Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Major Provision of Historic 1965 Voting Rights Act, Assaults African American Citizenship Rights and Upholds White Supremacy


This is the most heinous, cruel, and truly despicable "legal" decision that the Supreme Court has handed down since it formally and once again "legally" and "officially" enshrined the U.S. as an openly white supremacist apartheid state "after slavery" via their overt sanctioning of Jim Crow segregation as the "law of the Land" in their notoriously racist Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling in 1896.  Moreover, this extremely reactionary Republican dominated court led by the openly rightwing ideologue Chief Justice John Roberts and anchored by three of the most pro-white supremacist, sexist, and pro-corporate associate justices in the history of the court--Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and the most backward, self hating, and disgustingly servile UNCLE TOM ever to hold a major position in a major branch of the U.S. government--Clarence Thomas--has created the most openly anti-black and anti-Latino court since the 19th century (remember what happened to Dred Scott?).  As the Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled in that infamous 1857 case (and like today it was a statement on behalf of a "majority" opinion) "the black man has NO RIGHTS that a white man need respect."  So stay tuned for much, much more on all this from me and many other folks both later today and all day tomorrow (and beyond).  One thing is 100% certain from this point onward however:  If we don't wake up from our self imposed political coma and organize, build, and sustain a massive national movement on an unprecedented scale to make real hardcore DEMANDS on this Court, this Congress and--yes people!!--this President as well, ALL will not only be lost for us and the present generations but many more to come.  For confirmation of this absolutely bedrock fact just ask yourselves what has happened and continues to happen to us since not only 1863 but 1963?...


Ku Klux Kourt Kills King's Dream Law, Replaces Voting Rights Act With Katherine Harris Acts
25 June 2013
By Greg Palast

Truthout | News Analysis
Protestors gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in Washington, Feb. 27, 2013. The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, June 25, 2013, announced a vote of 5 to 4 in the Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder case, striking down part of the act. (Photo: Christopher Gregory / The New York Times)

They might as well have burned a cross on Dr. King's grave. The Jim Crow majority on the Supreme Court just took away the vote of millions of Hispanic and African-American voters by wiping away Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When I say "millions" of voters of color will lose their ballots, I'm not kidding.   Let's add it up.

Last year, the GOP Secretary of State of Florida Ken Detzner tried to purge 180,000 Americans, mostly Hispanic Democrats, from the voter rolls. He was attempting to break Katherine Harris' record.

Detzner claimed that all these brown folk were illegal "aliens."

But Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act requires that 16 states with a bad history of blocking black and brown voters must "pre-clear" with the US Justice Department any messing around with voter rolls or voting rules. And so Section 4 stopped Detzner from the racist brown-out. 

I'll admit there were illegal aliens on Florida voter rolls - two of them. Let me repeat that: TWO aliens - one a US Marine serving in Iraq (not yet a citizen); the other an Austrian who registered as a Republican.

We can go from state to state in Dixie and see variations of the Florida purge game.

Yet the 5-to-4 Supreme Court majority ruled, against all evidence, that, "Blatantly discriminatory evasions [of minority voting rights] are rare." As there's no more racially bent voting games played in states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Alaska (yes, pre-clearance goes WAY north of the Confederacy), then, the justices said, there's no more reason for pre-clearance.

Whom do they think they're fooling? The court itself, just last week, ruled that Arizona's law requiring the showing of citizenship papers was an unconstitutional attack on Hispanic voters. Well, Arizona's a Section 4 state.

You'll love this line from the Ku Klux Kourt majority. They wrote that the "coverage" of Section 4 applies to states where racially bent voting systems are now "eradicated practices."

"Eradicated?" I assume they didn't see the lines of black folk in Florida last November. That was the result of the deliberate reduction in the number of polling places and early voting hours in minority areas. Indeed, if the Justice Department, wielding Section 4, didn't block Florida from half its ballot-box trickery, Obama would have lost that state's electoral votes.
And that's really what's going on here: the problem is not that the court majority is racist. They're worse: they're Republicans.

