Untangling the precise causal


contribution of the factors driving the radical decline in district


compactness is not easy, particularly if some of these factors are


interdependent. But the creation of safe minority districts certainly


played a significant direct role in these developments, and perhaps a


more subtle, indirect one as well. Shaw thus needs to be appraised as a


response to specific developments in redistricting in the 1990s. The


failure to do so renders critique unresponsive to concerns that might


motivate or justify Shaw.(41)


Thus it is true in constitutional theory (at least for the moment)


that bizarre districts can be drawn without constitutional concern for


groups not identifiable in racial terms--"farmers, or Republicans


in a Democratic region of the state, or gays, for that matter."(42)


In actual practice, such districts do not exist, certainly not in any


systematic pattern. While Shaw does formally single out race-conscious


districting for distinct constitutional treatment, then, the doctrine


more closely mirrors the actual political practices of current


districting than many critics acknowledge. That does not in itself, of


course, justify Shaw, but it should frame the terms in which Shaw is


debated.


B. Myth #2. The Court Is Effectively Overturning Carefully Considered


Congressional Policy Judgments Enacted in the VRA


Shaw is also sometimes criticized as inappropriate judicial


resistance to policy decisions previously, and more appropriately,


adopted in Congress.(43) On this view, the Department of Justice and


state redistricters are engaging in race-conscious districting that


Congress has required or authorized; Shaw is therefore tantamount to


judicial undermining of the VRA. To the extent that civil rights groups


won a hard-fought political struggle in the 1982 Amendments, the courts


should not interfere with, but rather ought defer to, these legislative


policy choices, particularly in such a charged political arena. In


effect, this critique portrays Shaw as directly colliding with the VRA


that Congress adopted.


This view, however, rests on a highly stylized and unrealistic


account of the 1982 Amendments. Courts and commentators often portray


statutes and legislative intent as if they resolve more than they do.


Once the veils of ritualized pieties about congressional intent are


pierced, it simply becomes implausible to claim that Congress enacted


and the President signed legislation that contemplated, let alone


required, the kind of race-conscious districting at issue in the Shaw


cases. I do not mean that Congress did not contemplate that the 1982


Amendments would require race-conscious districting; the fairest


inference from the legislative process is that Congress did understand


that some forms of race-conscious districting would be required. But it


is the kind of districting at issue in Shaw, the use of extremely


contorted districts that split counties, towns, and cities so freely,


that cannot be claimed to emanate from a deliberative national policy


choice. The method of interpreting statutes to imaginatively reconstruct


what the enacting legislature would have done with a question it did not


confront often cannot yield intelligible answers.(44) But if any answer


is plausible here, it is surely that Congress would have rejected any


assertion that the 1982 Amendments required the kind of extremely


bizarre race-conscious districting now at issue. Other justifications


for these districts might still be offered, but critics of Shaw cannot


credibly invoke a fictive legislative choice that, realistically, never


was made. A brief review of the legislative context in 1982 will reveal


why.


First, the principal focal points of vote dilution litigation in


1982 were at-large and multimember election systems.(45) In this


context, a bloc-voting and hostile majority could maintain complete


domination of electoral politics through its ability to outvote a


vulnerable minority for each and every seat. Vote dilution was


tantamount to utter exclusion from political office holding and, most


likely, political influence.(46) The primary objective of litigation was


to force the restructuring of these systems into single-member districts


in which minorities would be able to control some number of seats. But


the emphasis was on how liability would be established when challenges


were brought to at-large and multimember systems. The major cases


Congress drew upon in 1982 all involved such challenges. Given this


priority, little attention was directed toward the question of precisely


how single-member districts would be designed once the remedial stage


was reached. Moreover, vote dilution challenges to the way districts


were arrayed within a single-member districting plan were still largely


problems for the coming years. Indeed, only in 1993 did the Supreme


Court finally hold that the doctrinal framework developed previously


would apply to dilution challenges to redistricting plans.(47) Precisely


how the concept of vote dilution would apply in this distinct context


was complex, uncertain, and hardly central, let alone on the agenda,


during the 1982 congressional debates. Whereas dilution in at-large and


multimember elections sought to replace one form of election with


another, challenges to single-member districting plans presented a vast


array of potential alternatives for laying out the pattern of districts.


And while dilution in at-large and multimember systems might be


tantamount to total exclusion, once elections took place through


individual districts, the questions of dilution and effective minority


influence became more subtle.(48)


The 1982 Amendments incorporated a "results" test into


section 2 of the VRA, which bars any voting practice that "results


in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United


States to vote," even without proof of discriminatory purpose.(49)


It is essentially this provision that the Department of Justice and


state redistricters, as well as critics of Shaw, invoke to claim that


the VRA required or supported the extremely bizarre race-conscious


districts at issue.(50) When Congress amended section 2 this way, we can


say for certain that Congress intended to reject the Supreme


Court's holding in Mobile v. golden. There, in a challenge to


at-large city council elections, the Court held that the Fifteenth


Amendment as well as the then-existing version of section 2 required


proof of discriminatory purpose. The decision provoked an immediate


outcry from voting rights lawyers and civil rights organizations; they


argued that the decision reversed Court precedents of the previous


decade and would bring vote dilution litigation to a halt.


In response, Congress did agree to make vote dilution litigation


easier and to reject Mobile. But what Congress understood itself to be


erecting in the place of Mobile--what it understood the


"results" test to mean--is far less certain. One possibility,


probably the best description of a plausible collective understanding to


attribute, is that Congress conceived itself to be restoring the


pre-Mobile judicial status quo. The Court's prior decisions,


primarily in Whitcomb v. Chavis(51) and White v. Regester,(52) defined


that prior legal status quo; Congress repeatedly described the


amendments as "codifying the leading pre-Bolden vote dilution


case[s]."(53) The problem, though, was that these earlier cases


themselves had not worked out a coherent conception of vote dilution.


Regester had employed two quite different theories to strike down


multimember districts in two different Texas counties,(54) while


Whitcomb had rejected a vote dilution challenge to a multimember Indiana


district in circumstances not easy to distinguish from those in Texas.


