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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 25, 2014
Touch-Screens Flip 'No' to 'Yes' on TN Abortion Measure
After the state GOP repealed the law to move to paper ballots, votes now reportedly flipping again on a controversial Amendment to the state Constitution...
More Trouble With Touch-Screens (2014 Edition)
Votes Flip D to R in Texas, R to D in Illinois - What's happening (again), what it means (again), and what you can do about it (please?)...
Christie: GOP Governors Needs to Control 'Voting Mechanisms' in 2016
NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful offers interesting reason why Republicans in three key states need to win in 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...


By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2014 8:05am PT  

On the stump this week for Republican candidates, NJ's Gov. Chris Christie said GOP governors need to win this year, so they can be in control of the "voting mechanisms" during what he believes might be his own run for President in 2016. He cited three races in particular, in three states that would be crucial to him as the GOP nominee, as reported by New Jersey's The Record...

Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they're the ones controlling "voting mechanisms" going into the next presidential election.

Republican governors are facing intense fights in the courts over laws they pushed that require specific identification in order to vote and that reduce early voting opportunities. Critics say those laws sharply curtail the numbers of poor and minority voters, who would likely vote for Democrats. Christie - who vetoed a bill to extend early voting in New Jersey - is campaigning for many of those governors now as he considers a run for president in 2016.

Christie stressed the need to keep Republicans in charge of states - and overseeing state-level voting regulations - ahead of the next presidential election.
...
"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?" he asked.

Great questions, Governor Christie! Let's take a crack at offering some answers for ya...

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

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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...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2014 1:50pm PT  

We really should have taken some time off this past summer, cause it looks like we may not get a good break anytime soon. It may be a much busier November, December and even January than we'd like.

Rachel Maddow highlights what we regard as our personal nightmare scenario: "Almost every legitimately contested, legitimately interesting race in the country --- is tied, right now, with less than three weeks to go"...

Ugh.

"With this many top of the ticket races tied, turnout will be everything," Maddow explains. "So now's the part where 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. ... Right now, big picture, three weeks out: this is a tie game. Close enough to be fascinating, but also close enough to be stolen"...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2014 11:15pm PT  

Well, KPFK/Pacifica Radio is still on fund drive this week, but there is just too much going on to not do a new BradCast for my network affiliate stations and for you.

So, instead of live from the KPFK studios this week, we are once again "live" from BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters once again for this week's show. (If you heard last week's episode/primal scream, you'll be happy to know that the news this week is considerably more encouraging!)

Having trouble keeping up with the very latest on all of the on again/off again GOP voter suppression laws across the country just over two weeks before Election Day? Me too! So, if you missed any of our roller coaster coverage here at the blog, on all the fine messes over the past week or so, I try to get you all caught up on what you need to know about the latest in the court battles over the unconstitutional Republican Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin, Arkansas and Texas...and on the one devastating appellate court opinion that might ultimately kill them all once and for all.

Buckle up (and please feel free to drop something in the BRAD BLOG Tip Jar while you're listening!)...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Appellate judges do not challenge lower court findings, but worry about 'confusion', SCOTUS precedent on late voting law changes
UPDATE: Plaintiffs file Emergency Application to Vacate the Appellate Court ruling with SCOTUS...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2014 7:21pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

This is not unexpected, though its still disturbing to those concerned about voting rights and the possibility that more than half a million legally registered voters in Texas may not be allowed to vote in this November's election.

A three judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has, for now, blocked the U.S. District Court's ruling last week in Texas, issued after a full trial on the merits of the law, which had struck down state Republicans' polling place Photo ID voting restriction after finding it deliberately discriminatory and a violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act.

Following Tuesday's order by the 5th Circuit [PDF] reversing the lower court ruling, for now, the plaintiffs challenging the state statute said, almost immediately, that they plan to file an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to put the law back on hold before the November elections.

Voting rights proponents worry that, if the Court holds true to its recent rulings in voting rights cases in NC, in OH and, most recently, in WI, they are likely to allow TX' discriminatory law to stay in place this November, pending a full hearing on the merits at a later date.

There is, however, some important differences in the TX case than in those other three, which we'll explain in a moment.

Texas had appealed the initial 147-page ruling [PDF] by U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonazles Ramos, issued last week, which found that the Texas Photo ID voting statue, SB 14, "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." She also determined that the state requirement that voters produce one of a few very specific types of state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place amounted to an "unconstitutional poll tax", since all such ID requires at least some payment by voters...

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

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Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law has been struck down by a federal U.S. District Court
UPDATE: 5th Circuit stays ruling...
By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2014 8:27pm PT  

In a 147-page ruling [PDF] released Thursday evening, "after hearing and carefully considering all the evidence" presented in the trial which ended on September 22nd, a U.S. District Court in Texas has found that the state's polling place Photo ID law, SB 14, is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Constitution in at least four different ways.

