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Is anyone even shocked at this point?
April 26, 2007 6:58 AM   Subscribe

For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and a review of written records.
posted by Pope Guilty (157 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, he kicks puppies.
posted by psmealey at 7:05 AM on April 26, 2007


Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales could shed more light on the reasons for those firings when he appears today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He didn't.
posted by peacay at 7:06 AM on April 26, 2007


Is anyone even shocked at this point?

Considering I read this in the paper two days ago, no.
No, I am not.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2007


Btw, if you're intrested in this kind of thing you should definetly be reading talking points memo.

Josh Marshall's video blogs on the subject are a great way to catch up too.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 AM on April 26, 2007


"I am dying of not-surprise!"

Though I must say it's nice to see this long-rumored and much-alleged policy of the bushies clearly documented in black and white.

One more bit of evidence that, for all his rhetoric about "defending freedom" and "spreading democracy," this "President" is firmly anti-democratic, anti-freedom, anti-Law, anti-American.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2007


I don't recall hearing about this.
posted by billysumday at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2007


Is anyone even shocked at this point?
No.
And nothing will come of this, either. Zip. Nada.
All that will potentially happen is a lot of sturm und drang from the Dems and associated talking-heads. A lot of obfuscation and re-direction from the Repubs and associated talking-heads.
Or, it will all be completely ignored.
Then BushCo leaves office after the election and hits the speech and book circuit, raking-in even more millions. They will all have good laughs while relaxing with their chums on sandy beaches all over the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2007


How does tightening up voter ID requirements favour Republican voters?
posted by veedubya at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2007


If this is true, it violates a number of federal laws proscribing the use of government resources to promote a political party, not least the Hatch Act.

If the law of the land means anything any more, some very important Republicans need to be impeached and fired.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:16 AM on April 26, 2007


How does tightening up voter ID requirements favour Republican voters?

Paying for documentation to vote is a form of a poll tax.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is my surprised face.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 7:22 AM on April 26, 2007


I'm sure this will bring down the administration, and get Americans out on the streets in protest.
posted by chunking express at 7:24 AM on April 26, 2007


How does tightening up voter ID requirements favour Republican voters?

Poor people have much less ability to spend time during the day acquiring ID and much less ability to spend money on it. When the option is taking a day off work and spending $50 (also losing one's wages for the day) and not doing so, someone who lacks financial stability/security is going to have to value the right to vote way more than the ability to pay rent or buy food in order to go out of his/her way to do it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2007


The media doesn't care about this because the disenfrachised are poor and/or black. Remember the big public outcry when that girl from Cobbs Creek (a poor/working class blach neighborhood in Philly) disappeared? Remember how Greta van Susteren (sp?) was live at the girl's house every day? You don't?

And blazecock is right about the poll tax issue. Voting is a right, driving (and licensure/identification) is a privilege. I suppose a free universal ID card would solve this problem! *kills self*

I'm curious about the misleading notices that were being sent to residents of black neighborhoods, warning them that they'd be arrested at the polls if they didn't have ID, owed back taxes, knew anyone called "Tiny" and a slew of other falsehoods. Isn't that illegal? Hadn't we ought to seek out the perpetrators and hang them or worse? Isn't voting the cornerstone of the USA?
posted by Mister_A at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2007


From a law-enforcement standpoint, violating the Hatch Act sounds like a more concrete reason to impeach people than launching a war in Iraq, or threatening to do the same to Iran. Violations of statues (*cough*lying under oath*cough*) "sell" better than "conduct" issues for getting people to vote on whether you have a case, which is what an impeachment would come down to. I'm not a lawyer, but I can understand "X committed Y counts of Z" better as an indictment than "Bush made sh*t up and got Congress to sign off on it, then decided to make up other/additional reasons why after the fact."

On preview: PopeGuilty, is part of the logic the idea that poor people vote disproportionately against Repubs? Because where I grew up, I watched an awful lot of working poor people -- the NASCAR and beat-up-pickup-truck crowd -- voting for Bush because he's not a lib'rul.
posted by pax digita at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2007


total derail: Pope Guilty, were you at Ball State when Stephen Schulman taught there?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2007


On preview: PopeGuilty, is part of the logic the idea that poor people vote disproportionately against Repubs? Because where I grew up, I watched an awful lot of working poor people -- the NASCAR and beat-up-pickup-truck crowd -- voting for Bush because he's not a lib'rul.

The poor are a longstanding Democratic demo. Some poor people do vote Republican, yes, but some rich people vote Democratic, also.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:34 AM on April 26, 2007


Fixed second link: Penalities for violating the Hatch Act.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:35 AM on April 26, 2007


total derail: Pope Guilty, were you at Ball State when Stephen Schulman taught there?

Only for his last two semesters, and I never had any classes with him. I did know him from Philosophy Club (which he used to co-run with Dave Concepcion, another awesome individual), and he's a great guy. Took more of a continental approach, if I recall.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:36 AM on April 26, 2007


psmeasly: Also, he kicks puppies.

He kicks blind puppies and skins their fur for muffs which he uses to keep his ears warm during his baby snow seal hunts.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


How does tightening up voter ID requirements favour Republican voters?

There are two issues, voting, and voter registration. In Florida, new voter registration requirements are so strict as to make normal registration drives practically impossible.

Another problem is that many elderly poor don't even have 'proof of citizenship', why would they? If your born in a barn in rural Arkansas in 1930 you may not have a birth certificate, and getting all of that worked out might be very expensive.

Some immigration documents required can cost up to $200.

The other problem is that in the past, democratic voters were simply less motivated, and a little hassle would keep them from the polls. I don't think that will be problem in the next few cycles though.
posted by delmoi at 7:45 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


ö

That's my surprised face. Like it?
posted by LordSludge at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


In MN you can register on the day of the vote.... prior to last election there was some talk about having voter ID etc etc to curb voter fraud, after the election they examined what the level of voter fraud had been. Less than a dozen cases. And this is in a system that is one of the more liberal in encouraging people to vote.

IMO the only voter fraud cases of significance occur at the direction of the political parties, and at this point in time the Republicans seem to have ceded whatever high ground there is in the race to the bottom.
posted by edgeways at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2007


I think this is about how white people working for the government hate black people who don't work for the government.
posted by fuq at 7:50 AM on April 26, 2007


Voting is a right
posted by Mister_A at 9:30 AM on April 26


You sure about that? The Supreme Court has disagreed with that sentiment. There have been all kinds of reasons to restrict the ability to vote, including residency requirements, age requirements, and even literacy tests--which some people will be surprised to know were ruled constitutionally permissible by the Court in Lassiter and took a statute to outlaw.

More appropriately, voting is a franchise that, if you meet the requirements, you have the ability to use at you discretion. States have discretion to establish those standards. If you don't meet them, you aren't being deprived of any right.
posted by dios at 7:51 AM on April 26, 2007


So, poor equals Democrat voter, rich equals Republican voter. That would explain why the east coast and the west coast are red states, and all the states inbetween are blue states.
posted by veedubya at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2007


On preview: PopeGuilty, is part of the logic the idea that poor people vote disproportionately against Repubs? Because where I grew up, I watched an awful lot of working poor people -- the NASCAR and beat-up-pickup-truck crowd -- voting for Bush because he's not a lib'rul.

I doubt you'll find that if you look at poor minorities. And some of these people probably couldn't even afford to keep a truck gassed up.

Remember, the Poll taxes implemented in Jim Crow south were less then most driver's license and ID fees, even when adjusted for inflation (IIRC)
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2007


edgeways beat me to asking just how freakin' prevalent voter fraud is in the first place. I mean, it's not like I read of prisons overflowing with fraudulent voters. So if that's really not an issue, are we trying to prevent a fairly rare violation of state law, or are we trying to control voter behavior to get a desirable outcome?
posted by pax digita at 7:55 AM on April 26, 2007


You sure about that? The Supreme Court has disagreed with that sentiment. There have been all kinds of reasons to restrict the ability to vote, including residency requirements, age requirements, and even literacy tests--which some people will be surprised to know were ruled constitutionally permissible by the Court in Lassiter and took a statute to outlaw.

bla bla bla bla. It's totally reasonable to restrict votes based on properties that skew towards one party over the other. There's just a privalage like driving.

Anyway, just more completely tangential nonsense from dios aimed at excusing whatever disgusting government misconduct is in the news without actually having the guts to say it.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi, an awful lot of the demographic we're probably talking about probably live entirely without privately owned automobiles, then. I vaguely recall that "motor voter" didn't work out all that well in South Carolina, and I found this looking to see whether my vague memory was at all accurate. SC's pretty solidly (and ironically) Republican these days.
posted by pax digita at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, I think you should familiarize yourself with the 15th amendment. Are you seriously suggesting that residency and age requirements preclude something from being a right?
posted by Challahtronix at 8:00 AM on April 26, 2007


dios: Does the fact that yelling fire in a crowded theatre is a crime mean that free speech is not a right? Or does the fact that sacrificing human beings is a crime mean that freedome of religion is not a right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:03 AM on April 26, 2007


just how freakin' prevalent voter fraud is in the first place.

