Showing posts with label GOP Voter obstruction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GOP Voter obstruction. Show all posts

Apr 22, 2014

Photo Voter ID for the Wisconsin November Election—A Voter System Usability Test

Updated - February 21, 2012 is the only day in Wisconsin history when a new statutory condition—a new qualification—had to be satisfied to cast a vote without an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution.

This statutory condition, a new qualification, is likely one of the grounds on which the Wisconsin Supreme Court will strike down Wisconsin's photo voter ID law, Act 23, as unconstitutional.

Scott Walker knew he and the Republican Party legislators enacted an unconstitutional law that stopped qualified, registered Wisconsin voters from voting.

Scott Walker knows in a heavy voter turn-out election, Act 23 (had it not been enjoined by state courts, and likely a federal judge as well) would obstruct and suppress potentially 100,000s of voters.

This knowledge does not weigh on Walker because stopping Wisconsin voters from voting is precisely the point of Act 23, and the GOP's other voter obstruction laws passed since they took control of the legislature and executive branch.

Put aside. for the moment, the facts demonstrated in federal and state court that blacks, Latinos, the elderly, homeless, homeless veterans, and college students for example would face barriers and burdens imposed by the Republican Party's Act 23.

The February 21, 2012 Spring Primary Election Day—when no statewide races were on the ballots and turn-out was in the single digits—provided a usability test for photo voter ID.

I worked as an election inspector on the voter rolls books on February 21, 2012, at Fire Station #2 (Fitchburg, Wisconsin (Wards 1-4; District one)).

I can tell you that the time imposed on the system, assuming Act 23 or a new photo voter ID act is in effect, would on the November 2014 General Election Day cause huge lines, massive delays, and sow confusion at the polling place: All GOP objectives.

Assume a photo voter ID law is in place in November 2014, as Walker says he'll attempt to enact after the expected judicial knockdown of Act 23, in this heavy turn-out election the waiting times would become unbearable to many.

In this scenario, Wisconsin GAB regulations [which would be slightly revised for a new law] would require each voter at the polls to state his name and address, sign his or her name on the voting rolls, and present a GOP-approved photo voter ID to poll worker (election inspector).

The poll worker in turn would examine the ID against the restrictive list of acceptable IDs; check the name on the ID against the voting roll; examine the photo for resemblance to the voter; and then physically hand the ID to the second poll worker who repeats the process.

The variables of the extra time for the single voter may not seem like much, but this variable (the time increases) are multiplied the longer the line and the higher the turn-out on Election Day.

Throw in time increase factors built into the Wisconsin voting system by Republicans since 2011 such as eliminating weekend early voting, multiple shortening of early-voting periods, new residency rules, elimination of third-person attesting to residency, and so on and the result is less Wisconsin people will have voted.

This is the Republican objective.

In June 2012, many polling places experienced near-presidential level turn-out on the Recall General Election day. Had the photo voter ID rules been in effect, the long lines, and over-an-hour waits for voters registering at the polls on Election Day that already existed that day would have been catastrophically increased, assuming the objective of constitutionally qualified voters casting their preference on Election Day.

Nov 20, 2013

Glenn Grothman: Those Prevented from Voting "really got a problem," their problem

Glenn Grothman has made idiotic statements his trademark.
In 2012, campaigning for Rick Santorum he said
"money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job,
maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday,
ma be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a
so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
Grothman made his remarks about women and money
"following Gov. Scott Walker's decision to repeal his state’s equal pay law,
a move that makes it more difficult for victims of wage discrimination
to file lawsuits for lost earnings and back wages,"
reported Aliyah Shahid in the New York Daily News
Simpletons populate any political jurisdiction, but in Wisconsin are over-represented in the state legislature, in which State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend, Wisconsin) has reached the level of the most prominent dolt in Wisconsin's upper house.

From Emma Rollor in Slate Magazine:

If there were an annual award for Zaniest State Legislator of the Year, Glenn Grothman probably wouldn't win, but he'd come close. ... Grothman has spoken out against Martin Luther King Jr. Day and denounced Kwanzaa as a liberal scam. ...

Now, Wisconsin Senate Assistant Majority Leader Grothman is speaking out on behalf of black Wisconsinites again, this time on the issue of voter ID:
Wisconsin Republicans are pushing a bill to end early voting on the weekend. The measure would make it harder for people in the state’s most populous areas to cast a ballot—and it would hit blacks especially hard.
But state Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican who is sponsoring a Senate version of the bill, told msnbc it’s already easy enough to vote.
"Between [early voting], mail absentee, and voting the day of election, you know, I mean anybody who can’t vote with all those options, they’ve really got a problem," he said. "I really don’t think they care that much about voting in the first place, right?"
Understandable that Grothman's arguments on voting were not proffered in open court or in briefs by Wisconsin Dept of Justice attorneys in the federal, potentially landmark trial on states' voter ID laws just concluded.

Grothman has made off-the-wall political remarks over his long career in the Wisconsin legislature his trademark.

Glenn Grothman campaigning for Rick Santorum in April, 2012 also said "money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

Grothman made his remarks about women and money "following Gov. Scott Walker's decision to repeal his state’s equal pay law, a move that makes it more difficult for victims of wage discrimination to file lawsuits for lost earnings and back wages," reported Aliyah Shahid in the New York Daily News during the 2012 race for Republican nomination for president.


