The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

3 years ago

Liberals don’t think minority voters in Alabama have the capacity to get a free ID (opinion)

A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Federal court challenging Alabama’s photo voter I.D. law. The suit, which was filed on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP, claims requiring voters to show photo ID is “discriminatory” and would disenfranchise over 250,000 Alabamians, many of them black and latino, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A quick Google search for the definition of the word “discriminatory” brings this back:

Discriminatory (adjective): Making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Discrimination, by its very definition, means treating groups of people differently from one another, which begs the question, how can it possibly be discriminatory to pass a law that applies equally to everyone? The answer, of course, is that it cannot, as long as the law does not place an “undue burden” on a certain group’s fundamental rights.

Many liberals insist that expecting people to prove they are who they say they are before they exercise democracy’s most sacred right — the right to vote — places an undue burden on poor people, many of them minorities.

More on that specifically in a moment, but let us first consider something deeper that is at play here — a presidential speechwriter once referred to it as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

This phrase has become one of the rallying cries for the school choice movement in America, which insists upon high achievement in every school, regardless of the racial or socioeconomic makeup of its student body.

People have a tendency to believe they are who other people say they are. For example, if students are told they should be happy with “just passing” because they come from a difficult situation, most of those children will accept that as their reality. But if those same students are told they are as talented and capable as any other students out there, and therefore should strive to be “A” students, they will more often than not rise to meet those expectations. This is sometimes as simple as a single teacher taking the time to mentor and encourage a student, but more often than not it requires immersing kids in an academic culture of high expectations.

Just take for example Brooklyn College Academy in New York City, where 100 percent of the school’s inner-city black students graduated on time in 2015, while the overall graduation rate for black males in NYC was 58 percent. The name of the school itself sets the tone. It’s a college academy. The students immediately, even if subconsciously, understand what is expected of them. The result is that the overwhelming majority of BCA’s students do indeed go on to college and ultimately on to successful careers.

That may have seemed like a digression, but it is directly related to the issue at hand. Hold on to your hats, because the PC Police are not going to like this one:

It is bigoted to suggest that minorities and lower-income individuals are somehow less capable of acquiring a free photo voter I.D. than everyone else.

This is the aforementioned soft bigotry of low expectations that liberals have so often thrived on, even before the litany of so called “Great Society” programs trapped generations of America’s poor in a dignity-robbing cycle of dependency. It is the soft bigotry of low-character faux “reverends” who traverse the country claiming to speak on behalf of minorities. And it is the soft bigotry of many Democratic politicians, who hold themselves up to be the champions of the very people whose lives they have spectacularly failed to improve for decades.

Here are some facts:

To vote in Alabama, individuals must show a photo ID. This could include a drivers license, non-driver ID, State or Federal-issued ID, US Passport, government employee ID, student ID from a public or private Alabama college, military ID, tribal ID, or, if none of those are accessible, a free photo voter ID provided by the state.

To acquire a free ID, citizens can go to their local Board of Registrars office; there is one located in every one of Alabama’s 67 counties. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s office has visited every county with a mobile photo voter ID van in an effort to reach people right in their neighborhoods.

If people cannot acquire one of these IDs at any point in a four-year period, how on Earth are they going to make it to the polls on Election Day?

Here is another fact: Data shows that voter ID laws have not had any discernible effect on voter turnout.

If that surprises you, do you also get surprised when you see someone driving a car? Because you need a photo ID for that. What about when they buy tobacco products? You need an ID for that, too. How about when someone buys a gun, or certain types of cold medicines, or gets on an airplane, or opens a bank account, or adopts a pet, of purchases alcohol, or applies for Social Security, Medicaid or welfare, or rents a house, or applies for a mortgage, or donates blood, or purchases nail polish at CVS? Every one of those actions requires a photo ID.

Conservatives believe in the capacity of every individual — regardless of their race or socioeconomic status — to do all of the things mentioned above, including acquire a photo ID to vote. Many liberals apparently do not.

And yet we’re the racists?


