Voting Rights Act

‘Selma Is Now': John Legend’s Momentous Oscar Speech

glory

Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Think Progress

John Legend and Common won the Academy Award for best original song for “Glory” from the movie Selma, which chronicled Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for the Voting Rights Act.

Legend took the opportunity to remind the audiece that the struggle continues. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today,” Legend said. “Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now.”

(Video is no longer available:  “This video contains content from AMPAS Oscars, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.“)

Selma depicts events that took place 50 years ago. But in just the last two years there has been a stunning assault on voting rights in the United States:

[T]he very rights championed by King have been eroded since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 which effectively struck down the heart of Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

The high court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder opened the doors for nine Southern states to change their election laws without federal approval. In the year and a half since the decision, courts have heard a number of cases about the constitutionality of newly passed voter ID legislation and other methods of voter suppression, while voters across the country have faced increased barriers to casting their ballots.

Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down the provisions against restrictive voting legislation by ruling that Section 5 of the VRA no longer blocks discriminatory voting changes, states across the country moved forward with laws that were previously blocked. In the first year after the decision, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia all made previously forbidden changes to their voting laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

More on Selma’s missing epilogue.

This Is What Eric Holder’s Legacy Will Be

The Huffington Post

Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold the top law enforcement position in the United States, announced on Thursday that he plans to step down from his position as soon as a successor can be confirmed. If he remains in office until December, Holder will become the third longest-serving Attorney General in the history of the United States. Here are some key components of his legacy.

He decided not to defend DOMA

The Obama administration initially defended the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages. At first, Holder maintained that while the administration disagreed with the law, it was the Justice Department’sresponsibility to defend the laws that Congress had passed. (Some of the briefs written by Justice Department lawyers arguing that DOMA was constitutional were considered offensive by gay rights organizations.)

But Holder’s analysis changed. He announced in February 2011 that the Justice Department would no longer defend components of the statute because DOMA “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s) Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court agreed, ruling in June 2013 that key portions of DOMA were unconstitutional.

He lost the fight to bring the Sept. 11 trial out of Guantanamo Bay and into New York City

In one of the biggest disappointments of his tenure, Holder ultimately lost the fight to try the key perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in New York City. The plan, first announced by Holder in Nov. 2009, faced stiff resistance from many politicians in New York who feared the impact a high-profile trial would have on the city. Others objected because they believed that a military commission was a more appropriate venue for the terrorism trial. Holder ultimately announced he was reversing his decision to try the cases in New York and moved them back to the military commission in Guantanamo.

While the process in Guantanamo has hit numerous roadblocks, Holder’s Justice Department has gathered a string of wins against other terror suspects in federal court. Holder has remarked that the Sept. 11 defendants “would be on death row as we speak” if the case had been allowed to proceed in federal court.

He helped turn around the Civil Rights Division and fought for voting rights

The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was heavily politicized during the Bush administration. A 2008 inspector general report found the conservative leadership had hired lawyers with little to no civil rights experience into positions due to their ideological beliefs. The environment caused a massive exodus in the Civil Rights Division: more than 70 percent of its attorneys left between 2003 and 2007. Holder, who has long made civil rights a top priority, was widely credited with overseeing the turnaround of the division.

“I think Eric Holder put the ‘J’ back in DOJ, and in particular he restored the luster of the crown jewel which is the Civil Rights Division, and I had the privilege of having a front-row seat for that,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who headed the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2013, told The Huffington Post after Holder’s announcement on Thursday.

Holder oversaw several of the Justice Department’s successful voting rights lawsuits during President Barack Obama’s first term, as well as the agency’s continued efforts after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. DOJ is currently involved in several voting rights cases, including high-profile suits against voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas.

He addressed racism head on.

Shortly after his confirmation in 2009, Holder delivered a speech to Justice Department employees at an event commemorating Black History Month. In his remarks, he called out the U.S. as a “nation of cowards” when it comes to addressing race. He said Americans believe that “certain subjects are off-limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.”

Those words echoed throughout Holder’s tenure at the DOJ as he fought back against laws that suppressed voting and defended the Voting Rights Act. He stepped in to request federal oversight of the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-friskpolicy, a program that has overwhelmingly targeted black and Latino individuals. More recently, he ordered a civil rights investigation into the largely white police force in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson.