 (S)crapping weekend voting will hit African-Americans particularly hard, Rev. Willie Brisco, who leads an alliance of Milwaukee churches, told msnbc. "A lot of people in our community are working two or three jobs, odd hours, having difficulty with childcare," said Brisco. "So the weekend and the early voting reaches a lot of those people. Brisco said his organization ran a "Souls to the Polls" drive last year, encouraging congregants to vote en masse after church on Sunday. "We really need our community to stay engaged in the political process, and to be a determining factor," Brisco said. "And there is a concerted effort to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Nov 18, 2013

GOP Is Even More Brazen in Its Voter Suppression

From Political Strategy Notes:
In his report "Wisconsin GOP aims to scrap weekend voting," Zachary Roth explains "The measure, which passed the state assembly Thursday, would give municipalities two choices for early voting, known in the state as in-person absentee voting: they could offer it either from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays in the two weeks before an election; or at any time on a weekday, but not to exceed 30 hours per week, again in the two weeks before an election...That would mean a reduction in early voting hours for the state's two biggest cities, Milwaukee and Madison--which are also its most important Democratic strongholds...Scrapping weekend voting will hit African-Americans particularly hard, Rev. Willie Brisco, who leads an alliance of Milwaukee churches, told MSNBC..."A lot of people in our community are working two or three jobs, odd hours, having difficulty with childcare," said Brisco. "So the weekend and the early voting reaches a lot of those people."
I worked early voting on weekends as an elections inspector, and the voters are often the elderly, the disabled, and couples with young children, voters reregistering early because they have moved, and people with questions.

In major statewide elections, the lines to register and the lines to vote increase on election day are often long, as the Republicans Party wants.

As for the GOP's other major attack on voting (though there many more), photo voter ID, if two elections inspectors were forced to inspect Photo Voter IDs of each voter, the GOP's proposed new extra-Constitutional qualification to vote would increase each voter's time at the polling table by approximately one minute.

May not seem much but if you have an average of 30 people lining up to vote, the time to vote for each voter is increased by the time each voter ahead of her has to spend at the polling book table, before walking over to vote.

And don't let Republicans tell you Photo Voter ID went well in February 2012, the one occasion it was used. In that local primary election day there were no statewide races, and voter turnout was estimated at some three percent, less in most parts of the state.

Nov 14, 2013

Voting Rights Repair Act Is Not Going Happen in 2013

Updated - Congress really sucks.

Politicians are regarded by the American people whom they represent as almost pathologically dishonest, corrupt and incompetent.

Here is Wisconsin, we seem to grow a more noxious breed.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) is a case in point.

Wrote Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams in September, a few short months after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder:

The big surprise at the Republican National Committee’s lunch celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was the loud ovation for an elderly white conservative.

The tall, 70-year-old Congressman hobbled to the front of the room with a cane. He had to be helped up the stairs to the stage. But once he reached the microphone, his call for Congress to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) had the crowd scrambling to get to their feet and applaud him.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) defied political stereotypes and several other Republicans when he announced an end-of-the-year deadline for reviving the pre-clearance provision of the VRA.

“I am committed to restoring the Voting Rights Act as an effective tool to prevent discrimination,” said Sensenbrenner to repeated cheers. He was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when a bipartisan group approved reauthorization of the VRA in 2006.

“This is something that has to be done by the end of the year so that a revised and constitutional Voting Rights Act is in place by the 2014 elections — both the primaries and general election,” Sensenbrenner told his largely black Republican audience.

End of the year. That what's Sensenbrenner said. Wow, the RNC must really like the Voting Rights Act.

Williams, whose gushing piece is housed at Sensenbrenner's congressional website, is impressed.

He should not be.

Now, there is word that Sensenbrenner is working with the NAACP on a new formulation of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act eviscerated by Shelby County v. Holder in June, working hand-in-hand with the likes of Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau Director of NAACP, a giant of a civil rights worker.

But drafting, introducing and passing restorative Voting Right Act legislation in the House in 2013 is not going to happen.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has scheduled only a handful of legislative days for the rest of the year, to no objection from Sensenbrenner, giving his members of Congress some more long paid vacations.

In any event there is no way the House is going to lift its collective finger on repairing the GOP justices' damage to the Voting Rights Act, and there is no way Sensenbrenner is going to do anything beyond lip service when introduction occurs.

This is the same Sensenbrenner who is a major supporter of GOP voter obstruction laws and his office said Sensenbrenner can't comment on Wisconsin's very own state voter obstruction law now on federal trial "as it is a state law," the precise type of law the Voting Rights Act was designed to stop.

In August 2013, Sensenbrenner had a change of heart on commenting on state voter obstruction laws after Attorney General Holder said he was going to challenge Texas' onerous Photo Voter ID law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act: Sensenbrenner.

Sensenbrenner was the chair of House Committee on the Judiciary from 2001-2007 when the Voting Right Act came up for reauthorization, and it was virtually assured passage, facing opposition only from southern racist Republicans.

In 2005-06, Sensenbrenner was chair of the House Judiciary Committee so he likes to preen that he was the champion of the renewal of the various sections of the Voting Rights Act that passed 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate and, history should remember, was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

In fact, Bush did one hell of a job of conjuring LBJ in the White House, and as noted by Gary May and Joseph Morgan Kousser cajoled Congress into passing a 25-year reauthorization in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Writes May:

(D)uring his second term Bush found it necessary to court black voters. The president's slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, which hurt blacks disproportionally and revealed again the presence of widespread poverty in the South, damaged Bush's standing. In an attempt to recoup his political fortunes as congressional elections approached in 2006, Bush turned to the black community. On a trip to Memphis visited the Loraine Motel and stood on the balcony where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. He also agreed to address the NAACP's annual convention, which he had ignored for six years. There Bush was received coolly but won a standing ovation when he expressed his support for the Voting Rights Act, urging congress to enact it then, one year before it was due to expire. This was not simply rhetoric. Behind the scenes Bush's staff encouraged Republicans, who now controlled both houses of Congress, to extend the Act. And this time the Republican congressional leadership in both the House and Senate were receptive to such appeals because if you weren't a southerner, there was no political payoff for attacking the now-iconic Voting Right Act. (pp 273-274)

So, House Judiciary Committee Sensenbrenner was going to defy Bush and Rove on the Voting Rights Act reauthorization of 2006? Right.

Sensenbrenner is no champion of the Voting Rights Act. Sensenbrenner is a fraud of the worst kind, in this writer's harsh opinion. Not withstanding Sensenbrenner negotiating with the NAACP this Autumn, no chance will he cross his party's leadership and the Tea Party.

On a final note, to give you an idea of the utter incompetence of Congress, after culling through legislative databases looking for legislation, I called  Rep. John Lewis' office asking the person answering the phone if he could transfer me to someone who could confirm no bill had been introduced repairing Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. The kid did not know what the Voting Rights Act is.

