Talking Points Memo: Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is A ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’

-By Sahil Kapur

February 27, 2013- In expressing his deep skepticism Wednesday for the constitutionality of a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia questioned the motivations of Congress for repeatedly reauthorizing it since it was initially passed in 1965.

“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act,” Scalia said during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder. “They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful — the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”

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Think Progress: Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’

-By Nicole Flatow and Ian Millhiser

February 27, 2013- There were audible gasps in the Supreme Court’s lawyers’ lounge, where audio of the oral argument is pumped in for members of the Supreme Court bar, when Justice Antonin Scalia offered his assessment of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. He called it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

The comment came as part of a larger riff on a comment Scalia made the last time the landmark voting law was before the justices. Noting the fact that the Voting Rights Act reauthorization passed 98-0 when it was before the Senate in 2006, Scalia claimed four years ago that this unopposed vote actually undermines the law: “The Israeli supreme court, the Sanhedrin, used to have a rule that if the death penalty was pronounced unanimously, it was invalid, because there must be something wrong there.”

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Maddow Blog: Conservative justices wary of Voting Rights Act

-By Steve Benen

February 27, 2013- In recent decades, support for the Voting Rights Act became nearly universal — that is, until very recently. As much of the right has become increasingly radicalized, the VRA has become a popular target, and Attorney General Eric Holder recently noted that there have been more conservative legal challenges to the Section 5 of the VRA over the past two years than during the previous four decades.

The timing of these challenges is not coincidental — GOP policymakers nationwide launched an ambitious "war on voting," deliberately creating longer voting lines, closing early-voting windows, addressing imaginary voter fraud through punitive voter-ID laws, restricting voter-registration drives, and overseeing an anti-voting campaign unlike anything seen in the United States since the days of Jim Crow. In many parts of the country, the Voting Rights Act has stood in the way of the larger conservative agenda.

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WTTG News: Anti-abortion group pledges $1.5M for Cuccinelli

-By Bob Lewis (Associated Press)

February 27, 2013- RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Susan B. Anthony List, a national organization that opposes abortion, is pledging at least $1.5 million to the Republican gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia.

The organization will announce the commitment Thursday.

The group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, tells The Associated Press that the choice of the conservative Virginia attorney general with a vivid record of anti-abortion action was an easy call. She calls it "hands-down the most important election in the country right now."

FULL STORY HERE:

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MSNBC: Push to overturn Voting Rights Act tied to GOP voter suppression efforts

-By Zachary Roth

February 25, 2013- The Washington D.C. lawyer representing the Alabama county that wants to strike down the heart of the most effective civil-rights law in history specialize in cases aimed at making voting harder for minorities.

William Consovoy also last year argued on behalf of Republican officials in Florida and Ohio, who in both cases were seeking to significantly reduce the days allotted for early voting, which blacks take advantage of more than whites. Consovoy, a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, is a partner at Wiley Rein, a Washington, D.C., law firm that bills itself as the best in the country for election law. Bert Rein, one of the firm’s principals, also is listed on court documents as representing the plaintiffs.

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Think Progress: Judges Refuse To Reappoint Top GOP Voter Suppressor To Election Board

-By Ian Millhiser

February 25, 2013- Hans von Spakovsky may be America’s top expert on voter disenfranchisement. How to foster voter disenfranchisement, that is. As an official in the Bush Justice Department, Spakovsky pushed through gerrymandered maps benefiting Republicans, and was a driving force behind the effort to approve voter ID laws — a common voter suppression law targeting student, minority and low-income voters. Since leaving the Bush Administration, Spakovsky’s remained a leading advocate of voter suppression, often making odd claims such as arguing that a common method of disenfranchising voters actually does those voters a favor, or claiming that Attorney General Eric Holder sides with big scary black men who tamper with elections.

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Detroit Free Press: Michigan government spent $556K to lobby itself

-By Kathleen Galligan

January 16, 2013- Lobbying is normal in the course of public business, but when the government lobbies itself, the practice can involve taxpayer resources used to pursue a political agenda.

Like expanding a state-run district that manages underachieving schools.

Restructuring a major health care insurer.

Or enacting right to work.

A Lansing State Journal analysis showed $556,000 in taxpayer money was used by state government agencies to lobby the Michigan Legislature in 2012.

State officials from various departments said the money equates to staff time spent advancing the interests of those agencies and, more broadly, the policy agenda of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

“There’s nothing insidious here. There’s no wining and dining of lawmakers,” Snyder spokesman Kurt Weiss said. “It’s listening to hearings at the Capitol, talking with lawmakers. Every administration has a staff that does that.”

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