“Will we yet again turn a blind eye to the hard truths that Ferguson exposed?” Holder asked during a speech this week, echoing his 2009 remarks. “Or will we finally accept this mandate for open and honest dialogue?”

He oversaw a crackdown on leaks and disappointed civil liberties advocates

Under Holder, the Justice Department has aggressively — some would say obsessively — pursued government leakers. Eight have been charged with violating the draconian Espionage Act of 1917, more than under all previous administrations combined. Journalists have also come under the gun: Holder’s DOJ subpoenaed AP reporters’ phone logs in a leak investigation, named a Fox News reporter as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in another case, and is still trying to force Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his sources under threat of jail time.

All of that led Risen to call Holder’s boss, Obama, “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

One of the leakers charged, Edward Snowden, revealed another disappointment for civil liberties advocates: the DOJ’s intimate role in coming up with the legal rationale that underlies the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records.

The FBI’s frayed relationship with Muslim communities, meanwhile, has seen little improvement under Holder. The bureau has continued to use sting operations, which critics say are tantamount to entrapment, to arrest Muslims involved in bogus terror “plots.” And NPR reported on Wednesday that the racial profiling guidelines set to be released soon will still allow the FBI to “map” the demographics of Muslim communities.

Perhaps most worrying for many across the spectrum, it was Holder’s DOJ that came up with the “drone memos” — the legal justification that the Obama administration leaned on to kill al Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen without a trial.

He released the so-called “torture memos,” but didn’t go after their authors — Shadee

Two months after assuming office in 2009, Holder moved to publicly release a series of previously classified “torture memos” from the Bush administration that sanctioned specific acts of torture, including waterboarding, for CIA use against al Qaeda suspects.

“There is no reason we cannot wage an effective fight against those who have sworn to harm us while we respect our most honored constitutional traditions,” Holder said in March 2009 after releasing nine previously classified Justice Department memos.

Despite the release, which faced significant pushback from senior intelligence officials, the attorney general’s office never brought criminal charges against any government officials investigated for their involvements in over 100 cases of severe prisoner abuse.

While crediting Holder in other areas, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero issued a statement on Thursday noting “profound disagreements with the Attorney General on national security issues.”

“During his tenure, DOJ approved the drone killing of an American far away from any battlefield, approved the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, failed to prosecute any of the Bush administration torturers, and presided over more leak prosecutions than all previous Justice Departments combined,” Romero said.

He became the first-ever cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress

In 2012, Holder became the only sitting cabinet member in history to be held in contempt of Congress after the White House claimed executive privilege over documents subpoenaed in relation to Operation Fast and Furious, a botched federal investigation intended to combat gun smuggling. The documents that the Justice Department refused to turn over related not to the actual operation, but rather to how DOJ responded once Congress began investigating the matter.

Holder later dismissed the vote — led by the Republican-controlled House — as political theater, calling it “a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people.”

The White House also indicated in 2012 that Holder would not face any criminal charges in the matter since the documents being sought were protected by executive privilege.

He took on “draconian” drug sentences and slowly but surely scaled back the war on drugs.

In what Obama described as a “gutsy speech” in front of the American Bar Association in 2013, Holder outlined his plan for “sweeping, systemic changes” to how the Justice Department prosecutes drug-related offenses. While Holder initially faced a lot of internal resistance from career federal prosecutors as he attempted to rein in the so-called war on drugs, he pressed ahead, pushing for changes like allowing low-level and nonviolent drug offenders to avoid “draconian” mandatory minimum sentences and permitting the early release of some elderly defendants.

He continued to push for sentencing reform in March, lending his support to aproposal that would reduce penalties for some drug offenders and help cut prison costs.

“This overreliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate,” he said.

Holder has also urged first responders to carry the heroin overdose antidote naloxone.

He oversaw a crackdown on marijuana shops, but allowed state legalization to move forward

During the first term of the Obama administration, Holder oversaw an expansive federal crackdown on hundreds of state-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries in states like Colorado and California, which was spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Agency and several U.S. attorneys.