We've had Republicans, like the great Earl Warren, who put on the robes and take off their party buttons.

But this crew, beginning with Bush v. Gore, is viciously partisan. They note that "minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels." And the Republican Supremes mean to put an end to that. See "Obama" and "Florida" above.
And when they say "minority," they mean "Democrat."

Because that's the difference between 1965 and today. When the law was first enacted - based on the personal pleas of Martin Luther King - African-Americans were blocked by politicians who did not like the color of their skin.

But today, it's the color of minority voters' ballots - overwhelmingly Democratic blue - which is the issue.

In California - one of the "Old South" states that is singled out for pre-clearance - an astonishing 40 percent of voter registration forms were rejected by the Republican Secretary of State on cockamamie clerical grounds. When civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy and I investigated, we learned that the reject pile was overwhelmingly Chicano and Asian - and overwhelmingly Democratic.

How? Jim Crow ain't gone; he's moved into cyberspace. The new trick is lynching by laptop: removing voters, as was done in Florida and Arizona (and a dozen other states) by using poisoned databases to pick out "illegal" and "felon" and "inactive" voters - who all happen to be of the Hispanic or African-American persuasion. The GOP, for all the tears of its consultants, knows it can't rock these votes, so they block these votes.

Despite the racial stench of today's viciously antidemocratic ruling, the GOP majority knew they were handicapping the next presidential run by a good 6 million votes. (That's the calculation that RFK and I came up with for racially bent vote loss in 2004 - and the GOP will pick up at least that in the next run.)

And the court knew full well that their ruling today was the same as stuffing several hundred thousand GOP red votes into the ballot boxes for the 2014 Congressional races.

The races have not yet started, but the "Katherine count" has already begun.

It was investigative reporter Greg Palast, for The Guardian and BBC Television who uncovered Katherine Harris' purge of black voters in 2000. He is also the author of the recent New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal and Election in 9 Easy Steps. His film, Election Files, may be downloaded without charge at www.GregPalast.com.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Greg Palast's
investigative reports are broadcast by BBC Television's Newsnight. His new book is Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (7 Stories Press/Palast Investigative Fund).

"Remember:  Everything that Hitler did was legal.

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"At this moment in civil rights, gay is the new black. Black is the old gay. One group’s rights ascend, while the other’s descend.  Rights do matter, and so we should absolutely rejoice in the victories and mourn the set-backs of this Supreme Court term.  Most important, however, the focus of the beautiful struggle should be on justice, rather than rights,  for people of color, women, and the L.G.B.T. community.   All of the people will be free, or none of them will." 
--Paul Butler


Paul Butler makes one of the most lucid, mature, and politically/intellectually honest statements about what the twin decisions  made by the present reactionary Supreme Court over the past two days really mean with respect to the 'racial' and 'sexual' dimensions of affirmative action, voting rights, same-sex marriage, and most importantly the essential constitutional protection and defense (or systematic evisceration and denial) of those civil rights.  However, by properly focusing on JUSTICE instead of merely RIGHTS, Butler returns us ALL to what is really at stake in these so-called "legal" battles and exposes the fundamental ideological and political dynamics of the ongoing life and death struggle (literally!) that informs and guides  our absolutely necessary and inevitable struggles for power, self determination, and human rights.  Without those elements there is no justice, no freedom, and no equality--no matter what 'the law' says.  Remember:  Slavery, Jim Crow apartheid, and systemic institutional discrimination against gays and lesbians were all (and in far too many cases nationwide still are) LEGAL and as such were (and are) sanctioned and upheld by the Supreme Court...


Gay Is the New Black
by Paul Butler
JUNE 26, 2013
New York Times

Paul Butler is a law professor at Georgetown University and a former United States Department of Justice prosecutor. He is the author of "Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice.''


So, a black lesbian married couple living in Texas can now file a joint federal income tax return but, without the proper I.D., they might not be able to vote. The civil rights movement isn’t over, but its limitations have been exposed.

