In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Republican policymakers acted with remarkable speed – literally, less than 24 hours – to approve new voting restrictions, most notably a controversial voter-ID law.
When the Voting Rights Act was intact, changes to voting laws in the Lone Star State would need to be cleared with the Justice Department in advance of being implemented, but with the law gutted by a narrow Supreme Court majority, GOP officials in Texas assumed the Justice Department is no longer relevant, and they could do as they pleased.
The nation’s Attorney General apparently believes otherwise….
And see TPM: Holder’s Move Against Texas Could Send The Voting Rights Act Back To The Supreme Court
Steve Benen: Among voter-suppression bills, ‘This is the single worst’
Over the last few years, we’ve seen quite a few states take up new voting restrictions, immediately on the heels of Republican gains in the 2010 election cycle, so much so that the notion of a “Republican war on voting” was widely recognized and understood. After the 2012 elections, despite the failures of voter suppression, state GOP officials renewed their efforts.
But it’s probably fair to say we haven’t seen anything quite as astounding as the proposed restrictions in North Carolina. Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, “This is the single worst bill we have seen introduced since voter suppression bills began sweeping the country.”
ThinkProgress: Ohio Plans Unspeakably Cruel Appeal Of Dying Man’s Last Wish
President Obama tours Jacksonville port with, from left, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Dennis Kelly, TracPac Regional Vice President and General Manager; Ray Schleicher, CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority, and Fred Wakefield, International Longshoreman’s Association Representative
Text of the President’s remarks in Jacksonville today here
Norm Ornstein: The Unprecedented, Contemptible GOP Quest to Sabotage Obamacare. What the Republicans are doing now goes beyond mere hardball politics – and could hurt millions of Americans affected by health-care reform.
Karen Grigsby Bates: As soon as he made his remarks on race Friday, President Obama found himself part of intense conversation around the nation. In dozens of cities across the country Saturday, protesters held coordinated rallies and vigils over the not-guilty verdict in the shooting death of an unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Many African Americans insist that understanding the context for black distress over the Zimmerman verdict is key to honest discussions about race.
“You know we’re not looked upon as the people who fought for this country; we’re looked upon as the burden of this country,” he says. White Americans, Narcisse says, probably didn’t get the president’s story of being followed while shopping because it isn’t part of their experience, as it is his.
“That’s what you gotta think about,” he says. “When you walk into a store, do they follow you around? Have you ever had that happen to you?” In Atlanta, Emory University professor Tyrone Forman likes that Obama encouraged white Americans to consider what might happen if the situation were reversed. What, Forman asks, if Trayvon Martin had been Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who also wears hoodies, just as Trayvon did the night he was killed? “We can imagine a very different scenario would have transpired that evening in Sanford, Florida,” Forman said. “And I think it’s that context that President Obama was alluding to, and trying to open a conversation about.”
Danari Hankerson, 5, of York, turns around to face a singer singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at a vigil for Trayvon Martin on Saturday outside the York County Judicial Center
Diya Cruz, left, marches from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the Fruitvale BART station with other protesters after a rally in Oakland, Calif.
Gene Demby: President Obama’s surprise remarks Friday afternoon about the Trayvon Martin case, racial profiling and race more broadly was almost certainly his most extensive remarks about the role race plays in American life — and the role it has played in his own — since his presidency began. For Obama, discussing race has been especially treacherous. When he weighed in on the case last year — “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” — his comments were viewed by many as an attempt to humanize Trayvon and empathize with his family, while many other people felt he was attempting to put his thumb on the scale in the case. (His comments came before George Zimmerman had been charged.)
But that’s perhaps what made the president’s surprise remarks in the White House briefing room so fascinating. “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son,” he said. “Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” The president tried to contextualize the reaction that so many African-Americans had to the trial and the issue of racial profiling by talking about his own experiences.
