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George Curry

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Becoming the New Thurgood Marshall

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(NNPA) If you’re looking for the justice on the Supreme Court who mirrors Thurgood Marshall’s tenure on the bench, it is not Sonia Sotomayor, the “Wise Latina.” And it certainly isn’t Clarence Thomas. It is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

This became clear in the Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case. With Elena Kagan recusing herself, the court voted 7-1 to send the case back to court of appeals for additional review. The lone dissenter was Ginsburg.

“The University of Texas at Austin (University) … has steered clear of a quota system like the one struck down in Bakke, which excluded all nonminority candidates from competition for a fixed number of seats….” she said. “ Justice Powell’s majority opinion in Bakke “rules out a racial quota or set-aside, in which race is the sole fact of eligibility for certain places in a class.’ And, like so many educational institutions across the Nation, the University has taken care to follow the model approved by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger.”

In sending Fisher back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, the 7-1 majority emphasized that the lower court should apply a standard of strict scrutiny, meaning the University must prove that it has tried all available race-neutral approaches before allowing race to be considered a factor in admissions.

Ginsburg wrote in her dissent, “I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious.”

Continuing to address the issue of race directly, Ginsburg said, “I have several times explained why government actors, including state universities, need not be blind to the lingering effects of ‘an overtly discriminatory past,’ the legacy of ‘centuries of law-sanctioned inequality.’ Among constitutionally permissible options, I remain convinced, ‘those that candidly disclose their consideration of race [are] preferable to those that conceal it.’”

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Voting Rights Act challenge, Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion that was joined by Stephen G. Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. The conservative majority struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, effectively gutting one of the nation’s most effective tools to curb discrimination against Black voters.

“In the Court’s view, the very success of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy,” Ginsburg said. “Congress was of another mind. Recognizing that large progress has been made, Congress determined, based on a voluminous record, that the scourge of discrimination was not yet extirpated.”

She explained, “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies had been tried and failed. Particularly effective is the VRA’s requirement of federal preclearance for all changes to voting laws in the regions of the country with the most aggravated records of rank discrimination against minority voting rights.”

Quoting a 1966 decision in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, Ginsburg said, “A century after the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments guaranteed citizens the right to vote free of discrimination on the basis of race, the ‘blight of racial discrimination in voting’ continued to “infec[t] the electoral process in parts of our country.”

The Voting Rights Act directly addressed that infection, Ginsburg stated.

“Although the VRA wrought dramatic changes in the realization of minority voting rights, the Act, to date, surely has not eliminated all vestiges of discrimination against the exercise of the franchise by minority citizens,” she said. “Jurisdictions covered by the preclearance requirement continued to submit, in large numbers, proposed changes to voting laws that the Attorney General declined to approve, auguring that barriers to minority voting would quickly resurface were the preclearance remedy eliminated.”

Ginsburg noted, “After considering the full legislative record, Congress made the following findings: The VRA has directly caused significant progress in eliminating first-generation barriers to ballot access, leading to a marked increase in minority voter registration and turnout and the number of minority elected officials. But despite this progress, “second generation barriers constructed to prevent minority voters from fully participating in the electoral process” continued to exist, as well as racially polarized voting in the covered jurisdictions, which increased the political vulnerability of racial and language minorities in those jurisdictions.”

She noted that Congress, not the judiciary, should have the final say on voting matters.

“The Constitution uses the words ‘right to vote’ in five separate places: the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Sixth Amendments. Each of these Amendments contains the same broad empowerment of Congress to enact ‘appropriate legislation’ to enforce the protected right. The implication is unmistakable: Under our constitutional structure, Congress holds the lead rein in making the right to vote equally real for all U. S. citizens. These Amendments are in line with the special role assigned to Congress in protecting the integrity of the democratic process in federal elections.”

That’s language that would make Thurgood Marshall proud.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Affirmative Action Polls Show Deep Racial Gulf

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(NNPA) In the months leading up to this week’s Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, a public opinion poll by ABC News and the Washington Post showed that 76 percent of Americans oppose affirmative action in college admissions. However, a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 68 percent of Americans favor the principles behind affirmative action.

How do Americans really feel about affirmative action? The short answer is that it depends on how the question is asked.

The ABC/Washington Post question, asked June 5-9, was posed this way: “Overall, do you support or oppose allowing universities to consider applicants’ race as a factor in deciding which students to admit?”

Of those responding, 76 percent opposed, 22 percent voiced support and 2 percent were undecided.

Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted a poll May 15-19, phrased its question differently: “In order to make up for past discrimination, do you favor or oppose programs which make special efforts to help blacks and other minorities get ahead?”

