Showing posts with label civil rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label civil rights. Show all posts

Oct 23, 2014

Honoring John Earl Reese as America Marches Backward

Make no mistake, the Republican Party today is hostile to the work of the Civil Rights Movement, attacking voting rights, as police routinely murder young black males to the applause of Republicans.

From Scott Walker to the deep south, the Republican Party makes open appeals to racism as they are nationalizing the Southern Strategy.

We honor those killed by racist terrorists by remembering and never stop fighting back.

From the Zinn Education Project:

On Oct. 22, 1955, 16-year-old John Earl Reese was in a café in Mayflower, Texas when white men fired nine shots in the window, killing him and injuring his cousins. The men were among those attempting to terrorize African American residents into giving up plans for a new school. Read more in this article by Jerry Mitchell in The Clarion-Ledger http://shar.es/cv2PS and in the paper "Lost Life, ...a Miscarriage of Justice: The Death of John Earl Reese" by Kaylie Simon.

Photo: Children of Reese's cousin, Johnnie Myrle Nelson. Nelson, 15-years-old at the time, was one of the cousins sitting with Reese in the café along when he was shot. The plaque was dedicated in 2010. (http://bit.ly/1w8soSk) See More — with Rose Cannon.

Jun 26, 2014

Advocates Keep up Pretension James Sensenbrenner Cares about Voting Rights

Writing in The Nation, Ari Berman assumes the visage of a puzzled man who cannot grasp why Republicans are blocking the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA).

That Republicans for well over a decade have committed their Party to obstructing minority voters seems to escape Berman's ruminations.

Berman also, if a reader takes his piece seriously, notes that former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) deserves praise for the reintroduction of the VRAA, implying this is a good thing.

Actually, the VRAA's new formula is to codify as constitutional and consonant with the Voting Rights Act state voter obstruction photo voter laws such as Wisconsin's, and create a new voter obstruction formula to replace the 2006 formula that was decimated by Shelby County v. Holder.

In its current form, the VRAA (HR 3899) "proposes a new coverage formula, through which states will be subject to preclearance if they have five or more voting rights violations in the previous fifteen years, at least one of which is a statewide violation; and through which subjurisdictions will be subject to preclearance if they have three or more violations, or one violation and a demonstration of extremely low minority turnout in the previous fifteen years. It also enhances preclearance by ensuring that courts have the tools necessary to order it as a remedy for additional jurisdictions. Where neither route is available, it enhances plaintiffs' abilities to obtain preliminary injunctive relief to stop certain types of voting changes preventing discrimination in real time. In addition, it offers new notice and transparency standards and reinforces and expands the role of federal observers," as noted by the People for the American Way.

Five statewide violations of voting rights and the DoJ could step in. Justice at last. Most of what People for the American Way writes above is spin, and they know it.

Berman and virtually the entire civil rights community are behind this atrocity of a civil rights bill, hoping against hope Republicans will change their mind about their voter obstruction project, amend HR 3899, and state publicly, 'You know obstructing voters is just wrong, we need to jump on this fix to the Voting Rights Act and amend this bill to make it right."

As for Sensenbrenner, Sensenbrenner calls the Wisconsin's photo voter ID law "common sense," and says of Texas’ Voter ID law enacted in 2013 (the most anti-voting rights legislation the GOP has passed on the state level so far), after being challenged by the DoJ:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: "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."

But Sensenbrenner's a Voting Rights champion, just ask him, and Ari Berman.

What is clear is that the Democratic Party, Sensenbrenner and other pretenders are concerned about appearing to fight for the Voting Rights Act fix, instead of actually fighting for the Voting Rights Act post-Holder.

"Excludes from the list of violations triggering jurisdiction retention authority any voting qualification or prerequisite which results in a denial or abridgement of the right to vote that is based on the imposition of a requirement that an individual provide a photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in a federal, state, or local election," reads the text of HR 3899, the VRAA. (emphasis added)

It bears repeating who Sensenbrenner is and what his motives are regarding voting rights.

There are of course serious efforts to protect voting: The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment.

Sensenbrenner supporting this mega voting rights guarantee, and going against his Party's voter obstruction project is as likely as Sarah Palin winning a Nobel Prize in physics.

We noted here last November that 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.

And Sensenbrenner is now going to declare war on the GOP's war on voting? Right.

Berman and the civil rights community should realize what they are up against in the Republican Party, and start organizing and fighting again because nothing else is going to repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its progeny, certainly not HR 3899.

Jun 8, 2014

Hatred and Ignorance Beaten Back in Wisconsin

I hate gays, is no argument against
loving couples marrying
"Certain fundamental rights are too important to be left to the ballot box," said David Boies on March 24, 2013 on Meet the Press, a few days before oral arguments of the case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year in United States v. Windsor.

Following U.S. District Judge  Barbara Crabb's opinion on Friday, all that is left of Republicans' political sledgehammer attacking the LGBTQ community is an infantile rant of I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.

As political opinion begins increasingly to acknowledge the humanity of fellow humans, sentiment against marriage equity is melting away into the bigoted Republican Party's fetid brew of hatred, and diminishing fast.


There are no serious arguments against marriage equity for gays and lesbians. 'I believe what I believe' does not qualify as a serious argument (as most of us learned in elementary school composition). This is however, the argument repeated today by Republicans politicians over and over.

Judge Crabb writes in her opinion: "In reaching this decision, I do not mean to disparage the legislators and citizens who voted in good conscience for the marriage amendment. To decide this case in favor of plaintiffs, it is not necessary, as some have suggested, to 'cast all those who cling to traditional beliefs about the nature of marriage in the role of bigots or superstitious fools,' United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2717-18 (2013) (Alito, J., dissenting), or 'adjudg[e] those who oppose [same-sex marriage] . . . enemies of the human race.' Id. at 2709 (Scalia, J., dissenting). Rather, it is necessary to conclude only that the state may not intrude without adequate justification on certain fundamental decisions made by individuals and that, when the state does impose restrictions on these important matters, it must do so in an even-handed manner."

No, but in the political realm outside the Court, bigotry and superstition was and is challenged and rightfully so.

Hate and superstition are much of what the bigots in the Republican Party have, and they are unscrupulous in using hate.

