Chad’s Morning Brief: Voting Rights Act Under Fire at the Supreme Court, White House Blames DHS For Illegal Immigrants Being Released & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 28, 2013. Give Chad your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.
1. Voting Rights Act Under Fire (link)
The Voting Acts Right came under fire yesterday at the Supreme Court. According to Politico, the conservative justices were very skeptical regarding the provision that requires some states to get permission before changing voting requirements.
Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the court needed to step in because the overwhelming, bipartisan vote in favor of renewing the law in 2006 showed that lawmakers were reluctant to disturb what amounted to a “racial entitlement.”
“I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement,” Scalia said. “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes….This is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now.”
The conservative justices seemed to have the votes to strike the provision down.
Scalia suggested that regardless of the facts, lawmakers were very reluctant to disturb the law for fear for being accused of racism. “Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act,” he said sarcastically. “Who is going to vote against that in the future?”
No other justice responded immediately to Scalia’s comments, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor made clear a few minutes later that she was irked by Scalia’s language.
“Do you think that the right to vote is a racial entitlement in Section 5?…Do you think Section 5 was voted for because it was a racial entitlement?” she asked lawyer Bert Rein, who argued for Alabama’s Shelby County that the provision should be struck down.
“No,” said Rein, who said the measure was Congress’s response “to a problem of race discrimination which it thought was prevalent in certain jurisdictions.”
Earlier, Rein began his argument by arguing that there had been “unmistakable” change in the South in the nearly half-century since the the law was passed.
That assertion, too, provoked Sotomayor.
“Assuming some portions of the South have changed, your county pretty much hasn’t,” she interjected. She said Rein was arguing for “a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of the [law] in the first place.”
“You may be the wrong party bringing this,” Sotomayor said .
Justice Elena Kagan noted that Alabama has no statewide officials who are black. “You’re objecting to a [coverage] formula, but any formula Congress could devise would capture Alabama,” she said.
“Is it the government’s submission that the citizens of the South are more racist than the citizens of the North?” Roberts asked.
“It is not and I don’t know the answer to that,” Verrilli replied.
Roberts said that African-American voters in Massachusetts, which is not covered by the pre-clearance requirement, are less likely to be registered and less likely to vote than black voters in covered states like Mississippi.
Justice Samuel Alito also went state by state, suggesting it made little sense to require pre-approval of voting changes in Virginia and Arizona, but not in Tennessee or Nevada.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who serves as a swing vote in some close cases, seemed to view the law as — at this point — an unfair intrusion on states that should have the authority to govern their own affairs.
“Section 5 was utterly necessary in 1965. No doubt about that,” Kennedy said. “The Marshall Plan was very good, too, the Morrill Act, the Northwest Ordinance, but times change.”
Kennedy said Congress “didn’t have the time or energy” in 2006 to weed through the states individually and decide which should still be covered so it punted and adopted the earlier formula.
I am not ready to throw a party over this, but things are looking good. This part of the Voting Rights Act should be done away with. The conservative justices along with Justice Kennedy brought up great points yesterday. I don’t see how anyone can say Texas is more racist than a northern state. Facts don’t prove that to be the case at all.
2. Voter ID (link)
The Texas Tribune released a piece yesterday that was a little odd. The Tribune doesn’t like Voter ID and in the story they try to dismiss a poll that shows overwhelming support from Texans on Voter ID. The poll is their own that they try to discredit.
In February 2011, an overwhelming 63 percent of black respondents agreed that voters should be required to present a government-issued photo ID to vote (along with 80 percent of whites and 68 percent of Hispanics). When we asked the question again in our October 2012 survey, during the heart of the campaign season, those numbers had dropped precipitously among blacks, to 33 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, remained supportive of voter ID, increasing their support slightly to 75 percent.
On one hand, the overall amount of support among Hispanics is probably somewhat overstated (and in reality, probably overstated for all three groups) due to response biases inherent in almost all polling (it’s difficult to capture low-income respondents, and especially low-income minorities who may not have photo identification). However, the results do comport with other statewide polls that have examined the issue (look into the cross-tabs if you’re interested).
Changes in public opinion of this magnitude are rare, but in this case, relatively easy to explain. Before voter ID became one of the big mobilizing forces of the 2012 campaign, opinion on the issue was rather homogenous. Voter ID provisions appeared sensible to majorities of almost all subgroups of voters at first glance (except for self-described liberals), and opponents of voter ID were thought to be protecting the benefits accrued from voter fraud. In a national survey in April 2012, Fox News found that 50 percent of respondents believed that “opponents of voter identification laws are really trying to steal elections by increasing illegal votes by non-citizens and other ineligible voters.”
In a nutshell, here is what these polls show. Common sense prevails! A large number of people support Voter ID. The only reason why it dropped so much among the black population was because Democrats tried to convince people that Voter ID was racist. Now, in Texas Democrats tried to convince people that Voter ID was aimed at Hispanics, but that didn’t work too well for the Democrats.
Yes, trends can change but these polls tell me that common sense is king when it comes to Voter ID.
3. DHS Blamed (link)
The White House claims that they had no idea that hundreds of illegal immigrants would be released from jails ahead of the sequester. Yesterday an official with the Department of Homeland Security resigned according to the Daily Caller.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that an official with the Department of Homeland Security has resigned amid questions over why the Obama administration released illegal immigrants across the country ahead of March 1 budget cuts:
The Associated Press has learned that the Homeland Security Department official in charge of the agency’s immigration enforcement and removal operations has resigned after hundreds of illegal immigrants were released from jails because of government spending cuts.
In an email obtained Wednesday by the AP, Gary Mead told coworkers that he was leaving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the end of April. Mead is the head of enforcement and removal operations at ICE.
Mead had told co-workers of his resignation in the email sent Tuesday, hours after U.S. officials had confirmed that a few hundred illegal immigrants facing deportation had been released from immigration jails due to budget cuts.
President Barack Obama’s spokesman said Wednesday the White House was never consulted but described the immigrants as “low-risk, non-criminal detainees.”
According to an earlier report by the AP:
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Gillian Christensen, says the immigrants were being held around the country and being released and “placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release.” She did not say how many immigrants were released or how they were selected.
As the AP noted, the White House has sworn off any involvement in the decision, with spokesman Jay Carney telling reporters Wednesday that releasing the illegal immigrants was done “without any input from the White House.”
“This was a decision made by career officials at ICE without any input from the White House, as a result of fiscal uncertainty over the continuing resolution, as well as possible sequestration,” Carney said.
There was no reason for hundreds of illegals to be released from jails across this country. This move was made to strike fear into Americans. The White House again is claiming Obama knew nothing. So, if you are keeping score at home, add this to list of things Obama knew nothing about. Benghazi, Gun running, and this. That’s real leadership.
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