Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, on remand from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, has again ruled (.pdf) that the voter identification law the Texas Legislature passed in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Federal Judge Says Texas Voter ID Law Intentionally Discriminates:
In a long-running case over the legality of one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country, the judge found that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act.
Judge Gonzales Ramos had made a similar ruling in 2014, but after Texas appealed her decision, a federal appellate court instructed her to review the issue once more.
The appeals court — the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans — found that Judge Ramos had relied too heavily on Texas’ history of discriminatory voting measures and other evidence it labeled “infirm” and asked her to reweigh the question of discriminatory intent.
In her ruling on Monday, Judge Ramos wrote that the evidence cited by the Fifth Circuit “did not tip the scales” in favor of the state.
Friday’s Supreme Court announcement was understandably eclipsed by the events in Paris but we pro-choice folks paid close attention to it. The court has agreed to hear a challenge to a passel of abortion restrictions passed in Texas in 2013 under the guise of “safety”. The Texas laws, which led to several clinic closures as intended, were the result of anti-choicers taking advantage of past court decisions allowing states broad latitude in regulating abortion prior to viability so long as their stated reason was to protect the health of women and that it did not place an “undue burden” on a woman seeking an abortion. Arizona, being a red state run by raving misogynists, has passed similar laws, modeled on national templates.
If you think that solid scientific evidence should be required before forcing women (many of whom will have to drive long distances) to wait 24-72 hours before getting an abortion, or for claiming that abortion will increase her chances of breast cancer and depression, or for requiring clinics to be fully ambulatory surgical centers and doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals before one of the simplest surgical or medication procedures available can be done, then you don’t know anti-choice judges. The famously right wing 5th Circuit, which upheld the Texas law that will be decided by SCOTUS, found such considerations to be irrelevant: Continue reading →
I’m so white I could be Conan O’Brien’s twin sister so I obviously can’t speak to the experience of racialized encounters with law enforcement. Let me just get that out of the way. But when I watched the arrest video of Sandra Bland there was something that police officer Brian Encinia said – and the tone in which he said it – to the late Ms. Bland that hit me viscerally as a woman. “Oh, I know him.”
From the transcript:
Encinia: OK, ma’am. (Pause.) You OK?
Bland: I’m waiting on you. This is your job. I’m waiting on you. When’re you going to let me go?
Doug Ducey likes to praise Texas, often. He wants their state tax income rate (none) and their health care policies (no ACA exchanges, no Medicaid expansion). Ducey most assuredly wants the reproductive rights climate that currently exists in Texas, where the Fifth Circuit Court upheld spurious TRAP laws passed last year (and famously filibustered by State Senator Wendy Davis) which will close all but seven clinics in the entire state. Rural areas, including all of West Texas, will be without a single abortion provider. Continue reading →
After the jump, check out several news stories and two videos which highlight [Republican] men behaving badly in the Congress and multiple state legislatures. Heavy sigh. Will this strategy of "subtraction" work for them in 2014 or 2016? I personally don't see how it can.
All Eyes on Battle Between Texas Legislature and Pro-Choice Protesters
The Texas House approved the draconian anti-abortion bill that was stopped a few weeks ago by State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. The performances of three women are worth note. (Quotes form MS. Magazine Blog.)
A Republican who dared to vote “No” with the Democrats and said…
Now is not the time to play political football with women’s health. Abortion … is a constitutionally protected right.
A Democrat railed against the Republicans who would not allow even rape or incest victims to get abortions after 20 weeks and said…
When a person is raped, a woman is raped, they don’t go and see whether or not it’s a Republican woman or a Democratic woman or an independent woman, the rapist just rapes a woman. And I don’t want to force them to have to use a coat hanger [in a] back alley or use a knitting needle or use a feather or take turpentine. I want to make sure that the law allows them that option.
A citizen who was removed from the Legislative Chambers but managed to say this first…
Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you.
You can see her whole testimony here before the Texas Rangers forcibly removed her.
Now that both chambers of the Texas Legislature have passed this anti-choice Legislation, it goes to Governor Rick “protect-the-fetus” Perry’s desk for a signature. From the Arizona Daily Star…
“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” said Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health.” [Emphasis added.]
The Decline of North Carolina
In 2013, Republicans took control over the state government of North Carolina. This editorial in the New York Times chronicles North Carolina’s dramatic decline after just a few months under total Republican control. Here is a taste of the “grotesque damage” that Republicans have created in a few short months. From the New York Times…
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.
The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.
The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.
At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools…
We’ve seen this “blame the poor” meme repeated by Republicans at all levels– from the US House of Representatives to the Arizona Legislature. Instead of starting jobs programs or boosting the economy, what does the NC Legislature do? Take money out of the pockets of people who can least afford it– the poor and the unemployed.
On the abortion front, NC legislators have been infamously attaching anti-abortion measures onto totally unrelated bills– like the one outlawing Sharia Law and another one on motorcycle safety. (Oh, yeah, that makes sense.)
Food Stamps Cut from Farm Bill
Like petulant children offering a middle finger salute, Republicans in the US House of Representatives took food stamps and other supplemental nutrition programs out of the Farm Bill and passed it. You’ll remember that a few weeks ago the Farm Bill was defeated in the House because the bill included dramatic cuts to food stamps a
nd schools lunches– while increasing subsidies to agribusiness. Well, just to show us (and those uppity poor people), they eliminated the supplemental food programs but kept the pork barrel spending for agribusiness. From the New York Times…
Democrats denounced the bill as a naked attempt to make draconian cuts in the food stamp program.
“A vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, called the House measure “an insult to rural America.”
Anti-hunger groups called passage of the farm bill without the food stamp program a disgrace.
