Civil Rights » ADL Blogs
July 15, 2015 1

The Voting Rights Advancement Act: Necessary to Ensure Voting Rights for All

Almost fifty years ago, on August 6, 1965, Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son signed the his­toric Vot­ing Rights Act (VRA), one of the most impor­tant and effec­tive pieces of civil rights leg­is­la­tion ever passed.   In the almost half cen­tury since its pas­sage, the VRA has secured and safe­guarded the right to vote for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. Its suc­cess in elim­i­nat­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory bar­ri­ers to full civic par­tic­i­pa­tion and in advanc­ing equal polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment is unde­ni­able. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has sup­ported pas­sage of the VRA and every reau­tho­riza­tion since 1965, filed ami­cus briefs urg­ing the Supreme Court to uphold the law, pro­moted aware­ness about the impor­tance of the VRA, and encour­aged the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to use the VRA to pro­tect vot­ing rights for all.

VRA interns for web

The last time Con­gress extended the VRA, it did so after an exhaus­tive exam­i­na­tion of vot­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and the impact of the VRA – days of hear­ings and thou­sands of pages of doc­u­men­ta­tion. The leg­is­la­tion passed over­whelm­ing: 390 to 33 in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and 98–0 in the Senate.

Notwith­stand­ing this over­whelm­ing sup­port and exhaustively-documented leg­isla­tive his­tory – and the unde­ni­ably extra­or­di­nary impact of the VRA–a bit­terly divided 5–4 major­ity of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down §4(b) of the VRA (the for­mula to deter­mine which states and polit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sions would have to pre­clear all vot­ing changes) in Shelby County v. Holder , essen­tially gut­ting the heart of the legislation.

Almost imme­di­ately after the deci­sion, states that had been sub­ject to pre­clear­ance over­sight for vot­ing changes began enact­ing laws that threaten to dis­pro­por­tion­ately dis­en­fran­chise minor­ity, young, poor, and elderly vot­ers. Texas, for exam­ple, enacted a strict plan that fed­eral courts had pre­vi­ously rejected, find­ing that there was “more evi­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tory intent than we have space, or need, to address here….Simply put, many His­pan­ics and African Amer­i­cans who voted in the last elec­tions will, because of the bur­dens imposed by SB 14 , likely be unable to vote.”

Texas was not alone in quickly mov­ing to enact unwar­ranted voter ID laws and restric­tions on voter reg­is­tra­tion and early vot­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. In fact, the efforts over the last few years to restrict vot­ing rights around the coun­try are unprece­dented in mod­ern Amer­ica. The United States has not seen such a major leg­isla­tive push to limit vot­ing rights since right after Reconstruction

In Shelby County, the Court invited Con­gress to craft a new for­mula based on its guid­ance. This leg­is­la­tion, the Vot­ing Rights Advance­ment Act, has now been intro­duced in both the House and the Sen­ate. The mea­sure would update the cov­er­age for­mula, put in place addi­tional safe­guards for vot­ing, and help ensure that all Amer­i­cans can have their say in our democracy.

As we cel­e­brate the anniver­sary of the VRA, it’s time to leg­is­late, not just commemorate.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 3, 2015 2

Yes, Justice Thomas, the Government Can Deprive People of Dignity

The word “dig­nity” appears 30 times in last week’s Supreme Court mar­riage equal­ity case, Oberge­fell v. Hodges. Describ­ing the same-sex cou­ples who aspired to marry, Jus­tice Anthony Kennedy, writ­ing for the 5–4 major­ity, stated:

Their hope is not to be con­demned to live in lone­li­ness, excluded from one of civilization’s old­est insti­tu­tions. They ask for equal dig­nity in the eyes of the law. The Con­sti­tu­tion grants them that right. supreme-court-civil-rights




In a bit­ter dis­sent, Jus­tice Clarence Thomas demurred, stat­ing that “the Con­sti­tu­tion con­tains no ‘dig­nity’ Clause.” He argued that the gov­ern­ment is “inca­pable of bestow­ing dig­nity,” stat­ing flatly that” human dig­nity can­not be taken away by the government.”

Aston­ish­ingly, Jus­tice Thomas then attempted to prove his dubi­ous propo­si­tion by cit­ing two extreme and rep­re­hen­si­ble gov­ern­ment actions that were actu­ally designed to deprive vic­tims of “equal dig­nity under the law” – slav­ery and the incar­cer­a­tion of Amer­i­cans of Japan­ese descent dur­ing World War II:

Slaves did not lose their dig­nity … because the gov­ern­ment allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in intern­ment camps did not lose their dig­nity because the gov­ern­ment con­fined them.

But the gov­ern­ment did not “allow” blacks to be enslaved – the laws of the time facil­i­tated and empow­ered slave own­ers and enforced slavery.