Civil rights work well when discrimination is formal, legal and explicit. The Supreme Court, back when African-Americans were the poster children for civil rights, was unanimous in its Brown v. Board of Education decision that the “colored” and “white” signs be removed from the schoolhouse doors. When the problems got thornier -- when, for example, public schools remained segregated because whites moved to the suburbs or sent their kids to private schools -- civil rights didn’t help so much.

When legal remedies are less clear, there is more of an opening for animus, conscious or unconscious, to seep in. For example, Justice Antonin Scalia voted to overturn a part of the Voting Rights Act after claiming, during oral argument, that Congress only re-authorized it because it was “racial entitlement.” But he criticized the court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act a “jaw-dropping" assertion of "judicial supremacy over the people’s representatives in Congress.”

The majority of the Supreme Court now seems friendlier to gays than to people of color. Perhaps the main reason is that discrimination against gays is obvious. Most states don’t allow them to get married. That kind of bias is much easier to understand than, say, a claim that a law requiring voters to show identification discriminates against Latinos.

Perhaps another reason for the court’s greater receptivity is that the gay movement has a white face and the justices find it easier to relate. And a third reason might be that some of the justices, like many other Americans, are suffering from racial fatigue. In both the voting rights and affirmative action cases decided this week, the subtext is why is the struggle for racial equality taking so long?

When, however, the gay civil rights movement evolves beyond basic discrimination issues, the court probably will not be as open to its claims. I was moved by Justice Anthony Kennnedy’s support of the “dignity and status” of gay people, but I wonder if his analysis would be different if the issue was whether a transgendered woman with male genitalia has a right to use a women’s restroom, or whether bisexuals have a right to be housed in prison units designed to protect gay inmates.

At this moment in civil rights, gay is the new black. Black is the old gay. One group’s rights ascend, while the other’s descend. Rights do matter, and so we should absolutely rejoice in the victories and mourn the set-backs of this Supreme Court term. Most important, however, the focus of the beautiful struggle should be on justice, rather than rights, for people of color, women, and the L.G.B.T. community. All of the people will be free, or none of them will.

Join Room for Debate on Facebook and follow updates on twitter.com/roomfordebate.


Joining Together in Justice
June 26, 2013
New York Times

Proponents of equality have reason to both cheer and cry this week.

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow

This week, in a series of rulings, the Supreme Court lay bare once more a continuing divide in this country about the role and limits of government in ensuring — or denying — equality.

In the University of Texas at Austin affirmative action case, the Voting Rights Act case and the same-sex marriage cases, the court drew a line between policies that explicitly articulate exclusion and those that implicitly and effectually remedy exclusion — both current and historical.

Proponents of racial diversity were on the losing end of those rulings, and same-sex marriage proponents were on the winning end.

The court set a higher bar for including race as one factor among many in university admissions and struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. But it also voided the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to decide the Proposition 8 case, effectively allowing same-sex marriage in California.

One movement for equality had its spirits lifted and another had them crushed.

But the truth is that these movements are not wholly dissimilar. All combatants for justice are cousins. Jim Crow and Jim Queer are of a kind. So, given what happened on the racial civil rights front this week, the LGBT civil rights movement would be wise to take heed.

Overcoming blatantly unconstitutional laws is only a first step in the never-ending march toward justice. It is in the decades that follow that discriminatory policies can become more illusory. That’s when, even if the net effect of a law is that it is discriminatory, the law itself may not be seen as such. In this murky period intent can be deemed unknowable and effect can be deemed inadvertent.

This is when the courts — and the law — can essentially say that if you can throw a rock and hide your hand, you can in turn hide your guilt. This is when personal discrimination fades into the fog of a more ominous and amorphous structural discrimination. This is when legacy injustice, which can reverberate for generations through a population, is assigned term limits. Fatigue grows in the wake of fairness.

That’s the fight equality movements must mount when they grow up — shadowboxing.

