ACLU, Couples Seek to Overturn Marriage Ban

The Pennsylvania ACLU is suing to overturn the state’s ban on same sex marriage in an action representing four couples denied equality under the law.  As I predicted after the SCOTUS decision on DOMA there is now legal precedent that denial of equal justice under law is unconstitutional and a gateway towards overturning state marriage bans.

If DOMA is unconstitutional then so is Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriage.  This lawsuit will take this case to federal court where the Supreme Court decision will be the basis of the decision.  The Court made very clear that gay couples cannot be denied the same benefits provided heterosexual couples who are allowed to marry and given rights denied under the law to LGBT couples.  The law of the land now says this is illegal.

House GOP Flees to Avoid Vote on Corbett Probe

House Dems forced a vote this afternoon on HB 520 which calls on the U.S. Attorney to investigate Tom Corbett’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky.  House Republicans proceeded to flee the floor even though the House remained in session.  Serious questions have arisen about the Attorney General’s probe, why it took so long, why only a single Trooper was assigned until the Gubernatorial election and why a serial sexual predator was allowed three more years on the lam while Corbett buried the case.  Insiders from the AG’s office have said Corbett didn’t want the case and didn’t want it disturbing his run for Governor.

Here’s yet another suspicious item:  Corbett knowingly accepted hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from Board members of The Second Mile during his own investigation of Sandusky.  He then gave the non profit a $3 million grant.  Was this a quid pro quo?  I bet those rabid Republicans on the Board got pissed when the Governor then revoked the grant after the coach’s indictment.  Talk about getting screwed…  Do you think, maybe, some large conservative donors might think twice about funding his re-election campaign after what he did to The Second Mile?

What are House Republicans afraid of?  Why walk out to prevent a vote?

PA Supreme Court: Delay Voter ID

In a victory for democracy the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the lawsuit attacking Voter ID to be remanded back to Superior Court to render a new verdict delaying implementation of the requirement disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.  Now perhaps we can go to federal court and get it declared unconstitutional.

Supreme Court Hears Voter ID Arguments

PCN telecast the Supreme Court arguments on Voter ID this morning saving me a trip to Philadelphia.  Watching and Tweeting the event I have some hope this terrible law, Act 18, will be, at least, stayed.  Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for an injunction saying there isn’t enough preparation and time to  implement the law.  They made no argument the law is unconstitutional because it appears to be so under Pennsylvania law.  Since this is a case of state law being argued in a state court only state law applies.  Whether or not the law is constitutional under federal law is a case for the federal courts.  Federal courts have knocked down similar laws elsewhere.  This morning’s arguments have no bearing on federal issues of equal protection for instance.

Cases where legal, eligible voters are denied their fundamental right to vote can not be made until that actually happens.  Unfortunately irreparable harm will already have occurred where votes were not cast and counted that were legal in a federal election.  I didn’t hear much argument about such irreparable harm this morning.   The appellants case sounded weak to me, they simply want an injunction based on the fact the Commonwealth is unable to produce ID’s for voters.

Arguments began about whether the right to vote is fundamental.  The State argued it is not, that the legislature can apply limits on it.  They also went on to try and deny the state’s stipulation that no verifiable case of voter fraud has ever happened either here or elsewhere.  This got so ridiculous Justice Debra Todd finally read the entire stipulation to the Governor’s clueless lawyer.

Justices Todd and Seamus McCaffery asked pointed questions throughout supporting the implementation of an injunction.  Interestingly Republican Thomas Saylor had some very intriguing queries to the state’s lawyers.  His vote may be in play here or he might have been playing devil’s advocate.  One never really knows.  I found arguments that PennDOT is implementing the law specious.  There have numerous reports of the agency charging people $13.50 for the ID’s making this a poll tax.  Others say they’ve taken acceptable forms of identification only to be rebuffed by untrained PennDOT employees and have made repeated trips trying to secure an ID.  If someone has to make five trips to get an ID this law is wrong and unjustifiable.  That imposes an undue burden on voters.