It's akin to counterfeiting pennies.
posted by sourwookie at 8:03 AM on April 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


edgeways beat me to asking just how freakin' prevalent voter fraud is in the first place. I mean, it's not like I read of prisons overflowing with fraudulent voters. So if that's really not an issue, are we trying to prevent a fairly rare violation of state law, or are we trying to control voter behavior to get a desirable outcome?

That's the thing. It's not prevalent at all. They did a rundown at TPM and there were apparently two cases where local, small town sheriffs were engaged in vote buying, and one or two instances of innocent mistakes being prosecuted because of the pressure to dig things. up.

One case in particular was of a felon who registered to vote, and when she found out she wasn't supposed to, she tried to cancel it. She never voted, but she was prosecuted by the local US Attorney, and ended up breaking her probation and going back to jail.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm still somewhat surprised. It's so egregious and so obviously illegal and immoral. They do still manage to surprise me. And enrage me.

I was even surprised by my own strong reaction to Laura Bush's statement that "no one suffers more than their President and I do." I really thought I couldn't feel more contempt for these people, but I guess they are always willing to dig just a little lower.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2007


which some people will be surprised to know were ruled constitutionally permissible by the Court in Lassiter and took a statute to outlaw

A 1965 statute called the Voting Rights Act. What a load of utterly irrelevant steaming bullshit that comment was, even for dios.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:08 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


dios, I think you should familiarize yourself with the 15th amendment. Are you seriously suggesting that residency and age requirements preclude something from being a right?
posted by Challahtronix at 10:00 AM on April 26


Well, no, not exactly. But you have me at something of a disadvantage here. If I was talking to a room of people who were legal and constitutional wonks, then I would not have said what I did earlier. Because in the legal and constitutional context, a "right" has a particular meaning. In the lay context, the term "right" is horribly abused. It is often used in the lay context as an immutable thing; one that cannot under any circumstances be limited. One that exists independent of the government and cannot be restricted. That is how a lay person uses the term, and I was pointing out that interpretation is flawed. The truth is that the federal constitution does not contain an explicit right to vote. Google around: you will see the literature out there discussing the reality that there is no right to vote in the federal constitution. Or even look at the Court grappling with it in Bush v. Gore. Voting is a franchise, not a right in the Constitution.
posted by dios at 8:13 AM on April 26, 2007


I demand an immediate investigation into why this evidence wasn't accidentally deleted.
posted by DU at 8:14 AM on April 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


A 1965 statute called the Voting Rights Act.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:08 AM on April 26 [


Which was, of course, a statute passed by the Congress, not a constitutionally protected right. I might also point out that the necessity for such an act of Congress stemmed, in part, from the absence of any right so set forth in the Constitution.
posted by dios at 8:15 AM on April 26, 2007


Also, to those saying nothing will come of this: Have you see the current makeup of Congress (compared to the previous N years) and the 2008 presidential polling?
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on April 26, 2007


That is how a lay person uses the term, and I was pointing out that interpretation is flawed.

I wasn't using it this way; I understand that this right, like all rights, is subject to limits.
posted by Mister_A at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2007


Remember, the Poll taxes implemented in Jim Crow south were less then most driver's license and ID fees, even when adjusted for inflation (IIRC)

Not quite true -- and in many states, the taxes were cumulative, as well. The effect was to disenfranchise poor people generally, white and black. A 1940 article on the poll tax, “Suffrage in the South,” contrasted the overall voting rate in the United States—64 percent—with rates in poll-tax states. Texas had the highest turnout, at 33.5 percent, and South Carolina the lowest, 14.1 percent. The author (who became a filmmaker and NYU prof) called it “one-third democracy for one-sixth of the nation.”

An excerpt, describing an interview with several white people in rural Green Pond, Alabama:

“We might just as well be outside the fence a-lookin’ through a knothole,” the oldest one of the eight laughed. Only two of the eight voted—or could vote under Alabama’s cumulative poll tax law. These two men had paid their $1.50 every year. A third had voted until the drought of 1933. With no election that year he saw no reason for putting out $1.50 he didn’t have. Next year $3 was the price he had to pay to vote, and cotton was selling for 5 cents a pound. He couldn’t spare that much. Now a vote for Bankhead in the Democratic primaries next spring will cost him $11.50. He won’t vote. (For men the tax is cumulative from the age of twenty-one. Women pay from the time they first vote. In both cases the first vote is free.)

“Lord, that’s jus’ like me,” his wife spoke up. “They drug me out and hauled me down when Bryan was arunnin’ in ‘24. I hadn’t voted since. Wonder what they’d charge me now?” We figured it out. It came to $22.50. “That’s as much as I give fer that cook-stove yonder,” she answered, “and hit’ll last me a heap longer!”

In this community of 300 people, only twelve citizens could be named who “had the vote.”

posted by vetiver at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


Don't be so obtuse, veedubya. You know about the trending in voting. There's no need to be an ass about it.
posted by grubi at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2007


"I might also point out that the necessity for such an act of Congress stemmed, in part, from the absence of any right so set forth in the Constitution."


As Americans, our rights don't come from the constitution, Dios.

They are inherent.

Or did you miss that bit of constitutional theory 101?
posted by stenseng at 8:19 AM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh shit it's ConstitutionalScholarPissingMatchFilter.
posted by Mister_A at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


Here is a rather relevant article from Salon by Garrett Epps, constitutional law professor at the Univerity of Oregon.
You have no right to vote
By Garrett Epps

Sept. 21, 2006 | Last week, a Missouri judge reminded the state Legislature that citizens of the state have a right to vote. And because it is a right, not a privilege granted by the powerful, Missourians can cast their ballots this November without having to meet identification requirements that seemed designed to make it harder for certain people -- the poor, the elderly, minorities and women -- to exercise that right.

That's the good news. The bad news is that this right comes from the Missouri state Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly guarantee a right to vote, and our federal courts currently read the document not to include it.
posted by dios at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2007


Which was, of course, a statute passed by the Congress, not a constitutionally protected right.

No one said anything about a constitutional right, dumbass. Are you saying parents don't have any custody rights because they're spelled out by statute, rather then amendment? You're not that dumb, are you?

Again Dios' argumentation style is on display: Divert, confuse, misdirect, and most important: ignore the actual issue.
posted by delmoi at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does this mean they were fixing to investigate Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004?
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:23 AM on April 26, 2007


As Americans, our rights don't come from the constitution, Dios.

They are inherent.


This is not legally true. Sure, it's a nice statement of political philosophy, and it's the idea behind parts of the Declaration of Independence, but as a legal matter, rights come from legal sources, the Constitution, Statutes, Common Law, certain types of treaties, etc.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2007


veedubya wrote: That would explain why the east coast and the west coast are red states, and all the states inbetween are blue states.

Good to see you've got that deniable plausibility thing down.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here is something by Congressman Jess Jackson, Jr.:
ADDING A VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION: The United States sees itself as the center of world democracy. But do Americans have the right to vote? Most Americans will be shocked to discover the answer is "No." Unlike the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion, press and assembly, the individual right to vote is not guaranteed in our Constitution!
posted by dios at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2007


Most troubling in my eyes is the emerging evidence that the Justice Department has all but abandoned investigating voter suppression allegations, and has poured considerable effort and resources into combating spurious voter fraud allegations in Democratic or swing districts. If anyone can explain how having the Justice Department "evolve" into an arm of the executive branch is not a step (however small) toward facism, I'm all ears - This is some scary, depressing shit, and should be for liberals and conservatives alike.

Dios, no snark here - I'm curious if any of the emerging stories from these issues have given you pause. I'm neither a lawyer nor a legal scholar, but I have a few lawyer friends who consider themselves pretty conservative, and they've been truly startled and concerned at some of the allegations that have been emerging.

So, poor equals Democrat voter, rich equals Republican voter. That would explain why the east coast and the west coast are red states, and all the states inbetween are blue states.

Hint: Think less about rich/poor, and more about urban/rural. In my neck of the world just about every beat-up, blue collar pickup truck has labor union membership and leftover Kerry/Edwards stickers...
posted by jalexei at 8:27 AM on April 26, 2007


And the actual issue, of course, is that people who are eligable to vote (citizens, people without a felony record, etc) are not able to do so thanks to overly restrictive requirements that disfavor the very poor and minorities.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on April 26, 2007


veedubya: You know this already, but I am forced to point out that up until Reagan, the poor were a dependable voting bloc for the democrats.

Everything changed with the "culture war" started by Reagan and his minions, and really gained traction in the 90's around Newt-time.

The master political stroke of the 20th century was the co-opting of religion by the Republicans in American politics.

Before this, religion was something that was SOLIDLY on the democrats side (see Jimmy Carter).

But, the "culture war" of the 80's-90's had an incredibly interesting effect.

Instead of posing rich versus poor, which is a loosing strategy since there are many more poor, conservatives took over the churches of America, especially in the south, and turned an entire, GIGANTIC segment of the population conservative.

