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The U.S. Supreme Court asserts Citizens United applies to federal, state, and local elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Montana's resistance to Citizens United in a 5-4 ruling and expanded the ruling to include state and local elections.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 decision that struck down federal limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions. The decision stated, "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruptions," and therefore, "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations."
However, the Montana Supreme Court disagreed. American Trade Parternship v. Bullock (2011) considered the scope of the Citizens United ruling. Montana State Attorney General Steve Bullock argued that Citizens United applied only to federal elections, not state or local elections. Montana, supported by 22 states, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) argued that Montana Corrupt Practices Act, the law in question, should be upheld due to Montana's history and the belief that independent political expenditures lead to corruption.
As of Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court officialy struck down Montana's challenge to Citizens United by a 5-4 majority. The majority wrote, "[t]here can be no serious doubt" that Citizens United applied to Montana's law. Further, "Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case."
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld its decision that corporations and unions - in every state - can spend limitlessly in the upcoming elections.
The U.S Senate race in Montana may determine whether Democrats or Republicans have a majority in the Senate.
November's election is comprised of numerous U.S. Senate races that are categorized as "Toss Ups" by the Cook Political Report. Examples of these races are found in Massachusetts, Virginia and Nevada. However, the U.S Senate race in Montana is sure to be just as, if not more, competitive in November.
In a recent poll released by Rasmussen Reports on June 19th, 2012, incumbent Democratic Senator John Tester trails his challenger, Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, 49% to 47%. Democrats are increasing their efforts to bolster support for Tester by airing ads that emphasize Rehberg's support of tax breaks for the wealthiest of Americans, such as Wall Street Bankers. As the election draws closer it is expected that both Democrats and Republicans will implement an abundance of ads in an effort to sway undecided voters.
Republicans are optimistic that this poll is a reflection of what is to come in November. If they are able to win Montana and a few other "Toss Up" Senate races, Republicans have an excellent chance of regaining a majority in the Senate. However, Democrats have already displayed their determination to maintain a majority in the Senate.
Whether it is Massachusetts, Wisconsin or Montana, it is clear that "Toss Up" Senate races will play a pivotal role in November's eletion.
Even though it's been in session for the same amount of time as every other Congress, why does the 112th seem to be leaving behind a legacy of inactivity?
Even though the 112th Congress has been in session for the same amount of time as the two previous sessions, it has passed barely more than half of the number of bills that the 110th and 111th Congresses passed. According to CNN's article, only about 130 of the pieces of legislation introduced passed compared to well over 230 for the past two sessions; it is important to note, nearly one fifth of the legislation passed by the 112th Congresss was to approve names for post offices.
At a time when unemployment is high and job availability is low, the 112th Congress seems to be avoiding discussion on crucial legislation that could get many Americans back to work and/or grant Americans a reprieve during their time of hardship.
Several important pieces of legislation, including bills to address student loans and transportation funding, have fallen by the wayside, and Congress has yet again failed to pass a budget. Since 2012 is an election year, Congress is unlikely to add additional sittings, as most members are already overloaded with campaigning and fundraising.
In order to make progress, both houses and both parties in Congress need to compromise if they do not want their only legacy to be having one of the lowest congressional approval ratings in history.
A DOJ spotlight on the Florida voter purge brings up memories of a not-so-distant past of voting rights issues in the state.
Governor Rick Scott seems to think that twelve years is enough for Florida to forget its past and revisit its mistakes, only this time the Department of Justice and the people are watching.
On Tuesday the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Florida's voter purge of 2,700 potential non-citizens, many of whom are legal voters. This effort is another in a string of voter suppression efforts that has spread across the country via conservative lawmakers.
Attempts to purge the voter rolls in Florida have been halted by the Department of Justice, amid concerns of the accuracy of the list. Out of those 2,700 voters identified only about 100 have been identified as non-citizens. According to The Tampa Bay times, most counties have stopped the purge except for Lee and Collier, who "appear to be the only two major Florida counties that are continuing with the program of purging potential noncitizen."
But fears about barriers to the vote have already been placed in the minds of Floridians. In addition to the voter purge, strict 48 hour deadlines for registration forms have already left potential new voters in Florida disadvantaged.
All of this is reminiscent of a past Florida voter purge during the 2000 election among assumed known felons, many who were actually legitimate voters who happened to Democrats. Just one of the many voting rights issues that emerged during the Florida recount, that put a permanent spotlight on how Florida handles its elections.
In the wake of this new more public voter purge, Gov. Scott stands by his reasoning saying, “I have an obligation to enforce the laws of our land,” he said on CNN. “You don’t get to vote in Florida if you’re a non-U.S. citizen.”
It seems that Florida hopes to hide behind the provisional ballot and continue on its voter suppression agenda. Combating those efforts will continue to be a priority in Florida and across the U.S. for America Votes partners as the November election nears.
U.S Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) trails her Republican opponents in a recent poll.
In a poll released by Rasmussen Reports on June 8th, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) trails all three of her potential Republican opponents in a general election poll. The Republican nominees include State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, businessman John Brunner and Rep. Todd Akin. The poll finds McCaskill trailing Steelman 51% to 39%, Brunner 51% to 41% and Akin 50% to 42%.
The election for this U.S Senate seat is pivotal for both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are hopeful that McCaskill can retain her current position while Republicans view McCaskill as vulnerable and have their sights set on turning the coveted U.S Senate seat from blue to red. Given the most recent GOP victory in Wisconsin, Democrats are hoping those results will not influence other races throughout the country. Along similar lines, Democrats are aspiring to win crucial elections such as these in order to maintain their majority in the Senate. This particular election is said to be one of the most competitive Senatorial elections come November.
