At The Nation, Ari Berman recently profiled Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, whom I was lucky enough to meet and get some civil disobedience training from during Freedom Summer in 1964. An article well worth your time. Today, in the wake of the retrograde decision on the Voting Rights Act by five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Lewis stated:

Today, the Supreme Court stuck a dagger into the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the last 50 years.

These men never stood in unmovable lines. They were never denied the right to participate in the democratic process. They were never beaten, jailed, run off their farms or fired from their jobs. No one they knew died simply trying to register to vote. They are not the victims of gerrymandering or contemporary unjust schemes to maneuver them out of their constitutional rights.

Future Rep. John Lewis getting the nightstick
treatment in Selma, Alabama, March 1965.
I remember in the 1960s when people of color were the majority in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama. To insure that a black person would not be elected, the state gerrymandered Tuskegee Institute and the black sections of town so they fell outside the city limits. This reminds me too much of a case that occurred in Randolph County in my own state of Georgia, when the first black man was elected to the board of education in 2002. The county legislature changed his district so he would not be re-elected.

I disagree with the court that the history of discrimination is somehow irrelevant today. The record clearly demonstrates numerous attempts to impede voting rights still exist, and it does not matter that those attempts are not as “pervasive, widespread or rampant” as they were in 1965. One instance of discrimination is too much in a democracy.

As Justice Ginsburg mentioned, it took a Bloody Sunday for Congress to finally decide to fix on-going, institutionalized discrimination that occurred for 100 years after the rights of freed slaves were nullified at the end of the Civil War. I am deeply concerned that Congress will not have the will to fix what the Supreme Court has broken. I call upon the members of this body to do what is right to insure free and fair access to the ballot box in this country.

Looking for a story about fighting Democrats in Texas? Even if you're not, I recommend these two diaries on the subject by nomandates, here and here.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Bush Justice Department politicizes absolutely everything:

Two reports today confirm that under Bush the Justice Department has politicized everything it touches, even programs for the young.

Not that we should have needed any further proof of the obvious after AG Gonzales' deputy, Monica Goodling, confessed last May to illegally discriminating in hiring along partisan lines. But now it's official: DOJ hiring committees went to great lengths to exclude Democratic, liberal, and activist job applicants under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. A new report (PDF) investigates Republican manipulation of the Honors and Interns programs, which together bring new lawyers into DOJ. Ashcroft restructured the programs in 2002 specifically to ensure that more conservatives and fewer liberals were hired. He removed career officials from the hiring committees and replaced them with highly partisan political appointees.

Tweet of the Day:

Breaking: Voting Rights of Black & Poor People announces it will seek asylum in Ecuador. #VRA

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, we started with The Derp from Louie Gohmert, then were joined by Greg Dworkin for an update on The Derp of Politico's Green Lanternism, Obama's (then) upcoming climate speech, the immigration bill, etc. We were also able to sneak in an update on the IRS story, and a bit more about how Edward Snowden came to be working at Booz Allen. But it wasn't long before everything gave way to the news of the SCOTUS decision on the VRA. Armando joined in to give his initial reactions, and you can hear him do his best to keep from boiling over. Hey, who needs to rebrand when you can simply redefine the market, right?

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