As new Members take the oath of office in January 2013, something unprecedented may occur: Not a single white Democrat from the Deep South could be a Member of the 113th Congress. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina already have just a single Democratic Representative in Congress. Each of those Democrats is African-American and represents majority-black districts.
It’s a trend that may extend to a fifth state in the Deep South. Georgia’s Republican-written Congressional redistricting map, which became law earlier this year and was approved by the Department of Justice just before Christmas, undermines the current Democratic bent of Rep. John Barrow’s district. He’s the Peach State’s one white Democratic Member. The new map is likely to leave Georgia’s delegation with only four Democrats — representing the state’s four majority-black districts. Read More
The Montana Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court’s ruling and reinstated the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations for or against political candidates. The justices ruled 5-2 in favor of the state attorney general’s office and commissioner of political practices to uphold the initiative passed by Montana voters in 1912.
Western Tradition Partnership, a conservative political group now known as American Tradition Partnership, joined by Champion Painting Inc., and the Montana Shooting Sports Association Inc., had challenged the Montana ban after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The U.S. Supreme Court decision granted political speech rights to corporations. District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision rendered the Montana ban unconstitutional. But the Montana Supreme Court’s majority saw it differently and overturned Sherlock. Read More
The Montana Supreme Court on Friday put to work its own view of what the Supreme Court had decided in the controversial ruling allowing massive corporate spending in political campaigns, and came out differently: the state court upheld a 99-year-old state ban on the use of corporations’ own money to support or oppose any candidate in state elections. The 5-2 ruling, including two dissenting opinions, is here. One of the dissenters predicted that the ruling would not survive an inevitable appeal to the Justices, and might be overturned without even a close look.
Both the majority and the dissenters treated the voter-approved Corrupt Practices Act as a flat ban on independent spending of corporations’ internal funds to support or oppose specific candidates for state office — independent in the sense that the financial effort was not coordinated with a candidate. Thus, the measure was nearly identical to the ban in federal law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in January of last year in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Read More
Republican presidential hopefuls spent Saturday crisscrossing Iowa ahead of Tuesday’s caucuses, but some candidates had one eye toward South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary and an issue that might help them gain traction in the Palmetto State. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented Georgia, used a stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to accuse the Obama administration of trying to “steal elections” in the wake of the Justice Department’s rejection of South Carolina’s voter identification law.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division determined that the South Carolina law requiring voters to show a photo ID at polling places was discriminatory against minorities. “… You have to ask, why is it that they are so desperate to retain the ability to steal elections, and I think that’s what it comes down to,” Gingrich said. Read More
The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing Texas’ recently passed Voter ID bill after a ruling Dec. 23 stated that a similar bill in South Carolina did not meet requirements of the 1965 Voter Rights Act and made it more difficult for minorities to vote. “I’m disappointed the Department of Justice is playing politics in this,” State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, said. “I’m intrigued to see the outcome of the litigation, but at the end of the day, the Supreme Court is going to uphold it.”
Creighton said the bill would require voters to provide a Texas Driver’s License or Department of Public Safety public identification card, citizenship papers or a U.S. passport, or similar documents. For those who do not have the required document, Creighton said a DPS identification card can be obtained free of charge. Read More
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced Sunday that he has reconsidered his decision from Saturday and will not seek to get several GOP presidential candidates added to the state’s primary ballot. Every candidate except Mitt Romney and Ron Paul failed to meet the stringent requirements to get on the ballot for the state’s March 6 primary, and Cuccinelli said Saturday that he would seek to get them added to the ballot. But in a statement Sunday, he reversed course and said he would seek a change in the requirements for future elections only. In the end, Cuccinelli said trying to make immediate changes wouldn’t be fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns. Read More
Four additional GOP presidential candidates joined Rick Perry’s federal court challenge to Virginia’s ballot-access rules this weekend, in a show of force by five rivals for the Republican nomination who otherwise will not appear on the state’s primary ballot. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Perry all failed to qualify for Virginia’s primary ballot because their campaigns did not collect enough signatures.
Texas Gov. Perry first filed a federal court challenge to Virginia’s ballot-access rules on Tuesday. Attorneys representing the additional candidates sent a letter to the chairman of Virginia’s Republican party on Saturday. The letter asks that the candidates’ names be added to the ballot, an action that would moot their constitutional challenge to the current law. The state requires candidates to obtain 10,000 signatures from registered voters in the state, including at least 400 from each of 11 congressional districts. Read More
The slate of Republican presidential hopefuls who did not qualify for the Virginia primary might get another shot. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II plans to file emergency legislation to re-open the process to GOP candidates. Virginia’s process has come under fire since it was announced last week that only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) had qualified for the ballot.“Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,” Cuccinelli (R) said in a statement Saturday. “Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.”
Neither Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, former senator Rick Santorum nor former House speaker Newt Gingrich submitted the 10,000 signatures required to get a spot on the state’s ballot in time for Super Tuesday. According to news reports, Cuccinelli’s plan would allow candidates who qualify for federal matching funds to go onto the state’s ballot. Perry’s campaign filed a lawsuitmaintaining that he was unable to submit the required signatures because of the state’s “requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.” Read More
Eric Holder must be amazed that President Obama was elected and he could become Attorney General. That’s a fair inference after the Attorney General last Friday blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minorities. What a political abuse of law. In a letter to South Carolina’s government, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require voters to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a violation of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Overall, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters. This is the yawning chasm the Justice Department is now using to justify the unprecedented federal intrusion into state election law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Voting Rights request since 1994. Read More
A top adviser for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi says the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is to blame for the “fraudulent” November elections. Albert Moleka, the cabinet director of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party and spokesman for Mr. Tshisekedi, said the UN mission failed in its mandate to help Congo’s electoral commission administer a credible vote during the November elections.
“We found out that all these election figures were all made up with the complicity of the MONUSCO because it was part of the commission that validated the results,” said Moleka. “It’s a serious matter because MONUSCO was supposed to [bolster] security for the Congolese people and also to help us through the electoral process.” Read More