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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, December 20, 2014
'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
Previous GNRs: 12/9/14 - 12/4/14 - Archives...
The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

State Republicans' attempt to delay next summer's trial described as 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
UPDATE: Court Denies Motion to Delay Trial...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/5/2014 2:03pm PT  

North Carolina Republicans are now seeking to delay the full federal trial challenging their massive election reform law, which has been described as the worst-in-the-nation and as a "monster" voter suppression law.

The tactic threatens to, once again, undermine any ruling by the court, should it be made too close to the state's 2016 elections. The trial in the case had previously been set, according to a timetable established in federal court in December of 2013, to take place during the July 2015 trial calendar. State Republicans, however, now argue that a separate state court challenge to one section of its massive voter suppression law, scheduled during the same period next summer, will "severely prejudice" their ability to defend themselves in the federal case which follows it.

Plaintiffs argue in response that the move is "another step in Defendants continued attempts to delay the ultimate resolution of this action."

The attempt to re-schedule comes from the same North Carolina Republicans who, this past October, successfully persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an appellate court order restoring a number of voter registration and voting provisions that were blocked by the state GOP's law, simply because the court order restoring those voting rights was issued too close to the Nov. 4, 2014 election.

The state's argument at the time was that "Court orders affecting elections...can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls. As an election draws closer, that risk will increase."

The trial which the state is now attempting to stall is in response to the same federal lawsuit involving legal challenges to the state's Voter Information Verification Act ("VIVA"). This site, and many others, described the legislation as the "nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era," when state Republicans enacted the extraordinarily wide-reaching restrictions on voting and registration in NC within days of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in the summer of 2013...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Former Massey Energy CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Director could get 31 years for 2010's deadly West Virginia mine disaster...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/19/2014 6:05am PT  

On Friday, one day after the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a 43-page, four-count Criminal Indictment [PDF] against infamous, long-time West Virginia coal boss Donald L. Blankenship, U.S. District Court Judge Irene C. Berger issued a gag order in the case in an effort to secure a federal jury in West Virginia that could "be fair and impartial and whose verdict [will be] based only upon evidence presented during trial."

That will be no easy feat.

Blankenship, whom Rolling Stone described in 2010 as "the Dark Lord of Coal Country," is the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Massey Energy Co. An extraordinarily rapacious capitalist, Blankenship is credited with transforming coal into an "aggressive, partisan industry" where the goal was to extract coal "as fast and as cheap as possible."

Blankenship is a principle force behind the environmentally destructive "mountaintop removal" --- a practice that "has destroyed 2,000 miles of streams and damaged more than a million acres of forest," according to Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone. Under Blankenship's leadership, the magazine reports, Massey also "injected toxic coal slurry," a biproduct of washing coal before its used for burning, "near underground aquifers" resulting in contamination of drinking water. (Where, elsewhere in the U.S., heart disease is the top killer, in Appalachia cancer is the number one cause of death.)

Last week's federal indictment, however, relates to "the Dark Lord's" role in the massive April 5, 2010 explosion at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine ("UBB") that resulted in the deaths of 29 Massey employees. It was the nation's worst mine disaster in the past 40 years.

The indictment alleges that "Blankenship...conspired to commit and cause routine violations of mandatory federal mine safety standards," including "ventilation" regulations designed to prevent explosions, in order to maximize profits; that he "conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") in carrying out its duties at UBB," and that Blankenship made "materially false statements...to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission" essentially to protect the value of Massey stock.

If convicted, Blankenship could wind up serving 31 years in federal prison. If convicted. Therein lies the rub....

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Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/12/2014 3:38pm PT  

On Monday, President Barack Obama, both in a surprisingly clear written statement and video-taped announcement (posted at end of this article), called upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt "bright-line" rules that would ensure an "open and free" Internet via the concept of "net neutrality" --- a concept that would, in the President's words, ensure there "are no gatekeepers deciding which sites you get to access. There are no toll roads on the information superhighway." Anything less, the President proclaimed, "would threaten to end the Internet as we know it."

