Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant (R) explained in plain terms he opposes immigration reform because “if you give the legal right to vote to 10 Hispanics in my district, seven to eight of them are going to vote Democrat.” Marchant’s comments were reiterated a day or so later by another Texas Republican, Michael Burgess, who questioned other Republicans “about the wisdom of giving citizenship to 11 million undocumented Democrats” and it is a safe bet that if seven to eight of those Hispanic immigrants followed white Republicans’ orders and voted for GOP candidates, immigration reform would have passed a decade ago. In June of this year, a teabag leader in Texas extended the anti-immigration reform argument of not voting Republican to African Americans at a Republican Party event. Teabagger Ken Emanuelson said “I’m going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.” However, if “black people” voted as Republicans directed, racists could set aside their animus long enough to “allow” African Americans to vote.
After the conservative Supreme Court ruled that racism was dead and struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act virtually killing it, Southern Republican-controlled states wasted little time reinstating voter suppression tactics primarily affecting African Americans to restrict them from voting. There was nothing as disheartening to white racists as seeing hours-long lines of African Americans waiting to cast their votes for an African American man for President, and doubtless Republicans will take any steps to see it never happens again even though the High Court left it to Congress to fix the VRA and give every American the right to vote. Most Americans are unaware that one of the last things House Republicans did prior to going to their home districts was voting to defund ACORN regardless the organization has been disbanded for three years. Why? So Republicans going to their southern districts can tell their racist supporters that they took money away from a defunct organization that assisted African Americans as well as obstructed advancement of immigration reform to prevent Hispanics from earning a pathway to citizenship to protect their European (read white) heritage.
AP via Talking Points Memo
A federal court is dismissing a lawsuit that a Hispanic civic group and two naturalized citizens filed last year to block a voter purge in Florida.
The lawsuit became moot after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June. That decision halted enforcement of a federal law that required all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval before changing the way they hold elections.
The groups fighting the state had argued that Florida’s efforts to remove suspected non-U.S. citizens needed to be cleared by federal authorities first because five counties in the state had been subject to the federal law.
The move suggests that Republican leaders, who mostly offered evasive statements after the Shelby decision, have decided they should engage some kind of legislative process to discuss the ruling. In fact, the hearing will come just one day after the Senate Democrats’ first hearing on the VRA. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the VRA’s history from strong backers of the legislation, Rep. John Lewis and Rep. James Sensenbrenner.
The move also shows, however, that some House Republicans are aiming to kill any voting rights reform. That’s because Republicans handed the hearing to Trent Franks, one of just 33 Republicans who voted against the last VRA re-authorization in 2006. (A total of 390 House members voted for it.)
Franks chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, which is holding the hearing. (By contrast, the Senate hearing is before the full committee.)
Recently, Franks acknowledged that Republican leaders have been circumspect about the Supreme Court decision in Shelby, saying that while John Roberts’ decision “said what many of us have believed,” it was risky to openly oppose the Voting Rights Act. Holding back was probably “a wise decision” for Republicans, Franks told Politico, because “in this day and age,” even factual criticism of rights laws “is often relegated to hate speech or something along those lines.”
In one email, a lawyer for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said that the Republican wanted to move a white neighborhood near the San Antonio Country Club from a Hispanic congressional district into his own congressional district, in order to make the Democratic-leaning district less white.
In response, a Republican staffer for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) warned in a private email that the gerrymandered map “has next to no chance of pre-clearance.”
At the time, Republican state Rep. Beverly Woolley, a leader of the redistricting efforts in Harris County, told a group of minority representatives, “[Y]ou all are protected by the Voting Rights Act and we are not. … We don’t want to lose these people due to population growth in the county, or we won’t have any districts left.”
In a separate instance, one Republican congressman told another that he needed “more Mexicans in [his] district” but not from areas where Latinos were politically active.
The Justice Department argued at the time that the emails left little doubt that “racial as well as political data were most accurately driving the line drawing.”
The evidence was enough for a three-judge panel on the D.C. court to deny pre-clearance and conclude that the new map was drawn with “discriminatory purposes.” The court said the new district lines removed the “economic guts” from African-American districts but performed “no such surgery” on regions represented by white lawmakers.
“Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith for the court. “The only explanation Texas offers for this pattern is ‘coincidence.’ But if this was coincidence, it was a striking one indeed.”
To understand the depth of the damage that the Supreme Court’s June 25 decision, Shelby County v. Holder, has inflicted on the voting rights of African-Americans, you have to measure it against the backdrop of the takeover of state legislatures, primarily in the South, by the Republican Party.
Since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the number of blacks elected to Southern state legislatures has grown from fewer than five to 313, all but a handful as Democrats. While blacks rose in the once dominant Democratic Party, Southern whites defected. Now, in the former Confederacy, Republicans have gained control of all 11 state legislatures.
Despite their growing numbers, the power of Southern blacks has been dissipated. African-American Democratic officials — according to data compiled from academic research and the Web sites of state legislatures — have been relegated to minority party status. Equally important, an estimated 86 African-Americans who spent years accumulating seniority have lost their chairmanships of state legislative committees to white Republicans.
The loss of these committee positions has meant the loss of the power to set agendas, push legislation to the floor, and call hearings. At the state level, “black voters and elected officials have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era,” wrote David A. Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in a 2011 paper, “Resegregation in Southern Politics?”
