While Democrats seize their razor-thin majority in both houses of Congress with legislation designed to improve average Americans’ lives, states with Republican majorities are going full authoritarian on voting rights and people’s First Amendment right to peaceable assemble to redress their grievances.
Their naked perfidy was on full display this week in Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to strip election control from local and county election boards in order to impose new voter ID requirements, limit mail-in ballot drop boxes, reject ballots delivered erroneously to incorrect precincts, permit conservative activists to challenge voters’ eligibility, and even criminalize distributing pizza and water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.
“This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country, is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience. Recount after recount and court case after court case upheld the integrity and outcome of a clearly free, fair, and secure democratic process. Yet instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote. It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act.”
He warned Republicans, “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.“
Joe Biden has released a fiery statement condemning the Georgia law restricting voting access.
"This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act." pic.twitter.com/JnjVicaDZV
— Joan Greve (@joanegreve) March 26, 2021
If we’re looking for more evidence of the bill’s racism and the racism implicit in the semi-private, “whites-only” signing ceremony, Georgia state troopers arrested and dragged through the state Capitol state Rep. Park Cannon for “obstructing law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and disrupting the general assembly” after she knocked on Gov. Kemp’s door as he signed the voting restrictions into law.
I stand with Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon (@Cannonfor58), who was arrested and CHARGED WITH A FELONY for … for what?
For *knocking on Gov. Kemp’s office door* as she tried to observe the cowardly closed-door signing ceremony for the voter suppression law. pic.twitter.com/hpp6ZQxo2r
— Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) March 26, 2021
Cannon’s colleague, Democratic state Representative Erica Thomas, who witnessed Cannon’s arrest, said:
“But you’re going to tell me that you arrested a sitting state representative for nothing? She didn’t do anything but knock on the governor’s door. I’m done! I’m so done! I’m so done! Protect and serve who?”
The New Georgia Project, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and other voting rights groups filed suit to halt the law arguing it violates the Voting Rights Act and the First and 14th Amendments.
Then there’s Florida.
ACLU of Florida executive director explained:
“It is clear certain legislators are more interested in earning political points with the governor than upholding the constitutional rights of their constituents.
“We’ve said it before and will state it again. This bill is not intended to increase public safety. It is not intended to address any public need. Over 95% of protests across the state of Florida have been peaceful.”
The ACLU tweeted the legislation’s ramifications if passed:
— ACLU of Florida (@ACLUFL) March 26, 2021
The organization added:
“HB1 would send people to prison for up to 15 years for pulling down a Confederate flag or other shrines to white supremacy. It would subject any person present at any gathering that became violent through no fault of their own to felony charges, potentially leading up to five years in prison and the loss of their voting rights, even if the individual did not engage in any violent and disorderly conduct, among other provisions. It would also protect violent counter-protesters from civil liability for injuring or killing a protester with their vehicle.”
Two weeks ago, the Republican-dominated state legislature in Oklahoma passed a bill to grant immunity to drivers who “unintentionally” run over protesters.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson two weeks ago signed legislation banning abortions except in cases where pregnant women’s lives are at risk, making it the 14th state advocating near absolute abortion bans this year (it’s only March).
This is what the supposed “Grand Old Party” of Abraham Lincoln is doing to “preserve democracy.”
In six decades, the Republican party went from the push to preserve Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to clutching its pearls over high minority voter turnout, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice reform, environmental regulations, health care availability, economic assistance to the disadvantaged, expanding education, and strengthening social safety nets.
Image credit: progressive-charlestown.com