I give the architects of this credit, it was genius, pure distilled genius.

It turns out that there are incredible numbers of both rich and poor who identify as religious, and were convinced via the pulpits at their churches, that religion was now a political issue.

Abortion became "the issue" facing America through the 90's, followed in the 21st century by gay rights. Both of these topics have been given profoundly conservative spins ("pro-life" and "family values"). They have been spun so effectively that opponents ironically are now in the position of wanting the government out of their womb/bedroom, a PREVIOUSLY solid conservative issue.

The former rallying cry of "states rights!" of the true conservative has been completely abandoned in the day of individual states passing abortion rights and gay rights state legislation.

Suddenly, something the conservatives had stood for most of their existence, is completely abandoned, and now every god fearing christian republican is swathed in the American flag and completely devoted to the new man in the pulpit, the president.

To say American politics has been turned on its head in the last 25 years is an understatement.

A "tax-and-spend" liberal president provided the largest surplus in American history, and the financially thrifty conservatives, who previously said the U.S. has no business being the world's police force and we should worry about matters at home, have bankrupted the country fighting an ill-advised war that is essentially a vendetta by a vengeful son of a humiliated father.

American politics have become farce. Theater. Lunacy.

I could go on and on but I don't think it is necessary.

America is currently under the control of criminals, and the majority of Americans support them because they would rather have them loot the Treasury than worry about two queers somewhere getting "married".

Your average American is an ignorant bigot. And this is what that gets you.

I blame our education system, which conservatives since Ronald "Ketchup is a Vegetable" Reagan have had it out for.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:30 AM on April 26, 2007 [11 favorites]


Dios, no snark here - I'm curious if any of the emerging stories from these issues have given you pause. I'm neither a lawyer nor a legal scholar, but I have a few lawyer friends who consider themselves pretty conservative, and they've been truly startled and concerned at some of the allegations that have been emerging.

I think most of the "controversial" things that the current Administration does strike me as politically stupid. I don't and have not defended the wisdom of the things they do, because personally they strike me as bad ideas. But I'm not heavily vested in the political issues, so I am not upset by them. These guys will be gone in 2 years and another bunch of louts will be in there, and 2 years from then, we won't be discussing this stuff anymore. If you go back and read the long history of voting in this country, this issue falls in line with the long history as just another data point.

But from a legal perspective, the issue of enforcing restrictions is pretty straight forward: restrictions are permissible and if they exist in permissible forms, they probably should be enforced as all laws are. The thing that would give me pause is if there were allegations that that residency restrictions were not equally applied. Requiring an id or residency are not constitutionally questionable on their face. It's the application of it that can run afoul of the Constitution.
posted by dios at 8:37 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, you're a law-talking guy. Do you agree with Blazecock Pileon that the following actions violate The Hatch Act?

(From The Hatch Act: "These federal and D.C. employees may not- * use official authority or influence to interfere with an election.")

From the FPP: Former department lawyers, public records and other documents show that since Bush took office, political appointees in the Civil Rights Division have:

• Approved Georgia and Arizona laws that tightened voter ID requirements. A federal judge tossed out the Georgia law as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters, and a federal appeals court signaled its objections to the Arizona law on similar grounds last fall, but that litigation was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election.

• Issued advisory opinions that overstated a 2002 federal election law by asserting that it required states to disqualify new voting registrants if their identification didn't match that in computer databases, prompting at least three states to reject tens of thousands of applicants mistakenly.

• Done little to enforce a provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires state public assistance agencies to register voters. The inaction has contributed to a 50 percent decline in annual registrations at those agencies, to 1 million from 2 million.

• Sued at least six states on grounds that they had too many people on their voter rolls. Some eligible voters were removed in the resulting purges.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2007


Ynoxas, you probably know this and forgot to mention it, but the right's co-opting of religion goes hand-in-hand with the Democrats' move to desegregationist politics. Basically, the Southern White [Racists] that the Dems lost were picked up by the Republicans. This happened during Nixon's rise, before Reagan.

* A lot of the black-hatred of course was just economic despair. The dems aren't into old-school labour politics anymore either, so… double-whammy in terms of losing blue-collar whites.
posted by Firas at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dios, what precisely does the President have to do before you're against it? And what can we post that has political content without you shitting it up?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:42 AM on April 26, 2007


Poor people have much less ability to spend time during the day acquiring ID and much less ability to spend money on it.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. Do you really expect people to believe that someone who wishes to vote can't come up with $50 and a half day off of work at some point in the four years between presidential elections? This is why conservatives think liberals are stupid. These poor pitiful "disenfranchised" voters can spend their money on Boone's farm, cigarettes, and lottery tickets but won't shell out a little for a valid ID. Give me a break.
posted by tadellin at 8:42 AM on April 26, 2007


LSD will shake vehement addiction to legalese.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


dios, your arguments sound like AG Gonzales' regarding the constitution not explicitly granting Habeas Corpus. You have to ignore history, reality, and the intent in order to get that interpretation.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2007


tadellin, it's not about what people should do. It's about what actually happens on election day. Are there people who wish to vote on election day who aren't able to because of valid ID concerns? That's a system failure. Are such people disproportionately likely to vote for one party over another? Major problem.
posted by Firas at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2007


:O

this is my surprised face.
posted by quonsar at 8:45 AM on April 26, 2007


Here's something worth reading from Article 1, Sec. 2 of US constitution
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
I'm not sure what that last bit means, but I get the first part. "Chosen" can be mis-interpreted, but it seems to suggest an election, no?

Now here's section 3 of article 1:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
This was modified by Amendment XVII in 1912:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
So, one can argue that there is no specifically enumerated right to vote in the US Constitution, but the legislature is quite obviously premised on elections by the residents of the several states. I do appreciate that dios may be discussing interpretation of the constitution, a far murkier issue than it needs to be, unfortunately.
posted by Mister_A at 8:46 AM on April 26, 2007


Wow, tadellin, actual content! I knew you could do it!

I mean, you're clearly a privileged individual who's never been poor, and you've decided to be a dick about it, but hey, at least you're composing instead of just copying and pasting from Shawn Hannity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:47 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm still somewhat surprised.

I'm not surprised at the actions taken. I am just suprised they were so stupid as to think that the total republican government would last long enough that they wouldn't get caught. It's like a burglar moving into your house while you are on vacation and then being surprised when you come home. These people are not the brightest.
posted by srboisvert at 8:48 AM on April 26, 2007


tadellin: do you think anyone is going to actually debate you on your "points" there, or just insult you instead as your comments merit?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 AM on April 26, 2007


Go sit on a tack tadellin. $50 and a half-day's worth is not a trivial thing to me, and I make a lot more money (I mean a lot! A shit-load of filthy lucre!) than the poor people we're discussing here.

And yes, haha, all poor people are poor because they are alcoholics, all poor people smoke, and if they're urban and black they smoke Newports. You can shove your fucking iPod up your lily-white ass, sideways, you arrogant, spoiled, petulant piece of crap.
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2007 [10 favorites]


The second thing, Burhanistan.
posted by Mister_A at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2007


Ah, another nuanced take on the issues of the day from tadellin. If only I hadn't spent all my ID money on these crates and crates of smokes and Boone's. But watch your ass when one of these scratch tickets hits! I'll fund all SORTS of investigations.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mister_A,

I think the sections you cite establish that there will be elections, but not that there is a general right to vote in those elections. All of those sections contemplate that some people will be excluded from the election, "shall have the qualifications requisite" means that some people are allowed to be excluded. None of these even specify how you can exclude people, although other provisions of the Constitution do.

That said, the allegations against the Bush Administration seem to have nothing to do with a Constitutional right to vote, they have to do with problems enforcing the Voting Rights Act.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2007


*clears throat*

634 DAYS!

*weeps*

Seriously, now, though... Rove and Co look at this like a game to be won over the long term. I assume that they thought they would be SO successful in everything they did that they Congress would still be GOP-controlled and there would be several clear-cut successors lining up for Bush's job.

You have to give them points for sheer brass-balled superconfidence: even in the face of the grim realities starting them in the face, they still think their party is the one that has all the answers.

The problem with America is that no one on the other side can play dirty enough to really stop them.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:57 AM on April 26, 2007


These poor pitiful "disenfranchised" voters can spend their money on Boone's farm, cigarettes, and lottery tickets but won't shell out a little for a valid ID. Give me a break.

Heh... I love this about today's conservatives. They're all "Jesus this" and "Jesus that" until you mention the poor. Then suddenly it's "Hey, fuck those lazy assholes. They can suck on my Roth IRA."

Good luck finding ANY Christian compassion or charity with those folks.
posted by BobFrapples at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yes, and when the constitution was written there were all sorts of provisions that seem crazy today, like the 3/5 rule for assigning representation in the house, and so forth. Also worth noting is that the states were more powerful then; there's been a steady drift toward centralizing power in the federal government for as long as there's been a federal government. That would account for the deliberately vague descriptions of the process of "choosing" reps–in those days, it really was the sort of thing best handled on the state level.

