Friday, July 29, 2016

The Rule of Law Unjustly Manipulated: 4th Circuit Strikes Down NC Voter ID

In a decision that has many at a loss, today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that North Carolina election integrity laws were enacted with a racially discriminatory intent. The Public Interest Legal Foundation released a statement with regard to the decision.

“The trial court conducted the trial, heard the evidence, and ruled that the law was valid. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals behaved like a trial court and decided that the law had a discriminatory intent,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “Normally, appeals courts remand to trial courts to review the evidence with the guidance of the appeals court. The Fourth Circuit undertook the job of a trial court and the integrity of the upcoming election is worse off because of it.”

Among the unusual rulings was the court holding that Section 5 objection letters by the Obama Justice Department about other election procedures constituted relevant evidence of racially discriminatory intent in the voter ID law. Objections are based on a failure to affirmatively disprove discriminatory intent, not because discriminatory intent is found.

“This case was brought to extract partisan advantage using the Voting Rights Act and sadly the plaintiffs were successful in turning that important civil rights law into a political weapon,” said Adams.

The concerns raised by the decision are numerous, as the Fourth Circuit acted like a trial court determining evidence and found that the voter ID law and other important election integrity reforms were not enacted for a legitimate purpose.

The three judges assigned to the case — all Democratic appointees — were unanimous that the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act three years ago by enacting the measure requiring voters to show certain types of photo ID at the polls.

"The record makes clear that the historical origin of the challenged provisions in this statute is not the innocuous back-and-forth of routine partisan struggle that the State suggests and that the district court accepted," Judge Diana Motz wrote on behalf of Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd. "Rather, the General Assembly enacted them in the immediate aftermath of unprecedented African American voter participation in a state with a troubled racial history and racially polarized voting. The district court clearly erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence, all of which supports a finding of discriminatory intent."

There is little that remains to be stated that cannot be implied from the decision itself. Unorthodox left-leaning decisions not based on the rule of law are just a prelude to what another four years of Democratic “leadership” will undoubtedly impose on this country and the judiciary itself.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dem FEC Commissioners Snoop Around RNC, Party at DNC

Democrat Federal Election Commissioners Ellen Weintraub and Ann Ravel have made clear they are Democrats first and FEC Commissioners second. Earlier we detailed how they went after Fox News but not CNN for the debates. Now they are attending the political party conventions for different purposes. At the Republican Convention last week, they snooped around looking for violations.
At the Democrat Convention, they party.

Rocking out to Paul Simon aside and not to take away the fun of the Commissioners, but the possible double standard is scary in light of their actions and declarations by Commissioner Ravel, such as “My role in the commission is not to apply constitutional principles” like the First Amendment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Disunity and Elitism at the DNC Convention – Beyond Reality TV

After the GOP convention, all eyes turned to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, and what a slow motion train wreck it has been.  Once you get past the lies and blatant attempts to deceive the American people, you can start to see that even the most tenured of Democrats are not buying the garbage spewing forth from the stage. There have been walkouts, consistent “booing” frequently when Clinton’s name is mentioned, and even resignations in the first few days. The DNC is in a tailspin plummeting toward the ground at a high rate of speed.

Before the convention even started, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was forced to step down after several thousand internal DNC emails were released by WikiLeaks. Some of the emails contain attempts by the DNC to exert control over the message being spread by the media, which clearly reinforces the well-known fact that media readily caters to and communicates with the DNC, putting a leftist spin on real news and painting it as reality.

But the real story in the leaked emails is the fall of Bernie Sanders. He consistently raised questions about the impartiality of the Democratic Party during the primaries. He was right - the DNC actively conspired against his campaign and in support of Hillary. The party enabled a scandal-laden Hillary Clinton to steal the nomination away from him. This is not Democracy nor is it fair.

“Myself and other Democrats who were Clinton supporters, we have been saying this was serious. It truly violates what the DNC’s proper role should be,” said Edward G. Rendell, a former DNC chairman and former Pennsylvania governor.

“The DNC did something incredibly inappropriate here” and needed to acknowledge that, Rendell said.