More than two-thirds of the respondents – 68 percent – favored such efforts, 24 percent opposed, 6 percent were unsure and 2 percent provided other replies.

Note the wording of the questions. The ABC/Washington Post question provided no context for evaluating affirmative action admissions, only whether respondents support or oppose using race as a factor. On the other hand, the Public Religion Research Institute approach placed the issue within the context of “past discrimination” and using “special efforts” to help people of color get ahead.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted May 30-June 2, showed Americans evenly divided on the issue.

Respondents were asked to choose between two statements: A) Affirmative action programs are still needed to counteract the effects of discrimination against minorities, and are a good idea as long as there are no rigid quotas and B) Affirmative action programs have gone too far in favoring minorities, and should be ended because they unfairly discriminate against whites.

In that poll, 45 percent of the respondents said affirmative action programs are still needed to counteract the effects of discrimination against people of color. But the same margin – 45 percent – said they feel the programs have gone too far and should be ended because they unfairly discriminate against Whites.

A closer examination of the numbers show a deep racial divide. For example, 71 percent of African Americans strongly believe affirmative action programs are still needed, compared to only 20 percent of Whites and 39 percent of Hispanics. Another 11 percent of Blacks feel affirmative action should continue, but did not feel as strongly about it. Among Hispanics, 29 percent were in that category and 14 percent of Whites.

When supporters – strong and not as strong – are added together, 82 percent of African Americans want to retain affirmative action, compared to 68 percent of Hispanics and 34 percent of Whites.

When you add the two categories of those wanting to abolish affirmative action, a majority of Whites – 56 percent – support such a move, compared to 7 percent of African Americans and 24 percent of Hispanics.

A CNN/ORC poll, conducted June 11-13, asked the question: Do you approve or disapprove of affirmative action programs at college and law schools that give racial preferences to minority applicants?

The reference to “racial preferences” is a loaded term unlikely to elicit a favorable response. In this case, 68 percent of respondents said they disapprove of affirmative action as it was defined, 29 percent approved and 3 percent expressed no opinion.

Affirmative action should be viewed in light of overall racial attitudes in America.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, people of color and Whites have closely aligned views on whether Dr. King’s dream of equality has been fulfilled.

In the CNN/ORC poll conducted Jan. 14-15, respondents were asked: “Martin Luther King gave his famous ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ at a civil rights march in Washington in 1963. In your view, do you think the U.S. has fulfilled the vision King outlined in that speech, or don’t you think so?”

According to the poll, 51 percent of Whites in the U.S. believe Dr. King’s vision has been fulfilled; 49 percent of non-Whites subscribe to that view. Unfortunately, the poll does not separate the Black responses.

In an Aug. 4-7, 2011 USA/Gallup Poll, 55 percent of Black respondents said they believe relations between Blacks and Whites will always be a problem, compared to 44 percent for Whites, with 2 percent unsure.

That same poll showed how differently Blacks and Whites view the proper role of government.

When asked about the role government should play in trying to improve the social and economic position of Blacks and other people of color, 59 percent of Blacks said the government should play a major role, 32 percent said a minor role, 8 percent said no role and 1 percent was unsure. Among Whites, only 19 percent said the government should play a major role, 50 percent said a minor role, 30 percent said no role and 1 percent was unsure.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Blacks More Willing to Make Privacy Concessions

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(NNPA) Although the federal government secretly spied on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders in the past, Blacks are more willing than Whites to have their privacy rights invaded if it will help investigate possible terrorists.

A recent joint poll by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post showed that a majority of Americans support the National Security Agency’s tracking of telephone and Internet records of millions of Americans in an effort to make them safe from terrorists.

According to the poll, 56 percent of Americans support the NSA obtaining special court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism. Forty-one percent found the practice unacceptable and 2 percent were undecided.

However, on several key security issues, Blacks were more accepting of government intrusion than Whites.

For example, pollsters asked this question: What do you think is more important right now – (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?

When you drill down to the race of registered voters who were interviewed, there were significant racial differences. Of Whites polled, 60 percent said yes, the government should be able to monitor everyone’s email and online activities; 36 percent objected. Among all people of color, 67 percent said yes and 30 percent said no. But among registered African American voters, 75 percent – 15 percent more than Whites – replied that such invasions were fine with them while 23 percent objected.

Respondents were also asked: As you may know, it has been reported that the National Security Agency has been getting secret court orders to track telephone call records of MILLIONS of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism. Would you consider this access to telephone call records an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism?

