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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 3, 2015
Un-Democratic Democratic Party: 'BradCast' 9/2/15
The DNC 'debate debate' with BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernie Canning. Plus: The Iran Deal is sealed, listener calls and much more!...
KY Clerk Defying SCOTUS, Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses: 'BradCast' 9/1/15
Guest Joe Dunman, attorney for couples challenging County Clerk Kim Davis: 'Imagine a Muslim clerk denying licenses to Christians'...
'Green News Report' 9/1/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Obama makes case for climate action in melting Arctic; 2015 hurricane season breaking records; Huge e-car news; PLUS: RWers go nuts after nation's tallest mountain renamed...
Previous GNRs: 8/27/15 - 8/25/15 - Archives...
'Voting Machines Are Being Manipulated' - KS Statistician: 'BradCast' 8/31/15
Beth Clarkson explains remarkable allegations, evidence, and how KS SoS Kobach is blocking attempt to audit touch-screen patterns favoring GOP | Also: 64 criminal counts for NM SoS...
O'Malley Slams DNC's 'Rigged' Nomination Process
Former MD Governor and 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate excoriates party's announced debate schedule (and more) at DNC Summer Meeting in Minneapolis..
Sunday Toons: 'Concerns Perhaps Overblown' Edition
...Then again, perhaps not. 'PDiddie' rounds up the political cartoonists take on what you need to worry about this week...and what you don't...
10 Years Later - Crawford and Katrina: 'BradCast' 8/28/15
Personal remembrances and audio from our on-air, on-the-ground 2005 coverage of Cindy Sheehan's anti-war uprising at the Bush 'ranch' in TX as Hurricane Katrina stormed ashore...
'A Crazy Man Got a Gun': 'BradCast' 8/27/15
Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
'Green News Report' 8/27/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
10th anniv. of Hurricane Katrina; NASA warns 3 ft. of sea level rise now locked in; Obama heads to the Arctic; PLUS: Switch to clean energy costs less than fossil fuel, says Citigroup...
Previous GNRs: 8/25/15 - 8/20/15 - Archives...
Let's Go to the Phones: 'BradCast' 8/26/15
Covering a lot of ground with listener callers -- from the on-air shootings in Roanoke, VA to why Democrats shouldn't be so gleeful about Donald Trump -- and much more...
Carly's Climate Clap-Trap or The Fiorina Follies:
'BradCast' 8/25/15
Journalist David Roberts on the 'moderate', 'reasonable' GOP candidate's ridiculous climate comments and Citigroup's global warming report. Plus: Beck, Trump and Sanders...
'Green News Report' 8/25/15
July 2015 hottest month ever recorded; Record wildfires get worse; Whale deaths in WA; Oil hit hard by China; PLUS: Obama calls out anti-free market ideology...
TX Photo ID Law Found Illegal, Yet Still Suppressing Voters: 'BradCast' 8/24/15
Guests: Attorney Ernest A. Canning on TX' discriminatory law; Financial journalist David Dayen on Dow 'crash'...
Sunday Toons, Untrustworthy Edition
Hillary's email; Ashley Madison's mess; Subway's Jared; Schumer's shame; Amazon agonistes; Trump's tyranny and more...
E-Cigs Are Good For You; GOP is Not: 'BradCast' 8/21/15
Also: Bernie Sanders & ignoring corporate media are good for you too...
5th Circuit Photo ID Ruling Could Leave Thousands Without Right to Vote in TX
'Good news' decision could leave 600k lawfully registered voters disenfranchised in 2016...
'No Good Evidence' Russia Behind MH17 Shootdown in Ukraine, Says Longtime CIA Analyst: 'BradCast' 8/20/15
Exclusive interview with 27-year, top CIA vet turned peace activist Ray McGovern...
'Green News Report' 8/20/15
Fox now 'cares' about environment; Hillary opposes Arctic drilling; EPA rules cut methane; Islamic leaders call for climate action; PLUS: River toxins and intersex fish...
Did KXL Judges Profit Off Ruling?:
'BradCast' 8/19/15
Journalist Steve Horn on two judges who allowed disturbing precedent that led to completion and opening of Kestone XL pipeline's southern leg...
AT&T/NSA Whistleblower Mark Klein on New AT&T/NSA Docs: 'BradCast' 8/18/15
'They approached the phone companies before 9/11,' he says, citing new Snowden disclosures that 'vindicate' his own 2006 revelations...
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...


