This was far and away the highlight of the week. The players are Rep. Paul Broun, Republican from Georgia, with an amendment to end all funding for U.S. Department of Justice enforcement of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, and civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis, Democrat from Georgia, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr.
REP. LEWIS: It is hard and difficult and almost unbelievable that any member, especially a member from the state of Georgia, would come and offer such amendment. There's a long history in our country, especially in the 11 states that are—of the old confederacy from Virginia to Texas—of discrimination based on race. On color.Rep. Broun immediately withdrew his amendment. For now, anyway. Republicans are determined to thwart the law, and with a number cases working their way through the courts challenging the Justice Department's authority to enforce the Voting Rights Act, this Supreme Court could roll the country back half a century.
Maybe some of us need to study a little contemporary history dealing with the question of voting rights. Just think, before the voting rights act of 1965, it was almost impossible for many people in the state of Georgia, in Alabama, Virginia, in Texas, to register to vote, to participate in the democratic process.[...]
It's shameful to come here tonight and say to the Department of Justice you must not use one penny, one cent, one dime, one dollar to carry out the mandate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. We should be opening up the political process and letting all our citizens come in and participate.
People died for the right to vote. Friends of mine. Colleagues of mine. Speak out against this amendment. It doesn't have a place. I yield to the chairman. This is—I agree with the chairman. This is not the place. I will not yield. I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
For more of the week's news, make the jump below the fold.
In other news:
- Daily Kos cartoonist Jen Sorensen had a great cartoon this week, inspired by Viviette Applewhite. signed our petition thanking Mrs. Applewhite for her courage in fighting back against Pennsylvania's voter supression laws, please do.
- Via Kossack Inkberries, Florida is on the hunt for voters it can strike from the rolls, whether they're eligible to vote or not:
Miami-Dade's Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley has sent a letter briefing the county's mayor and commissioner about the new effort to spot and remove ineligible non-citizen voters from the rolls. Bottom line: the burden is on the voter and, if they don't respond by mail or notice their names in a newspaper ad a month or so later, they'll be stripped from the voter rolls.The state is also trying to get access to Department of Homeland Security databases to try to locate potential non-citizen voters.
- Michigan State Sen. Bert Johnson has requested a Department of Justice investigation into the constitutionality of the state's emergency manager law.
"These all-powerful, unaccountable officials are being appointed in urban communities throughout the state, under the premise of local 'mismanagement,' despite the state's continued systemic disinvestment in these communities," Johnson wrote.That's following on a similar request from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
- A three-judge panel from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia slapped Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, warning him to "cease violating discovery deadlines and employing delay tactics" in its challenge to the Department of Justice's decision to block enforcement of the state's new voter ID law. There's a scheduled hearing on July 9, an expedited hearing requested by the state to have the voter ID issue settled in time for the election. The state, however, doesn't want to cooperate with Justice's discovery attempts, and has been delaying.
- Texas isn't the only state in trouble with the courts. Ohio Republican House leaders received a rebuke from U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, who ordered them to "cease their efforts to interfere with a federal Consent Decree that protects Ohioans’ voting rights." Thomas E. Niehaus, president of the Ohio Senate, and Louis W. Blessing, Jr., Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore, filed a case before the Ohio Supreme Court, intended to undermine the voting rights Consent Decree issued in 2008 to normalize how provisional ballots are provided and counted across the state.
The Decree protects those who lack the state-mandated forms of ID that require a person to have financial means (such as a utility bill, bank statement, or current driver’s license reflecting a current address), by ensuring that voters who provide social-security numbers to prove their identities will have their provisional ballots counted.Ohio Republicans seemed determined to do their damnedest to suppress the vote this election. As usual.
- Finally, Campus Progress has a new interactive map to track the status of various voter suppression efforts around the nation.