From March 24, 2013 on Meet the Press, attorney David Boies notes he and Ted Olsen had established that marriage is a fundamental right of the American people, and proved three things to prevail at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • "We needed to prove first that marriage is a fundamental right. And I think we did that."
  • "Second, we needed to prove that depriving gay and lesbian citizens of the right to marry seriously harm(s) them and seriously harm(s) the children that they are raising. And we proved that too."
  • "Even if you simply applied a rational basis test. ["Under the rational basis test, the courts will uphold a law if it is rationally related to a legitimate government purpose," notes the Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute.] There us no rational basis to justify this (gay marriage) ban. And that's because of the third thing we proved, which was there no evidence, none, that allowing gays and lesbians to marry harms the institution of marriage, or harms anyone else." ...
 
 
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As David Boies said on the Bill Moyers Journal, (Feb. 26, 2010):
If you didn't tell the majority of the voters they were wrong sometimes under the Constitution, you wouldn't need a constitution. The whole point of the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment is to say, 'This is democracy. But it's also democracy in which we protect minority rights.' The whole point of a Constitution is to say there are certain things that a majority cannot do, whether it's 52 percent or 62 percent or 72 percent or 82 percent of the people. They can't say, for example, that blacks and whites can't go to school together -- even though 82 percent of the people may think that. They can't say that women aren't allowed to vote, or are not allowed to work in the workplace, or not allowed equal rights or equal wages -- even though a majority of people might vote that way in some places.
Boies' colleague, Ted Olson, amplifies the point:
David (Boies) mentioned that we have a Constitution and we have an independent judiciary for the very protection of minorities. Majorities don't need protection from the courts. The original Constitution didn't have the Bill of Rights attached to it. And the framers of our Constitution had a big debate and people said, 'Well, we're not going to ratify that Constitution unless you attach a Bill of Rights, which protects individual liberty, individual freedom, the right to speak, the right to assemble,' and those sorts of things.
Over our history, the voters have decided, because they get passionate about certain things, and they may not like certain minorities. Minorities are disfavored. Blacks have been denied the right to vote. California prohibited Chinese, a Chinese person from having any kind of business in California, or getting married. Those kind of votes are not acceptable if they violate fundamental constitutional rights. ... 
The Congress and the President of the United States 50 years ago made it illegal for someone who is a gay or lesbian to have a job working for the federal government. Many states made it a crime for a homosexual to be in a bar and have a drink. We all remember the '50s. When civil rights were taken away from people because they were suspected of being a member of an organization that -- those sorts of things happened. And we frequently go to the courts and, Bill, it often happens that the measures that are passed almost unanimously in Congress, because Congress gets carried away, are overturned by the Supreme Court. And you go back to Members of Congress and you say, 'What happened there?' And they'll say, 'Well, we knew it was unconstitutional. We expected the courts to take care of that. We wanted to get reelected. The courts are the ones that come back and help us.'
Yes, calling out bigots is necessary. As David Boies writes on July 20, 2009: "The argument in favor of [California's] Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers."
---
A similar version of this piece appeared in 2009 here.

May 15, 2014

Civil Rights Org Calls for Voting Rights Bill

Civil rights activists held a press conference by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights this morning, calling for a Committee hearing, debate, markup and passing of the Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA), HR 3899.

The VRAA is meant to repair the damage wrought by the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder.

No voting rights activist likes the bill. They pretend to like to the bill.

No speaker today dared mention the anti-voting rights provisions in the Voting Rights Act Amendment.

HR 3899, among other provisions, contains language that would protect states' photo voter ID laws, a clause inserted by its chief sponsor Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-White People) who refers to his home state's (Wisconsin) photo voter ID law as "common sense."

Wisconsin's voter ID law was struck down last month by a federal judge who found that up to 300,000 voters lacked voter ID; Latinos and African Americans would are unfairly burdened by the law and prevented from voting, that voter fraud does not exist in Wisconsin and that the law is in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

This is Sensenbrenner's conception of a "common sense" law.

Sensenbrenner was caught on camera in February saying, "I hope the president vetoes the bill. If the president vetoes—well, let me rephrase that – if the president vetoes this bill (VRAA), he will lose an awful lot of the African-American support that he has." (Roth, TRMS)

So we have the so-called fix to the VRA protecting state voter obstruction laws that the VRA was originally enacted in 1965 to stop, and the co-author of the bill, Sensenbrenner, who is a demonstrated phony voting rights advocate.

Progressive congressional supporters say they can amend the bill though they are afraid to publically express their opposition to the anti-voting provisions in the bill because this would offend Republicans who would then not allow the bill to be debated, amended or would vote against it, while Republicans continue their work against voting rights.

If this legislative strategy does not appear to make any sense, this is because the strategy is dumb, dumb, dumb.

May 2, 2014

Wisconsin AG Van Hollen Vows to Seek Stay of Decision Halting Voter ID

Update: Worth noting is that state voter ID laws meant to obstruct voters (in a sick irony) would be specifically protected by H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA), introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-White People). The Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965 to "enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes."

The Fifteenth Amendment reads in part, the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Progressive Democrats, such as Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) are hoping against hope that Speaker John Boehner will suddenly become amiable to amendments to take out the language of the VRAA that makes HR 3899 a steaming pile of very toxic and fetid waste. See this bizarre March 27, 2014 letter by House Democrats that in part reads "some of us believe the bill should be enacted in its current form, and some of us prefer to see it amended" in an appeal to John Boehner. This is the same John Boehner who said during the 2012 campaign that he hopes Latinos and Blacks do not show up and vote. (Reeve, August 27, 2012; Yahoo News) at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon.

Meanwhile, Sensenbrenner was caught on camera in February saying, "I hope the president vetoes the bill. If the president vetoes—well, let me rephrase that – if the president vetoes this bill, he will lose an awful lot of the African-American support that he has." (Roth. TRMS)

Anybody really doubt where Republicans like Sensenbrenner and Boehner stand on voting rights?

What if this anti-voter VRAA actually passes Congress? Did House Democrats consider this scenario?

Dumb, dumb, dumb.
---
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has learned a lot from Scott Walker in service to the Republican Party while ripping off the Wisconsin people.

Make up statements and don't back them up with facts.

