In striking down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Supreme Court hammered a stake into the heart of a law that’s been used to guarantee fair elections in this country since the mid-1960s.
It’s now left up to a dysfunctional and highly partisan Congress to fix the law. And if I had my way, we’d already be working on it.
The struggle against discrimination and injustice scored a major win today with a Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. government may not require anyone to share the government’s prejudice, no matter how ancient or widespread that prejudice.
In a 6-2 decision, the high court struck down the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO), which since 2003 has required U.S. non-governmental organizations to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution” as a condition of receiving U.S. funds for work against HIV/AIDS around the world. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in his majority opinion that the requirement violated the First Amendment because it forced grant recipients “to pledge allegiance to the government’s policy of eradicating prostitution," whether or not they agreed with that policy.
Americans would be surprised to learn that thousands of the prisoners in our massive system are immigration detainees, wasting away in jail while awaiting their deportation hearings.
In many cases, immigrants in detention cannot be deported from the U.S because we lack diplomatic relations with their home country (as with Cuba) or because of long delays in travel document processing. With immigration reform a real possibility, one would think that everyone would be on board with decreasing, not maintaining or even increasing, the number of such detainees in federal immigration custody, especially those with no violent criminal record.
Guess again. A pending amendment to the immigration reform bill, Amendment 1203, proposed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), would radically expand our immigration prison system.
President Obama sometimes takes the opportunity on Father’s Day to draw attention to the problem of absent fathers. The president’s recently proposed FY’14 budget includes a new Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative. The initiative would require states to seek child custody and visitation orders in court for fathers who must pay child support to the state. The initiative’s goals are admirable. If fathers pay child support more regularly, childhood poverty may be reduced. If fathers participate more actively in their children’s lives, children may less often suffer poor educational performance, incarceration, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and other problems more often experienced by children raised by single parents. But the initiative’s proposed solution poses serious problems.
The message of the charred remains of a parallelogram might be misunderstood. Not so the remains of a burned cross.
Hate crimes are, in essence, message crimes. They warrant special attention, and special punishment, because of the particularly devastating impact they have on communities.