But in a historic step, Holder announced in 2013 that DOJ would allow for Colorado and Washington to implement their groundbreaking new laws legalizing and regulating the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana.

While Holder never explicitly came out in favor of legalization or decriminalization, he has been more open to rescheduling marijuana, which is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I substance like heroin. Holder said the Obama administration would be “more than glad” to work with Congress to re-examine how cannabis is scheduled federally. He even said in April that he’s “cautiously optimistic”about how the historic changes in marijuana law were working out in Washington and Colorado.

And now, as he plans to step down from his post, he appears to be more open than ever to the possibility of classifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. He said in an interview just this week that “we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin” adding that science should be used to make that determination.

He reached big settlements on pollution cases

The DOJ reached a record $4 billion settlement with BP in November 2012 over criminal charges stemming from the 2010 oil spill, which dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That included charges related to the deaths of 11 workers on the rig and the “misconduct or neglect of ships’ officers.” The DOJ is still pursuing civil charges related to the spill, but the agency recently scored a big win when a federal judge ruled that BP was grossly negligent in allowing the spill to occur — a ruling that opens the door to up to $18 billion in civil penalties that could be levied against the company.

The DOJ topped its own record fine this year, however, with a $5.15 billion settlementin April 2014 with Anadarko Petroleum over a decades-long legacy of pollution left by one of its subsidiaries.

He failed to hold Wall Street accountable for the financial crisis

Holder’s legacy is likely to be marred by what critics view as DOJ’s lax approach to investigating and prosecuting the alleged crimes that sparked, or exacerbated, the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Few Wall Street firms, and even fewer senior financial executives, were officially charged with breaking the law for conduct related to the crisis, despite what experts contend is a wealth of evidence — thanks to civil lawsuits brought by aggrieved investors, prior investigations by state authorities, and probes by Congress and the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — that at the very least should have prompted the Justice Department to investigate further.

Holder’s approach to crisis-era wrongdoing stands in stark contrast to the playbook followed by federal prosecutors contending with the fallout of the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 90s.

“In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears likely that none will be,” Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan wrote earlier this year in the New York Review of Books.

The lack of public evidence that Holder’s Justice Department thoroughly investigated crisis-era wrongdoing has contributed to the perception — one eagerly promoted by the defense bar — that perhaps few crimes were even committed in the runup to the financial crisis.

“But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud,” Rakoff wrote, “the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years.”

Appeals Court Upholds Order Restoring Early Voting In Ohio

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich | AP Photo / Tony Dejak

Score one for Democracy…

TPM LiveWire

The law, enacted earlier this year, scaled back early voting in the Buckeye State from 35 days to 28 days and scrapped “Golden Week,” when residents could both register and vote in the same week.

From here the state of Ohio can either seek a full court — en banc — ruling at the 6th Circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court.

“With the press of time, it is not clear that Ohio is going to bother to try to change this for this election,” wrote election law professor Rick Hasen of UC-Irvine. “But if and when this case gets to the Supreme Court, I expect 5 Justices could well adopt a much narrower definition of equal protection and the Voting Rights Act than offered here.”

Militia Group Plans To Target African-American Democrats At Polling Places In Wisconsin

african-american-voting

African Americans Voting

 

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this similar to KKK  tactics of the 50’s?

PoliticusUSA

A militia group in Wisconsin is planning to target African-American Democrats at polling places in order to suppress the vote and keep Republican governor Scott Walker in office.

Here is a Twitter exchange where the group details their plan:

wisconsin-militia

A visit to the group’s Facebook page features makes it clear exactly who they are targeting. All of the pictures on the page feature African-Americans. The group is trying to get African-Americans who may have outstanding warrants arrested in order to keep them from voting. The group wants people to report those they suspect of having warrants out on them to the police on election day, “Do the community a favor and keep an eye out for people wanted on warrants and report them to the police on election day.”

The “poll watchers” also plan on harassing and following people who they suspect of being wanted on warrants to their homes. The plan seems to be to use the police to intimidate African-Americans into not voting in November’s election.

