Welcome to democracy’s nightmare.  Today, it comes in the form of a lawsuit brought by Shelby County, Alabama challenging the Voting Rights Act working its way up to the Supreme Court.  More specifically, the part of the Voting Rights Act under attack today is Section 5 of the law that gives the Justice Department the right to review any changes in voting procedure proposed by a county or state that’s covered under this provision before it’s enacted.

Greg Palast, author of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, has been covering the subject of voter suppression efforts for years now, and has been working diligently to get people to pay attention to what’s going on.  He joined me on the show this morning to talk about all that’s at stake today, so I hope you’ll listen to the podcast.  But you should also take a few minutes to watch this video:

 And then, sign this petition.   OK, before you click over, you want to know what it says, right?  Look no further:

Defend Martin Luther King’s Dream Act: Protect the Voting Rights Act and Expand It Across America

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of the Voting Rights Act.

Dr. King’s Dream Act is under attack. On Wednesday February 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law’s requirement that states with a history of Jim Crow voting rules let the Justice Department review new voting procedures. This is the only effective method, today as in 1965, to ensure that every American citizen will not lose their vote because of race or language.

America’s heart breaks when we see, a half century after King’s Dream speech, African-Americans in Florida standing for six hours to cast their ballot. America’s heart breaks when we hear of Latino citizens in Arizona blocked at the polling station door by ID laws and intimidation because of the color of their skin or the language spoken in their homes.


ONE, we respectfully ask the Supreme Court to protect and affirm this “pre-clearance” clause of the Voting Right Act. Without it, the law cannot be enforced.

TWO, we demand that, no matter the Court’s decision, Congress extend the “pre-clearance” to every state in America, from Ohio to Wisconsin, to ensure that Dr. King’s Dream Act protects every American citizen’s right to vote.

– Greg Palast, author, Billionaires & Ballots: How to Steal An Election in 9 Easy Steps.
– Dr. Bernard Lafayette – co-founder SNCC, freedom rider, MLK appointee to SCLC, Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962.
– Dr. Charles Steele – Chairman of SCLC.

Ready to sign now?

Good.  My friend Brad Friedman (who has also gone to extreme lengths to cover our stories relating to ALL citizens’ right to vote at the Brad Blog) even woke up early to join me on the air in the final minutes of the show to talk about how important this issue is.

Yes, our democracy is at stake.

Thank goodness we have a few good people on our side in Congress.  My favorite member of the House of Representatives, Alan Grayson, took a few minutes out of his very busy week to talk with me.  As we face the sequester cuts coming at the end of the week, there’s lots of noise about the need for “entitlement reform”.

Reform can take many forms.  Congressman Grayson and I discussed some types of reform that would actually be welcomed and would help solve many of the problems we’re facing today, but cutting benefits are not among them.

In fact, he wrote a letter to President Obama pledging to vote against any legislation that includes cuts to those programs, and already has 22 other members signing on to it.  You can sign on too.  Just go to No-Cuts.com.  Don’t want to click through before knowing what it says? OK, here you go:

Dear President Obama:

We join millions of Americans in applauding your Inaugural Address declaration that “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Democrats have built the most popular government programs in American history – including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — by working with Republicans whenever possible and by defeating Republican opposition whenever necessary. The torch has been passed to today’s elected officials, and we must carry it forward boldly.

Voters across the political spectrum oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, and we must do whatever it takes to protect these vital benefits from cuts.

That’s why we write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.

We firmly believe that the best way to reduce our deficit and make our economy grow is to create jobs, and we look forward to a returned focus on this core issue.

We also know that there are common-sense reforms that would reduce health-care costs and save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars without cutting benefits. If Republicans oppose these reforms, and insist on benefits cuts, that proves they are not concerned about the deficit – but instead are trying to tear the social safety net and cause pain for our constituents who can least absorb it.

Finally, Americans agree that there is more that must be done to require the rich and giant corporations to pay their fair share. Indeed, it is their patriotic duty to do so.

As you negotiate with Republicans, you deserve to know that millions of Americans and the below signed Members of Congress stand ready to fight for the principles listed above.


Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. George McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Ready to sign now?