The 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans took over state legislatures across the country, were devastating to Southern blacks. But the Republican surge in the South, in fact, began in an earlier election: the Gingrich-led revolution of 1994.
WASHINGTON — In striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last week, members of the Supreme Court didn’t just neuter a major component of landmark civil rights law. The justices also eliminated the workload of several dozen federal employees.
Until the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder on June 25, a few dozen of the 100 or so employees of the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division had been assigned to review the 14,000 to 20,000 voting changes submitted each year by jurisdictions that needed DOJ permission before implementing new rules or, say, changing the location of a polling place.
DOJ is reassigning those attorneys and support staff after the Supreme Court ruled that the Voting Rights Act Section 4 — the part of the law that defined which localities needed to have their laws precleared under Section 5 — was unconstitutional. The court’s Section 4 declaration effectively eliminates Section 5 enforcement.
NYT:Privacy Group to Ask Supreme Court to Stop N.S.A.’s Phone Spying Program
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Of course President Obama could, like was the case with DOMA, simply refuse to defend that case in Court because he doesn’t think that it is Constitutional. But he won’t because there is a difference. He benefits politically from the Patriot act and thus has voted for and signed it three times,has used the FISA Court to extend it application at least once, has defended it multiple times in court and he and his administration has recently been caught “misspreaking” in defense of the NSA’s use of it.
With Republicans adding the governor’s mansion last fall to their control, on top of the North Carolina Legislature, Riggs and other civil rights activists have counted on protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent GOP geographical empire-building through redistricting. Nine states and parts of six others, including 40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, were covered by a provision of the legislation that required federal approval of any changes in election laws.
But a U.S. Supreme Court decision Tuesday gutted the law, striking down the so-called preclearance provisions, and Republican leaders here already are revving up to push through voting procedure changes.
The GOP chairman of the state Senate rules committee, Sen. Tom Apodaca, said he would move quickly to pass a voter ID law that Republicans say would bolster the integrity of the balloting process. GOP leaders also began engineering an end to the state’s early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration provisions, all popular with black voters. Civil rights groups say the moves are designed to restrict poll access by blacks, who vote reliably Democratic.
The moves are only the first indication that the ruling will have “a demonstrably negative impact on voters of color,” said (Allison) Riggs, staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. The group already has a 2-year-old lawsuit pending that alleges racial discrimination in the 1st District and three dozen other North Carolina districts redrawn by Republicans.
Odd. Racial discrimination lawsuits? I thought the Supreme Court had ruled that racism had come to an end in the South?
Apodaca said the previous requirements for federal preclearance caused “legal headaches” in passing such measures as voter ID in response to legitimate concerns over voter fraud. It’s time, he told reporters, to bring the Voting Rights Act “into this century, not the last century.”
Yeah, those pesky legal headaches. How shocking that people don’t want their rights taken from them. The gall.
And I’m sure in Mr. Apodaca’s mind, “this century” implies the 19th.
The new moves by state officials to adopt ID requirements and other changes in the voting laws can have a critical impact on black voting strength, civil rights leaders say. Blacks represented 22% of North Carolina’s registered voters in 2012 but accounted for 34% of voters without a driver’s license or state-issued ID this year, according to Democracy North Carolina, a liberal advocacy group. The group says blacks in 2012 made up 29% of early voters and 34% of same-day registration voters.
Since taking control in North Carolina, Republicans have passed or proposed legislation that Democrats say discriminates against minorities. This month, Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, passed by a Democratic Legislature and governor. The act allowed death row inmates to be re-sentenced to life in prison without parole if they proved racial discrimination in jury selection or sentencing.
Neither Sen. Apodaca nor the North Carolina Republican Party responded to requests for comment. Susan Myrick, a policy analyst with the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank in Raleigh, said the court was correct in eliminating the preclearance section. She said it forced local officials to “go hat in hand in Washington, begging for permission” when they needed to change something as simple as moving a polling place or revising a ballot.
“Its time was over,” she said.
The Supreme Court has thrown out lower court rulings that blocked a Texas voter identification law and the state’s political redistricting plans as discriminatory.
The court’s action Thursday was a predictable result of its major ruling two days earlier that effectively ended the federal government’s strict supervision of elections in Texas and other states with a history of discrimination in voting.
The justices ordered lower courts to reconsider in light of Tuesday’s ruling.
In both the voter ID and redistricting cases, the court stopped the state from putting in place the laws under the advance approval requirement of the Voting Rights Act.
The court has said that part of the law cannot be used unless Congress develops a new formula for determining which states and localities should be covered.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Wednesday signed a new Congressional district for the state into law, a move that would have required federal approval prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
Perry’s action, confirmed by an aide to Roll Call, was day removed from the Supreme Court’s decision to gut Section 5 from the landmark 1965 civil rights law. Prior to the court’s ruling, Section 5 required Texas — as well as other states with a history of racial discrimination — to clear any changes to its voting laws, including redistricting, with the federal government.
For these reasons and many more, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County is one of the worst in the history of the institution. As a matter of fact, and of law, it is indefensible. It will be viewed by future scholars on a par with the Court’s odious Dred Scott and Plessy decisions and other utterly lamentable expressions of judicial indifference to the ugly realities of racial life in America. And to those tens of millions of Americans whose voting rights were protected last year by Section 4, it is a direct slap in the face rendered by judges who today used the banner of “states rights” to undermine the most basic right any individual can have in a free society — the right to be able to vote free from racial discrimination employed by public officials.