The modern Republican party, and the conservative movement that gives the party its only real energy, never has been down with this whole right-to-vote business — except, of course, as an equal-protection dodge in Bush v. Gore. The current Chief Justice, John Roberts, kick-started his rise in conservative politics by working to undermine the Voting Rights Act as a lawyer in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department.
You really have to admire how they’ve done it. First, they turn our elections into a plutocrat’s playground (Citizens United, McCutcheon). Then they uphold in the main voter-suppression tactics designed by the candidates the newly corrupt system produces out in the states (Crawford). Then, they gut any remedy that the people against whom these new laws discriminate have in federal court (Shelby County.) And now, it appears, the day of Jubilee having been declared, the circle may be closing for good.
The court’s ruling, expected in 2016, could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans. The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic. A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas.
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.
According to Miranda Blue at Rightwing Watch,
In a fundraising email today, the voter-fraud mavens at True the Vote claim that a proposed bipartisan update to the Voting Rights Act is in fact a “move toward race-based segregation” that would “exclude millions of Americans from the full protection of the law — based solely on the color of their skin” and “turn our elections over to Eric Holder and Barack Obama.”
The Voting Rights Amendment Act is a bipartisan bill that would replace the formula that determines which areas are subject to Justice Department preclearance for changes in their voting laws. The previous formula was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, although the rest of the law remained.
The proposed formula, like its predecessor, would require states and counties with a history of voting restrictions targeting minority voters to obtain preclearance from the Justice Department before changing their voting laws. The preclearance provision, enacted to stop rampant Jim-Crow-era racial discrimination at the polls has for decades helped stem attempts to disenfranchise minority voters.
But according to True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht, the very fact that the Voting Rights Act and the proposed coverage update are meant to stop racial discrimination at the polls means that they are the product of “race baiters” who want to “divide voters into color blocks for partisan gain” and “move toward race-based segregation.”
Seriously, what parallel universe are these far right loons living in?
I think this is a great idea! The Voter fraud that the right seems to obsess about, isn’t really much of a problem in the real world, people being denied their right to vote however, is. This is a way that we could put the teeth back into the voting rights act.
Recently one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation that Congress has ever passed was gutted: The Voting Rights Act.
The Supreme Court removed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of voter discrimination get federal approval before making voting changes like moving polling places or redistricting. Within months of the ruling, some states immediately enacted potentially discriminatory laws including Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, South Dakota, Iowa, and Indiana.
The good news is that we have the chance to fix it now. Congress can pass a new set of protections that work together to guarantee our right to vote - it’s called the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. Supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers this bil will protect critical civil rights.
This bill is simple, it will require any state with five violations of federal voting rights law in the last 15 years to receive pre-clearance for any election changes. That means states with a history of discrimination that want to redistrict, change election procedures close to an election, or move polling places, must have these changes reviewed. It’s common sense.
Voter discrimination is a real problem. When the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 2006, Congress held over 20 hearings and amassed a record of 15,000 pages documenting widespread evidence of voting discrimination.
Ask Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation — the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.
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.