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    ‘Supreme Court’



    McCutcheon Who?

    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014


    McCutcheon who? FEC what? What’s this all about?

    You can take my word on it: it’s a pretty big deal. We were hoping our friends on the Supreme Court bench would stick to their democratic principles and rule against McCutcheon. But they didn’t. And the consequences of the decision could fundamentally change the way elections work in our country.

    So who exactly is McCutcheon?

    McCutcheon is basically your run-of-the-mill Rich Uncle Pennybags. He’s a conservative businessman from Alabama who likes to donate thousands of dollars to political candidates. But he was a little sore after the last election when federal authorities told him he couldn’t donate more than the legal limit, which is set at $123,200.

    I know, bummer right? I can definitely relate. NOT!

    These limits, by the way, exist because of a rule in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, which aimed to limit corruption in the wake of the Watergate Scandal. In democracy-speak, that’s a good thing. It keeps our leaders honest (somewhat).

    So Mr. McCutcheon decided to take his case to the Supreme Court to overturn these limits. The case went to trial last October and we’ve been waiting since then for news on the Court’s decision.

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in a 5-4 vote to overturn the legal limits on campaign donations. This is a victory for Mr. McCutcheon and a loss for democracy.

    What does this decision mean for young people in America? Actually, quite a lot:
    • Rich people can give more money to help influence the outcome of elections. The wealthiest 1% now has even more power than before to throw money around and influence election outcomes. Is that fair?
    • Those of us (ahem, young people) who don’t have a ton of money will now have an even harder time getting our voice heard. With the youth unemployment rate hovering around 16%, there are few young people who could even come close to the existing donation limit.

    So what can we do about it?

    The Supreme Court overturned the limits because it believes that donating money to a political candidate is an expression of free speech. But if that’s the case, and money really does equal free speech, then doesn’t that suggest that people with more money have more freedom? I don’t know about you, but that sure doesn’t sound like democracy.

    If we stay informed, register to vote, and show up on Election Day, we can reclaim our inalienable right to participate in our democracy and influence our elected leaders. The power shifts to us.

    You with me? Visit www.rockthevote.com and register to vote today.

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

    The SCOTUS comes to a decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case; a powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile; Muriel Bowser defeats incumbent in DC mayoral primary; and bombings hit Cairo University in Egypt. Meanwhile, the Broadway cast of The Lion King does an epic rendition of the “Circle of Life” in an unexpected place; Michael Strahan shares some big news with the TV world; and Anna Kendrick preps for her SNL appearance.

    -Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    DEVELOPING STORY: Justices strike down political donor limits: http://rtvote.com/1dN6htc
    The Supreme Court of the United States has determined the outcome of the McCutcheon v. FEC case.  With a vote of 5-4, individuals are no longer faced with a limit on how much they can donate to political campaigns. The winning argument determined that individual donor limits and regulations violated the First Amendment rights of the donor.

    Powerful earthquake strikes off Chile, triggers tsunami: http://rtvote.com/1pL0c20
    A massive, 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck directly off the coast of Chile on Tuesday. Fortunately, damage was minimal; landslides wiped out roads in some places and phone and power lines were also knocked out. Tsunami warnings were also in effect as tsunamis hit at various beaches, generating 6 to 7 foot waves. Five people died: two had heart attacks while the others were crushed by debris. People fled to higher ground as soon as the quake was felt, creating some traffic jams. Some are still without any source of power or phones, not knowing if they are able to return to their homes. There is no danger for the United States coastline.

    Muriel Bowser defeats Gray in DC mayoral primary: http://rtvote.com/1hhuFO7
    DC Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray in yesterday’s mayoral primary. Gray had been hit with scandals and a federal investigation relating to potential monetary felonies that helped him get elected in 2010. The Democratic primary winner has won every official election in Washington because 75% of registered voters in the district are Democrats; however, the Republican challenger, David Catania, is a definite contender. Despite Bowser’s win, many voters were discouraged with the candidates running and the election experienced a low voter turnout.

    Regulators did not properly track complaints on GM switches, inspector general says: http://rtvote.com/1oqcDTM
    According to the Department of Transportation’s inspector general Calvin L. Scovel III, “federal auto safety regulators lacked effective procedures for tracking consumer complaints” about the flaw in the ignition: the issue that has spurred the recall and resulted in thirteen deaths. General Motors’ Chief Executive, Mary T. Barra, says she was unaware of the issue until this year and did not answer questions relating to GM’s failure to fix the flaw. GM has recalled 2.6 million Chevy Cobalts deemed at risk for the ignition switch flaw. According to lawmakers, the ignition switch problem could have been solved by GM for a cost of .57 cents per vehicle.

    Bombings rock area near Cairo University: http://rtvote.com/1mKyRhw
    Two bombs planted outside of Cairo University in Egypt exploded, killing an Egyptian police officer and wounding five other security officers. Violence like this has been prevalent since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi last year, and is expected to escalate as Election Day grows closer. The current Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is expected to win with almost no contest, as the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party behind Morsi, and Egypt’s most organized party, have been banned. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack, although people speculate that Islamic militants are responsible. 