I talked to a staffer as House Judiciary Committee posing the same question. I received another, "I don't know."

Several other phone calls yielded similar protestations of ignorance of whether the crown jewel of the civil rights movement may have had a bill introduced to repair the obscene act committed by the five GOP partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I don't care for the Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court and corrupt members of Congress, but at least they are not as fracking dumb as staffers in Congress.

As for Sensenbrenner, action and passed legislation do speak louder than words.

Nov 8, 2013

GOP Paper Bashes Photo Voter ID Law, as Bureaucrat Swoons on Stand

The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault (1819)
Republicans want their restrictive Photo Voter IDs law on the books for two reasons: To win elections; and keep away undesirables (non-GOP voters) from the polling place.

We have asked if news outlets will play it dumb during what could be a landmark federal voting rights trial on photo voter ID taking place now in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Some news coverage and editorial comment of the voting rights trial [Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128), and League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger (Case 2:12-cv-00185, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin] are encouraging.

The testimony of the top Wisconsin election official is not encouraging.

Wisconsin newspaper staff across the state knows the GOP game is to attack the foundation of our democracy—voting.

The undesirables have no business on the Koch Ship, Wisconsin, the GOP believes: Discard them.

This morning's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is instructive of a different sentiment: "Don't change voter ID law; get rid of it."

No one ever accused the Journal-Sentinel as being anything other than a GOP-leaning paper, but on Photo Voter ID, the editorial page and news coverage have been consistently excellent, though this reader would like the editors to simply state that Scott Walker and the Republicans are a bunch of goddamn liars—something the Journal-Sentinel staff knows to be true.

Nationally, the Republican project to restrict voting is properly derided as anti-democratic, and racist (as an ancillary benefit for the Tea Party).

"You must register. You must vote. You must learn, so your choice advances your interest and the interest of our beloved Nation. Your future, and your children's future, depend upon it, and I don't believe that you are going to let them down.," said President Lyndon Johnson in the capitol rotunda at the signing of the Voting Rights Act. That was in 1965.

Today of course, LBJ's aspirations come as unwanted news to Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board (GAB) whose staff live in fear for their jobs; a couple of pro-voting rights moves and Republicans will pass legislation disbanding the GAB and replace the Board members with GOP partisans.

Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Counsel of the Wisconsin GAB testified yesterday that "his main concern about the 2011 photo voter-ID law was training the state’s uncommonly large number of elections workers." (AP report)

That's Kennedy's main concern?

The GAB states as its mission (in part) that "Wisconsin elections are administered through open, fair and impartial procedures that guarantee that the vote of each individual counts and that the will of the electorate prevails."

Under Act 23, constitutionally qualified, registered voters who have voted for decades can walk up to the polling table, state their name and address, and be told by their neighbors staffing the polling table: 'Hey, Don; good morning. Oh, no acceptable voter ID? Sorry man, you can't vote. Have to protect the integrity of the election, brother.'

Kennedy must have lost consciousness for a moment on the stand yesterday.

It seems repulsive that GAB staff will not stand up to the anti-American Republican Party attacking the very foundation of our democracy because Kennedy and his colleagues fear for their jobs, content to let the votes of citizens be discarded out of career convenience and passive compliance to GOP dictates.

Kennedy could have testified in this landmark case and spoke the truth that he well knows: That requiring Photo Voter IDs as narrowly prescribed by the GOP's Act 23 has the effect of stopping legal voters from voting, and has no rational basis because in-person voting fraud is a myth, actually a lie.

Kennedy took the easy way out in his appearance in federal court.

If the GAB is so afraid to utter a word to save the legal votes of legal Wisconsin voters, what good is this cowardly body against the many-tentacled Republican Party eviscerating our democratic processes?

Yes, I know there are dedicated and good people at the GAB, but if all they offer is their silence and acquiescence, they may as well not exist; they are a woefully inadequate life raft against the anti-democratic partisans working to rip apart the fabric of Wisconsin democracy.

Put simply, what part of government accountability does the GAB not understand?

Nov 5, 2013

GOP War on Voting Wages Across Nation

GOP to voters: You have no business here
The Republican Party's mission is to stop you from voting, if you vote the wrong way.

Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans know well that if voters turn out, Republicans lose elections.

In Republican land, this means the political solution is to stop voters—adding new requirements to vote, attacking early voting, and a host of other new election shenanigans the GOP is trying to rush through the legislature.

Chuck Quirmbach reports the "federal trial is underway in Milwaukee regarding the currently suspended Wisconsin law that requires voters to have a photo ID."

Civil rights v. the Republican Party, and the war is on across the country.

From Texas to Virginia to Minnesota and Wisconsin, the GOP message to voters is:  Do not vote.

Rachel Maddow reports GOP officials are now openly gloating over prospects that voters will be sufficiently obstructed in November 2014 so the GOP can stay in power.

Aug 28, 2013

Dream of Equality Is GOP's Nightmare, and the Deceitful James Sensenbrenner's

Updated - Today, August 28, President Obama and 10,000s will mark the 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom in D.C.

Republican Congressional leaders will not be attending though they were invited, reports

Sensenbrenner refuses to support the mega Voting Rights Act -- the Mark Pocan proposed Right-to-Vote constitutional amendment. But he won't, and neither will many House Republicans.

Texas’ Voter ID law. He's not.

Here's a roadmap for redrafting Section 4 for Sensenbrenner's benefit:

March for Jobs and Freedom, how about we make it public policy to reach full employment?

Sure, Republicans will shout their slogan: 'Governments doesn't make jobs, the private sector does,' and then run with their hands out to the Kochs and other plutocrats.

How about we keep it local and consider asking Oshkosh Corporation for comment on this GOP talking point? 

Will Oshkosh Corp respond and say: 'Yes, we don't accept government contracts, that money comes from government.' 

Take a look at the U.S. Dept of Defense Contracts page, enter "Oshkosh Corp," and golly if $100s of millions in contracts don't come up for the last 10 years. 