Guests: Attorney Ernest A. Canning; Financial journalist David Dayen...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2015 5:45pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, financial journalist David Dayen joins us to explain why the Dow Jones Industrial average plummeted 1000 points over the past two trading days, whether or not you should be worried about it, and how the U.S. is missing a golden opportunity in the bargain.

Then, BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest A. Canning joins us to explain why --- even after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently found Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID voting restriction to be discriminatory and illegal (just as the lower U.S. District Court did last year and just as the federal government did well before that) --- the GOP's voting restriction is, increcibly, still in effect anyway and may serve to disenfranchise some 600,000 lawfully registered (largely Democratic-leaning) voters during the 2016 Presidential election.

Canning wrote about the disturbing situation in detail last week in an article at The BRAD BLOG and explains the mess in brief on today's show: "It seems nonsensical to say a law has been struck down but it is still in force. But that's basically where we stand right now."

"This law has a discriminatory impact --- it disparately impacts minorities and the poor," he says, citing the Appeals Court's latest decision. "You now have this identical finding three successive times in court dating back to 2012, and here we are in 2015 and we're having to worry about whether that discrimination is going to occur again in 2016."

Also on today's BradCast: Texas health care situation is still among the worst in the nation; Trump wows 'em in Alabama; California is NOT in chaos (no matter what disinformed Republicans may tell you); And fall-out from my rant last week about the excellent new British government findings on the safety and efficacy of e-cigs; and more!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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While its recent decision upheld a lower court finding that the state's Photo ID law was discriminatory, more than 600,000 lawfully registered voters could be disenfranchised in 2016 anyway...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/21/2015 6:35am PT  

The recent decision by a unanimous three judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in Veasey v. Abbott was greeted as "very good news." After all, it marked the first occasion in which a federal appellate court made an express finding that a state-enacted polling place Photo ID law violated the provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

The appellate panel affirmed the lower U.S. District Court's finding late last year that a Texas polling place Photo ID law (SB 14), which threatened to disenfranchise 608,470 already legally registered voters (and many others not already registered), disparately impacted minorities and the poor. "Hispanic registered voters and Black registered voters," the 5th Circuit appellate panel observed in their recent ruling, "were respectively 195% and 305% more likely than their Anglo peers to lack [the requisite Photo] ID" now required to cast a vote at the polls under the Texas law.

This was the same conservative appellate panel whose "emergency" stay of the lower court's injunction on SB 14 last year, in all likelihood, helped to facilitate the illegal disenfranchisement of as many as 600,000 lawfully registered voters during the 2014 mid-term election. That "emergency" stay was subsequently affirmed by a sharply divided Supreme Court, whose right-wing majority elevated the risk of confusion that could arise by an eleventh-hour, court-ordered change in election laws above the risk that hundreds of thousands of lawfully registered voters could be illegally disenfranchised by reason of the Texas Photo ID law. Both the 5th Circuit and the SCOTUS majority handed down that ruling, although, at that point, neither court was in a position to contest the District Court's finding that SB-14 not only violated Section 2 of the VRA but that the Photo ID statute had been enacted for a discriminatory purpose.

The SCOTUS decision last year, as The BRAD BLOG observed at the time, belied the contention made by the Supreme Court majority in Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 case that gutted the VRA, that their destruction of Section 5 pre-clearance requirements for new election laws in states with a history of discrimination, "in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2." In truth, per last year's decision, racial discrimination in voting will be allowed in those cases where a court order upholding that "ban" is issued too close to an election.

This case provided a classic example of the damage wrought by the gutting of Section 5. Prior to Shelby County, Section 5 mandated that Texas prove that its Photo ID statute woulds not have a disparate impact on minority voting rights before the Photo ID law could take effect. In 2012 a unanimous three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal refused to grant Section 5 pre-clearance to Texas' SB 14 precisely because of its disparate adverse impact upon minorities and the poor. Absent the Supreme Court's troubling decision in Shelby County neither the current, ongoing costly litigation on SB 14, nor the mass 2014 disenfranchisement would have ensued.

The new 5th Circuit panel's decision affirms that SB 14 has the effect of discriminating against racial minorities and the poor. Yet it failed to lift a stay that it imposed on a supposed "emergency" basis. Instead, it vacated the District Court's "discriminatory purpose" finding and remanded the case back to that court for further adjudication....

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Guests: Peace activist David Swanson; Const. law expert Ian Millhiser
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2015 5:27pm PT  

It was a much bigger show today than we had expected when we started it!

