Last week in the news (6/23-6/30)

This was an awesome week in news. The good, the bad, and the unbelievable (I’m looking at you, Texas Republicans). This weekly post is late because well…I was hungover yesterday from my husband’s 40th birthday debauchery party. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up writing about this crazy week. It was historic.

The Supreme Court overturned a key part of the Voting Rights Act, which required certain areas to have federal approval before changing their election laws.  This doesn’t sound that sexy, but it will now allow those areas (mostly in the south) to pass potentially discriminatory laws that will affect voter turnout of minorities. Now, for example, those areas can impose such things as literacy tests, or ID requirements and other documentation that would act as a poll tax.

Texas’ Attorney General was evidently sitting on the edge of his seat, waiting for the above ruling, because he could not wait to take full advantage. Clearly, times have changed and we are a post-racial society. Nothing to see here…

By the way, SCOTUS’ ruling on the Voting Rights Act also addressed redistricting that would affect minorities. More on that in a minute.

They also ruled on the 5th amendment, another 5-4 split, stating that you don’t in fact have the right to remain silent, at least not without it being used against you in a court of law. You have to specifically invoke your right to be protected.

That was Tuesday. SCOTUS woke up on the other side of the bed on Wednesday.

Again voting 5-4, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. Now same-sex marriages that are legal  in several states will be recognized by the federal government, making available all federal benefits to married same-sex couples.  Edie Windsor, the woman who brought this suit to the supreme court will also finally get the $300+k from her partner’s estate that the IRS took, you know, because she had no rights to her same sex spouse’s estate when she died. Good for her.

The above ruling totally overshadowed the announcement that they also struck down Proposition 8.   California can now recommence with same-sex marriages.

Wendy Davis, a state Senator from Texas, filibustered the state senate for 13 hours to prevent passage of anti-abortion legislation before the session ended.  This legislation would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks (note: most anatomical ultrasounds where you would discover major problems, fetal anomalies, even non-life sustaining disorders happen at 20 weeks). It would also place further restrictions on current clinics, that would effectively reduce the number of abortion clinics to 5 in the whole state of Texas.  Anyway, after about 10 hours of filibustering, she was cut short for supposedly going off-topic. Others picked up where she left off and managed to push through the end of the evening, ending the session without a vote. Until observers were kicked out and they went ahead and voted anyway….and then tried to change the timestamp on the senate record to read before midnight.  You can’t make this stuff up!

But don’t worry. Texas Governor Rick Perry has stated that he “values all life.” I’m not sure if that quote was before or after Texas performed their 500th execution this week.

Funny enough, Wendy Davis probably would not have won re-election if it weren’t for the section of the Voting Rights Act that SCOTUS just killed.


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