More on NC Voter ID

If you really want to understand anything on voting law, Rick Hasen’s blog is definitely the place to go.   (It was a great thrill for me to bring him to NC State as a guest speaker a few years ago).  Here’s his incredibly thorough discussion of the NC Voter ID decision.  I found this third point most interesting:

3.  Now what is meant by racially discriminatory intent? In the 5th Circuit case, it seems the court there said that acting with knowledge of effects on minority voters is just as bad as acting with that purpose. (See my analysis of the 5th Circuit opinion here.) The 4th Circuit offered a similar, though not identical, analysis: “But intentionally targeting a particular race’s access to the franchise because its members vote for a particular party, in a predictable manner, constitutes discriminatory purpose. This is so even absent any evidence of race-based hatred and despite the obvious political dynamics.” And later there is this key part: “Our conclusion does not mean, and we do not suggest, that any member of the General Assembly harbored racial hatred or animosity toward any minority group. But the totality of the circumstances — North Carolina’s history of voting discrimination; the surge in African American voting; the legislature’s knowledge that African Americans voting translated into support for one party; and the swift elimination of the tools African Americans had used to vote and imposition of a new barrier at the first opportunity to do so — cumulatively and unmistakably reveal that the General Assembly used SL 2013-381 to entrench itself. It did so by targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination.” [emphasis mine]

Yep. Key point.  Even if this was not enacted out of racial animus (it wasn’t), that does not mean it is not racially discriminatory in an unconstitutional manner.

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If you want to follow Trump’s tweets, we have twitter for that

An article in the Washington Post on-line links a bunch of Trump tweets from this morning criticizing Hillary’s speech last night.  He didn’t say anything new or newsworthy.  His criticisms were (not at all surprisingly) actually pretty small-minded and pathetic.  I mean, seriously, it’s of the “this is the best he can do?” variety.  Sad.  But what strikes me is that the front page of the Washington Post on-line is serving as a conduit for an entirely non-newsworthy tweetstorm.  This is not what our major journalistic organizations are for.  If you want Trump’s tweets, by all means, follow him on twitter.  It is not the job of the Post or any other organization to promote his typically inane tweets by pretending that they are a news story.

NC Voter ID goes down

Wow.  So, this is big.  Now I don’t have to take my drivers license with me to the polls (actually, I’m in the habit of not doing so as we usually take a family walk to our polling place and I don’t usually carry my wallet then).  Anyway, seems to me the 4th Circuit Opinion got this just right.  I’m sure I’ll have more to post on this, but for now, here’s some key parts nicely highlighted by the N&O:

 The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina’s 2013 elections law that included a provision requiring voters to show ID at the polls.

The three-judge panel found that the law was adopted with “discriminatory intent.” The case was sent back to U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, who in April issued a 485-page ruling dismissing all claims in the challenge to the state’s sweeping elections law overhaul.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the [original district] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” the ruling states. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”… [emphases mine]

Challengers of the elections law overhaul shepherded through the Republican-led General Assembly in 2013 and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory quickly lauded the ruling.

Many echoed a line from the 83-page ruling that bats back contentions by advocates of the law, who claimed IDs were needed at the polls to prevent voter fraud.

“Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inept remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist,” the 4th Circuit judges wrote…

The 4th Circuit ruling is the third voting rights decision to be issued during the past two weeks.

The first decision was in Wisconsin, where a federal district judge found the state’s ID law too restrictive.

Then the full 5th Circuit appeals court found that Texas’s voter ID law violated the Voting Rights Act and opened the door for putting the state under federal supervision again.

“We applaud the appeals court for recognizing the discriminatory intent behind the monster voter suppression law,” Bob Hall, director of Democracy NC, a voting rights organization, said in a statement about the N.C. case. “The ruling makes clear that the North Carolina General Assembly cherry-picked the law to suppress African American and young voters because of the 2008 election. Today’s ruling begins to right that wrong.”

Photo of the day

From a NYT gallery:

A Syrian played Pokémon Go in the rubble of Douma, which has been the target of numerous government airstrikes. 

Sameer Al-Doumy/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Trump’s taxes

James Fallows on how the Russia imbroglio makes the issue with Trump withholding his taxes even more important:

These new developments underscore the importance of an old, familiar point: now, more than ever, Donald Trump must release his tax returns. To put it differently, the press should no longer “normalize” his stonewalling on this issue.

As another veteran figure in the defense world and political affairs wrote to me this morning:

In normal times, this [the Russian hacking] would be the lead on all network news. But these are not normal times.