Overall, 56 percent of Americans said the NSA action was acceptable and 41 percent said it was unacceptable. A bare majority of Whites – 53 percent – found such activity acceptable, compared to 44 percent who considered it unacceptable. Among African-American voters, 62 percent found the practice acceptable and 37 percent found it unacceptable.

A similar divide appeared when respondents were asked: Do you think the U.S. government should be able to monitor everyone’s email and other online activities if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks?

Fifty-five percent of Black voters said yes and 44 percent said no. Among Whites, the numbers were flipped. Only 42 percent said yes and 55 percent said no.

Amazingly, Blacks are more trusting of the federal government even considering its past abuses.

As I mentioned in a column last year: “From 1956 to 1971, the FBI operated a program called COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program. Initially established to spy on organizations suspected of communist ties, the program was expanded by J. Edgar Hoover to include the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Lawyers Guild and other left-leaning groups.

“A congressional committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, issued a report that concluded, ‘Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that…the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas protect the national security and deter violence.’”

The goal of COINTELPRO was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” organizations that the FBI deemed “subversive.” The FBI harassed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. until his final days.

Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover and with the approval of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the FBI wiretapped King’s home and office telephones, decided not to tell King of credible threats on his life, taped what the FBI claimed were illicit sexual activities and mailed them to Dr. King’s wife.

And perhaps in its most disgusting move, as David Garrow recounts in Bearing the Cross, a Pulitzer-Prize winning book about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, the FBI tried to get the civil rights leader to commit suicide.

An anonymous letter and copy of taped sex recordings were mailed to King at his SCLC office in Atlanta. The letter said, “There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

If anyone has reason to distrust the federal government’s monitoring of its citizens, it’s African Americans. Yet, we continue to hope against hope, placing our trust in people and institutions that have sought to destroy us.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

The Jury is out on Obama’s Fight to Confirm Judges

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(NNPA) The next major showdown in Washington may not be over how best to reduce the deficit or involve another Obama cabinet appointment. Look for sparks to fly over the president’s constitutional prerogative to nominee federal judges and the Senate’s responsibility to either confirm or reject those nominees.

The latest manifestation of this is President Obama’s decision to fill three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a frequent stepping stone to the Supreme Court. The president said he is merely fulfilling his constitutional responsibility as president, but Republicans are accusing him of “packing the court.”

Clearly, the courts are anything but packed. In fact, more than 10 percent of all judgeships are unfilled. There are 87 vacancies, up from the 55 when Obama first took office.

To fully appreciate the significance of this standoff, it is important to remember that in their effort to radically shift the nation to the right over the past two decades, Republicans have gone all out to control the federal judiciary by placing young, arch conservatives on the bench.

According to a March 5 report by the Alliance for Justice titled, “The State of the Judiciary: Judicial Selection At the Beginning of President Obama’s Second Term,” Republican appointees still control the federal judiciary.

However, the study found, “Since the end of the Bush Administration, the percentage of Republican-appointed circuit judges dropped from 61.3% to 51.2%, and the percentage of Republican-appointed district court judges dropped from 58.6% to 53.6%.”

Political affiliation isn’t the only thing that is changing.

“President Obama’s nominees have been the most diverse in terms of race and gender in American history,” according to the report. “Forty-one percent of his appointees have been women and 36% have been people of color, a far higher percentage than any of his predecessors.”

Bill Clinton had the second-best record, with 29 percent of his appointees women and 24 percent people of color.

Obama’s record would have been even more impressive had he made nominations at the same pace of his immediate predecessors.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on May 2, titled, “President Obama’s First Term U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: An Analysis and Comparison with Presidents Since Reagan.”

It noted, “President Obama is the only one of the five most recent Presidents for whom, during his first term, both the average and median waiting time from nomination to confirmation for circuit and district court nominees was greater than half a calendar year (i.e., more than 182 days).”

There is plenty of blame to go around for such a slow confirmation pace, beginning with Obama.

“… Of the 81 circuit or district court vacancies that existed at the end of President Obama’s first term, 50 (or 61.7%) were vacancies for which, as of January 19, 2013, the President had not selected a nominee,” the CRS study found.

And even when Obama did submit names, the study found, his confirmation rate was lower than most of his immediate predecessors.

“Among the first five Presidents during their first terms… President G.H.W. Bush had the greatest number of circuit court nominees confirmed, 42. President Reagan had the greatest percentage of circuit nominees confirmed during his first term (86.8%). In contrast, President Obama had the second-lowest percentage of circuit court nominees confirmed (71.4%) and is tied with President Clinton for having the lowest number of circuit nominees confirmed, 30.”