Though oversight similar to that called for by the President resulted in a record number of public comments (99% in favor) to the FCC, predictably, the President's announcement drew harsh reactions not only from the handful of corporations which could profit from those Internet highway tolls, but from their Republican allies. Following Obama's comments, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-FL), for example, quickly denounced "net neutrality", if somewhat cryptically, as "Obamacare for the Internet."

Republican opposition would amount to little more than public grousing, however, if, in accordance with the President's recommendations, the five Obama-appointed FCC Commissioners (only three can be of the same party) carefully craft new regulations that "reclassify Internet service under Title II of...the Telecommunications Act," a reclassification that would undo the damage wrought by the Republican George W. Bush-appointed FCC Commissioners in 2002.

The question for now is: Will they?...

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Voter disenfranchisement caused by EVID could affect neck-and-neck Governor race against Rick Scott in Sunshine State...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/4/2014 6:08pm PT  

While we've been covering multiple cases of on-screen vote flipping by the 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) systems, another electronic vote-related system failure, relating to the state's Electronic Voter ID (EVID) system, has also emerged in the state of Florida.

The state Democratic Party filed an emergency Motion for Ex Parte Relief [PDF] earlier this evening seeking to compel Broward County election officials to keep polls open until 9:00 p.m. They alleged, among other issues, that an "EVID system throughout the day has prevented voters from being able to update their address on the day of the election, as they are permitted to do by law."

Instead of being allowed to vote, voters were "asked to present themselves at the Supervisor of Elections office in order to update their address and return to the polling place at a later time to vote a regular ballot." That and other issues may have prevented the lawful casting of ballots in an extraordinarily close Governor's race...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/30/2014 9:35am PT  

The Politicus USA headline typified MSM coverage of what Brad Friedman often refers to as the "horse race" --- "Democrats Surge As Michelle Nunn Leads Georgia Senate Race In Third Straight Poll."

For The BRAD BLOG, and for a good many election integrity advocates and computer scientists, that narrow focus ignores "the track conditions," which, in Georgia entails the continued use of touchscreen voting systems courtesy of a 2009 determination by the Georgia Supreme Court that "unverifiable elections are just fine."

Where horse race coverage focuses exclusively on the here and now, this site feels it helpful to look back a dozen years to what took place in Georgia shortly after Democratic Secretary of State Cathy Cox signed a May 2002 contract with what was then known as Diebold Election Systems Inc....

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Despite uncontested findings of purposeful discrimination in the GOP law, strict new Photo ID restrictions allowed to take effect...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/18/2014 2:52pm PT  

- with Brad Friedman

As the plaintiffs in the otherwise successful challenge to Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law pointed out during their emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week --- after an appeals court panel had temporarily stayed a lower court's determination that the law was discriminatory and thus, stricken down --- it was the High Court itself which, when it gutted a central provision of the Voting Rights Act last year, promised there were other provisions still standing in the landmark VRA that could adequately be used to prevent discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.

"Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2" of the Voting Rights Act, the John Roberts Supreme Court majority declared at the time. Apparently they were just kidding.

As the plaintiffs in the case persuasively argued in a filing at the court on Friday, "If voters cannot be protected after findings --- including a finding of intentional racial discrimination --- and a permanent injunction in a case where there was a year of discovery, nine days of trial, and an exhaustive, comprehensive District Court opinion, then when will they be?"

The answer to that question came back from the Court in the form of a pre-dawn order [PDF] issued Saturday morning upholding the appellate court's ruling that, even though the law, SB 14, is discriminatory, as found by the lower court after a full trial on the merits, the Photo ID restrictions that are likely to disenfranchise some 600,000 legally registered and disproportionately minority voters in the Lone Star State will be back in effect for this November's mid-term elections.