Good jobs. Maybe the Republicans will cry, 'hey, that's government money creating those jobs; that's no good.' 

Right, and Sensenbrenner is the second coming of SNCC.

Here's a partial listing of what you get when enter "Oshkosh Corp" into the search field of the
U.S. Dept of Defense Contracts page.

It would take a while to load all the results, but even Republicans might see the picture emerging after a few seconds. That's one company in one small Wisconsin town.

Think if we invested publicly one-tenth of this sum total for jobs for peace, jobs for the environment, jobs for infrastructure, jobs for education.

About 134 results
  •   Advanced Search Contracts for Monday, August 01, 2011
CONTRACTS. ARMY Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded a $904,184,088 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the modification of an ... Contracts for Monday, January 07, 2013
Lockheed Martin Corp. -- Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $ ... Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded a $ ... Contracts for Wednesday, September 05, 2012
CONTRACTS. NAVY Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded $67,540,517 for fixed-price delivery order #0007 under previously awarded indefinite ... Contracts for Friday, July 02, 2010
CONTRACTS. ARMY Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on June 29 a $584,914,693 firm-fixed-price, requirements contract. Contracts for Friday, December 03, 2010
Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on Nov. 30 a $27,971,404 firm-fixed-price contract. This procurement is for a ... Contracts for Thursday, November 12, 2009
Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on Nov. 10, 2009, a $438,440,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 1,000 of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, All Terrain ... Contracts for Tuesday, December 29, 2009
CONTRACTS ARMY Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on Dec. 22, 2009, a $258,364,288 firm-fixed-price contract for the purchase of ... Contracts for Wednesday, July 30, 2008
McDonnell Douglas Corp., DBA the Boeing Company, St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $ ... Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded ... Contracts for Thursday, May 20, 2010
CONTRACTS. ARMY Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on May 17 a $72,686,593 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 1,460 ...

And on and on.

Aug 24, 2013

Civil Rights Movement v. the Republican Party

Bus from Madison to D.C., 1963
Update: Just two months after five GOP justices gutted the Voting Rights Acts, Attorney General Eric Holder repeated his vow for federal protection of Americans' right to vote. "This morning, we affirm that this struggle must, and will, go on in the cause of our nation’s quest for justice - until every eligible American has the chance to exercise his or her right to vote, unencumbered by discriminatory or unneeded procedures, rules, or practices. It must go on until our criminal justice system can ensure that all are treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law."

It is an incontrovertible fact today's racialized Republican Party is the blood enemy of the American Civil Rights Movement.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it is incumbent upon us to identify the enemy—not to demonize, not to disenfranchise and certainly not to murder; such is the way of the Fascist.

Rather, to live and transform with the power and dedication towards equality for all.

This is the way of A.J. Muste, Erwin Knoll, Bernard Lafayette, Russell, Seale, Huxley, Liuzzo, Betty Shabazz, Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner, Dellinger and Weiner; so many more.

As a young journalist I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with Martin Luther King III in 1989.

King  proved a brilliant, eloquent, and very kind man who said at the UW-Madison Memorial Union that eight years of the  "Reagan-Bush administration has had a devastating effect on race relations."

King also spoke later in the Humanities building about the moral imperative to always stand up for justice with nonviolence in that face of hate and dehumanization that finds home in the Republican Party.

Brave words from a brave man.

For King III, his murdered father was always part of a diverse movement which drew inspiration and leadership from all manner of people and figures in history.

Today, hate is alive and well drawing from the deep well of racism.

Racism lives in Ronald Reagan's infamous address on August 3, 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi at the Neshoba County Fair, in which Reagan railed on about "welfare queens" and "states rights," while not speaking one single word of honor recognizing the work and sacrifice of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. 

A generation inspired by Nelson Mandela worked to halt apartheid 
That's who Ronald Reagan is, as president the defender of South African apartheid and practitioner of American racism. That's Reagan's legacy.

By 1980, the Republican Party had been appealing to racists for 12 years using the "Southern Strategy."

Today, out of Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Tom Petri, James Sensenbrenner and every national Republican, the GOP takes up the torch of racist politics, proclaiming their efforts to obstruct the black and brown from voting, and not one Republican, not one, challenges the GOP voter obstruction project and continuing appeal to racism. Not one.

This weekend is our weekend, brought to us by the murdered, brutalized and the 10,000s of civil rights workers whose names we may never know.

At bottom, below this video are the words of one civil rights worker, out of Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison to D.C. 1963
I disagree with Mr. Quinn's red-baiting below (I recommend Paul Buhle's History and the New Left;Madison, Wisconsin, (1950-1970) and Jon Wiener's "Radical Historians and the Crisis in American History, 1959-1980," Journal of American History 76 (fall 1989), pp 399-434; "Rejoinder," pp 475-78; for more sober, fairer assessments); but Quinn's contribution in the 1960s reveals the broad front against the deadly fascist, American apartheid.
By Patrick M. Quinn

...  In the fall of 1962, I joined the Socialist Club at the University. It was comprised mainly of Jewish students from New York. In my naiveté, it was only later that I learned that many of the members of the Socialist Club were clandestinely affiliated with or sympathetic to the Young Communist League or the Communist Party. Between 1962 and the summer of 1964, not much happened on the Left in Madison, but in 1964 the Civil Rights Movement in the South was heating up, especially after the murders of three Civil Rights workers—James Chaney (1943-1964), Andrew Goodman (1943-1964), and Mickey Schwerner (1939-1964)—near Philadelphia, Mississippi during the “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign. I joined the Madison chapter of the Friends of SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a Civil Rights organization based in the South. Friends of SNCC organized small rallies in Madison and held forums on Civil Rights topics at the First Congregational Church in Madison. Many members of the Socialist Club were also members of the Friends of SNCC. In June 1964 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin and enrolled in the UW graduate school. ...