I sincerely believe that in my lifetime, gay marriage will be legal in the whole of the country. But it is unlikely that the LGBT community will become more than a minority group. I also know that the changing of laws does not work in tandem with the changing of hearts, which means that minority groups are always vulnerable. When the laws change, some things simply become subterfuge. In striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote, “things have changed dramatically.” But I submit that so have certain tactics.

Just ask black civil rights leaders still fighting a huge prison industrial complex, police policies like stop-and-frisk and predatory lending practices. Ask women’s rights leaders still fighting for equal pay, defending a woman’s right to sovereign authority of her own body — including full access to a wide range of reproductive options. Ask pro-immigration groups fighting a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment.

To those celebrating the gay rights victory, this is your moment. Enjoy it. To racial diversity warriors, mourn. But not for long. In the morning we must all rise together and remember what Winston Churchill reportedly said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Remember also what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

And remember that it is no coincidence that there is quite a bit of overlap among the states that were covered by the Voting Rights Act, those that have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, those with some of the most restrictive abortion laws and those that have considered or passed some of the strictest anti-immigrant bills.

Racial hostility, homophobia and misogyny are braided together like strands of the same rope. When we fight one, we fight them all.

Engaging in combat as a coalition reinforces and expands everyone’s power, reach and influence. We must realize that if everyone can see the sameness in these struggles, rather than the differences, we will be able to see that America is already a majority minority country.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytimes.com.



This vicious ruling represents another frontal assault and rightwing attack on the human and constitutional rights of African American citizens and the national legal defense and expansion of the philosophy and practice of white supremacy in the 21st century...


Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act
Published: June 25, 2013
New York Times
              Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Wade Henderson, president and C.E.O. of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, criticized the decision on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.
Drew Angerer for The New York Times
Representative John Lewis of Georgia, center left, and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, right, at a news conference. The Voting Rights Act covered nine states, mostly in the South.

The court divided along ideological lines, and the two sides drew sharply different lessons from the history of the civil rights movement and the nation’s progress in rooting out racial discrimination in voting. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.

“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

The decision will have immediate practical consequences. Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation.

President Obama, whose election as the nation’s first black president was cited by critics of the law as evidence that it was no longer needed, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move and a sign of deep disagreement. She cited the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said his legacy and the nation’s commitment to justice had been “disserved by today’s decision.”

She said the focus of the Voting Rights Act had properly changed from “first-generation barriers to ballot access” to “second-generation barriers” like racial gerrymandering and laws requiring at-large voting in places with a sizable black minority. She said the law had been effective in thwarting such efforts.

The law had applied to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. But the chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion. Justice Ginsburg was joined in dissent by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The majority held that the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and most recently updated by Congress in 1975, was unconstitutional. The section determined which states must receive clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington before they made minor changes to voting procedures, like moving a polling place, or major ones, like redrawing electoral districts.

Section 5, which sets out the preclearance requirement, was originally scheduled to expire in five years. Congress repeatedly extended it: for five years in 1970, seven years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years. But it relied on data from the 1975 reauthorization to decide which states and localities were covered.

The current coverage system, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, is “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day.”

“Congress — if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions,” he wrote. “It cannot simply rely on the past.”

The decision did not strike down Section 5, but without Section 4, the later section is without significance — unless Congress passes a new bill for determining which states would be covered.

It was hardly clear, at any rate, that the court’s conservative majority would uphold Section 5 if the question returned to the court in the unlikely event that Congress enacted a new coverage formula. In a concurrence, Justice Thomas called for striking down Section 5 immediately, saying that the majority opinion had provided the reasons and had merely left “the inevitable conclusion unstated.”

The Supreme Court had repeatedly upheld the law in earlier decisions, saying that the preclearance requirement was an effective tool to combat the legacy of lawless conduct by Southern officials bent on denying voting rights to blacks.