All that has changed now, for instance a black man is no longer considered 3/5 of a man under the law, so maybe it would be a good idea to codify the voting right in the US constitution, complete with limitations on that right, once and for all. If we could do that, we could put an end to a lot of these problems as they seem to stem from certain states' desires to game the voting process.
posted by Mister_A at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2007


THat ^ ^ ^was a response to bulgaroktonos.
posted by Mister_A at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2007


I didn't know his basic political leanings or character so I assumed his point wasn't a basic troll. I think it's a valid opinion, for what it's worth. I just think it's wrong. It's like saying "why can't you afford a basic healthcare plan if you have x amount of discretionary income." It's coz people don't spend money or time in robotically rational ways.
posted by Firas at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2007


These guys will be gone in 2 years and another bunch of louts will be in there, and 2 years from then, we won't be discussing this stuff anymore.

"We" are going to be talking about this stuff for a lot longer than two more years. "We" will be talking about this stuff for decades, if not centuries.
posted by The Straightener at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


And even if they did, it's essentially a poll tax, so defending it is exactly the same as defending a poll tax.
posted by Firas at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2007


Well, if that is his considered opinion then he's far worse than a troll.
posted by Mister_A at 9:06 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, you're a law-talking guy. Do you agree with Blazecock Pileon that the following actions violate The Hatch Act?

First of all, I've blocked that guy out. Don't ever expect me to respond to him, even though he is obsessed with me.

Second of all, filing suits and issuing advisory opinions are not violations of the Hatch Act because that is the job of these individuals. They are there to enforce the law. At some level there is prosecutorial discretion on which laws to focus on to enforce, so that leaves some room for bad faith by political actors. But as long as the things they are doing is faithfully enforcing already existing law as officers of the Executive Branch charged with enforcing the law, then its hard to see how they could be in violation of the Hatch Act.
posted by dios at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2007


Dios: Not someone you should pay attention to. Advocates strict deontological ethics.

"I have already said I several times on this site that I am a libertarian authoritarian. That is, I don't care where democratic majorities set the line, but wherever it is, you better damn well follow it. For all I care, a democratic majority could authorize public pedophilia sex while smoking crack in public squares as long as one doesn't wear a purple shirt (and if one does, its a life sentence). And I wouldn't have a problem with the person smoking crack and nailing a 5 year old in public, but if that fucker wears that purple shirt, his ass needs to go to the clink for life."

posted by Freen at 9:08 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


"We" will be talking about this stuff for decades, if not centuries.

Depends on who you mean by "we". Only the professors and really, really, really partisan Democrats are still holding forth on the Teapot Dome scandal.

Of course, nowadays, everyone knows who Caligula was...
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:08 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, you're a law-talking guy. Do you agree with Blazecock Pileon that the following actions violate The Hatch Act?

First of all, I've blocked that guy out. Don't ever expect me to respond to him, even though he is obsessed with me.


Now that is a level of testicular mass that I haven't seen in ages.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now that is a level of testicular mass that I haven't seen in ages.

Oh, well, then this should make up the difference.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2007


"We" are going to be talking about this stuff for a lot longer than two more years. "We" will be talking about this stuff for decades, if not centuries.
posted by The Straightener at 11:05 AM on April 26


My initial instinct was to scoff at that hyperbolic nonsense as it shows a distinct lack of the big picture. But then I realized: the politically obsessed people here... if that is what "we" means... probably will still be talking about this for decades (but probably not centuries due to actuarial tables). I mean hell, I still sees idiots running around squawking with their "Gannon/Guckert" comments as if there was any relevance at all to that issue beyond the one week news cycle in which it broke.
posted by dios at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2007


Gannon/Guckert is relevant because it is a microcosm of the repressed gay clusterfuck that is the modern Republican Party.
posted by Mister_A at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: Then BushCo leaves office after the election and hits the speech and book circuit, raking-in even more millions. They will all have good laughs while relaxing with their chums on sandy beaches all over the world.

"book circuit"? "millions"?? hahaha

I don't think you fully comprehend the people you're dealing with. Bush and Cheney have made their buddies in the oil and defense industries billions, trillions METRIC FUCKLOADS of dollars. I can't imagine either of them giving a shit about a $10k speaking fee at Bob Jones University.

You're right though: they've already won. While I'd love to see them tried, convicted, & executed for war crimes, it will never happen. There's simply too much power involved.
posted by LordSludge at 9:14 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to see people still like to argue with Dios. Imagine how boring this thread would be without 8 of his pedantic, "i'm a lawyer so listen to my ass," comments. The living would envy the dead.
posted by chunking express at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


$50 and a half-day's worth is not a trivial thing to me, and I make a lot more money (I mean a lot! A shit-load of filthy lucre!) than the poor people we're discussing here.

I was just thinking about this... to ask someone who makes $6 an hour to pay $50 to vote is basically akin to asking someone who makes $25 an hour to pay $200 to vote...

With the exception, of course, that someone making $25 an hour has to spend a much lower percentage of their income on absolutely necessary things like food, water, shelter.

I wonder if the middle class people who talk about those lazy chain-smoking poor would be quite so quick to judge if they were asked to write a $200 check before they could show up at the polls.
posted by crackingdes at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


First of all, I've blocked that guy out. Don't ever expect me to respond to him, even though he is obsessed with me.

I didn't even say anything to him in this discussion, or question anything he's said with respect to the law in question here, but all I'll say is that comments like the above make Dios the Wendy Pepper of Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why don't you two just go have sex and get it over with?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Typical Rovian strategy: in an aggressive political alchemy, he turns his candidate's/party's greatest weakness into a strength and his opponent's greatest strength into a weakness.

Thus the brazen attack on Kerry's vet status - until suddenly Kerry became the one hounded and discredited, deflecting and re channeling any questioning about Bush's dubious and possibly criminal military record.

And so too with the voting issue. After 2000, there was a huge Democratic outcry about the legality of the election. Rove co-opted this issue by fabricating allegations of massive "voter fraud" associated with Democratic voters, while in turn giving subterfuge to shady practices that disenfranchised the poor, minorities, and absentee voters.

The audacity is galling. These crooks and con artists have been all about trying to lay an infrastructure that would effect a complete and permanent hijacking of our government. Our outrage overload cannot numb us into apathy. I sincerely hope that Congress will continue turning rocks over and hold people accountable to the full extent possible, whether it is today or 10 years from now. Whatever the outcome, it is already too little too late, but to the best of our collective ability, we should not allow this and the other lies and criminal activities that have been foisted on us to stand.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:25 AM on April 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


My initial instinct was to scoff at that hyperbolic nonsense as it shows a distinct lack of the big picture. But then I realized: the politically obsessed people here... if that is what "we" means... probably will still be talking about this for decades (but probably not centuries due to actuarial tables). I mean hell, I still sees idiots running around squawking with their "Gannon/Guckert" comments as if there was any relevance at all to that issue beyond the one week news cycle in which it broke.

I'm talking about historians, dios, political scientists, scholars of many stipes from around the world who will be dissecting these details from the many scandals and transgressions of this administration for years to come. They have a far greater significance, intellectual, legal, political, in aggregate than you prescribe to them. Maybe that's just my opinion. However, I didn't mean it in a partisan sense, nor in any hyperbolic sense. In fact, you're the one who is hyperbolic (your use of "we," for starters, which I've already pointed out, not to mention "idiots running around squawking" -- very nice).

I'm glad you managed not to scoff at me. I'll try to do the same.
posted by The Straightener at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anyway, regarding poll taxation of the poor: "U.S. Offers PlatinumPlus Preferred Citizenship". Perhaps that's something the Repubs can pin on Clinton in this discussion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


dios, thanks for your feedback.

But as long as the things they are doing is faithfully enforcing already existing law as officers of the Executive Branch charged with enforcing the law, then its hard to see how they could be in violation of the Hatch Act.

The FPP shows the political appointees in the Civil Rights Division are not "faithfully enforcing existing law," but rather approving new laws that violate The Consitution:

• Approved Georgia and Arizona laws that tightened voter ID requirements. A federal judge tossed out the Georgia law as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters, and a federal appeals court signaled its objections to the Arizona law on similar grounds last fall, but that litigation was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election.

In this and in the actions I listed above a clear pattern emerges:

Bush Administration political appointees in the Civil Rights Division used their official authority or influence to interfere with an election, which is a clear violation of The Hatch Act.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:32 AM on April 26, 2007


The U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett (1872) addressed the constitutional status of voting rights in the context of women's suffrage. This decision is why the 19th amendment was necessary - dios is right; the Constitution describes no clear right or privilege) to vote. There are only some limits on what kind of restrictions can be put in place.

In the amount of time it took me to go dig this damned case back out, of course, the discussion seems to have bounced around quite a bit.
posted by dilettante at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2007


Ahem, sorry-- typo. That's "Constitution." The ghost of James Madision is gonna be pissed!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2007


the Constitution describes no clear right or privilege) to vote.

