“Obama Will Make Some News Thursday, Too”: Will Call For The Restoration Of The Voting Rights Act On Its 50th Anniversary
As I write this post, political junkies are awaiting the official word on the list of candidates who will appear in Thursday’s first official Republican presidential debate. But in an example of questionable timing by Fox News, Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And since said act was largely vitiated by a conservative majority of SCOTUS in 2013, and congressional Republicans have barely lifted any fingers to restore it, the president’s going to do everything possible to force voting rights into the national consciousness that day, and perhaps even into the GOP debate, as reported by The Hill‘s Jordan Fabian:
President Obama will call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary Thursday, the White House said.
Obama will hold a teleconference to commemorate the landmark legislation and call for its renewal, following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that voided one of its central provisions.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who rose to prominence in the 1960s as a civil rights leader, will participate.
The event will allow Obama to draw a sharp contrast with Republicans, many of whom argue some provisions of the 1965 law went too far. It will take place on the same day as the first GOP presidential primary debate.
You have to love this quote:
Asked about the timing of the event, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that “one person’s irony is another person’s serendipity.”
“Maybe there will be an opportunity for Republican candidates to discuss the right for every American to cast a vote,” he added.
It will tell you a lot about the GOP and about Fox News if the subject is not mentioned on Thursday night.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 4, 2015
Poor Marco Rubio. With history rushing past him, its dust gritty in his eyes, he, the bully, resorts to playing the victim.
And so it was on Tuesday, when he tried—in this now-practiced right wing way—to claim that he and other Christians were the victims of LGBTs and their demands for, er, basic equality and civil rights.
What else can Rubio do? People like him have lost the argument.
All they can do now, after years of fostering a climate of prejudice and persecution against LGBTs, is to claim that with the prospect of equality, it is they, the bullies, who are persecuted.
They cannot argue how equality affects them negatively, so merely claim to be victims.
This is all they have, after years of using every trick in the book to keep LGBT people unequal, feared, and stigmatized.
It would be funny, this attempted sleight-of-hand, this laughable co-opting of the language and mantle of victimhood, if Rubio’s words were not so disgusting, and such canards.
On Tuesday, Rubio dared to use the phrase ‘hate speech’ when describing how, one day, those who objected to marriage equality would be seen as propagating hate speech.
Does Marco Rubio have any idea of the toxicity of the phrase he is flinging around to score some cheap political capital?
Does he have any idea of the true ‘hate speech’ LGBTs have suffered, not just on political platforms at the hands of people like Marco Rubio in their stoking of their Christian voting base—words like ‘unnatural,’ ‘pretend families,’ words of exclusion that seek to put us outside the boundaries of family, home, and love?
Because ‘hate speech’ doesn’t end on political platforms. They’re the words that LGBTs hear before they are beaten by homophobes on street corners and in schoolyards. Beaten, sometimes fatally. How dare Marco Rubio seek to invoke a phrase like ‘hate speech’ to feed his own pathetic persecution complex? Has he any idea of the true cost of ‘hate speech’ as it has been used against LGBT people?
Rubio said ‘mainstream Christian’ teachings would soon be seen as hate speech in his scary new world where those pesky homosexuals are treated just as the same as everyone else under the law.
“Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” Rubio said. Absurdly. You are only labeled a ‘homophobe’ and ‘hater’ if you come out and say something homophobic and hateful.
Mr. Rubio, despite great provocation by you and others like you, LGBTs and their supporters—many of whom are Christian, by the way—who back equality actually think you can say and think whatever you like, as long as it doesn’t incite violence and hatred. If it does, they will object, as any reasonable person might.
If you claim that LGBTs do not deserve marriage equality, and your argument has the ring of prejudice about it—and it necessarily would because you are arguing against the principles of equality—then expect to be called out for it.
But you are not being silenced. You are being disagreed with. And now you’re feeling persecuted because it’s not just LGBTs calling you out on it, but all those who believe people should be treated equally under the law.
Simply, Mr. Rubio, when will you stop scapegoating LGBTs to score votes? Why are you so dead-set on maintaining inequality and discrimination? What’s in it for you? Rubio also said, “After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger.”
Again, this is doom-saying nonsense, and yet another attempt to paint “the gay agenda” as an uncontrollable monster, out to silence its objectors.
The truth is that for years LGBTs have had to fight to be heard themselves, to be visible, to lobby for equality under the law.
LGBT activists have never said the teachings of mainstream Christianity or the catechism of the Catholic Church are pernicious. They have argued against those teachings being warped by bigots and opportunists like Mr. Rubio to attack LGBT people, and deny them their civil rights—but not for them to cease to exist or be practiced.
