Jan 21, 2014

Secret Strategy in Play, or This Is Dumbest Civil Rights Bill in History

Update III: NYT: "The deletion of voter ID laws from the list of discriminatory violations is a steep price to pay for [GOP] support."

Update II: The Grio notes Rep. Conyers and Sen. Leahy gave in to the GOP voter obstruction forces, generally exempting "voter ID" laws from federal scrutiny in the Voting Rights Act Amendment. Are pro-civil rights forces in Congress really going to throw in the towel on photo voter ID obstruction, in the name of the Voting Rights Act no less? And if they are not, what are they waiting for in opposing this travesty of democracy through voter ID obstruction, inserted by Rep. Sensenbrenner?

Update: Yes,  Joshua A. Douglas of Slate Magazine, voting is mostly a state right. Hence, the Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment to correct this defect. But there are these things called the 14th, the 15th and the 24th Amendments that speak to voting clearly. In any event, the proposed Voting Rights Act Amendment that would contain language explicitly protecting GOP-crafted photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in an election for Federal, State, or local office is a disgrace.
Here's one of the latest pieces of foolishness on the newly proposed Voting Rights Act Amendment that still, inexplicably, has not been met with a 'are you kidding me' reaction.

Some other brilliant, well-crafted legislative strategy must be at work as HR 3899 resides at the Judiciary committee.

Kevin Drum discusses Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in a piece as though the good CJ went on an objective, epistemological quest arriving at the honest conclusion that the old coverage formula for federal preclearance in the Voting Rights Act is simply outdated, 1,000s of congressional pages of social scientific evidence aside.

Drum writes that now, "a bipartisan trio of lawmakers introduced legislation that would partially reverse the Supreme Court's handiwork in Shelby County. Basically, it takes up John Roberts' challenge to create a new formula for preclearance that takes into account current conditions. In particular, any state with five or more violations of federal election law over the most recent 15 years would be subject to preclearance. Preclearance would last for ten years from the most recent violation, and states would roll in or out of the preclearance requirements depending on their performance over the preceding 15 years."

Five or more violations of federal election law over the most recent 15 years would be subject to preclearance?

This is the new formula? No heads exploding? Drum notes this legislation not with disgust.

Representative of this conventional wisdom of pretending this bill is worth a damn is Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Michigan), the Dean of the House:

"I commend my friends, Congressman John Conyers and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, for working to write a bipartisan bill to amend the Voting Rights Act. Having voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, I am supremely honored to have worked on this legislation with these civil rights champions, as well as the incomparable Congressman John Lewis and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn. I urge the House and Senate to move forward with this bill in order to restore the critical voter protections to minorities, seniors, and students invalidated by the Supreme Court's ill-advised Shelby County decision."

This really is crazy.

The Voting Rights Act Amendment would protect GOP state voter obstruction laws that specifically target minorities, seniors, and students.

While it's true that in 1982, "Congress amended Section 2 to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the Section without having to prove discriminatory purpose," providing dueling sections of the law if passed, the bill's author, Sensenbrenner, in the House openly brags that the act "(i)ncludes modest provisions that continue to permit states to enact reasonable photo identification laws."

This legislation is no first step, it's a con that would stall civil rights challenges and protect GOP state voter obstruction schemes.

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