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    G.O.P. Concocts Threat: Voter Fraud by Undocumented Immigrants

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Six years after former President Donald J. Trump paved his way to the White House on nativist and xenophobic appeals to white voters, the 2,000-mile dividing line between Mexico and the United States has once again become a fixation of the Republican Party.But the resurgence of the issue on the right has come with a new twist: Republican leaders and candidates are increasingly claiming without basis that unauthorized immigrants are gaining access to the ballot box.Voter fraud is exceptionally rare, and allegations that widespread numbers of undocumented immigrants are voting have been repeatedly discredited. Yet that fabricated message — capitalizing on a concocted threat to advance Mr. Trump’s broader lie of stolen elections — is now finding receptive audiences in more than a dozen states across the country, including several far from the U.S.-Mexico border.In Macomb County, Mich., where Republicans are fiercely split between those who want to investigate the 2020 election and those who want to move on, many voters at the county G.O.P. convention this month said they feared that immigrants were entering the country illegally, not just to steal jobs but also to steal votes by casting fraudulent ballots for Democrats.“I don’t want them coming into red states and turning them blue,” said Mark Checkeroski, a former chief engineer of a hospital — though data from the 2020 election showed that many places with larger immigrant populations instead took a turn to the right.Tough talk on illegal immigration and border security has long been a staple of American politics. Both Republicans and Democrats — especially the G.O.P. in recent years — have historically played into bigoted tropes that conflate illegal immigration and crime and that portray Latinos and Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners in their own country or, worse, an economic threat.But the leap from unsecure borders to unsecure elections is newer. And it is not difficult to see why some voters are making it.In Ohio, where Republicans vying in a heated Senate primary are discussing immigration in apocalyptic terms and running ads showing shadowy black-and-white surveillance video or washed-out images of border crossings, Mr. Trump whipped up fears of “open borders and horrible elections” at a rally on Saturday, calling for stricter voter ID laws and proof of citizenship at the ballot box.The campaign commercials and promos for right-wing documentaries that played on huge television screens before Mr. Trump’s speech seemed to alternate between lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him and overblown claims blaming unauthorized immigrants for crime. Speakers in one trailer for a film by Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker Mr. Trump pardoned for making illegal campaign contributions, denounced “voter trafficking,” compared the work of what appeared to be voter outreach groups to the “Mexican mafia” and referred to people conveying mail-in ballots to drop boxes as “mules.”It is legal in some states for third parties, like family members or community groups, to drop off completed ballots — a practice that became vital for many during the pandemic.Yet the messages seemed tailor-made for rally attendees like Alicia Cline, 40, who said she believed that Democrats in power were using the border crisis to gin up votes. “The last election was already stolen,” said Ms. Cline, a horticulturist from Columbus. “The establishment is, I think, using the people that are rushing over the borders in order to support themselves and get more votes for themselves.”Alicia, left, and Cindi Cline at former President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally last week in Delaware, Ohio.Maddie McGarvey for The New York TimesThe latest fear-mongering about immigrants supposedly stealing votes is just one line of attack among many, as Republicans have made immigration a focal point in the midterms and Republican governors face off with the Biden administration over what they paint as dire conditions at the border.Last week, governors from 26 states unveiled “a border strike force” to share intelligence and combat drug trafficking as the Biden administration has said it plans to lift a Trump-era rule that has allowed federal immigration officials to turn away or immediately deport asylum seekers and migrants.A Guide to the 2022 Midterm ElectionsMidterms Begin: The 2022 election season is underway. See the full primary calendar and a detailed state-by-state breakdown.In the Senate: Democrats have a razor-thin margin that could be upended with a single loss. Here are the four incumbents most at risk.In the House: Republicans and Democrats are seeking to gain an edge through redistricting and gerrymandering, though this year’s map is poised to be surprisingly fairGovernors’ Races: Georgia’s contest will be at the center of the political universe, but there are several important races across the country.Key Issues: Inflation, the pandemic, abortion and voting rights are expected to be among this election cycle’s defining topics.And in Washington Thursday, Republicans on Capitol Hill previewed their midterm plan of attack on the administration’s immigration policies, trying to make the homeland security secretary, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, accept blame for a historic spike in migration across the border.Jane Timken, a U.S. Senate candidate and former chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, said the border with Mexico loomed large for Ohioans because many saw the state’s drug and crime problems as emanating from there. “Almost every state is now a border state,” she said.Some G.O.P. strategists warn that the focus on immigration could backfire and haunt the party as the nation grows more diverse. But political scientists and historians say Republicans’ harnessing of the unease stirred by demographic shifts and a two-year-old pandemic could mobilize their most ardent voters.