In the early 1960s, students on the Left in Madison looked to three professors for leadership. One was Hans Gerth (1908-78), a German-born professor of Sociology who had been the mentor of C. Wright Mills at the University of Wisconsin in the 1940s; another was the famed professor of American history William Appleman Williams (1921-90), the author of the influential book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy; and the third was professor of history George Mosse (1918-99), a refugee from Nazi Germany who was a liberal, and decidedly not a socialist. The legendary Marxist history professor Harvey Goldberg (1922-87), a brilliant, spell-binding lecturer, did not arrive at the University until the fall of 1963.

Aug 2, 2013

Democratic Party Vows to Protect Right to Vote Against GOP Obstruction

Jimmy Lee Jackson was beaten, shot
and killed by racist police while shielding his
mother and father in 1965 during the
historic voting rights movement
Objective commentators note the Republican Party's grand appeal to racism in the 2012 election signaled a crossroads for the White Party.

Conventional political wisdom had it that ginning up white working class resentment against anybody black or brown ["dark ones"] could be attempted just one more time before changing American demographics of skin color forced a change in racist appeals and the Republican voter obstruction project launched jointly by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the GOP.

In 2013 Republicans made a few squeaks about being inclusive, and then proceeded to double-down on obstructing voters across the country.

This is the route the Republican Party has now chosen, and its course is set.

There are no more junctions, crossroads or turning back on this road of voter obstruction.

The lives of the struggle, the beaten, maimed and the murdered have been gist for mocking in GOP circles for decades now, with open GOP admiration for fascism and racism. It shouldn't be a surprise the GOP would engage in voter obstruction but it is anyway to many.

The contemptible history of mass murder and terrorism against civil rights workers echoes like a psychic anxiety spasm that the Scott Walkers and Rand Pauls will never understand because they and their Party are the perpetrators of voter obstruction and racist appeals today; besides bringing up civil rights murders just is not an effective PR message.

The golden age of NYT journalism covered the
terror campaign waged against the
civil rights movement of the 1960s
The new brand of the Republican Party are not history students anyway; they're after power and everyone in the GOP has their hands out to the Koch brothers and right-wing money, with no dissent tolerated even as the GOP takes the road to political nullification of the population way beyond blocking access to the ballot.

The Democratic Party is accelerating efforts to highlight the difference between the GOP that wants to obstruct and nullify voters and the Democratic Party working to empower and include.

Witness multi-generational voting rights markers laid by Steve and Cokie Roberts; Attorney General Eric Holder's repeated public statements affirming the right to vote; and President Obama's assurance to civil rights workers that the "federal government would vigorously enforce voting rights in the country despite a Supreme Court [five-to-four] ruling against a core section of a landmark 1965 [Voting Rights] law." (Calmes. NYT)

Republicans did not count on or perhaps did not care about the fact that black and brown folks would not appreciate losing the hard-won right to vote, especially in the wake of the GOP gutting of the Voting Rights Act after the reelection of the first black U.S. president.

Racist murders altered an American
president and the country forever
The Democratic Party is taking the high road of democracy as America simultaneously presents a historically diverse population against the greatest concentration of wealth this experiment in democracy has ever seen.

Amid this battle of democracy against vast wealth, the echoes of those murdered martyrs of the civil rights family live on, and so does the pain.

For Republicans, avoiding this history and denying contemporary voter obstruction, in the words of voting rights poseur Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), is just "common sense."

He's wrong. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) is right.

Below is the statement of John Lewis on June 25, 2013, the day the U.S. Supreme Court did the unthinkable in striking down the Voting Rights Act:
"Today, the Supreme Court stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the last 50 years.

These men never stood in unmovable lines.  They were never denied the right to participate in the democratic process.  They were never beaten, jailed, run off their farms or fired from their jobs. No one they knew died simply trying to register to vote.  They are not the victims of gerrymandering or contemporary unjust schemes to maneuver them out of their constitutional rights.

I remember in the 1960s when people of color were the majority in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama.  To insure that a black person would not be elected, the state gerrymandered Tuskegee Institute and the black sections of town so they fell outside the city limits.  This reminds me too much of a case  that occurred in Randolph County in my own state of Georgia, when the first black man was elected to the board of education in 2002.  The county legislature changed his district so he would not be re-elected.

I disagree with the court that the history of discrimination is somehow irrelevant today.  The record clearly demonstrates numerous attempts to impede voting rights still exist, and it does not matter that those attempts are not as “pervasive, widespread or rampant” as they were in 1965.  One instance of discrimination is too much in a democracy.

As Justice Ginsberg mentioned, it took a Bloody Sunday for Congress to finally decide to fix on-going, institutionalized discrimination that occurred for 100 years after the rights of freed slaves were nullified at the end of the Civil War.  I am deeply concerned that Congress will not have the will to fix what the Supreme Court has broken.   I call upon the members of this body to do what is right to insure free and fair access to the ballot box in this country."

Jul 31, 2013

Scott Walker Is in Kentucky

For anyone wondering where Scott Walker is as Wisconsin Republican legislators launch another war on voting, Scott Wartman reports, "Northern Kentucky Republicans brought in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to help raise funds for state House and Senate races in 2014."

"Gov. Walker is very tuned in to what’s happening to Kentucky," Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown said. "He has a Republican House and Senate in Wisconsin. He knows the importance of that."

No idea where Walker is now.

Jun 27, 2013

Don't Trust Sensenbrenner and GOP on Voting Rights

Selma to Montgomery - A fading memory as James
 Sensenbrenner and GOP smirk at those beaten and killed
The idea that the Court's demolition of the VRA has transformed the GOP into caring about voting rights is ludicrous.

Don't be fooled by James Sensenbrenner and the Republican Party.

Some Republicans are crying crocodile tears over the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by their allies on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and the Republicans could not care any less that minorities, college kids and homeless veterans are prevented from voting by GOP voter obstruction laws

Asked in April 2011 why Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a self-proclaimed voting rights supporter, didn't speak out against current GOP-passed laws in states [like Wisconsin and its restrictive Voter ID law] enshrining voter obstruction, Sensenbrenner's office's response was: "I don’t have a comment for you on this, as it [Wisconsin's Voter ID ] is a state law. But you are correct in pointing out that he was responsible for getting the VRA [Voting Rights Act] reauthorization passed through Congress in 2006 when he was Chair of the House Judiciary Committee."

