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January 17, 2014 1

Momentous Times For Voting Rights

Every year Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Day pro­vides a time to reflect on how far we have come in the quest for civil rights and how much more we have to do.  Two momen­tous devel­op­ments in vot­ing rights law give us rea­son to hope that 2014 will be a good year for ensur­ing that, nearly 50 years after the pas­sage of the Vot­ing Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), all Amer­i­cans can exer­cise their fun­da­men­tal right to vote.

Yes­ter­day, mem­bers of Con­gress set aside their par­ti­san dif­fer­ences and intro­duced cru­cial new leg­is­la­tion to fix the gap­ing hole in the VRA cre­ated by the Supreme Court’s rul­ing last year in Shelby County v. Holdermlk-voting-rights-adlIn June the Supreme Court struck down the part of the law that deter­mined which states and local­i­ties with a his­tory of dis­crim­i­na­tory vot­ing prac­tices would have to “pre-clear” their laws with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, essen­tially gut­ting the heart of the leg­is­la­tion.  In the 5–4 opin­ion Chief Jus­tice Roberts said that “Con­gress may draft another for­mula based on cur­rent conditions.” 

Con­gress heard that call.  The Vot­ing Rights Amend­ment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S. 1945) cre­ates a new for­mula to deter­mine which juris­dic­tions must pre-clear their laws going for­ward.  It also strength­ens courts’ abil­i­ties to mon­i­tor local­i­ties that imple­ment dis­crim­i­na­tory vot­ing laws, makes it eas­ier for vot­ers to spot vot­ing rights vio­la­tions, and reduces hur­dles to fix­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory vot­ing laws.  The bill is not per­fect, but it pro­vides a very good start­ing point for ensur­ing that all Amer­i­cans will be able to make their voices heard in the demo­c­ra­tic process.  ADL looks for­ward to work­ing with mem­bers of Con­gress to strengthen the bill even fur­ther, and to pass­ing mean­ing­ful reform.

In another vic­tory for vot­ing rights, today a judge in Penn­syl­va­nia, in a case called Apple­white v. Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia, struck down the state’s law requir­ing vot­ers to show one of an enu­mer­ated list of government-issued photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to be able to vote.  Rec­og­niz­ing that “the over­whelm­ing evi­dence reflects that there are hun­dreds of thou­sands of qual­i­fied vot­ers who lack com­pli­ant ID,” and that “dis­en­fran­chis­ing vot­ers through no fault of the voter him­self is plainly uncon­sti­tu­tional,” the judge struck down the voter ID law.  He con­cluded that “vot­ing laws are designed to assure a free and fair elec­tion; the Voter ID Law does not fur­ther this goal.”  Stud­ies have con­sis­tently shown that voter ID laws, like the one struck down today in Penn­syl­va­nia, dis­pro­por­tion­ately impact minor­ity, low income, elderly, and young vot­ers.   Today’s rul­ing clears the way for more cit­i­zens to exer­cise their fun­da­men­tal right to vote.

Days before we cel­e­brate MLK Day we are heart­ened to know that Dr. King’s legacy of fight­ing for civil rights and equal­ity for all lives on.  Dr. King once famously said that “the arc of the moral uni­verse is long but it bends towards jus­tice.”  Over the last two days we have taken two steps for­ward on that arc, get­ting closer to a day when all Amer­i­cans will be able to exer­cise their right to vote, free of dis­crim­i­na­tory hurdles.

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December 20, 2013 3

Pennsylvania White Supremacist Loses Fifth Child To State

Just days after the Novem­ber 11 birth, Penn­syl­va­nia author­i­ties took into cus­tody the new­born child of white suprema­cist Isidore Heath Camp­bell and his fiancée Bethanie Rose Zito, both of Ban­gor. The infant, named Eva Braun after the mis­tress and even­tual wife of Adolf Hitler, is the most recent child of Campbell’s to be taken away by fam­ily ser­vice agen­cies in Penn­syl­va­nia and New Jersey.heath-campbell-NSM-rally

Camp­bell, a heav­ily tat­tooed neo-Nazi with a pen­chant for wear­ing Nazi-themed cloth­ing, gained inter­na­tional noto­ri­ety in 2008 after a New Jer­sey gro­cery store refused to per­son­al­ize a birth­day cake for one of his chil­dren, named Adolf Hitler, from his ear­lier mar­riage with Deb­o­rah Lynn Campbell. 

Heath and Deb­o­rah had named their other chil­dren together Joyce­Lynn Aryan Nations (to honor a noto­ri­ous neo-Nazi group), Hon­z­lynn Hin­ler Jean­nie (in an attempt to honor infa­mous Nazi Hein­rich Himm­ler) and Hons Hein­rich (also a nod to Himmler). 