Given the political attractions of ambiguity(55) and shifting of


responsibility,(56) the very uncertainty of these cases, which


recognized that lines had to be drawn between permissible and


impermissible vote dilution claims but which left those lines murky,


perhaps made congressional incorporation-by-reference of the cases all


the more politically attractive.


A second plausible possibility is that Congress simply had no


clear conception in mind of what vote dilution or the


"results" test would mean. That is, Congress might well have


had neither a clear conceptual sense of vote dilution, nor a


well-developed practical understanding of what the results test would


mean in application. Remarkably, in light of the dramatic


transformations that section 2 would soon effect, there was little


substantive discussion of this aspect of the 1982 Amendments in the


House; debate there centered on other proposed amendments considered


more important and controversial.(57) Only in the Senate did sustained


and focused debate on the meaning of section 2 begin to emerge. Those


debates generate little confidence that supporters of the section 2


Amendments had a coherent conception of vote dilution in mind, certainly


not at the margins of vote dilution at which the Shaw problem arises.


Whether Congress had a consensus on the concept of vote dilution with


respect to single-member districts even in core or paradigmatic contexts


is not critical for present purposes. Even if it had, Congress surely


did not endorse and had no policy in mind at all concerning the


subsidiary questions at issue in Shaw: whether race-conscious districts


that departed in dramatic and highly visible ways from other districts,


such as being "extremely bizarre" in shape, were appropriate


or required to avoid illegal vote dilution.


On the general concept of vote dilution, all purported to agree


that section 2 would not require proportional representation along


racial lines. Yet when asked how a "results" test could mean


anything else, proponents referred to a vague "totality of the


circumstances" inquiry that prior cases were correctly said to have


adopted. When the Senate Report attempted to specify these


circumstances, it listed seven typical factors, suggested at least two


other additional factors, noted that in some cases yet "other


factors," left unspecified, would be relevant, and then observed


that "there is no requirement that any particular number of factors


be proved, or that a majority of them point one way or the


other."(58) A statutory standard that relies on the "totality


of the circumstances" and a laundry list of potentially relevant


factors often signals the absence of clear consensus on the core concept


involved. Moreover, in practice, courts applying such a standard will


almost inevitably gravitate toward one of two alternatives: distilling


this range of factors into a few deemed most essential to enable more


rule-like implementation of the standard, or invoking different factors


in different cases in a necessarily more ad hoc approach. The Supreme


Court, as discussed in a moment, almost immediately opted for the


former.


The critical theme here is that the starting point of the section


2 amendments, the "results" test, was from its inception


unusually cloudy. This test was even less clear for challenges to


single-member districting plans than for at-large and multimember


elections. The legislative history that would confirm this cannot be


recounted in detail here, but to get a sense of its tenor, consider the


following typical colloquy in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing,


where most of the section 2 discussion took place. The exchange is


between a Republican supporter of amended section 2, Senator Charles


Mathias of Maryland, and a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee chair and a


skeptic, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah:


SENATOR MATHIAS: The purpose of this bill is to provide for fair


and just access to the electoral process.


SENATOR HATCH: Is [it] the most fair and just means to achieve


access--if 55 percent of Baltimore is black then 55 percent ought to be


black majority districts?


SENATOR MATHIAS: A fair and just operation of the electoral


process is to give all citizens equal access to vote, run, or otherwise


participate in the process.


SENATOR HATCH: What does "equal access" mean, Senator


Mathias?


SENATOR MATHIAS: You are well aware of what it means.


SENATOR HATCH: I want to know what you think it means, because I


know what it means under the effects test in section 5. I think it


means, as does the Attorney General of the United States, proportional


representation.


SENATOR MATHIAS: You look at the totality of circumstances; that


is what we have been doing.


SENATOR HATCH: That is what we do under the intents standard.


. . .


. . . I am quite confused as to the relevance of the circumstances


that you are considering in their totality.


. . .


I do not understand what the question is that the court asks


itself in evaluating the totality of circumstances under the results


test. What precisely does the court ask itself after it has looked at


the totality of the circumstances? What is the standard for evaluation


under the results test?


SENATOR MATHIAS: Look at the results.


SENATOR HATCH: That is all? You are saying that if there was


absolutely no intent to discriminate, as the Court found in the Mobile


case, yet the results were the election of disproportionately few


minority candidates, that a case would be established?(59)


This brief excursus into the congressional history of section 2


returns us to the Court's effort to maintain what it seems to view


as the distinction between "nondiscrimination" and


"affirmative action" in VRA enforcement. One way to reflect on


the Court's concern is to set it in the broader context of the


history of civil rights policymaking. As policymaking in this arena has


matured, this distinction has paradoxically become increasingly


important yet increasingly blurred. The distinction appears important to


public support for civil rights; support for policies that can be framed


as "nondiscrimination" ones has always been higher than for


those characterized as affirmative action.(60) Scholars have recently


argued that the lesson of thirty years of civil rights enforcement is


that institutional dynamics make it difficult for administering agencies


to maintain this distinction. Thus, John Skrentny has recently asserted


that the pressures of "administrative pragmatism"(61) almost


immediately channelled the enforcement of Title VII toward more


extensive race-consciousness and an emphasis on bottom-line numbers than


its original proponents would have endorsed.(62) In his account,


internal administrative forces pressed policy in this direction long


before political pressures or ideological justifications for affirmative


action arose publicly.(63)


Other scholars have argued that the distinction between


nondiscrimination and affirmative action is itself not conceptually


coherent,(64) or that with the institutionalization of affirmative


action, regulatory capture has become as prevalent a phenomenon as


traditional economic regulation.(65) On this view, enforcement entities,


public and private, became dominated by the programs' strongest


advocates; beneficiary groups are the most effectively mobilized to


press their interests; and iron triangles form between administrators,


those who stand to gain most, and political supporters. Conceptually,


politically, and administratively, the pressures on the boundary between


nondiscrimination and affirmative action are powerful. Yet at the same


time, rising skepticism that this line would or could be maintained


became one factor in a backlash against support for the equal rights


model itself.(66)


In the voting rights context, one interpretation of


nondiscrimination would be that minorities should be descriptively


represented in politics in numbers roughly proportional to their


population; this is an outcome-oriented reading that focuses on


bottom-line numbers.(67) An alternative reading is more


process-oriented: Minorities are legally entitled to an evenhanded


districting process, but not to districts drawn according to special


principles not generally applicable. It is important to recognize that


this tension has arisen only recently in the VRA field, as the force of


litigation shifted from dismantling at-large and multimember election


systems to challenging the distribution of single-member districts


within a districting plan.(68)


Shaw reflects the Court's adoption of one interpretation of


nondiscrimination in voting and the Court's conception of itself as


the appropriate institution for limiting race-consciousness in


districting to this point. Substantively, the Court has rejected the


outcome-oriented interpretation of equal rights in redistricting.