It’s not clear just yet what prompted the president to revisit the verdict, but his statements came just days after Attorney General Eric Holder sharply critiqued stand your ground self-defense laws like the ones in Florida. In his comments, Holder got pretty personal as well. The week since the verdict has seen countless black men recount and lament being treated with suspicion as they moved through the world. Now, remarkably, the president of the United States and the nation’s top law enforcement official add their voices to that chorus.
Scott Neuman: Hundreds of people across the country attended “Justice For Trayvon” rallies calling for civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the wake of his acquittal a week ago in the fatal shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin. The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized the events following last Saturday’s verdict in Sanford, Fla., in which six jurors accepted Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense during a scuffle with Martin in February 2012.
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, attended the event in New York, where Sharpton called on those gathered to create a new, peaceful movement for change, reports NPR’s Dan Bobkoff. “Not only do I vow to you to do what i can for Trayvon Martin, I promise you I will work hard for your children too because it’s important,” Fulton told the crowd.
Meanwhile, Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, spoke at similar rally in Miami. “I’d like the world to know that Trayvon was my son. He was a loved child. He did nothing wrong and we’re not going to let them persecute him he way that they have,” Martin said.
David Maraniss: The first black president speaks out first as a black American
Trayvon Martin, the president said, could have been him 35 years ago. That would have been Barack Obama at age 17, then known as Barry and living in Honolulu. He had a bushy Afro. Hoodies were not in style then, or often needed in balmy Hawaii. His customary hangout outfit was flip-flops, called “slippers” on the island, shell bracelet, OP shorts and a tee.
Imagine if Barry Obama had been shot and killed, unarmed, during a confrontation with a self-deputized neighborhood watch enforcer, perhaps in some exclusive development on the far side of Diamond Head after leaving home to get shave ice. The news reports would have painted a complicated picture of the young victim, a variation on how Martin was portrayed decades later in Florida:
Lives with his grandparents; father not around, mother somewhere overseas. Pretty good student, sometimes distracted. Likes to play pickup hoops and smoke pot. Hangs out with buddies who call themselves the Choom Gang. Depending on who is providing the physical description, he could seem unprepossessing or intimidating, easygoing or brooding. And black.
Ian Millhisher: The fact that Perez emerged as Obama’s most controversial cabinet appointment reflects a very significant bias in our confirmation process. Secretary Perez has two Ivy League degrees, including a law degree with honors from Harvard Law School. The market salary for an attorney in private practice with an honors Harvard JD is $160,000 a year — and that’s in their very first year after graduation. Perez, as an experienced attorney with years of senior-level government service, obviously could command substantially more money. At any point in his career — from the day he graduated from Harvard through today — Perez could have left public service and chosen a career that would have made him very rich very quickly. He never once took this path. Instead, Secretary Perez spent his entire career in public service — as a law clerk to a federal judge, as a prosecutor in the same Civil Rights Division he would go on to lead, as an adviser to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on civil rights, and in various high-level civil rights and labor policy jobs at the state and federal level. When his law school classmates were plotting how to convert their six-figure associate salaries into seven-figure partnerships, Perez put white supremacists in prison.
The career advice young people can learn from the confirmation of Tom Perez as Labor Secretary thkpr.gs/13mUdqz
It’s unlikely that conservatives opposed his nomination simply because he chose public service over wealth, however. What really drove this opposition was the way he conducted himself throughout his career. Secretary Perez pushed basic labor protections such as a minimum wagefor domestic workers when he served on the Montgomery County City Council, an effort that ultimately succeeded after he left the council. He promised to “throw the book” at employers who withheld pay from immigrant workers. He saved a key prong of federal fair housing law from an attempt to neuter it in the Supreme Court, and he used that very aspect of the law to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from major banks that charged minority homeowners more than whites seeking a mortgage. He also reinvigorated the Civil Right’s Division’s historic commitment to protecting voting rights after the Bush Administration largely shunned that role. Indeed, Perezled the push against voter ID, a common method used by conservatives to shift the electorate rightward, in Texas and South Carolina.
