Political candidates of both parties refuse to accept the reality that the entirety of the original Constitutional intention and the Bill of Rights must be protected and preserved in order to uphold their oath of office. Every failure to uphold any original Constitutional intention permits the erosion of freedom and justice.
The AG’s attack on voter ID laws may backfire legally and politically.
Eric Holder must be amazed that President Obama was elected and he could become Attorney General. That’s a fair inference after the Attorney General last Friday blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minorities. What a political abuse of law.
In a letter to South Carolina’s government, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a violation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Overall, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters.
This is the yawning chasm the Justice Department is now using to justify the unprecedented federal intrusion into state election law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Voting Rights request since 1994.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was created to combat the systematic disenfranchisement of minorities, especially in Southern states with a history of discrimination. But the Justice position is a lead zeppelin, contradicting both the Supreme Court and the Department’s own precedent. In 2005, Justice approved a Georgia law with the same provisions and protections of the one Mr. Holder nixed for South Carolina. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that an Indiana law requiring photo ID did not present an undue burden on voters.
A second case offers a further glimpse into the High Court’s perspective on the modern use of Section 5. In 2009’s Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, the Court declined to decide the question of the constitutionality of Section 5, writing that while it imposes “substantial federalism costs,” the “importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it.” But the Justices didn’t stop there.
They also cast real doubt on the long-term viability of the law, noting in an 8-1 decision by Chief Justice John Roberts that it “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.” That such strong criticism was signed by even the Court’s liberals should concern Mr. Holder, who may eventually have to defend his South Carolina smackdown in court.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley tells us she “will absolutely sue” Justice over its denial of her state’s law and that challenge will go directly to federal district court in Washington, D.C. From there it may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which would have to consider whether South Carolina can be blocked from implementing a law identical to the one the High Court approved for Indiana, simply because South Carolina is a “covered” jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act.
In such a scenario, Mr. Holder’s tactics could well doom Section 5 itself. That’s a big gamble for the sake of trying to stir up election-year minority voter turnout.
Civil-rights groups claim this Justice offensive is needed to counteract a voting environment in which little has changed since Jim Crow. But South Carolina’s law, like Indiana’s and Georgia’s, explicitly addresses potential disenfranchisement by offering state-issued IDs free of charge. When civil-rights groups fretted about the ability of minority voters to get to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to pick up a free state-issued ID card, Governor Haley created an 800 number to offer free rides to anyone who couldn’t afford the transportation. About 30 people called.
In October, the South Carolina Department of Elections reported that some 240,000 state voters lacked ID cards. The DMV now says more than 200,000 of those had allowed their IDs to expire, lived in other states or were dead.
The Voting Rights Act was once needed to counteract the gap between black and white voter registration. By 2009 the gap had narrowed to a few percentage points in some covered states while blacks out-registered whites in others. Yet Justice retains a federal veto on election-law changes no matter how innocuous or racially neutral. Section 5 has become a vehicle not to pursue equal access to the polls but to play the grossest kind of racial politics.
As African-American men at the most exalted reaches of government, Messrs. Obama and Holder are a testament to how much racial progress the country has made. It’s a shame to see them pretending little has changed so they can scare up some votes.
Today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor was encouraging news for the U.S. economy. It shows that 200,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Jobs were created in every sector of the economy save one — government! This report is consistent with other economic indicators and shows that the economy is finally coming out of its malaise. But like any reports, they must be put into context. The creation of 200,000 new jobs is solid growth and above the 130,000 to 150,000 new jobs that must be created to keep up with population growth. However, this doesn’t mean happy times are here again.
There are not enough Americans working or looking for work. In fact participation in the labor force is at its lowest point in 30 years as many potential workers are not yet even attempting to find jobs. Moreover, at this stage in a recovery, new jobs should be surging instead of averaging less than 140,000 for the last three months. So all is not well and President Obama should not check the “mission accomplished” box. In fact, Obama’s painful economic policies will only serve to further hamstring America’s economic engine, thereby preventing a truly strong, vibrant economy that the country is capable of having.
