Prop 8, DOMA Decisions Due Wednesday
By Doug Porter
This historic session of the Supreme Court is drawing to a close and it feels like they are milking it for all the drama they can get.
Today the Justices announced that they support the Voting Rights Act of 1965; except that the part of the law determining how it’s applied is out of date. From the decision:
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”
Think for a moment about the makeup of the current Congress; this Supreme Court decision amounts to a death sentence for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
The ruling doesn’t mean that White Sheriffs will be blocking Black voters at the doorways of polling places. It means redistricting to change the demographic make up of voting districts to insure white majorities cannot be challenged. (Unless Congress acts)
This isn’t a practice from our segregationist past, it’s how (mostly) Republicans do business these days. Faced with overwhelming odds against them in terms of the near and long term demographics of the United States, they’ve been simply stacking the deck.
Consider the case of Wendy Davis, reported by MSNBC:
In 2008, Wendy Davis, a city councilmember in Fort Worth, Texas, narrowly defeated a 20-term incumbent to win a state Senate seat. Davis, a Democrat, enjoyed strong support from her district’s black and Hispanic voters, who had largely been ignored by her Republican predecessor, and once in office she set about fighting for those who she felt lacked a voice…
But Texas Republicans were eager to win back Davis’ seat and increase their Senate majority. And in 2011, they used their control of the redistricting process to improve their chances.
Redistricting requires state and congressional district lines to be modified each decade to reflect the latest Census data. The GOP plan radically changed the demographic makeup of Davis’ district, among others, moving tens of thousands of black and Hispanic voters into neighboring districts.
Her only recourse was the voting rights act, which, until now meant that election changes made in certain areas with a history of discrimination could be blocked by the federal government. Racist gerrymandering is still illegal, but there’s no standard left to apply to prove discrimination.
From the Associated Press:
The court warned of problems with the voting rights law in a similar case heard in 2009. The justices averted a major constitutional ruling at that time, but Congress did nothing to address the issues the court raised. The law’s opponents, sensing its vulnerability, filed several new lawsuits.
The latest decision came in a challenge to the advance approval, or preclearance, requirement, which was brought by Shelby County, Ala., a Birmingham suburb.
Proposition 8/DOMA Decisions Tomorrow
In closing out today’s rulings, the Justices let it be known that all the remaining decisions will be released on Wednesday.
Of major interest are rulings on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). While we don’t know what the rulings will be, local activists have announced gatherings that will take place regardless.
A coalition of groups is urging Gay Rights supporters to rally at the Pride Flagpole in Hillcrest at 5pm.
Should a ruling come down that affirms Gay Rights, the nearby San Diego LGBT Community Center will be hosting a celebration at 7pm. Local politicos will speak and there will be music, food, drinks, and hopefully, champagne and cake.
This event is being organized with help from: The San Diego LGBT Community Center, ACLU of San Diego and ImperialCounties, Activist San Diego, Alliance San Diego, Canvass for a Cause, Democrats for Equality, Greater San Diego Business Association, Human Rights Campaign San Diego, Metropolitan Community Church of San Diego, S.A.M.E., San Diego LGBT Pride and San Diego Remembers
For more information, click here.
Goldsmith Shows Where His True Loyalties Lie
In case you had any doubt about whose interests are paramount for our city’s chief legal beagle, please check out Dorian Hargrove’s great story over at the SD Reader City Attorney Jan Goldsmith toadying for Bank of America by prosecuting a North Park man for writing protest signs in washable chalk.
From the Reader:
On Tuesday, the City Attorney’s Office will make their case for prosecution of a 40-year-old man for writing anti-bank slogans in water soluble chalk on the sidewalk outside of three Bank of America branches in Mid-City.
This week, North Park resident Jeff Olson will appear in court to fight a charge of 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism charges for writing protest slogans in chalk from February to August 2012. The charges could send Olson to jail for 13 years and put him on the hook for $13,000 in restitution to the City and to Bank of America.
Olson, a former staffer for a U.S. Senator from Washington, began to get involved in political activism around the time that Occupy Wall Street was in full swing. But for him, sleeping in a tent downtown or singing along to protest songs was not the right strategy.
The investigation for the ‘heinous’ crimes was handled by the SDPD Gang Unit at the specific request of Darrell Freeman, acting as Bank of America’s corporate security officer. During a confrontation between Olson and Freeman outside the BofA North Park facility, the security officer was overheard by a Reader reporter threatening “with one phone call’ to get the protesters’ account at local credit union closed.
The BofA is claiming thousands of dollars were spent on contractors to clean up the washable chalk and demanding restitution, despite the fact that they also pay annual dues to the North Park Maintenance Assessment District last year and the North Park Business Improvement District, both of which offer graffiti cleanup by a privately contracted firm.
Mayor Bob Filner got wind of this complete waste of taxpayer money last week, according to the Reader account, and sent a memo to the City Council, asking Todd Gloria to docket the item for the next closed session meeting:
“This young man is being persecuted for thirteen counts of vandalism stemming from an expression of political protest that involved washable children’s chalk on a City sidewalk. It is alleged that he has no previous criminal record. If these assertions are correct, I believe this is a misuse and waste of taxpayer money. It could also be characterized as an abuse of power that infringes on First Amendment particularly when it is arbitrarily applied to some, but not all, similar speech.”
Papa Doc* Failing in SDFP Poll
UT-San Diego is trumpeting yet another one of their polls, claiming voter disapproval for Mayor Bob Filner is at 43%. This number is an actual improvement from their last poll back in February which pegged disapproval at 47%…which says something about how ineffective their campaign against the Mayor has been.
Meanwhile the San Diego Free Press poll (on the right side of the front page) on Papa Doc’s* performance as publisher of the daily paper has 89% of the respondents giving him a failing grade.
*A reader with familiarity of the reality inside the UT-San Diego building has written us, saying that the praise “Papa Doc” (Referring to dictator Papa Doc Duvalier) is used by staffers in place of “Papa Doug” when talking about their publisher.
The War of the Recall Facebook Pages
The battle between Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has spilled over onto social media. A Recall Bob Filner Facebook page went up over the weekend. Recall Jan Goldsmith went up Monday. And so far the anti-Goldsmith page has attracted more followers, 58 for recalling the City Attorney vs. 14 for recalling the Mayor..
Taco Bell’s New Mystery Meat Rollout?
Republished without comment from futurist blog io9.com:
Taco Bell has decided to start using the word “protein” instead of “meat” on a special, new meat-heavy menu. Could this be the first step toward acclimating us to fake and synthetic meat — I mean, protein?
According to Business Week:
On July 25, Taco Bell will start testing a new “Power Protein” menu in Ohio aimed at health-conscious consumers. It will include items with more than 20 grams of protein and less than 450 calories per serving, such as a burrito and a bowl, both served with a double portion of chicken or steak. The menu is already being tested under the name “Fresco Power” in Southern California.
Missy Schaaphok, nutritionist and product manager for Taco Bell, says in an e-mail that the company is using the “protein” label on its new menu “because of the ingredients in the items.”
On This Day: 1964 – President Lyndon Johnson ordered 200 naval personnel to Mississippi to assist in finding three missing civil rights workers. 1973 – White House Counsel John Dean admitted that President Nixon took part in the Watergate cover-up. 2003 – The Recording Industry Association of America disclosed its plans to fight Internet piracy. The plan was to sue hundreds of individual computer users who illegally share music files online. They lost.
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