restore and renew the Voting Rights Act

From the ACLU Action Network:

This Saturday marks the 40th Anniversary of Congress passing the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in history: the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. Unfortunately, unless Congress votes to renew several key sections of the law, they will expire by 2007.
Congress could begin considering renewal legislation as early as this fall, so we need your help now to make sure that all of the expiring provisions are renewed and restored and to prevent opponents of the VRA from sabotaging the reauthorization.
Today you can help ensure a return to fairness not just for immigrants, but for everybody, by urging Congress to support the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2005. These are not just “immigration” issues; current policies are a fundamental threat to the guarantee of due process for all people–as expressly required by the Constitution–and they endanger all of our rights.
Calling the VRA the most successful civil rights bill ever really isn’t an exaggeration. By the end of 1965, more than a quarter million blacks had registered to vote. In the past forty years, the number of African-American elected officials has risen from 300 to close to 10,000.
After nearly a century under the “Jim Crow” system, which denied African-Americans the right to vote, the Voting Rights Act finally made clear that the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under the law means what it says.
The expiring provisions include a section that requires voting districts with a history of discrimination to pre-approve or “pre-clear” changes to voting laws with the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington; a provision that gives the attorney general the authority to appoint poll watchers and election monitors; and a crucial provision that guarantees language assistance to voters with limited English proficiency.
These sections must be renewed if we are to ensure the continued success of the Voting Rights Act.
In addition, the legislation must also restore the spirit of the VRA by clarifying the kinds of circumstances that result in a retrenchment of voting rights for minority citizens. These important clarifications are needed because of recent Supreme Court decisions that have substantially weakened the effectiveness of the Act.
Although the law ended poll taxes and literacy tests that were expressly designed to disfranchise minorities, discrimination still occurs in subtler, yet no less harmful, forms. For instance, just last year, a federal court determined that the state of South Dakota was officially conspiring to disfranchise American Indians. And, the state of Louisiana has never had a proposed change to its electoral law approved by the Justice Department.

Click here to urge your representatives to renew the expiring sections and restore the original intent of the Act.

protest Bolton

From Barbara Boxer (whose PAC For A Change you really should check out), an opportunity to protest Preznit Dumbass’ recess appointment of John Bolton:

On Monday, despite widespread opposition from Senators of both parties, as well as the American people, President Bush appointed John Bolton as UN Ambassador. By using the rarely utilized “recess appointment” while Congress is away over the month of August, the White House effectively thumbed its nose at the Senate, bypassing our Constitutional responsibility to “advise and consent” on such a nomination.

Here’s the body of the letter from me that Smirky the Killer Clown will never read:

It is a sad irony that John Bolton is the perfect person to represent the US to the world at the United Nations. He has a history of abusing his subordinates and steamrolling over inconvenient facts in his determination to make the world answer to his ideology. He is a known liar who presented false information to the Senate in preparation for his hearings. He is a thoroughgoing hypocrite who has made plain his contempt for the UN and a hubris laden fool who now expects that body to take him seriously. He is plainly unqualified for the position, and will only take it up as a result of extraordinary interventions on his behalf.
In his new capacity, then, Bolton is a faithful reflection of his master in the oval office.
This is a sad day for the United States.

and one from SpeakSpeak

I’ve written about SpeakSpeak before. Right now, SpeakSpeak mainly functions as an antidote to the poisonous Parents (sic) Television Council, which seeks to use the Federal Communications Commission to impose their narrow, bigoted, repressive, uptight and generally odious worldview on the entire country. The FCC can “revoke a station license, impose a monetary forfeiture, withhold or place conditions on the renewal of a broadcast license, or issue a warning, for the broadcast of obscene or indecent material”, and just what constitutes obscenity or indecency is pretty broadly defined. To be obscene, material must satisfy all of the following tests:

  • An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  • The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
  • The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

So the FCC has a lot of leeway in carrying out its executive function; moreover:

Enforcement actions in this area are based on documented complaints received from the public about indecent or obscene broadcasting. The FCC

two from the ACLU

1. The Violence Against Women Act (version 7, scroll to Title IV) expires on September 30.

VAWA helps the survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault rebuild their lives.
Victims of domestic violence face tremendous obstacles when they attempt to flee abusive relationships. Their situation is often exacerbated when the abusive partner controls the family finances, owns the home, and in the case of immigrant women, retains the documentation of the immigration status of the family. This legislation provides legal assistance, enhances victims

NARAL vs asshole pharmacists

From NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League):

It’s official: Americans can no longer take prescription birth control for granted. Yesterday, Monday, July 25, anti-choice representatives in the U.S. House made it clear that they support pharmacies that refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions – and that women have no right to birth control.
The radical right’s campaign to stop birth control
The House Small Business Committee held a hearing on whether pharmacies should be allowed to refuse to fill women’s prescriptions. Anti-choice Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a witness, who had been denied birth control and emergency contraception by her pharmacist, that she had no “right” to her prescriptions – she only believed she did. Anti-choice Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) told a witness whose prescription had also been rejected by a hostile pharmacist, that her “minor inconvenience” – that is, risking an unintended pregnancy – was nothing compared to the “conscience” of a pharmacist.
The right’s anti-birth control campaign doesn’t stop in Washington, DC. Across the country, the radical right has engaged pharmacies in its campaign to block women’s access to birth control. Women like Julee Lacey, a 32-year-old married mother of two and first-grade teacher from Texas, are being turned away by vigilante pharmacists who think it’s their job to dispense morals instead of medicine.
Now, as many as 20 states officially protect pharmacists like Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, who says she’d lecture women customers to get off the pill. Other states are pursuing an even more aggressive strategy. Just last month Wisconsin passed a bill to block state universities from filling birth control prescriptions.
What you can do
Tell your Member of Congress that you expect him or her to stand up for you – not right-wing pharmacies that oppose birth control. Click here to send a message today.

Yeesh. I’m about to start work so I just sent the form letter. My rep, David Wu, is pro-choice, but I want him to know when he has my support as well as when I disagree with him. (I should have added something to that effect to the letter; oh well, next time.)