Posts Tagged ‘voting rights’

North Carolina governor vows to fight Justice Department voter ID lawsuit

Friday, October 4th, 2013

(Guardian) North Carolina's Republican governor has pledged to fight a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice in response to a measure that introduces some of the most stringent voting laws in the country.

Governor Pat McCrory said that the lawsuit, which warns that the new restrictions are intentionally designed to set the clock back by discouraging African Americans from exerting their democratic rights, is without merit.

The lawsuit, lodged with a federal district court in North Carolina on Monday, calls for four key provisions of the state's new legislation to be blocked on grounds that they would have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. It also calls for the state to be put back into a form of federal oversight – or "pre-clearance" – that was removed in June when the US supreme court struck down elements of the Voting Rights Act that had been a cornerstone of race relations in the US since 1965.

Announcing the legal challenge, the attorney general Eric Holder said that allowing North Carolina's new restrictions to stand would be "inconsistent with our ideals as a nation … This is an intentional attempt to break a system that was working; it defies common sense."

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Monday, July 29th, 2013

(USAToday) Escalating the politically charged debate over voting rights in America, the Justice Department went to court Thursday in an attempt to require the state of Texas to get approval from the federal government before making changes to the state's voting process.

Attorney General Eric Holder told delegates to the National Urban League's conference in Philadelphia that the move was in direct response to last month's Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That provision allowed the Justice Department to take action against jurisdictions that adopted discriminatory voting laws. It has applied to Texas and eight other states, as well as to parts of six others.

"This is the department's first action to protect voting rights (since last month's Supreme Court decision), but it won't be our last,'' Holder said. "We cannot allow the slow unraveling of the progress that so many, throughout history, have sacrificed so much to achieve.''

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Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Tears Into Supreme Court For Gutting Voting Rights

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

(Think Progress) Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) urged Congress to enact legislation that would protect the freedom to vote on Tuesday, just hours after the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act that stopped discriminatory voting laws from going into effect in areas of the country with histories of disenfranchisement.

In a 5 to 4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court ruled that Section 4, which establishes the formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to federal “preclearance” of changes in election laws, is unconstitutional. Congress will now have to decide which areas of the country still deserve additional federal scrutiny.

“These men that voted to strip the Voting Rights Act of its power, they never stood in unmovable lines,” Lewis told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “They never had to pass a so-called literacy test. It took us almost 100 years to get where we are today. So will it take another 100 years to fix it, to change it?” he asked. 

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A post-racial US? In era of Obama, Supreme Court may nullify civil rights policies as outdated

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013


(StarTribune Op-Ed) Has the nation lived down its history of racism and should the law become colorblind?

Addressing two pivotal legal issues, one on affirmative action and a second on voting rights, a divided Supreme Court is poised to answer those questions.

In one case, the issue is whether race preferences in university admissions undermine equal opportunity more than they promote the benefits of racial diversity. Just this past week, justices signaled their interest in scrutinizing affirmative action very intensely, expanding their review as well to a Michigan law passed by voters that bars "preferential treatment" to students based on race. Separately in a second case, the court must decide whether race relations — in the South, particularly — have improved to the point that federal laws protecting minority voting rights are no longer warranted.

The questions are apt as the United States closes in on a demographic tipping point, when nonwhites will become a majority of the nation's population for the first time. That dramatic shift is expected to be reached within the next generation, and how the Supreme Court rules could go a long way in determining what civil rights and equality mean in an America long divided by race.

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Supreme Court Will Take New Look At Voting Rights Act

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012


(Huffington Post) The Supreme Court said Friday it will consider eliminating the government's most potent weapon against racial discrimination at polling places since the 1960s. The court acted three days after a diverse coalition of voters propelled President Barack Obama to a second term in the White House.

With a look at affirmative action in higher education already on the agenda, the court is putting a spotlight on race by re-examining the ongoing necessity of laws and programs aimed at giving racial minorities access to major areas of American life from which they once were systematically excluded.

"This is a term in which many core pillars of civil rights and pathways to opportunity hang in the balance," said Debo Adegbile, acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In an order Friday, the justices agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the part of the landmark Voting Rights Act that requires all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval before making any changes in the way they hold elections.

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Indians cross 3 million mark in US, 1 million have voting rights

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

(Times of India) They are caricatured through convenience store owner Apu in the cartoon series The Simpsons, celebrated for their victories in Spelling Bee contests and success in Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, and courted for their wealth given their status as the ethnic group with the highest per capita income in U.S. Sometimes they are also chastised for not being part of the American mainstream.

But Indian-Americans are getting there. A demographic snapshot of South Asians in the United States crunched out from the 2010 U.S Census by an NGO group shows the Indian-American population in the U.S (including multiple ethnicities) grew 68 per cent over the 2000-2010 decade from 1.9 million to 3.19 million. Counting single ethnicity (discounting mixed race), the population grew from 1.67 million to 2.84 million in the same period.

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Supreme Court takes on race cases

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

While the election of Barack Obama has signaled a more liberal attitude towards diversity in politics by the American public, we shouldn’t forget that the Supreme Court still has considerable authority over race relations through its case decisions. Here the Bush legacy lives on in the form of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Their appointments by Obama’s predecessor have turned the court far to the conservative side and their opinions thus far on race issues have not been encouraging.

This session the court will take on four significant civil rights cases.

The most high-profile case involves a promotions test for New Hampshire firefighters the results of which were set aside because no African Americans and only one Hispanic American passed. The firefighters who passed the test are suing to eliminate any diversity considerations from the promotion eligibility process.

There is also a challenge to the Voting Rights Act that questions Congress’ authority to enforce voting rights at the State and local level, an English-only case in Arizona public schools, and discriminatory lending case in New York.

The conservative leanings of the court already do not create an optimistic view toward potential rulings, but it seems that the country is in a different place on race relations since Obama’s election. The election of the first African American President has created an “anything is possible” attitude, in spite of a worsening economy, two wars raging on, and fragile international relations.

With all of these problems and a black man as President, are race relations even an issue? Stay tuned to see how the Supreme Court gives its two cents.

For more information, see related stories in the USA Today and Washington Post.

Ethnicmajority Civil Rights page.

Judges Uphold Voting Rights Act (Washington Post)

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

A federal court yesterday rejected the first legal challenge to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, in a case that legal scholars view as an important test of one of the country’s seminal pieces of civil rights legislation.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a municipal utility board in Texas, which argued that part of the law is costly and unconstitutional. Congress reauthorized the law in 2006.

The utility board is likely to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, offering opponents a chance to test the Voting Rights Act before a court that has grown more conservative in recent years.

“This has been about getting it to the Supreme Court,” said Richard Hasen, a professor at Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law. “Conservative opponents of the law have put a lot of eggs in this basket. This was set up as a test case.”

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Bills target voter intimidation (Sacramento Bee)

Friday, July 27th, 2007

One day last October, Jose Solorio was sorting through his mail at his home in Orange County when he came upon a letter written in Spanish that stunned him.

The mailer — which he later learned was sent to 14,000 other naturalized citizens with Latino surnames — warned immigrants who vote they are committing a crime punishable by jail time and deportation.

As a Santa Ana city councilman, former state Senate fellow and graduate of Harvard University’s School of Government, Solorio knew that isn’t true.

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