Institutionally, does the Court's willingness to embrace this role


reflect the view that political and administrative institutions have


proven over the thirty years of civil rights enforcement unable or


unwilling to play this role? When Congress made vote dilution illegal in


1982, it took no responsibility to give dilution very specific or


coherent content. As bizarre districts flowered in the 1990s, the


Department of Justice disclaimed any role in enforcing any general norms


of redistricting;(69) as long as more minority districts were created,


the Department would not object. Indeed, critics charged the Department


itself with being the principal force steering the VRA toward a


maximization requirement.


In sum, the 1982 Congress cannot realistically be viewed as having


determined that extremely bizarre minority-controlled districts were


appropriate or required to enhance minority representation. Less


expansive understandings of vote dilution and nondiscrimination in


voting were controversial at the time and the context of Shaw was far


off the horizon. Whether Shaw is right or not, criticism that the Court


is overturning carefully considered congressional judgments is


unpersuasive. Shaw is better debated in terms of the substantive issues


its approach raises, rather than in terms of whether it is consistent


with an imagined congressional policy choice.


C. Myth #3: Shaw Is to the 1990s What Plessy v. Ferguson Was to


the 1890s


The rhetoric used in critiquing Shaw has at times been stunningly


inflammatory. Some critics directly equate Shaw with Plessy v.


Ferguson,(70) but if that were not enough, others have gone even


further: "Five Supreme Court justices have done to


African-Americans in Louisiana what no hooded Ku Klux Klan mobs were


able to do in the decade-remove an African-American from


Congress."(71) Perhaps this rhetoric reflects what Mark Kelman has


recently suggested is characteristic of current forms of identity


politics: "[D]emands will not readily be modulated because, unlike


traditional pluralist `interest' group demands, each group


represents not just one of an individual's many, often conflicting,


material interests, but instead represents a critical aspect of her


identity."(72) In such a politics, any loss, whatever the


justification, is tantamount both to complete loss and to all other


earlier losses, whatever their justifications.


To step back a bit from the moment's turbulent ideological


struggles, it is helpful to situate Shaw within the judicial history of


these issues. The pre-history of Shaw has largely been lost in the


polarized debates of the present, but it will no doubt surprise some to


discover that, from the start of the Court's encounter with


inclusionary race-conscious districting in the 1960s, many Justices have


viewed this mix of race and democratic institutions with profound


disquiet. Indeed, three of the Court's "liberal"


icons-Justices Douglas, Goldberg, and Brennan-expressed positions not so


different from those in today's Shaw decisions. These three


Justices viewed race-conscious districting either as unconstitutional in


all circumstances, a position far more extreme than Justice


O'Connor's today; as unconstitutional in circumstances


comparable to those in Shaw itself; or, at a minimum, as raising


profound and troubling constitutional questions.


In Wright v. Rockefeller,(73) an ethnically and racially mixed


group of plaintiffs alleged that New York's congressional districts


in the 1960s had "`segregate[d] eligible voters by race and place


of origin"'(74) for the purpose of creating a safe Harlem


district that black and Puerto Rican residents would dominate. A


majority of the special three-judge federal court agreed with a version


of the theory Shaw adopted over thirty years later.(75) Judge Feinberg,


then a district judge and later a respected figure on the Second


Circuit, concluded that the Constitution would be violated if plaintiffs


could prove that the districts' lines had been drawn on a racial


basis. In his view, there was no need to prove vote dilution, because


"racially drawn districts per se would also violate the Equal


Protection clause."(76) Judge Murphy agreed that "plaintiffs


are not required to prove any diminution or dilution of their voting


rights . . . once they show that the district lines were constituted on


a racial basis."`(77) They differed over whether sufficient


evidence had been presented of racial/ethnic design for the districts.


Had Judge Feinberg found the evidence any stronger, this three-judge


federal court in the Second Circuit might have invalidated a


congressional district on a Shaw-like theory thirty years before


Shaw.(78)


The Supreme Court circumvented the profound constitutional


questions presented on the same narrow and questionable grounds upon


which Judge Feinberg relied. Because plaintiffs had not presented any


direct proof of legislative intent to engage in race-conscious


districting, but had only offered as evidence the shapes of the


districts and their demographic patterns, the Court concluded that the


plaintiffs had not met their burden of establishing an intent to use


race and ethnicity in drawing the districts.(79) It did so despite the


extreme disparities in ethnic populations among adjoining districts and


the way the districts' contorted pattern of twists and turns


managed to include and exclude the relevant racial and ethnic


populations. Through this form of "judicial minimalism,"(80)


the Court managed to avoid confronting the constitutional question


plaintiffs had attempted to put squarely before the Court.


In dissent, Justice Douglas made clear his view that


"[r]acial boroughs are also at war with democratic


standards."(81) Justice Douglas did not take the fanciful view that


the Constitution required multiracial election districts; he saw no


violation in one racial group's dominating a district (as one


necessarily must) as long as such districts reflected genuine


neighborhoods. But when a district's architecture could "be


explained only in racial terms," Justice Douglas recoiled:


Racial electoral registers, like religious ones, have no place


in a


society that honors the Lincoln tradition--"of the people, by


the


people, for the people." Here the individual is important,


not his race,


his creed, or his color. The principle of equality is at war with


the


notion that District A must be represented by a Negro, as it is


with


the notion that District B must be represented by a Caucasian,


District


C by a Jew, District D by a Catholic, and so on. The racial


electoral


register system weights votes along one racial line more heavily


than


it does other votes That system, by whatever name it is called, is


a


divisive force in a community, emphasizing differences between


candidates and voters that are irrelevant in the constitutional


sense. Of


course race, like religion, plays an important role in the choices


which


individual voters make from among various candidates. But


government has no business designing electoral districts along


racial


or religious lines . . .