First up on today's BradCast, author, peace activist David Swanson joins us to discuss Obama's speech today at American University on the Iran Nuclear Agreement. While Swanson is (somewhat uncharacteristically) optimistic and encouraged by the deal, he has concerns about how Obama and other Dems are misleading Americans in order to sell it. "I love that, for once, President Obama wants peace. I love that, for once, he's using diplomacy rather than war. I wish he would use that in eight other places on earth," Swanson tells me. "But at the same time he's pushing the propaganda of his opponents."

Then, Swanson asks, "Why Won't Bernie Talk About War?" A new petition from RootsAction.org asks Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to start speaking up against U.S. militarism which, as Swanson argues, the U.S. Senator from Vermont has, up until now, been very reluctant to do for some reason.

Then, as we went to break, huge news came in from the very conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal striking down the Texas GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction law. The opinion confirms most of a lower court judge's previously ruling finding the restriction to be in strict violation of the Voting Rights Act as well as the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser joins us to explain the very encouraging opinion from the court --- which comes, incidentally, just one day before the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- and what happens next.

"The court got that voter ID laws do not really serve the purpose that their supporters say they're supposed to serve," Millhiser explains. "The court got that this was an attempt to dress up something that looks like a legitimate voter regulation in order to really do something else, which was to prevent groups like racial minorities and low-income voters who tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans from casting a ballot."

But, he also warns, "this wasn't a total victory for the good guys." Listen to the show for all the details.

Finally, in the few minutes we have left, we squeeze in some Presidential politics in advance of tomorrow night's first GOP Presidential debate, as sponsored --- and rigged by --- Fox "News". And, yes, that Republican debate will take place, ironically enough, on the 50th Anniversary of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act which Republicans used to support...until they decided they couldn't win elections anymore if all those "people" (read: qualified American voters who tend to vote Democratic) were allowed to vote.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2015 1:56pm PT  

Very good news, just breaking today from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas!...

One day before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country wielded that law to strike down a Texas voter suppression law. A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion written by a George W. Bush appointee, held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and must, at the very least, be significantly weakened. Though the court did not accept every argument raised against the state’s voter ID law, and its opinion does not go nearly as far as a trial judge’s decision which also struck down this law, it is a significant blow to the state’s efforts to make voting more difficult.

Voter ID laws are a common obstacle raised, mostly by right-leaning lawmakers, in front of citizens seeking to exercise their right to vote. Though stringent voter ID laws, which require voters to show a photo ID before they can cast a ballot, are often justified as a shield against voter fraud, the kind of fraud these laws target barely exists. A Wisconsin study, for example, found just seven cases of fraud out of 3 million votes cast during the 2004 election — and none of these seven cases were the kind of in-person voter fraud that is prevented by a voter ID law. Similarly an investigation by former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) found exactly zero cases of in-person voter fraud over the course of several elections.

What voter ID laws do accomplish, however, is they disproportionately disenfranchise groups that tend to prefer Democratic candidates over Republicans. As Judge Catharina Haynes explained in her opinion on behalf of the Fifth Circuit, one analysis determined that “Hispanic registered voters and Black registered voters were respectively 195% and 305% more likely than their Anglo peers to lack” a voter ID in the state of Texas. Indeed, even Texas’s own numbers confirmed that voter ID laws disproportionately impact racial minorities. Their own expert “found that 4% of eligible White voters lacked SB 14 ID, compared to 5.3% of eligible Black voters and 6.9% of eligible Hispanic voters.”

See Ian Millhiser over at Think Progress for more, as well as Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog for additional analysis. The court's opinion is here. [PDF]

We'll have more on this in The BradCast later today (and an explanation of some of the nuance here that, while it's a huge victory for voting rights advocates, the plaintiffs in the case have not yet won everything they had hoped for --- specifically, they wanted Texas to be required to pre-clear new voting laws with the federal courts from now on, as the state had to previously, before the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.) On that issue, it appears the matter will be sent back down to the lower court, to establish whether their is strong enough evidence to prove the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, or whether it just had that effect. If the latter, striking down this version of the law will be enough. If the former, TX would have to get federal approval for such laws in the future --- and that would be a very big (and good!) deal.

But, for the moment, this is very good news for those of us who believe in the Right to Vote. And, by way of reminder, this is what we had noted late last year when the judge in the lower U.S. Circuit court in Texas absolutely eviscerated the law passed by state Republicans after a full trial...

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."

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Guest: Adam Briggle of FrackFreeDenton.com...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2015 4:53pm PT  

Remember that 2009 Dept. of Homeland Security report about Rightwing Domestic Extremism that Republicans forced the Obama Administration to retract?