There was a similar pattern with district court nominees, with Obama having the second-lowest number and percentage confirmed.

Although Obama has done an impressive job appointing nominees who reflect racial and gender diversity, he has not done as well with professional diversity, according to the report by the Alliance for Justice. While Obama has appointed 99 ex-prosecutors, he has nominated only 33 former public defenders and 16 former academics.

Á professionally diverse judiciary better reflects the range of legal and societal experiences that judges bring to the bench,” the report observed. “A judiciary heavily slanted toward former corporate attorneys and prosecutors lack the perspective of lawyers who have represented clients in criminal defense, consumer and environmental protection, personal injury, and other public interest fields.”

Unlike Republicans, Obama has tended to nominate older candidates to the bench, averaging 51.3 years old. That’s typically 2-5 years older than Republican appointees. And that could come back to haunt Democrats in the future.

“Because federal judicial appointments are for life, Republican presidents have repeatedly nominated people under 50 to circuit court seats, and in fact have placed a premium on selecting

Young nominees,” the Alliance for Justice study stated. “As for district court seats, President Reagan nominated over 30 people under 40 years old to the district court bench, while President Obama has nominated only 5.

“Since young district court appointees are often prime candidates for subsequent elevation to the circuit courts, both President Obama and future Democratic presidents may have relatively few of these potential nominees to consider going forward.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Cavemen Keep Sexism Alive

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(NNPA) Women serve in almost every high-powered job in the United States: CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Senators, university presidents, race car drivers and even astronauts. Yet, there are some male bozos who think women should be treated as inferior beings.

Conservative blogger and Fox contributor Erick Erickson is the latest man to come out of his cave.

After the publication of a Pew study that found that women are the primary or sole source of income in 40 percent of all American households that have minor children, Lou Dobbs had the poor judgment to assemble an all-male panel May 29 for “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss the report.

LOU DOBBS: Erick, your thoughts on this study and what it portends?

ERICKSON: Lou, I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But this is — liberals who defend this and say it’s not a bad thing are very anti-science.

When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it’s tearing us apart.

And what I find interesting in the survey is that three-quarters of the people surveyed recognize that having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage, and reality shows us that’s the truth.

After pushback from a lot of women, many of them conservative, Erickson tried to clean up his remarks the next day on his radio show, but only made matters worse.

It is a fact that children in a two parent, heterosexual household tend to have a more stable upbringing and a better chance of success than those of single parents or gay parents. This is a fact. This is not to insult gay parents. This is not to insult single parents. It’s just a fact. And the, of the subset of children who are raised in a two-parent, nuclear, heterosexual household, children where the father is the one who is the leader of the family, or the breadwinner of the family, however you want to say it, tend to out-perform those where the mother is the primary provider of the family outside of the home. Those are the facts. All I have done is pointed them out.

… And I understand that some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem. I have to tell you, as a man, where women are told that men have so many more advantages in society, we can’t have it all. Women, you can’t have it all either. Life is a series of compromises and choices.

“America Live” anchor Megyn Kelly challenged her Fox News colleague.

KELLY: So I’ll start with you, Erick. What makes you dominant and me submissive, and who died and made you scientist-in-chief?

ERIKSON: …This isn’t healthy for society when we think that roles of gender are completely — can be interchangeable. No one’s saying women can’t be or shouldn’t be a breadwinner or even the primary breadwinner. It’s just that when we forced ourselves to this point in society where they have to be, that’s not a good, healthy thing for society.

Other women Fox contributors also weighed in.

“I’m sincerely confused as to why you used behavior of animals to suggest that women shld stay at home,” Fox political analyst Krisen Powers tweeted.

Katie Pavlich wrote on her Twitter account, “Not offended by idea of a strong male leading the household, offended he implied women aren’t capable of doing so.”

MediaMatters, the press watchdog group, noted, “What the study highlighted, and what Erickson and his fellow Fox News commentators ignored, is the persistent class divide among mothers. According to the data, married mothers who earned more than their husbands were ‘disproportionally white and college educated.’ The single mothers, on the other hand, were ‘more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.’ They also made significantly less: single mothers in the study had a median income of $23,000, about a quarter of the median income of couples with a female primary earner. If those single mothers were never married, their median income dropped to $17,400, hovering near the poverty threshold.

“Furthermore, though more women may be ‘breadwinners,’ women still earn significantly less than men. The report showed that 75 percent of husbands still make more than their wives. In fact, women’s wages decreased in 2012, causing the gender-wage gap to widen with women earning only 80.9 percent of what men earned, or about $163 dollars less per week.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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