Obama Administration to Mount Aggressive Effort to Counter SCOTUS Ruling on Voting Rights Act

voting2 Obama Administration to Mount Aggressive Effort to Counter SCOTUS Ruling on Voting Rights Act

Obama Administration to Mount Aggressive Effort to Counter SCOTUS Ruling on Voting Rights Act

The Obama Administration announced Thursday that is is mounting a huge effort to counter the Supreme Court’s recent gutting a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Attorney General Eric Holder said during a speech at the National Urban League conference in Philadelphia, that the Justice Department will urge a federal judge to subject the state of Texas to the pre-clearance procedure the court largely gutted in July, Politico reports.

The Washington Post reports the federal government’s request will come in a lawsuit Hispanic lawmakers filed challenging Texas’ redistricting plan based on the 2010 census.

“Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination….as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized, we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices,” Holder said.

Here’s an excerpt from Eric Holder’s speech:

For nearly five decades, this requirement – called “preclearance” – served as a potent tool for addressing inequities in our election systems.  Although preclearance originated during the Civil Rights Movement – and was informed by a history of discrimination – the conduct that it was intended to address continues to this day.  Preclearance has proven to be an effective mechanism that puts on hold any new voting changes until they have been subjected to a fair, and thorough, review. This process regularly resulted in approvals for impartial voting changes.  But it also allowed the Justice Department to work with covered jurisdictions to address problems wherever they occurred – protecting the ability of all eligible citizens to participate in the process of self-governance.

In fact, just last year, a federal court noted the “vital function” the Voting Rights Act played in protecting African American voters who would have been disproportionately impacted by a photo ID law in South Carolina.  It prompted the state to change the way its new voting statute will be implemented in future elections to eliminate what would have been a dramatic discriminatory effect.  Another court cited the Voting Rights Act in blocking a Texas congressional redistricting map that would have discriminated against Latino voters. And in that ruling, the court noted that the parties “provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”

As these and many other cases demonstrate; as too many voters have seen firsthand; and as every member of the Supreme Court acknowledged in the Shelby decision – in the words of the Chief Justice: “voting discrimination still exists: no one doubts that.” Although mandated by the Constitution, voting rights are not always guaranteed – in practice – without robust enforcement.  That’s why, despite the Court’s decision, I believe we must regard this setback not as a defeat, but as an historic opportunity:  for Congress to restore, and even to strengthen, modern voting protections.

After all, this has never been a partisan issue.  Every reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by a Republican president.  It’s a question of our values as a nation. It goes to the heart of who we are as a people.  And it’s incumbent upon Congressional leaders from both parties to guarantee that every eligible American will always have equal access to the polls; to ensure that we will never turn our back on the hard-won progress of the last hundred years; and to consider new solutions that are equal to the challenges of the 21st century.

Five Things to Know Today Feb. 28: Bob Woodward Accuses White House of Threatening Him

 Five Things to Know Today Feb. 28:  Bob Woodward Accuses White House of Threatening Him

Five things to know today, Feb. 28:  Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, is accusing the White House of threatening him; Steven Spielberg to head Cannes jury; Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Vatican and Republicans pick convicted felon to run for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat.

1. BENEDICT XVI LEAVES THE VATICAN

Pope Benedict XVI spent his last night in the Vatican apartment he’s lived in for the past eight years on Wednesday night. After saying goodbye to the Cardinals at about 1 p.m. local time, he will depart by helicopter to the Vatican retreat Castle Gandolf, ABC News reports.

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2. BOB WOODWARD FEUDS WITH THE WHITE HOUSE ON BUDGET CUTS

Veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, claims that the White House threatened him over a recent story in which he questioned President Obama’s account of how the sequester came to be. Buzzfeed reports that that official is Gene Sperling, who heads the White House Economic Council. Woodward said the official “yelled at me for about a half hour.” The official then followed up with an email apologizing, and said, “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest…. I think you will regret staking out that claim.” Um, one problem.  Politico obtained the chain of emails and Bob Woodward didn’t make a big deal out of the so-called threat.

Politico — Woodward to Sperling: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob
making a big deal out of the kind of heated exchange that occurs frequently in Washington.

Of course, when it involves President Obama, any disagreement is magnified 100 times over. [Politico]

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3. U.S. TO PROVIDE FOOD, MEDICINE ONLY TO SYRIAN REBELS
Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama administration had decided to send aid such as food and medical supplies directly to Syrian rebels for the first time. He said the U.S. would more than double its assistance to the Syrian opposition, giving it an extra $60 million. This is disappointing to some opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who had hoped they would receive arms. [Reuters]

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4. U.S. SUPREME COURT SET STRIKE DOWN VOTING RIGHTS ACT PRECLEARANCE CLAUSE

Thanks to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is on the verge of declaring racism is over  in the U.S. The court is hearing arguments in a case brought by Bert Rein, the attorney who is challenging preclearance clause in the the Voting Rights Act on behalf of Shelby Count.  He maintains that preclearance is no longer needed.  “That problem is solved.”

Mother Jones:  “That’s not to say all discrimination is a thing of the past. In the eyes of the high court’s conservatives, America has transcended its tragic history of disenfranchising minorities, but there’s still one kind of discrimination that matters: Discrimination against the states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “sort of extraordinary to say” that “Congress can just pick out…these eight states,” referring to the states covered by Section 5.”

“Later, Scalia telegraphed his reasoning for what will almost certainly be a vote to strike down part of the law. Explaining overwhelming support for the Voting Rights Act reauthorization in Congress in 2006, Scalia called Section 5 the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement” that legislators would never have the courage to overturn. “In the House there are practically black districts by law now,” Scalia complained. (In Mississippi, a state which Roberts would later cite as a paradise of racial enlightenment, state lawmakers in the early 1990s referred to these as “n*gger districts.”)”

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5. REPUBLICAN VOTERS PICK CONVICTED FELON PAUL MCKINLEY TO RUN FOR JESSE JACKSON JR. SEAT

The GOP is truly the party of double standards. Republican voters picked convicted felon Paul McKinley as their nominee to run for the seat recently vacated by former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Paul McKinley, who served nearly 20 years in state prison for burglaries, armed robberies and aggravated battery, beat businessman Eric Wallace (R) by 23 votes.

 Five Things to Know Today Feb. 28:  Bob Woodward Accuses White House of Threatening Him