But that doesn't mean voting is not a right shared by the people. Remember the 9th Ammendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

But it seems to me the FPP article is not about that. Rather, as I've said above, the FPP is about this: Bush Administration political appointees in the Civil Rights Division using their official authority or influence to interfere with an election.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:39 AM on April 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bush Administration political appointees in the Civil Rights Division used their official authority or influence to interfere with an election, which is a clear violation of The Hatch Act.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:32 AM on April 26


That's only if you define "interfere" as "place restrictions on voting." Which I do not. The states have the right to place restrictions on voters according to the Supreme Court. It is not interference to have them. So "approving Georgia and Arizona laws that tighten voter ID requirements" is not a "use of authority or influence to interfere with an election." That is their function. That is not what the Hatch Act is aimed at preventing.
posted by dios at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2007


First of all, I've blocked that guy out.

Dios: Blazecock blocked.
posted by zippy at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Remember the 9th Ammendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

But it seems to me the FPP article is not about that. Rather, as I've said above, the FPP is about this: Bush Administration political appointees in the Civil Rights Division using their official authority or influence to interfere with an election.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:39 AM on April 26


1. The court has rejected the argument that the 9th Amendment contains a substantive right to vote. It's not there. Over the last 150 years, the Court has heard all these arguments a dozen times. Its not there.

2. The issue of whether there is a right to vote is relevant as the argument is implicit in your complaint and the FPP. If state and the federal governments are entitled to place reasonable restrictions on the franchise of voting--and they are--then the act of them doing so is not an interference or a violation of the law, and not a violation of the Hatch Act. So while it is politically callous and bad policy, that is not the legal case that you are making it out be.
posted by dios at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2007


That's only if you define "interfere" as "place restrictions on voting." Which I do not.

When "place restrictions on voting" is contrued as properly containing such things as supporting a poll tax, I think that-

No, you know what? I'm just going to call you a lying, dishonest little toad and call it a day.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm interested to know just what's to be done about these villains. The Bush Regime is the fucking Legion of Doom - no good will come of their continued stranglehold on power, and there's still a lot of time left for them to unleash further horrors on our fragile world. Fun as it is to argue fine print with dios, I'd be more keen on hearing how we stop this criminal scum.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2007


Constitutional theory aside, I've always felt that the investigations and subsequent punishments for voter suppression to be woefully inadequate.

It should be one of the highest crimes in our land; I mean, in my eyes, it's tantamount to treason. People who engage in activities that dissuade legally eligible voters from taking part are actively preventing our democracy from working.
posted by quin at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2007


If state and the federal governments are entitled to place reasonable restrictions on the franchise of voting

How is a restriction that was slapped down as being unconstitutional 'reasonable?'

That's only if you define "interfere" as "place restrictions on voting." Which I do not.

In this case, I define "interfere" as "using Federal power to place restrictions on voting deemed to be an 'unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters.'"

You don't see 'approving an Unconstitutional Law that infringes on the rights of poor voters' as interfering with an election?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2007


I wish that someone in the national scene had the balls to start calling spades spades. It would be great if Gore held press conferences saying, "Bush and his spokespeople have said that Congress is legislating failure in Iraq. It is not Congress's failure. It is the President's failure. It is not that his policies have resulted in failure. Failure IS his policy!" and go from there.
It would be nice if Hillary or Obama would say, "Consent for the invasion of Iraq was obtained from Congress through bald-faced deceptions in an obvious and shameful boondoggle."
It's a nice start that the Majority Leader has come out publicly saying the war is already lost. It's just a shame that no one has the balls to really jump on these ridiculous violations and shameless chicanery.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:29 AM on April 26, 2007


You don't see 'approving an Unconstitutional Law that infringes on the rights of poor voters' as interfering with an election?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:12 PM on April 26


(1) It was not overturned as unconstitutional. It was enjoined from application until an issue was resolved.

(2) The Justice Departemnt didn't make the law. The state did. The state is the entity given the Constitutional authority to establish restrictions. Given the nature of this restriction--which was that only people who didn't have government id had to pay for an ID card that cost $20 for 5 years--they had to submit to the Justice Department to ensure that it complied with the VRA.

(3) As I understand the issue, the judge did not rule it unconstitutional, he just enjoined it. His only problem with the ID card from the federal judge's position was that the issue of "indigence" was undefined in determining who would be exempt from the $20 cost for a card valid for 5 years for those who had no other form of ID. That issue was resolved, and the subsequent challenge to the issue was not leveled under the federal constitution, but in state court under the Georgia constitution. So the issue came down to the fact that, although there was an indigence exception which makes it not a poll tax, indigence needed to be more specifically defined. Now I'm willing to concede that the Justice Department should have required the state to define indigence more specifically, but the issue was such a limited one that it is a difficult argument to suggest their failure to require a more specific definition of indigence was a Hatch violation. It's hardly the case that they approved a clearly unconstitutional law.
posted by dios at 10:41 AM on April 26, 2007


What dios is saying:

"That way that voting works that would be required in order for our country to operate in a healthy manner? That does not exist."

There are arguments he could drag out against that, going back to Jefferson. All of them would result, if put into practice, into a self-reinforcing oligarchy that were were damn lucky to escape from in the first place.

Is just how I see it. But I think I see it accurately.
posted by JHarris at 10:44 AM on April 26, 2007


Not really, but then I haven't considered the US a democracy (or at best a failed democracy) since 2000. Hail to the king.
posted by holycola at 10:53 AM on April 26, 2007



(1) It was not overturned as unconstitutional. It was enjoined from application until an issue was resolved.

and why was it enjoined from application? Because it was unconstitutional. But this is just pedantry. Also consider that "The Voting Rights Act puts the legal burden on Georgia to show that proposed election-related changes would not be retrogressive." Georgia did not and neither did the DoJ. Career DoJers were overruled by the newer political appointees.

""All individual data indicates that the state's African-American citizens are, if anything, slightly more likely than white citizens to possess one of the necessary forms of identification," Moschella wrote to Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) in defense of the department's decision."

That's a lie and you know it.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:01 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, voter I.D. laws have been struck down as being unconstitutional in Georgia, Arizona, and Missouri.

they had to submit to the Justice Department to ensure that it complied with the VRA.

Yes. And the political appointees to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department said sure, these laws that disenfranchise poor voters are fine.

Add to that the other questionable activites carried out by the Civil Rights Division as spelled out in the FPP:

• Issued advisory opinions that overstated a 2002 federal election law by asserting that it required states to disqualify new voting registrants if their identification didn't match that in computer databases, prompting at least three states to reject tens of thousands of applicants mistakenly.

• Done little to enforce a provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires state public assistance agencies to register voters. The inaction has contributed to a 50 percent decline in annual registrations at those agencies, to 1 million from 2 million.

• Sued at least six states on grounds that they had too many people on their voter rolls. Some eligible voters were removed in the resulting purges.

...and it seems clear to me that, as I have stated before, Bush Administration political appointees in the Civil Rights Division used their official authority or influence to interfere with an election, which is a violation of The Hatch Act.

But thank you-- and I'm being sincere-- for taking the time to try to convince me otherwise.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:14 AM on April 26, 2007


(1) It was not overturned as unconstitutional. It was enjoined from application until an issue was resolved.
and why was it enjoined from application? Because it was unconstitutional.


That shows a woeful lack of understanding about procedure in Courts. An injunction is not a ruling on the merits. Look up the standards for injunctions to issue before you start writing something off as pendanty. If you want to say the DOJ approved an unconstitutional law as proven by a court's ruling, then the issue of what the actual ruling of the Court is not mere pendantry; its outcome determinative to your argument.
posted by dios at 11:14 AM on April 26, 2007


dios, voter I.D. laws have been struck down as being unconstitutional in Georgia, Arizona, and Missouri.

Read up on these cases. They don't say what you think they say vis-a-vis this issue.
posted by dios at 11:17 AM on April 26, 2007


So what happened with the law and the courts? The law isn't currently in effect according to Georgia's voter info webpage. You're asking me to look at the "court's ruling" when there was none.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:24 AM on April 26, 2007


Challahtronix: I was talking to Fuzzy Monster in my last comment. In my previous comment to you, I was making that the point that you were relying on a ruling which is extant and you clearly have not read before running your mouth. How can you possibly start making claims about what a Court said or dismissing a ruling as "pedantry" when you don't know that the Court said and can't tell the difference between an injunction and a ruling on the merits?
posted by dios at 11:28 AM on April 26, 2007


And yet again dios has successfully derailed a thread with his patented hair splitting. And yet again Mefi has fallen for it.

dios : MetaFilter :: Karl Rove : USA
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2007


what court ruling am I supposed to read?
posted by Challahtronix at 12:07 PM on April 26, 2007


Actually this - and all the aggregated Bushco shennanigans - does remind me of Wilt Chamberlin’s 100 point gameand the immortal words of the opposing coach uttered during a time out:
“Uh...who’s covering Wilt?”
posted by Smedleyman at 12:50 PM on April 26, 2007


dios, I'd really love to know what podunk department gave you your law degree. You do this all the time -- "I'M A LAWYER AMIRITE YOU RUBES CAN'T COMMENT." Well shucks cupcake, maybe if you'd tell us 1) what school you graduated from, 2) what your GPA and ranking within your graduating class was, 3) link to all of the legal articles you have published and/or journals you have edited, you'd have a leg to stand on. Put up or shut up. You don't get to have it both ways. If you want to set yourself up as mefi's resident legal guru and tell people who is or isn't allowed to comment, offer credentials please.