In the midst of the drama, one cannot help but pause and reflect on what would have happened without a corrupt DNC functioning off of a system rigged to negate the American public’s vote. As a point of clarity, Sanders is a crazy socialist and I put very little stock in much of anything that he says; however, that does not give his party the right to override America’s choice.  We vote for what we believe. Bernie believes what he preached. You can see that on his face when he speaks, and he lives it and owns it like few politicians on the left have over the years.  That does not make him right, but it does make him different. Americans believed him and that is what matters in our system, or at least it should be.  It became abundantly clear to many (both Republicans and Democrats) watching the primaries progress that Sanders was gaining steam and arguably could have won were it not for the completely rigged super delegate system that enabled Clinton to hang on for the win.

Clinton’s camp is continuing to scream unity over the chorus of “Boos” at the convention, but that unity is not for the voters, and many have started to realize that division most certainly exists between average Americans and the left’s political elite. That unity is not for Americans. That unity is not for Bernie. That unity is for DNC’s inner circle alone.  

The fact is that Democrats have now proven that they are no longer the party of the people.  Despite my personal disagreements with Bernie on just about every possible policy, I genuinely feel bad for the man. His run was admirable and instead of accepting the nomination, he is forced to deal with this travesty that is slap in the face to every American voter in this country. At least for Republicans, our voice still matters and our leaders are strong enough to uphold the will of the American people rather than cave to political corruption and elitism.

The DNC consistently states that they support the people, yet their actions paint a starkly different picture. The Democrats' goal is most certainly not to ensure that the people have a voice in their government.  This is yet another scandal feather that the Clintons can put in their already brimming caps.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Finally Some Good News For Free Speech Advocates

Free speech has continued to be in the news as of late. Most recently we have addressed digital free speech and the left’s persistent attacks focused on regulating the last bastion of truly free speech available to citizens of this country. For free speech advocates who were listening to Republican Nominee Donald J. Trump’s speech on July 21, 2016, we heard something out of this candidate that should make everyone celebrate. Trump vowed to repeal the IRS restriction on churches’ free speech.

He told GOP delegates on Thursday night that “the evangelical and religious community” has “so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.”

“Their voice has been taken away,” Mr. Trump said. “I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans.”

President Johnson pushed Congress to pass the Johnson Amendment during his fierce primary battle against Dudley Dougherty. The IRS explains that the rule means that religious institutions that receive a tax-exempt status may not "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

As the DNC convention moves forward with Hillary and several speakers continuing their unjust assault on the Citizens United decision seeking to silence those who would otherwise voice opposition to her vision of America. This is a “solution” she proposes to fix our country. Limiting speech and ideas is clearly a step down the wrong path. Still she proposes to do just that either through judicial appointments or constitutional amendments. It is extremely refreshing to see a nominee seeking to expand freedom of speech in our country, not squash it.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Briefs Filed in Case Challenging Known Illegal Voting in Minnesota

Reply briefs were filed today in a case pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court challenging continuing violations by election officials that allow ineligible voters, such as felons, to vote illegally in Minnesota.  The case was filed by the Minnesota Voters Alliance:
We then prove that election officials have been notified, as required by specific statutes, of the ineligibility of every felon and non-citizen in the state. . . . We define for the Court the two particular ways in which election officials permit known ineligible persons to vote on election-day. First, felons and other known ineligible persons such as "non-citizens" are allowed to register and then cast ballots because election officials do not check any lists of ineligible persons. Second, election officials permit every felon marked “Challenged: Felony” on the poll roster to cast a ballot if the felon “swears” they are eligible
How much sense does it make for the state to ask the person whose right to vote has been removed by the Court if they want to vote and then ignore what the Court said, but that is what election officials do in Minnesota. 
Not only are ineligible persons voting in Minnesota, but it has a significant effect on the outcome of elections
Next, we prove that the amount of ineligible voting being allowed by election officials is significant in Minnesota and that it probably has, and certainly can, determine the outcome of close elections. 
As a result of incredibly painstaking and intrepid work by a team of MVA volunteers, we have been able to present the Court with an extensive list of 1,670 instances of ineligible voting by 1,366 named individuals during the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 general elections. . . .
In presidential election years, more than 500,000 persons register on election day in Minnesota.  Our previous research has shown that after the 2008 election, there were more than 17,000 of those persons who, when verified after the election, had their voter statuses changed to “challenged” because they did not pass the state’s eligibility checks. 
We will post updates on this case as it moves forward.  We trust that the Minnesota Supreme Court will take this threat to the integrity of its elections seriously and order the Secretary of State to follow the law and not allow ineligible persons to vote.