When racial or religious lines are drawn by the State, the


multiracial, multireligious communities that our Constitution


seeks to


weld together as one become separatist; antagonisms that relate to


race or to religion rather than to political issues are generated;


communities seek not the best representative but the best racial


or


religious partisan. Since that system is at war with the


democratic


ideal, it should find no footing here.(82)


In the same case, Justice Goldberg, also dissenting, endorsed the


position that because "racial segregation was a criterion in--or a


purpose of--the districting of [an area]," the Equal Protection


Clause had been violated.(83) This is an even more demanding motive


standard than the one Shaw and its progeny adopt. The Court now holds


that race may be a criterion in or a purpose of districting, as long as


it does not become "the predominant factor."(84)


Consider also the words, of Justice Brennan, in his exquisitely


difficult struggle with race-conscious districting in United Jewish


Organizations v. Carey.(85) Justice Brennan distanced himself from a


plurality opinion that legitimated race-conscious districting without


regard to the legal basis upon which the architects of the redistricting


had based their decisions. In contrast, Justice Brennan was prepared to


accept such districting only when section 5 of the VRA required it as a


remedial response. In those circumstances, Justice Brennan argued,


Congress had weighed the reasons for and against race-consciousness,


while the Department of Justice would also actively be monitoring the


justifications for the use of race and the scope of its use. In those


specific circumstances, Justice Brennan argued, the use of race-oriented


remedies traced back to "substantial and careful


deliberations" in Congress, leading to "an unequivocal and


well-defined congressional consensus" that the reasons for and


against race-conscious voting systems justified "an activist


race-conscious remedial role."(86) But beyond where specifically


licensed through section 5 of the VRA, race-conscious districting raised


concerns too troubling for Justice Brennan to endorse. Thus, unlike the


plurality, he refused to reach the question of whether the Constitution


permitted race-conscious redistricting where section 5 did not require


it. In justifying this caution, Justice Brennan observed that


race-conscious districting had "the potential for reinvigorating


racial partisanship";(87) raised "serious questions of


fairness";(88) and contained "the potential for arousing race


consciousness."(89) Moreover, Justice Brennan warned, "we


cannot well ignore the social reality that even a benign policy of


assignment by race is viewed as unjust by many in our society" and


creates the "impression of injustice."(90)


Recalling the views of these earlier judges, many of whom occupy


the pantheon of judicial liberalism and constitutional racial


egalitarianism, might bring some perspective to charges that Shaw is the


Plessy of our time. Principles can change, of course, as judges and


others learn more about the complexity and intractability of social


problems.(91) The fact that judges from the 1960s until the 1980s


expressed constitutional understandings similar to those in Shaw does


not make those understandings right; it does not even establish that


those same judges would hold the same constitutional views today. But


Shaw has polarized the current Court along preexisting cleavages


conventionally identified in politically conservative and liberal terms,


and these divisions encourage casting Shaw as the site of clashing


ideological positions of profound difference. Recovering the historical


pattern of continual judicial concerns with race-conscious districting,


which led Justices Douglas and Goldberg to take an even more aggressive


position than Shaw itself adopts, offers a useful reminder that the mix


of race and politics at issue in Shaw has troubled many judges and


Justices, not just the five Justices who make up the current Shaw


majority.(92) There is no inherent normative authority in numbers, but


perhaps seeing the points of continuity between Shaw and prior judicial


views will facilitate more tempered analysis and debate. The suggestion


that Shaw and Plessy are kindred cases undermines serious and credible


analysis of contemporary racial redistricting.


D. Myth #4: Absent Vote Dilution, No Meaningful Harms Can Follow from


the Use of Extremely Bizarre Districting to Enhance Minority


Representation


A fourth criticism of Shaw starts from two factually accurate


premises: (1) that certain minority groups, which the VRA protects, are


underrepresented in typical legislative bodies compared to their


proportion of the population (either voting-age or total population);


and (2) that racially polarized voting continues to be prevalent,


particularly in the South.(93) Therefore, this argument continues, we


ought to modify territorial districting to any extent necessary to bring


about more racially and ethnically proportional representation.


Note several initial assumptions behind this view. First, it


assumes that fair districting and color-blind voting would produce


minority political representation roughly proportional to population.


But this might be too simple. Districting itself makes proportional


representation of various sorts unlikely along almost any single axis


(party, race, religion) unless the relevant divisions perfectly map onto


the geographic units that form the basis for districting. Second, the


ideological preferences of black voters are not distributed randomly;


black voters tend to be considerably more liberal than white voters and


cluster at one end of the distribution of political preferences.(94)


Whatever weight these two factors, and perhaps others, ultimately ought


to carry, they need to be taken into account in constructing an


appropriate baseline of "racially fair" representation.(95)


Second, arguments about proportional minority representation implicitly


emphasize "descriptive representation,"(96) or a


"politics of presence";(97) the argument assumes that our


primary concern should be with whether a sufficient number of


officeholders physically mirror the electorate. Public policy might


instead put primary emphasis on "substantive representation"


of minority interests, that is, whether the policies minorities favor


are "adequately" given voice, pursued, and adopted. While


descriptive representation might in theory enhance the likelihood of


substantive representation,(98) as a practical matter in the American


redistricting context, more proportional descriptive representation


might be achievable only at the weighty cost of declining substantive


representation.(99)


For now, however, assume that descriptive representation ideally


o
06 Feb. 2017 
If you are planning to put your house on the market this summer, it goes without saying that you are hoping to sell your home as quickly as short sale example possible and get your asking price. Set the stage for success with these 21 tips for styling and upgrading your home, and see results -- fast.

