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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Provision Of Law Meant To Protect Minority Voters

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Author Topic: Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Provision Of Law Meant To Protect Minority Voters  (Read 603 times)
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« on: June 25, 2013, 09:21:00 am »

Not that it matters, as elections are rigged anyways(ie-technically, Romney won in a landslide last year)...

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Provision Of Law Meant To Protect Minority Voters
6/25/13
http://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-says-voting-rights-act-is-unconstitutional-2013-6

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states to get permission from the U.S. before changing their election laws.

The court ruled that Section 4's formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance, SCOTUSBlog reported.

Section 5 of the VRA requires 9 states with histories of discrimination (mostly in the South) to get permission from the federal government before changing their voting procedures.

The VRA was passed in 1965, when Southern states used more blatant tactics to keep blacks away from the polls such as literacy tests and "poll taxes."

In recent years, the U.S. government has used Section 5 to stop states from passing laws that serve no real purpose other than keeping likely Democrats out of voting booths.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FWIW, Southern states vote GOP anyways...
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 09:48:26 am »

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/washington/20130625-supreme-court-strikes-down-voting-rights-act-formula-that-put-heightened-scrutiny-on-texas.ece
6/25/13
Supreme Court strikes down Voting Rights Act formula that put heightened scrutiny on Texas

TODD J. GILLMAN
 
Washington Bureau Chief

Published: 25 June 2013 09:26 AM

Updated: 25 June 2013 09:32 AM

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court has struck down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act that has long put Texas and most of the South under federal scrutiny.

The historic ruling, by Chief Justice John Roberts, finds that the current formula for picking which states face such hurdles is outdated and unconstitutional. Until Congress devises a new formula that passes muster, these states no longer need to seek Justice Department approval ahead of time for new voter ID rules, congressional maps and other changes.

The court emphasized that other elements of the landmark law, enacted in 1965 and amended and extended several times since, remain in place. Allegations of bias can still be brought to court after the fact under Section 2, another provision.

“Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2. We issue no holding on [Section] 5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions,” Roberts wrote.

The ruling is here.

In practice, divisions in Congress — where Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate — suggest that it would be unlikely for lawmakers to quickly hammer out a new formula to subject certain states and not others to heightened federal scrutiny. GOP mistrust of the Obama administration Justice Department is running high, as well, making it even less likely Republicans would eagerly restore the authority the Roberts court stripped today.

The Feb. 27 oral arguments exposed a gaping ideological chasm among the justices.

Members of the court’s liberal wing found it hard to accept the argument that discrimination in the South and other targeted states has subsided enough to end decades of scrutiny.

Conservatives openly questioned the justification for treating states differently — particularly when some states that escape extra scrutiny have worse track records on discrimination in recent years.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote in divisive cases, expressed concern at the time about putting states under a sort of federal “trusteeship.”

The case hinged on the future of Section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

That provision requires covered jurisdictions to seek permission — known as preclearance — from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington before making any election changes, from moving a polling site to redrawing the maps used to elect school boards, city councils, state legislators and members of Congress.

Even without that provision, Section 2 of the law allows for lawsuits after the fact nationwide
. But the Obama administration argued that going to court after a violation doesn’t create the same deterrent because that costs too much and takes too much time.

With lawsuits as the only recourse, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli told the justices, “You’re never going to get at all these thousands of under-the-radar changes.”

The lawyer for Shelby County, Ala., which brought the challenge, implored the justices to lift the “stigma of prior restraint.”

Section 5 covers Texas and eight other states, mostly in the South: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. Parts of six other states are also covered: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Dakota and South Dakota. (Full list here.)

Jurisdictions can apply for bailout once they show they have not engaged in discrimination for 10 years, and a number have done so. The Justice Department has regularly found violations in Texas, however. Each violation resets the 10-year clock.

Since Texas came under the Voting Rights Act in 1975 for discrimination against Latino voters, Section 5 has been invoked to block more than 200 changes to election procedure.