Democrats and Republicans agree Colorado is a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election.
A lot of focus is on Colorado as it is an essential swing state in the upcoming election.
While the double digit electoral votes of Florida and Ohio are big prizes, Obama and Romney have put Colorado in the spotlight. The candidates believe Colorado's nine electoral votes in conjunction with other Western states such as Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona could give them the win.
Democrats and Republicans are neck-and-neck in Colorado and Nevada. Ethan Axelrod, communications director for Project New America, a progressive Denver-based research and strategy organization believes "they're going to stay that way until November."
Just how close is the race in Colorado? Purple Strategies found in a poll of 600 Coloradans 48 percent favored Obama and 46 percent favored Romney. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said he believed that if the election were held that day, the president would win enough states to reach 243 electoral votes. Romney would have 191, while 104 electoral votes would be "up for grabs." The votes up in the air came from eight states: Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Politico obtained a Power Point report compiled by a Romney pollster. It listed seven battleground states in the campaign's "route to 270": Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
The unaffiliated voters in Colorado, particularly in Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer counties - the bloc that helped Obama acheive a victory in 2008 - will be the targets in the next five months. Democratic strategists have also pointed to the importance of women and Latino voters.
Undoubtedly, it is going to be a close race.
High turnout and voter supression leads to a win for Walker, but does it mean anything for November?
Wisconsin voters took to the polls on Tuesday and decided that change is not what they wanted.
Republican Governor Scott Walker was re-elected with 53 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett. An election fueled by public workers' anger over the loss of collective bargaining rights.
Tuesday's results show that despite possible election fatigue people are still showing up at the polls, with more than 2.5 million votes being cast. A potential preview of the importance of mobilizing voters to the polls in November.
Although despite large voter turnout, voter suppression tactics were in full force. With reports that a robo-call went out to voters telling them “if you signed the recall petition, your job is done and you don’t need to vote on Tuesday.” The Walker campaign denies any connection to the call. These voter suppression robo calls only added to voter confusion in an already unusual recall election.
Of note is the fact that, while Governor Walker won by about 6% of the vote, exit polls also showed that voters favored President Obama by 7%, 51-44. Beyond that, exit polls show that many voters who cast ballots for Walker might just dislike the idea of a recall election. From National Journal:
"Yet the Walker success in defeating Barrett and Democrats' attempt to
unseat him may be rooted in voters' unwillingness to remove a sitting
officeholder for political reasons. Just 27 percent of voters said
recall elections are appropriate for any reason; Barrett won this bloc
9-to-1. But the vast majority -- 60 percent -- said recall elections are
only appropriate for "official misconduct," and more than two-thirds of
these voters supported Walker."
So, is Wisconsin a preview of November? Most likely not.
With the new voter ID laws, such as the one in Pennsylvania, it seems as though voter particiaption is being prevented more so than voter fraud.
Viviette Applewhite, who cast her first vote for John F.Kennedy some 52 years ago, will be denied the right to vote in November's generalelection unless Pennsylvania's strict Photo ID law is overturned.
State officials have been unable to find a copy of Applewhite's birth certificate, and she never obtained a driver's license. Without one of those documents, theCommonwealth of Pennsylvania will not issue her a Voter ID.
As a result, the 93 year old grandmother from Philadelphia who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is fighting for her rights once again. This time though, she's fighting for a right she already had. She is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's Voter ID law. The suit argues the law is "depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right - the right to vote".
Ms. Applewhite's story is not unique. Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year-old Tennessee woman was denied a Voter ID in October because her name did not match her birth certificate and she did not have a copy of her marriage license. Another Tennessean, Thelma Mitchell, was unable to obtain a voter ID because she couldn't produce a copy of her birth certificate - she was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918 and never received one.
Republicans argue that Vivette Applewhite, Dorothy Cooper, and Thelma Mitchell aren't trying hard enough. They say Voter ID's are not difficult to obtain. One pundit even called Applewhite "lazy and incompetent".
However, the truth is that these laws erect obstacles to voting for many Americans. A Brennan Center for Justice survey found that Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minorities, women, and the elderly. These groups are more likely to lack the documents required to obtain Voter IDs. They are also more likely to vote for Democrats than they are to vote for Republicans.
And that's the point. As the Advancement Project points out, the chances of getting struck by lightning are higher than the chances of finding a prosecutable case of voter fraud in this country. Voter ID laws aren't preventing voter fraud, they're preventing voter participation. Voter ID is the most effective campaign tactic Republicans have found in years. They don't care about "protecting the integrity of elections"; they care about protecting their jobs.
North Carolina's proposed Amendment One, that will be voted on during the primary, has implications for all unmarried couples, not just same-sex couples.
When North Carolinians head to the polls on May 8th, they will make a decision that will affect the legal rights of many families in the state. Although same-sex marriage and civil unions are illegal in North Carolina, there is a proposed amendment that would remove any chance of civil unions or same-sex marriage ever becoming law.
The proposed amendment states: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."
The amendment has huge implications for same-sex couples in the state, but there is also a fear about what legal implications Amendment One holds for all unwed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.
For example, depending on how the court interprets the language of the amendment, it could mean unwed couples having their partners stripped of health insurance coverage if they are on their insurance and the amendment could invalidate things like trusts, wills, end of life directives by one partner for the other.
Read more here.
Also, be sure to check out the Vote Against Project's site, which outlines the implications of the amendment in detail and serves as a forum for North Carolinians and others that are FOR the rights of all families and AGAINST Amendment One to express themselves.
Check out this new video from the Coalition to Protect Women's Health on the women's health rally outside the Supreme Court last Tuesday - it has some inspiring testimonials and really captures the energy that was there that day.