Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

This decision allows more than 600,000 citizens, who were shut out, the opportunity to cast a ballot in 2016.  #restoreVRA #voterid #Texas

A majority of the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the heavily litigated and controversial Texas voter ID law does have the effect of discriminating against minority voters, and ordered the state to devise a remedy to that problem before the November elections. “We conclude that the district court did not clearly err in determining that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” the court majority wrote.The unexpected ruling against the Republican-backed voter ID law by the conservative appeals court came as it faced a Supreme-Court-imposed deadline of Wednesday to rule in the case.

Source: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law

Prosecution’s Case in Freddie Gray’s Death Continues to Have an Uphill Battle

Here’s a good piece that addresses the frustration over the lack of convictions in the Freddie Gray case.  Even if  they don’t lead to prosecutions, hopefully, we can have real talk and real change. #policereform #civilrights #FreddieGray

On Monday, Police Lt. Brian Rice became the third officer acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray. Rice, 42, was the highest-ranking officer of six officers charged in Gray’s death. He was cha…

Source: Prosecution’s Case in Freddie Gray’s Death Continues to Have an Uphill Battle

US curtails federal election observers

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When I served at the DOJ, federal observers were an important part of maintaining order in some jurisdictions.  DOJ believes that the Shelby decision eliminates most election day coverage.  #RestoretheVRA

WASHINGTON – Federal election observers can only be sent to five states in this years US presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting

Source: US curtails federal election observers

A Guide To The Big Photo ID, Early Voting And Other Voting Law Cases : NPR

Ahead of November, a number of important voting law cases are still up in the air nationwide. Here’s a breakdown of where some of the big cases stand.

Source: A Guide To The Big Photo ID, Early Voting And Other Voting Law Cases : NPR

VA Governor Defends Restoration Order

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe defended his decision to restore the voting rights to more than 200,000 persons.  Criticism from those who believe that the punishment should continue long after citizens have completed their sentences, including probation and parole, has been relentless.  In the first month of the governor’s order, approximately 6,000 persons registered to vote; compared with less than 2,000  the previous year.  You can read more here:

Connecting Dr. King’s “March on Ballot Boxes” Speech to Today’s Realities

Here’s an interesting article that connects past and present realities.  GRD

Fifty years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his first public visit to South Carolina to deliver a speech on a school field in Kingstree about the importance of voting. About 5,000 came out on a rainy day to hear him.

Source: Post and Courier

Felon Disenfranchisement

In Maryland and Virginia, former felons have the ability to vote, with some restrictions. For example, in Virginia, they must complete probation or parole.  Nonetheless. 40,000 persons in Maryland and more than 200.000 persons in Virginia now have access to the ballot box.  These measures, however, may be met with litigation that could affect their ability to vote in the 2016 election. Read the New York Times article here.

DOJ says NC law violates civil rights laws

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory stating that House Bill 2, which among other things, requires persons to use the bathroom of their birth, violates two civil rights laws-Title VII (employment discrimination) and Title IX (sex discrimination).  Read more here.

Interestingly, HB2 was hastily passed, much like  NC’s restrictive voting law  passed in 2013 after Shelby v. Holder that removed same day registration, limited early voting, and instituted  a restrictive voter id requirement.

Mizzou Names New President

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After months of unrest, student protests, and a presidential resignation, The University of Missouri has appointed Michael Middleton as the interim president of the university. Middleton is no stranger to the university or the fight for Civil Rights. In 1968, Middleton became the third black student to graduate from the University’s law school. Shortly after graduation. Middleton started his legal career in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. His professional and personal experiences may be just what the University needs.

Is Standardized Testing Good or Bad? Civil Rights Activists can’t seem to agree.

Standardized testing in schools has been a longstanding and much debated practice in education. Some argue that standardized testing is a way to bring attention to the achievement gap in schools and consequently bring about solutions. Others argue that standardized testing causes school systems to “teach the test,” which results in a decreased focus on the arts and creative thinking in schools. Read more about it here, and tell us what you think.