In a way, Rubio’s nonsensical words are heartening. They are like the last gasp of a poisonous old world order of determined prejudice and discrimination. How furious and scared he must have been to see Catholic Ireland face down the kind of misinformation and lies he and his cronies propagate against LGBTs on Saturday, and vote instead for a future of equality.
Rubio and others like him know their grip on fear and prejudice is loosening. And so now, he plays the victim: it’s the last pathetic piece of pantomime left to him.
Quite simply, even Rubio’s followers and supporters know LGBT people—and they do not like to see these family members and loved ones persecuted so viciously for whom they choose to go to bed with. And so, with the grit of history in his eye, Rubio continues howling in the wind—his words more and more lost in the tempest of history passing him by.
By: Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast, May 26, 2015
“Constitutional Protections Cannot Be Undone By Popular Vote”: Why The Constitution Trumps Any State’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage
With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear oral argument next week in marriage equality cases, everyone is looking to the marriage cases the Court decided in 2013 in an attempt to predict what it’s likely to do this time around. But another recent case on a very different topic may actually have much more to say about marriage equality than one would think: last year’s case about warrantless searches of an arrestee’s cell phone. In that case, the Court held such searches unconstitutional and underscored a principle that bears on the marriage discussion—namely, that constitutional protections cannot be undone by popular vote.
The basic question in the marriage equality cases is simple. Does the Fourteenth Amendment—which prohibits states from denying any person “liberty… without due process of law” and “the equal protection of the laws”—bar state bans on same-sex marriage? The text and history of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the Court’s own precedents, make clear that it does. Opponents of marriage equality thus are resorting to what is becoming a familiar argument, saying marriage equality should be decided not by the courts, but by the people. By that logic, citizens of individual states can trump the Constitution’s broad equality guarantee if they vote to do so.
One of the most significant statements of this view can be found in the lower court opinion the Court is reviewing. Last year, federal appeals court judge Jeffrey Sutton described the question in the marriage equality cases as a “debate about whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue… or to end them now by requiring all states in the Circuit to extend the definition of marriage to encompass gay couples.” He noted that “[i]n just eleven years, 19 states and a conspicuous District, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand [the] definition of marriage.” He described that “timeline” as “difficult… to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting.” Unsurprisingly, defenders of that opinion have continued this line of argument in the Supreme Court. One of the parties’ briefs argues that the Court should adopt a deferential standard in reviewing state marriage bans because that standard “defers to voters in order to protect the democratic process.” Another asserts that “[t]he Constitution delegates most sensitive policy choices to democratic debates, not judicial mandates.”
These arguments about “democratic process” may seem more attractive than some of the other arguments made by opponents of marriage equality. For instance, leaders of the 2012 Republican National Convention Committee on the Platform filed a brief arguing that marriage bans are constitutional because, in part, men need “traditional marriage” so women can “‘transform [their] male lust into love.’”
But there’s a basic flaw in the “democratic process” arguments, as last year’s cell phone search decision confirms. They get the Constitution exactly backwards.
In Riley v. California, the Court considered whether the police may without a warrant search someone’s cell phone following an arrest. The Court held, in a unanimous opinion, that the answer is no; such searches are generally prohibited by the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures… not be violated.” Recognizing that “unrestrained search[es] for evidence of criminal activity” was “one of the driving forces behind the [American] Revolution,” the Court concluded that warrantless cell phone searches permitted too great an intrusion on privacy and thus should not be allowed, absent exigent circumstances preventing the police from obtaining a warrant. As Chief Justice Roberts explained in the Court’s opinion, modern cell phones are “now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy,” and they can contain a vast amount of “sensitive personal information.”
Justice Alito agreed with the rest of the Court that such searches were unconstitutional, but he wrote separately to make two points, one of which has bearing on the marriage equality cases. Alito wrote that he “would reconsider the question presented here if either Congress or state legislatures, after assessing the legitimate needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of cell phone owners, enact legislation that draws reasonable distinctions based on categories of information or perhaps other variables.” Put differently, Alito would allow Congress and state legislatures to change the Court’s answer in Riley. Even though the Court had concluded that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures” generally prevents the police from engaging in such searches, Alito would allow Congress and state legislatures to decide that “the legitimate needs of law enforcement” outweigh the “privacy interests of cell phone owners.”