The group admits that they are targeting Democrats. They aren’t exactly subtle in making it clear that they are targeting African-American voters. The scheme is an attempt to intimidate African-American voters while getting around the Voting Rights Act. The point of this campaign isn’t to get felons off the streets. The “poll watchers” are trying to keep African-Americans away from the polls.

The fact that they are targeting a specific group of individuals based on race and perceived political affiliation means that their operation is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. According to the Justice Department, “The administration of elections is chiefly a function of state government. However, federal authorities may become involved where there are possible violations of federal law. In cases where intimidation, coercion, or threats are made or attempts to intimidate, threaten or coerce are made to any person for voting or attempting to vote, the Department of Justice can consider whether there is federal jurisdiction to bring civil claims or criminal charges under federal law. Depending on the nature of the allegations, they may fall into the jurisdiction of different parts of the Department. If you have information about allegations of intimidation, please contact us.”

Wisconsin Republicans are desperate to keep Scott Walker in office, Currently, Gov. Walker is tied with Democrat Mary Burke in the polls. A voter intimidation effort that could prevent African-Americans from voting might be enough to get Walker reelected. The right-wing Wisconsin poll watching group is planning on engaging in illegal activity. The group is just getting started, which is why it is a perfect time to send the message that these tactics will not be tolerated.

You can contact the Justice Department here, and request that the election be monitored.

The right to vote must be protected, and those who attempt to intimidate voters need to be held accountable.

Texas Republicans call for repealing the Voting Rights Act

A voter arrives at a polling site, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in San Antonio.

A voter arrives at a polling site, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in San Antonio. | Photo by Eric Gay/AP

It seems Texas Republicans are finally being honest about the issue.  Of course this doesn’t make them right in wanting to repeal the Voting Rights Act, it just exposes their inherent bigotry.

Remember, Texas was the last state to find out about the Emancipation Proclamation…two and a half years after it was enacted.

MSNBC

When the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act last year, it allowed Texas to implement what is perhaps the nation’s strictest photo ID law. But according to the state’s Republicans, the federal government still has too much influence on how it runs elections.

The Texas GOP platform, released Thursday, calls for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, the most successful civil-rights law in the nation’s history. It also supports scrapping the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which has helped millions register to vote. And it advocates making voters re-register every four years, among other restrictive policies.

In sum, the party wants to get the federal government out of the business of overseeing state elections—returning voting law to where it was before the civil rights movement.

“We urge that the Voter [sic] Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized,” the platform says.

These aren’t new positions—the platform’s section on voting issues is largely unchanged from 2012. But circumstances have changed. Last year, the Supreme Court badly weakened the VRA by invalidating the provision that required certain states with a history of discrimination, including Texas, to get federal approval before making changes to their voting systems. That allowed Texas to put into effect its strict voter ID law, which had been blocked by a court under the VRA.

The Justice Department is continuing to challenge Texas’s voter ID law under a different provision of the VRA that still exists, and which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Without the VRA, the only bar on racial discrimination in voting would be the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. These weren’t enough to stop a century of Jim Crow, which used tactics like literacy tests to get around the prohibition on explicitly denying the right to vote on account of race. It was only thanks to the VRA, which took a broader view of what constitutes racial discrimination in voting, that the right to vote for all Americans was meaningfully assured.

Voting rights advocates are currently pushing Congress—with little success—to advance a bill that would strengthen the VRA in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Texas Republicans’ stance is a reminder that many conservatives want to go in the opposite direction.

A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott—who has fought for the ID law in court and who supported the legal effort to weaken the VRA—did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he supports repealing the VRA entirely.

The GOP platform also calls for repeal of the 2002 Help America Vote Act—which has made it easier for millions of Americans to cast a ballot—calling the law “unconstitutional.” And it explicitly says states have the right to disenfranchise ex-felons.

Below is the full voting section of the platform, which appears not to have been updated since 2012:

Voter Registration- We support restoring integrity to the voter registration rolls and reducing voter fraud. We support repeal of all motor voter laws; re-registering voters every four years; requiring photo ID of all registrants; proof of residency and citizenship, along with voter registration application; retention of the 30-day registration deadline; and requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the Secretary of State in order that the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters.

Selection of Primary Candidates- The SREC should study the Utah model for selecting primary
candidates.