The provision has been used to block gerrymandered political maps each of the last four decades. Last summer, a federal court made yet another such finding, days before another court blocked Texas’ strict new voter ID law, finding unanimously that it would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.”

Critics say the law would have left 795,000 registered voters without an acceptable ID.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued in a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Shelby County that federal oversight thwarts legitimate state policy-making. He alleged “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” but the Obama Justice Department.

Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006 for 25 years with support from lawmakers in most every covered jurisdiction. The votes were overwhelming: 98-0 in the Senate, 390-33 in the House. President George W. Bush signed the extension into law.

At oral arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia brushed aside the significance of the lopsided congressional votes, calling it natural for politicians to avoid offending constituents. He left little mystery about his sympathies, calling the Voting Rights Act “the perpetuation of racial entitlement” – a comment the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, called “the height of insult.”

The Supreme Court all but invited a challenge to Section 5 in a case decided three years ago. That case involved a small utility district in northwest Austin that had no history of racial discrimination. With support from all but one justice, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that the time was nearing for the court to revisit formulas used to decide which states get extra federal scrutiny.

Shelby County, near Birmingham, has lost more than 240 discrimination cases. For minority advocates, that made it a poster child for why preclearance is needed.
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2013, 09:51:07 am »

Hhhhmmm...looks like the whole ruling from the USSC may be nothing but a dog and pony show(given the facts from the article in the above post)...

This isn't going away - not that it matters b/c elections are rigged to begin with.

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 09:58:55 am »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/25/supreme-court-shelby-voting-rights-alabama-congress-race/2116491/
6/25/13
Supreme Court limits key part of Voting Rights Act

Quote
Tuesday's opinion did not invalidate the Voting Rights Act's "preclearance" requirement outright. Instead, Roberts said Congress failed to update the formula it used to determine which states and counties would be covered by that requirement to take account of changing circumstances in the South. That failure, Roberts wrote, left the court "with no choice" but to declare Congress' formula unconstitutional.

Still, Roberts wrote, "our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting." He said "Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions."


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-25/voting-rights-act-provision-struck-down-by-u-s-supreme-court.html
6/25/13
Voting Rights Act Provision Struck Down by U.S. High Court

Quote
The justices, voting 5-4, said Congress lacked grounds for requiring some states, and not others, to get federal approval before changing their election rules. The ruling effectively invalidates that requirement while leaving open the possibility that Congress could enact a new method for determining which states are covered.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 10:01:49 am by BornAgain2 » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 10:21:46 am »

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/14059113/ns/politics/t/bush-signs-voting-rights-act-extension/
Bush signs Voting Rights Act extension

Historic 1965 law renewed for 25 years


updated 7/27/2006 11:27:29 PM ET

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday signed legislation extending for 25 years the Voting Rights Act, the historic 1965 law which opened polls to millions of black Americans by outlawing racist voting practices in the South. "Congress has reaffirmed its belief that all men are created equal," he declared.

Bush signed the bill amid fanfare and before an South Lawn audience that included members of Congress, civil rights leaders and family members of civil rights leaders of the recent past. It was one of a series of high-profile ceremonies the president is holding to sign popular bills into law.

The Republican controlled Congress, eager to improve its standing with minorities ahead of the November elections, pushed the bill through even though key provisions were not set to expire until next year.

"The right of ordinary men and women to determine their own political future lies at the heart of the American experiment," Bush said. He said the Voting Rights Act proposed and signed by then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 "broke the segregationist lock on the voting box."

Later Thursday, Bush is to sign another bill sure to resonate with voters in this congressional election year: legislation establishing a national Internet database designed to let law enforcement and communities know where convicted sex offenders live and work.

By contrast, Bush chose to exercise the first veto of his 51/2 years as president in privacy last week, with no audience, no cameras, no reporters. The bill he vetoed would have expanded federally funded research of embryonic stem cells, which is opposed by social conservatives but has wide support among the rest of the public.