And the Japan­ese Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens League was rightly “appalled” by Jus­tice Thomas’ blind­ness to the impact of the government’s shame­ful and unwar­ranted forcible relo­ca­tion and incar­cer­a­tion of 120,000 Amer­i­cans of Japan­ese descent, the vast major­ity of whom were citizens.

In 1942, just 10 weeks after the sur­prise attack on Pearl Har­bor, Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt issued his Exe­cu­tion Order 9066, pro­vid­ing the legal author­ity for this depri­va­tion of lib­erty and dig­nity. Roosevelt’s exec­u­tive action was issued against the back­drop of wide­spread, base­less fears that Amer­i­cans of Japan­ese ances­try might pose a threat to the U.S – anx­i­ety that was cer­tainly fed by a long his­tory of prej­u­dice and xeno­pho­bia direct against Japan­ese Americans.

Those incar­cer­ated in the camps were uprooted from their com­mu­ni­ties, sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies, their homes, and their pos­ses­sions, and lost their per­sonal lib­er­ties and free­doms until the end of the war.

Trag­i­cally, the president’s exec­u­tive order was bol­stered by addi­tional con­gres­sional enact­ments. And when the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of these actions was chal­lenged in two main cases before the U.S. Supreme Court – Hirabayashi v. U.S. andKore­matsu v. United States – the Court held that these clearly dis­crim­i­na­tory actions by the gov­ern­ment were, in fact, jus­ti­fied and constitutional.

Now, 73 years later, the Anti-Defamation League uses the cruel and unwar­ranted wartime treat­ment of Amer­i­cans of Japan­ese descent as a teach­able moment for our nation on the dan­gers of stereo­typ­ing, prej­u­dice, and racial pro­fil­ing. While we can honor and admire indi­vid­u­als that can retain their per­sonal dig­nity under the most adverse con­di­tions, there should be no doubt, Jus­tice Thomas, that the gov­ern­ment can deprive peo­ple of their “equal dignity.”

For­tu­nately, a Supreme Court major­ity has now held that the Con­sti­tu­tion man­dates that same-sex cou­ples are enti­tled to equal treat­ment – and mar­riage equality.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 1, 2015 2

Mainstream Figures Demonize Hispanic Immigrants with Bigoted Rhetoric


Donald Trump

Don­ald Trump

There has been a back­lash against Don­ald Trump’s big­oted com­ments about Mex­i­cans in his kick­off cam­paign for the pres­i­dency.* How­ever, Trump is just one fig­ure who has been demo­niz­ing Mex­i­can immi­grants in the last few weeks. Polit­i­cal pun­dit Ann Coul­ter has a new book on The New York Times best­seller list that attacks the Latino com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly Mex­i­cans. Pat Buchanan, another polit­i­cal pun­dit has also weighed in on the issue.

When Trump announced his run for pres­i­dent on June 16, he referred to Mex­i­cans as rapists and crim­i­nals and accused them of bring­ing drugs into the U.S. Almost two weeks later, when try­ing to clar­ify his com­ments on CNN, he actu­ally extended his vit­riol toward other immi­grants. He said that peo­ple com­ing over the bor­der were “really bad. “ He added, “You have peo­ple com­ing in, and I’m not just say­ing Mex­i­cans, I’m talk­ing about peo­ple that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re com­ing into this country.”

Net­work tele­vi­sion sta­tions NBC and Uni­vi­sion sev­ered their ties with Trump due to his com­ments. How­ever, he is just one main­stream fig­ure who has attacked immi­grants in recent weeks. Coul­ter, a syn­di­cated colum­nist, gave her book the provoca­tive title, Adios, Amer­ica! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Coun­try into a Third World Hell­hole. In the book, Coul­ter makes sim­i­lar com­ments to Trump.

Coul­ter attacks His­panic cul­ture and then says, “How can any immi­grant assim­i­late if Amer­i­cans refuse to men­tion their lit­tle cul­tural annoy­ances such as lit­ter­ing, drunk dri­ving, and child rape.” In an inter­view on the Fusion show, “Amer­ica with Jorge Ramos,” the host ques­tioned Coulter’s asser­tion that Amer­i­cans should fear Mex­i­cans more than the ter­ror­ist group ISIS.

In response, Coul­ter said, “I have a lit­tle tip. If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. If you don’t want to be killed by a Mex­i­can, there’s noth­ing I can tell you.”

Another polit­i­cal pun­dit and syn­di­cated colum­nist, Pat Buchanan, has also added his own view on the issue of immi­gra­tion. Buchanan wrote a recent col­umn titled “Is Third World Amer­ica Inevitable?” In it, he praises Coulter’s book and says that “if the next pres­i­dent embraces amnesty and a path to cit­i­zen­ship for ille­gal immi­grants, that will mean the end to Amer­ica as the West­ern nation we have been, and the begin­ning of America’s life as what Ann calls, unapolo­get­i­cally, a ‘Third World hellhole.’”

