First, as we prepare for this afternoon”s spectacular 50-year celebration of the I Had A Dream speech 3-6 at Sasscer Park) let me pass along some thoughts from organizer and Laguna Woods activist Jonathan Adler, on how we can help continue to build on King’s Dream by restoring the eviscerated Voting Rights Act:
Legislative Action, Sept. 2013: Help Build Moral Demand to Restore Voting Rights Act!
On June 25, the Supreme Court’s 5 conservatives gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act as extended by a near-unanimous Congress in 2006. Among the Court’s worst-ever rulings by all criteria, it was agenda-driven, frankly lawless – as Justice Ginsburg’s biting dissent for the 4 moderates makes crystal clear.
We advocate on important issues – climate change, gun safety, immigration, jobs, budget, seniors and the social safety net, etc. And we lobby on even more vital ‘meta-issues’ that stall those and a lot more – big money ‘buying’ elections and legislation – DISCLOSE Act, ‘clean money (publicly funded) elections,’ A.L.E.C.
In that context, voting rights is the most vital ‘metameta-issue’: If lessened, so is our democracy, and our ability to rid politics of big-money control. At stake in Congress’ reviving VRA is blocking fast-moving tactics to suppress voting by hundreds of thousands per state, in many of the 24 states in full gerrymandered GOP control – minorities, poor, seniors, students, other young people (all tending to vote Dem).
Senate and House control in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016 may well be at stake.
Late-breaking news: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R- WI), who led VRA re-authorization in 2006 as House Judiciary Cmte Chair, now its (sensible) 2nd ranking Republican, on Aug. 26 firmly urged reviving VRA this year. And the Justice Dept. sued Texas for ‘bail-in’ back into preclearance. It’ll likely similarly sue N.C.
But such suits are long, harder, and plaintiff has the ‘burden-of-proof’ – the reverse of the vital pre-clearance system.
Both actions below will help stop a long setback of voting rights and restore the Voting Rights Act!
We’re circulating this petition (see just below it how to add your name to it):
To: Pres. Obama; Sens. Feinstein and Boxer; Senate and House leaders; Judiciary Cmtes’ chairs; Reps. Campbell,
Sanchez, and others from O.C.; and newspapers’ opinion page editors and editorial boards:
National outrage at Klan killings and police beatings for trying to register negroes led Pres. Johnson and Congress to
pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act (‘VRA’) – a century after the 15th Amendment gave former slaves the vote. Cruel tricks then overtly denied it; the 24th Amendment banned poll taxes only in 1964. Both amendments told Congress to enforce them ‘by appropriate legislation.’ Litigation was toothless: Voter denial tricks enjoined were just re-adopted in slightly new garb. VRA’s most potent tool then made the worst voter-denial states and counties (§4) ‘pre-clear’ new rules with the Justice Dept. (‘DoJ’) or court (§5). A 10-year ‘clean record’ let a jurisdiction seek ‘bail-out’ of §5 pre-clearance; but few did.
Congress extended VRA 3 times. In 2006, the Senate did so 98-0, the House 390-33 – after 21 hearings, 15,000 pages,
many witnesses, studies, and extensive fact finding in committee reports, such as then-recent ‘2nd-generation’ subtle
voter-suppression gambits. After adoption and each extension, the Supreme Court upheld VRA – until June 25, 2013:
In Shelby Co. (AL) v. Holder, by 5-4, its conservatives voided §4 as ‘outdated’, gutting VRA and its §5 successes.
John Roberts had fought VRA §5 pre-clearance as a Justice Dept. lawyer in 1982 and a Federalist Society leader. His agenda-driven opinion (one of the worst ever, the dissent makes clear) dismissed Congress’ vote, hearings and fact-finding; raised (non-existent) states’ ‘rights’ above basic voting rights; and left only costly, long, hard-to-prove lawsuits to defend voting rights – until VRA §4 can be re-enacted.
Pres. Obama: You must lead now, more than on any issue, to build bipartisan moral will to stop the new voter suppression tactics already occurring, defend our precious basic right to vote, and re-enact VRA.
Members of Congress: Democracy itself is at stake. Prove pundits predicting gridlock are wrong: This is no time to
seek narrow partisan political gain. Show the same courage and statesmanship as in 2006.
Editors: Report and editorialize at least weekly on this vital issue that dwarfs in importance any trial, crash, crime,
celebrity event, even other political issues such as filibuster, budget, or immigration reform.
To add your name to that petition (if you didn’t do so in person): Email to OurPetition@yahoo.com, subject line “Add me to voting rights petition.” In text put: Name(s) to add; at least city, state zip. Street address is optional (but helps get a reply and add weight). If you want your e-mail address excluded, say so.
Action #2: Weigh in with Ed. Page and National Editors:
A vital way to build national moral demand for action is in newspapers’ opinion and news pages. Please help do so: See this request in the petition’s last paragraph: “Editors: Report and editorialize … on this vital issue.”
Please call, email or write to ask these editors to do so:
Orange Co. Register: 625 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701. Switchboard: 714-796-7875; 877-469-7344
Opinion Page Editor: Brian Calle, BCalle@OCRegister.com, 714-796-7823. Editor (and National Editor): Ken Brusic, KBrusic@OCRegister.com, 714-796-2226
**Los Angeles Times: 202 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. All calls thru switchboard: 213-237-5000. All email
in this format: [first name] dot [last name]@LATimes.com
Editorial Pg Ed.: Nicholas Goldberg Asst: Janet Duckworth National Editor: Kim Murphy Deputy: Cathleen Decker
**Please note: 8/4/13 LA Times had a fine long editorial on restoring the VRA (see reverse side). Please do this with it:
a) Use as fine ‘talking points’ fact sheet;
b) Thank Times ed.-page editors; ask for followup;
c) Send to other papers and Times nat’l editor (online link: www.latimes.com/news/
Thanks for taking those actions to help build bi-partisan
public demand to restore the Voting Rights Act.
–Jonathan Adler, Legislative Action Chair,