In 2009, New Jer­sey author­i­ties took cus­tody of those chil­dren as a result of alleged evi­dence of abuse or neglect due to prior domes­tic vio­lence as well as a deter­mi­na­tion that the par­ents did not have the psy­cho­log­i­cal capac­ity to prop­erly care for the chil­dren.  Heath Camp­bell has insisted that the chil­dren were taken by the state only because he gave his chil­dren white suprema­cist names. 

Camp­bell, the father of eight chil­dren from four dif­fer­ent moth­ers, does not have cus­tody of any of his chil­dren.  In June 2013 a New Jer­sey judge denied Campbell’s attempt to regain cus­tody of the chil­dren he had with Deb­o­rah.  Camp­bell and Zito appeared at the hear­ing wear­ing Nazi cloth­ing and regalia.

Camp­bell has had the sup­port of some of the local white suprema­cists in Penn­syl­va­nia and New Jer­sey, who have been post­ing updates from him on his fam­ily sit­u­a­tion in which he labeled the author­i­ties’ actions a “kid­nap­ping” and claimed that “they are tak­ing only white chil­dren [and are] now try­ing to clas­sify us as slaves.”  Camp­bell has urged peo­ple to fly Nazi flags and burn “Jew­ish flags” in sup­port of him.

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July 18, 2013 2

Homegrown Terrorist And Anti-Semite Emerson Begolly Sentenced

Twenty-four-year-old Emer­son Begolly was sen­tenced June 16 to more than eight years in prison for using the Inter­net to solicit oth­ers to com­mit ter­ror­ist attacks and weapons charges.emerson-begolly

Begolly, of New Beth­le­hem, Penn­syl­va­nia, had been an active mem­ber of sev­eral jihadist forums, where he pon­tif­i­cated on a range of issues, often prais­ing acts of vio­lence and express­ing his “desire to be a martyr.”

Many of his mes­sages, posted on var­i­ous online plat­forms between 2008 and 2010, were explic­itly anti-Semitic, call­ing for the death of all Jews and encour­ag­ing oth­ers to tar­get syn­a­gogues, Jew­ish schools and day care centers.

In response to the Israeli naval oper­a­tion to stop a flotilla of ships en route to Gaza in May 2010, Begolly wrote and recorded a trib­ute to the “Activists Who were Mar­tyred, Wounded, and Impris­oned at the Hands of the Zion­ist Pigs.” The song, which is enti­tled “When the Jew’s blood reds my knife, then my life is free from strife,” threat­ens to “throw them [the Jews] in the ovens” and to “shoot and kill Jews one by one.begolly-ansar-forum

Begolly, described by author­i­ties as self-radicalized, pre­vi­ously posted sev­eral pic­tures of him­self on his MySpace page dressed as a Nazi.

As a mod­er­a­tor on the Ansar al-Mujahideen Eng­lish Forum (AMEF), a pop­u­lar jihadist forum where mem­bers post and exchange extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda, media, pub­li­ca­tions, infor­ma­tion and news, Begolly posted com­ments call­ing for attacks on U.S. tar­gets, “such as police sta­tions, post offices, syn­a­gogues, mil­i­tary facil­i­ties, train lines, bridges, cell phone tow­ers and water plants,” as well as “civil­ian planes, finan­cial insti­tu­tions… Jew­ish schools, and day­care centers.”

He used var­i­ous aliases online, includ­ing Asadul­lah Alshis­hani, Abu Nancy, Goat Lee and Goatly.  In Decem­ber 2010, writ­ing under one of his pseu­do­nyms, Begolly posted a 101-page instruc­tion man­ual on bomb-making. 

Begolly also com­mu­ni­cated with oth­ers by instant mes­sage. Some of these con­ver­sa­tions, which Fed­eral inves­ti­ga­tors were able to recover, demon­strate Begolly’s mil­i­tancy and big­otry. Dur­ing the recov­ered con­ver­sa­tions, Begolly said “if amer­ica were not at war with islam i would not hate it but i am angry.” He said that if he were to “act now,” he would “go down like [Okla­homa City bomber Tim­o­thy] McVeigh” and asked “have you ever con­sid­ered shoot­ing up ur school­ing and tak­ing revenge on those who wronged u?” He also said “most broth­ers objected to tar­get­ing kids but the rea­son i am for it is because first they r easy tar­gets and sec­ond because the pub­lic will want a reaction…plz dont think im a psycho ;).”

Begolly was arrested on Jan­u­ary 4, 2011, and charged the next day with assault­ing FBI agents and pos­sess­ing a firearm dur­ing a crime of vio­lence. After two FBI agents approached Begolly, he allegedly reached for a con­cealed loaded gun in his jacket and bit both FBI offi­cers, draw­ing blood.

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