As to the issue at hand, how are legal ramifications regarding the possibility that the Bush administration disenfranchised voters not a political issue? Play your typical little sophistry game all you want ("You know that protection from being stabbed through the throat with a rusty fork isn't a Constitutionally protected right because it isn't stated explicitly in the Constitution!") but legal scholars generally agree that for American adults, voting is a right. Not an explicitly stated one (there are, in fact, very few explicitly stated ones in the Constitution and BoR), but a right nonetheless.

As for the "This is my surprised face" sentiment, well, I can't help but agree. But there are Dems with subpeona power now, and hopefully it'll make a difference.
posted by bardic at 1:59 PM on April 26, 2007


Accusing someone of splitting hairs in a discussion about the law is laughable. The law is all about splitting hairs.

I don't see anywhere where dios has said that he supports what the DoJ is accused of doing or that he thinks what they are accused of doing would be a great idea. All he said was he doesn't think they violated the Hatch Act. Based on what I've seen on the subject I agree or would at least say you'd have a damned hard time proving that they did. For some reason people around here seem to read a lot more into dios comments than is actually there. Just because some one states that "X" is not true doesn't mean they think "Y" is true. dios may think that the DoJ was on the right track and should have done more toward preventing certain people from voting but he didn't say that in any of his comments.

Saying that you don't think the DoJ employees violated the Hatch Act doesn't mean you want them to marry your sister or that they should be voted into the great guy hall of fame. It just means you don't think they violated the Hatch Act.
posted by Carbolic at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2007


If you want to set yourself up as mefi's resident legal guru and tell people who is or isn't allowed to comment, offer credentials please.

Hahhahaahaha. That's so cute. You actually think he'd do that? He's far too much of a coward. That'd be like ParisParamus admitting he was wrong about the whole WMD in Iraq thing. You're on a hiding to nothing, there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2007


actually, i think they violated my sister in the alley behind the great guy hall of fame. bastards.
posted by COBRA! at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2007


This video doesn't say it all re: The Hatch Act, but it certainly says a lot.

Rep. Bill Braley dressing down GSA head Lorita Doan re: Republican involvement in ostensibly apolitical government agencies.
posted by bardic at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2007


err, Bruce Braley
posted by bardic at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2007


dios is correct regarding the right to vote as outlined in the constitution. However, his posts, tangential as they are to the topic of the story, are mostly irrelevant. All we have left after dios's years of kneejerk defense of the current administration is, "Well, I never liked them anyway, so I don't care much about it. They're all thieves."

Which isn't a surprise. I'm sure most everyone with right-wing relatives has noticed that they've been awfully silent at family gatherings since Thanksgiving. Yeah, suddenly the people who couldn't shut up about politics are revealing that political issues just aren't something they care much about, and they never have.
posted by deanc at 3:39 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I respect dios' contributions. He's here to talk about facts, so he does, and often people thinking about political and legal problems get confused about which bits are facts and which are opinions. The point here is that the administration did something that was legal but unjust, and in a democracy the solution to that is to change the law to enforce justice, or change the representatives who appoint the enforcers. Since the Republicans' legal-but-unjust actions are also pretty bad PR for them, I think that democracy is going to bitch slap them for their incompetence in getting caught. No worries; everyone carry on with their outrage.

I will say this: dios, as I understand it, you have no political scruples. By your own account, you're a strict legalist, as someone pointed out above. Your refusal to hold political stances of any sort is pretty troubling to most us who participate in this site. Surely you'd like to be more than a legal logic-bot, programmed with textualism? A person can separate themselves from their job, hold both legal opinions and political ones, and the human condition constantly confronts us to with the gap between what is and what ought to be. Why don't you try to be a little more human, dios?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:02 PM on April 26, 2007


I was just heading home from work, and I stopped by one last time before I call it a day.

anotherpanacea: I think you are one of the few people here who get me. I agree with your suggestion that this will be an action with political consequences. I just don't think it has much ground for a legal consequence.

With regards to your second point, I don't see myself as a legal bot. I was enamored early in my education with a structural focus on political theory. People will be how they will be, and you can't change them. But you can structure--or constitute--a government in such as way to maximize the good and bad and empower citizens. The key is the structure. This places a high emphasis on the rule of law, and that is why I got interested in the law. I believe, as a citizen in a Madisonian system of representative government, that I submit to will of the majority and the rule of law, even though I have the right to advocate any issue for which I may have passion.

I think the issue here is that I don't have passionate interests in much of this stuff. But that doesn't make me a legalbot machine. I am human. I wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, enjoy my wife, maybe take my dog to the dog park, maybe read a good book, maybe meet some friends for a nice drink or four. I really don't grasp why I should or would worry or be terribly interested in political minutia like so many are here. You want the death penalty? Fine. You want legalized abortion? Fine. You want gay marriage? Fine. You want legalized pot? Fine. You want to authorize the government to engage in surveillance or racial profiling? Fine. Or the alternatives; fine. My life is too short for me to become deeply involved in these issues. Ask me for an opinion, and I might give one to you off the cuff. But I probably have a more vigorous opinion on which scotch is the best or which island is the most scenic or what is the most definitive American novel of the last 30 years. Those are things which I have strong opinions about. There aren't many political issues that I have strong opinions about (although there are a few: eg, campaign finance reform is one thing that I think is really stupid and would vote on it because it has structural impact). But as long as we have the rule of law and regular elections, most of this stuff is just temporal and subject to a pendulum-type change every so often.

Rule of law and elections. The rest falls into place.
posted by dios at 5:25 PM on April 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


ARRGH!

*scrubs eyes*

/repeats to self over and over: dios is not a normal person with a normal life...

Stop being so reasonable! Your shattering my reality man!








What kind of dog?
posted by quin at 5:37 PM on April 26, 2007


The point of this FPP is that allegedly the Bush administration has been impeding the very "rule of law and elections" you seem to think will take care of everything in the long run. I agree to a large extent, but why do you feel so compelled to crap in any thread about politics if they don't matter to you? Screaming, as you love to do, "Shut up shut up shut up about politics!" is a fairly political thing to do, if you think about it.

Again, you don't get to have it both ways. You don't get to swing all Tarzan-like into any thread touching on legal and/or political issues with your lawyer hat and tell people they don't know what they're talking about, and then quietly wash your hands of the whole thing. I mean, you do it all the time and that's your perogative, but it's such an obvious ploy. It amuses me, but it's also kind of grating.
posted by bardic at 5:43 PM on April 26, 2007


prerogative even
posted by bardic at 5:45 PM on April 26, 2007


I'm also waiting for dios to tell Challahtronix which court brief he's supposed to read. I'm a bit interested in that myself.
posted by JHarris at 5:50 PM on April 26, 2007


But I'm not heavily vested in the political issues, so I am not upset by them. These guys will be gone in 2 years and another bunch of louts will be in there, and 2 years from then, we won't be discussing this stuff anymore. If you go back and read the long history of voting in this country, this issue falls in line with the long history as just another data point.

But from a legal perspective…
--Dios

Well, then quit crapping up the thread for people who actually do care. And if you want to talk about abstract legal theory go to Autoadmit or wherever people talk about those issues to the exclusion of anything relating to the real world.
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on April 26, 2007


Rule of law and elections. The rest falls into place

the "rest" being fascism.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2007


Well, let's be clear, then: Lagavulin is the best Scotch, Kauai is the best island, and the best American novel of the last thirty years is Infinite Jest. :-)

Now that that's settled, I'd like to take a crack at persuading you that politics matters, too. I mean, I think you've got the basics right: family, friends, and the good life are all more important than what happens in DC or the Middle East. But until you've had your 'share of public happiness,' I suspect that you're missing something important. Of course, you get some of that here; most of these arguments are opportunities to make a political statement simply by sticking up for the facts and the rule of law.

Eventually though, politics has to respond to the unexpected, the uncodified and unpredicted. (I would argue that jurisprudence has to do the same thing.) The connection between politics and the lives we live can't always be ignored. There's a point where we have to stop being political philosophers (in my case) or lawyers (in yours) and be citizens again. I think it's self-deceptive to call politics irrelevant at those points, though they won't be the same point for each community. You've already pointed to one issue, in campaign finance reform, that you see effecting you by endangering the Constitution; I think you could find others, if you chose.

In my view, America's dynamic stability may not be up to its latest challenges. Some of my anxiety is the sense that our current government suffer from a larger degree of incimpetence than most, and some of it extends from a fear of environmental problems like peak oil or global warming that no regime could easily handle.

