Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two Good Decisions

An appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. This is crucial, because the Roberts Court left the impression in 2009 (the strong impression, judging by some of the legislation passed since then) that the Act was not constitutional - though, in fact, they did not say so outright and were ruling on a different matter. The particular case is Shelby County v. Holder (Shelby County is in Alabama, and the city of Calera in that country had done massive redistricting that eliminated the single black town councilor - although 20% of the city's population, by the 2010 census, is black.), and the court upheld the need for pre-clearance of election changes based on the undenied history of racial discrimination. I'm sure this one will go SCOTUS, where many hope it will lose (including the National Review, where Hans von Spakovsky writes:
One hopes that this time the Court will toss out an antiquated statute that a timid Congress was unwilling to scrap in 2006, decades after its legal justification (and its constitutionality) had expired.
He does have a point, one, which is that unfortunately there are plenty of places in the country that need the same kind of scrutiny (not that he puts it quite like that) but weren't in the Deep South and so aren't covered. Of course, his solution is to scrap voting-rights protection where it exists, not extend it, so, you know - stumbled over the truth and hurried on, pretending not to notice.

Nonetheless, this is a victory.

And so was the stunning rebuke to the Obama Administration delivered in . As Chris Hedges described it:
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where—as it was before Obama signed this act into law Dec. 31—the government cannot strip a U.S. citizen of due process or use the military to arrest him or her and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government’s claims that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial because none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction and that the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act. The ruling was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote.
He notes that this one, too, will almost certainly head for SCOTUS - and the GOP has already made it clear they're all in favor of stripping civil rights from "Terrorists":
Supporters of detention said they were horrified that a police officer might read a terrorist a Miranda warning. “I think the vast majority of people in this body and around the country do not think telling them they have the right to remain silent as the first thing they hear is a wise thing,” said Mac Thornberry, a Republican of Texas.
So we'll have to wait and see what happens next.

But in the meantime, two good decisions - two reasons to hope things are getting better.

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