No manâ€™s passing should be a source of joy. But neither should it be a source of false histories and false tears. Justice Scalia was a right wing warrior who never let the Constitution get in the way of a chance to tear the guts out of Americansâ€™ rights.
His main legacy, knifing the Voting Rights Act and blessing the Jim Crow obstacle course created by bigoted, partisan voting officials. May he rest in peace. In the meantime, hereâ€™s a battlefield report about Justice Scalia from the voting rights war. Taken from the number one bestselling single issue adult comic book of all time, Steal Back Your Vote, by Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., with cartoons by Ted Rall and this done below, by Lloyd Dangle.
By the way, you can download the entire comic book for free.
An excerpt fromÂ Billionaires & Ballot BanditsÂ by Greg Palast
Stop me if you heard this one. See, these ten nuns walk into a polling station in Indiana and the guy in charge says, â€œWhoa, Sisters! What do think youâ€™re doing?â€
â€œVoting,â€ says Sister Mary.
â€œWell, not here, ladies; not without your ID!â€ He demanded their driverâ€™s licenses, but the ten quite elderly Sisters of the Holy Cross, including a 98 year-old, had long ago given up cruising.
â€œScram, Sis!â€ said the man, and kicked their habits right out of the polling station.
I may not have gotten the dialogue exactly right, but I got the gist of it and the facts: the ten nuns whoâ€™d been voting at that station for decades were booted out in 2008, just after the state of Indianaâ€™s Republican legislature imposed new voter ID laws.
The reason for nixing the nuns? To stop voter identity theft.Â There wasnâ€™t exactly a voter identity crime wave. In fact, despite no photo ID requirement, there wasnâ€™t a single known case of false identity voting in the state in over one hundred years.
About four hundred thousand voters (9 percent of Indianaâ€™s electorate) are African American. Nearly one in five (18.1 percent) lack the ID needed to vote, according to Matt Barreto of the University of Washington.
Thatâ€™s twice theÂ number of whites lacking ID. Therefore, as many as 72,000 black voters will get the boot when they show up to vote this November. Coincidentally, thatâ€™s three times Barack Obamaâ€™s victory margin in that state in 2008.Â Coincidentally.
And who are the white folkÂ lacking ID? The elderly, like the sisters, and students like Angela Hiss and Allyson Miller, whose official state IDs donâ€™t list their dorm room addresses and so canâ€™t be used to vote.
Black folk, the elderly, students, poor whites blocked from registering and votingâ€”a federal judge didnâ€™t think it was all that coincidental. Justice Terence Evans could see a pattern: â€œThe Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too- thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.â€
But Supreme Court Justice is blind. The Indiana law does provide a voter the chance to obtain an ID from government offices. The average voterâ€™s distance to the office is seventeen miles. By definition, the folks that need the ID donâ€™t drive. And the ninety-eight-year-old is pretty darn slow in her walker.
A lawyer for Indiana voters told me that the average bus trip back and forth, requiring two changes, takes an entire work day. They tested it. But Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled that the law was fair and provided â€œequal protectionâ€ to all voters because â€œseventeen miles is seventeen miles for the rich and the poor.â€
Our investigative team decided to check that assump- tion. Justice Scalia drives a black BMW. No kidding. What he meant to say is that whether a poor person or a rich person is driving a BMW, it takes the same time. And whether the BMW is black or white doesnâ€™t matter either.
With Supreme Court blessings, voter ID laws are taking the nation by storm, or storm troops.
Apparently, the idea came to Karl Rove while buying his pampers. He told the Republican National Lawyers Association, â€œI go the grocery store and I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I have to show a little bit of ID. [So, why not when] it comes to the most sacred thing in our democracy?â€
(Actually, Karl, you donâ€™t have to show ID to swallow the Eucharist or matzo. But if by â€œmost sacred thingâ€ in our democracy you mean making donations to American Crossroads, you donâ€™t need ID for that anymore either. If you mean voting is sacred, then it shouldnâ€™t be dependent on taking a driving test, should it?
Anyway, Iâ€™d love to see Rove actually cashing a check at a grocery store, especially one written by the Ice Man. But I digress.)
Santiago Juarez sees some truth in Roveâ€™s remarks. I met with Santiago in Espanola, New Mexico, where he was running a registration drive among low-riders, the young Mexican Americans who cruise the street in hopping, bopping, neon-lit Chevys. He says, â€œAnd whoâ€™s going to give these kids a credit card?â€ Of course, you can always get ID from a state office . . . if you already have ID.
Voting-rights lawyer John Boyd, who works for both parties, is alarmed by the â€œthousands and thousandsâ€ of poor people in each state that will lose their vote because of new ID laws.
â€œI donâ€™t have any doubt this could decide the election,â€ he told me. â€œPeople donâ€™t understand the enormity of this.â€
People donâ€™t. But Karl does.
And so does the Brennan Center. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School brings together Americaâ€™s most prestigious scholars in the field of voting rights who are widely ignored because of their unquestioned expertise. The Brennan Center reports that the ID laws are racist, ageist, classist, and the stupidest way to stop â€œfraud.â€
Hereâ€™s the Brennan Center breakdown of those without government photo ID:
- 6.0 million seniors
- â€¨5.5 million African Americans
- â€¨8.1 million Hispanics
- 4.5 million 18-24 year olds
- â€¨15 percent voters with household income under $35,000 a year.
Now, donâ€™t add them up because thereâ€™s a lot of double-counting here. â€œPoor,â€ â€œblack,â€ and â€œyoungâ€ go together like â€œstopâ€ and â€œfrisk.â€
But letâ€™s cut to the chase: the draconian ID law and other voting and registration restrictions passed in just the year before the 2012 election, according to the Brennan Center, are going to cause five million voters to lose their civil rights.
Overwhelmingly, the changes were made in twelve â€œbattlegroundâ€ states, with the most radical exclusion laws adopted in Florida and Wisconsin. The cheese-chewer state will require government-issued IDs to vote. But the IDs issued by the state itself to University of Wisconsin students wonâ€™t be accepted. Thatâ€™s okay because, as a New Hampshire legislator, hoping to emulate Wisconsin, points out, â€œKids, you know, just vote liberal.â€
Using a formula provided by the Brennan Center, we can calculate that 97,850 student voters were barred, turned away, blocked, challenged, or given provisional ballots (left uncounted) on recall Election Day in June. No US paper listed Wisconsin as a â€œswingâ€ state that month. Well, it swung.
Altogether, the 2012 changes in Wisconsin law were sufficient alone to account for the victory of Republican Governor Scott Walker in staving off that recall vote in June 2012. Walker did have the popular support of $31 million (versus $4 million raised by his Democratic opponent).
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For 15 years, Greg Palast has been uncovering voter suppression tactics in investigative reports for BBC Television, The Guardian, Harperâ€™s and Rolling Stone.
In 2016 Greg Palast will be releasing his new feature filmÂ The Best Democracy Money Can Buyâ€”A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, which includes his award-winning investigationÂ Jim Crow Returns.
Greg Palast is the author of severalÂ New York TimesÂ bestsellersÂ includingÂ The Best Democracy Money Can Buy andÂ Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic.
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