Friday, June 28, 2013
SERGIO MUNOZ/Media Matters For America
Conservative Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, was a frequent legal authority for Fox News until he announced that he was part of a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that the Supreme Court recently struck down.
In the past two months, Fox News has repeatedly turned to the legal expertise of Sensenbrenner, former Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, on issues ranging from the investigation of national security leaks by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) under the Patriot Act.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, in particular, has expressed his admiration for Sensenbrenner's stature, hosting him on the June 17 edition of his show and informing the long-time congressman that "you're one of the guys that has always been on principle, which I admire and I know you have been there a while, fighting the good fight every day."
Indeed, Hannity appears to have specifically invited Sensenbrenner onto his show that day so the congressman could defend him from Media Matters' observation that the Fox News host was wildly hypocritical in his criticism of the NSA's current surveillance practices. Hannity subsequently praised Sensenbrenner's defense of the Fox News host and his legal explanation of the Patriot Act - legislation the congressman ushered through the House as Judiciary Committee chair - as "enlightening, edifying."
Sensenbrenner is also well-known for leading the effort to pass another overwhelmingly supported bipartisan bill signed into law by Bush: the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA, which the Supreme Court just infamously gutted in Shelby County v. Holder.
Because Congress accumulated extensive evidence to update and justify the VRA's selection of jurisdictions whose election changes remain subject to federal review due to their inability to stop suppressing the vote on the basis of race, Sensenbrenner has repeatedly defended Congress' reauthorization work. Sensenbrenner even filed an amicus brief for the Supreme Court in strong support of the VRA against the right-wing challenge in Shelby County, which the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court ignored.
Now, although Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), current chair of the Judiciary Committee and another Republican who voted to reauthorize the VRA in 2006, is conspicuously silent, Sensenbrenner is helping lead the bipartisan effort to once again pass the VRA provision that was struck down in Shelby County. As reported byThe Hill:
A House Republican who led the last push to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act exhorted lawmakers Wednesday to join him in bringing the law back to life.The day after the Supreme Court quashed the anti-discrimination statute, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) urged lawmakers to cast aside their differences and restore the rejected provisions for the sake of voter protection."The Voting Rights Act is vital to America's commitment to never again permit racial prejudices in the electoral process," Sensenbrenner, the second-ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday in a statement."This is going to take time, and will require members from both sides of the aisle to put partisan politics aside and ensure Americans' most sacred right is protected."
But a Media Matters search of transcripts provided by Snapstream and Nexis reveals that not only has Sensenbrenner been missing from Fox News since the Supreme Court handed down its decision on June 25, his new VRA efforts have not been discussed.
Instead, Fox News host Megyn Kelly interviewed National Review Online contributing editor Andrew McCarthy, who attacked progressives as demagogues and "race hucksters," pushing the false claim that systematic voter suppression on the basis of race "has long ago passed to the dustbin of history." Hannity chose right-wing pundit Erik Rush for his show's segment on Shelby County, a guest who proceeded to defend the opinion on the grounds that the VRA's defense against racial discrimination is useless because "we've got far, far more of a problem with dead voters and entire blocks of voters getting abducted by aliens[.]"
Sensenbrenner, on the other hand, a guest Hannity has declared he holds in such high esteem, remains absent on Fox News. In fact, the congressman has only been mentioned once on Fox News this week, in a June 28 segment of America's Newsroom that returned to the pre-Shelby discussion of national security leaks.
Meanwhile, Sensenbrenner's thoughts on Shelby County and his attempt "to put partisan politics aside and ensure Americans' most sacred right is protected" remains unreported on Fox.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
CARLOS MAZA/Media Matters For America:
Less than an hour after the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), CNN invited anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins to comment on the decision and allowed him to promote damaging myths about marriage equality.
During the June 26 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Wolf Blitzer invited Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC) - to comment on the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor v. United States, which struck down a provision of DOMA that prohibited the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.
Perkins responded by peddling a number of blatant falsehoods about marriage equality, none of which Blitzer challenged:
PERKINS: What we're going to see happen over time as this plays out in the jurisdictions that have adopted same-sex marriage, you're going to see a loss of parental rights as children are taught in school morals that are contradictory to their parents', religious liberty loss from business owners, bakers, florists and others who are forced to comply with a different view of marriage, as well as even churches - in some places religious organizations losing their tax exemption because they fail to comply with the force of the state in terms of redefining marriage.
Each of Perkins' horror stories about same-sex marriage have been repeatedly debunked. These claims are also not relevant to the Supreme Court's DOMA decision, which merely allows for federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states that have already legalized marriage equality.