“Today’s vote is the latest smoking gun that the House majority isn’t truly interested in deficit reduction,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “They’re interested in supporting special interest groups over hungry Americans.”
The House got so out of control during this “debate” that Republicans booed Congresswoman Corrine Brown when she dared to quote the Bible to them. (Kind of embarrassing when one of those heathen Democrats quotes the Bible to Bible-thumpers behaving badly.) From The Raw Story…
Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday threatened to strike a Democratic representative’s words from the record and then booed her after she shamed them for cutting food stamp funding from the farm bill.
“The Bible says, to whom much is given, much is required,” Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) observed during debate over whether funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be stripped from the farm bill. “And this is a sad day in the House of Representatives. Shame on the Republicans! Shame on the House of Representatives!”
After an objection from Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), Speaker pro tempore Kevin Yoder (R-KS) ordered Brown to “suspend” and “be seated.”
“Excuse me,” Brown replied, glaring at Yoder. “What did I say that was incorrect?” [Emphasis added. Watch the fiasco here.]
Does Anyone See a Pattern Here?
Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he didn’t care about the 47% of Americans who were just moochers, people who feel entitled to government assistance. Although it has been obvious for many years that the Republican Party stands with 1% (and not the 99%), it was shocking to hear Romney’s crass take on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the wounded, the hungry, the young. Blinded by ideology and religiosity, Republicans in the Congress and in State Legislatures across the country are unapologetically goose-stepping to the same marching orders. If you’re not a straight, white man, you’re not only unimportant, you are worthy of scorn and ridicule– and not worthy of governmental assistance, even for basic food needs.
Despite warnings of some of its wisest strategists, the GOP is racing headlong into a political box canyon — and potential political marginality.
On issue after issue, the GOP has veered far from the mainstream of the American electorate. Worse, they are swimming upstream against a tide of changing demographics — and an electorate with ever-increasing numbers of young voters from the “millennial generation” that polls show is the most progressive generation in half a century.
So far, at least, efforts to “rebrand” the GOP have simply collapsed. And even though most Americans are primarily concerned with jobs and the future of the economy, the GOP leadership in Congress insists on focusing on cultural issues that pander to a narrow segment of the electorate — and are downright unpopular.
They seem to be practicing the politics of “subtraction” — which is not a good plan if you want to achieve an electoral majority.
Teapublican Legislatures in Texas and Ohio have been working diligently in recent weeks on sexist laws aimed at the suppression of women.
Last week Texas State Senator Wendy Davisbecame a nationwide feminist hero when she single-handedly filibustered and stopped anti-choice, anti-woman legislation that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and effectively close all but 5 abortion clinics in the state of Texas.
In response to Davis and the thousands of pro-choice protesters who flooded Austin yesterday, Governor Rick Perry vowed to ban abortions in the state of Texas and called another special session. The sole purpose of this new 30-day session is to pass the same anti-choice bill that failed last week, thanks to Davis and cheering pro-choice protesters inside the Legislative chamber.
Meanwhile in Ohio, another Teapublican Governor, John Kasich– surrounded by other old white men– quietly signed one of the most draconian, anti-choice, anti-woman bills in the country this week. The Ohio legislation requires women seeking abortions to have a vaginal ultrasound (even if the woman doesn’t want one), defunds Planned Parenthood, requires stricter controls on abortion clinics which will cause some of them to close, and redefines pregnancy to begin at fertilization. (If some of this anti-woman nonsense sounds familiar, it’s because Arizona and other Teapubican states passed similar legislation in recent years.)
Perry and other anti-abortion zealots paint this fight as a religious war to protect the unborn. This is hogwash. The War on Women’s reproductive rights is a war of suppression. More on this and proposed laws to regulate sperm donors after the jump.
It is well known that young single mothers– especially teenage mothers– are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to graduate from high school, let along go to college. It is also well known that educating women and mothers leads to fewer unwanted pregnancies and better health for the mothers and their children. Saddling women with unwanted pregnancies, reduced educational opportunities, and potentially life-long poverty is simply a way to control and suppress women. Period. This is a political power play to keep women in their places– not a religious war.
If the Teapublican anti-abortion ideologues really want to cut back on abortions, why are there NO discussions regarding fathers’ role in producing unwanted pregnancies? On the Diane Rehm Show this week, more than once, commentators said that there are two people involved in every pregnancy– the mother and the child. What about that sperm donors?
Where are the laws restricting men’s access to reproductive health? Where are the laws dictating unwanted invasive procedures for men who have started new lives but want to abandon their children? Where are the laws punishing men who don’t financially or emotionally care for the children they father? Where are the laws limiting insurance coverage for Viagra, testosterone replacement, or performance-enhancing procedures? Where are the laws requiring sterilization or jail time for deadbeat dads who shirk their responsibilities to their children and the women they impregnated? Where are the anti-rape laws that require condom use? (Remember Julian Assange and his romps in Sweeden?)
In the Teapublican world, men are obviously blameless in the abortion debate and free to father children irresponsibly and at will.
Enter another brave, feminist legislator– this time from Ohio. State Senator Nina Turner has proposed a bill that outlines would-be sperm donors’ rights. (I especially like the notarized statement of impotence to receive Viagra. Heh, heh, heh.) From AddictingInfo…
State Senator Nina Turner introduced SB 307, which requires men to visit a sex therapist, undergo a cardiac stress test, and get their sexual partner to sign a notarized affidavit confirming impotency in order to get a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. The bill also requires men who take the drugs to be continually “tested for heart problems, receive counseling about possible side effects and receive information about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.””
One of the Texas protesters had a sign that read: “Life begins with a new governor.” I agree! Let’s hope that the renewed wave of anti-woman legislation– not to mention the mess that the GOP is making of immigration reform– will cause an even bigger backlash against them in 2014 and onward.