Electoral College- We strongly support the Electoral College.

Voting Rights- We support equal suffrage for all United States citizens of voting age who are not felons. We oppose any identification of citizens by race, origin, or creed and oppose use of any such identification for purposes of creating voting districts.

Voter Rights Act- We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized.

Felon Voting- We affirm the constitutional authority of state legislatures to regulate voting, including disenfranchisement of convicted felons.

Protecting Active Military Personnel’s Right to Vote- We urge the Texas Secretary of State and the United States Attorney General to ensure that voting rights of our armed forces will neither be denied nor obstructed, and all valid absentee votes shall be counted.

Fair Election Procedures- We support modifications and strengthening of election laws to ensure ballot integrity and fair elections. We strongly urge the Texas Attorney General to litigate the previously passed Voter ID legislation. We support increased scrutiny and security in balloting by mail, prohibition of internet voting and any electronic voting lacking a verifiable paper trail, prohibition of mobile voting, prosecution for election fraud with jail sentences, repeal of the unconstitutional “Help America Vote Act”, and assurance that each polling place has a distinctly marked, and if possible, separate location for Republican and Democrat primary voting.

Republicans Must Turn Over Emails On North Carolina Voting Law, Federal Judge Rules

 

The Huffington Post

State Republicans hand over key e-mails

Any race-related emails that North Carolina Republicans may have sent in connection with the voter restrictions they passed last summer could soon be public, thanks to a ruling by a federal judge.

Before the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, simply demonstrating a discriminatory impact could be enough to overturn a discriminatory law. Now, in order to have North Carolina’s voting law struck down, civil rights groups and the Justice Department have to demonstrate that state lawmakers deliberately engaged in racial discrimination against voters.

The sweeping law requires voters to show certain forms of photo identification, eliminates same-day registration and reduces early voting — all measures which voting rights advocates say are intended to make it harder for Democratic-leaning minorities to vote.

The emails sent by legislators are crucial to proving racial motivations played some role in the legislation.

North Carolina wanted to keep legislator emails secret. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake ruled Thursday that the state couldn’t withhold all the emails. She did, however, say that North Carolina might be able to argue that emails only between legislators and their staffers could be kept private.

Of course, if legislators have nothing to hide about the motivations for passing the restrictive laws, they can individually waive their legislative immunity, as Peake noted.

Voting rights advocates welcomed the judge’s decision.

“North Carolinians have a right to know what motivated their lawmakers to make it harder for them to vote,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “Legislators should not be shrouding their intentions in secrecy. The people deserve better.”

In previous voting rights cases, legislator emails have demonstrated racial motivations. A legislator in South Carolina replied “Amen” when a constituent compared black voters to a “swarm of bees going after a watermelon,” while in Texas, a Republican member of Congress acknowledged wanting to move a country club from a heavily Hispanic district into his own, in order to increase the number of white voters.

Justice Department Calls In The Big Guns To Stop Voter Suppression

Pamela Karlan

Pamela Karlan

This post is a couple of days old but very relevant in the months to come…

Think Progress

It’s difficult to exaggerate the prominence Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan enjoys within the progressive legal community. Karlan is one of the most active members of the Supreme Court bar — among other things, she co-authored the brief that convinced the justices to strike down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act last June. She is a former litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and she is among the most widely regarded voting rights experts in the nation. If President Obama had shown more courage in the early years of his presidency, or if Senate Democrats had deployed the nuclear option sooner, she would be a federal appellate judge today. Many Court watchers, including myself, would choose her if we could place only one person on the Supreme Court.

So when the Justice Department revealed on Friday that Karlan would become the nation’s top voting rights attorney, it was as if Marsellus Wallace called up the many voters being disenfranchised in states like Texas and North Carolina, and told them that he’s sending The Wolf.

Karlan will take over as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights section. In this role, she will oversee the Justice Department’s most important challenges to voter suppression laws — including its efforts to restore federal oversight of Texas’ election law and its challenge to the nation’s worst voter suppression law in North Carolina.