For some three years during Walker's tenure Van Hollen has been using the attorney general's office in service to the Republican Party, and Van Hollen typically throws out fact-free lines for reporters' consumption.

Now, Van Hollen's office says Federal Judge Lynn Adelman's decision barring enforcement of Act 23 is "flawed," and the Wisconsin DoJ with Walker's blessing will seek a stay, vacating the permanent injunction. (Hall, Wisconsin State Journal)

What's flawed about the Adelman's decision? Van Hollen won't say.

But Van Hollen and Walker, with Rep. James Sensenbrenner's help, keep up their GOP-crafted-law-is-common sense and "constitutional" lines of malarkey.

Writes Adelman:
The evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin. The defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past. ...

Some have suggested that voter fraud might be more widespread than the low number of prosecutions indicates because the laws that prohibit voter fraud are under enforced. However, the defendants do not suggest that there is any underenforcement of such laws in Wisconsin. And the evidence at trial indicates that such laws are vigorously enforced (citations omitted by me).
What do Walker and Van Hollen and the Republicans say to this? Nothing.

Local conservative, William R. Wineke, has something to say today, Republicans should listen. Writes Wineke at Channel 3000 (WISC TV):
Ever since Republicans took control of state governments around the country in 2010, they have thrown conservative principles out the window.

They keep passing laws to limit abortions and keep trying to pass laws that would outlaw some forms of birth control and force women who become pregnant from rapes or incest to bear their rapists’ children.

They use the power of state governments to interfere with the rights of local governments. Want to pass a minimum wage law for Milwaukee? Let’s strip the right of municipalities to do that.

But the voting rights thing is the big one. We all know why our state wants voter ID It’s because the governor and legislators who gained power through the ballot box want to make sure no one can take that power away from them through the ballot box.

That may be good politics, but it sure isn’t conservative.
No, it's not. Stopping Americans from voting is unAmerican.

Trying to stop Americans from voting is typical Van Hollen, and is a Republican mission. Recall Van Hollen's corrupt use of office in 2008, for example.

Van Hollen tried to use the Help America Vote Act to suppress Democratically leaning voters to stave off a landslide defeat for the McCain-Palin ticket of which he served as co-chair, an effort thrown out of court never to see light again.

In 2008, WisPolitics uncovered an audio recording revealing Van Hollen promising action on alleged "voter fraud" during an address at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, Minnesota, after multiple conversations with Reince Priebus, then Wisconsin GOP party chairman.

The fact that there is no voter fraud is of no concern in GOP land.

Said Wisconsin candidate for attorney general, Ismael Ozanne in April about Van Hollen's 2008 scheme: "The ethical concern is serving as campaign chair and then taking official actions as attorney general that are intended to benefit the campaign in question, and not reflecting the law and the best interests of the people of Wisconsin.  If AG Van Hollen thought it was necessary in his official capacity to participate in legal action involving the campaign, he should have either stepped down from any role in the campaign or recused himself from the legal action."

Van Hollen, Walker and the Republicans should spend their time trying to help Americans vote, not attempting to prevent Americans from voting.

Apr 25, 2014

Proposed Fix to Voting Rights Act Is Worse than Court-gutted Corpse

James Sensenbrenner exposed as phony
on voting rights by James O'Keefe
. See
three-minute, 19-second mark.
Update: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), a co-sponsor is hoping against hope that Speaker John Boehner will suddenly become amiable to amendments to take out the language of the Voting Rights Act Amendment that makes HR 3899 a steaming pile of very toxic and fetid waste. See this bizarre March 27, 2014 letter by House Democrats including Pocan that in part reads "some of us believe the bill should be enacted in its current form, and some of us prefer to see it amended" in an appeal to John Boehner. This is the same John Boehner who said during the 2012 campaign that he hopes Latinos and Blacks do not show up and vote. (Reeve, August 27, 2012; Yahoo News) at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon.
---
Five Republicans Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year in a case that became instantly infamous: Shelby County v. Holder.

The five-four majority gutted sections four and five of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), destroying one method of the VRA's protecting people's right to vote against hostile state efforts to obstruct and deprive the vote.

As Justice Ginsberg writes in dissent: The majority decided the Voting Rights Act had worked so well the "conditions" (Roberts) of racism are a remnant of long-ago: "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

John Roberts has for years declared racism is over.

Sensenbrenner has been in negotiations with major civil rights groups and champions of civil rights for months, finally releasing his draft of the Voting Rights Act Amendment, Section Four formula, H. R. 3899 in January, cosponsored by Rep Conyers.

HR 3899 actually enshrines and protects voter obstruction laws such as Wisconsin and Texas' Photo Voter ID laws.

Thankfully, the official statement (January 2014) of the NAACP's Lorraine C. Miller, Interim President and CEO, pissed on HR 3899: "The NAACP appreciates that the U.S. Congress has made a bipartisan effort to update the Voting Rights Act, however we have serious concerns about the ability of some provisions in this bill to protect ALL voters from discrimination at the polls."

As the nation's oldest and largest grassroots civil rights organization we have the responsibility to ensure that any proposed legislation is in the best interest of our members, our community and our country. Participation in our democracy should be unfettered and all votes should be properly counted. From the exceptions for voter ID laws to decreased preclearance coverage to increased reliance on costly litigation, there are essential revisions and amendments to this bill that must take place to ensure ALL voters have fair and equitable access to the ballot box."

Sensenbrenner has called Wisconsin's Voter ID law, Act 23, "common sense," and decried the DoJ effort to challenge Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Sensenbrenner's proposed law's new Section Four formula also protects states with its "five strikes" formula that would allow a state five different Court-determined acts of voting rights discrimination before placing the state under preclearance.

In so many words, Sensenbrenner—with the aid of Rep. Conyers and others who should know better (but apparently do not)—drafted a law that actually codifies voting right violations as fine under the Voting Rights Act as long as the a given state confines obstruction laws to four or less in a 15-year time span.

Sensenbrenner is a voting rights phony, a fake, and liberal writers from Ari Berman to Rick Hasan to Steve Benen have been aiding Sensenbrenner in this enterprise since Shelby last June.

In February in Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-White People) decided his fake support for voting rights perpetuated by a friendly media would take too much a toll on his racist buddies in the GOP.