1
3 years ago

NAACP sues Alabama claiming the state’s photo voter I.D. law is ‘discriminatory’

(Photo: Flickr)
(Photo: Flickr)

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Federal court challenging Alabama’s photo voter I.D. law. The suit, which was filed on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP, claims requiring voters to show photo I.D. is “discriminatory” and would disenfranchise over 250,000 Alabamians, many of them black and latino, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“The State’s deliberate decision to enforce this discriminatory photo ID law, followed by the DMV office closures, has compelled us to take action,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. “It is appalling that sixty years after Rosa Parks’ courageous protest in Montgomery and fifty years after voting rights activists marched in Selma, the Alabama Legislature continues to pass laws that are designed to deprive people of color of their basic civil rights.”

“Alabama’s legacy of discrimination against black and latino people means that people of color are much more likely to live in poverty than white people, and much less likely to possess photo IDs,” added Liliana Zaragoza, a litigation fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

As evidence for their claims, plaintiffs in the case detail the story of an 18-year-old high school student referred to as “G.A.,” who they say will not be able to vote because she does not have transportation and budget cuts forced the closure of the DMV closest to her home.

“G.A. does not own a car, nor has she ever driven one,” the complaint explains. “Her parents have access to vehicles, but both parents work full-time and are unable to drive G.A. to Sheffield during that ALEA office’s normal hours… [I]t would be unduly burdensome for G.A. or her parents to take time off from work or school to go to the ALEA offices in Sheffield or Franklin County during those offices’ limited hours of operation.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill rejected the suit offhand, saying photo voter I.D. is in no way a barrier to voting, much less discriminatory.

“We want to make it real easy to vote and real hard to cheat,” Secretary Merrill said in a statement. “As of today, there have been no credible reports of a lack of ability for someone to cast their vote because of this law.”

Merrill, who is responsible for administering and overseeing the state’s elections, says there will still be multiple opportunities for people in every county to obtain an I.D. — including a free state-issued voter I.D. — prior to election day.

“All 67 counties in Alabama have a Board of Registrars that issue photo voter I.D. cards,” he said. “If for some reason those citizens are not able to make it to the Board of Registrars, we’ll bring our mobile I.D. van and crew to that county.” The van has already visited every county in the state at least once this year.

Drivers licenses are just one of the many forms of identification accepted at Alabama’s polling places. Other forms of acceptable I.D. include non-driver I.D., Alabama Photo Voter I.D. card, State Issued I.D., Federal Issued I.D., U.S. Passport, Employee I.D. from the Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board or other entity of Alabama, Student or employee I.D. from a public of private college or university in the State of Alabama, Military I.D., or a Tribal I.D.

In spite of the wide variety of useable forms of identification and the state’s free voter I.D. offering, many Democrats have continued to criticize the photo voter I.D. law.

At a reception in honor of Black History Month last year, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter I.D. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said that “it’s a blast from the Jim Crow past” and Jesse Jackson claimed that “this new Jim Crow isn’t subtle.”

Hans A. von Spakovsky, the Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, dismisses such criticisms.

“It’s really a sign of how desperate critics of voter-ID laws are that they would raise such inflammatory, ridiculous claims,” he said. “Alabama’s new voter-ID law for both in-person and absentee voting went into effect last year. Despite the outcries that it would ‘suppress’ votes, there have been no problems or complaints that anyone has been unable to vote because of the new requirement. It’s been the same in all of the other states, such as Georgia and Indiana, that have implemented such ID laws. I’ve written numerous papers looking at turnout data in states after ID laws became effective — ID laws have no discernible effect on decreasing or preventing turnout.”

The NAACP’s lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Alabama. Governor Robert Bentley said in a statement that he will be reviewing the suit.

“Voting rights are important to every citizen, and it is imperative that every Alabamian who is eligible to vote have the ability to vote,” he said. “A photo ID protects the process of voting and ensures fair elections are held.”