As a senior member of the Civil Rights Division, Karlan will work under soon-to-be Assistant Attorney General Debo Adegbile, who President Obama recently nominated as the nation’s top civil rights attorney. Like Karlan, Adegbile is himself a leading expert on voting rights law – indeed, he twice appeared before the Supreme Court to try to save the Voting Rights Act from the Court’s conservative majority.

Ohio Is Trying To ‘Suppress The Voting Rights Of African Americans,’ Congresswoman Claims

Most Americans knew this already but confirmation from an elected official adds a multitude of weight to the issues of suppressing early voting and the general election in Ohio…

Think Progress

Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D) has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review two voting measures making their way through the state legislature that she claims could “suppress the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities.”

The proposed bills (S. 238 and H.B. 269) would reduce the number of absentee-voting days by six, prevent newly registered voters from voting the day they register, and require voters to present valid identification — a driver’s license, a state or military ID card, or a passport — when casting a ballot.

In her letter, Fudge charges that the legislation violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which “prohibits any voting qualification or practice applied by the state which results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote based on race.” “Recent estimates indicate that over 900,000 eligible voters in Ohio” lack the necessary ID, including as many as “one in four eligible African Americans,” the letter says. Same-day registration and voting “have recently been used at a higher rate by African Americans and lower-income voters.”

“With no indication that voter fraud is a widespread problem in Ohio, this proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to reduce the number of people able to exercise their right to vote,” she writes. “They are attempts to suppress the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities.”

Supporters of the effort argue that limiting early voting would free-up overstressed election boards “during their busiest time of year” and note that the legislation “allows for free photo IDs for people who can’t afford to purchase one and who are at or below the federal poverty level.”

“I think we can have a reasonable debate about policy here,” said State Sen. Frank LaRose (R), the sponsor of the early voting change. “To invoke the specter of a racial matter, I think, takes it too far. It is kind of shameful to do that. What we are talking about is a very modest reduction in the number of early voting days that still leaves Ohio as a leader in the nation, by far, for early voting.”

On Saturday, The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board came out against the limitation, writing that “absent compelling evidence of election fraud…there is no good, pro-voter reason to end the practice.” It also condemned a separate measure that would change absentee ballot rules.

During the 2012 presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) attempted to limit early voting to weekdays, and he defied a court order requiring early voting hours to be restored — although he eventually backed down.

10 craziest right-wing statements of the week –Tea Party meltdown edition

10 craziest right-wing statements of the week --Tea Party meltdown edition

Rick Scarborough (Credit: YouTube)

Salon

1. Justice Antonin Scalia: “The 14th Amendment protects all races, not only the blacks.”

No friend of affirmative action, voting rights protections, or anything he deems “racial entitlements,” the high court’s least inhibited conservative was at it again this week during oral arguments in a case in which advocates for minorities are challenging Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action in college admissions. The case reached the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court held the ban violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee, in that it prevents minorities from lobbying for racial preferences, when other groups can lobby for their favored programs, Huffpo explained.

A lawyer challenging the ban argued that the original goal of the 14th Amendment was to protect minority rights against a white majority.

Scalia begged to differ. “My goodness,” he said. “I thought we’ve held that the 14th Amendment protects all races. I mean, that was the argument in the early years, that it protected only—only the blacks. But I thought we rejected that. You say now that we have to proceed as though its purpose is not to protect whites, only to protect minorities?”

A little history: the 14th Amendment was approved three years after the end of the Civil War, and it was definitely about protecting the rights of former slaves. Scalia has not made any secret of his view that the country is all done with that racism stuff. If anything, the pendulum has swung too far the other way, he seems to think.

In February, Scalia said Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” He later joined the majority in voting to strike down the provision, which quickly led to several states enacting voter ID laws that are blatantly discriminatory.

Wonder how he’ll vote this time.

2. Confused Republican thought the debt deal included money for Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

With all the dopey things said and done by intransigent Republicans in last week’s shitstorm of dopey intransigence, Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney earned his place right up there in the pantheon. When the 11th hour deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government was struck between Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, it did not have much trouble getting through both houses of Congress. But there were those Republicans deluding themselves that they could fight on.



