I’ve got to tell our local “Feminazi” @geegeetee about this!
Good news, even some top conservative Republicans realize that laws attempting to ban sharia or foreign law are ridiculous and pointless (Unless of course you want to demonize Muslims). Its good to see a member of the Alabama Christian coalition openly opposing this stupidity. Tara Culp-Ressler reports.
Next week, Alabama voters will be asked to cast their ballots on Amendment 1, a carefully worded measure that would prohibit “the application of foreign law” in the state’s courts. The ballot initiative is ultimately seeking to ban sharia law, an increasingly popular right-wing legislative tactic that serves to demonize the Islamic faith as something that Americans need to be protected from.
The push to ban sharia law is often spearheaded by prominent Religious Right figures like Pat Robertson and Bryan Fischer. But somewhat of a different scene is playing out in Alabama in the lead up to the election, as Christian leaders in the state are speaking out against Amendment 1.
Randy Brinson, the president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama — one of the state’s largest network of conservative evangelicals — is one of the religious figures lending his voice to the opposition campaign. In an interview with the Birmingham News this week, Brinson said that the effort to pass Amendment 1 is “just silliness,” adding that “it’s all something that lawmakers can trumpet back to constituents that they’re protecting Christian values, but they need to be working on other stuff.”
An important post by Booth Gunter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, on claims of Voter Fraud and attempts to disenfranchise minorities. Make sure you also watch the video where Dorothy Guilford explains what it was like for her back in the days of poll taxes in the Jim Crow south.
Dorothy Guilford has a simple message for politicians who enact laws making it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote: “I don’t think that’s right.”
She should know. She’s seen it all before.
Born in 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama, Guilford lived through most of the Jim Crow years, when laws discouraged African Americans like her, as well as poor white people, from voting.
When she first became eligible to vote, she had to take a literacy test and pay a poll tax of $1.50, a sum worth about $25 today. Anyone who couldn’t read or couldn’t pay the tax, which accumulated, couldn’t vote. Most white voters, however - those whose ancestors were on the voting rolls prior to the Civil War - were exempt from the test.
While we were all being entertained by the slandering of a returning POW, and then by the road company production of Weasel’s End in Virginia last night, the Supreme Court quietly accepted for review yet another case that involves the franchise, and the rights of minority voters to exercise it. Before we get to what it all might mean for the country that is still in the throes of John Roberts’s Day Of Jubilee, we should pause for a moment and gaze in awe at the glorious legal hypocrisy of the state of Alabama.
You may recall that the Day Of Jubilee was first declared when the Supreme Court ruled for Shelby County, Alabama in gutting Section V of the Voting Rights Act and, thereby, rendering the entire act virtually toothless. The current case involves the creation of gerrymandered majority-minority districts the defense of which Alabama has based in…wait for it…Section V of the Voting Rights Act. Pity me, Your Honor. I’m an orphan.
In dissent, Judge Myron H. Thompson said “there is a cruel irony to these cases” in light of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the Shelby County case. “Even as it was asking the Supreme Court to strike down” Section 5 “for failure to speak to current conditions,” Judge Thompson wrote, “the State of Alabama was relying on racial quotas with absolutely no evidence that they had anything to do with current conditions, and seeking to justify those quotas with the very provision it was helping to render inert.”
In the context of the Court’s declaration of the Day Of Jubilee, and the huge effort in the states to suppress votes and restrict the franchise, an effort that the Court itself largely has put beyond the reach of federal law, this case is part of a generalized assault not only on the voting rights of targeted populations, but also to put in place a de facto suppression of the mind, to inculcate in those targeted populations that the system has been so rigged against them that there isn’t much point in putting in the effort it would take to exercise your right to vote. Get an ID. No, sorry, get another ID. No, still the wrong one. Register sometime between 4 and 4:03 on the fourth Tuesday of Nevermember. The most effective form of voter suppression is to convince people that the franchise is out of their reach. Couple that with the increasingly deadening effect of money on our politics — something that this Court also blessed when it gave First Amendment protection to influence-peddling — and you see a kind of democratic malaise settling in, and this in a country where too many people have to be pried off the couch to vote even in the best of times. This is the way rights evaporate. First, you make their exercise inconvenient, or dangerous. Then you can easily make them disappear.