1
3 years ago

AL lawmakers lead effort to award America’s highest civilian honor to Selma marchers

Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

WASHINGTON — Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation Thursday to award the highest civilian honor to the Selma marchers whose bravery created a turning point in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“It is fitting that we honor the courage and determination of the civil rights marchers at Selma 50 years ago,” Senator Sessions in a release Thursday. “This was a truly pivotal event in the drive to achieve the right to vote for all Americans—a right which had systematically been denied. This action was historic and dealt a major blow to the deliberate discrimination that existed, producing a positive and lasting change for America. Those who stood tall for freedom on that fateful day deserve to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

The medal would honor the “foot soldiers” who participated in the “Bloody Sunday” march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, “Turnaround Tuesday,” or the final march from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965. The violent and traumatic events of the marches, which are depicted in the recent film “Selma,” are credited with helping to trigger the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited the voting disenfranchisement of African Americans.

“We are forever indebted to those brave Americans—men and women of diverse age, color, and creed—who gathered in Selma 50 years ago to march on the frontlines in the fight for equality and justice,” said Senator Booker. “As an American who stands on the shoulders of their courageous sacrifice, I am proud to honor these unsung heroes who victoriously overcame bigotry and hate by walking in unwavering love and peace.”

Alabama Congresswomen Martha Roby (R-AL2) and Terri Sewell (D-AL7) sponsored the House version of the bill, which had 303 co-sponsors and passed unanimously by a vote of 420-0 on February 11th. The Senate bill has 66 co-sponsors so far, including Alabama’s senior Senator, Richard Shelby (R). The bill needs one more co-sponsor before it is eligible to be considered by the Senate Banking Committee, which Sen. Shelby chairs.

Once the bill is passed and signed by the President, the sponsors of the legislation will meet with the US Mint to design the medal itself, which must then be approved by the Secretary of Treasury before being cast at the Philadelphia Mint. Traditionally, brass replicas of the medal are also sold as souvenirs to help cover the costs.

In March, leaders from across the world, including President Obama, will participate in a commemorative march in Selma recognizing the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement.


1
4 years ago

What’s wrong with Hollywood? ‘Selma’ movie shot in Alabama has glaring flaw (opinion)

President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes Martin Luther King Jr.’s hand on Aug. 6, 1965, at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act. (Photo: Yoichi R. Okamoto/LBJ Library)
President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes Martin Luther King Jr.’s hand on Aug. 6, 1965, at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act. (Photo: Yoichi R. Okamoto/LBJ Library)

The author of this op-ed, Joseph A. Califano Jr., was President Lyndon Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969.


What’s wrong with Hollywood?

The makers of the new movie “Selma” apparently just couldn’t resist taking dramatic, trumped-up license with a true story that didn’t need any embellishment to work as a big-screen historical drama. As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself.

In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him.

On Jan. 15, 1965, LBJ talked to King by telephone about his intention to send a voting rights act to Congress: “There is not going to be anything as effective, though, Doctor, as all [blacks] voting.”

Johnson then articulated a strategy for drawing attention to the injustice of using literacy tests and other barriers to stop black Southerners from voting. “We take the position,” he said, “that every person born in this country, when he reaches a certain age, that he have a right to vote . . .whether it’s a Negro, whether it’s a Mexican, or who it is. . . . I think you can contribute a great deal by getting your leaders and you, yourself, taking very simple examples of discrimination; where a [black] man’s got . . . to quote the first 10 Amendments, . . . and some people don’t have to do that, but when a Negro comes in he’s got to do it, and if we can, just repeat and repeat and repeat.

“And if you can find the worst condition that you run into in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana or South Carolina . . . and if you just take that one illustration and get it on radio, get it on television, get it in the pulpits, get it in the meetings, get it everyplace you can. Pretty soon the fellow that didn’t do anything but drive a tractor will say, ‘Well, that’s not right, that’s not fair,’ and then that will help us on what we’re going to shove through [Congress] in the end.”

King agreed, and LBJ added, sealing the deal, “And if we do that we will break through. It will be the greatest breakthrough of anything, not even excepting this ’64 [Civil Rights] Act, I think the greatest achievement of my administration.”

