This morning, in reporting on 92-year old Texan Ruby Barber's inability to receive a Photo ID to vote under the state Republicans' new law restricting legal voters who don't have a very specific type of ID, we noted that there are hundreds of thousands of otherwise legally registered voters in TX (and millions across the nation), who are likely to find themselves unable to vote at all, unless these purposely discriminatory voting laws are struck down once and for all by the courts.
While the elderly, the poor, students and minorities (all of whom just happen to lean Democratic) are far and away more likely to lose their right to vote under these Republican-enacted restrictions, they are not the only ones at risk of losing their franchise, as evidenced Tuesday during Arkansas' primary election...
The Arkansas Supreme Court has tossed a ruling by a lower court judge who had found the state's Photo ID voting requirement to be in violation of the state Constitution. The high court did not, however, rule on the constitutionality of the law, finding only that Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox "erred" by going too far in his ruling, as the issue of the law's Constitutionality "was not properly before the circuit court."
Late last month we described Fox' decision [PDF], declaring the state's Republican-enacted Act 595 "null and void" and "unconstitutional in that it violates Articles 3, Section 1 and Article 3, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution."
Those sections of the state Constitution describe both the "Qualifications of Electors" as well as the "Right of Suffrage," stating that "Elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof"...
Since that landmark ruling in the Badger State, new signs from top elected Republican officials in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and even in Wisconsin, suggest that the (at least) decade-long GOP "voter fraud" fraud may have finally peaked, and will now begin the inevitably long slide into abandoned, historical shame.
We don't want to be too quick to declare the demise of this insidious attempt at reviving Jim Crow with a sophisticated and nefariously misleading legal patina, but after covering this beat for a decade --- long before much of the general public, much less the Democratic Party itself, seemed to notice --- it seems that the recent landmark court ruling in WI, followed by last week's towel toss in Pennsylvania and embarrassing revelations in Iowa, may be seen in the not-too-distant future as the moment that the GOP "voter fraud" fraud finally began to permanently unravel...
A state judge has found Arkansas' state Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Here's a statement on the case, just in from the Freedom to Marry advocacy group...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2014
Arkansas Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban
New York - Today Judge Chris Piazza of Arkansas upheld same-sex couples' freedom to marry, striking down the state's discriminatory constitutional amendment and becoming one of more than a dozen judges to rule in favor of the freedom to marry since last year's Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:
"Today a state circuit judge in Arkansas ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, the latest in a unanimous wave of favorable rulings from more than a dozen state and federal judges across the country in recent months. Judge Piazza held that there is no good reason for discriminating against couples and their loved ones just because they are gay. With nearly 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, and five federal appellate courts now hearing arguments and soon to rule, today's decision out of Arkansas underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry."
### Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
Constitutionally conservative equal protection under the law continues to sweep across the nation, as we'd long ago predicted it would.
Indeed, the race is on, at this point, to figure out which state will be the last in the union to accept the inevitable. Surprisingly, as both we and The Daily Show discovered not long ago, it's unlikely to be whichever state you might have otherwise guessed.
So, which state will be last? Leave your guesses in comments for history. We should be able to determine the winner before very long --- likely even well before Obama leaves office, at this rate.
Very big news out of a federal court in Wisconsin today, where the state's polling place Photo ID law (Act 23) has now been struck down as both a violation of the federal Constitutional as well as under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The landmark ruling will almost certainly have national implications for federal challenges in other states against similar restrictions recently enacted by Republicans.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the VRA by making Section 5 unenforceable until Congress passes new legislation to determine which jurisdictions must pre-clear new elections laws with the U.S. Dept. of Justice before they are put into effect, due to a history of racial discrimination in elections in those jurisdictions. Section 2, however, bars discrimination in all 50 states, even though, unlike Section 5, it cannot be applied until after the new law in question goes into effect.
Judge Lynn Adelman's ruling [PDF] today, finding WI's version of the law discriminatory and in violation of both Section 2 and the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution, is likely to have an impact on federal challenges to similar laws in states such as Texas and North Carolina, where federal cases are pending to block similarly discriminatory polling place restrictions.
Moreover, the judge placed the racial and class discrimination and disenfranchisement that would be caused by this law in stark terms, in regard to how many otherwise legal voters in Wisconsin might lose their right to vote, and how such a law might have directly affected the results of the state's 2010 election, had it been place at the time...
A Circuit Court judge has resoundingly rejected Arkansas' new Photo ID restrictions on voting, declaring the law to be "null and void" and in violation of the state's Constitutional right to vote.
Last year, after Republicans took over the Arkansas statehouse for the first time since Reconstruction, they passed an onerous Photo ID restriction law for voting. The Democratic Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the new restrictions, but that veto was subsequently overridden by the Republican legislature.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Davis Fox' 2-page Summary Judgement [PDF] finds in favor of plaintiffs in the case, the Pulaski County Election Commission and against both the defendant, the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, as well as the Republican Party of Arkansas which intervened on behalf of the Board of Election.
In his Thursday ruling, Fox found the law to be "unconstitutional in that it violates Articles 3, Section 1 and Article 3, Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution."
Section 1 of Article 3 details the "Qualifications of Electors" in the Arkansas state Constitution, declaring that, "Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, any person may vote in an election in this state who is: (1) A citizen of the United States; (2) A resident of the State of Arkansas; (3) At least eighteen (18) years of age; and (4) Lawfully registered to vote in the election."
Section 2, on the "Right of Suffrage" states that "Elections shall be free and equal. No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof."
Given the very clear and straightforward language of the state Constitution, this seems to have been a very easy case. Republicans, however, are reportedly preparing to appeal the ruling...