    CULTURAL

    The Lion King Broadway cast gives an impromptu performance: watch the awesome video! http://rtvote.com/1ft6eRL

    Anna Kendrick’s SNL promos are a thing of beauty & hilarity: http://rtvote.com/1mKFekZ  

    Michael Strahan has some big news: http://rtvote.com/1pQYSc5

    Miley Cyrus grieving over dog’s death: http://rtvote.com/1go46Xp

    Two people debate the How I Met Your Mother finale: http://rtvote.com/1oqkwbV

    Veronica Barger
    Bio: Veronica is currently studying communications, law, economics, and government at American University in Washington, DC. Originally from New Jersey, she has held an interest in politics since the 2008 presidential election. Being a newly registered voter, she understands how important it is for young people to register to vote and have their voices heard. She looks to spread that message with Rock the Vote.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    The Unsupervised Classroom: Why Changes to the VRA Opened a Can of Worms

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    I’ve got good news and bad news…and for the sake of ending on a good note, I’ll start with the bad:

    In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court reviewed and phased out section 4b of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). (You can read section 4b of the VRA of 1965 here.)

    If all of this doesn’t seem like a big deal, think again. Say “Goodbye,” to Federal Preclearance and brace yourself for the wrath of States Rights.
    Imagine a classroom full of 5th graders. Now, imagine the teacher leaving the classroom unattended for a few minutes. We’ve all experienced it, the classroom becomes a free-for-all: some kids stand on chairs, some throw paper balls, and others take out snacks to sneak a munch or three. Let’s not apply this analogy too strictly, but in a way, when the Supreme Court eliminated section 4b of the VRA, some states took on the persona of an unsupervised 5th grader. In this situation we have 3 students: Arizona, Kansas and Texas.

    Student One: Arizona. Here, it is now required that citizens submit “sufficient” proof of citizenship in order to vote in the upcoming election. (A list of acceptable documentation for proof of citizenship is here.)

    What does this mean? Voters who register with the federal form, and those who have recently moved (since they will have to register in a new county) will be excluded from voting in the upcoming state/local level elections (Governor, Attorney General, etc…) unless they provide additional/affirmed documentation of citizenship.

    *cough* SHOW ME YOUR FREEDOM PAPERS! *cough* Excuse me.

    Student Two: Kansas, where a similar approach has been taken on, first time voters are being prompted to provide proof of citizenship, in addition to fulfilling the requirements on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) federal form.

    What does this mean? New registrants cannot vote in federal elections unless they provide proof of citizenship. In the event that the new voter sends in the NVRA form only, he/she will be placed on a “suspense list” and will not be permitted to vote until providing proof of citizenship.

    Student Three (my personal favorite): Gool Ol’ Texas, which is prompting voters to provide a photo ID when voting in person.

    What does this mean? Texas voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections. (Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID.) Seems fair enough, but what makes this law particularly tricky is that it disproportionately affects minority voters.

    Since elimination of section 4b interferes with enforcement of section 5, lets just say that the Supreme Court opened a figurative can of worms. And while there is nothing wrong with States’ rights, lest we forget, in the past they have been used to justify some more than questionable policies—such as Jim Crow and discriminatory marriage laws.

    Now here’s the good news:

    It’s up to us as to combat voter disenfranchisement. We can pressure our lawmakers by informing, educating, uniting, writing letters, emails, making phone calls and most of all voting. While we may not have the same views, it is our responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard.

    “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” – Justice Ginsburg

    I have a feeling this is the start of what will be an…interesting few years for voter rights in the upcoming elections. Be sure to stay tuned to Rock the Vote for updates and followups on the VRA and state voter legislation.

    And remember…don’t ditch your water repellant gear just yet, it’s still raining out there.

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: November 26, 2013

    Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

    The Supreme Court will hear Hobby Lobby’s case that challenges Obamacare’s birth control coverage requirement; Hollywood partakes in animal cruelty; and the CIA has turned Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents. Meanwhile, Seth Rogen and James Franco make a painfully funny spoof of Kim and Kanye’s “Bound 2” video, and Kendall Jenner puts some Harry Styles rumors to rest.

    -Sandy + Maura

     

    CRUCIAL

    Supreme Court to take up Obamacare contraception casehttp://rtvote.com/1aVZJTO
    The Supreme Court has accepted an Obamacare law appeal over contraception coverage. The court justices will review provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers of a certain size to offer insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. The issue of focus is whether private companies and non-profits can refuse this, based on the claim that it violates their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby, Inc. is one of the plaintiffs.

    ‘Pretty Woman’ producer says he was Israeli spyhttp://rtvote.com/1bl239I
    The Israeli-born producer behind Hollywood hits, like Pretty WomanFight Club, and L.A. Confidential, has revealed that he used to serve as an Israeli spy for years. Arnon Milchan said he helped buy technologies and arms on Israel’s behalf to operate nuclear bombs. The producer also said other big Hollywood names were connected to his covert affairs.