Voting Rights Legacy of the ’60s Heads to Court as North Carolina Law Is Tested – NYTIMES

Days after South Carolina confronted its past and lowered the Confederate battle flag, North Carolina will grapple with its present-day rules that determine access to the voting booth.

A federal trial opening in Winston-Salem on Monday is meant to determine whether recent, sweeping changes in the state’s election laws discriminate against black voters. These changes were adopted by the Republican-dominated state legislature in 2013, immediately after the United States Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it ended a requirement that nine states with histories of discrimination, including North Carolina, get federal approval before altering their election laws.

READ MORE HERE: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/us/a-voting-rights-legacy-of-the-1960s-heads-to-court-in-north-carolina.html?_r=0

Watch: Civil rights leader John Lewis implores the US government to ban the Confederate flag on federal grounds

US congressman John Lewis, famed civil rights activist, rose to the floor of the House of Representatives to call on his colleagues to ban the flying of the Confederate flag on federal grounds.

 Watch Here: http://qz.com/450828/watch-civil-rights-leader-john-lewis-implores-the-us-government-to-ban-the-confederate-flag-on-federal-grounds/

Jefferson Davis Descendant Delivers Powerful Speech for Removal of the Confederate Flag

A descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis made a tearful plea for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol.  Rep. Jenny Horne asked South Carolina lawmakers to do something “meaningful.”  After more than 13 hours of debate, the body voted to take the flag down and place it with other Civil War relics.     Read and watch here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/09/south-carolina-rep-jenny-horne-on-her-historic-and-surprisingly-personal-speech-it-needed-to-be-done/    Let’s hope and watch for other meaningful legislative actions that make the lives of South Carolinans safer and better.

NC Voting Rights Challenge

The challenge to North Carolina’s restrictive voting rights law is set to begin next week.  Many believe that the decision could have vast implications for other states.  However, what is most likely to happen after the trial  is an appeal and we could be a year or more away from an impactful decision.  Read more here:  http://www.thecharlottepost.com/news/2015/07/09/local/naacp-nc-square-off-on-voting-rights-with-national-implications/ Continue reading

This Week in Civil Rights History

This week marks some significant events in the history of civil rights in the US.  Many of the occurrences are sad, such as the funeral for civil rights worker, Viola Liuzzo,  fifty years ago following the march from Selma to Montgomery, AL and the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that the quest for justice was eternal.  As the quest continues, universities, such as Michigan, are hosting discussions that link the struggles of the past to our current state of  equal rights.

US Supreme Court Addresses NonPartisan Redistricting

On March 2, 2015, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) heard arguments in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.   The USSC considered the power of the people versus the power of the legislature. You can find an analysis of today’s argument here.   Arizona state legislators were not happy with the redistricting map that the Independent Commission drafted and implemented in 2012.  The Court’s decision could have widespread implications on redistrictings across the country.  In places like California, where an Independent Commission has successfully drawn and redrawn congressional and state legislative districts in a nonpartisan manner, the Court’s decision could cause a ripple effect that mandates re-redistricting.  If the Arizona legislature gets its way, only elected officials, not nonpartisan citizens, will have the ability to draw the lines to get themselves reelected and continue the widespread polarization that currently exists.

Restoring the Right to Vote

Recently, Virginia and Kentucky took up the issue of restoring the right to vote to persons convicted of nonviolent felonies, with different results.  In VA, the state house voted down a resolution that would allow for automatic restoration.  In KY, state house members will need a super majority after public approval to provide restorative measures to nonviolent felons.  The paradox of outcomes demonstrate that the road to restoration can be extremely difficult for the more than 5 million persons who have lost the right to vote because of former convictions.

Rev. William Barber On DNC Speech, Morality, And The Future Of Civil Rights In America | WGBH News

This is an interesting interview.  Rev. Barber led the “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina, years before folks started paying attention to the way that the legislature was disenfranchising its citizens.

 

 

Source: Rev. William Barber On DNC Speech, Morality, And The Future Of Civil Rights In America | WGBH News