"The Court holds that SB 14 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 writes in her ruling. "The Court further holds that SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."

The ruling that now permanently enjoins the Texas law, again, follows a long string of federal rulings striking down Photo ID voting restrictions in the state under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act. In 2012, both the Dept. of Justice and a three-judge panel of federal judges found the law to be discriminatory under the Act, and that, based on data supplied by the state themselves, it would serve to disproportionately disenfranchise both poor and minority voters.

The very same law was once again implemented, however, by Lone Star State Republicans just after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the VRA last year. The current challenge to the law was brought under Section 2 of the Act, as well as the U.S. Constitution itself. Judge Gonzales Ramos found that the discrimination found by previous bodies was plainly still present in the law...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2014 1:20pm PT  

If you didn't make it through our detailed rant on how factually wrong, from top to bottom, rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal was in his "horrendous" ruling on Wisconsin's GOP Photo ID voting law (now pending an emergency ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court), the ACLU focused in a press release on the same thing we did --- but in a much shorter version.

Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement issued after the ruling: "Permitting this law to go into effect so close to the election is fueling voter confusion and election chaos in Wisconsin, particularly for the many voters who have already cast their ballots. Voters deserve a fair shake, and this last-minute disruption changes the rules of the game in an election that is already underway, and risks locking out thousands of voters."

Then, the ACLU offered this pithy bullet point --- which summarizes our long article (taking apart each of these false claims one by one) --- to underscore the "factual inaccuracies in the appeals panel's ruling":

The Seventh Circuit also could not fathom that so many registered Wisconsin voters lack a photo ID "in a world in which photo ID is essential to board an airplane, . . . pick up a prescription at a pharmacy, open a bank account or cash a check at a currency exchange, buy a gun, or enter a courthouse to serve as a juror or watch the argument of this appeal." Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Wisconsin fliers, patients, bank customers, gun owners, and court watchers do not need photo IDs. Only Wisconsin voters.

Yup. More than 300,000 registered voters in the state --- nearly 10% of the registered electorate --- as determined during the full trial on the merits of the case in the U.S. District Court. That trial resulted in the law being struck down as both unconstitutional and in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Until that ruling was overturned by a 5 to 5 decision by the 7th Circuit, later justified by the Federalist Society's Judge Easterbrook's "horrendous" ruling earlier this week.

And, remember, Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is in a "toss up" re-election contest against Democratic challenger Mary Burke this year, was named the winner of his original 2010 election by just 124,638 votes. That margin is less than half of the number of legally registered voters in the state who are now unlikely to be able to cast a vote at all in this year's election, unless SCOTUS tosses out the ridiculous, falsehood-riddled ruling of the 7th Circuit.

Given the SCOTUS decisions this week in NC and last week in OH, that possibility seems to be growing dimmer by the hour.

Nice to have friends in high places who are willing to just make shit up though, eh Governor?

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By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2014 6:05am PT  

KPFK/Pacifica Radio is on fund drive of late, but with all the breaking election news this week, I couldn't stand to not do a fresh BradCast for my syndicated network affiliates who deserve better than a "Best Of" on a week like this one, as Election Day draws near.

So, since it appears this year's election is likely to be decided in the courts, before we even get to Election Day, here's our non-KPFK "Special Election Coverage Edition" for the affiliates and for you, as produced here at The BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters, rather than at the radio station as it is usually done.

No guests, no callers, just me, lots of information and rants, and an occasionally thought or question from my producer Desi Doyen. Given all of that, and the news this week and last (particularly from SCOTUS), the result may be somewhere between a radio broadcast and a primal scream. But many of my shows seem to amount to that these days.

We covered, among other things, the new GAO report confirming Photo ID voting restrictions depress turnout of African-American and younger voters; SCOTUS overturning appellate courts to allow GOP voter suppression laws in NC and in OH, with a decision on WI's voter suppression law not far behind (thanks to the federal judge who lied about it); Federal court striking down VA's gerrymandered Congressional map (for now); the GOP Attorney General candidate in AR caught committing voter fraud and, a lot of unusually good (and very welcome!) news in our latest Green News Report!

Buckle up, and enjoy! (And please consider donating below to our efforts! Your help is very much needed right now!)

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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'Nation's worst voter suppression law' disenfranchised hundreds in state primary; Will have full trial on merits next summer...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2014 5:37pm PT  

Late on Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed [PDF] the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had blocked two elements of North Carolina's massive new voter suppression law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented in an opinion joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"The order isn't a permanent reversal," notes election law expert Justin Levitt, "it's a stay awaiting the disposition of a petition for certiorari, if one is filed. But it's enough to put the state's law back in effect this November."