Sensenbrenner was caught on camera saying, "I hope the president vetoes the bill. If the president vetoes—well, let me rephrase that – if the president vetoes this bill, he will lose an awful lot of the African-American support that he has." (Roth. TRMS) See O'Keefe's video below:

In Wisconsin, we don't call this guy Senselessbrenner for nothing.

And here we don't say: Don't trust Sensenbrenner on voting rights for nothing.

Sensenbrenner is exposed as an utter phony on voting rights (not that more evidence was needed), calculating and disingenuous on the video below (O'Keefe's reading of the Act though mostly factually incorrect is also on his own video) :


So, we cannot trust Sensenbrenner.

Sensenbrenner's Voting Rights Act Amendment legislation is worse than the status quo post-Shelby, aka now, so why are progressives in Congress, major civil rights organizations and progressive writers still behind the Voting Rights Act Amendments and still lauding Sensenbrenner?

For no good reason. Maybe they think they Obama can sign this obscene piece of legislation, call it what Sensenbrenner calls it, and declare victory to Black and Brown folks targeted by the GOP, hoping ethic minorities are as dumb as Sensenbrenner thinks they are.

Anyone advocating support for Sensenbrenner's Voting Rights Act Amendment legislation is taking a position that is untenable.

There is a real Voting Rights initiative: The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment to the Constitution "to provide all Americans the affirmative right to vote and empower Congress to protect this right," which of course Sensenbrenner and his Party will not get behind.

What are Democrats and civil rights champions thinking?

They hope against hope that Republicans will change course and get behind voting rights legislation after years of obstructing the vote?

I have an inquiry into these matters into Rep. Mark Pocan's (D-Madison) office, and will include the response in an update.

Apr 10, 2014

Civil Rights v. Republicans, Time to Choose a Side

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle
Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library
Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the LBJ Presidential
Library in Austin, Texas, April 10, 2014. They attended a Civil Rights
Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the
Civil Rights Act.
(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Today, 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, President Obama spoke at the LBJ Presidential Library to honor the work and legacy of our nation’s 36th president.
 

“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible,” President Obama said. “We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers -- whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”

“But we also gather here,” President Obama said, “deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”’

April 10, 2014

Remarks by the President at LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit

Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library
Austin, Texas

12:16 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please, please, have a seat.  Thank you. 

What a singular honor it is for me to be here today.  I want to thank, first and foremost, the Johnson family for giving us this opportunity and the graciousness with which Michelle and I have been received. 

We came down a little bit late because we were upstairs looking at some of the exhibits and some of the private offices that were used by President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson.  And Michelle was in particular interested to -- of a recording in which Lady Bird is critiquing President Johnson’s performance.  (Laughter.)  And she said, come, come, you need to listen to this.  (Laughter.)  And she pressed the button and nodded her head.  Some things do not change -- (laughter) -- even 50 years later.

To all the members of Congress, the warriors for justice, the elected officials and community leaders who are here today  -- I want to thank you.

Four days into his sudden presidency -- and the night before he would address a joint session of the Congress in which he once served -- Lyndon Johnson sat around a table with his closest advisors, preparing his remarks to a shattered and grieving nation.

He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil rights bill -- the most sweeping since Reconstruction.  And most of his staff counseled him against it.  They said it was hopeless; that it would anger powerful Southern Democrats and committee chairmen; that it risked derailing the rest of his domestic agenda.  And one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a President should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy they might be.  To which, it is said, President Johnson replied, “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?”  (Laughter and applause.)  What the hell’s the presidency for if not to fight for causes you believe in?

Today, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible.  Some of them are here today.  We celebrate giants like John Lewis and Andrew Young and Julian Bond.  We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers -- whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change. 

But we also gather here, deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those of us who have had the singular privilege to hold the office of the Presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating and sometimes you’re stymied.  The office humbles you.  You’re reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions made by those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision.

But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents -- by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates; by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be.

This was President Johnson’s genius.  As a master of politics and the legislative process, he grasped like few others the power of government to bring about change. 

LBJ was nothing if not a realist.  He was well aware that the law alone isn’t enough to change hearts and minds.  A full century after Lincoln’s time, he said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

He understood laws couldn’t accomplish everything.  But he also knew that only the law could anchor change, and set hearts and minds on a different course.  And a lot of Americans needed the law’s most basic protections at that time.  As Dr. King said at the time, “It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”  (Applause.)

And passing laws was what LBJ knew how to do.  No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson.  He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required.  (Laughter.)  He could wear you down with logic and argument.  He could horse trade, and he could flatter.  “You come with me on this bill,” he would reportedly tell a key Republican leader from my home state during the fight for the Civil Rights Bill, “and 200 years from now, schoolchildren will know only two names:  Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen!”  (Laughter.)  And he knew that senators would believe things like that.  (Laughter and applause.)

President Johnson liked power.  He liked the feel of it, the wielding of it.  But that hunger was harnessed and redeemed by a deeper understanding of the human condition; by a sympathy for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for the outcast.  And it was a sympathy rooted in his own experience.

As a young boy growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Johnson knew what being poor felt like.  “Poverty was so common,” he would later say, “we didn’t even know it had a name.”  (Laughter.)  The family home didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing.  Everybody worked hard, including the children.  President Johnson had known the metallic taste of hunger; the feel of a mother’s calloused hands, rubbed raw from washing and cleaning and holding a household together.  His cousin Ava remembered sweltering days spent on her hands and knees in the cotton fields, with Lyndon whispering beside her, “Boy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living than this.  There’s got to be a better way.”

It wasn’t until years later when he was teaching at a so-called Mexican school in a tiny town in Texas that he came to understand how much worse the persistent pain of poverty could be for other races in a Jim Crow South.  Oftentimes his students would show up to class hungry.  And when he’d visit their homes, he’d meet fathers who were paid slave wages by the farmers they worked for.  Those children were taught, he would later say, “that the end of life is in a beet row, a spinach field, or a cotton patch.” 

Deprivation and discrimination -- these were not abstractions to Lyndon Baines Johnson.  He knew that poverty and injustice are as inseparable as opportunity and justice are joined.  So that was in him from an early age.