“When we feel so much anxiety, that is the moment when xenophobic, anti-immigrant sentiment can flourish,” said Geraldo L. Cadava, a historian of Latinos in the United States and associate professor at Northwestern University.Few races nationwide capture the dynamics of the issue like the G.O.P. Senate primary in Ohio. Contenders there are taking after Mr. Trump, who, in 2016, tried to blame illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels for the deadly opioid crisis.An ad for Ms. Timken opens with grainy footage over ominous music, showing hooded men carrying packages presumed to be filled with drugs across the border, until Ms. Timken appears in broad daylight along the rusty steel slats of the border wall in McAllen, Texas.An advertisement released by Jane Timken, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, showed her at the Mexican border wall encouraging border security and raising fears of drug cartels.Jane Timken for U.S. SenateMs. Timken said she understood the state needed immigrant workers, citing her Irish immigrant parents, but said people still must cross the border legally. And Mike Gibbons, a financier at the top of several Ohio polls, said insisting on law and order was not xenophobic. “You don’t hate immigrants if you tell that immigrant they have to come here under the law,” he said.But across this state in the nation’s industrial belt, anti-immigrant sentiment tends to run as deep as the scars of the drug epidemic.Anger and resentment toward foreigners started building as manufacturing companies closed factories and shipped jobs overseas. The opioid crisis added to the devastation as pharmaceutical companies and unscrupulous doctors profited from pain medications.But with the shuttering of “pain clinics,” federal and local law enforcement officials say, Mexican criminal organizations have stepped in. In Ohio, the groups move large amounts of meth and fentanyl, often in counterfeit pills, along Route 71, which crosses the state through Columbus. Statewide overdose rates remain among the nation’s highest.An ad for suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addiction, hanging on a building. For the past three years, Ohio has remained among the 10 states with highest rates of drug overdoses, according to federal data.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesJ.D. Vance, the “Hillbilly Elegy” author whom Mr. Trump endorsed, goes right at those scars, telling voters in one ad that he nearly lost his mother, an addict, to “the poison coming across our border.”Republicans like Mr. Vance argue that they are being unfairly attacked for raising legitimate concerns, pointing to enormous drug seizures and a rise in border apprehensions that, last June, reached a 20-year high.Ohio immigrant-rights lawyers and advocates say Republicans are wrongly framing a public health emergency as a national security problem and contributing to bias against Latinos and immigrants regardless of their citizenship.The G.O.P. critique, they say, is also detached from reality: Many if not most immigrants who reach Ohio have been processed by federal immigration agencies. Many are asylum seekers and refugees, and an increasing number arrive on work visas.Angela Plummer, executive director of the nonprofit Community Refugee and Immigration Services, called Republican Senate candidates’ characterizations of immigrants a disturbing flashback to Mr. Trump’s 2015 campaign rhetoric. “It is good to have politicians with different immigration platforms, but not ones that stray into racism and hurtful, harmful accusations.”In the same campaign ad, Mr. Vance goes on to say that Mr. Biden’s immigration policy also meant “more Democrat voters pouring into this country” — explicitly asserting that unauthorized immigrants are crossing over and gaining access to the ballot to support the left.Mr. Trump himself made that false claim in 2017, asserting without evidence that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton. But the idea that immigrants, and Latinos specifically, are illegally entering the country to vote Democratic has been a fringe right-wing trope for years, said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant and co-founder of the Lincoln Project.The difference is that purveyors of the idea have become much more “brazen and overt,” he said. “It is all part of this sense of an invasion and a lost America and that Democrats are trying to steal elections.”Rhetoric on immigration started heating up last year amid an influx of asylum seekers and migrants from Haiti, Guatemala and Honduras. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and local officials described illegal immigration as an “invasion” as Mr. Abbott unveiled plans to finish Mr. Trump’s border wall.It has only intensified with the midterm campaign season. Since January, Republican candidates in 18 states have run ads mentioning the border and slamming illegal immigration, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to AdImpact, which tracks ad spending. In the same period in 2018, that number was only six, and most of the ads ran in Texas.At least one ad warns of an “invasion,” and others carry echoes of the “great replacement” trope, a racist conspiracy theory falsely contending that elites are using Black and brown immigrants to replace white people in the United States.In Alabama, a re-election ad for Gov. Kay Ivey shows a photo of Latinos at a border crossing wearing white T-shirts with the Biden campaign logo and the words, “Please let us in.” If Mr. Biden continues “shipping” unauthorized migrants into the United States, Americans could soon be forced to learn Spanish, Ms. Ivey says, adding: “No way, José.”An Ivey spokeswoman dismissed as “absurd” suggestions that the ad played into fears of replacement or perpetuated bias against Latinos or immigrants.Heavy-handed anti-immigrant appeals haven’t always worked. Mr. Trump’s attempts to stir fears over caravans of Central American immigrants making their way north largely failed as a strategy for Republicans in the 2018 midterms.But Democrats then had a punching bag in