1. Boost curb appeal. This is something you always hear, and with very good reason. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. Make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers with these tips:

Power wash siding and walkways

Hang easy-to-read house numbers

Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery

Mow lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed

Wash front windows

Repaint or stain the porch floor as needed

2. Welcome visitors with an inviting porch. Even if you have only a tiny stoop, make it say "welcome home" with a clean doormat, potted plants in bloom and -- if you have room -- one or two pieces of neat porch furniture. Keep your porch lights on in the evenings, in case potential buyers drive by. Illuminating the front walk with solar lights is a nice extra touch, especially if you will be showing the house during the evening.

3. Get your house sparkling clean. From shining floors and gleaming local real estate agent reviews windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout, every surface should sparkle. This is the easiest (well, maybe not easiest, but certainly the cheapest) way to help your home put its best foot forward. You may want to hire pros to do some of the really tough stuff, especially if you have a large house. Don't skimp -- this step is key!

4. Clear away all clutter. If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story. It's not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative's garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble. Clean and clear surfaces, floors, cupboards and closets equal more space in the eyes of potential buyers, so purge anything unnecessary or unsightly.

But it's my style! Guess what? It may not be the style of those seeking to buy a house in your neighborhood. So even if you have an awesome vintage-chic look going on, rein it in for the sake of appealing to the most number of people. You can bring your personal style back into play in your new home.

5. Strike a balance between clean and lived-in. Yes, I know I just said to get rid of all your clutter (and you deserve a big pat on the back if you did it), but now it's time to judiciously bring back a few elements that will really make your home appealing. Think vases of cut flowers, a basket of fresh farmer's market produce on the kitchen counter or a bowl of lemons beside the short sale example sink.

6. Style your dining room table. The dining room is often a blind spot in decorating the home. Between dinners, a large dining table can look bare and uninviting, so styling it up with visitors in mind can increase the appeal. An oversize arrangement can look too stiff and formal, so try lining up a series of smaller vessels down the center of the table instead.

7. Take a good look at your floors. At the bare minimum, give all floors a thorough cleaning (and steam clean carpets), but consider having wood floors refinished if they are in poor shape. If you don't want to invest in refinishing floors, the strategic placement of area rugs can go a long way.

8. Rearrange your furniture. In the living room, symmetrical arrangements usually work well. Pull your furniture off the walls and use pairs (of sofas, chairs, lamps) to create an inviting conversation area.

9. Choose sophisticated neutral colors. Now is not the time to experiment with that "fun"-looking lime green. But that doesn't mean you need to go all white, either. Rich midtone neutrals like mocha and "greige" create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look more pulled together.

10. Create a gender-neutral master bedroom. Appeal to everyone with a clean, tailored master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. You can't go wrong with clean, crisp linens, tasteful artwork and a blanket folded at the foot of the bed.

11. Open those closets! Open-house visitors will peek inside your closets. Closet space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers, so show yours off to their full advantage by giving excess stuff the heave-ho. Again, this is really important, so even if you need to store a few boxes elsewhere, it's worth it. Aim to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of spaciousness.

12. Clean up toys. Of course there will be families with children looking at your home, but just because they have kids too doesn't mean seeing toys strewn everywhere will sell them on the place. When people are house hunting, they are imagining a fresh start. Show them that in this house, it is possible to have a beautifully organized kids' room, and they might be swayed.



13. Use "extra" rooms wisely. If you have been using a spare bedroom as a dumping ground for odd pieces of furniture and boxes of junk, it's time to clean up your act. Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Another kids' room? Whether you buy inexpensive furnishings, rent them, or borrow some from friends, making a real room out of a junk room will have a big payoff.

14. Try a pedestal sink to maximize space. If you have a small bathroom but a huge cabinet-style sink, consider swapping it out for a simple pedestal version. Your bathroom will appear instantly bigger.



15. Use only perfect personal accents. Especially in the bathroom, it is important that anything left out for visitors to see is pristine. If you have a gorgeous fluffy white bathrobe, hanging it on a decorative hook on the door can be an attractive accent -- but if your robe is more of the nubby blue floral variety, you might want to hide it away. Look at every detail with a visitor's eye -- bars of soap should be fresh and clean, towels spotless, the garbage always emptied (you get the idea).

16. Entice people to explore the whole house. By placing something that draws the eye at the top of the stairs, in hallways or in corners, you can pique curiosity and keep potential buyers interested throughout a whole home tour. A piece of artwork, a painted accent wall, a window seat, a vase of flowers, a hanging light or even a small, colorful rug can all work to draw the eye.

17. Show how you can use awkward areas. If you have any room beneath the stairs, or a nook or alcove anywhere in your home, try to find a unique way to show it off. By setting up a small work station, a home command center with a bulletin board, or built-in shelving, your awkward spot becomes another selling point.

18. Beware pet odors. Really, this can be a big one! If you have pets, get all rugs steam cleaned and be extra vigilant about vacuuming and washing surfaces. Also be sure to keep any extra-loved pet toys and doggie bones hidden when tours are scheduled.

19. Create a lifestyle people are looking for. Generally speaking, you want to play up what your neighborhood or area is known for. Have a house in a quiet, grassy suburb? Hanging a hammock in your backyard and a bench swing on your porch could be the perfect touch.

20. Stage the outdoors too. Even if your condo has only a teensy postage stamp-size balcony, play it up with a cute cafe table and chairs, a cheerful tablecloth and even a little tray of dishes or a vase of flowers. When people look at this scene, they won't be thinking "small," they will be thinking, "What a charming spot to have breakfast!"

21. Think seasonally. Make sure your garden is in beautiful shape in the summer, and that any extra features you have, like a pool or a fire pit, are cleaned and ready to go. Take advantage of the cozy vibe of the season in autumn and winter, by building a fire in the fireplace and simmering hot apple cider on the stove.

Related:

Laura Gaskill: You can find Gaskill on her blog Lolalina (http://www.lolalina.com/), where she shares inspiring interiors, design finds, cute baby pictures, and updates on her own progress in decorating her first house.

Click to view original post.
Admin · 10 vistas · Escribir un comentario
31 Dic 2016 
Here is my presentation for 101 of the best Home Improvement & DIY Blogs updated for 2014.



I first published this list over a year ago, and a lot has changed during that time. Unfortunately a few of my favorite blogs are no longer being updated, but on the bright side there are a few good ones that have captured my attention since then and are now included below.

