Let’s go to school. I was confused about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Was does it do? Why was it necessary? Why was Section Five so important? Constitutional scholar Linda Monk answers all of these questions and more.
As you listen to this podcast, I would encourage you to check out some references. First, here is the Voting Rights Act. Secondly, Linda mentions a case that I had never heard of – South Carolina verses Katzenbach (more information here). You should also review the 15th amendment, which gives Congress the power to make voting fair across the US. We discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. Finally, we discuss Eric Holder’s bid to try and make sure that elections are fair for everyone.
This is a great interview and conversation. Sit back and enjoy.
Update: Linda Monk clarifies: “FYI, technically the Supreme Court did NOT decide to strike down Section 5 of the VRA; it struck down the threshold definition used in Section 4, which meant that Section 5 did not kick in.” As usual, I was kind of clueless. So, I went back to the Voting Rights Act and looked at Section 4. Of course, Linda is correct. Here’s how ScotusBlog puts it – Today the Court issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to the constitutionality of the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. That portion of the Act was designed to prevent discrimination in voting by requiring all state and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures, no matter how small. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts that was joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, the Court did not invalidate the principle that preclearance can be required. But much more importantly, it held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets out the formula that is used to determine which state and local governments must comply with Section 5’s preapproval requirement, is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect unless and until Congress can enact a new statute to determine who should be covered by it.
Greg Dworkin is one of the front page bloggers at the Daily Kos. He is also a physician and a friend of mine. He is also a Newtown, Ct resident. We discuss the need for gun control in this country. Yes, we need to talk about other factors, including metal health issues, but Newtown clearly revealed the need for gun control. Remember that the first victim of the Newtown shooting was a gun owner. She was shot with her own gun while she was sleeping. Having more guns isn’t the solution. If having more guns were the solution, then Nancy Lanza would be alive today. She had plenty.
But if anything has been learned since [the election], it’s that the president’s power in Washington remains severely constrained by a Republican opposition establishment that is bitter about its losses, unmoved by Mr. Obama’s victory and unwilling to compromise on social policy, economics or foreign affairs. House Republicans, in particular, argue that they won elections as well and they see their ability to retain control of the House as granting them the right to stick to their own views even when they clash strongly with the president’s.
So the Times is calling them bitter and uncompromising dead-enders? Accurate observation.
Tornadoes. Death. It is amazing that in the first week of March we are talking about deadly tornadoes across the Midwest and South. Indiana. Kentucky. Tennessee. Alabama.
Last night, a story broke in the NFL in which bounties seem to be paid to New Orleans Saints defensive players for “knockout” hits. The substance of the story is nothing new. Over the past 20 or 30 years, there have been rumors that players have been paid for extra big hits. During the Buddy Ryan era, while he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, there were rumors that bounties were paid in order to knock out key Dallas Cowboys players. In Dallas, one particular game has been dubbed the Bounty Bowl. Yet, the allegations out of New Orleans are somewhat different. This is not only because the New Orleans Saints have suddenly, over the last four or five years, gone from a struggling franchise to an elite team but it’s also because the New Orleans Saints finally won the Super Bowl. The NFL beleives that it has proof with accounts specifically for bounties. Look, the NFL is a violent game. We all know the statistics of the average NFL player and how short-lived his playing days are. Yet, I think that we expect that players are not to go out and intentionally try to hurt each other. The league has clearly taken steps to try to decrease concussions and other injuries, but these new allegations suggest to me that the NFL needs to go much further. Players like James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers who continually seem to be involved in big hits and helmet to helmet contact need to receive gargantuan fines and prolonged suspensions. Look for the NFL commissioner to come down extremely harshly on players and coaches that are found to be involved in these bounties. The NFL is a multibillion dollar business. The NFL commissioner will protect the NFL brand.
For some reason, conservatives have looked at Barack Obama’s interview in the Atlantic Monthly with surprise. The President is talking about foreign policy and specifically talking about the fact that Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. There are a few things in American politics that are clear. One of them is our position towards Iran. Letting Iran get a nuclear weapon is simply unacceptable. It cannot happen. All the nightmare scenarios begin to come your head as soon as you think of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Therefore, as president, you have to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening. This is not about ideology. It is about American security and the security of our friends in the Middle East and around the world. I would encourage everybody to read this article. From a tactical standpoint, Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. From a political standpoint, the president cannot be seen as weak. He cannot and will not allow any Republican to get to the right of him on this issue. This is the only thoughtful position that he could take.