Archive for the ‘Atty. Gen. Tom Horne’ Category

It’s not all confetti and party hats this week. The Supreme Court also decided to get rid of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This act required that nine states get pre-approval from the Department of Justice before implementing any voting changes because those states had a history of making changes in voting laws for the express purpose of minimizing the ability of minorities and the poor to vote. Now that pre-approval requirement is gone and boy are Conservatives happy. Of course, Arizona happened to be one of those places (emphasis in the following quote is mine).

In one of the strongest statements welcoming the decision, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said the law requiring federal approval of voting changes “humiliates Arizona by making it say ‘Mother may I’ to the federal government every time it wants to change some remarkably minor laws.”

Ummm, voting is not a “minor law”. It’s a big fucking deal. In fact, it is one of the BIGGEST reasons we live in a free country today. To someone like me, someone who doesn’t have health care and keeps getting turned down, my vote for President Obama meant something very concrete and important. I will be able to get healthcare in 2014 and the insurance companies can’t turn me down. It is very likely that having insurance may save my life at some point in the future (I’m not getting any younger). That’s a BIG fucking deal and my vote helped to make that happen. So please Atty. General Horne sit down and STFU.

Thankfully, it doesn’t mean that states still get to do whatever they want. State laws can still be challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional–Arizona had it’s new voter ID law overturned on a vote of 7-2 by the Supreme Court just last week. The bad part is that judicial oversight happens AFTER the law has passed and done it’s damage. This is all conservative preparation for the 2016 Presidential Race. If they can’t win fair and square, it’s become apparent they’re willing to violate the foundation of democracy in order to tip the scales.

The more things change the more they stay the same.  Except this time around the Federal Government was trying to give some new land to a Native American Tribe and the local governments were trying to block it.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, a tribe native to Arizona, was granted the right to buy land and use that to replace land that was previously damaged by flood.  Once the Nation bought the land, in order to complete the process, the Federal Government would be required to bring that land into the national reservation lands.  First important point is that this new land is NOT** contiguous with the Nation’s original reservation which is 100 miles away.  Second important point is that the Nation wants to build a business center that has a casino, shops and restaurants.

Well the land in question is actually in Glendale, AZ, which explains all the hubbub. A suburb of Phoenix with a population of 226,721*, the city has spent the last two years fighting the building project and therefore the placement of the land into the Federal Reservation Trust.  In order to do this, the City got together with the State Legislator and fast tracked House Bill 2534 back in February of this year.  This state law would allow Glendale to simply annex the land in question.

Here’s the third important point.  The Nation bought the land in Glendale, I believe, from private owners with their own money and then asked the Federal Government to make it part of their reservation (because the Feds had owed the nation new land since 1982).  The Feds said yes and then the City and the State having been trying to get in the way ever since.  Since when do supposed conservatives believe: 1) they can dictate to someone what they can and cannot build on their privately held property (within reason and according to local community zoning, etc), and 2) it was okay for government to be so powerful that they could just annex that land to prevent the private owner from building on the land?

Let’s not pussyfoot around the issues.  The City of Glendale has other shops and restaurants that will bring in tax revenue and if the Nation builds there, those new businesses will provide competition to Glendale’s businesses AND no revenue to the City.  Fearing a loss of business to the new casino the Gila Indian River Community joined with Glendale to oppose the building project.

Today a Federal District Court Judge said that the express purpose of HB 2534 was to supersede the federal law and thus was struck down.  Of course, our Don Quixote of Pointless Legal Endeavors, State Attorney General Tom Horne has already declared that the State and City of Glendale would appeal.

I don’ t like to gamble (at least not with money) and I don’t necessarily like casinos, but I like the willingness of the State and the City of Glendale being so willing to violate their own supposed principles in order to get their way in a matter concerning profits.  Once again they’re for small government until it can’t accomplish what they want to do, then they’re the worst big government interventionists you can imagine.

*as of 2010
**[updated to say “NOT contiguous with…” 7/7/11]

The State of Arizona represented by State Attorney General Tom Horne argued in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today that some voters had been “tricked” into signing postcards for voter registration and therefore the State of Arizona is justified in requiring more documentation than is required at the Federal level.

It’s too bad that Mr. Horne doesn’t understand the difference between possible and probable.  It’s possible that I could win the lottery tomorrow but it’s not really frigging probable.  Likewise, its certainly possible that voters could be tricked by door to door activists signing up people to vote, but the probably has to come into question when Mr. Horne cannot produce a single instance of this having occurred.