Now, like any of us, he was not a perfect man.  His experiences in rural Texas may have stretched his moral imagination, but he was ambitious, very ambitious, a young man in a hurry to plot his own escape from poverty and to chart his own political career.  And in the Jim Crow South, that meant not challenging convention.  During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation “a farce and a sham.”  He was chosen as a vice presidential nominee in part because of his affinity with, and ability to deliver, that Southern white vote.  And at the beginning of the Kennedy administration, he shared with President Kennedy a caution towards racial controversy. 

But marchers kept marching.  Four little girls were killed in a church.  Bloody Sunday happened.  The winds of change blew.  And when the time came, when LBJ stood in the Oval Office -- I picture him standing there, taking up the entire doorframe, looking out over the South Lawn in a quiet moment -- and asked himself what the true purpose of his office was for, what was the endpoint of his ambitions, he would reach back in his own memory and he’d remember his own experience with want. 

And he knew that he had a unique capacity, as the most powerful white politician from the South, to not merely challenge the convention that had crushed the dreams of so many, but to ultimately dismantle for good the structures of legal segregation.  He’s the only guy who could do it -- and he knew there would be a cost, famously saying the Democratic Party may “have lost the South for a generation.” 

That’s what his presidency was for.  That’s where he meets his moment.  And possessed with an iron will, possessed with those skills that he had honed so many years in Congress, pushed and supported by a movement of those willing to sacrifice everything for their own liberation, President Johnson fought for and argued and horse traded and bullied and persuaded until ultimately he signed the Civil Rights Act into law. 

And he didn’t stop there -- even though his advisors again told him to wait, again told him let the dust settle, let the country absorb this momentous decision.  He shook them off.  “The meat in the coconut,” as President Johnson would put it, was the Voting Rights Act, so he fought for and passed that as well.  Immigration reform came shortly after.  And then, a Fair Housing Act.  And then, a health care law that opponents described as “socialized medicine” that would curtail America’s freedom, but ultimately freed millions of seniors from the fear that illness could rob them of dignity and security in their golden years, which we now know today as Medicare.  (Applause.)

What President Johnson understood was that equality required more than the absence of oppression.  It required the presence of economic opportunity.  He wouldn’t be as eloquent as Dr. King would be in describing that linkage, as Dr. King moved into mobilizing sanitation workers and a poor people’s movement, but he understood that connection because he had lived it.  A decent job, decent wages, health care -- those, too, were civil rights worth fighting for.  An economy where hard work is rewarded and success is shared, that was his goal.  And he knew, as someone who had seen the New Deal transform the landscape of his Texas childhood, who had seen the difference electricity had made because of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the transformation concretely day in and day out in the life of his own family, he understood that government had a role to play in broadening prosperity to all those who would strive for it.

“We want to open the gates to opportunity,” President Johnson said, “But we are also going to give all our people, black and white, the help they need to walk through those gates.” 

Now, if some of this sounds familiar, it’s because today we remain locked in this same great debate about equality and opportunity, and the role of government in ensuring each.  As was true 50 years ago, there are those who dismiss the Great Society as a failed experiment and an encroachment on liberty; who argue that government has become the true source of all that ails us, and that poverty is due to the moral failings of those who suffer from it.  There are also those who argue, John, that nothing has changed; that racism is so embedded in our DNA that there is no use trying politics -- the game is rigged. 

But such theories ignore history.  Yes, it’s true that, despite laws like the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, our society is still racked with division and poverty.  Yes, race still colors our political debates, and there have been government programs that have fallen short.  In a time when cynicism is too often passed off as wisdom, it’s perhaps easy to conclude that there are limits to change; that we are trapped by our own history; and politics is a fool’s errand, and we’d be better off if we roll back big chunks of LBJ’s legacy, or at least if we don’t put too much of our hope, invest too much of our hope in our government.

I reject such thinking.  (Applause.)  Not just because Medicare and Medicaid have lifted millions from suffering; not just because the poverty rate in this nation would be far worse without food stamps and Head Start and all the Great Society programs that survive to this day.  I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts.  Because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.  Because I and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us.  (Applause.)

Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody -- not all at once, but they swung open.  Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability.  They swung open for you, and they swung open for me.  And that’s why I’m standing here today -- because of those efforts, because of that legacy.  (Applause.)

And that means we’ve got a debt to pay.  That means we can’t afford to be cynical.  Half a century later, the laws LBJ passed are now as fundamental to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  They are foundational; an essential piece of the American character. 

But we are here today because we know we cannot be complacent.  For history travels not only forwards; history can travel backwards, history can travel sideways.  And securing the gains this country has made requires the vigilance of its citizens.  Our rights, our freedoms -- they are not given.  They must be won.  They must be nurtured through struggle and discipline, and persistence and faith. 

And one concern I have sometimes during these moments, the celebration of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the March on Washington -- from a distance, sometimes these commemorations seem inevitable, they seem easy.  All the pain and difficulty and struggle and doubt -- all that is rubbed away.  And we look at ourselves and we say, oh, things are just too different now;  we couldn’t possibly do what was done then -- these giants, what they accomplished.  And yet, they were men and women, too.  It wasn’t easy then.  It wasn’t certain then. 

Still, the story of America is a story of progress.  However slow, however incomplete, however harshly challenged at each point on our journey, however flawed our leaders, however many times we have to take a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf -- the story of America is a story of progress.  And that’s true because of men like President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  (Applause.)

In so many ways, he embodied America, with all our gifts and all our flaws, in all our restlessness and all our big dreams.  This man -- born into poverty, weaned in a world full of racial hatred -- somehow found within himself the ability to connect his experience with the brown child in a small Texas town; the white child in Appalachia; the black child in Watts.  As powerful as he became in that Oval Office, he understood them.  He understood what it meant to be on the outside.  And he believed that their plight was his plight too; that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs; and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for.  (Applause.)

And those children were on his mind when he strode to the podium that night in the House Chamber, when he called for the vote on the Civil Rights law.  “It never occurred to me,” he said, “in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students” that he had taught so many years ago, “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.”  (Applause.)

That was LBJ’s greatness.  That’s why we remember him.  And if there is one thing that he and this year’s anniversary should teach us, if there’s one lesson I hope that Malia and Sasha and young people everywhere learn from this day, it’s that with enough effort, and enough empathy, and enough perseverance, and enough courage, people who love their country can change it.