White House officials said an open ceremony to veto a bill seemed inappropriate, although other presidents have done just that. Forty minutes after the Oval Office veto, Bush gave a major address on the issue in the East Room, open to the press and surrounded by families who have "adopted" leftover frozen embryos and used them to bear children.

In May, Bush took to the South Lawn to sign into law a bill that extended $70 billion in previously passed tax cuts. That package was also seen by Republicans as an opportunity to boost the popularity of the president and the Republican-controlled Congress

The South Lawn is hardly a common venue for presidential bill-signings, which usually occur in an office building next to the White House or, for particularly important legislation, in the East Room. The majestic backyard of the White House is typically reserved for pomp-filled welcoming ceremonies for foreign leaders or large social affairs like the annual Easter egg roll.

On Wednesday, workers scurried to get the expanse of lawn ready for the Voting Rights Act signing, setting up water stations and a large stage for Bush and the bill's primary supporters.

The list of some of the 600 expected guests reads like a who's-who of prominent black leaders and civil rights veterans: the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson; friends and relatives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks; Dorothy Height, the longtime chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women; and National Urban League head Marc Morial. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, despite its rocky history with Bush, was sending several representatives, including current president Bruce Gordon, chairman Julian Bond and former head Benjamin Hooks.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have used the occasion of the Voting Rights Act extension to criticize Bush's administration for politicizing civil rights policy and weakening enforcement of the law's provisions.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 98-0 and the House 390-33. The overwhelming majorities belied the difficulties getting to that point.

Some Southern lawmakers rebelled against renewing a law that requires their states to continue to win Justice Department approval before changing any voting rules -- punishment, they said, for racist practices that were overcome long ago. The states whose voting procedures still are overseen by the federal government are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Other conservatives balked at provisions requiring jurisdictions with large populations of non-English-speaking citizens to print ballots in languages other than English.

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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 03:35:40 pm »

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/25/19134566-a-divided-congress-gets-political-hot-potato-from-high-court?lite
6/25/13
A divided Congress gets political hot potato from high court

Analysis -- A divided Congress faces skepticism about its ability to function as it now meets the challenge of revising a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. And recent history provides ample evidence to fuel the lack of optimism in handling this political hot potato.

The current Congress has been unable to pass bills on issues from gun control to the budget and even the farm bill. Matters once considered routine have been hung up by partisanship and ideology. The last Congress was the least productive in history when quantified by passed legislation, and this Congress is not far off that pace.

Now that the Supreme Court dropped a landmark legislative decision in Congress’s hands Tuesday, it’s difficult to see the political will to handle such a politically sensitive issue, one wrapped up in race, voting rights and charges of voter suppression and fraud.   

“The Supreme Court effectively kicked this back across the street to Congress, but in practice. In reality it’s probably the death knell of this provision,” said Tom Goldstein, the publisher of SCOTUSblog and a Supreme Court analyst for NBC News.

Striking down the formula to determine which states and counties are covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in a 5-4 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts said it’s now up to members of Congress who “may draft another formula based on current conditions.”

They “may” – or they may not, but early signs are not positive. 

President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to act, saying “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls.”

But reactions from Capitol Hill suggest real problems lie ahead.

Two of the decisive players are liberal Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and conservative House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

Leahy pledged quick action, pledging, “I intend to take immediate action to ensure that we will have a strong and reconstituted Voting Rights Act that protects against racial discrimination in voting.”

Missing from Goodlatte’s reaction, however, was any hint of his intention to hold hearings on ways to revise the law. Of course, not acting is a choice too. “The Supreme Court has now decided that original coverage formula does not meet constitutional requirements,” Goodlatte noted. “This decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which remains in place.”

Congress designed the coverage formula in 1965, nearly a half-century ago.  And there’s no doubt about how difficult a task of designing a new one would be with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate.

