Monday, June 17, 2013

Voting Rights Victory in Arizona and for All

As the 10 am hour came and went this morning, upwards of 30,000 people followed to find out what opinions the Court had rendered. As we speed towards the end of June, truly important cases and issues lie in the balance and that includes Shelby v Holder.

But alas, and nearly amazingly, after 4 opinions were read this morning, the final one was Arizona v ITCA! And as Justice Scalia stated that federal law preempts Arizona's proof of citizenship requirement,  we who support access for all Americans to the vote had a victory in the first of the two voting rights cases the Justices are considering this term.

The funny thing is, in Arizona, this is a BIG deal, and has been the hot issue there for months. Perception among people outside of Arizona though, not so much. A reaction along the lines of, it's not a big deal. That kind of pisses me off. It is a big deal to all the people is has easily enabled to register to vote, and to people like me who were there advocating for its passage as Bill Clinton became our President.

In 1993, the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) was passed in Congress. NVRA is more commonly known as "Motor Voter" and its intent was to make it easier for people to register to vote. That's always a good thing, you know, helping people access democracy and their civil rights and such. And what a great idea to be able to register to vote when you get a drivers license. I will in fact be doing that tomorrow, when I surrender my Rhode Island license and get my DC license (and lose my voting rights and be taxed without representation, but that's another post altogether!) Fill out a form, check the box that asks if you would like to register to vote and WHAM! You are a voting member of our democracy! It was cool when I was 23 working on it, it's still a great addition to the voting process 20 years later.

Ah, but Arizona. Arizona wanted to impose its own regulations to the NVRA, and today SCOTUS said they could not. Phew. This gives the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to control the voter registration laws of our country, and states must yield to those laws.

I could go on and analyze this for you, but of course it was done hours ago by many. I direct you to Lyle Denniston, who has been writing on the Supreme Court for 55 years here. Yes, 55 years. He knows his stuff, I am a fan. 

So it was a good Monday in DC. Next opportunity to get the Shelby v Holder opinion will be Thursday morning at 10 am. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The 45th Anniversary of My Birth, A Historic Reflection

All I can figure is, I must have been really alert inside the womb. 45 years ago this morning, in New Jersey, I came into the world. 4 June 1968. A date two months to the day after MLK, Jr. was killed, that day being when RFK spoke words that prevented Indianapolis from the rioting that night, which was so prevalent in other cities especially my DC, that night; and the day that same man gave his last speech in LA, CA. The civil rights movement was literally losing its voice as I was being born. People that were conscious of that time have told me so many times, "Hope died that night." I was mere hours old when hope died...and civil rights has been my innate passion since the day I was born. Many years later, I got, to me, validation of its significance from one of my heroes, Tim Russert, when he looked me in the eye and told me that I was born at a truly historic moment and that my passion was palpable. But that's another story for another time...

Until I went to college, I never knew anyone born on my birthdate. Then one day, as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, I befriended a girl named Martine, who not only shared my birthday, but was born in California, the very state that a few hours later on the day of our birth, would witness the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. And the most amazing thing happened. Not only was she barely aware of the events of that day, but she didn't have any thoughtful connection to the CR movement. At the time, I just thought that was fascinating. I think up until then, I thought that everyone who shared my birthday would be affected by the historical events of the time. Nope.

It's funny, I've always had two very distinct passions, dressing, and civil rights. Here I am, all this time later, and they are truly 2 evolving passions. I went as far as I desired with dressing, but even now put on the back burner as a career, it is still something I truly love and share with others regularly. It's just there, and a part of me. But civil rights, and for me voting rights especially, that is what made me angsty this morning awaiting SCOTUS' released decisions. The 2 voting cases were not among them, and so we shall wait, til next Monday at the earliest... that is my still developing and enveloping passion, to ensure that this slide I see back to what was so wrong in the 60's, that made true progress, rearing its ugly head again today. I must make sure my voice is heard in advocacy, to continue to move towards fairness, equality, for every person in this country, regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation. Yes, I still hold that ideal, all these years later, in the face of so much ignorance and hate towards anything that is different. I know as sure as I type, it is in our rejoicing in our diversity, that we can truly accomplish anything. That's just me. And a whole lot of others that I am proud to call my heroes.

I find myself, and many things at this moment, hanging in the balance. I am taking this moment to reflect on my, and our collective history, and always our limitless potential, alas, but there are decisions that will greatly affect ability to reach our potential. That is why, at the end of the day, I choose hope. And optimism. That there is more good than bad, that there is, at the end of the day, a collective wish that we all share that things will be good, be better, and that the common good, and justice, will prevail. And that truest wish is my wish that I share on this, the morning of my birth, for the good of each and everyone of us.

And peonies.