In his final year, President Johnson stood on this stage, racked with pain, battered by the controversies of Vietnam, looking far older than his 64 years, and he delivered what would be his final public speech. 

“We have proved that great progress is possible,” he said.  “We know how much still remains to be done.  And if our efforts continue, and if our will is strong, and if our hearts are right, and if courage remains our constant companion, then, my fellow Americans, I am confident, we shall overcome.”  (Applause.)

We shall overcome.  We, the citizens of the United States.  Like Dr. King, like Abraham Lincoln, like countless citizens who have driven this country inexorably forward, President Johnson knew that ours in the end is a story of optimism, a story of achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this Earth.  He knew because he had lived that story.  He believed that together we can build an America that is more fair, more equal, and more free than the one we inherited.  He believed we make our own destiny.  And in part because of him, we must believe it as well.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 

END
12:46 P.M. CDT

New Voting Rights Amendment Act Is Worse Than Nothing

Updated-Rick Hasen wants progressives to get agitated for the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA).
(W)here are the public demonstrations to pass this desperately needed fix? Outside the minority community, which is pushing hard for the VRAA, where is the agitation? The voting rights issue seems to have fallen off the radar screen, even though the Roberts court's reasoning in the Shelby County case is just as indefensible as its reasoning in Citizens United and McCutcheon in the campaign finance arena.
Here's why the lack of political action for the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA).

The VRAA sucks.

The VRAA actually enshrines one of the major state voter obstruction laws that Republicans use to obstruct minority voters, among other voters: Voter ID statutes. Moreoever, passage of the VRAA would torpedo many of the legal federal challenges to the GOP voter ID laws.

Nice way to mark 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act. Maybe we'll have better luck next year with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Voting Rights Act.

Anniversaries and sentiment are needed, but the Republican Party is forever busy with new schemes, a phenomenon that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was intended to address.

"About one month after the Shelby decision, Republicans in North Carolina pushed through a package of extreme voting restrictions, including ending same-day registration, shortening early voting by a week, requiring photo ID, and ending a program that encourages high schoolers to sign up to vote when they turn 18," writes Dana Liebelson.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 reads: Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973a(c)) is amended by striking ‘‘violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment’’ and inserting ‘‘violations of the 14th or 15th Amendment; violations of this Act (other than a violation of section 2(a) which is based on the imposition of a requirement that an individual provide a photo identification as a condition of receiving a ballot for voting in an election for Federal, State, or local office) ... ."

Hasen wants people to hit the streets for this crap?

 Derick T. Dingle writes, "Legal scholars found the voter ID provision as a gaping hole in the law (HR 3899), avoiding one of the major voter suppression issues of the day."

Hasen writes, "It's about time for Congress to pass some new laws protecting voting rights, and it's high time – right now – for us to dare the supreme court to strike even more of them down."

Maybe if we double-dare the U.S. Supreme Court it will back down from ever disenfranchising Americans again because the five GOP justices really care what the American people think, and they cherish civil rights.

Mar 27, 2014

Scott Walker Signs Bill Slashing Early Voting

Update: See also Cursed With Nation’s Second-Highest Turnout Rate, Wisconsin Restricts Early Voting (Weigel. Slate); and Wisconsin’s Walker restricts early voting (Benen. TRMS), and GOP Steps Up Attack on Early Voting in Key Swing States (Berman. The Nation).

To no one's surprise, Scott Walker signed a bill slashing early voting, outlawing cities from weekend voting.

All Wisconsin Republicans went along with the latest scheme in the attack on voting, except Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).

A constitutional challenge is likely.

No reaction from Mary Burke, prompting more speculation that another, more activist candidate will get in the Democratic primary.

One Wisconsin Now reacted along with every good government and voting rights groups the same way:

Despite widespread public opposition, Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed into law new restrictions on early voting today. Walker's acquiescence to the latest racist, anti-voter scheme by Republicans eliminates weekend early voting in Wisconsin and outlaws municipalities offering citizens the ability to vote in the two weeks prior to Election Day before 8am or after 7pm.

One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross commented, "Gov. Walker has made his choice. He's put his political ambitions first and turned his back on the constitutional right of Wisconsinites to vote. He is aiding and abetting the fraudulent manipulation of the rules on voting being perpetrated by the Republican controlled legislature."

Early voting has become an increasingly popular way for Wisconsinites to do their civic duty and have a say in the direction of their communities. In fact, 58 Republican legislators who have supported restrictions on early voting have themselves voted early.

The impacts of the law will be felt heavily in urban areas where long lines are a serious issue at the polls and creates significant new challenges for minorities, seniors, working families and persons with disabilities in accessing the franchise.

Walker signed the legislation despite a mere 12% of respondents in a recent statewide poll endorsing the new restrictions on early voting proposed in the bill presented to Walker for his signature.

"This fight is far from over. It may be Governor Walker's signature on the bill today, but this fight will end when a judge signs an order declaring this latest Republican attack on voting unconstitutional," concluded Ross.

Mar 23, 2014

Federal Intervention to Protect Voting in Wisconsin

Bending Toward Justice, The Voting Rights Act
and the Transformation of American
Democracy (Gary May. Basic Books; 2013)
Wisconsin Republicans facing demographic changes open new fronts in their war to determine who gets to vote

Updated—Alabama, Arizona and Kansas moved ahead with a new qualification for voters—"concrete proof of citizenship," representing an escalation of the Republican Party's efforts to obstruct American voters.

As other Republican state efforts to obstruct voters continue, the federal response is being contemplated as the formal structures of this democracy are under assault at the state level by one political party. Wisconsin is leading the way.

The Republican voter obstruction effort is a years-long project to stop as many non-GOP voters as possible from voting, and the battleground is the states where Republicans have control of both the legislature and governor's office.

In February 2012, attorney Ernest A. Canning argued for U.S. Dept. of Justice intervention in Wisconsin based on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, referring to a legal challenge to Wisconsin's photo voter ID law.

The case is League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin v. Deininger (Case 2:12-cv-00185), now under deliberation after a November 2013 trial that saw a mountain of social scientific evidence of discrimination presented against Wisconsin Act 23, a restrictive photo voter ID law. See also Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128), a case held at trial with League.