The trial earlier this year, challenging the law under both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act --- the section that SCOTUS had previously announced was more than adequate to protect voters --- determined that the Texas law "creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose." U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos also found in her 147-page ruling, that "SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."

Texas had already required ID for every single polling place voter in the state from 2003 to 2013, and even though state Republicans' even more extreme version of Photo ID restrictions on voting instituted by SB 14 had already been found racially discriminatory by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and again by a U.S. District Court in D.C. based on data supplied by the state of Texas itself, and now, once again, found both discriminatory and unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court in Texas after a full trial, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appellate court stay issued this week on the basis that the lower court's ruling came just too close to the election to change the rules at this point.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeal had reasoned that it was better for all 600,000+ voters to face potential disenfranchisement under the racially-motivated law, rather than just a few who might face a poll worker that didn't receive adequate notice that the more restrictive ID law --- the one allowing concealed weapons permits, but not state-issued Student IDs, the one that doesn't even allow U.S. Government Veterans IDs as proof of identity for voting --- had been approved for use. It appears that a majority of Supreme Court Justices agreed.

Like the appellate court, the SCOTUS majority did not dispute any of the District Court's findings nor explain why those findings did not outweigh the "potential" disruption of the Lone Star State's electoral apparatus on the eve of an election. Its cursory order, however, leaves no room for doubt that the Court has expanded what is known as "the Purcell principle" so that, no matter how egregious the law in question, no matter the evidence establishing deliberate racial discrimination and widespread disenfranchisement, the Court will apply a per se rule that an injunction barring the illegal disenfranchisement of voters will be stayed if it is issued in close proximity to the start of an election.

While the SCOTUS majority failed to offer a written opinion to explain their decision to allow massive disenfranchisement in Texas this year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing on behalf of herself and Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, provided a tightly written dissent offering documented facts and uncontested evidence to support her opinion that the Supreme Court should have vacated the 5th Circuit's last minute stay of the lower court ruling...

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Case against GOP Photo ID voting law in Lone Star State is very different than recent cases before the Court, plaintiffs argue
UPDATE: Texas responds, blames 'emergency' on plaintiffs' rush to have case tried before the election...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/16/2014 1:09pm PT  

Attorneys for U.S. Congressman Mark Veasey (D-TX) and other plaintiffs have filed an Emergency Application[PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to restore a lower court ruling that struck down the law last week as intentionally discriminatory and an unconstitutional poll tax. That initial U.S. District Court ruling was subsequently stayed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week.

Veasey's application was followed by the filing of another Emergency Application [PDF] by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). Both were filed with Justice Antonin Scalia who oversees the 5th Circuit. Scalia has instructed the DoJ to respond by 5p ET on Thursday.

Both applications to SCOTUS were filed in the case of Veasey v. Perry in which a U.S. District Court, after a full trial on the merits, imposed a permanent injunction, preventing the State of Texas from implementing the nation's strictest photo ID law, Senate Bill 14 (SB 14).

The District Court determined that, if implemented, SB 14 could disenfranchise more than 600,000 registered Texas voters who are disproportionately black and Hispanic. The District Court not only ruled that SB 14 violated the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax, but expressly found that it was passed as the result of deliberate and willful racial discrimination.

The emergency petitions ask that the Supreme Court lift the U.S. 5th Circuit's 11th hour stay of the injunction so as to prevent electoral chaos and confusion in the rapidly approaching November election. In the first petition, the Veasey plaintiffs argue that what the 5th Circuit did in this case --- stay a permanent injunction that was issued on the basis of a District Court finding of intentional discrimination after a full trial on the merits --- was "virtually unheard of" in the annals of American jurisprudence.

Plaintiffs contend that the 5th Circuit misapplied a leading Supreme Court case, Purcell v. Gonzalez [PDF] (2006) pertaining to the issuance of injunctions on the eve of a pending election. That case does not, as the 5th Circuit ruled, mandate a per se rule that always precludes changing a law immediately prior to an election. The DoJ contends that no such per se "rule exists, and the court of appeals clearly and demonstrably erred in failing to apply the established stay factors."

