An Open Letter to Republican Friends of Elijah Cummings: Stop Voter Suppression


After the recent death of Elijah Cummings, many Republicans who call him friend have come forward to offer condolences. I don’t doubt that some of them were sincerely his friend. Cummings himself during a televised hearing mentioned that one of his closest friends was Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. He tweeted:

“There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff — please pray for them.

I will miss him dearly.”

Trey Gowdy, the former Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee which was Cummings position said:

“ Cummings was one of the most powerful, beautiful, and compelling voices in American politics. We never had a harsh word outside of a committee room.”

These people and many other Republicans called Cummings a friend. Elijah himself confirmed that in some cases andI’m willing to take them all at their word. Mark Meadows called upon that friendship during a committee hearing when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) suggested Meadows committed a racist act in positioning a black woman behind him to give credence to his position. Cummings dramatically revealed their close friendship and stood up for Meadows. A short time later in an unrelated event, Donald Trump accused Cummings of racism. Meadows rather weakly said he believed neither Trump nor Cummings were racist.

One of Elijah Cummings’s prime issues was voting rights and fighting voter suppression. He believed every eligible voter should have an equal opportunity to vote without regard to which party they belonged to. Cummings didn’t care if they were from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Democrat or Republican. He railed against voter suppression while those that call him friend, fully supporting it, although they called it by another name. If you were truly Elijah Cummings friends. I ask you to reconsider your position. Think of your friend, perhaps your country, something besides your party’s desire for power while they continue to diminish in numbers.

Mark Meadows, you personally have screamed at the top of your lungs about “massive voter fraud” with no evidence to support it. When Republicans in North Carolina were found guilty of real voter fraud, you said “it’s too early to tell” if fraud was committed despite sworn affidavits from many involved. I wonder if you ever explained that behavior to your late friend? The next time you have a chance to take a stand on voter suppression, ask yourself if you could look the late Mr. Cummings in the eyes and take the same position? When you needed your friend to stand up for you, he did so for all America to see and hear. What will you do?

It’s easy to say the right thing after someone dies. Even Donald Trump had someone else issue a statement of condolences. We know someone else wrote it because… spelling. My question is, what will you do when it gets harder when a little time has passed? Will you do the right thing? Ask yourself… what would your friend Elijah Cummings do?

View at Medium.com

Blind Justice: The Racist Census Question


“Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The Supreme Court is about to rule as to whether the Trump administration can include this question in the 2020 Census. Opponents say and studies have shown that adding this question will lead to a massive undercount in the Hispanic population, reshaping Congressional Districts to give more power to Republicans and lessen the influence of minorities. Trump officials say the request to add the question was necessary to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. If so, it would be the only action their administration has taken to protect voter rights since taking office. Everything else they’ve done from the hiring of Kris Kobach to head his ill-fated Voter-Fraud Commission to making Jeff Sessions his first Attorney General demonstrated the lack of concern for minority voting rights. A quote from an unnamed Trump senior official during his campaign is as follows.

“‘We have three major voter suppression operations underway, They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African-Americans.”

It was reported by Businessweek that all of the known suppression tactics the campaign used were legal but it doesn’t change the point. To paraphrase Kanye West after Hurricane Katrina, “Donald Trump doesn’t give a damn about black people.” The suggestion he and his administration cares about enforcement of the Voting Rights Act is laughable on its face.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified to Congress that the impetus for the question was a request from the Department of Justice that the question is added. The administration has insisted the DOJ made the request despite information showing Ross asked the Justice Department to make the request. After the Supreme Court received the case but before their imminent decision has been released. A Senior Advisor to Ross confirmed in testimony to the House Oversight Committee that Ross initiated the request and not the DOJ. Ross has refused to appear after receiving a subpoena and the Committee has recommended he be found in Contempt of Congress

The Supreme Court in oral arguments appeared to be ready to support the Administration despite their lies and intent being common knowledge. Newly surfaced documents show the late GOP consultant Thomas Hofeller was involved in the creation of the question. E-mails between Hofeller and a top Ross aide prove the political nature of the question. Hofeller in the past was heavily involved in redistricting efforts designed to benefit Republicans. The Supreme Court has been asked to withhold its decision based on the new evidence. The lower Federal Court in Maryland plans to reconsider the case. Trump’s Justice Department is appealing, saying not that the new evidence is untrue but that it was obtained illegally.

The question remains, what will the Supreme Court do? Despite the limited information in the record. They cannot help but know the truth behind the creation of the question and the racist motive behind it. The Court historically has a mixed record on issues involving race. They gave us Plessey v Ferguson which upheld segregation and Dred Scott which denied black people any rights. They also gave us Brown v Board of Education which ended school segregation while at the same time muting the decision with the words “with all deliberate speed” which added decades to its implementation. Every Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act ever passed by Congress has ultimately been weakened by the Supreme Court, including the 1965 Voting Rights Act the Trump administration now claims to support.

If the Supreme Court sides with Trump, writing a decision supporting their desire to enforce the Voting Rights Act. They will not only be blind but willfully so. They will have shown their partisan bias and total disdain for not only justice but Democracy itself. They have long shed the illusion that they favored the people over corporations. They will have proven that the Republican-appointed Justices answered the call when it came. The Rule-of-Law will have been further diminished by the will of Party. I would like to believe the Court capable of rising to the occasion, history has shown them quite willing to fail their opportunity to do right.