Tellingly, no other Justice joined Alito’s opinion. Not one. And that tells us a great deal about the “democratic processes” position adopted by Judge Sutton and advanced by opponents of marriage equality. What the rest of the Court implicitly recognized in Riley was that Alito’s approach is fundamentally wrong. Congress and state legislatures may be able to supplement the Constitution’s protections—indeed, they may sometimes be well-suited to doing so, as Alito noted in a different Fourth Amendment case about GPS monitoring—but they cannot scrap them.
Indeed, that is a point so fundamental to our constitutional order that the Supreme Court has made it repeatedly in various contexts, noting that fundamental constitutional protections “depend on the outcome of no elections,” and “[a] citizen’s constitutional rights can hardly be infringed simply because a majority of the people choose that it be.” As recently as 2011, in a campaign finance case, Roberts explained that “the whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speakers against unjustified government restrictions on speech, even when those restrictions reflect the will of the majority.” The Constitution, not voters, has the ultimate legal authority. In the past, the Court hasn’t treated the Fourteenth Amendment any differently than the First and the Fourth. In 1996, for example, it struck down a state constitutional amendment adopted by state voters because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment.
When the Court considered the scope of the Fourth Amendment’s protections in Riley, it didn’t say it was up to Congress or state legislatures to decide how much privacy Americans enjoy when it comes to their cell phones. Instead, the Court considered the text and history of the Fourth Amendment, as well as the Court’s precedents. The Court should do the same thing this year when it considers the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections in the marriage equality cases. If it does, there’s no question what the result should be: a resounding victory for marriage equality.
By: Brianne J. Gorod, Appellate Counsel at The Constitutional Accountability Center; The New Republic, April 23, 2015
“The Bane Of Political Life In America”: For Conservatives, Government Coercion Is Bad — Except When It’s Not
For conservatives, government coercion is the bane of political life in America. As members of the self-styled anti-government party, they very much are interested in making the case that coercion is inherently illegitimate, whether it is a law requiring you to purchase health care or a law requiring businesses to serve LGBT customers. The problem with this logic is that all laws are coercive — even the ones conservatives like.
Last week, I wrote about the intrinsic coerciveness of all laws in the context of protecting LGBT people from discrimination, which prompted a hilarious yet telling reaction from Sean Davis at The Federalist.
Davis, possibly because he quite obviously did not even read past the first couple paragraphs of my post, is not just wrong, but has missed the entire axis of debate. However, he does inadvertently provide a great example of just why conservatives are ill-advised to admit that all laws are coercive. Because if this is true, then conservatives will have to give up one of their favorite rhetorical tropes — being against coercion in the name of individual liberty — or resort to outright hypocrisy.
The argument was not about LGBT laws in themselves, something Davis failed to grasp. Instead it was about the justification of such laws. My position is that being against government coercion is not legitimate grounds on which to oppose any policy. This applies to liberals, too, though as members of the pro-government faction they generally don’t worry about it much.
But conservatives do. Most of what is referred to as “government” in popular media is liberal stuff like Social Security, Medicare, or food stamps. Labeling those programs as coercion gives conservatives a convenient pro-liberty sheen when they’re talking about slashing poor people’s incomes.
That changes when you bring up things like property. Though ordinary people rarely talk about it in this way, property is underpinned by exactly the same kind of coercion that bolsters civil rights or tax laws, as is the entire superstructure of what we refer to as the free market system — that is, by government coercion.
Therefore, conservatives can’t be principled anti-coercion advocates unless they are willing to throw out private property, which they obviously aren’t. Coercion can’t be bad when it supports things you don’t like and good when it supports things you do — no matter what some conservatives maintain.
Let me emphasize that this line of reasoning doesn’t mean you can’t oppose some civil rights law, just that you can’t oppose it on the grounds of being against coercion in general.
Of course, framing the discussion in this way powerfully strengthens left-wing arguments. If being anti-coercion is utter nonsense, then the debate moves to which kinds of coercion are best as judged by some other moral framework. Whether that’s utilitarianism, contract theory, or Christian ethics, under such conditions it’s a lot harder to oppose transferring income from rich to poor or social insurance programs.
Thus, when presented with left-wing slogans like “property is violence,” your average conservative, perceiving a trap, will resist. In reality there is no escape.
But what makes Davis such a great example is he genuinely doesn’t seem to understand what the problem is here. He argues in one breath that, duh, of course all laws protecting property depend on coercive violence. Then in the very next paragraph, he writes this:
At their core, however, Kohn and Cooper appear to desperately want to avoid the real question at the heart of the religious freedom debate: should the government force individuals to participate in religious ceremonies against their will? [The Federalist]
Government coercion is good, except when it’s not. That’s the kind of stark hypocrisy conservatives would do well to disguise better.
By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, April 14, 2015