The Voting Rights Act was constructed and passed precisely to stop local and state laws from obstructing voters, but Sensenbrenner's office claims the good Congressman cannot comment because Voter ID is a state law.

For the GOP, it's the Grand Ole Party first. And Americans' voting rights are in the way of the Party.

The take-away from this is that Sensenbrenner is a phony.

In the future, the GOP will likely engage in a shell game pretending to care about voting rights while they use some newly proposed version of the Voting Rights Act to tyr to enact voter obstruction legislation nationally and get as many Democrats as possible to absolve the Republicans of their crimes against democracy in the GOP's voter obstruction project.

Sensenbrenner and some other Republicans say they love the VRA, but like Sensenbrenner toe the GOP line on state Republican voter obstruction efforts, calling them "common-sense efforts to ensure the identity and citizenship of voters," (July 2012) words written after Sensenbrenner's office said he cannot comment on state laws from which the VRA protects Americans' right to vote.

You really trust these people? Voter obstruction is common sense to the GOP.

When presented with evidence of massive voter disfranchisement through voter ID  (as occurred in the legislative committee hearings in Wisconsin), the GOP has no comment.

Ahhh, voter ID is common sense.

Yes, well what about people being denied their right to vote" Voter ID is common sense.

Fortunately, we still have Section Two of the Voting Rights Act on the books.

Section Two reads in part:

- Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups identified in Section 4(f)(2) of the Act. Most of the cases arising under Section 2 since its enactment involved challenges to at-large election schemes, but the section's prohibition against discrimination in voting applies nationwide to any voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. Section 2 is permanent and has no expiration date as do certain other provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
But suppose the DoJ begins employing Section Two widely; see how enthusiastic Sensenbrenner and the Republicans support the VRA at that point.

Apr 29, 2013

GOP: Stop Blacks from Voting Now

Even as the GOP advances its PR campaign claiming a historic reaching out to minorities, its unAmerican project of stopping minorities from voting continues.

One might think this later project would tend to disconfirm the credibility of the former campaign, but not in American, pretend journalism.

African-Americans voted at a higher rate than whites in 2012 for the first time in American history, thanks to the work of civil rights groups knocking down or temporarily halting the GOP's anti-voting bills passed by the GOP (and only by the GOP) in party-line votes in states where the GOP controlled the legislature and executive.

Fearing this development of them voting, for years the GOP has fabricated phantom massive voter fraud, a lie seen as needed to justify restrictive voter IDs (other initiatives include restricting early voting, ending same-day registration; shortening poling hours, and other GOP schemes) to stop alleged voter impersonation at the polls.

No great need for this lie, politically.

The GOP could contend a massive number of space aliens are voting at the polls, argue we need restrictive anti-voter impersonation voter ID laws, and no GOP politicos would dissent, the corporate press would play along, and most people would not notice.

The American corporate media (with notable exceptions) went along with the GOP, denying that the GOP's anti-voting program is a verifiable fact, and presenting voter fraud as a problem needing a solution.

The legal justification used in the courts is the integrity of our elections.

Fortunately, we are served by the work of citizen groups, such as the Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program, battling the GOP's war against voting. Reads the Advancement Project:

The voting booth is the one place where all are presumed equal, yet the reality is that the playing field is far from level. Citizens are still denied an equal opportunity to cast a ballot and have it counted, disproportionately voters of color. Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program works to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to voting in the hopes of achieving a more just democracy – one in which all voices have an opportunity to be heard.
Many African-Americans were offended by the GOP's effort to stop them from voting the last several years, and with the first African-American president at the top of the ticket outvoted GOP whites.

In Wisconsin, as with the national GOP and with no exception, the GOP is determined not to see this happen again.

Scott Walker, James Sensenbrenner (a voting rights poser; c'mon, you're almost 70 years old, man, time to grow up and do the right thing), and the whole GOP bunch call stopping voting "common sense," with virtually no challenge from the press.

'GOP still battling blacks and browns in effort against voting,' reads no news headline.

Why is stopping people from voting common sense in a democracy, as the GOP claims?

It's not.

Mar 6, 2013

Another GOP effort to stop voters

Too many blacks and other non-desirables
are voting, says GOP --- today!
Wisconsin is not alone in the Republican Party's project to halt voters from voting.

Across the nation the Republican Party has introduced some 180 bills just since 2011 intended to stop Americans from voting the last eight years in states where the GOP has gerrymandered control.

As the Brennan Center notes, "In 2011 and 2012, 19 states passed more than two-dozen measures that would have effectively made it harder to vote, the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era. These measures included voter ID laws, early-voting cutbacks, and curbs on community-based voter registration drives ... ."

The GOP and Tea Party implausibly claim non-existant voter fraud necessitates their obstuction schemes.

As has been increasingly noted now by legal observers, the Voting Rights Act also gives the federal courts the power to add to the jurisdictions now covered by Section Five mandating federal DoJ preclearance.

The motivation behind the GOP effort to invalidate the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is clear: On the state level, enact as many schemes as possible to stop voters; on the federal level in the Courts take the teeth out of the very federal law that stops the Republican Party from enacting such state voter-obstruction schemes.

"This upcoming legal battle unfolds against the backdrop of the recent struggle over voting rights — and in the wake of a clear demonstration of the vital need for strong laws to protect democracy," write Wendy R. Weiser and Diana Kasdan.

Democracy would sure be easier for the Republican Party without those pesky American voters.

In Wisconsin, Mike Tighe has a piece from westcentral Wisconsin on Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP's latest effort attempt to keep people from the polls.

And it's not just voting, the atavistic states rights movement is making a comeback in states controlled by the Republican Party, in part because of that autocratic effort of President Obama to expand Medicaid and provide healthcare to millions of more Americans.

Such tyranny.

As for the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Justice Scalia's asinine comments about racial entitltlements" aside, Myrna Pérez predicts a possible deference to Congress in the Shelby County case on the Voting Rights Act.

