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VAWA VRA Sequester

by on March 1, 2013

Having successfully avoided the Fiscal Cliff we walked right into the sequester.  Our two-party system, in which the majority cannot tyrannize the minority — and the minority can control the majority  — enables us to successfully get nothing done.  Time and time again.  When you’re in the majority, and your will has been thwarted by the minority, the easy thing to do is to lay blame.  And, being biased, I say the blame lies with minority, I say the blame lies with the party who created the idea of the sequester and kicked the can down the road.

That’s not the only can that was kicked down the road.  The ambidextrous minority Republican Party was able to kick the Voting Rights Act down the road.  More correctly, the Republican Party was able to kick the seminal Voting Rights Act of 1965 over to the Supreme Court so it could investigate whether Section 5 of the Act was constitutional.  “Under Section 5, jurisdictions covered by these special provisions could not implement any change affecting voting until the Attorney General or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia determined that the change did not have a discriminatory purpose and would not have a discriminatory effect.”  So says the Justice Department.  Why?  Anti-discrimination laws were not – are not – sufficient to prevent anti-discriminatory behavior at the voting booths.  Anti-discrimination of who?  Your classic ‘minorities,’ all of whom voted in the plurality for Obama, who “won 93 percent of African-Americans, 71 percent of Hispanics, and 73 percent of Asians. He took 55 percent of the overall female vote” in 2012.

So the Voting Rights Act was kicked over to the Supreme Court.  “On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the court heard oral arguments in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, in which elected officials of Shelby County, Ala., contest the requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — first enacted by Congress in 1965, and renewed in 2006 — that certain states with a history of racial discrimination must receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to their voting laws.”  Here’s what discrimination in the South was like in the 1960’s, according for a friend, who by virtue of his age and birth was present:

In the early and mid 1960’s when I was a young teenager, I was involved in the voter registration drives in Roanoke Virginia. At personal risk, I was out knocking on doors encouraging people to register, helping to arrange rides to take them to classes so they could prepare them for the tests and even helping with the prep classes. Negroes could be fired by their employees for registering. And in those days in many places, employers were notified if a Negro even attempted to register. In some places, not Roanoke, people were attacked, houses burned and some people killed for exercising this right.

Little would I imagine that almost fifty years after the 1965 Voting Rights Acts was signed there would be new attempts to disallow Blacks and now Latinos their right to vote.

The US stands as watchdog over other countries and yet a Supreme Court Justice from the bench refers to the protection of this RIGHT as a ‘perpetuation of racial entitlement.” And of yet, no leading Republican has spoken out against this.
What I know is privilege will always do everything to protect privilege. No nasty dishonest trick is low enough. And from people who profess that honesty is a supreme value.

Having grown up in one of the most extreme system of privilege, I can smell it, see it and hear it even when folks think they are being subtle. A few people ask why I am always calling it out. They think it being oversensitive and divisive. I know that one technique of privilege also – let’s try to silence you and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
If the court overturns Section 5, I will be even louder in a whole lot of places starting in South Carolina and in Washington. Like a tree that’s planted by the water, we shall not be moved.

I wasn’t afraid to do the right thing for human rights when I was a young teen and hell if I am now. As Janis Joplin sang “Freedom is Just another word for nothing else to lose.”

I could continue to talk about racial discrimination. I wrote my lengthy thesis for my Political Science B.A. on the effects location and race on education and other measurements of prosperity. Or you could look around you and agree there’s still discrimination. In a democracy the role and goal of government is to provide opportunity for all its citizens, or else the theorists are lying.

Politics being politics there is more to kick around. The Violence Against Women Act “written by Joe Biden in 1994, has been reauthorized twice in its history without dispute. Negotiations around a third renewal reached an impasse at the end of the [112th] Congress when House Republicans accused Senate Democrats of “moving the goal posts” by adding a Native American provision. The provision in question holds that non-Native American men accused of domestic violence on tribal lands can be prosecuted in tribal courts.

House Republicans unveiled their own version of the bill [at the end of February], excluding parts of the Native American provision, as well as certain protections for gay, bisexual, or transgender victims. The House version came under immediate and intense scrutiny as several Democrats took to the House floor to urge Republicans to pass the Senate’s bill.”

It is comforting to know that the Act only took about two months to resolve and that women have some protection under the law.

It remains to be seen whether Voters have any protection under the law.

Enjoy the sequestration because it has not been resolved.

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