Selma was the worst place King could find. Johnson met with King on Feb. 9 and heard about King’s choice, a place where just 335 of about 10,000 registered voters were black — despite a population that was 60 percent African American. Johnson thought the public pressure generated by a march from Selma to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, would be helpful, and he hoped there would be no violence. But there was. On March 7, march leader John Lewis was clubbed to the ground; two days later, when another march attempt was staged, a white minister from Boston was killed. Summoned to the White House, Alabama Gov. George Wallace told LBJ that he couldn’t protect the marchers. That gave the president the opportunity to federalize the Alabama National Guard to protect them.

On March 15, Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress to propose his Voting Rights Act. When the president intoned the anthem of the civil rights movement, “And we shall overcome,” John Lewis, watching the address on television with King, said that King cried.

When the march resumed a third time, on March 17, Johnson made sure the demonstrators would be protected. I was then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s special assistant. My job was to report to the White House every couple of hours on the progress and protection of the marchers until they reached Montgomery.

For the truth about Johnson, the Voting Rights Act and Selma, listen to the tape of the LBJ-MLK telephone conversation and read my numerous reports to the White House, which have been on the LBJ Presidential Library Web site for years.

All this material was publicly available to the producers, the writer of the screenplay and the director of this film. Why didn’t they use it? Did they feel no obligation to check the facts? Did they consider themselves free to fill the screen with falsehoods, immune from any responsibility to the dead, just because they thought it made for a better story?

Contrary to the portrait painted by “Selma,” Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. were partners in this effort. Johnson was enthusiastic about voting rights and the president urged King to find a place like Selma and lead a major demonstration. That’s three strikes for “Selma.” The movie should be ruled out this Christmas and during the ensuing awards season.


Joseph Anthony Califano, Jr. is a former United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and the founder and former chairman of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. You can reach him at jcalifano@casacolumbia.org.

1
4 years ago

Ala. House Speaker hammers VP Biden for photo voter ID comments

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

At a reception in honor of Black History Month on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard responded to Biden’s comments today, suggesting the vice president and the rest of the Obama Administration concentrate on fixing the ObamaCare “disaster” and leave Alabama’s elections to the state. Hubbard also made it clear that “hatred” had nothing to do with the passage of Alabama’s photo voter ID law.

“The only things we hate in Alabama are voter fraud and liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. trying to tell us how to run our state,” Hubbard told Yellowhammer. “There is nothing more sacred than the right to vote and we’re doing everything we can to protect that right for citizens of all colors. Seems to me like Joe Biden and the rest of the Obama Administration need to be focused on fixing the disaster that is ObamaCare and reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending. If Obama and Biden can’t even get a website to work, why would we take advice from them on how to run our elections?”

Alabama’s photo voter ID law kicks in this year, but voters without photo identification have two options to get a free ID to meet the requirement. They can either go to the Dept. of Public Safety office in their county and acquire a free non-drivers ID card or go to their local Board of Registrars office to get a free photo ID there.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Vice President Joe Biden during a vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden during a vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012

At a reception in honor of Black History Month on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

Alabama’s photo voter ID law kicks in this year, but voters without photo identification have two options to get a free ID to meet the requirement. They can either go to the Dept. of Public Safety office in their county and acquire a free non-drivers ID card or go to their local Board of Registrars office to get a free photo ID there.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Alabama has played a significant role in the history of U.S. voting laws.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in response to racial discrimination in voting, which was prevalent in Alabama and other areas of the country for decades. Section 5 of the Act required certain states and local governments with a history of discrimination to receive “pre-clearance” by the U.S. Attorney General or a panel of U.S. District Court judges before making any changes to their voting laws or practices.

Shelby County, Ala. sued the U.S. Attorney General in 2011 claiming that portions of the Act were unconstitutional. The case ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court last year. The Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the formula used to determine which areas were subjected to pre-clearance was unconstitutional, effectively gutting the law.

