Thursday Reads: Aftermath of SCOTUS Voting Rights Decision


Good Morning!!

This is going to be a quickie post, because I’m feeling kind of sick this morning.

Although I’m thrilled with the DOMA decision yesterday, I still can’t get past my anger and sadness about the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act. So I’m just going to post the (above) “official 2013 photo” of the U.S. Supreme Court and some accompanying links that demonstrate the damage the Court has done in its horrendous decision on the Voting Rights Act.

I’ll begin with this excellent post by Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times: Current Conditions, which neatly summarizes the Court’s “conservative” wing’s blatant “judicial activism,” to quote a frequent charge of conservatives against “liberal” judges.

These have been a remarkable three days, as the Supreme Court finished its term by delivering the only four decisions that most people were waiting for. The 5-to-4 decisions striking down the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act will go far toward defining the Roberts court, which has concluded its eighth year. Monday’s place-holding ruling on affirmative action in higher education, although it decided very little, is also definitional, for reasons I’ll explain. There is a great deal to say about each decision, and about how each reflects on the court. My thoughts are preliminary, informed by that phrase in the chief justice’s voting rights opinion: current conditions.

By this phrase, the chief justice meant to suggest that there is a doctrinal basis for drawing a boundary around Congressional authority, for judicial insistence that a burden that Congress chooses to impose on the states has to be justified as a cure for a current problem. In the context of voting rights, an area over which the 15th Amendment gives Congress specific authority, this is a deeply problematic position that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion demolishes.

Please go read the whole column–it’s difficult to get Greenhouse’s thesis into an excerpt. The blatant hypocrisy of the “conservative” justices–especially Scalia is mind-boggling, especially when the stunning effects of the Voting Rights decision on “current conditions” are already obvious and dramatic–just as were the disastrous effect of the Citizens United decision. A few examples.

The Guardian:  Texas rushes ahead with voter ID law after supreme court decision

Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

Greensboro News and Record: NC senator: Voter ID bill moving ahead with ruling

Voter identification legislation in North Carolina will pick up steam again now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, a key General Assembly leader said Tuesday.

A bill requiring voters to present one of several forms of state-issued photo ID starting in 2016 cleared the House two months ago, but it’s been sitting since in the Senate Rules Committee to wait for a ruling by the justices in an Alabama case, according to Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the committee chairman. He said a bill will now be rolled out in the Senate next week.

The ruling essentially means a voter ID or other election legislation approved in this year’s session probably won’t have to receive advance approval by U.S. Justice Department attorneys or a federal court before such measures can be carried out.

Northwest Voter ID and restricted early voting likely after SCOTUS ruling

ATLANTA (AP) — Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination.

After the high court announced its momentous ruling Tuesday, officials in Texas and Mississippi pledged to immediately implement laws requiring voters to show photo identification before getting a ballot. North Carolina Republicans promised they would quickly try to adopt a similar law. Florida now appears free to set its early voting hours however Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP Legislature please. And Georgia’s most populous county likely will use county commission districts that Republican state legislators drew over the objections of local Democrats.  Alabama photo voter ID law to be used in 2014, state officials say

MONTGOMERY, Alabama —  Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for Alabama’s new photo voter ID law to be used in the 2014 elections without the need for federal preclearance, state officials said.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Secretary of State Beth Chapman said they believed the voting requirement, which is scheduled to take effect with the June 2014 primaries, can simply move forward.

“Photo voter ID will the first process that we have gone through under this new ruling,” Chapman said today.

Memphis Business Journal: Mississippi voter ID law could start next year

Voters in Mississippi may have to start showing a photo ID to vote by the middle of 2014, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

According to the Associated Press, Hoseman spoke Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain state and local governments no longer need federal approval to change election laws. That ruling opens up the possibility that Mississippi will implement a voter identification requirement.

According to Think Progress, Arizona and South Dakota  will likely be trying to pass Voter ID laws soon. I’m sue that won’t be the end of it.

Just a few more links:

Joan Walsh: The ugly SCOTUS voting rights flim-flam

Ari Berman: What the Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand About the Voting Rights Act

Stephen Hill: So the Voting Rights Act Is Gutted—What Can Protect Minority Voters Now?

I’ll end there and leave it up to you guys to link to other important news stories. What are you reading and blogging about today?

66 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Aftermath of SCOTUS Voting Rights Decision”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I hope everyone has a nice day. I’m probably going to go back to sleep for a little while.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I can’t resist one more link from Texas–we need Molly Ivins!!!