The opposition, represented by a DOJ attorney and various representatives of minority groups, can point to the very probable consequences of the new Arizona law.   The Federal process requires the potential voter to fill out a postcard (using a drivers license AND a social security card as proof of citizenship) and then mail it in.  If Arizona were to require further documentation, then the ease of mailing it in is no longer an option.  Who do we KNOW it would affect?  Anyone who lives rurally…..far from reservation offices…..such as many on Indian Reservations.  But it isn’t just the Native Americans affected, it would be anyone who lives in rural areas.

That’s not probable, that’s pretty demonstrable UNLIKE Mr. Horne’s non-existent examples of trickery.  Other minority groups provided some pretty important statistics.  Under the Arizona standard, 30,000 people LESS would be able to vote, even if Federally they did qualify.

I think it is pretty clear that the 9th Circuit will rule against Arizona’s latest assault against minorities, the State is prepared to see the case all the way to SCOTUS.  Unfortunately, SCOTUS has been on a tear that would shame the Taney Court of the late 1800’s.*  Ultimately, I hope and I pray that while millions of citizens will have to live unfairly under the decisions of the Robert’s Court**, eventually that Justice will prevail and these absurd decisions will be overturned, whether de jure or de facto matters not.

And regardless of what I hope, what I know is that no matter how many lies Mr. Horne and his fellow GOP members repeat, they will NEVER be true.  I can say the sky is red a million times a million times more. It won’t change the fact that the human eye perceives the sky as blue.  I prefer the sharp reality of facts, whereas the GOP wants me to accept the tranquility of repetition.  I wonder what America will accept in the long run?

 

*If this doesn’t ring a bell, google Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, etc or take Constitutional Law 101 at your local community college

**The current Supreme Court line up of trolls headed by Chief Justice Roberts and his GOP lapdancers, Scalia and Thomas and their decisions of Citizens United, the Class Action Suit against Walmart, and many, many more.

Evidently the state Attorney General is angry at President Obama because the feds filed a brief in support of the 9th Circuit Court’s recent decision to strike down Proposition 200.  Prop. 200 was a ballot initiative to add the requirement that residents provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

On the surface this seems okay, doesn’t it?  I mean, you should be a citizen to vote, right?  I wish life was only this simple, but unfortunately it isn’t.  Here’s some reasons why it ain’t so simple.

Look at the motivation of those who propose such laws.1  AG Horne says (and many conservatives repeat) that is a really big problem and it is undermining democracy.  This is not true according to a New York Time article.  It said:

Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

That same article says as a result of a 5 years study there were 120 people charged with 86 of them being convicted.  Of those the actual prosecutors said that many were honest mistakes and just plain ignorance of the process.  So we have a whopping 120 cases out of how many hundreds of millions of votes cast in all the federal elections over those 5 years.  Does this sound like a major problem of corruption that needs to be stopped as fast as humanly possible with yet another law on the books?  I thought conservatives were against big government and so many laws on the books?  Conservative politicians know these facts but they’d rather get more mileage out of the bumper sticker idea, as AG Horne is doing here.

What else could be motivating them?  Well, the obvious answer, and something they will admit to, is that they want to keep the ineligible from voting.  I’m a liberal and I admit to want this as well.  I just believe that there is a better way to do it.  Why is the proof of citizenship not a good way to do that?

Look at how you prove citizenship….or how about how you can’t prove citizenship.   None of the following items or actions prove citizenship in the U.S.:

  • Driver’s License
  • Paying Taxes
  • Census Record
  • Delayed Birth Certificate (of more than one year)
  • Army Discharge Papers2
  • Hospital Birth Certificate3

What can prove citizenship then?