Friday, July 22, 2016

VA Supreme Court Strikes Down McAuliffe's Blanket Restoration of Felon Voting Rights

Today, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down Gov. Terry McAuliffe's order that restored voting rights to over 200,000 convicted felons.  The court found it was unconstitutional because it re-wrote the Virginia Constitution:
In a 4-3 decision, the Court said it “respectfully disagrees” with Mr. McAuliffe’s position that he has the executive power to make such a sweeping move. . . . The court ordered the cancellation of registration of all voters convicted of a felony who registered under the governor’s executive orders by Aug. 25. 
Chief Justice Donald Lemons issued the majority opinion, which said that Mr. McAuliffe’s executive orders had revised a section of the state constitution. 
The ruling said Mr. McAuliffe lacked the power to issue a clemency order “to a class of unnamed felons without regard for the nature of the crimes or any other individual circumstances relevant to the request.” 
Justice Lemons cited Virginia’s tradition of “cautious and incremental approach to any expansions of the executive power,” writing that the framers in 1776 were skeptical of “the unfettered exercise of executive power.”
We applaud the Virginia Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law in Virginia. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5th Circuit on TX Voter ID Law - Remains in Effect, Accommodations Required

Yesterday, the en banc 5th Circuit ruled in the challenge to Texas' voter ID law.  While the left is claiming a victory, widely saying that the court found the law unconstitutional, the opinion is actually much more nuanced and leaves the primary requirements of the law in effect.  

Texas' voter ID law remains in effect for every voter that has an identification that meets the law's requirements.  The district court must determine how those who lack an acceptable ID to be able to vote in November, and it has already issued an order pertaining to that requirement.

Largely ignored in the liberal rejoicing over the decision is that the 5th Circuit threw out the district court's finding that the voter ID law was a poll tax and seriously questioned its finding that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent.

In dissent, Judge Edith Jones strongly criticized the court's decision to leave the question of discriminatory intent open:
Requiring a voter to verify her identity with a photo ID at the polling place is a reasonable requirement widely supported by Texans of all races and members of the public belonging to both political parties. The majority, however, today holds not only that Texas’s photo voter ID law, SB 14, violates the “results test” declared in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, but concludes that there is “more than a scintilla” of evidence to support a finding that the Texas Legislature passed the photo voter ID law with a racially discriminatory intent. By keeping this latter claim alive, the majority fans the flames of perniciously irresponsible racial name-calling.
No one doubts our unwavering duty to enforce antidiscrimination law. But in this media-driven and hyperbolic era, the discharge of that duty requires the courage to distinguish between invidious motivation and shadows. The ill-conceived, misguided, and unsupported majority opinion shuns discernment. Because of definitive Supreme Court authority, no comparable federal court precedent in over forty years has found a state legislative act motivated by purposeful racial discrimination. Even more telling, the multithousand page record yields not a trace, much less a legitimate inference, of racial bias by the Texas Legislature. Indeed, why would a racially biased legislature have provided for a cost-free election ID card to assist poor registered voters—of all races—who might not have drivers’ licenses? Yet the majority emulates the clever capacity of Area 51 alien enthusiasts who, lacking any real evidence, espied a vast but clandestine government conspiracy to conceal the “truth.” 
The major take-away from this opinion is that voter ID laws are valid.  While the 5th Circuit judges disagree over whether they are discriminatory in purpose or effect, the requirement for a person in possession of an ID to present it prior to voting was yet again upheld.