    Texas Republican calls pro-choice crowd ‘terrorist’

    Observing the cantankerous scene in the Texas Senate on Tuesday night, a Republican state representative exclaimed on Twitter that opponents of anti-abortion legislation are simply “terrorist.”

    “We had terrorist in the Texas State Senate opposing SB 5,” Bill Zedler, who represents Arlington in Texas District 96, wrote at 12:48 a.m. CST.

    Some two hours later, after hundreds of people called out his comment, he added: “Disruptive behavior of pro-abortion crowd was encouraged by some Texas House Democrats.”

    Zedler was the author of H.B. 650, known as the Birther Bill, which would have required all presidential and vice presidential candidates to submit a birth certificate to Texas officials for examination before they could be placed on the statewide ballot. That bill died in committee at the beginning of May. He was also behind a failed push earlier this year to shutter all the LGBT centers on Texas college campuses.

    Zedler is especially known for convincing the Texas Department of Health and Human Services to begin collecting detailed information on women who undergo an abortion. He originally tried to implement the measure by legislation in 2011, but when that failed Zedler went through back-channels to force the rule through, sparking cries of foul play.

  3. Did you all see this shit going on in California: » Blog Archive » Chalk isn’t vandalism

    No matter what they say. $6000 to clean off what a good rainstorm would have done? I don’t think so:

    SAN DIEGO – The case against a North Park man who wrote anti-big bank messages on city sidewalks with chalk will go to trial, a judge decided Tuesday.

    Jeff Olson is charged with 13 counts of vandalism and is facing 13 years in jail, as well as $13,000 in restitution fees.

    Olson calls the charges heavy-handed and describes what he did as free speech.

    Well I just saw that the judge is not allowing the defense to even mention free speech h/t lg&m:

    Jeff Olson, California Man, Faces 13 Years In Jail For Writing Anti-Big Bank Messages In Chalk (UPDATE)

    You need to read this link to get the full story…it is outrageous.

    The San Diego Reader reported Tuesday that a judge had decided to prohibit Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.”

    With that ruling, Olson must now stand trial on 13 counts of vandalism, charges that together carry a potential 13-year jail sentence and fines of up to $13,000.

    “Oh my gosh,” Olson said on his way out of court on Tuesday. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

    In an interview with San Diego’s KGTV, Olson maintained that “free speech is protected” and said he “was encouraging folks to close their accounts at big Wall Street banks to transfer their money local nonprofit, community credit unions.”

    The Reader first broke news of the case over the weekend, reporting that Olson and his partner had been active in the campaign to encourage people to move their money as early as 2011. During one protest outside of a Bank of America branch, they drew the ire of Darell Freeman, vice president of Bank of America’s Global Corporate Security, who accused them of running a business with their demonstration.

    Olson later began showing his opposition with chalk drawings outside various Bank of America branches. Security camera footage from the banks apparently recorded his actions, and he eventually got a call from San Diego’s Gang Unit in August 2012, when he gave up the artistic protests. The Reader reports that Freeman aggressively pressured city attorneys to bring charges against Olson until they announced that they would do so in April.

    • UPDATE: 6/26 — The San Diego City Attorney’s office emails along a statement on the case of People v. Olson:

      1. This is a graffiti case where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in the conduct on 13 different occasions. The trial judge has already held that, under California law, it is still graffiti even if the material can be removed with water. Most graffiti can be removed. Also, the judge and a different pre-trial judge held that the First Amendment is not a defense to vandalism/graffiti. 2. The defense is trying to make this case into a political statement, which it is not. This is just one of some 20,000 criminal cases that are referred to us annually by the police department. We have prosecutors who decide whether to issue cases. They are professionals. The City Attorney was not involved in deciding whether to issue this case as is typical practice in prosecution offices for most cases. He hadn’t heard of this case until it was in the media. 3. The defense is whipping up hysteria about the prospect of 13 years in custody. This is not a 13 year custody case. It is a standard graffiti case compounded by the fact that the defendant is alleged to have done it on 13 separate occasions. Because there were 13 different occasions when the defendant allegedly engaged in the conduct, the law requires them to be set out separately in the complaint. This increases the maximum sentence, but it still is a graffiti case and nothing more. The courts routinely hear graffiti cases and handle them appropriately using judicial discretion. 4. It is not unusual for victims to contact police or prosecutors about a case. Our prosecutors are trained to focus only on their ethical standards in deciding whether to file a case. 5. We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don’t decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks. That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways.