  • Social Security Card IF you have one AND you know where the heck it is at.  You may have a social security number but that doesn’t mean you have a card.  Also, did you change your name since you last got the card?  Then you’d better get a new one but it takes a few weeks.  Oops, didn’t think about that in time to vote?  Oh well too bad for you.  Who would this effect?  Anyone who recently got married.  Anyone not anal enough to keep an up to date copy of their social security card handy.4
  • Passport IF you have one.  Most U.S. citizens don’t have one unless they travel internationally.  About one half of one percent of Americans travel internationally annually.  Soooo, not a lot of voters have this option.  How long does it take to get a passport?  At peak travel periods it can take 6 to 8 weeks to get a passport.  How much does it cost?  Between $65 and $100, depending.  So if you don’t have the time to go for the picture and fill out the application in person and you don’t have the money, then I guess you can’t vote.  Who would this effect?  Potentially 99.95% of the U.S. population that might be suffering economically and/or anyone working a wage job so they can’t afford to take the time off or won’t be given the time off.  Wow, with the current Recession that’s probably the majority of American workers come to think of it!
  • Official Birth Certificate IF you have an OFFICIAL copy.  What is official? Well it varies from state to state to be honest.  Most states keep the original on file and NEVER EVER give it out to anyone.  So what we get is a certified copy of the original for our records. What makes it certified?  Usually some kind of raised stamp from the State’s or City’s Department of Health. 5  Who will this affect?  Pretty much everyone trying to vote.  How long does it take to get a certified copy of your birth certificate?  In some cases, forever.  If you were born at home by a midwife, you have some real hurdles to jump to prove your citizenship.  One study indicates that there has been a 20% rise in home births between 2004 and 2008 but it remains small UNLESS you are elderly, then your odds of having been born at home are much, much higher.   Born overseas to American parents but not on a Military base?  Your parents must have registered the birth with the local Consulate.  And if they did that, they’d have to meet several criteria such as they must be married and one parent must have lived in the U.S. for 5 years prior to your birth (and other stuff) .6
Are you starting to get the picture of how it just isn’t as easy as conservatives make it out to be?  That’s why the majority of states try to use some other kind of method such as driver’s licenses or photo ID.  Unfortunately, they suffer from a lot of the same problems mentioned above as well.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 7% or 13 million individuals did not have ready access to citizenship documents AND many, many more do not have proof of it in their current name.  They also surveyed studies to see what kinds of voters these requirements effect.  They found that the following types of people are more likely to be negatively affected by citizenship proof requirements:
  • Low income voters – 12% of voters are in this bracket, which is 42 million people
  • Women – 32 million women may not have proof of citizenship in their current name
Likewise, they found that the following types of voters were more likely to negatively affected by photo identification requirements:
  • Elderly – 18% of those over 65 don’t have photo ID primarily because they no longer drive
  • Minorities – 25% of African American’s don’t have photo ID
  • Low Income – again 15% for this
  • Women – info not current on photo ID, 18%
  That’s the kind of numbers that swing elections, isn’t it?7  And what party are the majority of these types of voters most likely to vote for?  The Democratic Party.  So I ask again, what is the motivation of conservatives like AG Horne?  He wants to stop voters that will be potentially Democratic voters, in this case illegal immigrants.  Does he say this outright?  Yes in regards to Illegal Immigrants but not in regards to Democratic voters.  But if you were an illegal immigrant and you had the chance to vote in the Presidential 2012 election, who would you vote for?  The Democratic candidate who is offering you a potential path to citizenship or the Republican candidate who wants to deport you with little or no due process? Yeah, I thought you’d see it that way.

Notes:

1 Why should we care about motivation?  Whenever you study ethics or try to be ethical, motivation and intention matter.

2 Yes you can fight and die in our Armed Forces but that doesn’t make you a citizen unless they agreed to grant it when you signed up.

3 Like the one released by Donald Trump this year

4 I’ve always been good about record keeping, so a Social Security Card was a “no-brainer” for me.  Not so with most other people.

5 Hence the controversy over Pres. O’s birth certificate…too many people don’t understand the problem with birth certificates.  

6 No bias there, nope, no siree!

7 I couldn’t find stats on Urban Dwellers…..but I’m sure there are tons of them.  If you don’t drive, why get a Drivers License?!

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html

http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2011/06/08/20110608arizona-attorney-general-tom-horne-obama-lawsuit.html

http://www.newser.com/story/115131/donald-trump-birth-certificate-not-the-real-deal.html

http://samoa.usembassy.gov/proof_of_citizenship.html

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1666/~/check-status-of-a-social-security-card-application

http://www.theexpeditioner.com/2010/02/17/how-many-americans-have-a-passport-2/

http://www.brennancenter.org/page/-/d/download_file_39242.pdf

http://www.ideastream.org/news/npr/136500621

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_nationality_law#Through_birth_abroad_to_United_States_citizens

 

 

 

 

I spoke too soon.  It appears that the new AZ Superintendent of Schools, John Huppenthal, is buying wholesale the conclusion of the former Superintendent that the Tucson Unified School District is in violation of the state’s ethnic studies ban.

The right wing never fails to disappoint in Arizona!  Yeehaw!  /snark