Why Isn’t Voter Suppression A Crime?


Voter suppression is illegal, but is it a crime? Voter intimidation is a crime; threatening, coercing, or attempting either is punishable by fine, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. Voting illegally could get you sent to jail, depending on your color and who you were voting for.

Terri Lynn Rote, a white woman, was given two-years probation and a $750 fine for trying to vote twice for Donald Trump in Iowa. Crystal Mason, a black woman, was sentenced to 5-years in prison for attempting to vote illegally. Ms. Mason says she didn’t know she was ineligible to vote after her name was removed from the Texas voting rolls after a felony conviction for which she’d served her time. While voting illegally is definitely a crime, the only penalty for suppressing votes seems to be a greater likelihood of winning an election.

In a go big or go home strategy, Republicans in recent years have done all they could to suppress votes on a major scale. The Republican National Committee (RNC) was just freed from a Consent Decree forbidding them from coordinating with State Governments and Secretary’s of State to enforce their, “Ballot Security” programs which involved not so subtle intimidation of minority voters in crucial precincts. When Mike Pence announced in early 2016 the Republican Party would be performing that type of coordination he had to quickly renounce his statement and pretend it wasn’t true. That was before the Consent Decree was allowed to expire. Now Pence, Trump, Republican-controlled state governments, and Republican Secretary’s of State in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, and elsewhere are free to suppress away. From time to time they may be restrained by judges from imposing their will, but nobody is going to jail.

We just watched Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp use myriad strategies to suppress minority votes in his successful bid to become that state’s Governor. Despite being ordered by judges to halt several efforts, nothing was done to restore the rights of the hundreds of thousands of voters he’d managed to remove from the rolls during his term as Secretary of State. His efforts paled when compared to the millions Governor Rick Scott was able to remove in Florida. In Kansas, Dodge City residents who are primarily Hispanic saw their only polling location moved out-of-town to a suburban location with no bus stop, making it harder once again for minorities to vote.

Republicans are suppressing votes out of necessity. The Party is dwindling as a percentage of the population and their ability to win elections depends more and more on their effectiveness in suppressing votes. Historically, Democrats have been perhaps more guilty of voter suppression and intimidation but this cycle belongs to the Republicans. They do it because it’s effective, and the penalty is not severe.

So, why isn’t voter suppression something that leads to prison and excruciating financial pain? I don’t recall even any attempts to impose the kinds of penalties to give people pause when coming up with the strategies that prevent people from voting. Can it be that Republican and Democrat legislators are complicit in this scheme which keeps an ever-growing minority population from exerting more control in elective government? I’m going to give that question a little more thought.

If there are no laws imposing the types of penalties to significantly reduce voter suppression. It must be because legislatures don’t want them to exist. Instead of playing whack-a-mole when new suppressive laws and policies pop up. Let’s make real laws against voter suppression and start sending people to prison when they do so. If Cynthia Mason can get 5-years for trying to exercise a right she didn’t know she’d lost. Someone taking away the rights of hundreds of thousands ought to get life in prison. Bet it would stop then!

What The Hell Do You Have To Lose? Why Trump’s Census Question Matters


According to the White House (which is always suspect), the Jeff Sessions Justice Department requested a question about citizenship be added to the 2020 Census. The Census is conducted by the government every 10 years and among other things is used to allocate Congressional Districts and Federal resources to States. The Justice Department said:

“This data is critical to the Department’s enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting. To fully enforce those requirements, the Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected.”

Even the concept of this Justice Department looking to enforce the Voting Rights Act is laughable. In 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the enforcement provisions of the Act, Sessions called it, “good news for the South.” He elsewhere claimed that Shelby County which sued to terminate enforcement provisions, “never had a history of denying the vote, certainly not now.” Sessions did famously take credit for Civil Rights prosecutions while he was the Alabama Attorney General, in which he played no role.

The Citizenship question has appeared on the Census before, though not on the long form given to the general public since 1950. My first question was, how has the citizenship information been used in the past? My research provided no answer but in today’s Washington Post it was revealed that the Census Bureau provided block by block data on the location of Japanese-Americans living in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Arkansas.


For decades the Census Bureau denied its participation and that it had released confidential information but not so surprisingly they lied. Ask yourself, would Donald Trump and/or Jeff Sessions feel a bit of remorse about using census data to round up undocumented aliens? In 2007, the proof was discovered that the Commerce Department had lists with names and addresses of those with Japanese ancestry. The Second War Powers Act made the release of that information between agencies legal if not moral. The Census Bureau refrain has changed from “we didn’t do it” to “it wasn’t illegal.”

The basis for much of the criticism of the citizenship question is that fears that the government will do what it is now known already has, will lead to a significant undercount. That will redistribute resources and Congressional seats from blue states to red ones and possibly impact control of the House of Representatives. Of course, if you acknowledge an undocumented person is in your home, the government might come to your door. If they’ve done it before, why would we believe that this President and Attorney General wouldn’t do it again?