Yes, the very same voting systems that are so incredibly sensitive and vulnerable to tampering (and which have failed so often in so many states and in so many elections) that both election officials and Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) have long attempted to keep them out of the hands of the public, can now be yours for just $499.99 or "Best Offer" via eBay! And that includes Free Shipping!
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: ELECTION 2013: the first climate election? Climate science denier Ken Cuccinelli defeated in VA; Local races with big environmental impacts for the country; PLUS:We're goin' the wrong way!!! Greenhouse gas emissions rise to record levels... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Fukushima cleanup enters dangerous phase; Western black rhino now extinct; Fossil fuels get $500B annual subsidies; China solar panel makers invest in solar farms; New investment project for North Africa solar; Whopping CO2 footprint for Australian coal mines; Debating 'Pandora's Promise'; PA gives fracking industry $1 billion; ExxonMobil fined $2 million for AR pipeline spill ... PLUS: It's time to adapt to unstoppable climate change, say scientists ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Not sure, but this may be my favorite video of the year to date. This would be Jim Bob Duggar, former Arkansas state Rep. and genius patriarch of TLC's 19 Kids & Counting fame, attempting to serve as a spokesperson for the Ken Cuccinelli (R) gubernatorial campaign in Virginia against Terry McAuliffe (D)...
With spokespersons like that, who needs McAuliffe?
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Weather Whiplash: record May snowstorm in Minnesota, early May wildfires in California; Who paid for last year's billion-dollar record crop disaster? YOU did; Myth-busting: 40th anniversary of Newsweek's "coming ice age" blunder; PLUS: Surprise! Fox 'News' lies about the term 'climate change' ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What would 'wartime mobilization' to fight climate change look like?; You Won't Believe What's in Your Turkey Burger; Most Americans clueless about global scientific consensus on climate change;
Billionaire Koch Bros attack renewable energy standards in the states & launch new front group; Oslo runs out of garbage, imports it from rest of the world; Climate Change: Top Investors Will Feel Heat of New Epoch ... PLUS: Unburnable Fuel: Either governments are not serious about climate change or fossil-fuel firms are overvalued ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Some good news for a change: U.S. inks climate agreements with China and Japan; Another oil company quits the Arctic (for now); California sets wind energy record; Lax state regs contributed to Chevron refinery fire; Go underdogs: scrappy InsideClimateNews.org wins a Pulitzer; PLUS: Florida invaded by giant slimy snails ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): It’s official: EPA delays climate rule for new power plants; East coast seismic tests could harm marine mammals; CO: Benzene found 1400 ft from leak site; Critics slam NOAA drought report; Protesters mark 3 yr anniversary of BP Oil Disaster at trial; Reuters bungles climate science report; Antarctic ice melting at record rate: study; China cozies up to Iceland for Arctic access ... PLUS: Unhappy Returns: Climate Change's Big Tax on American ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Profits vs. People at Obama's EPA confirmation hearing; Victory for the people in the federal fracking wars; GAO says nuke evacuation plans inadequate; Climate change is coming for your wine; PLUS: Environmental groups push back against Big Oil with hysterical ads ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities; Wind Energy Record in California, equal to 2 nuke plants; Obama Budget Drains Tax Breaks For Big Oil; Keystone XL using old, badly welded pipelines?; Rep. Joe Barton Says Biblical 'Great Flood' Proves Climate Change Not Man Made; Tea Party Leader arrest after Agenda 21 threats; 85% of tax experts support a carbon tax; Climate change's big tax on Americans; Nike: betting against climate scientists is 'false hope' ... PLUS: Video: Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for climate action is full of awesome ... and much, MUCH more! ...
It's just the cost of doing business for the world's most profitable corporation. And that "cost" is barely a blip (that may be an overstatement) on their daily profit sheet.
As Rachel Maddow noted on Friday in the short report below, ExxonMobil is the nation's largest and most profitable corporation. It is larger than Walmart, Google, McDonald's, American Express and Goldman Sachs...combined.
And yet, the penalties they pay for violating federal safety laws leading to oil spills is almost nothing at all. For example, when Exxon was caught failing to inspect a portion of the Pegasus Pipeline --- the one fill with sticky, gooey, tar sands crude that we don't know how to clean up...the pipeline that ruptured last week in a suburban neighborhood in Mayflower, AR --- they were fined a grand total of $26,000.
That's a $26,000 fine out of the $122 million dollars in profit that Exxon makes in per day.
"There is nothing that Exxon fears from the federal government," Maddow notes. "They have so captured the parts of the government that are supposed to punish them when this sort of thing happens, that the pain that that sort of punishment could cause them, redounds to them, essentially, not at all."
Yes, it pays for companies like Exxon to violate the law with impunity, so it will be left to the people of Arkansas, as Maddow explains, to make the company pay any kind of real price for their crime...if they can...
More photos of the Pegasus tar sands pipeline rupture in Mayflower, AR, taken by the EPA, are now posted here. Give 'em a look. If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, this is the type of spill that could be coming to a neighborhood near you very soon.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Disturbing updates on the Exxon tar sands oil pipeline spill in AR; Majority of Republicans believe global warming a 'hoax'; 'Tsunami of rain' in Argentina; China cheating on fish catches?; Golf in the Arctic? PLUS: 'Monsanto Protection Act' - Sneaky legislation exempts GMOs from the law... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate science denier calls for "alarmists" to face death penalty courts; Amazon tribe threatens to declare war amid row over Brazilian dam; NV Energy to decommission coal plants; Ogalalla Sioux: Resounding NO to Keystone XL Pipeline; Bill Gates, investors, back sodium battery startup; Canada may abandon expensive mine cleanup; Green pols get billionaire ally, money; climate researchers discover 1,800-year-old 'Rosetta stone' ice cores; PLUS: Obama on climate change: ‘The politics of this are tough’ ... and much, MUCH more!...