Jan 20, 2014

Curiouser and Curiouser in Voting Rights

Milwaukee - Nation's most segregated
metropolitan area. Sensenbrenner lives
in the northwest white section. The black
neighborhoods are represented in black.
An Alice in Wonderland quality pervades the Voting Rights Amendment (VRA) Act (HR3899), introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan).

Supporters say they are going to fix the VRA, but the politics are becoming curiouser and curiouser.

On the one side we have the main sponsor, that champion of national security, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin), author of the PATRIOT Act of 2001 for which he spearheaded the reauthorization in 2005, and who continued to launch plaudits for his work in a speech to the University of Wisconsin Chapter of the Federalist Society in October 2009; until suddenly in November 2013 Sensenbrenner was outraged to discover the PATRIOT Act is an "abuse" of democracy.

More allies are joining the fight. Of the eight cosponsors in the House on the VRA 'fix', Reps. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) and Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) are on board; maybe they'll help push this Act through the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), who said last week that women should not get abortions because abortions decrease job production.

Back to Sensenbrenner's championing of voting, he says he loves the Voting Rights Act so much he is willing to let stand all of the states' voter obstruction laws that his party has enacted as long as they are "reasonable."

What's really curious is that Sensenbrenner has called Texas and Wisconsin's restrictive photo voter ID laws, "common sense."

And regarding the U.S. filing a lawsuit under the VRA against Texas, Sensenbrenner said last August, "I regret that the Department of Justice announced its intent to file a lawsuit against Texas’ voter ID law citing Section 2 to the Voting Rights Act.  The Texas legislature passed voter ID, and Governor Perry signed this legislation into law in 2011. Voter ID laws are an essential element in protecting the integrity of our electoral process and do not have a discriminatory intent or effect. "

This is the guy about whom the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin said, "We were pleased that Wisconsin’s Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), along with Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), introduced bipartisan legislation to protect the rights of all voters from discrimination and repair the damage to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 inflicted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. The bill seeks to protect all voters against discrimination at the ballot box and ensure that Americans are guaranteed their right to vote."

For those who have not followed the political career of James Sensenbrenner since he moved back to Wisconsin in the 1960s, Sensenbrenner was not a civil rights worker, never stood out on a limb for civil rights, and refuses to criticize his own state's restrictive photo voter ID law on the grounds that such laws are common sense measures that need federal protection by the Voting Rights Amendment (VRA) Act (HR3899).

Briefly, HR3899 really sucks.The end game is gridlock; and minorities and young people will stay away from the polls out of disgust. Nice job, guys.

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