CNN also invited Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, to condemn the decision. Unsurprisingly, Mohler called the Supreme Court's decision "very, very devastating for our country over the long term."
CNN has a history of promoting Perkins' commentary on a range of issues, despite his record of making extreme, hateful, and wildly inaccurate claims about LGBT people.
By The Washington Post Editorial Board:
LED BY Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Supreme Court on Tuesday gutted a key element of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most potent anti-discrimination tools Congress ever devised. It was an audacious ruling devoid of the restraint the chief justice and his colleagues in the majority should have shown.
Among other things, the act obliges certain states and localities to “pre-clear” any change in electoral policy or procedure with either the Justice Department or a federal court. In its 5 to 4 decision, the court didn’t squash the notion that such a powerful measure could be acceptable. Instead, the majority held that the formula Congress used to determine which jurisdictions to subject to pre-clearance — mostly in the South, with its grotesque history of racial discrimination — was an artifact from the 1960s with “no logical relation to the present day.”
Yet, Congress concluded in 2006, the last time that it reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, that the formula was still very relevant. And, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in a spirited dissent, federal lawmakers have wide latitude under the 14th and 15th amendments to preserve meaningful access to the vote, particularly against policy or procedural manipulations that limit the franchise of racial minorities. That’s why a previous high-court holding found that those lawmakers could use “any rational means” to combat racial discrimination at the ballot box — a permissive standard.
Congress spent months in 2006 amassing a massive record to show that, even though the first generation of discriminatory voting measures had been eradicated, subtler but significant forms of discrimination in jurisdictions subject to pre-clearance remained “serious and pervasive.” Lawmakers also considered evidence that discrimination still occurs disproportionately in those places. Because people and places change, Congress allowed jurisdictions with 10 years of good behavior to “bail out” of pre-clearance. It also allowed courts to “bail in” jurisdictions if need be. Both were essential elements of the system, allowing it to adapt to changing realities. That was the basis upon which a 390 to 33 majority in a Republican-controlled House and a 98 to 0 majority in a Republican Senate determined that pre-clearance requirements remained rational policy that deserved extension until 2031.
The question in Tuesday’s case, Justice Ginsburg wrote, was who gets to make the judgment about that extension — “this court, or a Congress charged with the obligation to enforce the post-Civil War amendments ‘by appropriate legislation.’ ” Instead of taking a more modest course, perhaps by enhancing the opportunity for jurisdictions to bail out, Justice Roberts and the jurists who joined him instead substituted their reading of the substantial evidence available for that of Congress. That’s not just calling balls and strikes — that’s pushing the batter aside and stepping into his place.
According to the ruling, lawmakers still have room to devise a new formula for determining which states and localities should have to pre-clear their election rules. Lawmakers should proceed, while taking care — both because pre-clearance is as formidable a tool as it is effective and because a skeptical chief justice will be watching.
by Kurt Eichenwald/Vanity Fair
“If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published.”
China’s continued absence from strategic nuclear arms control negotiations is already impeding U.S.-Russian progress in this area. Beijing has traditionally resisted participating in formal nuclear arms control agreements. . . . Whereas U.S. officials want the next major nuclear arms reduction agreement to include only Russia and the United States, Russian negotiators want China and other nuclear weapons states to participate. In particular, Russian representatives insist they cannot reduce without considering China’s growing military potential. Involving China in certain U.S.-Russian arms control processes could facilitate progress between Moscow and Washington in these areas and yield ancillary benefits for related issues.
In the past decade, two important trends have combined to change the nature of electronic surveillance efforts. The end of the Cold War meant policymakers and military officials had a wider range of countries that they were concerned with and placed much greater emphasis on “non-state actors”—terrorist groups and narcotics smuggling organizations that have come to be seen as genuine national security threats. These links are not necessarily easy targets given the great expansion in international telephone service that has grown by approximately 18% annually since 1992. Intelligence agencies are faced with profound “needle-in-a-haystack” challenges; it being estimated that in 1997 there were some 82 billion minutes of telephone service worldwide. The technologies used in civilian communications circuits have also changed; in the past decade reliance on microwave transmissions (which can be intercepted with relative efficiency) has been increasingly displaced by fiber optic cables. Fiber optics can carry far more circuits with greater clarity and through longer distances and provides the greater bandwidth necessary for transmitting the enormous quantities of data commonplace in the Internet age. Inevitably, fiber optic transmissions present major challenges to electronic surveillance efforts as their contents cannot be readily intercepted, at least without direct access to the cables themselves.