Mr. Trump’s policy of separating migrant families at the border, which sparked international outcry. This cycle, Democrats themselves are sharply divided on immigration, leaving them either on defense or avoiding the subject altogether.Republicans like the Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance argue liberals are calling conservatives racist for raising legitimate concerns about drug seizures.Brian Kaiser for The New York TimesThat said, some Republican voters continue to press candidates for more than just new reasons to fear immigration, and the subjects of those fears can turn out to be far less sinister than the faceless migrants depicted in grainy campaign ads.At a campaign stop at a brewery in Hilliard, Ohio, Bryan Mandzak, 53, a factory manager, asked Mr. Vance how he planned to address what he called a broken immigration system that provided workers few paths to legal status. He said he himself had seen “vanloads of Hispanics” arriving at a hotel in Marysville, about 20 miles northwest of Hilliard, but explained that they had been brought in to run an automotive plant that was hurting for employees.As it happened, white vans were indeed picking up Hispanic workers at the hotel in Marysville, for factory shifts ending at 2 a.m. But the workers were mostly American-born citizens like Moises Garza, who said he had applied on Facebook, moved from Texas and was enjoying decent pay, transportation and free lodgings.In between bites of syrupy waffles a few hours after a Friday-night shift assembling tires, Mr. Garza, who is originally from upstate New York, said he wasn’t following the Senate race and shrugged off being mistaken for an immigrant.He had two days to rest up and explore Columbus. On Monday, he would be back at work. More

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    Mo Brooks Says Trump Asked Him to Illegally ‘Rescind’ Election

    Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, who was involved in the former president’s efforts to challenge the election, made the charge after Mr. Trump took back his endorsement.Representative Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican who was deeply involved in former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to use Congress to upend the 2020 election and stay in office, claimed on Wednesday that the former president had asked him repeatedly in the months since to illegally “rescind” the election, remove President Biden and force a new special election.Mr. Brooks made the extraordinary charge as the two onetime allies were engaged in a bitter political feud, and it was not immediately clear how their falling out related to the accusation. But the account from the Alabama congressman, who played a central role in challenging electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6, 2021, suggested that Mr. Trump has continued his efforts to overturn his defeat and be reinstated.It marked the first time a lawmaker who was involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to invalidate his election defeat has said that Mr. Trump asked for actions that, were they possible, would violate federal law.His statement came after Mr. Trump withdrew his endorsement of Mr. Brooks in the Republican primary for Alabama’s Senate seat, undercutting the congressman’s already slim chances in a crowded intraparty race.“President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency,” Mr. Brooks said in a statement on Wednesday. “As a lawyer, I’ve repeatedly advised President Trump that Jan. 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period.”In a subsequent text message, Mr. Brooks said Mr. Trump had made the request of him on “multiple occasions” since Sept. 1, 2021. He said the former president did not specify how exactly Congress would reinstall him as president, and Mr. Brooks repeatedly told him it was impossible.“I told President Trump that ‘rescinding’ the 2020 election was not a legal option. Period,” Mr. Brooks wrote.Mr. Brooks said Mr. Trump brought up the matter to him repeatedly over the past six months. He said he had initially hoped the requests were not connected to his endorsement in the Senate race, but now believes that Mr. Trump was dangling public support of Mr. Brooks’s candidacy as leverage to try to get a new election.“I hoped not but you’ve seen what happened today,” Mr. Brooks said in a text. “For emphasis, the conversations about Jan. 6, 2021 being the only 2020 remedy have been going off and on for 6+ months.”“I know what the legal remedy for a contested presidential election is,” he continued. “There is one and only one per the Constitution and U. S. Code and it occurs on the first Jan. 6 after each presidential election. Period. Game over after January 6.”Mr. Brooks’s high-profile break with Mr. Trump raised the possibility that he might cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, providing information the panel has so far been unable to secure about what Mr. Trump told his allies in Congress before, during and after the riot. Other Republicans involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election — Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania — have refused requests from the panel for interviews.Mr. Brooks did not immediately respond to further questions. In his statement, he said he had fought on behalf of Mr. Trump “between Nov. 3 and Jan. 6” — “when it counted.”On Dec. 21, 2020, Mr. Brooks and other House Republicans met with Mr. Trump at the White House to discuss plans to object to the election. On Jan. 6, he wore body armor as he addressed the throng of Trump supporters who gathered at the Ellipse near the White House, telling them to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”“Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?” Mr. Brooks said, prodding the crowd to cheer more loudly. “Will you fight for America?”Later on Capitol Hill, after a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the building, Mr. Brooks tried to object to electoral votes from several states for Mr. Biden. He also spread false claims that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, might have been responsible for the violence, and gave a speech on the floor falsely claiming the election was stolen from Mr. Trump.