Instead, plaintiffs forcefully argue, "The Purcell principle", mandates that an appellate court give deference to the factual findings of the District Court. The 5th Circuit, they add, erred by ignoring the requirement of Purcell that Texas prove it would likely succeed on an appeal. The 5th Circuit also erred, they say, because it failed to balance the state's allegations about possible confusion that might ensue from implementing pre-SB 14 law against the "actual" confusion, chaos and mass disenfranchisement that the District Court, based upon uncontested evidence, concluded would occur if SB 14 is enforced in the November 4th election (early voting begins in TX on October 20th).

"Imagine that a state passed a law, six months before an election, stating that 'Negroes cannot vote,'" the plaintiffs write. "It would be ludicrous for an appellate court to turn around and stay that injunction because of some per se rule that election laws can never change immediately prior to elections"...

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Supremes grant last minute reprieve to Badger State democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/9/2014 8:56pm PT  

In a late 6 to 3 ruling, just weeks before Election Day, and coming just minutes after the release of very good news in regard to a similar law in Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked Wisconsin's Photo ID voting law for this November's election.

A 1-page order [PDF] vacates a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stay of the U.S. District Court’s permanent injunction that had, until blocked by the Appeals court, prevented Wisconsin from enforcing its Republican-enacted photo ID law.

SCOTUS has now restored the right of some 300,000 duly registered Badger State voters to take part in the November 4, 2014 election. Many of those lawfully registered voters would have lost that right, simply because they lacked a narrow form of a state-approved photo ID.

According to the District Court Judge Lynn Adelman's April ruling after the trial, it was "absolutely clear," based on evidence and expert testimony, that Wisconsin's law would have "prevent[ed] more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

Thursday's SCOTUS order is likely to come as a disappointment to WI's Republican Gov. Scott Walker who has regarded the Photo ID law as a top priority in advance of his "toss up" re-election contest against Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Though 300,000 registered voters --- 10% of the electorate in WI --- might have been disenfranchised by the law, but for tonight's ruling by the Supremes, Walker was named the winner of his initial 2010 election by just under 125,000 votes...

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Case is larger than Wisconsin, presenting a moment of truth for American democracy and at least two Justices on the high court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/2/2014 6:06pm PT  

On Thursday morning, the ACLU filed an Emergency Application to Vacate [PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a Sept. 14, 2014 stay of a U.S. District Court ruling that had, before the stay, permanently blocked enforcement of a Republican-enacted, Wisconsin photo ID voting law.

The civil rights organization argues that the emergency ruling is needed to prevent mass disenfranchisement and electoral chaos during the upcoming Nov. 4 election. It asks that the Court "leave that injunction in force pending the Seventh Circuit's issuance of a decision on the merits."

As the District Court judge had found, before his decision was overturned by a partisan ruling at the Appellate Court level, Wisconsin's attempted restriction on the voting rights of legally registered voters poses a real and present danger that some 10% of the Badger State's duly registered electorate will likely be prevented from voting in the rapidly approaching November 4 election.

The District Court's injunction had been stayed as a result of a deadlocked court, in which five bipartisan members of the ten-judge U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal described in a Sept. 29 Opinion [PDF] as a "brazen" and "shocking" disregard of both precedent and the right of the minority to vote. That "shocking" position had been advanced by the attorneys representing Republican Gov. Scott Walker and first accepted by an all-GOP, three-judge panel that had issued an extraordinary, 11th hour decision to vacate the lower court's injunction.

The case now poses an enormous test for at least two key Justices on the high court. Will Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy adhere to the very principles they signed on to when they joined the plurality opinion authored by former Justice John Paul Stevens in the landmark 2008 SCOTUS decision in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections? That case upheld Indiana's Photo ID law against a "facial" challenge solely because, in the words of the plurality opinion, there was no evidence before the court at the time to prove anyone would be disenfranchised or that their right to vote would be unduly burdened by the law.

