It’s time for a constitutional amendment protecting the fundamental right to vote

Matt Yglesias writing at Vox.com makes an argument that I have been making for years: Americans don’t have a constitutional right to vote — it’s time for that to change (excerpt);

VotersWhen the Constitution was enacted, it did not include a right to vote for the simple reason that the Founders didn’t think most people should vote. Voting laws, at the time, mostly favored white, male property-holders, and the rules varied sharply from state to state. But in the first half of the nineteenth century, the idea of popular democracy took root across the land. Property qualifications were universally abolished and the franchise became the key marker of white male political equality. Subsequent activists sought to further expand the franchise by barring discrimination on the basis of race (the 15th Amendment) and gender (the 19th Amendment) — establishing the norm that all citizens should have the right to vote.

But this norm is just a norm. There is no actual constitutional provision stating that all citizens have the right to vote, only that voting rights cannot be dispensed on the basis of race or gender discrimination. A law requiring you to cut your hair short before voting, or to dye it blue, or to say “pretty please let me vote,” all might pass muster. And so might a voter ID requirement.

The legality of these kinds of laws hinge on whether they violate the Constitution’s protections against race and gender discrimination, not on whether they prevent citizens from voting. As Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier has written, this “leaves one of the fundamental elements of democratic citizenship tethered to the whims of local officials.”

The solution, both to America’s voting access problem and to alleviating public concerns about fraud, is to establish an affirmative right to vote.

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Rigging the game: Congressional Republicans do not need Latino voters

latinosvoteShortly after Barack Obama’s decisive win in 2012, the GOP introspection on their loss led many politicos to conclude that the GOP needed to do more outreach to minority voters, especially Latino voters. Even FAUX News’  Sean Hannity Flipped On Immigration Reform, Now Supports Pathway To Citizenship.

This was followed by The Republican Autopsy Report in March 2013, in which the R.N.C. report called for abandonment of the party’s anti-immigration stance, flatly declaring that “we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.”

By July of 2013, a bipartisan coalition in the Senate had overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Senate Immigration Reform Bill Passes With Strong Majority.

And then everything came to a crashing halt in the GOP controlled House. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn explains today, Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them:

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

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Pinnacle West (APS) ‘dark money’ in Corporation Commission and Attorney General races

For much of this year the Carbon Monopoly, led by APS and its parent company Pinnacle West, have been the source of enormous amounts of “dark money” in support of Tea-Publicans Doug Little and Tom Forese in the Arizona Corporation Commission race, in an effort to “capture” the commission so it can write its own policies.

Now APS and its parent company Pinnacle West are big players in the Attorney General race as well. Arizona’s Politics Blog reports, BREAKING: APS Semi-Openly Places $425k Bet On Arizona Attorney General Race:

dark_moneyThe parent company of APS – Pinnacle West Capital – is spending (at least) $425,000 telling Arizonans about the “dangerous views” of Democratic AG nominee Felecia Rotellini.

While APS is widely-believed to be secretly spending large amounts of money on the Corporation Commission election, its $425,000 contribution to the Republican Attorneys General Association is the first (material*) political expenditure to be brought to light, after RAGA filed its quarterly report with the Internal Revenue Service last week.

Interestingly, the third quarter (July – Sept) report (below the jump) only lists one Pinnacle West $175,000 contribution, on September 15 – the day before Arizona’s Politics reported on the $1.6M ad buy by RAGA.  However, it indicates that the aggregate year to date contribution is $425,000.

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Wyoming follows Arizona’s example, does not appeal same-sex marriage ruling

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports, Wyoming added to same-sex marriage list:

Pride-Flag-Thumbnail-Friday-3x2-256x171With the filing Tuesday of a one-paragraph notice by state officials in a federal courthouse in Casper, Wyoming, and the release of a two-page order by a federal judge, that state became the thirty-second to allow same-sex marriage — an increase of thirteen from just sixteen days ago.

The Wyoming governor and attorney general formally advised a federal judge that they would not appeal his ruling last Friday declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional.  The only two places where the state could have gone with an appeal would be the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which has struck down two such bans, and the Supreme Court, which has refused even to review or to delay any decisions against those prohibitions.

9th annual Sabaku sale

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This is a fantastic sale of beautiful tshirts designed by local artist Nancy Lenches. We have several of her shirts in all sizes and colors, and they make excellent holiday gifts as well. I even got some discounted shirts there for $3 once. What a deal.

Book Review: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

I’m not quite finished yet, but Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, is an absolute must read, regardless of where you are on the political spectrum and regardless of where you place the environment on your list of priorities.

To be sure, this is one of the most comprehensive yet readable books on climate change to come out. But it’s more than that. It’s a dire warning that what Klein calls extractive capitalism will doom us if we let it. It’s an indictment of corrupted environmental organizations, including the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund. It’s an explanation of the worthlessness of “market-based” solutions, like cap-and-trade. It destroys the myth that natural gas is a “bridge fuel” we can use while we wean ourselves from coal and oil. It’s an explanation of why we can’t believe in billionaires, no matter how sincerely they claim to be well intended. It’s a definitive takedown of the insanity of geo-engineering.

And it describes how maybe, just maybe, we can move past not only the threat to our climate, but the other monumental challenges of our time. (Hint: It’s not the ballot box)

This book is long, but I wouldn’t call it a slog. It’s actually a fairly easy read, just time-consuming.

The bottom line: This really does change everything. Read it.