We do --- once again --- on today's BradCast, particularly in the bloody wake of this week's domestic terrorist attack at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church. For some reason, Rightwingers don't want to remember that report, much less describe this week's attack at "terrorism". Wonder why. And so does Jon Stewart.

Then, speaking of extremist Republicans, the state of Texas has overruled a voter-approved ban on fracking in the city of Denton and declared such local control illegal. TX Gov. Greg Abbott actually says, with a straight face, that, in fighting for fossil fuel industry profits over people, he's protecting private property rights from the "heavy hand of local regulation." (Yes, he actually said that.)

Adam Briggle of FrackFreeDenton.com joins us to discuss how Denton hopes to fight the GOP's Big Government attack on democracy, local control and private property rights across the state --- ya know, all that stuff Republicans like to pretend they believe in.

"The industry went to the legislators that they have bought and paid for, and they wrote a new law for them to change the rules," Briggle tells me. "They just bought a new law that changed the standards by which you evaluate the constitutionality of local ordinances."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the Pope's climate encyclical and Donald Trump's global warming denialism...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 6/4/2015 12:18pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Lincoln Chafee enter the 2016 race; Maryland bans fracking; Texas and Oklahoma ban fracking bans; PLUS: Big Oil CEOs call for a price on carbon (but there's a catch)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA study: No evidence fracking has caused “widespread” impacts on drinking water; California Oil Spill Pipeline Had Been Left To Rust Paper-Thin; How to Thrive in the Age of Megadrought?; How Europe’s Climate Policies Led To More U.S. Trees Being Cut Down; 49 States Making Plans for EPA Carbon Rule—Even the Ones That Hate It; Minnesota Tribes Press Concerns Over Pipeline Plan, Wild Rice; Killing the Colorado River: Las Vegas' 'water witch' policy-maker promotes unlimited growth amid drought... PLUS: Adapting to climate change is going to be a lot messier than we think... and much, MUCH more! ...

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with Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen
By Desi Doyen on 5/28/2015 10:57am PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly, record deluges in Texas and Oklahoma; Deadly, record heat in India; Heat-driven wildfires in Canada shut down tar sands oil production; Farmers make concession in California drought; PLUS: President Obama moves to limit pollution in the nation's drinking water, Republicans are against it ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil Sands Bigwig Declares “Climate Change is Real”; EPA plans temporary pesticide restrictions to protect bees; Did Texas Illegally Relax Rules on Coal Plants?; Oil co. wants to expand California drilling - critics point to new oil spill; Scientists Make Novel Attempt to Save Giant Turtle Species... PLUS: How to Green the U.S. Government... and much, MUCH more! ...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2015 12:22pm PT  

The polling place Photo ID voting restriction enacted by Republicans in Texas has been repeatedly found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Most recently, late last year, a federal judge found, after a full trial on the merits of the law, that the restrictive statute "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 went on to note in her 147-page ruling [PDF] that the law also "constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax."

Based on evidence from the state examined at trial, the law could serve to disenfranchise as many as 600,000 already legally registered voters in the state, not to mention more than a million eligible voters in Texas over all.

Naturally, Texas Republicans who currently run the state are appealing that ruling. Not because they have been able to demonstrate any actual "voter fraud" that might have been deterred by their restrictions, but because, with rapidly changing voter demographics in the Lone Star State, keeping legal voters (specifically, those that tend to lean towards Democrats) from being able to cast their otherwise legal vote has become a top priority for the GOP if they hope to keep their stranglehold on political power there in coming decades.

With all of that in mind --- including the existing law having been found in violation of both federal law and the U.S. Constitution --- state Republicans are hoping to make the law even more restrictive, and last week in the state House, the GOP passed another law to make it even more difficult for certain people to vote...

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By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2015 2:20pm PT  

During our most recent Green News Report, we sang the praises of California for a number of recent, noteworthy environmental accomplishments and initiatives.

You'll pardon us if we do so just a bit more here, but only because it affords us an opportunity to bash Texas at the same time.

An editorial by the San Antonio News-Express late last week criticized how lawsuit-happy the state of Texas has become over the past decade. Specifically, under their former Republican AG, now Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, the state filed 31 lawsuits against the federal government from 2004 to 2013, claiming the state had little choice, as they'd become a victim, as some sort of "target" of the feds due to their "success." Or something. (Didn't those guys used to be pretend to be against frivolous abuse of the judicial system?)