In signing onto Steven's lead opinion, both Roberts and Kennedy agreed that election laws, including photo ID voting restrictions, are subject to the Anderson/Burdick test. That test mandates that courts, on a case-by-case basis, measure a law's potential damage to voters' right to vote against the specific claims made by the state as to why such additional burdens and restrictions are necessary. Given that the state has offered no legitimate reason for potentially disenfranchising as much as 10% of Wisconsin's lawfully registered voters, Roberts and Kennedy cannot refuse to lift the stay without a total abandonment of principle...

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While concerned about intimidation, court permits expansion of voter challengers, reduction of early voting in 2014 election; But also offers important interpretation of Voting Rights Act provision
UPDATE: North Carolina requests stay at U.S. Supreme Court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/2/2014 10:22am PT  

A bit of encouraging voting news came out of North Carolina on Wednesday, believe it or not. We'll see how long it lasts.

By way of a 2-1 decision and a lengthy Opinion [PDF] on Wednesday, a three-judge panel on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ordered U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the State of North Carolina from implementing two provisions of a sweeping election "reform" bill.

The court sharply criticized the lower court's ruling that previously allowed the law to move forward as is, despite the likelihood of a disproportionate effect on minority voters in the Tar Heel State.

The BRAD BLOG described the bill in question, when it was passed by the GOP legislature last year, as "the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era." The law includes virtually every restriction on voting --- shortening early voting hours, ending same-day registration, implementation of disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions and much more --- ever attempted by Republicans across the country over the past decade. The legislation was, quite literally, rammed through the state's Republican-controlled legislature, with no period for public comment or debate, just one day after a sharply-divided U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in the Summer of 2013.

The majority opinion at the 4th Circuit was highly critical of Schroeder's analysis in the case. They described it as "flawed," containing "grave errors" and "plainly wrong" on the law. The court found that the District Court judge abused his discretion in refusing to issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent implementation of two provisions of the state's H.B. 589.

In their decision, the three-judge panel's majority also offered significant interpretations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), that, if ultimately upheld, could minimize the damage wrought by the gutting of Section 5 by the U.S. Supreme Court last year...

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Vacant seat on court since 2010 likely made the difference; Ruling, unless overturned, could result in re-election victory for Walker; Emergency petition to U.S. Supreme Court likely...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/29/2014 6:02am PT  

With just weeks to go before mid-term elections and a "too close to call" Gubernatorial contest, disenfranchisement and electoral chaos in Scott Walker's Wisconsin reign supreme. And only the U.S. Supreme Court may now be able to do anything about it.

In a 5 to 5 ruling, an evenly divided, en banc U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal has issued a Cursory Order [PDF], summarily denying an ACLU Petition for an Emergency Rehearing to put the brakes back on the state Republicans' Photo ID voting restriction in advance of the November election.

The ACLU petition followed on the recent extraordinary ruling by three Republican appointees to the federal bench that had vacated a permanent federal court injunction of the law. That injunction, until it was lifted by the three-judge 7th Circuit panel just weeks ago, prevented Wisconsin from enforcing a Photo ID voting law which a U.S. District Court judge had found would likely result in the disenfranchisement of up to 300,000 perfectly lawful registered voters who lack the now-requisite, state approved photo IDs.

As we recently reported, the ACLU, in its emergency petition, argued that it will be virtually impossible for the Badger state's Department of Motor Vehicles to process the number of official state photo IDs that would be required to insure that every lawfully registered voter who desires to vote would get the opportunity to vote in the upcoming Nov. 4 election. Moreover, thousands of absentee ballots that had already been mailed prior to the 7th Circuit panel's lifting of the injunction may not be counted since they did not include notice of the new rules requiring that they must be accompanied with copy of the voter's photo ID.