Rep. Mulvaney of South Carolina was one—and among his objections? The deal, he said, included funding for Joseph Kony’s Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army. Now, that would be pretty evil if it were true. Kony is an exiled war criminal with a messianic complex known for kidnapping children, and turning them into sex slaves and soldiers who kill their own families. The funding, if Mr. Mulvaney had read a little closer, was a small amount earmarked to the Pentagon which is funding African troops trying to capture Kony and end his reign of terror and atrocity. Ohhhh…oops. It seems Sen. David Vitter isn’t the only Republican in Congress Harry Reid could legitimately claim was not playing with a full deck.

3. Tony Perkins: Democrats are the theocrats for wanting to help the poor.

This will be news to biblical scholars. The Bible apparently says that government should have no role in helping the poor. Expressly forbids it.

This comes straight from the horse’s mouth, Tony Perkins, head of the right-wing Family Research Council, in a radio interview with conservative host Janet Mefferd. He then follows what can only be termed a rather bizarre train of thought to its illogical conclusion which is that it is the liberals who are trying to establish a theocracy in this country, not conservatives, because liberals want government to help the poor. Wait, we thought Christianity forbids that. Color us confused.

Perkins’ organization does have a unique take on the Bible and its treatment of the poor. Another spokesman for the group recently said there is “nothing more Christian” than eliminating millions of food stamp recipients from the government rolls.

But in this round Perkins does not merely want to stick it to the poor, he wants to flip the whole argument about which group is conflating church and state. It’s those liberals, you see. “They accuse evangelicals of wanting to create a theocracy, which is the farthest thing from the truth, when in fact, they are treating the government as if it had divine instruction from God to be a form of theocracy.”

So there!

4. S.C. official: Trans people should be put in camps.

It is tempting to suggest: Don’t drink and tweet. Well, we don’t know for sure that drinking was involved, but the former head of the South Carolina Republican Party went a bit bonkers with some recent rants on Twitter about transgender people and the people who support them.

“There are people who respect transgender rights,” Todd Kincannon tweeted this week. “And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me.”

People? Or you?

Kincannon further opined that transgender people are “sick freaks” who should be “locked up in mental institutions and their care paid for by the state.” He thinks this shows his compassion for these “sick freaks.”

This Kincannon fellow has a heart as big as all outdoors. Previously, he’s drawn attention to himself for calling it a shame an Iraq veteran did not come home in a body bag, mocked murdered teenager Trayvon Martin, and scoffed at the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But in another tweet, he said his hatred was limited: to commies.

Good to know.

5. Tea Party leader suggests “class action suit” against “homosexuality.”

While most rational people interpreted this week’s events as a rather strong rebuke to the Tea Party, Tea Partiers really didn’t feel too bad. So at their Tea Party Unity event on Thursday, Chairman Rick Scarborough floated another novel idea for the assembled haters and nut jobs to rally behind now that the darn federal government is reopened: filing a “class action lawsuit” against “homosexuality.”

Now, how exactly would that work, you might ask? Or, maybe more to the point, how does that even make sense? Here goes:

“Homosexuality,” argued Scarborough, a former Baptist minister, “is much more likely to lead to AIDS than smoking is to lead to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that.”

So, similarly, the gay industry, whatever that is, could be held accountable.

Continue reading here…

Scalia: Constitution doesn’t protect ‘only the blacks’

Justice Antonin Scalia has previously called for an end to “racial entitlements“.  Now he  has doubled down by saying that the 14th Amendment is for everyone, not only “the Blacks”.  Which is actually true on its face.  But, in 2011 he argued that the Constitution  does not protect gays or women.

Thus, Scalia has some explaining to do.  Just who does he think is protected by the 14th amendment and who is not?  Inquiring minds want to know…

The Huffington Post

During oral arguments on an affirmative action case on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said the 14th Amendment protects everyone, not “only the blacks.”

The quote was tweeted by the New York Times’ David Leonhardt:

The high court debated Tuesday whether voters can ban affirmative action programs through a referendum. The case is centered around a 2006 Michigan vote that approved a ballot initiative amending the state’s constitution to ban affirmative action programs in higher education.

Scalia has brought race into previous arguments. In February 2013, Scalia suggested that the continuation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act represented the “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” saying that lawmakers had only voted to renew the act in 2006 because there wasn’t anything to be gained politically from voting against it.