An observer said the trial was a rout for pro-voting rights advocates, the consensus opinion.

Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the opinion for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board later affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2008, said in October last year that the judiciary requires "data" and "empirical evidence," both in adjudication and on the consequences of its decisions and opinions.

"I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID—a type of law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention," said Posner.

This evidence is now available, especially from the Wisconsin trial, and it suggests a crisis of democracy demanding both a judicial and federal executive branch response.

"The credible evidence convincingly proved that Act 23 will impose harsh and widespread burdens on voters. Virtually all of the factual testimony - of Plaintiffs, other voters, non-parties who provide assistance to voters, as well as Defendants and state employees called adversely by  Plaintiffs - went essentially unchallenged by Defendants. All this evidence compels one conclusion:  Act 23 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act ("VRA"), 42 U.S.C. 1973, and the Fourteenth and Twenty -Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and must be enjoined," reads a Frank v. Walker Post-trial brief challenging Wisconsin Voter ID Law. Act 23—passed with unanimous GOP support, unanimous Democratic opposition and unanimous opposition from civil rights and voting rights citizen groups.

The GOP's effort to hold down minority voting participation is the "largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era," as characterized by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project.

On March 19, 2014, a "federal court decided Kobach v. United States Election Assistance Commission. The upshot of this opinion, if it stands on appeal, is that states with Republican legislatures and/or Republican chief election officials are likely to require documentary proof of citizenship," reports Rick Hasen.

That case looks weak. But with Federalist Society jurists sprinkled throughout the judiciary, who can say?

On the state level Wisconsin and Ohio are another front of the war on voting.

Since 2011, "Scott Walker and his right-wing Wisconsin GOP legislative lieutenants - - for the second time since their ascendancy in 2011- - have passed legislation to cut the hours of in-person absentee voting," reports Jim Rowen. "The desired outcome - - abetted by the GOP-initiated Voter ID statute - - is to tilt elections and embed GOP power by obstructing ballot-box access in cities with large populations of minority, transit-dependent, Democratic-leaning voters. This coordinated, one-party manipulation of state power for partisan and constituencies' advantage should be slapped down hard and overturned without equivocation by state courts to ensure unobstructed voting in Wisconsin."

Rowen, civil rights activists and citizens are calling for federal Voting Rights oversight to protect Wisconsin voters against the Republican political power structure aiming to determine who is able to vote in Wisconsin through a raft of legislation that appears unlawful under both the federal and Wisconsin constitutions.

Voting Rights Act Fix

In Congress, legislation is being considered that appears to prohibit the Voting Rights Act from being used against state voter obstruction laws such as Wisconsin's photo voter ID and other anti-voting laws.

Ironically, this legislation is meant to repair the Voting Rights Act, gutted by the Supreme Court.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) legislation, like the judicial and executive response, should single out and challenge state efforts using IDs as a tool to determine who gets to vote.

"The Voting Rights Act itself has been called the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress," reads the U.S. Dept. of Justice site.

This is precisely why five GOP justices targeted the VRA in Shelby v. Holder, despite as Judge Posner would note today, an extensive empirical record.

Writes Justice Ginsburg in dissent:
In the long course of the legislative process, Congress 'amassed a sizable record.' Northwest Austin Municipal Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder, 557 U. S. 193, 205 (2009) . See also 679 F. 3d 848, 865–873 (CADC 2012) (describing the “extensive record” supporting Congress’ determination that “serious and widespread intentional discrimination persisted in covered jurisdictions”). The House and Senate Judiciary Committees held 21 hearings, heard from scores of witnesses, received a number of investigative reports and other written documentation of continuing discrimination in covered jurisdictions. In all, the legislative record Congress compiled filled more than 15,000 pages. H. R. Rep. 109–478, at 5, 11–12; S. Rep. 109–295, at 2–4,15. The compilation presents countless “examples of flagrant racial discrimination” since the last reauthorization; Congress also brought to light systematic evidence that “intentional racial discrimination in voting remains so serious and widespread in covered jurisdictions that section 5 preclearance is still needed.” 679 F. 3d, at 866.
Scott Walker and the Republicans never campaigned on it, and Wisconsin is inflicted by an underground political movement that has seized Wisconsin government and is attempting to disenfranchise the people who comprise the state.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice must step in to protect the rights of the Wisconsin people as guaranteed in the Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and pursuant to Section Two of the Voting Rights Act: Enforce the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Mar 12, 2014

Republican Effort to Disenfranchise 100,000s of Wisconsin Voters Began in 2011

Scott Walker's convicted top aides and friends are likely
cheering on Walker and Republicans today.
In 2011, Scott Walker and the Republicans shortened the Wisconsin early voting period by some 18 days, passing Act 23 that limited early voting for all towns, villages and cities to only 12 days. 

Before Act 23, in-person, absentee (early voting) could start when the ballots were printed and clerks received them, providing as many as 30 days of early voting.

Republicans also eliminated early voting on the weekend directly preceding election day in Act 23, passed with sole Republican support.

Now, Republicans today, passed a "bill (that limits) 'early voting' to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday leading up to an election. A municipality would also be limited to 45 hours per week of accepting the in-person absentee ballots," reports Quorum Call.

Republicans in 2011 also extended the residency requirement for voters from ten to 28 days, suppressing the votes of citizens who have recently moved.

Republicans in 2011 also cut the time period allowed for absentee ballots to be cast from 30 days before elections to 14 days.

Republicans' voter ID law, Act 23, has been found to be unconstitutional and is under judicial deliberation in state and federal court.

Now, a host of anti-voting bills is being considered because of the fear Republicans have of voters casting votes. Inaccurately described as preventing voter fraud, these bills are designed to suppress the democratic right of citizens to vote.

No doubt Scott Walker's former staff and close aides, Tim Russell (who embezzled from veterans) and Kelly Rindfleisch (who committed misconduct in the public office held by Scott Walker) are cheering Walker and the Republicans on.

By the way, Mary Burke, you can comment on these matters. If you don't, what does that say about your commitment to defending the constitution? Hello, Mary, Mary?