"The nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era," as we described the law when state Republicans enacted it within hours after SCOTUS had gutted a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, will now be in full effect for this year's November general election, despite having been shown to have disenfranchised hundreds of voters during the state's primary earlier this year. There was no debate or time allowed for public comment before the law --- which shortens early voting hours, ends same-day registration, implements disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions (in 2016) and much more --- was passed by the GOP-majority in the NC legislature last year.

Barring a further hearing by the Court, their response to NC's emergency appeal reverses the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that had restored both same-day registration and the counting of provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. All of the law's other provisions had already been approved for use this year by a George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Court judge last month, pending a full trial on the merits of the law scheduled for next summer....

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

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Dems use report to correctly cite need to fix part of Voting Rights Act broken by SCOTUS, but here's what they also aren't telling you...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2014 2:40pm PT  

A new 206-page report from by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office [PDF] finds that Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in states such as Kansas and Tennessee resulted in lowered voter turnout among African-Americans as well as younger and recently-registered voters.

The study will likely serve as yet more important evidence to rebut the disingenuous, cherry-picked claims by Republicans over the years that Photo ID voting restrictions do not affect minority participation.

As The Hill reports today...

Voter ID laws helped contribute to lower voter turnout in Kansas and Tennessee in 2012, according a new study by the Government Accountability Office.

Congress's research arm blamed the two states' laws requiring that voters show identification on a dip in turnout in 2012 - about 2 percentage points in Kansas and between 2.2 and 3.2 percentage points in Tennessee. Those declines were greater among younger and African-American voters, when compared to turnout in other states.
...
"This new analysis from GAO reaffirms what many in Congress already know: Threats to the right to vote still exist," [Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)] said in a statement. "That is why Congress must act to restore the fundamental protections of the Voting Rights Act that have been gutted by the Supreme Court."

The report, according to Leahy's full statement, "also found scant evidence of voter fraud that the new laws that ostensibly are designed to discourage."

I'm on a number of deadlines today, so haven't gotten to peruse the actual report yet, but let me note a quick point or two, based on The Hill's reporting on the GAO study, which was requested by Democratic Senators Leahy (VT), Durbin (IL), Schumer (NY), Nelson (FL) and independent Sanders (VT), all of whom are co-sponsoring legislation to fix the part of the Voting Rights Act that the U.S. Supreme Court gutted last year in its notorious 5-4 decision...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2014 1:21pm PT  

Well, here's some good breaking news from the federal courts today, for fans of democracy anyway...

One of the most aggressive gerrymanders in the country is unconstitutional, according to a divided three-judge panel in Virginia. In 2012, President Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney by three points in the state of Virginia. Nevertheless, Republicans control eight of the state's eleven congressional districts. Yet, according to an opinion by Judge Allyson Duncan, a George W. Bush appointee, the maps that produced this result are unconstitutional and the legislature must "act within the next legislative session to draw a new congressional district plan."

Although this will permit the 2014 elections to be run under the old maps, new maps must be in place by 2016 (assuming, of course, that this decision is not reversed on appeal). As Virginia currently has a Democratic governor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be able to veto any plan which is unfair to his fellow Democrats, while the GOP-controlled legislature will no doubt push for a map that serves Republican interests. Because the current maps favor Republicans so strongly, however, the likely result will be maps that are much more favorable to Democrats.

See the rest of Ian Millhiser's coverage for much more, including his calculus that new, appropriately drawn Congressional maps in VA will likely result in a Democratic pick-up of 2 to 3 seats in the U.S. House of Represenatives in 2016.

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Election law expert describes ruling in advance of SCOTUS decision as 'Horrendous'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2014 7:59pm PT  

Let me say this up front, so you don't miss it this time: No, a Photo ID is not required to board an airplane. Period.

Last week, the ACLU filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of having the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling --- which overturned a lower court's injunction on Wisconsin's new Photo ID voting restriction --- stayed in advance of next month's election.

Today (Monday) a rather remarkable new opinion was issued by the 7th Circuit which seems designed to serve as a last-minute assist to the Republican defendants in Wisconsin in their response to the ACLU appeal, as Justice Elena Kagan has required the state's response no later than 5pm on Tuesday. The ruling is littered with blatant falsehoods.

To recap very briefly, how we got to this point, and the astonishing claims in the 7th Circuit's opinion today: the GOP law requiring very specific types of state-issued Photo IDs for voting in Wisconsin was struck down earlier this year after it was found, by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, to be both a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. His thorough, 70-page ruling [PDF] found that some 300,000 legally registered voters in Wisconsin (nearly 10% of them) lacked the specific type of Photo ID that would now be needed vote under the new restriction. Adelman also determined that the law amounts to a "unique burden [which] disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters" (who just happen to lean towards Democratic candidates), and that the new restriction on voting would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

In mid-September, on appeal, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit tossed out Adelman's permanent injunction with little comment. Amidst ensuing "electoral chaos", as election officials and voters in the state scrambled to make sense of the stunning last minute change to the law, just weeks before the mid-term election, the ACLU appealed for a rehearing before the full 7th Circuit. That hearing resulted in a deadlocked 5 to 5 vote by the judges (one seat on the court has been vacant since 2010), which meant that the partisan 3-judge panel's ruling, restoring the Photo ID restriction after it had been struck down by the lower court, now remains in place.