The fact Tom Corbett’s lawyer Mr. Putnam began arguing in court that voter fraud exists was laughable and it destroyed any credibility he had before the Court.  When Justice Todd publicly embarrassed him by reading Corbett’s own stipulation saying otherwise I almost felt sorry for the bastard.  Almost…

PA Supremes Hear Voter ID Today

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, sitting in Philadelphia, hears arguments for and against Voter ID this morning.  The six members of the state appellate body are evenly split 3-3 by political party.  Meanwhile federal courts are striking down similar laws in various other states.  Ohio’s refusal to allow early voting is also being challenged by a federal court.

Voting rights are under attack by those claiming impersonation at polls is a problem.  No case has been filed in Pennsylvania in living memory so conservatives decided to use that rampant fraud to disenfranchise 758,000 eligible voters.  It’s just coincidence (tongue in cheek comment) that most of those without a photo ID are, demographically, Democrats.

One of the central arguments against the law will be the charge that Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson cited a bigoted case from 1869 to justify his ruling.  That case Patterson v. Barlow held that ruffians and degenerates (as considered by those outside Philadelphia) weren’t worthy of voting.  The new law is similar in that it was passed by Pennsylvanians outside Philly to, largely, disenfranchise Philadelphia voters.  Studies show that up to 43% of voters in the City of Brotherly Love don’t have acceptable ID.

Should the Supreme Court fail to over ride Voter ID opponents have little time to go to federal court.  A deadlock along party lines would affirm the bigoted Commonwealth Court ruling and uphold Voter ID.  If Chief Justice Ron Castille rules with his Democratic colleagues (he did so on legislative reapportionment) instead of his fellow Republicans the law goes down and the right to vote is restored.  A federal court could issue an injuntion preventing Pennsylvania from enforcing the law November 6th.

Meanwhile delusional Secretary of State Carol Aichele is claiming that Voter ID will actually increase turnout.  How you do that by suppressing the vote is hysteria.  Perhaps she is eligible for mental health assistance.  Oh wait, those state services have been gutted by Gov. Corbett.  I suppose there’s no help available for her.  Maybe returning to Chester County where she has a history of suppressing the African-American vote on a much smaller scale will serve her better.

Pennsylvania Will be the New Florida in Election Turmoil

Remember the debacle in Florida in 2000?  Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris became the poster person for election fraud as she stole the election for George W. Bush.  Jeb Bush, as Governor, had disenfranchised tens of thousands of Blacks for having the same surnames as convicted felons.  Then the battles of hanging chads, uncounted votes and other controversies were settled by the Supreme Court.

The national election hung on the outcome of the Florida controversy and this year Pennsylvania could be the center of controversy and scrutiny due to our Voter ID law.  As of yet no one really knows how many eligible voters will be turned away at the polls because they can’t produce an acceptable photo ID.  This includes 25% of those in the Pennsylvania Voters Hall of Fame, those who have voted in every election for fifty years.  It also includes legislators and one Congressional candidate.

Voter ID mostly disenfranchises minorities and the elderly.  Poor people who live in urban areas have no reason for photo ID’s.  The very poor don;t use banks, don’t drive and don’t have ID’s.  The elderly in nursing homes have mostly given up driving privileges and have trouble even getting to a drivers license center where they’re likely to be charged $13.50 by PennDOT for an ID which is supposed to be free.

Nine counties don’t have any photo centers at all, others perhaps one.  This makes it hard for those needing the ID’s to get there.  Once they do they’re often being turned away for having proper documentation.  VoterID could cause a million eligible voters to be turned away.  How many civil rights lawsuits will be filed on November 7th?  If you turned me away from exercising my constitutional right I’d have a civil rights lawyer suing your ass.