Despite all of the progress made so far on LGBT rights, on Tuesday, Louisiana voted to uphold the state’s anti-sodomy law, 67-27, despite it being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, in their landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.
In its decision, the court ruled that laws prohibiting sodomy seek “to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.”
Unless you live in Louisiana?
In fact, in addition to Louisiana and Texas, Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma have all maintained their own anti-sodomy laws, despite their direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision. In three of these states — Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — such anti-sodomy laws pertain exclusively to “homosexual conduct.”
The Louisiana bill in question, HB12, proposed to amend “crime against nature…” and was introduced in January by State House Representative Patricia Smith (D-Baton Rouge). Although it seems painfully obvious that there is no reason on Earth to maintain such a law, Smith’s proposed bill was a direct response to the targeted arrests of gay men in her district who were profiled and lured by undercover police to agree to consensual sex. At least 12 men have been arrested in this “sodomy sting” since 2011, despite the fact that prosecutors refused to bring charges in every single case.
Day after day, Sen. Jeff Sessions argues against an immigration overhaul bill that GOP party leaders, and a sizable share of his Republican colleagues, say is critical to any chance of a national comeback for the party out of power in Washington.
The legislation headed for passage in the Senate would cost the nation jobs and depress wages, Sessions says in the Judiciary Committee, on the Senate floor, in hallway interviews and to just about anyone who asks. It’s not paid for, he argues. Nor, Sessions adds, would it guarantee better border enforcement.
Lawmakers don’t really know what the bill does, seeing that it consumes 1,100 pages, according to Alabama’s junior senator.
The 66-year-old former prosecutor used a similar approach to help defeat an immigration overhaul in 2006 and 2007, when a president of his own party, George W. Bush, declared it a priority. Now that Democrat Barack Obama has it atop his domestic agenda, Sessions is again the face of Republican opposition to a path to citizenship for millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. The playing field has changed since then, but the path toward a bill actually becoming law is no clearer than it was six years ago now that a sizable tea party faction holds sway in the House.
Round 3, unfolding on the Senate floor and coming soon to a town hall meeting near you, takes place in a nation that says it supports allowing at least some of the 11 million immigrants to gain legal status under certain conditions.
MOBILE - U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, confirmed today that he intends to resign from Congress later this year and take a job at the University of Alabama.
Bonner will leave Congress effective Aug. 15 for a position as vice chancellor of government relations and economic development at the University of Alabama System …
On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states have no constitutional obligation to honor public records requests from non-residents. Journalists, who frequently rely on freedom of information laws to expose corruption and break open stories, fear that the decision may make it harder for them to access public records.
MuckRock, a website that files public records requests on behalf of activists, journalists, and private citizens for a small fee and posts the resulting records online, has a solution. The website has been helping out-of-staters seeking public records in Virginia and seven other states with similar laws—Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Tennessee—by pairing them with locals willing to co-file the requests. After Monday’s decision, MuckRock began offering free website subscriptions to citizens of those states to help keep that information flowing.
MuckRock cofounder Michael Morisy, who also works for the Boston Globe, says he “fully expect[s] more states to at least look into adding these laws as they look for ways to cut down on costs for complying with public records requests and generally decrease the amount of people accessing this tool.”
Starting March 1, federal programs and their state and local beneficiaries began grappling with $85.4 billion in cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Some programs have been spared—Congress voted to restore tuition assistance for members of the armed services and, just last week, restored funding to the Federal Aviation Administration to forestall flight-delaying furloughs. But for the most part, the cuts have remained intact. Six weeks in, we took a look at how sequestration is has impacted 50 states, from canceled festivals to shuttered Head Start programs to massive layoffs.
Birmingham: North Albama public defenders office furloughing 11 of 15 employees.
Huntsville: Huntsville Housing Authority, which provides heating, plumbing, and financial assistance, to serve 300 fewer people.
Jefferson County: Head Start program closing for 10 weeks, affecting 276 kids. Fifteen staffers will be furloughed.
Advertise on motherjones.com
Sitka: Bill Brady Healing Center, which treats Native Alaskans for drug and alcohol addiction, closed as part of $3.5 million in cuts to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation.
Fairbanks: Alaska Volcano Observatory is cutting back on volcano and earthquake monitoring.
Eielson Air Force Base: 18th Aggressor Squadron will be grounded until the end of the fiscal year.