Wisconsin Republicans Target Veterans and Voters Today

Update III: GOP shafts veterans again. "Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, said the bill presumes that 'somehow the corporations are the victims here, and not the men and women who were willing to put the lives on the line for their country.'" (Quorum Call)

Update II: Republicans slash early voting, no weekend voting, no night voting.

Update: To keep abreast of developments on how Republicans aim to diminish Wisconsin democracy and injure our veterans suffering from Mesothelioma cancer, check out Quorum Call or Wisconsin Eye.

The Republican, gerrymandered legislature is targeting voters and veterans today.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald say he "hates" his colleagues' anti-veterans bill (Wisconsin Senate Bill 13) hurting veterans, therefore he is supporting this anti-veterans bill because "it's just something that has to be done."

This has to be done because the insurance industry, the Koch brothers and other special interests want this done.

Fitzgerald's powers of logic are on a par with our dumb governor Walker.

"Every vets group oppose this bill because it's unfair to vets," said Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), notes Quorum Call.

Fitzgerald and the Republicans should reject the money they get from special interests supporting this anti-veterans bill, and instead take a heap of asbestos and breathe in deeply, sharing the remainder with the whole Republican caucus except Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).

Republicans know much of what they will pass is unconstitutional. So, they are also trying to corrupt the judicial process.

Republicans last month took up Senate Bill 154 [replaced by a vague SENATE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT 1, TO ASSEMBLY BILL 161 that is now passed by the legislature] reading in part:

"If a circuit court or a court of appeals enters an injunction, a restraining order, or any other final or interlocutory order suspending or restraining the enforcement of any statute of this state, the injunction, restraining order, or other final or interlocutory order is immediately appealable as a matter of right."

What if a Court orders a trial and temporary restraining order on a GOP-passed statute like Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan did in March 2012 on Scott Walker's unconstitutional photo voter ID law?

Injured Wisconsin citizens get no day in court while an unconstitutional law inflicts damage?

What exactly do Republicans fear from the rule of law, and voters?

Mar 11, 2014

In Nation's Most Segregated Urban Region, Scott Walker, GOP Fan Flames of Racial Violence

Racist T-shirts sold in Milwaukee at the "Republicans
for Wisconsin" booth at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair
Update: Republicans pass voter "suppression effort" mandating poll workers "from those outside a community to dictate how elections are run," reports Quorum Call. Republicans inflict another hit on local control, and insult and inflame the African-American communities in Milwaukee and other urban centers.
---
Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans know their objectives in their anti-voter election bills in the state legislature.

It's not only about rigging elections.

Walker and the GOP want to use the nation's most segregated urban area and pass legislation that will plant white election inspectors and obnoxious white election observers from out of the African-American wards in a terribly irresponsible and reprehensible effort to promote violence, confusion and chaos at the polls on election day.

This is what Republicans spend their time doing, Senate Bill 20.

State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) "hates blacks and Latinos" on the floor of the Wisconsin state senate. (Quorum Call. WisPolitics)

Yes. What Walker and the Republicans are doing is sociopathic and certainly hateful.

Carpenter was referring to Senate Bill 20, an opportunity to provoke Milwaukee African-Americans and, Republicans hope, infuse some chaos on election day, a situation that they hope to achieve by repealing early voting, ("push(ed) off (for) a final vote on the measure until (Wednesday)").

The Republicans' I hate you, blacks is intended to met in turn.

It's not enough that the GOP's Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine has already given license for racist whites to kill young black kids, for example Bo Morrision of Slinger, Wisconsin shot and killed by a white racist protected by the Castle Doctrine in 2012. You can bet Scott Walker cried no tears for young Mr. Morrison.

Walker surrounds himself with racists, all getting laughs from racist jokes told among this tight group.

There will be black observers in Milwaukee on election day, as well civil rights workers from the U.S. Dept. of Justice to help keep the peace in the face of white racists brought in by Walker.

There should not have to be.

This is 2014 Wisconsin, not 1966 Alabama:
Nor had violence disappeared as a form of political intimidation (after the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Poll watcher Andrew Jones, a quiet man who was passionate about voting, was struck in the back of the head while on duty in Fort Deposit, (Alabama) Klan bastion [in Lowndes County as, known "Bloody Lowndes" because of the lynchings, and other murders of blacks]. Stokeley Carmichael went ballistic and, with a California friend named Huey Newton, organized a group of armed blacks to search for Jones's attacker. But they never found him. [(Frye Gaillard, "Notes and Quotes: The Interview for Cradle of Freedom, 2000-2002," 45, Frye Gallillard Papers, Alabama State University; Southern Courier, November 12-13, 1966, 2. Cited in (Bending Toward Justice - The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (Gary May. Basic Books; 2013; p.233) ]

Scott Walker and Racist GOP Fear Voters; Impede Voting Again

Update: Debating Republicans who want to install election officials to harass African-Americans and Latinos, Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) said Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) "hates blacks and Latinos" on the floor of the Wisconsin state senate. (Quorum Call. WisPolitics)That's a fact; Republicans today are racists and depend on racism as a major electoral tool. See, for example, Scott Walker and his staff joking about blacks, Jews and gays.

Against every community of interest except the Republican Party, the Wisconsin state senate is posed to pass along partisan lines a bunch of bills making it harder to vote.

The election of Scott Walker proved people don't matter, Republicans believe; but they want to make certain.

AP writer, Scott Bauer, reports that "Gov. Scott Walker signaled Tuesday that he was open to signing a bill that would limit early voting, including disallowing it on weekends in the two weeks leading up to an election."

Bauer writes:

When asked about the early voting bill following a Wisconsin Bankers Association event, Walker said that it wasn't on his radar yet but he would 'take a look at it' once it clears the Legislature.

'We've got a whole stack of things to look at when they pass through both houses,' Walker said.
Scott Walker is lying as usual. He knows perfectly well what's coming his way.

Walker has threatened to call a special session after Wisconsin's photo voter ID is declared unconstitutional in state and federal court, as is expected.

Walker does not want unfettered access to the polls for Wisconsin citizens disinclined to vote for him in November.

The anti-early voting bill, Senate Bill 324, may pass but don't fret, singling out cities to destroy the votes of those who live in cities is likely to be ruled unconstitutional.

Like restrictive, new qualifications for voting like the GOP's Voter ID, these anti-voting efforts have a way of blowing back on the Republicans.