Taken together, these com­ments demon­strate that anti-immigrant rhetoric is not just an issue for white suprema­cists and other extrem­ists but is very much a part of the main­stream. While you have a Con­sti­tu­tional right to be a bigot in this coun­try, there are usu­ally social and eco­nomic con­se­quences.  Trump has paid a price for his bigotry.

* As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

 Per­son­al­i­dades de la cor­ri­ente prin­ci­pal demo­nizan a los inmi­grantes his­panos con retórica intolerante

Ha habido una reac­ción neg­a­tiva con­tra los intol­er­antes comen­tar­ios de Don­ald Trump sobre los mex­i­canos al ini­cio de su cam­paña para la pres­i­den­cia.* Sin embargo, Trump es solo uno de los per­son­ajes que ha estado demo­nizando a los inmi­grantes mex­i­canos en las últi­mas sem­anas. La comen­tarista política Ann Coul­ter tiene un nuevo libro en la lista de los más ven­di­dos del  The New York Times en el cual ataca a la comu­nidad latina, par­tic­u­lar­mente a los mex­i­canos. Pat Buchanan, otro comen­tarista político tam­bién ha tomado parte en el tema.


Cuando Trump anun­ció su can­di­datura para la pres­i­den­cia el 16 de junio, se refirió a los mex­i­canos como vio­ladores y crim­i­nales, y los acusó de ingre­sar dro­gas a Esta­dos Unidos. Casi dos sem­anas después, al inten­tar clar­i­ficar sus comen­tar­ios en CNN, en real­i­dad lo que hizo fue exten­der su veneno con­tra los inmi­grantes. Afirmó que la gente que cruza la fron­tera es “real­mente mala”. Y agregó: “Ten­emos gente lle­gando, y no me refiero solo a los mex­i­canos, estoy hablando de gente de todas partes que son asesinos y vio­ladores, y están entrando a este país”.

Las cade­nas de tele­visión NBC y Uni­visión rompieron sus rela­ciones con Trump a causa de sus comen­tar­ios. Sin embargo, él es tan solo una de las per­son­al­i­dades de la cor­ri­ente prin­ci­pal que han ata­cado a los inmi­grantes en las últi­mas sem­anas. Coul­ter, colum­nista sindi­cada, dio a su libro un título provoca­tivo: ¡Adios, Amer­ica! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Coun­try into a Third World Hell­hole. En el libro, Coul­ter hace comen­tar­ios sim­i­lares a los de Trump.


Coul­ter ataca la cul­tura his­pana y después dice: “Cómo pueden un inmi­grante asim­i­larse si los esta­dounidenses evi­tan men­cionar sus pequeñas moles­tias cul­tur­ales tales como tirar basura, con­ducir bor­ra­chos y vio­lar niños”. En una entre­vista en el show de Fusión “América with Jorge Ramos”, el anfitrión cues­tionó la afir­ma­ción de Coul­ter de que los esta­dounidenses deberían temer más a los mex­i­canos que al grupo ter­ror­ista ISIS.

En respuesta, Coul­ter dijo: “Tengo un pequeño con­sejo. Si usted no desea que ISIS lo ase­sine, no vaya a Siria. Si usted no desea que un mex­i­cano lo ase­sine, no hay nada que yo pueda aconsejarle”.

Otro comen­tarista político y colum­nista sindi­cado, Pat Buchanan, tam­bién ha dado a cono­cer su opinión sobre el tema de la inmi­gración. Buchanan escribió recien­te­mente una columna tit­u­lada “Is Third World Amer­ica Inevitable?” En ella, elo­gia el libro de Coul­ter y afirma que “si el sigu­iente pres­i­dente acepta una amnistía y una vía a la ciu­dadanía para los inmi­grantes ile­gales, ello sig­nifi­cará el fin de Esta­dos Unidos como la nación occi­den­tal que ha sido y el prin­ci­pio de una vida en Esta­dos Unidos como la que Ann denom­ina sin remordimien­tos un ‘antro del ter­cer mundo’”.

En con­junto, estos comen­tar­ios demues­tran que la retórica anti-inmigrantes no es un tema solo para los supremacis­tas blan­cos y otros extrem­is­tas sino tam­bién para una parte impor­tante de la cor­ri­ente prin­ci­pal. Aunque en este país existe el dere­cho con­sti­tu­cional a ser intol­er­ante, nor­mal­mente hay con­se­cuen­cias sociales y económi­cas. Trump ha pagado el pre­cio de su intolerancia.

Como una orga­ni­zación no guber­na­men­tal 501 © (3), la Liga Antid­ifamación no apoya ni se opone a can­didatos para car­gos políticos

Tags: Adops América, ADL, Ann Cout­ler, Liga Antid­ifamación, anti-inmigrante, Don­ald Trump, Méx­ico, Pat Buchanan

Tags: , , , , , , ,