That brings us to the ACLU's emergency appeal to SCOTUS last week, and Monday's remarkable new opinion issued by the 7th Circuit at the last minute, clearly made to justify the original opinion issued last week which seems to have otherwise landed with a thud. (The court had attempted to compare a "need" to restore new voting restrictions at the last minute to the U.S. Supreme Court's stay placed on the overturning of same-sex marriage bans in several states last year. The dissenters called the court's legal theories "brazen", "shocking" and on its central thesis comparing the WI law to a 2008 landmark case in Indiana, "dead wrong.")

University of California-Irvine's election law professor Rick Hasen described the new opinion issued on Monday as "a nice assist from the 7th Circuit panel to the state of Wisconsin," just in time for the SCOTUS deadline.

In a more detailed follow-up item, however, Hasen, who is usually quite conservative when it comes to concerns about Photo ID voting restrictions, went somewhat ballistic. He uncharacteristically upbraided the 7th Circuit's newly issued ruling --- apparently written by the very rightwing Federalist Society member Judge Frank Easterbrook --- as "Horrendous".

"I rarely just rant in my blog posts," he tweeted, along with a link to his follow-up, "But Judge Easterbrook caused me to blow a gasket."

I know the feeling. I felt the exact same way while reading the new opinion today, particularly the part in which the court offers blatant --- and long-ago debunked --- falsehoods about where and when they claim Photo ID to be "essential", such as when boarding an airplane.

Trouble is, that is a blatant lie. A Photo ID is absolutely not required to board an airplane, no matter how many times proponents of these sorts of laws repeat the false claim. And it's simply remarkable that such a lie (and others akin to it) would be included in a last-minute opinion meant to justify an Appellate Court ruling that is about to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2014 6:35am PT  

I missed this Washington Post article when it first came out late last year. But thanks to too-occasional BRAD BLOG and Washington Monthly contributor D.R. Tucker, I was glad to catch it over the weekend.

It's based on a study by University of Massachusetts at Boston sociologist Keith Bentele and political scientist Erin O'Brien. They looked at restrictive voting statutes enacted over the past several years in all 50 states and the "dominant explanations (and accusations) advanced by both the right and left" in regard to legislation such as polling place Photo ID rules, stricter registration requirements, and other such restrictions on the basic right to vote.

What they found will absolutely NOT stun you in the least...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2014 3:48pm PT  

Sari Horwitz and Al Kamen at WaPo suggest that Obama's current Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, is at the top of the "short list" to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

"We're hearing that Solicitor General (the No. 4 slot at the Justice Department) Don Verrilli --- formerly deputy White House counsel --- may be atop the list," they report. "He's smart --- many say 'brilliant' --- well-liked by Obama and was confirmed by the Senate three years ago on a 72-16 vote. And one of those 'aye' votes, as our colleague Ruth Marcus pointed out, was from Majority-Leader-in-waiting Sen. Mitch McConnell. (R-Ky.)"

That's all well and good, and might help make Verrilli more confirmable in the U.S. Senate than other, better choices. Naturally, someone that Republicans can approve of should be one of the highest priorities in selecting Barack Obama's next Attorney General. (Sigh...)

But, that said, this might be a good time to point you back to our piece from early 2013, written by our legal analyst Ernie Canning, headined, "Donald Verrilli: Obama's Incompetent Solicitor General, Muddled Middle or Both?"

In the piece, Canning offers a fairly devastating analysis of Verrilli's dismal performance before the U.S. Supreme Court in two landmark marriage equality cases last year. As he wrote at the time, if the side that Verrilli was on in those cases eventually prevailed (they did, in both cases) it would "be despite the half-baked arguments presented by the Solicitor General, not because of them."

We'll also note that Verrilli's performance in the Voting Rights Act case was similarly nothing short of dismal. The other attorneys who also argued on the same side in the case (most notably, the NAACP's Debo Adegbile, whose later nomination to head the Civil Rights division of DoJ was shamefully torpedoed by Republicans and several Democrats) argued their case smartly and persuasively. Verrilli, by stark contrast, was horrible during oral argument, just as we found him to be in the marriage equality cases. The voting rights case was ultimately lost and SCOTUS infamously gutted the Voting Rights Act in the bargain.

Perhaps Verrilli is a better attorney and/or administrator than his skills as a litigator in oral argument before the Supreme Court revealed. But, if not, based on those cases last year, at least, it seems he'd be a disastrous choice as the next AG. Just thought we should mention that.

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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...

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

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