“Noncitizens overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden in exchange for the promised amnesty and citizenship and, in so doing, helped steal the election from Donald Trump, Republican candidates and American citizens all across America,” Mr. Brooks said at the time.In retracting his endorsement of Mr. Brooks on Wednesday, Mr. Trump abandoned one of his most loyal acolytes in the House after months of simmering frustration and as polls showed Mr. Brooks falling behind in his state’s Republican primary.In a sign of the former president’s continued focus on the 2020 election, he cited Mr. Brooks’s remarks at a rally last summer urging voters to move on from Mr. Trump’s 2020 defeat.Capitol Riot’s Aftermath: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 3Requests to “rescind” the election. 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    ‘We must march forward’: Kamala Harris commemorates Bloody Sunday anniversary in Selma

    ‘We must march forward’: Kamala Harris commemorates Bloody Sunday anniversary in SelmaUS vice president takes to Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama as congressional efforts to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act falter US vice president Kamala Harris visited Selma, Alabama on Sunday to commemorate a defining moment in the fight for the right to vote, making her trip as congressional efforts to restore the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act have faltered.Under a blazing blue sky, Harris took the stage at the foot of the bridge where in 1965 white state troopers attacked Black voting rights marchers attempting to cross.Harris called the site hallowed ground on which people fought for the “most fundamental right of America citizenship: the right to vote”.The not-surprising, very bad defeat of Biden’s attempt to protect voting | The fight to voteRead more“Today, we stand on this bridge at a different time,” Harris said before a cheering crowd of several thousand.“We again, however, find ourselves caught in between. Between injustice and justice. Between disappointment and determination … nowhere is that more clear than when it comes to the ongoing fight to secure the freedom to vote.”The nation’s first female vice president – as well as the first African American and Indian American in the role – spoke of marchers whose “peaceful protest was met with crushing violence. They were kneeling when the state troopers charged. They were praying when the billy clubs struck.”On “Bloody Sunday”, 7 March 1965, state troopers severely beat and tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators, including a young activist, the late John Lewis, who later became a longtime Georgia congressman.The images of violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge – originally named for a Confederate general – shocked the nation and helped galvanize support for passage of the Voting Rights Act.Fifty-seven years later, Democrats are unsuccessfully trying to update the landmark law and pass additional measures to make it more convenient for people to vote. A key provision of the law was tossed out by a US supreme court decision.“In a moment of great uncertainty, those marches pressed forward and they crossed,“ Harris said. “We must do the same. We must lock our arms and march forward. We will not let setbacks stop us. We know that honoring the legacy of those who marched then demands that we continue to push Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation.”In Selma, a crowd gathered hours before Harris was scheduled to speak. Rank-and-file activists of the civil rights movement, including women who fled the beatings of Bloody Sunday, were seated near the stage.The milestone of Harris becoming the nation’s first Black female vice president seemed unimaginable in 1965, they said.“That’s why we marched,” Betty Boynton, the daughter-in-law of voting rights activist Amelia Boynton, said.Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?Read more“I was at the tail end and all of the sudden I saw these horses. Oh my goodness, and all of the sudden … I saw smoke. I didn’t know what tear gas was. There were beating people,” Boynton said.But Boynton said Sunday’s anniversary is tempered by fears of the impact of new voting restrictions being enacted.“And now they are trying to take our voting rights from us. I wouldn’t think in 2022 we would have to do all over again what we did in 1965,” Boynton said.The US president, Joe Biden, said the strength of the groundbreaking 1965 Voting Rights Act “has been weakened not by brute force, but by insidious court decisions”.The latest legislation, named for Lewis, who died in 2020, is part of a broader elections package that collapsed in the US Senate in February.“In Selma, the blood of John Lewis and so many other courageous Americans sanctified a noble struggle. We are determined to honor that legacy by passing legislation to protect the right to vote and uphold the integrity of our elections, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act,” Biden said in a statement.The US supreme court in 2013 gutted a portion of the 1965 law that required certain states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, to get US Justice Department approval before changing the way they hold elections, with voting rights activists warning the action is emboldening states to pass a new wave of voting restrictions.TopicsUS voting rightsThe fight to voteKamala HarrisUS politicsAlabamaUS supreme courtUS SenatenewsReuse this content More

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    The Supreme Court Fails Black Voters in Alabama