Charles & Hudson - These guys have been recognized by a large number of bloggers and journalists as having one of the best home improvement blogs. They were at Number 1 on this list when I first published it, and I've kept them at Number 1 again this year!

Bob Vila - he's the self proclaimed "Dean of Home Renovation & Repair Advice" and once you visit his blog you'll probably agree. He gets an "A" from me and remains at Number 2 here for the second year in a row.

Ask The Builder - Tim's blog is a fantastic resource which is home to of the best advice for home improvement projects on the web, and it's so good that this year I've bumped it up to number 3 from 14 last year. Why don't I let Tim tell you about his blog himself:

The Ugly Duckling House - Sarah takes you on a humor infused journey as she remodels a house she bought at the end of 2009. It's an entertaining read and I thoroughly recommend you click on over!

Remodelaholic - Justin and Cassity are a couple who say their ideal date is "ripping out a wall!" It's a great blog, but they're taking this way too seriously and I feel they need to step back and smell the coffee, after-all there are more important things in life - like Powertools!

Young House Love - Sherry and John are a young couple from Richmond, Virginia who write this blog as a DIY diary and the provide excellent photographs of their remodeling work around their home.

Pretty Handy Girl - Brittany demonstrates to anyone who still has old ideas about women and power tools not going together that they're simply wrong, and she does a great job of explaining "How to"... do pretty much every DIY home project worth doing.

DIY Diva - Kit describes herself as an experienced DIYer, power tool junkie, and novice farmer. Her blog is all about bridging the gap between woman and powertool wielding badass!

Building Moxie - a really good source of home improvement and maintenance information. Some of their articles have original videos as well as photographs to help you understand how to do the projects begin discussed.

Living Vintage - Kim does a wonderful job of writing about the projects her company works on to "save old houses" using reclaimed materials - the blog is also wonderfully illustrated with photographs showing detailed steps of how an old piece of building material becomes a terrific new feature in a home.

Sawdust Girl - Sandra is seriously passionate about design, remodeling and carpentry. She provides some great posts detailing varies home improvement projects she's done.

You Grow Girl - for over 14 years Gayla Trail has been providing some brilliant information on urban gardening in limited spaces - she has updated the design of her blog since I first published this list and her blog posts just keep getting better - she deserved to move up a few places this year.

Shelterrific - Angela Matusik started her blog dedicated to 'home loving' way back in March 2006 and it's been getting stronger ever since.

Dans le Townhouse - a self confessed addict of renovating, decorating, crafting, and thrifting, Tanya is now blogging about all the home improvement and DIY projects she and her husband doing on their new lakefront bungalow they moved into in January 2014 - you can still see all their posts about projects from their old townhouse too.

The Kitchen Designer - Susan Serra is an accomplished kitchen designer who approaches her work with the philosophy that all 5 senses are at work in your kitchen. She blogs about much more than just kitchens, with inspirational design ideas about all areas of the home, and I'm really happy to have discovered this one so I could include it for the first time this year.

inhabitat - a great place to keep up to date with innovations in technology that allow for green design in furniture, energy, landscaping, architecture, and much more.

The Tiny Professional - Felicia documents her renovation adventures along with fashion posts and her experiences of competing in Pageants.

Vintage Revivals - Mandi writes up each project with a complete tutorial so you can recreate it yourself. I particularly like her "Room Reveals" section where she shows off before and after pics of some of her projects.

It's Great To Be Home - Liz is a serial home improver with a long house remodeling ideas for small homes history of buying, improving, and flipping homes with her husband Jason.

Green Living Ideas - director Andrea Devon Bertoli does a fantastic job of writing and sourcing great articles that provide you with actionable ideas to help make your home and lifestyle more sustainable.

If you're looking for information about Smart Homes then check out my list of

Smart Home Blogs.

The Happy Home Blog - Belinda confesses to being obsessed with interiors, renovating, decorating and also craft. Her blog details the never ending process of improving her home and making it a happy one for herself and her family.

Funky Junk Interiors - Donna's blog is a wonderful story of how she started over and furnished her home with nothing - and now she shares her outlandish, unique, ultra affordable creations on her blog.

The Art of Doing Stuff - Karen is a serious DIYer who has been featured in Style at Home magazine and has a range of interesting posts about home improvements & DIY projects.

Handyguys Podcast - you don't have to be a guy to visit their blog - but you do have to be interested in rational, factual ideas and product comparisons you can use around the home.

Casa Decrepit - the story of a couple who bought an 1876 built house which they have been restoring. They go into quite a lot of detail including posts about suppliers who don't do what they promised. I say this is required reading for anyone who is planing a restoration project.

Remodelista - This is probably one of the most famous blogs in Home Improvement - do yourself a favor and visit now.

The World According to Jessica Claire - a great Canadian home decor blog with detailed posts about the decorating work Jessica has been doing around her own home.

Fix It Chick - Allison Kohmann presents a wide range of simple and easy techniques for home improvement, DIY projects and design ideas that you can do yourself.

House Tweaking - follow Dana and her family as they renovate a dilapidated 1950's ranch that they bought and moved into. Dana has a great eye for photography which makes her posts that much more interesting.

Houzz - Definitely at the corporate end of things rather than your typical 'home-grown' blog, but thy really do have everything you need to improve your home from start to finish including over 3 Million photographs to help inspire your next redecorating or remodeling project.

Spaceio - There are many great interior design ideas here along with reviews of designers, architects, and contractors. I particularly like the way they showcase up-and-coming interior designers.

Brooklyn Limestone - this blog began life as a way for Stefanie to chronicle the process of renovating their 100+ year old limestone home in Brooklyn, NY. It has since grown and now has many posts about DIY projects and renovating.

Chezerbey - this blog was originally created in 2006 for this couple to share with family and friends their adventures as they remodeled their home which they named Chezerbey. The blog has grown into much more as their family has grown, and it has some great blog posts with pictures showing you all the wonderful upgrades they make to their home.

Rambling Renovators - Jennifer Flores does a great job of blogging aboot the projects she and her husband do to renovate their semi-detached Toronto home. Her philosophy is "The difference is in the details, and the details make all the difference."

Our Adventures in Home Improvement - Pam does an entertaining job of describing the projects she and her husband work on around their house.