  4. Hey Cygnus!!!!

    Van de Putte: Why I stood with Wendy: Texas women must be heard – Houston Chronicle

    op/ed by Van de Putte…

    As most people know, I rushed back to the Capitol on Tuesday night after saying a final goodbye to my daddy. When I returned to the Senate floor, it didn’t feel like the Senate I had left last Friday. There was an energy that is hard to explain – part tension and part excitement. While you could cut the tension on the floor with a knife, the excitement coming from the gallery and the rotunda almost masked the anxiety my colleagues were emitting. The entire gallery was filled with our constituents, and they were watching politely and attentively trying to follow parliamentary procedures that it takes years for most to understand.

    Their disdain for Senate Bill 5 was much like mine, and they were there to say that they would never surrender their reproductive rights without taking a stand. They were “standing with Wendy” (Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis, who was attempting a 13-hour filibuster of the bill), and I was going to stand with her, too.

    • cygnus says:

      OOh! JJ! Thank you, I had missed that! Leticia is *awesome*.

      “[…] while the lieutenant governor may believe that his constituents who were in their Capitol were an “unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics,” I believe that these Texans were only using their voices to be heard after days of being shut off. They were venting their anger after seeing the rules of the Senate cast aside by the Republican leadership, as well as possible violations of state law.”

      Wendy/Leticia 2016

  5. RalphB says:

    WSJ: Snowden’s Flight Path Strewn With Obstacles

    He may be stuck in Russia whether he wants it or not, if they’ll keep him, through practical considerations.

  6. RalphB says:

    Gail Collins NYT: Wendy and the Boys

    Texans are wondering if this could be a new era for a state that really hasn’t been in the national eye for ages — unless you count the Rick Perry “oops” moment.

    “Politics has been so dormant in Texas,” said Evan Smith, the editor of The Texas Tribune, whose livecast of Davis’s filibuster was viewed by 182,000 people. “The point is, the world is watching now.”

    A few years back, Davis told me about an incident during a debate when she had asked a veteran Republican a question about a pending bill. Dodging her query, he said: “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”

    I guess they can hear her now.

    • cygnus says:

      Yay! Thanks Ralph! FInally my pet peeve point is getting some attention!

      “The people in the gallery began to yell. Dewhurst, who complained about “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics,” could not get control of the room before time ran out. Texas is now engaged in a debate over whether it is worse to yell in the State Senate or declare a senator out of order for discussing the state abortion laws during a debate on abortion.”

    • RalphB says:

      This is salient since we have the lowest citizen participation rate in the country, Fire people up and it can make a big difference.

      “Politics has been so dormant in Texas,” said Evan Smith, the editor of The Texas Tribune, whose livecast of Davis’s filibuster was viewed by 182,000 people. “The point is, the world is watching now.”

  7. cygnus says:

    They’re coming out of the woodwork:

    “We will not be out worked. We not be out hustled.”

    Mmmm. Yeah. It’s all just a hustle, y’all.

    • RalphB says:

      I thought it was pathetic to have a radio talker as a senator, but lt governor? Sheesh, that damned tea party.

  8. RalphB says:

    A Smackdown Such As We’ve Never Seen

    Watch this. This is what “Congressional Oversight” is supposed to be about. Indeed, this is what it was always supposed to be about.

    Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and had her arm sewn back on, mostly, lays it down. A businessman is called out. It seems his company got something like $500 million in contracts from the government, primarily because his company was a “small business, disabled veteran owned.” His disability? When he was in a civilian prep-school, he twisted his ankle playing football.

    This should not be missed.

  9. RalphB says:

    Amazon reviews of Wendy’s Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe are really funny.

    “Marathon shoe for marathon filibustering”, “Fits perfectly up a republican’s rear end” and tons more.

  10. RalphB says:

    According to legal sources, Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been notified that he’s under investigation for allegedly leaking information about a massive attack using a computer virus named Stuxnet on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Gen. Cartwright, 63, becomes the latest alleged leaker targeted by the Obama administration, which has already prosecuted or charged eight individuals under the Espionage Act

  11. I don’t think Perry realized did when he attacked Sen. Wendy Davis in such a condescending and insulting way. Her political career has overnight gone into the stratosphere & made her a virtual household name & given her a national platform. The more Perry & the Texas Repubs trash her. the more exposure it give her and possible reenergized Texas democratic party that has been dormant for decades.

  12. Last week, Texas lawmakers approved voting districts used in the 2012 election that had been authorized by the three-judge panel. So any action by state officials to resurrect the old 2011 districts (struck down by the court in August) would be a controversial move.