Following the 5 to 5 decision of the full 7th Circuit (one seat remains vacant, more on that below), the ACLU and other plaintiffs' only recourse for now will be an emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Given the deadlock by the 7th Circuit and reasoning applied not only by the original U.S. District Court Judge in this case, and also by a 6th Circuit panel in an Ohio early voting case, as well as by six (6) of the (9) U.S. Supreme Court Justices who took part in a landmark 2008 Photo ID decision --- all decisions which were inconsistent with the reasoning applied by the three-judge 7th Circuit panel in the Wisconsin case, which has now been essentially upheld --- a challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court has at least a reasonable prospect of success.

If you're confused, read on. We'll help you make sense of this...

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Repubs file 'Emergency Petition for Rehearing' before full court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/26/2014 7:48am PT  

Yes, Ohio Republicans are still barred from limiting the early voting period and still required to restore the days and hours they had, yet again, tried to cut off. At least they are barred, again, for now.

On Wednesday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal issued a 50-page ruling [PDF] in which it upheld a lower court's preliminary injunction from three weeks ago that prevented Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted from implementing a Feb. 19, 2014 GOP-engineered statute, and his own further Directive, which would have drastically reduced the number of early voting days and hours and eliminated same-day registration and voting during the first five days of a previously established 35-day period of early voting in the Buckeye State.

Reflecting the fact that he anticipated an adverse ruling, Ohio's Republican Attorney General Michael DeWine filed an Emergency Appeal for a Rehearing [PDF] by the full 6th Circuit, on the very same day the three-judge panel handed down their decision. His appeal presents essentially the same arguments that have now, repeatedly, been rejected by the courts, first in a 2012 case, Obama for America v. Husted, and now, again, in Ohio State Conference of the NAACP v. Husted...

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'It is not only unreasonable, but also mathematically, logically, and physically impossible that by November 4, hundreds of thousands of voters will learn about the need for ID'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/18/2014 1:30pm PT  

With "electoral chaos" said to be reigning in Wisconsin following last week's extraordinary ruling by three Republican appointees to the federal bench, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed an Emergency Petition for Rehearing En Banc [PDF] before the full U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal.

The ACLU is seeking the immediate reinstatement of the District Court's injunction of the state Republicans' Photo ID voting law. The lower court had previously found the statute to be, in no uncertain terms, in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

When they later file briefs, the ACLU and other attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Frank v. Walker will undoubtedly go into greater depth to explain how the three GOP members of the 7th Circuit panel erroneously interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 decision in Crawford vs. Marion County Elections Board and how the WI law, "Act 23", is "materially different from" the Photo ID law passed by Indiana Republicans and approved by SCOTUS in 2008.

The emergency filing, however, zeroes in on what the ACLU describes as chaos and disenfranchisement that will likely be caused by an "extraordinary decision" last week, which, they say, seeks to effectuate a "slapdash implementation" of a radical and complex change in the Badger State's election law just seven weeks prior to the November 2014 general election...

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Vote against ending debate underscores importance of 2014 elections; Rand Paul, Koch Brothers cut from same cloth...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/9/2014 7:35am PT  

On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with a final vote on a joint resolution to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision.

The 79 to 18 vote to end debate and move on to a final vote on the measure included 25 "yes" votes from Republicans. However, The Hill reports, many of the GOP Senators are expected to vote against the resolution, "but by allowing it to proceed [they] ensured that it will tie up the Senate for most of the week." The Senate, which just returned from its 5-week summer recess on Monday, is in session for just two weeks before breaking for mid-term elections. A vote on the resolution may help to run out the clock on other Democratic priorities before the next recess.

Citizens United, as we wrote just after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision, has "opened the door to the creation of a new master-class under the aegis of the most undemocratic of institutions --- the private corporation." In fact, it has proven to have opened the floodgates for would be oligarchs, like the self-described "libertarian" Koch brothers, to further undermine the very foundation of our representative form of democracy --- a strategy that has resulted in their spending as much as $300 million to win control of the U.S. Senate for Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections alone.