Notes Pérez:

Although it is true several of the Justices expressed skepticism [in oral arguments] that the coverage formula targeted all of the worst offenders of the VRA, similar concerns cropped up during the oral argument four years ago in NAMUDNO (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder (NAMUDNO)) [2009]. Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote might be determinative, asked approximately the same number of questions to supporters of the Voting Rights Act in NAMUDNO as he did on Wednesday. And the tone of the questioning in NAMUDNO was similarly, if not more, hostile to the VRA. ...

Ultimately, the question comes down to one of deference to Congress. The 15th Amendment of the Constitution makes clear that it is Congress’ job to determine where racial discrimination deeply infects our electoral processes, not Shelby County’s or the Court’s. It is certainly the Court’s job to evaluate whether Congress did its job appropriately, but the Constitution does not require that Congress have been perfect in its determination, and importantly, Congress devised workable mechanisms through the VRA’s bail-out and bail-in provisions to account for instances in which Congress’ determination was off base, or no longer applicable. The compelling evidentiary record of modern-day need, made even more pronounced by the recent wave of restrictive voting laws that appeared heavily in covered states, and the broad authority given to Congress by the Constitution to prevent racial discrimination in voting, make upholding the coverage formula an easy case for the Court.

Feb 28, 2013

Scalia shows his true colors

Scalia - (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid/Salon/Benjamin Wheelock)

Update: There is a new Scalia Doctrine: Now, jurists should consider the "legal realist" school of jurisprudence but with a new variation. No longer is the intent of the legislators and language of the statute paramount. Now, Scalia can divine what legislators really wanted to do no matter that the 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization was passed 98-0 in the U.S. Senate and 390-to-33 in the House. Call it Scalia's "Really wanted" doctrine, a method he employs because he knows how legislators really wanted to vote but could not because, in part, legislation has appealing sounding names like the "Voting Rights Act".

Said Scalia the incoherent in orals: "And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes." ...

"I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?"
Antonin Scalia is no brilliant jurist hard at work on deep questions of constitutional law.

Oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder have shown him to be—if a reader needs convincing—a bigoted ass toying with the lives and civil rights of millions.

As Joan Walsh writes in her piece, The Supreme Court justice treats voting rights as a goody given away by pandering politicians:

Four slow-moving ambulances brought up the rear as student leader John Lewis led 600 peaceful protesters dressed for church on the voting rights march that would become known as Selma’s Bloody Sunday, on March 7, 1965. They stayed peaceful; law enforcement officials didn’t. Trampled by police horses, choked by tear gas, beaten with billy clubs – Lewis had his skull fractured – the marchers would need more medical help than the four cars could provide. The ugly melee made national news that night: ABC broke into its presentation of “Judgment at Nuremberg” with footage of the violence, and viewers couldn’t be entirely sure where Nazi atrocities ended and their own country’s began.

Now, not far from Selma, Shelby County, Ala., is trying to take the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act that Lyndon B. Johnson hustled through Congress after Bloody Sunday. Even though the act was reauthorized by a Republican-dominated Congress in 2006 on a 98-0 vote in the Senate (it was 390-33 in the House), and signed by President Bush, and even though its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court four times, there is evidence that the current right-wing court majority would like to overturn at least part of it. Court conservatives once represented a reaction against the court’s supposed overreach into realms best left to Congress, and its willingness to ignore earlier court decisions. Now they seem set to say Congress has no business here, and that their Supreme Court predecessors who upheld the act were either mistaken or the blinkered creatures of their idiosyncratic eras.

Unbelievably, Antonin Scalia derided the act as a “racial entitlement,” prompting gasps from the crowd gathered to hear the arguments Wednesday. (As Rachel Maddow noted, Scalia seems to live for those gasps.) And he blamed Congress for pandering for votes by keeping that “racial entitlement” alive. The cynical Scalia sounded like Mitt Romney blaming his loss on President Obama delivering “gifts” to his coalition.

Civil Rights Leader: Justice Kennedy Will Vote to Uphold Voting Rights Act

U.S. Government fighting for voting rights
Update: Rightwing justices could very well issue a radical ruling that would "sideline Congress from meaningful participation in a realm in which its power was once thought to be at its pinnacle."

In the wake of Justice Scalia's outrageous comment that the Voting Rights Act (VRA) reauthorization is a "perpetuation of racial entitlement," a civil rights leader predicted the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the VRA, 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy voting with a majority.

On the Lawrence O'Donnell show last might, civil rights leader Judith Browne-Dianis, a "a prominent civil rights litigator and experienced racial justice advocate" of The Advancement Project predicted Kennedy—reagarded as the right-leaning, swing vote on the Court—will join the four rule-of-law justices and uphold the Voting Rights Act, first enacted in 1965 and reauthorized four times since, including in 2006.

Ms. Browne-Dianis is virtually alone in her prediction.

Said Browne of Justice Kennedy:

My prediction is that he (Kennedy) will side with us on this (the VRA); that he will uphold it. Because at the end of the day, Justice Kennedy actually sometimes has broken, you know, ways with the conservative bloc. And he actually believes in fairness. ... I think that at the end of the day, fairness will rule; that there was enough information before Congress in 2006 to say that we still need the Voting Rights Act.
The information Ms. Browne-Dianis refers to is the 10,000s of pages of social scientific evidence Congress accumulated in hearings before it passed the 2006 Voting Rights Act (VRA) reauthorization.

Social scientific findings were first referenced in civil rights legal cases in the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, based upon the work of Kenneth Clark, that outlawed school segregation.

Kenneth B. Clark concluded that systematic racism "inevitably destroys and damages human beings," and the Supreme Court opinion called his work "key" to its decision.

Later, in racial, housing discrimination actions in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, social scientific findings were also prominently used in voluminous legal cases, largely based upon the work of Karl Taeuber, professor of Sociology, Emeritus (University of Wisconsin-Madison [Off campus]).

The significance of social scientific findings in the voting rights case now before the Court can be found, among other sources, in the brief filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund that references the widespread unconstitutional conduct in the jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act, and other pernicious action directed against minorities in civic life.