The President single-handedly unleashed another poison pill on Wednesday with the White House’s announcement that he will exact another illegal, unconstitutional end-run around Congress with the appointment of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without Senate approval, all of whom are union officials. Here’s why that matters.
The NLRB is a five-member board that is responsible for investigating unfair labor practices, creating labor-related rules, and conducting elections for labor union representation. Last year the NLRB enacted measures shortening union elections to as little as 14 days, limiting employees’ ability to hear from both sides before they vote, allowing unions to cherry-pick which workers in a company can vote on unionizing, and preventing workers from insisting on a secret ballot in union drives, as Heritage’s James Sherk explains. These measures will make it much easier for unions to organize workers — but at the expense of workers’ rights. If workers want to join a union they have that right — management gets the union it deserves — but the government should not limit their rights in order to press workers into unionizing.
Prior to the President’s appointments, the NLRB had only three sitting members, with the one member’s term ending at the end of 2012. Were the NLRB to go down to two members, it wouldn’t have a quorum to conduct its business, meaning that the President’s Big Labor agenda couldn’t be enacted. Now, though, the President has appointed three new members who will undoubtedly carry out his agenda without any checks or balances.
And that agenda is to bolster America’s unions — a key constituency and political force standing behind the President. Unfortunately, their goal is not primarily to protect workers. The trouble is that the Big Labor agenda is fundamentally at odds with the pro-growth agenda that America is so thirsty for. Sherk explains:
Unions make businesses less competitive and discourage investment. This reduces job growth. Studies show that jobs fall by 5-10 percent at newly organized firms. Going forward, employment grows by three to four percentage points more slowly at unionized businesses than at otherwise identical non-union companies.
In short, America is witnessing President Obama put his Big Labor allies before workers, all in the guise of taking action on behalf of the American people. America’s job creators are sitting on the sidelines, as well, watching as this President takes actions that serve only to inject more poisonous uncertainty into the economy.
Apart from the economic ramifications of the President’s actions, the American people should also remember that his NLRB appointments are a blatantly unconstitutional, tyrannical abuse of power. The U.S. Constitution requires that the President receive the advice and consent of the Senate when making appointments — a requirement that President Obama entirely set aside in order to advance his agenda.
Today, the President may say he is finding success in fighting for the American worker, but in truth he is fighting for his political allies. Beneath the surface of his populist rhetoric, his policies are poisoning strong economic growth. And for the President, the Constitution is collateral damage.
The President may be gutting our national defense budget, but don’t worry. We may not have money for weapons, but Homeland Security just bought enough snow cone machines to fight the next cold war. Yesterday, President Obama stood at the Pentagon’s podium and announced steep new cuts to the U.S. Defense Department. Although he wouldn’t divulge exactly where the $487 billion would come from, the President is estimated to scale back the size of the Army and Marine Corps by more than 120,000, which will significantly impact security for all families–not to mention military families and their benefits. (To them, the message may as well be, “Thank you for your years of sacrifice. The unemployment line starts over there.”) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the new plan would also put the brakes on weapons development, missile defense, and America’s nuclear force.
Clearly, the White House is looting national security to make room for its pricy liberal domestic agenda. And under the Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be staring down another half-trillion dollars in cuts if Congress and the President can’t reach a deal. “I’m sympathetic to the challenges that we face in terms of the deficit,” former Secretary Robert Gates said last November. “But the truth of the matter is…the Department of Defense is not the problem.” He’s right. The White House is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the military, while domestic spending balloons out of control. It’s like taking a hatchet to the military and using a butter knife on the rest of the budget.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, is just one of the members who hit the ceiling over the President’s approach. “This is a lead from behind strategy for a left-behind America,” he said. “[It] ensures American decline in exchange for more failed domestic programs. In order to justify massive cuts to our military, he has revoked the guarantee that America will support our allies, defend our interests, and defy our opponents.” While the country becomes more vulnerable, Obama’s pet projects do not. By dismantling the military, the President has even more money to spend on friends like Planned Parenthood.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) understands how disingenuous the cuts are in light of the billions of dollars Washington throws away every day. He published an entire “Wastebook” of projects that Congress could end to make room for some of America’s real needs. It seems the administration would rather disarm the troops than stop sending dough to a Texas pizza chain (p. 13). Want to understand the slippery slope of congressional spending? Stop by the $86,014 ski museum (p. 32). Or maybe we should couch our argument in the $862,000 cushion for furniture storage (p. 29). Between the Pakistani mango farmers (p. 4) and the $765,828 helping of D.C. pancakes (p. 7), it adds up to $6.5 billion in federal idiocy. This doesn’t include the hundreds of billions wasted in federal agencies and programs every year. Which begs the question–why is the President shrinking the military if he can’t even win a war on pork? Both Congress and the administration say they’ve exhausted their options for trimming the deficit. But after a year on the Oregon Cheese Trail (p. 30), surely they can Muenster up some courage to cut more. Otherwise, America’s future is headed to the same place as Alaska’s $15.3 million bridge: nowhere.