    You know the Rubicon has been crossed when the Supreme Court issues a conservative voting rights order so at odds with settled precedent and without any sense of the moment that Chief Justice John Roberts feels constrained to dissent.This is the same John Roberts who in 1982, as a young lawyer in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, fought a crucial amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 1965; whose majority opinion in 2013 gutted one-half of the Voting Rights Act and who joined an ahistoric opinion last summer that took aim at the other half; and who famously complained in dissent from a 2006 decision in favor of Latino voters in South Texas that “it is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”Yes, that Chief Justice Roberts. What the 5-to-4 majority did was that far out of line.The unsigned order that drew the chief justice’s dissent Monday night blocked the decision by a special three-judge Federal District Court ordering the Alabama Legislature to draw a second congressional district in which Black residents constitute a majority. Alabama’s population is 27 percent Black. The state has seven congressional districts. The lower court held that by packing some Black voters into one district and spreading others out over three other districts, the state diluted the Black vote in violation of the Voting Rights Act.The Supreme Court will hear Alabama’s appeal of the district court order in its next term, so the stay it granted will mean that the 2022 elections will take place with district lines that the lower court unanimously, with two of the three judges appointed by President Donald Trump, found to be illegal.Chief Justice Roberts objected that the ordinary standards under which the Supreme Court grants a stay of a lower court opinion had not been met. “The district court properly applied existing law in an extensive opinion with no apparent errors for our correction,” he wrote. Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, also dissented in a more extensive opinion that accused the majority of using the court’s emergency “shadow docket” not only to intervene improperly on behalf of the state but also to change voting rights law in the process.This is no mere squabble over procedure. What happened Monday night was a raw power play by a runaway majority that seems to recognize no stopping point. It bears emphasizing that the majority’s agenda of cutting back on the scope of the Voting Rights Act is Chief Justice Roberts’s agenda too. He made that abundantly clear in the past and suggested it in a kind of code on Monday with his bland observation that the court’s Voting Rights Act precedents “have engendered considerable disagreement and uncertainty regarding the nature and contours of a vote dilution claim.” But in his view, that was an argument to be conducted in the next Supreme Court term while permitting the district court’s decision to take effect now.While the majority as a whole said nothing, Justice Brett Kavanaugh took it upon himself to offer a kind of defense. Only Justice Samuel Alito joined him. Perhaps the others — Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett — chose not to sign onto his rude reference to Justice Kagan’s “catchy but worn-out rhetoric about the ‘shadow docket.’ ” Or perhaps his “To reiterate: The court’s stay order is not a decision on the merits” rang a little hollow when, as Justice Kagan pointed out, “the district court here did everything right under the law existing today” and “staying its decision forces Black Alabamians to suffer what under that law is clear vote dilution.”In other words, when it comes to the 2022 elections, for Black voters in Alabama the Supreme Court’s procedural intervention is the equivalent of a ruling on the merits.Or maybe the others couldn’t indulge in the hypocrisy of Justice Kavanaugh’s description of the standards for granting a stay. The party asking for a stay, he wrote, “ordinarily must show (i) a reasonable probability that this court would eventually grant review and a fair prospect that the court would reverse, and (ii) that the applicant would likely suffer irreparable harm absent the stay.”But wait a minute. Weren’t those conditions clearly met back in September when abortion providers in Texas came to the court seeking a stay of the Texas vigilante law, S.B. 8, which was about to go into effect? That law, outlawing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizing anyone anywhere in the country to sue a Texas abortion provider for damages, was flagrantly unconstitutional, and the law was about to destroy the state’s abortion infrastructure. But did Justice Kavanaugh or any of the others in Monday’s majority vote to grant the requested stay? They did not. Chief Justice Roberts did.It’s impossible not to conclude that what we see at work is not some neutral principle guiding the Supreme Court’s intervention but simply whether a majority likes or doesn’t like what a lower court has done. In his opinion, Justice Kavanaugh sought to avoid that conclusion by arguing that when it comes to election cases, the Supreme Court will more readily grant a stay to counteract “late judicial tinkering with election laws.” But there was no late “tinkering” here. The legislature approved the disputed plan in November, after six days of consideration, and the governor signed it. The district court conducted a seven-day trial in early January and on Jan. 24 issued its 225-page opinion. The election is months away — plenty of time for the legislature to comply with the decision.Disturbing as this development is, it is even more alarming in context. Last July, in a case from Arizona, the court took a very narrow view of the Voting Rights Act as a weapon against vote denial measures, policies that have a discriminatory effect on nonwhite voters’ access to the polls. That case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, was brought under the act’s Section 2, which prohibits voting procedures that give members of racial minorities “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” Justice Alito’s opinion for a 6-to-3 majority set a high bar for showing that any disputed measure is more than just an ordinary burden that comes with turning out to vote.It was an unusual case, in that Section 2 has much more typically been used as it was in Alabama, to challenge district lines as causing vote dilution. Obviously, at the heart of any Section 2 case is the question of how to evaluate the role of race. In its request for a stay, Alabama characterized the district court of having improperly “prioritized” race, as opposed to other districting factors, in ordering a second majority Black district. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, representing the Alabama plaintiffs, called this a mischaracterization of what the district court had actually done when it took account of the compactness and cohesion of the Black community and the history of white Alabama voters refusing to support Black candidates.Stripped to its core, Alabama is essentially arguing that a law enacted to protect the interests of Black citizens bars courts from considering race in evaluating a redistricting plan. Justice Kagan’s dissenting opinion contained a warning that granting the stay amounted to a tacit acceptance of that startling proposition. She said the stay reflected “a hastily made and wholly unexplained prejudgment” that the court was “ready to change the law.”The battle over what Section 2 means has been building for years, largely under the radar, and now it is front and center. The current Supreme Court term is all about abortion and guns. The next one will be all about race. Along with the Alabama case, Merrill v. Milligan, the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions cases are also on the docket — to be heard by a Supreme Court that, presumably, for the first time in history, will have two Black justices, and all in the shadow of the midterm elections. The fire next time.Linda Greenhouse, the winner of a 1998 Pulitzer Prize, reported on the Supreme Court for The Times from 1978 to 2008. She is the author of “Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court.”The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    A court caught Republicans discriminating against Black voters – here’s how

    A court caught Republicans discriminating against Black voters – here’s howAn Alabama case tests how much Republicans can legally dilute the power of Black votersIt has been called a textbook example of discrimination against Black voters in the US. And a ruling on it from the supreme court is expected any day.It isn’t the kind of explicit voting discrimination, like poll taxes and literacy tests, that kept voters from the polls in the south during the Jim Crow era. Instead, it is more subtle. Let us walk you through the case with our visual explainer. The case focuses on Alabama, where the Republican-controlled legislature, like states across the US, recently completed the once-a-decade process of redrawing the boundaries of congressional maps. If partisan politicians exert too much control over the redistricting process, they can effectively engineer their own victories, or blunt the advantages of the other side, by allocating voters of particular political persuasions and backgrounds to particular districts.Under the new districts, Black people make up 25% of the Alabama’s population, but comprise a majority in just one of the state’s seven districts.In late January, a panel of three federal judges issued a 225-page opinion explaining how the state was discriminating against Black voters.“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the panel wrote. 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    Republicans’ redistricting maps are motivated entirely by race – not politics | Michael Harriot

    Republicans’ redistricting maps are motivated entirely by race – not politicsMichael HarriotThere has been a subtle campaign to redefine racism by the intent and not the effects of discriminatory actions, even as gerrymandered maps diminish the power of Black voters Although the phrase “All politics is local” is usually attributed to Tip O’Neill Jr, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, the aphorism probably originated in the February 1932 Associated Press column “Politics at Random”, when the Washington bureau chief, Byron Price, wrote: “All politics is local politics.” As valid as Price’s summarization of inside-the-Beltway politics may be, there is probably a more accurate way to describe the All American sport of civic power-brokering:All politics is racial.Over the last quarter-century, white voters have overwhelmingly identified with the GOP while every other racial and ethnic group – Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters – consistently identify with the Democratic party. This unwavering reality reduces the machinations of each political party to a game of demographic mathematics, especially in racially diverse parts of the country, where one truisim dominates local politics: when non-white people can’t vote, Republicans win.Perhaps the starkest example of this racial divide is Alabama, where white people make up 69% of the population and are 89% of the Republican electorate. By comparison, the state is 27% African American, 80% of whom identify as Democrat. Six of the seven Democrats in the Alabama senate are Black, as are 26 of the 27 Democratic members of the house. In 2022, Kenneth Paschal became the first Black person to represent the Republican party in the Alabama state legislature since Reconstruction. Contrary to what Price would say, politics is not local here. In Alabama, regardless of the location, “white voter” is synonymous with “Republican” and “Black” means “Democrat”.Perhaps this reality is why last Monday, a federal court threw out the state’s congressional map that disenfranchised Black voters across the state. The three-judge panel explained that the congressional redistricting plan created by Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature meant that “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.” The previous map packed the two Blackest cities in one congressional district, splitting the rest of the state’s Black population – three of the five largest cities in the state – among three majority-white districts that have been safely Republican for years. The judges gave the white (Republican) lawmakers 14 days to draw new districts that did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.Alabama Republicans vowed to appeal