Critics of Section 5 say it is a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the towering legislative achievements of the civil rights movement, and Chief Justice Roberts said its “strong medicine” was the right response to “entrenched racial discrimination.” When it was first enacted, he said, black voter registration stood at 6.4 percent in Mississippi, and the gap between black and white registration rates was more than 60 percentage points.

In the 2004 election, the last before the law was reauthorized, the black registration rate in Mississippi was 76 percent, almost four percentage points higher than the white rate. In the 2012 election, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “African-American voter turnout exceeded white voter turnout in five of the six states originally covered by Section 5.”

The chief justice recalled the Freedom Summer of 1964, when the civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered near Philadelphia, Miss., while seeking to register black voters. He mentioned Bloody Sunday in 1965, when police officers beat marchers in Selma, Ala.

“Today,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “both of those towns are governed by African-American mayors. Problems remain in these states and others, but there is no denying that, due to the Voting Rights Act, our nation has made great strides.”

Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent from the bench, drew a different lesson from those events, drawing on the words of Dr. King.

“The great man who led the march from Selma to Montgomery and there called for the passage of the Voting Rights Act foresaw progress, even in Alabama,” she said. “ ‘The arc of the moral universe is long,’ he said, but ‘it bends toward justice,’ if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

In her written dissent, Justice Ginsburg said that Congress was the right body to decide whether the law was still needed and where. Congress reauthorized the law in 2006 by large majorities; the vote was 390 to 33 in the House and unanimous in the Senate. President George W. Bush, a Republican, signed the bill into law, saying it was “an example of our continued commitment to a united America where every person is valued and treated with dignity and respect.”

The Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress, Chief Justice Roberts noted on Tuesday, did not respond.

Justice Ginsburg suggested in her dissent that an era had drawn to a close with the court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, in Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96.

“Beyond question, the V.R.A. is no ordinary legislation,” she wrote. “It is extraordinary because Congress embarked on a mission long delayed and of extraordinary importance: to realize the purpose and promise of the Fifteenth Amendment,” the Reconstruction-era amendment that barred racial discrimination in voting and authorized Congress to enforce it.

“For a half century,” she wrote, “a concerted effort has been made to end racial discrimination in voting. Thanks to the Voting Rights Act, progress once the subject of a dream has been achieved and continues to be made.”

“The court errs egregiously,” she concluded, “by overriding Congress’s decision.”
June 25, 2013
New York Times

The conservative majority on the Roberts Court issued another damaging and intellectually dishonest ruling on Tuesday. It eviscerated enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, in which Congress kept the promise of a vote for every citizen. But it did not rule on the constitutional validity of the idea that some places have such strong records of discrimination that they must seek federal approval before they may change their voting rules. Instead, the 5-to-4 ruling usurped Congress’s power and struck down the formula that it has repeatedly reauthorized to determine which states fall into that category.

The Supreme Court invited Congress to rewrite the formula, which has a disingenuous ring. The justices know full well that lawmakers, who failed to expand the coverage formula in 2006, are extremely unlikely to do it now. And so the preclearance rule lies dormant.

The Justice Department is still free to sue jurisdictions over their voting policies after the fact, and should, as often as necessary, because such lawsuits will become an even more important tool to ensure justice. But that is not a long-term substitute for the preclearance rule. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her impassioned dissent, such suits have proved to be a less effective tool against politicians determined to find ways block access to the polls. The jurisdictions covered by the preclearance rule are, for the most part, firmly in that category.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was right when he said that the formula used to determine the jurisdictions that are covered was written long ago, but, if anything, it is too narrow. Chief Justice Roberts was entirely wrong when he wrote that the states can no longer “be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics.”

In 2006, when Congress reauthorized the voting law after extensive hearings, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a conservative Republican from Wisconsin, said the formula is not outdated and “states covered are not unfairly punished under the coverage formula.”