    Sandy Hook killer took motive to his gravehttp://rtvote.com/194lkGA
    Connecticut authorities have released a 44-page summary of their investigation on Adam Lanza – the shooter behind Newton’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza’s motive behind the atrocious crime remains a mystery, and he gave “no clear indication” that he planned the Sandy Hook killings. Lanza’s mental illness, reclusion, and obsession with school shootings are detailed in the report.

    Animals Were Harmed: Hollywood’s Nightmare of Death, Injury, and Secrecy Exposed,http://rtvote.com/1exhrP2
    Too many Hollywood films and television shows, including Life of PiThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, HBO’sLuck, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (the list goes on), have caused the brutal injuries and deaths of animals on set. The “No Animals Were Harmed” trademark accreditation in the ending credits means nothing anymore. It’s time to own up to animal cruelty, Hollywood… and it’s time for us to stop it.

    Penny Lane: Gitmo’s other secret CIA facilityhttp://rtvote.com/1hfZdVQ
    After 9/11, the CIA made double agents out of some Guantanamo Bay prisoners. They trained them and sent them home to help the U.S. kill former and current terrorists. The prisoners/double agents were promised freedom, the safety of their families, and some very hefty bags of money from the CIA’s secret accounts. The program was carried out in a secret facility, nicknamed Penny Lane, located yards away from the Guantanamo Bay prison. This has some heavy-duty controversy written all over it.

     

    CULTURAL

    Kim Kardashian Thinks Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “Bound 2” Parody Is…, http://rtvote.com/17QURPH

    Demi Lovato: “I Would Rather Sacrifice My Privacy to Help People,” http://rtvote.com/1bSyasn

    Kendall Jenner Breaks Her Silence About Harry Styles Dating Rumors: “We’re Friends,” http://rtvote.com/Il8pd3

    Kristen Bell Had to Make “Pretend Love” to Her Best Friend’s Husband Hours After Getting Married,http://rtvote.com/Il97Hu

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: October 30, 2013

    Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

    HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologizes at a hearing; retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiates a gay marriage ceremony; and a wine shortage hits the world (oh, say it ain’t so). Meanwhile, Chris Brown returns to rehab, and Ashton Kutcher expands his ever-growing resumé with Lenovo.

    -Sandy + Maura
     

    CRUCIAL

    Health chief Sebelius apologizes for botched websitehttp://rtvote.com/1gciabr
    At today’s hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, formally apologized for the technical problems Healthcare.gov has been experiencing. More Republicans are calling for her resignation, and the panel intensely scrutinized Sebelius and the sub par performance of the healthcare website. The Obama administration has vowed to fix these issues by the end of November.

    After Retired Justice O’Connor Performs Their Wedding, Gay Couple Celebrates “Wonderful Day”,http://rtvote.com/1gcl146
    Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiated the wedding of Jeff Trammell and Stuart Serkin. She is the second official of the High Court to have officiated a gay marriage ceremony; the first was current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Once considered a conservative justice, O’Connor was nominated to the bench by President Reagan and retired in 2006.

    Thirsty? There’s a global wine shortagehttp://rtvote.com/1h0vXmS
    Brace yourselves. There’s a wine shortage in the world. Global production fell by more than 5% last year, the lowest it’s been since the 1960s, while demand continues to increase. The main cause for the decrease in production was bad weather in France and Argentina. The French consume the most wine, followed by Americans and then the Chinese. Although the U.S. wine making industry is growing, don’t expect global wine production to improve anytime soon.

    Brazilian Footballer’s Decapitated Head Reportedly Sent to Wife by Drug Lordshttp://rtvote.com/1gcpnZ6
    Former pro Brazilian soccer player Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos was kidnapped and decapitated by suspected drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro. His head was sent to his wife’s residence on the morning of October 29. Police are unsure why Santos was targeted. Brazilian soccer is often linked to gang activity.

    Baylor students seek to remove gay ban from student codehttp://rtvote.com/1h0AMfN
    The student senate of Baylor University, a private Baptist school, voted to propose that university officials remove “homosexual acts” from the school’s sexual misconduct code. The proposal will go on to the Baylor University Board of Regents for review. Seems like a win for progress and equality? Not quite. One Baylor student says this rewording does not mean they are advocating homosexuality; they are simply not pinpointing homosexuals anymore: “It is saying homosexual acts are wrong but heterosexual acts committed outside of marriage are also wrong.”
     

    PUNDITS

    Joanne Bamberger discusses how certain voting models are compromising the rights of married or divorced women in “Voter ID laws threaten women’s rights,” http://rtvote.com/1gcv2hO

    Sally Kohn explains why losing your current healthcare plan under Obamacare is not something to cry over in “A canceled health plan is a good thing,” http://rtvote.com/1f482P4

     
    CULTURAL

    Chris Brown Kisses Karrueche Tran Before Heading to Rehab, http://rtvote.com/1f48cWG

    Kristin Cavallari Pregnant with Baby No. 2, http://rtvote.com/1h0PUtI

    Former Full House Child Star Blake McIver Now a Sexy Go-Go Dancer, http://rtvote.com/1h0Qec0

    Ashton Kutcher Hired as a Product Engineer to Help Design Tablets for Lenovo, http://rtvote.com/1f48Lj7

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com