I am having trouble getting through to some people that this is a real thing. The very people who always say “follow the money” with regard to the Pentagon [or other boondoggle bureaucracies] don’t see that (a) Trump has been kept afloat for about 15 years by Russian oligarchs; and (b) Russia has a powerful incentive to see a US president who will end economic sanctions.

So Donald Trump should release his tax returns because in modern times that is the basic price-of-entry in national politics. (Along with a plausible — rather thanPyongyang Daily News-style — medical report.) He should do it whether or not Vladimir Putin ever existed or there was any Russian hack. That would be true in any candidate’s case, but especially this one. George Will has come out and saidthat Trump should release his returns because of questions about his ties to “Russian oligarchs.”

With 100-plus days until the election, a nominee about whom there are graver-than-usual financial questions is saying that, unlike previous candidates, he won’t make his finances public.

Matt Yglesias with a really nice piece on all the reasons Trump may have for not wanting to release them.  I honestly believe that it is this last reason:

Trump isn’t that rich

Back before American politics became a remake of The Dead Zone, it was common to speculate that a desire to avoid real financial disclosure was a key reason why Trump would give up the publicity stunt soon enough. In July 2015, for example, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins wrote that “the ‘financial disclosure’ Trump released this week — declaring $9 billion in assets — more closely resembles a dream board than a set of official financial documents. If he actually discloses his tax returns like a credible, real-life candidate, he risks revealing a messier and more modest personal fortune.”

This is probably the most important one. Trump is clearly a rich man, but he was born rich, so whether his wealth reflects actual business skill hinges crucially on how rich he actually is.

Exactly.  And if Trump is shown to be worth far less than he pretends, that does a lot to pop the bubble of Trump’s persona as a super-successful businessman who really knows what he’s doing (of course, that bubble is fully popped for those actually paying attention, but showing him to be worth far less than he pretends is something that would have much broader resonance).

And Ron Fournier makes the case for how the media could use its leverage to get Trump to release them:

The media is nothing if it can’t hold a presidential candidates accountable—if newsrooms and editorialists can’t force a White House aspirant to keep a promise, uphold precedent, and address suspicions that he’s a tool of Moscow.

Journalism is a joke if we let Donald Trump slide.

And so I have an idea for CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and the three broadcast networks:

Stop interviewing Trump, and stop paying his surrogates, until he releases his tax records…

A TV embargo would starve Trump’s ego, feed his vast insecurities, and rob him of the biggest crutch in his campaign—free media.

It would bend him to the public’s will.

This modest proposal is part of a broader pitch I’ve been making to journalists to“flip the script.” In the White House press corps, especially, I wrote, “journalists are ceding control when they should be seizing it, accepting canned news rather than breaking it.”

The destruction of journalism’s 20th-century business model, the rise of social media, and the professionalism of politics has eroded accountability journalism. There is less traction for the traditional ways of ferreting out wrongdoing, mobilizing public outrage, and forcing change.

So journalism must adapt.

Trump dodges questions about his tax returns. He ignores editorials demanding transparency. He laughs off suggestions that he’s got something to hide.

So political journalism must adapt.

Here’s the thing.  The media won’t really push on this until Democrats do and now, they really just aren’t pushing it that hard.  My intuition is that something in Trump’s tax returns truly will damage his reputation and cause substantial negative media coverage.  If that’s so, such revelations and coverage would be significantly more damaging in the heat of the fall campaign in August or September.  So, strategically speaking, maybe Democrats are just waiting to push on this.  For example, John Kerry was presumably vulnerable on the “Swift Boat” issue all along, but it wasn’t until August 2004 (if I’m recalling correctly) that the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads hit the airwaves and blew up the campaign.

If the Democratic Party, SuperPAC’s, etc., run ads and keep pushing the issue, the media will push on it, too, (though, presumably not to the degree Fournier suggests– though they should).  I’m also reminded how way back in 1992 Clinton supporters kept showing up at GHWB events in chicken suits to draw attention to Bush’s unwillingness to debate Clinton.  That was media catnip, and Bush eventually gave in and agreed to three debates (which sure didn’t help him).  So, protesters showing up as human tax returns (or something better, but irresistible to TV news) could help put Trump’s taxes front and center.  Now, maybe, there’s really nothing there.  But when you consider that every modern candidate has released tax returns without a fuss, I’d say it’s a good bet that Trump genuinely has something damaging to hide.

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