The Framers weren't all-knowing, after all, and while they did leave instructions for amendment, they didn't anticipate the railroad, the television, 50 states to mobilize instead of 13, the enormous success of a commercial republic, or an American empire. Like you, I love the beauty of the Constitutional vision, but I love history too, and history indicates that democracies don't long survive wealth, nor can republics sustain lengthy wars. We're currently working under the constraints of both.

But I like your optimism; frankly, I hope you're right. Nothing pleases a cynic more than being wrong.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:57 PM on April 26, 2007


$50 at the federal minimum wage is almost 10 hours of work (before taxes).

If that isn't poll tax, what is?
posted by Andrew Brinton at 12:54 AM on April 27, 2007


This sort of 'I got mine, Jack' bullshit Libertarianism is really fashionable online. It turns my stomach, personally.

This thread is pretty fucked up.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:57 AM on April 27, 2007


dios is right; the Constitution describes no clear right or privilege) to vote. There are only some limits on what kind of restrictions can be put in place

I think this is a banning offence. You're supposed to skip over the factual stuff he's saying and go straight for the ad homs.

eg:

Fuzzy Monster: voter I.D. laws have been struck down as being unconstitutional in Georgia, Arizona, and Missouri
dios: An injunction is not a ruling on the merits.
crowd: more dios pedantry! did you know dios is a trolling, hairy pedant? he is! just look!

He's also right, but never let that get in the way of a good hate.
posted by dreamsign at 3:32 AM on April 27, 2007


For those actually interested in reading about the Georgia Voter ID, saga:
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:53 AM on April 27, 2007


So it seems the Voter ID law is broadly accepted to be unconstitutional in the same way that we all understand that the executive branch restricting the speech of the New York Times is unconstitutional, even though no ruling or injunction was ever issued in that situation.

The following quote from monju's last link seems quite succinct in illuminating the partisan intentions of the DoJ:

Ms. Champion testified that in her 26 years as an employee [of the Fulton County Board of Elections], she had personal knowledge of only one instance of voter fraud when someone tried to vote twice

It is notable that five of the six states involved in the FPP are swing states. In the informatics business that's called a "pattern of behavior".

If the behavior is not partisan, it's perhaps worth considering what cases DoJ lawyers are being directed to spend their time and efforts — especially if they are threatened with termination if they do not comply — and why email communications have been disappeared.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2007


Now that that's settled, I'd like to take a crack at persuading you that politics matters, too.

No need to persuade me. But I suspect we may have a disagreement over a definition of politics. I completely understand and encourage an informed citizenry. But the question is what level of "informed." Take a point I mentioned earlier: this stupid clinging on to issues like Jeff Gannon (or, I suppose "Gannon/Guckert" is the edgy and biting way to say it") or Bill Clinton's haircut. Those things do not matter. They are not relevant. Years from now, lying on your death bed, are these issues going to be things that cross your mind? Of course not. But, under the auspices of important politics, people act like that those issues are very important. They are not. But that is politics is these days. Stupid little petty issues. It's two teams poking each other with sticks. That is not relevant to an informed citizenry, nor does it matter.

And when politics doesn't take the form of obsessing over minutia and actually comes to big issues, political discussion switches to hyperbole and grand claims about rights and liberties and universal justice--claims which are almost always ignorant claims to princples--so that no meaningful discussion or thought can occur. Such claims do not matter. It doesn't matter that person A believes issue X is a fundamental right. The law tells us it isn't. So his claims are not relevant and do not matter. He is but deluded. I would ignore these people except for the fact that I am interested in the law and can't stand it to see it horribly abused with false claims about it.

Political discussion in this country--and especially on this website--has been co-opted by partisans. People who are obsessed with the objective validity of their policy choices and infected with a never ending desire to convince the world that they are right and the other side is so wrong as to be evil. There is no rational discourse, and as such, there is no reason to pay any of it mind. In fact, if it was localized and controlled, then it would be easy to block it out completely. The problem is that these are zealots so it infects everything. So they try to make everyday life be burdened by either stupid political minutia or hyperbolic claims of entitlement. If that is what constitutes politics these days, then it does not matter.

So lets come back to this issue. It's important to determine from a legal enforcement issue that the law has not been violated. Outside of that, there is a simple dichotomy to understand: Democrats want easy voting requirements to maximize the number of people who vote; Republicans want strict voting requirements to minimize the number of people who vote but should not be able to do so. Two simple views and theories; that is enough of the issue for life and to be an informed citizen. If no law is violated, Grand claims of rights and entitlements are irrelevant; attempts to beat people over the head with minutia is irrelevant.

monju_bosatsu: That is my understanding as well, which is why I was suggesting the cases be read by the people making the claims that the rule was determined to be unconstitutional as if (1) that was a fact and (2) it was a comment on the obviousness of the impropriety of the action by the Justice Department. Ultimately it was struck down by a state court by a state judge interpreting state laws--issues not considered by the Justice Department tasked with ensuring compliance with the VRA. The actions in the federal court were temporarily prohibiting its application as drafted until a full trial can be had, not striking down the law. It is not uncommon at all for a party getting an injunction to ultimately lose on the merits because the injunction is a different standard completely.

People who don't understand basic legal principles or who can't be bothered to attempt to understand them (perhaps because they are more interested in making their own argument) should read the cases before making claims about the clear unconstitutionality of the law under the federal constitution. Such claims show a definite lack of understanding about legal procedure and the difference between injunction and trial on the merits.
posted by dios at 9:44 AM on April 27, 2007


Political discussion in this country--and especially on this website--has been co-opted by partisans

If only there were more non-partisans like Dios to show us the way.
posted by chunking express at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2007


Thanks for the rundown, monju.

dios: people making the claims that the rule was determined to be unconstitutional as if (1) that was a fact and (2) it was a comment on the obviousness of the impropriety of the action by the Justice Department.

dios, you're reading me wrong. I'm saying the fact that this Georgia law was approved in the first place by the Civil Rights Division of The Justice Department points to impropriety, especially when considered within the context of the other questionable behavior listed in the FPP.

Why did these paid professionals appointed by President Bush to carry out the rule of law approve a Voter ID requirement which could be proven in court to be "functionally similar to a poll tax and therefore unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution?"

I suppose one could argue these appointees are merely incompetent ("Heckofajob" and all that) but add in the other improprieties and a more disturbingly partisan pattern of voter suppression emerges.

As for Gannon/Guckert, aren't you the slightest bit curious how a gay prostitute with shaky media credentials ended up in the White House press pool, sitting inches away from The President?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:12 PM on April 27, 2007


Why did these paid professionals appointed by President Bush to carry out the rule of law approve a Voter ID requirement which could be proven in court to be "functionally similar to a poll tax and therefore unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution?"


Look, at this point I don't know how to explain it to you any more than I already have. It was not "proven in court to be" anything. You don't understand what an injunction is. It is not a finding of proof or a ruling on the merits.

What it means is that there was some indication that there were problems with a bill that the Court would not allow to go forward as it then existed.

I'll restate it again:

His only problem with the ID card from the federal judge's position was that the issue of "indigence" was undefined in determining who would be exempt from the $20 cost for a card valid for 5 years for those who had no other form of ID. That issue was resolved, and the subsequent challenge to the issue was not leveled under the federal constitution, but in state court under the Georgia constitution. So the issue came down to the fact that, although there was an indigence exception which makes it not a poll tax, indigence needed to be more specifically defined. Now I'm willing to concede that the Justice Department should have required the state to define indigence more specifically, but the issue was such a limited one that it is a difficult argument to suggest their failure to require a more specific definition of indigence was a Hatch violation. It's hardly the case that they approved a clearly unconstitutional law.


Now I'm willing to concede that it was a bad policy, but for you to make the argument that it was a clear case of interference that violates the Hatch Act, you have to show that you can explain what the function of the Justice Department in that instance is (I have tried to do so), when they are permitted to over-ride state prerogatives and when they must give deference, and what authority they can rely on to do so.

a more disturbingly partisan pattern of voter suppression emerges.

You realize that it was the STATE and not the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT that came up with this law? So how does it show a pattern of voter suppression by the Justice Department? The state wanted to do this. They have to run it by the Justice Department. The Justice Department has to approve it as not violative of the VRA but permit the state to do what they please outside of that.

In short, the actions of Georgia are not the actions of the Judicial Department as you keep claiming.
posted by dios at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2007


As for Gannon/Guckert, aren't you the slightest bit curious how a gay prostitute with shaky media credentials ended up in the White House press pool, sitting inches away from The President?

Not in the least bit. In fact, I have nothing but derision for people who are.

If you are the kind of person who is, then perhaps I ought not be spending time trying to engage in a pragmatic legal discussion with you.
posted by dios at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2007


Don't run away just yet, dios.

You're still not getting what I'm saying. Let me explain yet again:

It was not "proven in court to be" anything.

Read my last comment more closely. I wrote, "which could be proven in court to be "functionally similar to a poll tax and therefore unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution." If you'll refer back to monju's rundown, this was the basis for Judge Murphy's injunction.

The Justice Department has to approve it as not violative of the VRA .