Other legislative battles are in store for the rest of this year: an overhaul of immigration laws, oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, raising the government’s borrowing limit, confirmation of Obama’s nominees, U.S. intervention in Syria. There’s no shortage of other fights – and much potential for a residue of bitterness from those battles.

And the process itself is daunting.

In hearings, Congress would need to take testimony on whether election officials have instated or allowed persistent barriers to voting and registration. Some states not covered under the old formula, which Congress struck down Tuesday, would need to come under scrutiny.

Would members of Congress from Ohio, for example, admit that there are barriers to voting there and agree that Ohio should be covered? It would mean that local elections officials in Ohio would need to get pre-approval from the Justice Department for all their electoral decisions, such as where to locate election precincts and polling locations.

New York University law professor Richard Pildes, a voting rights expert and a legal adviser to the 2008 Obama campaign, said on MSNBC after Tuesday’s decision that this was moment for Obama, a former constitutional law professor, to lead the nation to a solution.

“I actually think there’s probably nobody in political office today who understands these issues better than President Obama – he understands their history, he understands the doctrine, he understands the policy consequences on the ground. He might not have wanted to be thrust into the middle of these kinds of issues, with everything else on the agenda, but he is the person best positioned to lead the country forward on how we respond to the decision.”

But even the White House acknowledges the political realities.

"This is not a welcome decision, by any means, but there is a theoretical path for Congress to update the statute in ways that would make it constitutional." A senior adviser told NBC News: "As a practical matter, that may be difficult to do given political dynamics."
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 09:46:57 am »

Justice Department to challenge states’ voting rights laws

 The Justice Department is preparing to take fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the nation, U.S. officials said, part of a new attempt to blunt the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has warned will imperil minority representation.

The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting rights issues and follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Justices threw out a part of the act that required certain states with a history of discrimination to be granted Justice Department or court approval before making voting law changes.

more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/justice-department-to-challenge-states-voting-rights-laws/2013/07/25/c26740b2-f49b-11e2-a2f1-a7acf9bd5d3a_story.html

This is why a powerful central government is dangerous. State rights trump FEDERAL RIGHTS
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2013, 02:51:48 pm »

Indeed.
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2013, 03:57:43 pm »

http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/07/26/exclusive-rnc-operatives-join-holders-campaign-against-texas-several-other-states/
(UPDATED: RNC Responds to PJ Media) EXCLUSIVE: RNC Operatives Join Holder’s Campaign Against Texas, Several Other States

Sources say RNC donations are being used to re-impose federal mandates struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer is denying the claims made within this article, both via phone and by submitting comments below as “SeanS”.

Additionally, Tom Hofeller, mentioned in this article, claims via email that this article is “unequivocally false.”

PJ Media not only has 100% confidence in the accuracy of the article’s contents, we offered Spicer, via email, three additional questions for the RNC to answer regarding their denial:

1. Does RNC oppose a renewed Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, or is the story accurate that RNC consultants are working on a fix?

2. Does RNC oppose an amended Section 4?

3. Was RNC’s staff involved in the 2006 reauthorization of Section 5 — advocating amendment and higher burdens on states?

We stated that we would wait for their responses and would publish them in this article.

————————————-

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department will seek to recapture Texas and return it to federal oversight for approval of all election law changes such as photo voter identification. Holder’s move comes after the Supreme Court in June freed Texas and other states from the requirement that all state election laws be approved in Washington, D.C. Holder’s move prompted outrage from Texas Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Governor Rick Perry.

The three should also be angry with the Republican National Committee. PJ Tatler has learned that staff at the RNC have been spending RNC donations plotting to do exactly what Eric Holder is seeking to do – return Texas and other states to federal oversight.

According to RNC sources frustrated with the race-based effort, paid RNC consultant Tom Hofeller (thofeller@rnchq.org) is spending RNC donations to develop race-based criteria to grab Texas and other states and place them back into federal receivership. The sources tell Tatler that nearly all of the members of the actual committee have been kept in the dark about this effort, and no mention is ever made in RNC fundraising efforts — for good reason, because GOP donors would be furious.