“Alabama has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years, and this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that progress,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said at the time. “We will not tolerate discrimination in Alabama.”

But a group of federal lawmakers in January introduced a bill in response to the Court’s decision. Vice President Biden said on Tuesday that he hopes it will pass.

“This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win,” he said.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
5 years ago

Flashback 2006: Jo Bonner, Terry Everett voted against Voting Rights Act of 1965 renewal

WASHINGTON – Back in 2006, there were only two Alabama congressmen that voted against the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had parts declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, and then-Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, were the only two of Alabama’s two senators and seven congressmen to vote against the 25-year extension. The extension passed overwhelmingly in both chambers, 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.

According to the record of the debate of the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 from July 13, 2006, Everett had made many of the same arguments the high court made in its majority opinion.

“I am disappointed that the House chose not to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act when it reauthorized the measure,” Everett argued. “The whole debate was cast as either you’re for the Voting Rights Act or you’re not. There was no attention paid to the fact that the Act’s formulas are out of date and place the Act itself at risk of constitutional challenge. As a result, states like Alabama continue to be punished for wrongs committed 40 years ago and the same criteria will remain in effect for another 25 years, through 2032.”

“The Voting Rights Act remains locked in a time-warp reflecting the voting realities of 1964, not 2006. The very constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act may be in question,” he added. “The Supreme Court found more than 30 years ago that the Act’s formula, which is based on the 1964, 1968 and 1972 presidential election voting data, was constitutional because it is was temporary and narrowly tailored to address a specific problem. Thirty years have since passed calling into question the basis of this ruling.”

Bonner, who announced last month he was stepping down from his First Congressional District post effective mid-August, had similar reasoning at the time in his opposition to the Voting Rights Act’s renewal.

“I regret that we were not able to be bold enough to say to the southern States which have shown so much progress that, after 40 years of advancement, we are now ready to move forward and give those areas where the sins of our fathers are no longer committed an opportunity to come out from under the burden of crawling to the U.S. Justice Department, on bended knee, and asking for its blessing to continue on the march for equality.”


What else is going on?
1. Obama declares war
2. Sewell: Injustices suffered on Bloody Sunday in 1965 have ‘not been fully vindicated’
3. Sarah Palin coming back to Alabama
4. To D.C. & back again, will Wells Griffith run for Congress?
5. SCOTUS rules in favor of Shelby County in Voting Rights Act case

1
5 years ago

Sewell: Injustices suffered on Bloody Sunday in 1965 have ‘not been fully vindicated’


Above: Rep. Terri Sewell expresses her disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday afternoon following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Shelby Co. v. Holder case that struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, expressed her disappointment and called the occasion a “sad day” for Alabama. She also suggested there has yet to be sufficient vindication for the Bloody Sunday event in 1965.

“This is indeed a sad day for our nation, but it’s especially a sad day for my home state of Alabama,” Sewell said. “As a native of Selma, Ala. and as a member that currently represents the civil rights district of Alabama, I can tell you that I know that the injustice suffered on that bridge, the Edmond Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965 has not been fully vindicated. I think it is ironic that the very state that caused us to get us the Voting Rights Act is now being used by our Supreme Court to dismantle that very law.”

Sewell cited the Department of Justice’s action against the City of Calera in Shelby County back in 2009 that eliminated the city’s sole majority African-American district at the time as proof there is still a need for that provision of the Voting Rights Act.

“But I think that as long as there are facts like the facts in the Shelby County case, which so clearly demonstrate that there is so much work to be done — the fact of the matter is that without preclearance, Calera, the city of Calera, county of Shelby, redrew the line such that an African-American city council member would lose and the discriminatory effect was that he lost, he lost that election,” she said. “This wasn’t in 1965. This wasn’t in 1970 or 1980. This was in my lifetime. This was but a few years ago. I think it’s unacceptable.”