the ruling to the US supreme court, where the court’s conservative majority ruled in 2019 that disenfranchising Black voters is perfectly fine as long as the gerrymanderers’ intent was partisan and not racial. “If district lines were drawn for the purpose of separating racial groups, then they are subject to strict scrutiny because ‘race-based decisionmaking is inherently suspect,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion. “But determining that lines were drawn on the basis of partisanship does not indicate that the districting was improper. A permissible intent – securing partisan advantage – does not become constitutionally impermissible, like racial discrimination, when that permissible intent “predominates”.Herein lies the problem with politics, conservative ideology and America in general. For years, there has been a subtle campaign to redefine racism by the intent and not the effects of discriminatory actions. According to this new American translation, disenfranchising entire communities by suppressing their voting power is not necessarily racist as long as the person didn’t mean to be racist. And, because there are very few people willing to stand in front of the world and confess to their racial prejudices, anyone is allowed to discriminate as long as they don’t articulate their racism out loud. However, this cleverly constructed loophole only applies to racism. America’s jurisprudence system has found a way to convict people for unintentional murder and hold people accountable for car accidents, but somehow white people are innocent until proven racist.But in the case of the Alabama Republican-controlled legislature, there is actual proof.A few weeks after justices sitting on America’s highest court decided that there was nothing they could do about North Carolina disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Black citizens, the daughter of the man who pioneered using race to redraw political maps leaked the contents of her recently deceased father’s hard drive, revealing that North Carolina’s redistricting plan was about race all along. Known as the “Master of the Modern Gerrymander”, Thomas Hofeller had only considered race when drawing the maps for North Carolina. The proposed maps even included a plan that would have allowed the state to elect an all-white legislature.But the leaked files also revealed that Hofeller was the main architect of redistricting plans for states across the country, including Alabama. Hofeller’s files included emails and proposals from then Alabama state House redistricting commission chair Representative Jim McClendon, who included racial data, census maps broken down by race and … well, nothing else. The basis for McClendon and Hofeller’s plan for Alabama wasn’t mostly about race; it seems as if it was only about race. After serving in the Alabama house for 12 years, McClendon was elected to the state senate in 2014, where he co-chaired the senate commission whose gerrymandered maps were thrown out by the federal court. It was probably a coincidence. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it.Alabama is not an outlier in this phenomenon. Republican-controlled legislatures in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and Wisconsin have submitted gerrymandered maps that diminish the power of Black voters. Of course, they won’t admit that the redistricting plans are solely motivated by race because, according to the New American definition, that would make it racist. According to America’s highest legal authorities, there is nothing wrong with stealing the voices of Black people and accidentally murdering their opportunity to participate in democracy. After all, it has nothing to do with racism.It’s just politics.
    Michael Harriot is a writer and author of the upcoming book Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America
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    Alabama Redistricting Decision Reasserts Voting Rights Act

    Three federal judges in Alabama ruled that a new congressional map drawn by G.O.P. state lawmakers violated the Voting Rights Act.After years of court decisions battering the Voting Rights Act, a ruling in an Alabama redistricting case is reasserting the power of the 56-year-old law — and giving Democrats and civil rights groups hope for beating back gerrymandered maps.The decision from three federal judges ordered state lawmakers to rework their newly drawn congressional maps. The Republican-led legislature violated the Voting Rights Act, the judges ruled, by failing to draw more than one congressional district where Black voters might elect a representative of their choice.Alabama’s Republican attorney general, Steve Marshall, quickly appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Tuesday, and asked for a motion to stay the ruling.Still, the unanimous ruling — signed by two judges appointed by former President Donald J. Trump and one by former President Bill Clinton — was a sign that a key weapon against racial discrimination in redistricting could still be potent, even as other elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act have been hollowed out by Supreme Court decisions. The case hinged on Section 2 of the act, which bars racial discrimination in election procedures.A similar case already is pending in Texas, and the success of the challenge in Alabama could open the door to lawsuits in other states such as South Carolina, Louisiana or Georgia. It could also serve as a warning for states such as Florida that have yet to finish drawing their maps.