The Gumption of Presumption
Same-sex “marriage” is not just an attack on a traditional social institution–it’s an attack on the order of nature itself. That was made clear again this week when an Iowa court ruled that a child whose mother was a lesbian “married” to a woman and whose father was an anonymous sperm donor should have both female “spouses” listed on the child’s birth certificate. The ruling was based on a legal principle called “the presumption of paternity,” which historically has stated that when a child is born to a married woman, her husband is presumed to be the father of that child. In other words, the law “presumed” what was almost always true. But in the wake of the Iowa Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex “marriage” in 2009, Judge Eliza Ovrom has twisted the “presumption of paternity” into a “presumption of parentage.” So what was once a presumption of something that was nearly always biologically true has now become a “presumption” of something that is biologically impossible (since a child cannot have two genetic mothers). Ironically, homosexual activists are reporting that the court ordered that an “accurate” birth certificate be issued–when in fact they ordered issuance of a certificate that is inaccurate since it fails to list both the mother and father.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison
Racial segregation was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in one of the worst rulings in history, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). In that case, the former Kentucky slave owner, Justice John Marshall Harlan, wrote this powerful dissent.
The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved…
…We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow-citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of ‘equal’ accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead any one, nor atone for the wrong this day done.
The wrong of that day of Plessy lasted into the 1960s. Justice Harlan, a Republican appointee, ringingly proclaimed that the Constitution must be “color-blind.” Let’s honor his memory, too.
Dr. King made his point in biblical cadences. He cried out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial: “Let justice roll down like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) Following the peaceful conclusion of that great March on Washington in August, 1963, President Kennedy invited Dr. King and the leaders of the civil rights movement to a meeting in the Oval Office.
It was not Dr. King’s first time there. President Eisenhower had made a point of inviting Dr. King to meet with him to discuss civil rights when King emerged as the leader of the Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott in 1957. Dr. King and his followers refused to ride in the back of the buses that their tax dollars supported.
Ike had used his appointive powers to name Supreme Court justices who would correct the injustice of Plessy. Barely a year into Eisenhower’s first term, the high court unanimously ruled against segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). And Republican Eisenhower sent federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, when the Democratic Gov. Orval Faubus defied federal court orders to de-segregate that city’s schools.
Eisenhower was criticized endlessly by liberal elites for his emphasis on massive federal highway construction and for encouraging American prosperity. “A vast wasteland,” they dubbed TV in what all now see as its golden age. Still, it was over Ike’s new Interstate highways that the Freedom Riders of the early sixties blazed a trail to end segregation. And those TV news cameras let all Americans see, for the first time, the police dogs and fire hoses necessary to maintain segregation. Political reform followed quickly on the heels of Ike’s achievements.
When Democratic Sen. Hubert Humphrey led the fight for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he had no stronger ally than Republican Leader Everett Dirksen. Minority Republicans in the Senate gave even stronger support, proportionately, than Democrats did to push through that historic legislation.
Dr. King was willing to lay down his life. His assassination by a white racist on April 4, 1968 was the culmination of King’s lifelong advocacy of full equality under law.
“I have been to the mountain top,” Dr. King told his worried supporters in the days before his murder. He had indeed. He saw the promised land of equal justice under law. He had that vision because he kept his eyes on the prize. All Americans can be grateful for his legacy.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are senior fellows at Family Research Council.