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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Justice Ginsburg Republishes TX Photo ID Law Dissent After BRAD BLOG Cites Error
Turns out U.S. Veterans' Affairs ID can be used to vote under new GOP voting restrictions in TX. Official SCOTUS opinion updated...
'Mercy', 'Rehabilitation' and 'Restorative Justice'
Sentencing of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius offers stark reminder of concepts that seem to have gone missing from the justice system in the U.S...
'Green News Report' 10/21/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP candidates still dodging climate Qs; Mountaintop removal coal mining promotes lung cancer; 2014 on track as hottest year on record; PLUS: LEGO breaks up with Shell Oil...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/14 - 10/16/14 - Archives...
Everything Old is Texas Again
On the upside though, even if they successfully violate the Constitution by keeping some 600,000 legally registered, disproportionately minority voters from voting this year, they can save some money on signage...
Congresswoman Sets Impeachment Deadline for Federal Judge Mark Fuller
ALSO: Court unseals divorce docs from first marriage, Fuller attorney dismisses abuse allegations as 'rhetorical questions'...
SCOTUS ALLOWS TEXAS' DISCRIMINATORY GOP PHOTO ID LAW TO USED IN MIDTERMS
Despite uncontested findings striking down the law as a racially-motivated, 'unconstitutional poll tax', it will be implemented this year...
'Dead Heat' and 'Dirty Tricks': The Nightmare Scenario
Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
Judge Fuller's Attorney Says Wife Beating Thing No Big Deal; 911 AUDIO and Gov. Don Siegelman Disagree
Standalone video of 911 call; First comment on case by imprisoned former AL Gov.; MORE...
Emergency Appeals Filed at SCOTUS to Restore Voting Rights to 600,000 in TX
GOP Photo ID law, which lower court found intentionally discriminatory, is different from recent cases before High Court, say plaintiffs...
'Green News Report' 10/16/14
Ryan backs away (sort of) from climate change denial; NatGas isn't a bridge to lower-emissions; PLUS: Did Lockheed-Martin really invent a compact nuclear fusion reactor?...
Bloomberg on BRAD BLOG on Judge Richard Posner on Photo ID Voting Laws...
'By the sounds of it, the floor that supported voter-ID laws has just given way'...
'BradCast': WI, TX, AR Photo ID Rulings
Trouble keeping up with the on-again/off-again court rulings on GOP voter suppression laws? Brad tries to make sense of it all for ya...
WTF?!: FL Gov. Rick Scott Refuses To Appear at Debate With Gov. Charlie Crist
Watch the video. They're calling it 'FanGate'. We're just calling it Florida...
Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down State GOP's Photo ID Voting Law
Court determines law, passed over Dem Governor's veto, violates explicit right to vote in state Constitution...
5th Circuit Appeals Panel Restores Texas GOP's 'Discriminatory' Photo ID Law
While not contesting law's unconstitutionality, judges cite SCOTUS rule on last minute voting changes...
'Green News Report' 10/14/14
Coal wins U.S. Senate debate in KY!; Pentagon: climate change threat to NatSec; Wind power cheapest source of energy; PLUS: September 2014 was hottest ever...
Repub Judge Who Approved Nation's 1st Photo ID Law in 2008 Writes Devastating Dissent Against Them
Reagan-appointed Richard Posner pens best case ever against Photo ID voting restrictions...
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...

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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LA Times Buries 'grim' news on page A-11...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/11/2014 1:24pm PT  

The much-debated Keystone XL pipeline could increase global warming pollution by as much four times the amount estimated by the U.S. State Department, according to a new study by an independent non-profit research organization.

Without mentioning that the State Department's own environmental impact report may have been hopelessly compromised by "corporate conflicts of interest," Los Angeles Times offered an important article discussing the findings of the new report published Sunday by the journal Nature Climate Change.

The State Department's dubious estimate of the Keystone XL's anticipated impact on increased carbon emissions is critical to President Barack Obama's determination as to whether he will approve the controversial tar sands oil project since, as noted by the scientists who authored the report at the Stockholm Environment Institute, the President has stated that "he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline…if it 'does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.'"

This new report may alter his calculation of exacerbated emissions expected to occur from building the massive pipeline that would ship dirty tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico for export, as the LA Times' Neela Banerjee explains in her article, headlined in the print version as "Grim estimates on pipeline"...

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370 to 40 vote a rebuke to GOP war hawks like McCain, Graham...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/25/2014 4:16pm PT  

The U.S. House has finally found something they can agree on. They want President Obama to remove U.S. troops from Iraq.

In an overwhelming bi-partisan vote on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Concurrent Resolution [PDF], which, pursuant to Section 5(c) of the War Powers Act, directs "the President to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel from Iraq" within 30 days, unless it is unsafe to do so.

Section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution states:

...at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.

The bi-partisan Resolution, adopted by a 370 to 40 vote, was introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).

Last month, the President authorized up to 300 more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq as military advisers in the wake of the takeover of a number of Iraqi cities by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That brought the total of U.S. troops in the nation to more than 800.

Win Without War, a national coalition of anti-war organizations, released a statement describing today's vote as "a strong message to President Obama that there is no authorization for any escalation of US military involvement in Iraq."