Hofeller, a long-time RNC consultant on redistricting, has devised ways to force several states back into federal receivership by amending the Voting Rights Act to grab states and force them to obtain Washington, D.C. approval. He is hopeful that Congressional Republicans will use his RNC-generated ideas to accomplish this goal.

So far, the Republicans in Congress have shown more sense than the Republicans paid by the RNC, and are cool to the idea of returning states to federal receivership.

According to congressional sources, Hofeller has also been misrepresenting the importance of the law struck down by the Supreme Court. Hofeller has told Hill sources the federal election oversight law is essential to elect Republicans, something most Republicans on the Hill no longer believe is true. Hofeller has spread this message while being paid by the RNC.

RNC fundraising is down this year. If the rank and file learn that donations are being used to place states back under Eric Holder’s boot, to attack voter ID, and pay race-obsessed consultants like Hofeller, expect RNC fundraising to suffer further. Why should donors pay the RNC to help Eric Holder attack Texas?

The bigger question: why is the RNC paying anyone like Tom Hofeller one red cent to do something that the overwhelming majority of Republicans oppose?
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2013, 04:54:19 pm »

Quote
Holder’s move comes after the Supreme Court in June freed Texas and other states from the requirement that all state election laws be approved in Washington, D.C. Holder’s move prompted outrage from Texas Senators...

They should be outraged. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, though they are using the media to make it look that way, to provide cover for the fact it's a move by the federal government against states rights, plain and simple. The federal government is actually trying to game the system, by taking away state authority.

The problem isn't the fact they are trying to manipulate votes with "redistricting", which I believe should be criminal the way they go about it, but the real problem is with the attitude of the federal government trying to circumvent the US Supreme Court.

Time and again over the last few years, the federal government has been steadily pressuring the states on all kinds of issues, insisting that the federal level has final say over the states in all matters of government.

This is how they put it over at Wiki...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacy_Clause

Quote
Supremacy Clause

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. Treaties as "the supreme law of the land." The text provides that these are the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or state law of any state.

The "supremacy clause" is the most important guarantor of national union. It assures that the Constitution and federal laws and treaties take precedence over state law and binds all judges to adhere to that principle in their courts. - United States Senate[1]

The Supremacy Clause only applies if Congress is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers. Federal laws are valid and are supreme, so long as those laws were adopted in pursuance of—that is, consistent with—the Constitution. Nullification is the legal theory that states have the right to nullify, or invalidate, federal laws which they view as being unconstitutional; or federal laws that they view as having exceeded Congresses’ constitutionally authorized powers. The Supreme Court has rejected nullification, finding that under Article III of the Constitution, the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional has been delegated to the federal courts and that states do not have the authority to nullify federal law.[2]
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 05:14:36 pm »

'Almost unreal' : Bipartisan lawmakers unveil new Voting Rights Act fix
1/16/14
http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/16/22328058-almost-unreal-bipartisan-lawmakers-unveil-new-voting-rights-act-fix?lite=

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would restore protections in the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court last year.

"It is unbelievable, it is almost unreal that we were able to come together so quickly to craft a compromise that both Democrats and Republicans can find a way to support and move forward," said Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The legislation would rewrite the formula that decides which localities and states must get federal approval before changing their voting laws – the piece of the law that the court struck down as unconstitutional, leaving it essentially toothless.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, nine states -- mostly in the South -- and numerous municipalities with a troubled history of voter discrimination were required to get federal approval before they changed their voting laws.

The proposed legislation would state that all states and jurisdictions are subject to the same standard: If they have a clean record with no voting violations over the past 15 years, they don't have to ask the federal government for approval to change their laws. But if they have a certain number of voting violations over the last 15 years, they have to get a thumbs up from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia first.

