The Right Vote on Voting Rights
With help from the U.S. Supreme Court, America may finally be turning a page on the racial politics that have haunted our last 50 years. With the slimmest of majorities, five of the nine justices agreed to void a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that inserted the federal government into state election decisions. To help protect African Americans from voting discrimination in the mid-60s, Congress passed -- and President Lyndon Johnson signed -- a law that gave Washington broad oversight in mostly Southern states, where racial prejudice was more prevalent. Under this Act, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Arizona, Alaska, and cities in six other states needed permission from the federal government (specifically the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges) to alter their voting rules.
A lot has changed in the 48 years since-- including most Americans' attitudes on race. Thankfully, an overwhelming majority of the discriminating practices that once defined the Deep South have been corrected. But instead of adjusting to the times, Congress insisted on reauthorizing a Voting Rights Act that was rooted in one of the darkest chapters ofU.S.history.
Since then, these 15 states have been trapped in the past and forced to jump through special hoops for behavior that has since been corrected. Any change to their law -- even something as simple as what kind of paper to print their ballots on -- required the DOJ's blessing, which usually came through a tedious and time-consuming process. Moving a polling place, for instance, meant these states had to overcome extra hurdles that the other 35 did not.
Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, tried to cut through some of the red tape of the Voting Rights Act that has been unnecessarily handcuffing these states. If Congress thinks a section of America deserves special scrutiny in these modern times, then it is up to members to decide which states -- if any -- merit it. "Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting," Roberts insisted. "Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions."
In other words, voters can still bring complaints, but there will no longer be a special category for these 15 states -- many of which are now at the forefront of elected minorities! From now on, these regions will have the same equal opportunity to define their voting laws as anyone else. For too long, states likeAlabama, which brought the lawsuit, have been prisoners of history. Instead of punishing them for past mistakes, this ruling finally takes states out from under Washington's thumb and gives them a fresh start.
In recent days, the Voting Rights Act has been a tool for a liberal and politically-motivated DOJ to shape laws to its advantage. And in an administration as corrupt as President Obama's is proving to be, the less power it has over the states, the better!
'Fanning' the Flames of Air Force Radicalism
The acting Secretary of the U.S. Air Force has a new mission for the branch: LGBT advocacy. Eric Fanning, an open homosexual activist (and the highest-ranking one in the Defense Department), made his vision clear during an interview with D.C.'s gay newspaper, The Washington Blade. It was, the Blade brags, the "first media interview he's granted since the U.S. Senate confirmed him." A civilian, Fanning says he spent the time in between the Clinton and Obama administrations serving on the board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and supporting groups like Scouts for Equality.
Now, after the recent retirement of Michael Donley, Fanning is relishing his chance to serve as the interim leader of a branch with 690,000 airmen and civilians under his influence. An influence, he admits candidly, he would like to use to push open cross-dressing and transgenderism in the ranks. According to the Blade (Warning: graphic content), "Fanning said he backs the idea of openly transgender service in the military. 'I think that the military is stronger, institutions are stronger, and society is stronger the more inclusive we are. So, wherever we can root out discrimination, I think it's a positive thing.'"
After months of religious hostility, maybe Fanning should start by rooting out the discrimination against Christians. If he doesn't, Americans will finally have a picture of what's driving the Pentagon's radical agenda. For now, the appointment of an activist like Fanning is just another indication that Washington is too consumed with sexualizing the troops to bother with military readiness. Instead of rebuilding his units after 12 long years of war, the acting chief of the Air Force's biggest concern is what goes on in his squadrons' bedrooms. If these are the Defense Department's priorities -- indulging every sexual fetish that comes along -- it's no wonder the military is drowning in sexual assaults. As far as this President is concerned, serving your country may be important -- but certainly not as important as serving his agenda.
Should the State Raise Your Kids?
The Obama administration certainly thinks so. In recent days, the President has ramped up his campaign for universal preschool, tried to revive failed education programs, and worked to clamp down on homeschoolers like Uwe and Hannelore Romeike. Unless the appeals court intervenes, the German refugees, who were granted asylum in the U.S. after their country threatened them for home schooling, are facing deportation. Like a lot of Americans, they think they should be able to teach their children the way they see fit. But when state-run schools begin to serve a wholly secular agenda and deny parents the ability to train their children, they begin to do what the First Amendment says the state must never do: Establish religion.
Will Americabe a land of refuge or will we close our doors to those who want to direct the upbringing of their children? Will Americans retain the right to teach their own children? Come hear legal experts talk about the implications of this case affecting -- not just homeschoolers -- but friends of religious liberty everywhere. Michael Donnelly, Director of International Affairs and Staff Attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association will be at FRC headquarters tomorrow, June 26, to shed some light on the topic, along with Daniel Blomberg, Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Don't miss this great policy lecture at noon on Wednesday. Click here to join us either in person or via live webstream.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.