"We should have debate on this important amendment," Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) declared before casting his vote for cloture, in order to end the debate on Monday. "The majority should be made to answer why they want to silence critics."

One Republican Senator who voted against cloture, who is apparently not even in favor of allowing the U.S. Senate to vote on the measure, is Kentucky's Rand Paul. The similarly "self-described libertarian" Paul, who is not up for re-election this year, but is currently a front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination for President, joined a minority of his GOP colleagues in voting against allowing the proposed amendment to receive an up or down vote. That vote, as well as his past efforts to shield corporations from democratic and legal accountability, underscore once again that the Kentucky Senator and the infamous Koch brothers are cut from the same cloth.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a co-sponsor of the amendment, observed, the measure entails the "major issue of our time": to wit, "whether the United States of America retains its democratic foundation or whether we devolve into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires are able to control our political process by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who represent their interest."

If it's up to Rand Paul, clearly he favors the latter.

Monday's vote is also a reminder that the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections are far more important than ordinary citizens may realize. The long-shot resolution, S.J. Res 19, would require two-thirds approval in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before moving on for ratification as an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by three-quarters of the state legislatures. Given that extraordinary requirement, those voters who may oppose unlimited "dark money" political spending by corporations and billionaires would have to ignore a blizzard of Koch propaganda this year and vote Democratic or independent candidates into control of both chambers of Congress in order for the Amendment to become a reality.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/25/2014 5:32pm PT  

Trying to make sense of all the different court rulings in Wisconsin on their partisan Photo ID voting laws? We'll try to unpack that for you.

The short version: Two different state trial courts found the GOP's Photo ID restriction on voting to be a violation of the state constitution's right to vote. A federal trial court (aka U.S. District Court) similarly found the law to be a violation of various parts of the U.S. Constitution.

The partisan WI state Supreme Court recently overturned the decisions in the two state cases --- literally re-writing the law as they did so (yes, actually legislating from the bench on behalf of Republicans). Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker, whom recent polls suggest is in a virtual dead heat with his Democratic challenger Mary Burke, then asked the federal appellate court to immediately overturn the U.S. District Court's injunction, which still blocks implementation of Wisconsin's Photo ID law.

Last week, the federal appellate court turned down Walker's request that it immediately overturn the federal injunction. Wisconsin election officials are, at present, still barred from enforcing the controversial law in the Badger State.

Specifically, last week, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal issued an order [PDF] in which it refused an emergency stay of the federal court decision permanently enjoining Wisconsin's partisan Photo ID law prior to oral arguments on the merits of the state's federal appeal. Yes, the state not only appealed the adverse ruling in the two state cases (successfully), but they also appealed the initial federal court decision as well.

The permanent injunction in federal court was issued earlier this year by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman who, in a landmark 90-page decision and order [PDF] following a full trial, found that the Republican-enacted Photo ID law violated the U.S. Constitution and that it was "absolutely clear" that it "will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

Last month, following the issuance of the two decisions by the sharply divided and extraordinarily partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court which lifted the state court injunctions in two different state cases --- Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP vs. Walker [PDF] and League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker [PDF] --- Walker filed his Expedited Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal of the Permanent Injunction [PDF] in the federal appellate court.

In it's ruling last week, the 7th Circuit upheld the portion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions which changed the law by directing the state's Department of Motor Vehicles to issue Photo ID cards sans requiring documents, such as birth certificates, for which the elector had previously been required to pay a fee to a government agency. That issue, however, is only one of the reasons why U.S. District Court Judge Adelman initially found the polling place Photo ID law constitutionally infirm. While we will have to await a final decision --- and even that decision will, no doubt, make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court eventually --- the current ruling issued last week suggests that the 7th Circuit did not see that one single issue as sufficient to immediately stay Judge Adelman's permanent injunction in federal court.

The 7th Circuit will hear oral arguments on September 12 --- less than two months prior to the November General Election. It is likely the 7th Circuit will expedite its decision. Stay tuned!

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