The bill is bipartisan, with Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner joining Democrats Rep. John Conyers, Sen. Patrick Leahy in introducing the legislation.

Sensenbrenner said the bill is “constitutional, nationwide in application and will allow states to enact reasonable voter ID laws.”

At this point, the future of the bill -- whether it would come up for a vote at all in either chamber -- isn't clear. But backers say they are optimistic and that they have the support of some high-profile conservative House members.

"This is something that I believe will get passed," Leahy said.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2014, 01:01:41 pm »

http://news.yahoo.com/black-democrats-look-cochran-voting-rights-080408797--election.html
Black Democrats look to Cochran on voting rights
7/5/14

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — After black voters helped Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran survive an intense Republican primary runoff against an insurgent conservative challenger, some civil rights leaders in the South want him to repay the favor.

Their request? Cochran should lead the charge in the Senate to renew a key section of the Voting Rights Act struck down last year by the Supreme Court's conservative majority.

"But for the Voting Rights Act, those African-Americans who turned out to the polls ... to support his re-election would not have had the opportunity to do so," said Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

Cochran angered some conservatives with his unabashed appeal to Democrats in the June 24 runoff election against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who eked out a win with the support of tea party groups in the state's primary but didn't win the outright majority required to avoid a runoff against the six-term incumbent.

Black Mississippians, who AP exit polls have indicated overwhelmingly vote Democratic, have voted for Cochran in general elections in the past, but have never before been such a key voting bloc in a contested GOP contest. He must now ponder how to respond to that unusual primary coalition while mending fissures inside the state GOP, which is mostly supported by voters who are white.

That task is complicated by requests such as those made by Johnson, as well as a potential legal challenge from McDaniel. He and his supporters argue — so far without presenting any definitive evidence — that Cochran won because "liberal Democrats" voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then in the Republican runoff three weeks later, violating the state's ban on what's called crossover voting. McDaniel said Friday on CNN that his campaign found at least 5,000 irregularities in voting, and he will mount a legal challenge "any day now."

It's just one more twist in an election that affirms politics in Mississippi and surrounding Southern states is sometimes still all about race, even a half century after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"One has to be careful what we ask the senator to do," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's envoy to Congress who worked in Mississippi during the civil rights movement as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

"Everyone expects to get votes from both sides, and he's been under attack from that," she said. "I wouldn't expect him to immediately stand up and make this his fight. His first task is to get himself back to the Senate."

Cochran was among the Republicans who generally celebrated the Supreme Court's decision a year ago to remove from the Voting Rights Act a requirement that governments in 15 states with a history of discrimination seek and win federal approval before making changes to their election laws and procedures — from polling hours to precinct borders.

"The court's finding reflects well on the progress states like Mississippi have made," Cochran said after the court ruled, adding "our state can ... ensure that our democratic processes are open and fair for all without being subject to excessive scrutiny."

Many voting rights advocates, particularly the NAACP and other minority advocacy groups, maintain that federal oversight is still needed. An effort is underway to address the court's concerns that the law was based on old data by restoring the "preclearance" requirement to four states with a recent history of voting discrimination — Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

That legislation is caught in the same partisan gridlock that has stalled action on most issues in the current Congress, and Holmes said it's accepted on Capitol Hill there will be no votes before November's midterm election.

Cochran declined a request for comment about his position on that effort and hasn't said anything publicly about the Voting Rights Act since his come-from-behind win in a runoff election that featured a surge in turnout compared to the primary, particularly in counties where a majority of voters are black.

Francys Johnson, who leads the NAACP in Georgia, said he believes Cochran and his Republican colleagues in the Senate understand that minorities — and not just black voters — still need protections to ensure they can vote. But, he said, "they've got one eye on the tea party and one eye on the general population."

"Republicans have been at the heart of every major movement in civil rights in this country, whether it's in first Reconstruction after the Civil War or what I call the second Reconstruction after Jim Crow," he said. "If they don't step up, they risk losing that identity as a party of liberty."
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