DIY On The Cheap - frugal decorating ideas, crafts and creative projects for the home. Erin believes that a beautiful home doesn't have to break the bank, and her wonderfully illustrated projects will show you how to do the same.

Hewn and Hammered - these guys have been doing an amazing job since 2004, and as you'd expect by the name, it covers a lot of wood based projects.

Hannah Kate Flora - Hannah says she is a "Modern Traditionalist" who blogs about DIY and Interior Design.

Red Door Home - no hint of painting it black here, but rather full of creative inspiration for your home. Stacy even has her own Etsy store featuring her own craft work.

The Designer Pad - Eduardo is a former fashion designer turned interior designer. He believes everything has its place in the home. Decor - Inspiration - Interiors and a whole lot more in fine style.

DIY Show Off - Roeshel loves to blog about DIY and re-purposing projects with step-by-step photographs to help you understand the process for your own projects.

Fun & VJs - a professional writer blogs about all things design and house related. It began as a chronicle of their 1928 Queenslander home renovations and is now all about restoring a modernist home..

The Inspired Room - a decor focused blog all about simple and doable ideas for your home without breaking your budget and includes a great series of blog posts about how to decorate.

Bower Power - a lot more than 24 hours worth of great home improvement ideas, Katie does a fantastic job of cataloging all her home improvement and DIY projects.

Modern Country - about living the dream of living in the Norwegian countryside in a nostalgic old house decorated with a mixture of the Nordic light and rural rustic French styles.

Build Blog - a lot of great posts and photographs about architecture and design which are worth looking through for both inspiration and learning more about the build process.

Centsational Girl - Kate is a bargain hunter, design lover, incurable DIYer who will help you transform drab into fab for less.

Pure Style Home - Lauren Liess shares her thoughts on design, running a design business, clients' projects, how-tos, and the projects she and her family do in their own home.

Honey & Fitz - Dina chronicles her DIY projects, flea market finds, love of organization and general obsession with designing spaces for children and busy families..

Making This Home - Katie's blogging philosophy is "DIY inspiration that's rooted in the heart."

decor8 - Holly Becker is an award winning and diy home renovation on a budget best selling author and journalist, and this is her own blog where she writes about a range of topics including providing some great decor ideas.

AM Colce Vita - Michelle loves to design and decorate - her blog focuses on decor.

Today's Homeowner - Danny Lipford's blog with heaps of good posts as well as content from the TV and Radio shows he presents.

Simply The Nest - Alice blogs about life in South Manchester, England, and the process of restoring their semi-detached Victorian villa to its former glory when it was originally built in 1875.

Curbly - a community blog with a lot a great contributions on home improvement ideas and projects with some really good contributors like JoAnn Moser, Matt Allison, and Brittni Mehlhoff.

The Happy Homebodies - Jordan and her husband Scott love their blogging hobby and it really shows through in this wonderful collection of posts about their home projects as well as their DIY tutorials.

Seventh House On The Left - Greg & Ashley Brown blog about their own home improvement experiences.

DIY Home Staging Tips - all about the things you can to to improve your home in preparation for selling it.

Manhattan Nest - Daniel Kanter is a freelance interior decorator and his skills really show through in his posts about his Brooklyn apparment and the Kinston, NY fixer-upper that Daniel and his fiancé are renovating.

Hammer & Moxie - Peter and Leslie are a newly married couple who have started a blog cataloging their DIY (mis)adventures and the many moments in between.

Retro Renovation - it's all about renovating in 1940's through 1960s styles, or as they prefer to call it, "Mid Century".

Marley & Lockyer - a blog from Tasmania (you know - that island down under down under) about styling, gorgeous homes, and the renovation of the author Ness's own 1883 built home.

Everything LEB - Lindsay loves all things interior design, DIY and Martha Stewart, although she doesn't provide stock tips on her blog :)

Elise Blaha - Elise loves writing and making stuff.

Apartment Therapy - their motto is "We're saving the world, one room at a time".

Love & Renovations - Amanda and Corey blog about life and the process of turning their 1980's builder-grade home into the house of their dreams.

Do It Yourself - an amazingly large and useful collection of DIY How Tos.

Ikea Hackers - all about modifications on and re-purposing of Ikea products.

Decorology - Ashley is a web derringer by profession who blogs about interior design and decorating by night.

Dream Book Design - I like pretty much everything they've done (except for featuring a dead cow skin rug in one of their posts).

Simply Grove - Kirsten Grove does a great job of providing a design and decor blog for those of you with a love of interiors and an appetite for design eye-candy. It features room makeovers, Kirsten's own home projects and furniture projects, beautiful room images, an much more!

Home Portfolio - a virtual showroom of home design ideas, pictures, and products.

Nesting Place - Myquillyn says that her secret to unlocking creativity and hope for your home is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful".

Jetson Green - a great place to learn more about creating sustainable homes.

Moonworks' Home Improvement Blog - Moonworks are a home improvement company in the north-east who provide a lot of useful and practical down-to-earth information despite the lofty blog name.

Little House Blog - Aubrey from Toronto blogs about her obsession with interiors and design.

Home Stories A to Z - Beth aims to create beauty out of chaos, and she does exactly that.

The DIY Dreamer - lots of tutorials, crafts, DIY fun.

Infarrantly Creative - this is the place to go if you are wondering how to turn crutches into a floor lamp or an old television into a console table.

Thanks I Made It - Erin is a DIYer who believes something you made yourself is twice as enjoyable as something you bought, who could disagree with that?

Decor Happy - Vanessa Francis and her ideas and inspirations about living well in your own home.

Habitually Chic - actually it's more about making you jealous of glamorous homes rather than helping you improve your own, and it has a lot of great photographs which work to that effect.

The Peak of Chic - Jennifer Boles shares her musings on high-end interiors and lving.

The Lovely Side - Jessica Hansen home renovation ideas on a budget is a 20 something who writes a young lady's guide to living on the lovely side with many posts about decorating and home decor.

Unclutterer - all about uncluttering your home, and life in general.

Full House - by the mother of twin girls and triplet boys - fortunately the boys have a soundproofed bedroom!

