In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two high-profile challenges affecting states directly: Shelby County v. Holder, a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as two cases on same-sex marriage. Arguments in the Voting Rights Act case are scheduled for February 27th, while arguments in the two marriage cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, are set for late March. States and the Obama administration are already filing briefs in advance of both cases. At the same time, efforts to advance marriage equality continued this week in state legislatures including Minnesota and New Jersey:
With the long lines on Election Day still somewhat fresh in the minds of voters, and as the year kicks off with efforts to rig the electoral vote and lessen the impact of the votes of historically disenfranchised communities, lawmakers in some states are introducing proposals to expand and protect the vote:
If 2011 was “The Year of Voter ID,” then 2012 is shaping up to be “The Year of Voter ID Challenges.” In addition to the Department of Justice’s decision in December to deny preclearance to a voter ID law in South Carolina – a requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, under which the state still qualifies – Wisconsin Circuit Judge David Flanagan issued a temporary injunction this week against his state’s new voter ID law. The order bars Governor Scott Walker and the Government Accountability Board from enforcing or implementing the law until a second trial in mid-April can be held to consider a permanent injunction.
As voter ID legislation continues to be rammed through state legislatures across the country, conservatives are celebrating passage of these bills, intended to suppress turnout among traditionally progressive constituencies, as a victory. However, no one is actually winning – not minority, low-income, and other historically disenfranchised voters who will be disproportionately affected by the new laws, and certainly not already-squeezed state budgets forced to find millions of dollars to make these bills a reality
Despite the clear need for states to support community efforts to create jobs by investing in critical infrastructure, right-wing legislation in North CarolinaandSouth Carolinaseems to want to take away the people’s rights to build broadband in their communities. The bills – HB3508/SB483 in South Carolina andHB129/SB87 in North Carolina – place onerous requirements for community-based broadband networks, threatening their existence and economic growth. As our states continue to deal with the fallout of the Great Recession, broadband build-out is the critical infrastructure investment needed to put Americans back to work and rebuild prosperity.