"After nearly 13 years of trying to solve such challenges militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little success, the American people simply do not support another war in the Middle East," the group said in their statement. "Instead, we hope today's clear message against military escalation will encourage the President to double down on diplomatic efforts and a robust humanitarian response."

While the House Resolution is directed to the President, it also represents a stinging rebuke to GOP war hawk Senators like John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). Earlier this month the pair criticized the President for refusing to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government after he came to office, which would have "kept U.S. troops there", following George W. Bush's Status of Forces Agreement struck with Iraq in 2008. That agreement called for the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The vote on Friday is believed to be largely symbolic, however, as it would require similar passage in the U.S. Senate, where Senators like McCain and Graham would likely seek to block a vote on the matter. Then, again, matters could lead to a "politics-make-strange-bedfellows" moment if Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) were to come together in support of the Concurrent Resolution.

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State legislature, governor add proposition to general election ballot calling for amendment to overturn 'Citizens United'...
UPDATE: 'Overturn Citizens United Act' will appear as 'Prop 49' on November ballot | LATER UPDATE: No, it won't...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/18/2014 1:24pm PT  

California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has permitted SB 1272, an advisory measure entitled the Overturn Citizens United Act, to appear on the state's November 2014 ballot.

The measure not only calls upon Congress to "propose an amendment...to the United States Constitution" to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and its progeny, but "to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only."

According to state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), the author of SB 1272, the measure is intended to send "a message to Congress" that we "should not equate money with free speech and corporations are not people."

A constitutional amendment that eliminated "corporate personhood" would not only invalidate Citizens United but would overturn the newly minted right to "corporate religious liberty" established in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. (2014).

Unfortunately, the language Lieu included in the measure stops short of "money is not speech." Instead, the measure simply provides for "full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another."

While the ballot proposition is not binding, and has produced critics who describe the measure as little more than a political stunt, if adopted by an overwhelming majority of California voters this fall, it could very well help to ignite a nationwide groundswell of opposition to a series of decisions by an oligarchic Supreme Court that have threatened the very survival of our constitutional representative democracy...

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Over 100 top state GOPers endorse Gov. Sam Brownback's Democratic opponent after tax cuts for wealthy devastate state...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/17/2014 9:00am PT  

The Washington Post recently reported that more "than 100 current and former [Kansas] Republican officials [have] endorsed Democratic state Rep. Paul Davis [in his] bid to unseat Gov. Sam Brownback (R)."

The website of the group that refers to itself as the "Republicans for Kansas Values," reveals that the source of their revolt can be found in what the LA Times' Michael Hiltzik described as Brownback's draconian "Tea Party tax cuts," enacted in the name of economic "freedom" that have, he says, benefited only the wealthy and have turned the Sunflower State "into a smoking ruin."

As we once described in "'Tea Party' Future: Fascism, Feudalism, Economic Collapse", that "smoking ruin" was not unexpected. But neither was the revulsion of traditionally conservative Kansas Republicans to Brownback's application of the Koch brothers' radical brand of libertarianism...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 6/16/2014 6:05am PT  

Apparently, swinging and missing on three separate occasions is not enough to get either Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich or its Republican Secretary of State John Husted to walk away from the plate.

After U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus issued an August 2012 preliminary injunction that forced the Buckeye State to restore early voting for the three days preceding the November 2012 Presidential Election, Husted found it necessary to apologize to the court for what appeared to be a contemptuous directive to the state's 88 county Boards of Election that they not establish hours for voting on those days, pending the state's appeal of the preliminary injunction. Strike one!

In early October 2012, a unanimous three judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled against Husted, expressly sustaining every aspect of Judge Economus' August 2012 decision. Strike two!

That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily rejected Husted's request for an emergency stay. Strike three!

Undaunted, in Feb. 2014 Gov. Kasich signed into law a new elections bill that failed to correct the previous disparate deadlines for in-person voting, allowing military voters to vote on the last days before the election, but nobody else. Husted then issued a directive that provided for early voting between 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, but failed to provide for any voting hours on either Sunday, Nov. 2 or Monday, Nov. 3 --- despite the still-existing law allowing military members to cast their vote those days.

As it happens, African-American churches have traditionally used early voting on the Sunday before elections as "Souls to the Polls" day to help get out the vote. In turn, Republicans in Ohio have been working hard to end early voting on the Sunday before election day.

In his original 2012 ruling, Judge Economus held that all Ohio voters had a "constitutionally protected right to participate in the 2012 election --- and all elections --- on an equal basis." That is why he declared the effort to limit early voting to only active duty military members on the weekend before the election to be an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This year's latest gambit led to the issuance last week of a Permanent Injunction [PDF] on the Republican scheme, pursuant to which Judge Economus has ordered the recalcitrant Ohio Secretary of State [emphasis added] "to set uniform and suitable in-person early voting hours for all eligible voters for the three days preceding all future elections." Strike four?

Amusingly, rather than attempting to violate the court order this time around, SoS Husted is pretending that all of this is simply what he wanted all along, declaring in a statement (via the "Election Law Blog"), issued after losing again in court last week: "I am pleased that the federal court has affirmed what I have long advocated --- that all voters, no matter where they live, should have the same opportunity to vote. Thankfully, uniformity and equality won the day."

Also, up is down, black is white, and John Husted is a great champion of voting rights.

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