Jan 17, 2014

Don't Trust James Sensenbrenner on Voting Right Act

James Sensenbrenner - Protector of
Republican Voter Obstruction
Update II: Sensenbrenner is also one of only six serving in Congress today who opposed the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What a hypocrite.

Update: Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down GOP's New Voter ID Law, the injunction and opinion is at Applewhite et al v. Pennsylvania.

American democracy—Freedom and the right to vote, the light of the world

No kids, in America the Republican Party is hostile to these rights. For the GOP voting is a privilege reserved for those who vote the correct way, and the GOP continues its assault against the fundamental right of our democracy.

Now, the Republican Party is trying to codify and enshrine its state-level voter obstruction project that it says is perfectly in keeping with its 'fix' to the Voting Rights Act.

The national press is maintaining the pretension that Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-White People) cares about fixing the Voting Rights Act eviscerated by Sensenbrenner's GOP colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Shelby County v. Holder.

Several liberal writers think it's the only shot at getting a weak repair to the Voting Rights Act through Congress. This effort is a crock.

The Republican voter obstruction project has as one of its primary tools: GOP-crafted state voter ID laws enacted with unanimous GOP support and unanimous opposition from civil rights groups and the Democratic Party.

Voter ID laws make it more difficult to vote for disaffected veterans, minorities, colleges students and other demographics not aware of their duty to vote Republican.

Such state voter obstruction laws are the policy rationale behind the Voting Rights Act (1965) and its reauthorizations.

But Sensenbrenner loves voter obstruction, Voter ID laws, slashing early voting, gerrymandering, and other GOP tricks to keep people from voting.

Steve Benen, writing for MSNBC, is one of the writers who likes to pretend Sensenbrenner is a champion of voting rights, while noting this new 'fix' of the Voting Rights Act is a bill that Sensenbrenner acclaims "includes strong, nationwide anti-discrimination protections and continues to permit states to enact reasonable voter-ID laws. Therefore, it prevents racial-discrimination and gives states the ability to address voter fraud."

That there is virtually no in-person voter fraud is, in the minds of Benen and Sensenbrenner, of no consequence.

As for Voter ID laws, what's "reasonable" in Sensenbrenner's mind? Texas and Wisconsin's restrictive Voter ID laws are.

Here's what Sensenbrenner had to say about Texas in August last year: "

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. What guts.

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.

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