“And as long as there are voters whose rights need to be protected, there is a need for the Voting Rights Act,” she continued. “Now we in Congress have an opportunity, an opportunity to develop another coverage formula. But I can tell you whatever coverage formula that is developed, I can’t imagine that my state, Alabama, would not continue to fall under it. It’s disheartening for me because I know that so much progress has taken place, but the unfortunate reality is there is still so much work to be done.”

Sewell closed her remarks from the House Press Gallery by calling on her colleagues to do as Chief Justice John Roberts had suggested in his 5-4 majority opinion, which was have Congress revise Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act so that it is adapted to 2013.

“I look forward to joining with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get that work done so that the effects of Section 5 will continue to be available,” Sewell said. “I would have never thought that I, a beneficiary of the civil rights movement, would be on stage today with John Lewis, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn and so many of my colleagues fighting still for the protection of a fundamental right to vote. The right to vote is sacred and we who are in Congress — Republicans and Democrats, should be fighting for that right, not looking to restrict it. And the very fact that in this past election, we had 38 states, including Alabama that had voter ID laws looking to restrict people’s rights to vote. We have to stand up. We have to stand up. And I look forward to joining my colleagues and standing up for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and for the protections of minority rights.”


Related:
1. Terri Sewell applauds Supreme Court ruling against voter ID laws

What else is going on?
1. Sarah Palin coming back to Alabama
2. To D.C. & back again, will Wells Griffith run for Congress?
3. SCOTUS rules in favor of Shelby County in Voting Rights Act case
4. Mike Rogers to Obama: Get serious about border security
5. Mo Brooks: fire federal employees who refuse to testify before congress

1
5 years ago

SCOTUS rules in favor of Shelby County in Voting Rights Act case

WASHINGTON – In a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional in much-anticipated decision on the Shelby County v. Holder case.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the formula in Section 4 “is unconstitutional in light of current conditions” and called on Congress to revise the formula based on that.

The court did not rule on Section 5, the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, but without Section 4 defining what areas are held to Section 5, Section 5 is inoperable.

One practical implication of the Court’s decision is that states may no longer be forced to maintain their current number majority-minority districts. Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District, for instance, is comprised of roughly 63% minorities. It is highly unlikely that that would change, but similar districts throughout states previously subject to pre-clearance by the Justice Department could see changes to the demographic makeup of their current majority-minority districts in the years ahead.

“The Alabama of today is vastly different than the one of a half century ago, and the time for us to be freed from the burden of federal oversight is long overdue,” Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said in reaction to the Court’s ruling. “Today’s ruling clearly states that our constitutional rights as Alabamians take precedence over the wants and whims of liberal Justice Department bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Starting today, Alabama will be able determine its own destiny when it comes to campaigns, elections and voting procedures in our state.”

Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, Alabama’s chief elections officer, expressed her support of the Court’s decision.

“We are not the same state we were decades ago and I am glad that the majority of the Supreme Court recognizes that fact,” Chapman said. “Alabama has made great progress in our elections process.”

She also pointed out that the provision of the Voting Rights Act by which voter discrimination can be prosecuted still stands.

“If there is a time or circumstance where a voter feels there has been any discrimination regarding the elections process, then Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act will provide a way for that case to be heard as it should,” Chapman said.

Governor Robert Bentley agreed with Chapman that discrimination should not be tolerated, and said the Supreme Court recognized the progress states like Alabama have made in that regard over the last half century. “Alabama has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years, and this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that progress,” Bentley said. “We will not tolerate discrimination in Alabama.”

State Senator Cam Ward of Shelby County told Yellowhammer, “It’s absurd to use the same formula, procedures and guidelines that were used in 1966. Things have changed. We’ve elected minorities all across the board in Shelby County. The Supreme Court made the right decision.”

Here is a map of all states covered by the Voting Rights Act:


What else is going on?
1. Mike Rogers to Obama: Get serious about border security
2. Mo Brooks: fire federal employees who refuse to testify before congress
3. 15 Republican senators join Democrats to advance immigration bill (Sessions & Shelby vote “nay”)
4. Alabama braces for Obama climate change announcement
5. Sessions continues fighting on eve of 1,200-page immigration amendment vote

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