Anyway, the paper's editorial board noted how the state has filed lawsuits against the federal government of late on everything from Obamacare to immigration to voting laws, etc. And then they noted this [emphasis added]...

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Early data suggest new 'discriminatory', 'unconstitutional' Republican voting restriction seems to have worked well for them...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2014 2:58pm PT  

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

Despite a larger population and a contested race for an open gubernatorial seat, turnout in the state of Texas was reportedly down this year, as compared to the last mid-term election in 2010, by more than a quarter of a million votes.

That data point --- a decrease of some 271,000 total voters this year --- is one of several, at least anecdotal early indicators that suggest the Texas GOP's strategy of suppressing the vote this year with polling place Photo ID restrictions seems to have worked.

Since 2003, Texas law had already required every voter to present an ID when voting at the polls in the Lone Star State. But the newer draconian restrictions that have been so controversial were finally in place for a federal general election for the first time this year, after state Republicans have been attempting to enact them since at least 2007.

We've spent quite a bit of time over the past year(s) reporting on the GOP attempt to implement these new polling place Photo ID voting restrictions, with all evidence suggesting that they are meant only to suppress the votes of minorities, students, the poor and other disproportionately Democratic-leaning constituencies.

In virtually every instance that the new, exceedingly restrictive law has come before federal authorities, it has been found plainly discriminatory. The law was struck down in 2012 as a discriminatory violation of the Voting Rights Act by both the U.S. Department of Justice as well as a three-judge federal panel on the D.C. District Court. It was struck down once again this year by a U.S. District Court in Texas after a full trial and a 147-page ruling [PDF] which found the law to be "purposefully discriminatory", an "unconstitutional poll tax", and likely to disenfranchise some 600,000 legally registered Texas voters as well as more than a million eligible voters.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to stay in place during this year's election, as the Republicans who run the state of Texas appeal the lower court's unambiguous ruling.

In the meantime, early data coming in from Texas suggests the law appears to have had its intended effect...

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

- with Brad Friedman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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...

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By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2014 6:05am PT  

Via UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen...

Thanks to a reader for pointing out last week’s district court order [PDF] in the Texas voter id case. The court mostly denied Texas’s motion to dismiss, even allowing claims to go forward at this point on voter id as a poll tax and as a First Amendment violation. That’s not to say these will be winning claims, but it is significant that plaintiffs will get to advance a number of federal theories against the id law.

So there's some encouraging news to start your day.

For much more on the pending federal challenge to the TX Republicans' attempt to institute their disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restriction --- a law which had otherwise been repeatedly rejected as discriminatory by both the DoJ and federal courts until SCOTUS gutted the central protections of the Voting Rights Act last year --- see just some of our recent previous coverage here:

"Wisconsin Federal Court Decision Could Mark Beginning of End For GOP Photo ID Restrictions" (5/2/2014)

"Federal Judge Orders TX to Produce Legislative Docs That May Prove Polling Place Photo ID Restriction Law Was Racially-Motivated" (4/7/2014)

"Texas GOP's Polling Place Photo ID Law Almost Certain to Get Nixed. Again. Here's Why..." (9/4/2013)

"Texas AG Defrauds Texas in Response to DoJ Lawsuit Against Polling Place Photo ID Law" (8/23/2013)

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Expired state driver's license not enough to vote or receive 'free' state-issued ID card for Democratic icon, and he's hardly alone...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright (D) was denied a Photo ID for voting purposes in Texas over the weekend by the state's Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The 90-year old Wright, who is lucky enough to have an assistant to drive him to and from the DPS office, says that while he believes he'll be able to get an ID in time to vote in this Tuesday's election, he's concerned the state's "unduly stringent requirements on voters" will reduce turnout.

According to the Star-Telegram, Wright's driver's license expired in 2010 and --- because he no longer drives --- he didn't bother to renew it. That expired license, he learned Saturday, is not good enough to obtain a Photo ID to vote under the law TX Republicans passed in 2011. That law will be in effect, for the first time, on Tuesday. The state statute had previously been nixed just last year by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and by a 3-judge federal court panel after being found discriminatory, in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as based on statistics supplied by the state itself.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court gutting a key provision of the VRA over the summer, however, Texas announced the law would finally be enforced for the upcoming election.

Wright is hardly the only well known figure to be stung so far by the Lone Star State Republicans' purposely disenfranchising law. And the hoops that many voters --- even ones like Wright, who says he's voted in every single election since 1944 --- must now jump through in order to have a chance at their vote even being counted at all, is remarkable...

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