Josh Israel: In his first gubernatorial debate against Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinellii II (R) admitted Saturday that his extreme anti-LGBT views have not changed. While reaffirming his extreme earlier comments about what he termed “the personal challenge of homosexuality,” he suggested that he would create an economically positive environment that would help LGBT Virginians.
McAuliffe repeatedly attacked Cuccinelli throughout the Virginia Bar Association debate in Hot Springs, VA for his record of demonizing science, women’s health, and LGBT people. Twice, McAuliffe noted that Cuccinelli had called LGBT Virginians “soulless” and “self-destructive” and that his attempts to rescind non-discrimination protections have hurt Virginia’s business climate. Cuccinelli consistently ignored the attacks until moderator Judy Woodruff asked him directly about his previous comments. Cuccinelli responded briefly, saying, “My personal beliefs about the personal challenges of homosexuality haven’t changed.”
A tear ran down five-year-old Jacob Charley’s face while holding a “Black Life Matters” sign as thousands gathered to take part in a prayer vigil and rally in honor of Trayvon Martin in front of the Richard Russell Federal Building, Atlanta, July 20
Rebecca Leber: On Saturday, 100 cities held rallies organized by the National Action Network for Trayvon Martin, where large crowds demanded a federal civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen. “Trayvon could have been anyone’s child,” Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, said at a rally in Miami. “That’s the message that’s being sent to the world.” Celebrities, lawmakers, and religious leaders also joined the rallies on Saturday.
Wayne T. Price: Dr. Biju Matthews, a Titusville-based cardiologist, believes the Affordable Care Act is going to create a new wave of medical consumers armed with something they haven’t had before — health insurance. And many of those newly insured, Matthews said, are not going to have primary care physicians, nor are they going to want to go to a hospital emergency room for run-of-the-mill medical care, like cuts, colds or sore throats.
That’s why Matthews and his medical partner, Dr. Naresh Mody, opened Chiron Urgent Care earlier this month, next to their cardiology practice on North Washington Avenue in Titusville. “It’s definitely a good service,” Matthews said, “and it’s already picked up within two or three weeks. We’re seeing a lot more than we expected in our initial pro forma.” With just months to go before the individual mandates from the Affordable Care Act kick in, walk-in clinics like Chiron Urgent Care are seen as one of the medical niches with the potential for rapid growth.
First Lady Michelle Obama greets children during her visit to the Naval Air Station Oceana Summer Camp in Virginia Beach, Va., July 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Tara Culp-Ressler: California’s teen birth rate has plummeted to the lowest level that it’s been in the past 20 years, according to new data from the state’s health department. The state’s rate now stands at 28 births for every 1,000 teenage girls — a 60 percent drop since 1991, when the rate peaked at 70.9 births for every 1,000 girls.
Public health experts directly attribute this success to state laws that require California’s public schools to offer comprehensive sex ed classes with scientifically accurate information about birth control. State officials also credited family planning programs that provide community-based resources to teens. “We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden walk from the Oval Office to the motorcade on the South Lawn driveway, July 21, 2010. They traveled to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., to sign the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Nancy Giles: When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford, Fla., last year, my nephew Julius was living with me, and I worried about him all the time. Julius is 23, bright, well-spoken, funny, never been in trouble, and wears a baseball cap and a hooded sweat shirt, like a lot of young people his age. He worked days and weekends, and when he went out at night to meet his friends, we had the regular drill: Do you have your ID? Is your cell phone charged? Do you have one of my business cards? What’s with the pants? Is that sweatshirt warm enough?
He knew what I meant, and would shake his head and make some adjustments. And I’d watch him and blink — and see his little boy face singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in his sweet, little kid voice. I was relieved that there were no “Stand Your Ground” laws in New York and New Jersey, but still worried that Julius might be stopped and frisked by the NYPD — not because he’d done anything, but because (according to the language of “Stop and Frisk”) he could be stopped if the police had a “reasonable suspicion” of . . . something.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama colors props for a theater production with children during a visit to the Naval Air Station Oceana Summer Camp in Virginia Beach, Va., July 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden ride in the motorcade from the White House to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2010, to sign the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)