Freshome - has been providing inspiration to make your home more beautiful, organized and healthy since 2007.

katiedid - Katie Denham's motto is ."Go Decorate your Life!".

Homespot HQ - this is the blog from the company that helps you manage information about your home by using there online home management recording keeping database.

The House of Smiths - has a lot of handy DIY and craft tutorials.

Rebecca Orlov - Formely known as "Loving. Living. Small." Rebecca now focuses her blogging efforts on home design, baby style, design inspirations, dining goodness and wanderlust.

Treehugger - what I really like about this is they bring rational thinking to the design and technological side of creating buildings and spaces without losing creative insight.

My Old Country House - some really good practical advice on everything from fixing a hole in a wall to the art of dealing with contractors.

The Gold Jellybean - a great DIY site for parents who are looking for projects to do with their children.

DIY Home Improvement Help - a lot of great advice with detailed information from a retired builder in Australia. Sadly it doesn't look like Bill updates the blog anymore, but it still has a wealth of great DIY information.

Normal Room - interior design and home furniture from all around the globe.

Life The Green Way - as you can probably guess by the title, this blog focuses on the environmental aspects of home living.

Cottage Magpie - a 1950s ranch with an empty pocketbook and cottage dreams.

Simply Sweet Home - Jerri blogs about crafts as well as cooking.

The Stylish Nest - creating home, garden, and life, one DIY adventure at a time..

One Project Closer - to your dream home. Ethan presents some great home projects here, and although he seems to have stopped updating the blog last year it still has some great project descriptions and 'how to' information.

It's quite possible that I've missed some excellent blogs, but don't despair - feel free to tell me about any great home improvement blogs you know of via the contact page.



      
24 Dic 2016 
People spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days. No wonder it is called the 'heart of the home'! Many children even grow up with the wonderful memories of nights at kitchen table, doing homework, eating dinner and hanging out with family. Letting your cooking room stay outdated and dreary can decrease your desire to spend time in this room. Don't you think such a place deserves a little updating?



If you are thinking about updating your kitchen, here are five kitchen remodeling ideas to lower the cost of your project without compromising the quality.

Think whether you really need to replace everything?

When modernizing a kitchen, it is exciting to replace everything and start fresh. But to save on your house renovations before and after remodeling cost, replace only those items that you really can't do without. Think about whether replacing everything is really a necessity or if you can carry on your kitchen home improvement ideas kitchen works with what you have. For instance, you can definitely home improvement ideas pictures replace your countertop if you want but painting or refinishing your kitchen cabinets rather them replacing them completely is also a great idea. With this update, you can surely enjoy the features of your new kitchen while keeping its remodeling cost low.

Change your wall color

Your kitchen can look beautiful and you do not even have to spend a lot of money for that. You only need to paint your walls. Consider painting the wall a bold color or add some accents, which complement the new color of the wall. Look for flea market products as an inexpensive way to make an impact with color.

Install new light fixtures

Install light fixtures to lighten up a dreary kitchen. Light fixtures can brighten things up without adding much to your kitchen remodeling costs. A kitchen needs a lot of light and if your cooking space doesn't have much natural light, fixtures such as track lighting can serve the purpose of lighting the dark spots in the kitchen area. Under-cabinet lighting is also very functional and can provide a decorative touch to highlight the decorative pieces.

Use fabrics to decorate your kitchen interiors

When people think about decorating with fabrics, they generally think about the dining room, living room or bedroom. However, kitchen is also a place where fabrics can be used. You can use a beautiful tablecloth to cover up your old table. Not only will the tablecloth help you to hide all the scratches on the table, it will also provide a complete new look. A skirt can be used to cover up the island and fresh curtains can be used to liven up the windows. Do not forget the cushions for your barstools or towels, kitchen chairs, potholders and oven mitts. To keep your kitchen remodeling cost low, buy leftover lengths of fabric from discounted stores.

Shop smart when it comes to floors

Flooring is the most expensive part of remodeling a kitchen but if you shop smart, this cost can be reduced. For instance, if you prefer tile floors but have a limited budget; opt for clay tiles rather than porcelain tiles. They look similar.



These kitchen remodeling tips are not complicated at all. Just follow them while updating your kitchen and reduce your remodeling cost to a great extent!
Admin · 21 vistas · Escribir un comentario
23 Dic 2016 
Myth: I looked at my roof and didn't see any problems, or my roofer inspected it and there are no problems.

Fact: Roofing systems must be physically inspected by some one who has training and experience to determine if there is actual hail damage. Insurance companies send their adjusters too roofer job description special training so they can properly identify hail damage to property, unfortunately there is not much ongoing training for the roofing or home inspection industries.

Myth: I'm not missing any shingles so I must not have damage.

Fact: Missing shingles are related to wind damage claims and can happen during a hailstorm if the winds are high enough. However hail damage is insidious in nature and may not physically cause leakage for years after a hail storm.

Myth: I only have 1 year to file my insurance claim.



Fact: Many insurance companies do have a one year time limit and some even less, however due to the nature of hail damage they may pay claims past the deadline. This usually happens if a hail storm is widespread geographically.

Myth: My roof is new so it's covered by the manufacturer's warranty, home builder, or contractor.

Fact: Manufacturer's specifically name hail as an exclusion to their product warranty, so do home builders and roofing contractors. Newer roofs can actually be more susceptible to hail damage versus older roofs due to the time it takes a new roof to cure from exposure to the elements.



Myth: I was told my roof has minimal or very little damage and therefor I don't need to file a claim.

Fact: If your roof has any damage what-so-ever you have a valid insurance claim and should file with your insurance company. Damage might not cause your roof to leak for years. This is why it's important to have a qualified person inspect your roof.

Myth: My insurance company will cancel my policy if I file a claim.

Fact: Most states prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies for filing claims arising from severe weather related events. Check with your state however and your policy language as well.

Myth: If I don't file my claim, my insurance company won't raise my rates.

Fact: After a disaster, insurance companies may raise every one's rates. By not filing your claim, your personal rate increase is paying for every one else's damage except yours.
Admin · 23 vistas · Escribir un comentario

1, 2, 3 ... 16 ... 32  Página siguiente