That's my point. In this case, The Justice Department fell down on the job. They should've seen-- as the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the Eleventh Circuit, and the Georgia State Court did-- that this particular voter I.D. requirement could be seen as violating the U.S. Constitution as well as The Georgia State Constitution. The Bush appointees within the Justice Department either failed to see how this requirement approximates a poll tax (which points to incompetence and is troubling itself) or, combined with the other behavior mentioned (and which you have not discussed) show a pattern of partisan voter suppression (from the original article: "On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins") on the part of the Justice Department, which is not allowable under The Hatch Act.

As for Gannon/Guckert, aren't you the slightest bit curious how a gay prostitute with shaky media credentials ended up in the White House press pool, sitting inches away from The President?

Not in the least bit.


You should have a more curious mind, dios. In the long run, it will make you a better lawyer.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:13 PM on April 27, 2007


Read my last comment more closely. I wrote, "which could be proven in court"

And it could be proven not to be. So you want to beat someone over the head because something they said might (or might not) have been wrong?

Or to put it another way, suppose they did win on the merits, does the Justice Department deserve scorn then? Surely would say no. But you don't know how it would have resolved, yet you are ready to convict under the Hatch Act?

The Justice Department fell down on the job.


Did they? What if the succeeded on the merits of the lawsuit? Then would you say they didn't?

You are relying on speculation and speaking in terms of firm conclusions.

I ask you to try this: assume that it was constitutional, doesn't your entire argument break down?
posted by dios at 1:21 PM on April 27, 2007


Read my last comment more closely. I wrote, "which could be proven in court"

And it could be proven not to be.


I'm just echoing monju's take on Judge Murphy here, dios, with "could be" in the place of "likely to be": "they were likely to be able to prove at trial that the Voter ID requirement was functionally similar to a poll tax and therefore unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution."

You've already said your reading on this is the same as monju's. No need to spiral into hypotheticals.

The Justice Department fell down on the job.

Did they?


Yes, they did. I am relying not on speculation, nor assumption. I am reaching a conclusion based on the facts presented in the original article. I look at this:

• Approved Georgia and Arizona laws that tightened voter ID requirements. A federal judge tossed out the Georgia law as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters, and a federal appeals court signaled its objections to the Arizona law on similar grounds last fall, but that litigation was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election.

• Issued advisory opinions that overstated a 2002 federal election law by asserting that it required states to disqualify new voting registrants if their identification didn't match that in computer databases, prompting at least three states to reject tens of thousands of applicants mistakenly.

• Done little to enforce a provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires state public assistance agencies to register voters. The inaction has contributed to a 50 percent decline in annual registrations at those agencies, to 1 million from 2 million.

• Sued at least six states on grounds that they had too many people on their voter rolls. Some eligible voters were removed in the resulting purges.


and I can't help but to agree with Joseph Rich, former head of the Voting Rights Section, when he says "As more information becomes available about the administration's priority on combating alleged, but not well substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:38 PM on April 27, 2007


Political discussion in this country--and especially on this website--has been co-opted by partisans

God forbid.

Or, what Chunking Express said.

dios, your posting history speaks for itself. You tend to swoop down into any thread that might even possibly touch on issues regarding Republican corruption and squawk about how people who care about politics are somehow deficient. You constantly try to normalize the wonders of being "apolitical," and as I've mentioned, this is a long-standing and quite political tactic in itself.

I know real lawyers who deal with Constitutional law. No, voting isn't explicitly stated as a right in the Constitution. Not many things are. But it's particularly slimy of you to say that "voting isn't a right" and then tell people to shut up since they didn't attend your (as yet unnamed) legal program.

If you want to moderate these threads touching on legal issues, fine -- please tell us what articles you've published so we can check your bona fides. Otherwise, you remain an anonymous jagoff with no right to tell people what and when they can discuss these issues.
posted by bardic at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2007


As a general courtesy to the community, I'd agree that it would be nice to see some verifiable credentials from those who base their positions almost entirely by arguing from authority.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2007


If you think dios supported his position in this thread "almost entirely by arguing from authority," I think you have a reading comprehension problem.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:21 PM on April 27, 2007


dios wrote If I was talking to a room of people who were legal and constitutional wonks, then I would not have said what I did earlier. Because in the legal and constitutional context, a "right" has a particular meaning. In the lay context, the term "right" is horribly abused.

You have to admit monju_bosatsu, this is typical. And again, it's not a crime in itself. But gee, if I'm so lucky to have a great legal mind like the poster named "dios" around to bring light to all of us rubes "lay" people, I sure as heck would like to know just how awesome at lawyering he is. I'd like to read some of his published articles. I've been thinking about going to law school myself, so I'd like to know where he teaches and what journals he helps to edit. I mean gee, it's the least he could do.

The point being, this thread isn't entirely based on his phantom appeals to his own authority. But c'mon -- it's highly coy of you to not realize that it's part and parcel of his (incredibly tired and annoying) technique of shutting down avenues of discussion.
posted by bardic at 2:33 PM on April 27, 2007


My experience of policy discussions on this site has been pretty broad, but at least some of the time the discussion goes beyond partisan bickering and becomes an inquiry into good policy and, sometimes explicitly, into the metaphysical questions through which we might judge goodness, of which justice and rights are two.

It doesn't matter that person A believes issue X is a fundamental right. The law tells us it isn't. So his claims are not relevant and do not matter. He is but deluded.

Frankly, I find that rights come up fairly infrequently on the site: we mostly speak in 'oughts' and 'shoulds,' which are different beasts. Still, I think your judgment is often true.

When a layman uses the word 'rights,' he usually intends it as a prod to his representatives. He's saying, with as much outrage as he can muster: "I do not like this policy," or sometimes: "I hope you are unable to enact this policy because of limitations put on you by other branches of the government." I find that little translation answers pretty well in most conversations.

However, I'm also reminded of the absurdity of the Declaration of Independence, addressed to a world populated by monarchs, and claiming equality and freedom where none existed. Rights always begin as delusions, but sometimes they take on the force of law, anyway. I think that's pretty neat.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:41 PM on April 27, 2007


bardic, you seem to have forgotten the rest of dios's paragraph in your quote, wherein he explains and justifies his position:
It is often used in the lay context as an immutable thing; one that cannot under any circumstances be limited. One that exists independent of the government and cannot be restricted. That is how a lay person uses the term, and I was pointing out that interpretation is flawed. The truth is that the federal constitution does not contain an explicit right to vote. Google around: you will see the literature out there discussing the reality that there is no right to vote in the federal constitution. Or even look at the Court grappling with it in Bush v. Gore. Voting is a franchise, not a right in the Constitution.
There, I fixed that for you; hardly an appeal to his own authority.

But c'mon -- it's highly coy of you to not realize that it's part and parcel of his (incredibly tired and annoying) technique of shutting down avenues of discussion.

I realize--and understand--that you might find dios's slightly smarmy and lawyerly tone annoying, but if his intent was to shut down discussion here, he certainly failed. Indeed, I think there was more substantive discussion in this thread than there would have been without his comments.

...I sure as heck would like to know just how awesome at lawyering he is.

He was named a "Rising Star" in the Texas version of Super Lawyers--an award given to only about 2.5% of Texas lawyers under 40. HTH.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:42 PM on April 27, 2007


If you think dios supported his position in this thread "almost entirely by arguing from authority," I think you have a reading comprehension problem.

Given that other people have pointed it out, perhaps it's not a concern spun out of whole cloth. I'll leave it at that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on April 27, 2007


I realize--and understand--that you might find dios's slightly smarmy and lawyerly tone annoying, but if his intent was to shut down discussion here, he certainly failed. Indeed, I think there was more substantive discussion in this thread than there would have been without his comments.

Well put.
posted by bardic at 3:19 PM on April 27, 2007


(Although I disagree with the latter part of your statement. Dios' main concern is typically to make the thread about dios. And I fall for it over and over again, which is something I've tried to avoid. So yeah, more substantive discussion, but also a hell of a lot of his usual shrill bleating. It's an even wash IMO. In no small part because people have learned to see through much of his bullshit. Thankfully.)
posted by bardic at 3:22 PM on April 27, 2007


I've been thinking about the constitutionality of a right to vote:

If you take the 14th, 19th, and 26th amendments together, they seem to indicate something like a right.

14: "But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state."

19: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

26: "The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age."

I'm not surprised that consequent jurisprudence has declined to recognize this as any sort of check on state regulation. The 'other crimes' exception allows states to take reasonable measures to prevent the voting of felons, for instance. However, the plain language of these amendments does raise the specter of a 'voting right' quite a number of times. Combined with a strict scrutiny test for race, that seems sufficient to overturn most of the policies promulgated under this Justice Department, and does raise the danger that a provable conspiracy of some kind (a smoking gun e-mail, for instance, detailing strategies, demographics, and goals) might open various officials to prosecution under the Hatch Act.

IANAL, and my knowledge of election law comes almost entirely from the Greta van Susteren's Florida recount analysis and reading about the actual poll taxes and literacy tests of the Segregationist south, so I'm just throwing this at the wall to see if it sticks.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2007


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