Currently, Justice Ginsburg wrote in dissent that Congress, “with overwhelming support in both houses,” had concluded that the preclearance rule should “continue in force, unabated,” because that would “facilitate completion of the impressive gains thus far made; and second, continuance would guard against backsliding.” She said that that decision was “well within Congress’s province to make and should elicit this court’s unstinting approbation.”

Speaking of racially motivated barriers to voting, Justice Ginsburg said: “Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra. Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place.” She added: “When confronting the most constitutionally invidious form of discrimination, and the most fundamental right in our democratic system, Congress’s power to act is at its height.”

The real problem with the invalidated formula, in our view, is that it does not cover all the jurisdictions that have imposed or tried to impose techniques like racially discriminatory voter-identification laws.

Invidious and pervasive voting discrimination has not come to an end, as Chief Justice Roberts suggested with his complaint that “Congress did not use the record it compiled to shape a coverage formula grounded in current conditions.” Congress has compiled a huge record showing that gerrymandering, use of at-large voting in cities with a sizable black minority to eliminate the power of minority votes and other barriers to equality in voting justifies the clearance formula the court struck down as failing to meet “current needs.”

The future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 now lies in the hands of President Obama and Congress. If we had a federal government that was not paralyzed by partisanship, this ruling would serve as an inspiration to take action. Congressional Democrats would quickly prepare a more expansive formula, and the Republicans who voted for the old formula just seven years ago would support the new one.

President Obama quickly said he was “deeply disappointed” at the ruling and called on Congress to enact a new formula. Tragically, we cannot count on either legislative action or strong follow-through from the White House.


Below is an email from Rashad Robinson of the organization ColorOfChange.org. Rashad started a petition on the MoveOn website, where anyone can start their own online petition.

Dear MoveOn member,

Just hours ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder that gutted a signature achievement of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, placing millions of people of color, women, and young people at the mercy of a dysfunctional Congress.

While I was hoping that the Supreme Court would do the right thing, after hearing the arguments, it's hard to be shocked at today's result. Justice Scalia even described the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as, "the perpetuation of a racial entitlement." Since it was uttered from Scalia's lips, that phrase "racial entitlement" has lingered in my mind for months now.

For Black people, voting has never been an entitlement.  It is a right that has been earned through extraordinary sacrifice.

But many people don't realize that the freedom to vote is not a right that is guaranteed in the Constitution.  And that crucial shortcoming in our nation's most important legal document is what gave an ideologically charged court the room to sweep away our freedom.

We need a constitutional amendment that guarantees the freedom to vote for every citizen regardless of race or where they live. 

We must keep rising. Join me in starting a new movement for an amendment that enshrines the freedom to vote in the U.S. Constitution.

It is no coincidence that at the height of rising Black civic participation—with a Black family in the White House—the right wing is hell-bent on proclaiming the end of racism and the end of the need to protect minorities against government discrimination.

For decades, the Voting Rights Act has protected voters in pockets of the country with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices. Just this past election, it allowed the Justice Department to block attempts by Texas, South Carolina, and Florida to implement discriminatory voting rules.

And when you dig into the types of right-wing voter suppression bills that are spreading across the country, it is clear that they are aimed at stopping a rising American majority of young people, women, and people of color.

While the Voting Rights Act has successfully created the space for a rising level of Black participation, this ruling shows that it's not enough.  Shifting times and shifting demographics demand a new approach to protecting the freedom to vote.

On the shoulders of the Civil Rights Movement, let's keep rising, together. Click here to pledge your support for a constitutional amendment that guarantees the freedom to vote for all citizens.

The Voting Rights Act was the result of decades of hard work, of advocacy, of protests and marches, and courage before fire hoses and police dogs. It was one of the crowning achievements of a generation.

Over the next few months, ColorOfChange.org, with the support of partners, will provide a roadmap to expand voter participation—so that together, we can keep rising.

Thanks and Peace,

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, ColorOfChange.org

This petition was created on MoveOn's online petition site, where anyone can start their own online petitions. ColorOfChange.org didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.

Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

This email was sent to Kofi Natambu on June 25, 2013.