As recently as 2012, the U.S. Dept of Justice blocked discriminatory measures in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina under the Voting Rights Act.

Republicans are virtually unanimous in the covered jurisdictions in saying racism no longer exists and no longer presents an obstruction to Americans' voting, a position echoed by most Republicans the nation-over.

"Congress renewed the special provisions of the Act in 2006 as part of the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara Jordan, William Velazquez and Dr. Hector Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act," notes the U.S. DoJ Voting Right Act webpage.

Ari Berman: Why the Voting Rights Act Is on the GOP Chopping Block

President Lyndon Johnson reaches to shake the hand of
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. after signing the
Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965. (AP file photo)
Rights v. GOP Power—The vindication of Sen. Edward Kennedy

Will the GOP Supreme Court justices invite the social turmoil that would come by dismantling the legislative remedy to the GOP program to stop Americans from voting?

One vote, that of Justice Anthony Kennedy's, will likely decide this question.

Sen. Edward Kennedy warned the nation in 1987 that should radical statists like Robert Bork, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts and their ilk be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, "the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans."

Twenty-five years later, Anthony Kennedy—who replaced Bork as the nominee to the Supreme Court—will decide whether the courts may use the Voting Rights Act to secure their American right to vote, or as Sen. Kennedy feared: The courts will slam the door shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.

A decision is expected in June 2013.

The GOP has grown increasingly afraid over the last eight years that Americans of differing shades of color and other nonGOP-voting citizens will vote the Republican Party out of office.

The Party (the White Party) sees itself as entitled to rule, in opposition to the tenets of representative democracy and the U.S. Constitution.

As the 2012 campaign demonstrated anew, the GOP appeal to racism remains a central tenet of its electoral strategy, and its obstruction of voters is a self-consciously planned program.

Combine this despicable political attack—from which no elected Republican will publicly dissent—with a dismantling of the legislative regime codifying the right to vote and we see the outlines of the GOP program to remain in power in its gerrymandered state and federal legislative districts, and its more dubious effort to retake the office of the U.S. presidency.

The Voting Rights Act remains the most successful law to secure the rights of Americans to vote, in the face of GOP efforts to deny these rights on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to vote even if an American is black.


Republicans today despise the 15th Amendment, with a particular animus towards the Voting Rights Act, written specifically to secure the rights of the 15th Amendment.

From The Nation:

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires districts with a history of disenfranchising people of color to get federal approval before changing their voting procedures, is currently under review by the Supreme Court. As Nation writer Ari Berman argues, the petition against Section 5 is part of a growing movement to suppress the minority vote. “You’ve had a concerted effort to pour a lot of money into groups whose express goal and purpose is to challenge laws like the Voting Rights Act,” he says. Appearing on Washington Journal, Berman goes head-to-head with the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky [The man who has stoked fear and lied about impostors at the polls (Mayer)].

—James Cersonsky

Read Ari Berman's critical report on the Supreme Court's review of Section 5 for an insightful overview of the issue.

Feb 27, 2013

Voting Rights Acts Orals Suggest 5-4 Killing of Civil Rights Victory in 1965

Voting Rights Act - An act to enforce the
fifteenth amendment to the
Constitution of the United States,
and for other purposes.

Update: Justice Scalia said: Voting Rights Act (VRA) reauthorization is "perpetuation of racial entitlement," to audible gasps in the Supreme Court’s lawyers’ lounge.

"It is wrong--deadly wrong--to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country."
- President Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1965 

Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared today poised to strike down the historic Section Five of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA)—long regarded as a monumental achievement of the American civil rights movement.

The Act was passed after an extraordinary joint-session congressional address by President Lyndon Johnson, who called upon Congress to enact a voting rights law as a moral imperative to right a historic wrong.

The law was singed into law on August 6, 1965, some 14 months after the murder of civil rights activists, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman.

Not a word of protest from Republicans anywhere I can find today, save a late, attempted face-saving joining of an amicus brief by a shameful Rep. James Sensenbrenner this month, and a few GOP colleagues.

Election Law blog and SCOTUSblog can read the writing on the wall in these oral arguments held today.

Talking Point Memo offers instructive quotes from the five GOP justices.

Sure, there is always room for surprise in the decision expected in June.

But the GOP remains committed to stomping out minorities from voting as a malodorous column (June 2012) from James Sensenbrenner makes clear—arguing in the face of the most intense voter obstruction effort since Jim Crow that Democrats are Politicizing the Voting Rights Act.

President Lyndon Johnson reaches to shake the hand of
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. after signing the
Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965. (AP file photo)
Though the 2006 Congressional reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act "reveals widespread unconstitutional conduct in the covered jurisdictions," (NAACP Legal Defense Fund brief) the GOP position is to pay no mind to such niceties as the VRA's congressionally mandated stopping of voter obstruction.

As Ralph McGill once wrote of another weak and miserable racist in America—they are but little men "standing alone in (their) own diminishing circle." That's today's Republican Party, white, racist or silent to racism.

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner live. The Civil Rights movement lives.

And the fight against racism continues and is not a settled foundation of our nation, thanks to the cowardice of men such as James Sensenbrenner and the Republican Party, too cowed to stand with justice.
President Lyndon B. Johnson - March 15, 1965 address to joint-session of the U.S. Congress

I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man--a man of God--was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government--the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country--to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, "what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans--not as Democrats or Republicans; we're met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: "All men are created equal." "Government by consent of the governed." "Give me liberty or give me death." And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man's possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress--I have no doubt that I will get some--on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong--deadly wrong--to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of state's rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don't make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed--more than 100 years--since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln--a great President of another party--signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed--more than 100 years--since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all--all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too--poverty, disease and ignorance--we shall overcome.

Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

Your president makes that request of every American.

The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right--not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought--in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it--as has been said--the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek--progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest--for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

In Selma tonight--and we had a good day there--as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I'm making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days--last Tuesday and again today.

The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we're also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn't speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

And I'll let you in on a secret--I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

I want this to be the Congress--Republicans and Democrats alike--which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber--out yonder

Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, "God has favored our undertaking." God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.