“The Supreme Court has cut back on the tools that we in the voting rights community have to use to deal with misconduct by government authorities and bodies,” said Eric Holder, a former U.S. Attorney General who is now the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “Section 2 to now has remained pretty much intact.”The court’s ruling in Alabama — where the Black residents make up 27 percent of population yet Black voters are a majority in just one of seven House districts — comes amid a polarized redistricting cycle, in which both Republicans and Democrats have sought to entrench their political power through district lines for congressional and legislative maps. In much of the country, that has created districts that bisect neighborhoods or curl around counties to wring the best possible advantage.Civil rights leaders and some Democrats argue that process too often comes at the expense of growing minority communities. Black and Hispanic voters have a history of being “packed” into single congressional districts or divided up across several so as to dilute their votes.In 2013, the Supreme Court dealt the Voting Rights Act a significant blow in Shelby v. Holder, hollowing out a core provision in Section 5. The “preclearance” provision required that states with a history of discrimination at the polls get approval from the Justice Department before making changes to voting procedures or redrawing maps. Last year, the court ruled that Section 2 would not protect against most new voting restrictions passed since the 2020 election.Mr. Marshall, the Alabama attorney general, argued the only way to create two majority-Black congressional districts is to make race the primary factor in map-drawing and called the court’s ruling “an unconstitutional application of the Voting Rights Act.”“The order will require race to be used at all times, in all places, and for all districts,” Mr. Marshall wrote in his appeal Tuesday. “Based on the political geography of Alabama and the broad dispersion of Black Alabamians, it is essentially impossible to draw a map like those presented by plaintiffs unless traditional districting principles give way to race.”The case is very likely to advance to the Supreme Court, where Justice Clarence Thomas has already indicated he does not believe that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prevents racial gerrymandering, a question the court did not address when it struck down other elements of the law.The Alabama decision is the second this month in which a court has invalidated a Republican-drawn congressional map. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled state legislative and congressional maps drawn by Republicans violated a state constitutional prohibition on partisan gerrymandering. The North Carolina Supreme Court delayed the state’s primaries while a challenge to Republican-drawn maps there is heard.How U.S. Redistricting WorksCard 1 of 8What is redistricting? More

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    Court Throws Out Alabama’s New Congressional Map

    A federal panel of judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the lines, saying Black voters “have less opportunity than other Alabamians” to elect candidates of their choice.WASHINGTON — A panel of three federal judges threw out Alabama’s congressional map on Monday and ordered state lawmakers to draw a new one with two, rather than just one, districts that are likely to elect Black representatives.The map that Alabama’s Republican-majority State Legislature adopted last fall drew one of the state’s seven congressional districts with a majority of Black voters. The court ruled that with Alabama’s Black population of 27 percent, the state must allot two districts with either Black majorities or “in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.”“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the panel of judges wrote.The case is certain to be appealed and could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court addressing the question of whether lawmakers can draw political maps to achieve a specific racial composition, a practice known as racial gerrymandering. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts have no role to play in blocking partisan gerrymanders. However, the court left intact parts of the Voting Rights Act that prohibit racial or ethnic gerrymandering.If Alabama legislators do not produce and pass a new map with a second majority-Black district within 14 days, the court will appoint a special master to do so, the judges wrote. That second district would be a significant legal and political victory for Democrats, who would be overwhelming favorites to carry it.“This decision is a win for Alabama’s Black voters, who have been denied equal representation for far too long,” said Eric H. Holder Jr., the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “The map’s dilution of the voting power of Alabama’s Black community — through the creation of just one majority-Black district while splitting other Black voters apart — was as evident as it was reprehensible.”The Alabama Republican Party chairman, John Wahl, said he was disappointed in the court’s ruling and expected it to be appealed. “The basic outlines of Alabama’s congressional districts have remained the same for several decades and have been upheld numerous times,” he said. “What has changed between now and those past decisions to cause the court to act in this manner?”The Alabama congressional map is the second drawn by Republicans to be struck down by courts this month. Two weeks ago, the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated a map drawn by Republicans which would have given the G.O.P. a likely 12-to-3 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. North Carolina’s new congressional map is also enmeshed in a legal battle, and several other states are likely to be sued over their political cartography.The three-judge panel is made up of two Federal District Court judges appointed by former President Donald J. Trump and one by former President Bill Clinton. All three signed the opinion. The panel pushed back Alabama’s ballot qualification deadline from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 for the state’s May primaries.Alabama’s secretary of state, John H. Merrill, declined to comment on the ruling.Adam Kincaid, the executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the party’s main mapmaking organization, said the map was based on one that was cleared in 2011 by President Obama’s Justice Department, then led by Mr. Holder, and comports with the Voting Rights Act.How U.S. Redistricting WorksCard 1 of 8What is redistricting? More