Stupid people are being quoted as saying you need an ID for everything these days:  flying (reality check, poor people don’t fly), banking (poor people don’t have bank accounts), sending something via UPS (a lie Carol Aichele) or any other number of examples.  The fact is voting is a basic constitutional right and none of these other examples equate with that status.  Millions of people exist and conduct their lives without ID’s.  Requiring one for voting comprises election fraud.

Commonwealth Court will release its decision in a lawsuit filed by the PA NAACP and ACLU-PA this Friday.  It will be appealed to the state Supreme Court by the losing party.  If it is not nullified or repealed before November Pennsylvania is likely to become the focus of a nation on November 7th.  

Provisional ballots will be offered to voters turned away but these folks will have but ten days to produce an acceptable ID or their ballot will be disallowed.  Absentee ballots are not covered, in most part, by the new law.  Laws covering the use of absentee ballots require their use only if you cannot physically get to the polls or will be out your voting area the entire day.  Expect Republicans to enforce these provisions to prevent many voters from trying to get around the VoterID law via absentee ballots.

Republican voters tend to use absentee ballots far more than Democratic voters.  If that changes this year that would be a VoterID indication.  Thousands of provisional and absentee ballots waiting to be counted might mean Pennsylvania will not be decided on election day.  Court battles over those ballots will be Florida 2000 revisited.  Secretary of State Carol Aichele will be the new Katherine Harris and our state will be the focus and laughingstock of the nation.

NAACP Calls VoterID Election Fraud

The NAACP held a two hour rally on the Capitol steps today (Tuesday) against VoterID.  The heat was oppressive but several hundred people braved the conditions to make their voices heard.  I finally gave up on getting pictures and video as people crowded the podium and blocked my access.  It was a good thing though as I needed to get inside and cool down, get something cold to drink and prepare for the Aichele press conference.  The video:

DOJ Investigating State Voter ID Law

Talking Points Memo is reporting the Justice Department is investigating the Corbett/Turzai VoterID law.  PennDot has been charging voters $10 for the ID which makes this a poll tax.  Other voters must pay for birth certificates and other documents in order to obtain a voter ID.  These indirect costs also make this law unconstitutional.  In fact if it even entails paying a bus fare to get to a motor vehicle photo office (and not every county even has one) it should be declared unconstitutional.  Having to pay a fee for the right to vote is Unamerican.

It’s easier to get a gun here than to vote.  Maybe if we all showed up at the polls with purple ink on our fingers they’ll let us vote.  We spent $3 trillion imposing democracy on Iraq and it’s easier to vote there than here.  Perhaps China can invade us and force democracy back on America.  Turnabout is fair play correct?

The Civil Rights Division wants state data on voters and ID’s to determine if the Mike Turzai law unlawfully targets minorities.  Sec. of State Carol Aichele could not cite a single instance of voter impersonation during hearings and also claimed it would only effect 1% of voters.  It turns out that 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a photo ID.  This is about 9% of the state.

A rally against Voter ID will be held tomorrow at 1PM on the Capitol steps.  Commonwealth Court begins hearings on a lawsuit challenging the validity of the law Wednesday.

Voter ID is Working: Suppressing the Vote

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law is working as intended:  suppressing the vote for November’s election.  We know that was its intent because House majority Leader Mike Turzai said so.  Anyone with half  abrain already understood that from the language of the bill.  Voter ID targets demographics which traditionally vote Democratic:  the young, elderly, disabled people and the poor.

Sec. of State Carol Aichele must resign for committing perjury in her testimony in support of the bill.  She stated categorically that only 1% of the state’s voters would be affected.  The number is actually above 9% and in Philadelphia, the core of Democratic votes in the Commonwealth, 18%.  Elderly voters who cannot or do not have, birth certificates, are heavily disenfranchised by Voter ID.  Many were born in an era when midwives were used for birthing and birth certificates were never issued.  Women who wed and changed their names have birth certificates in their maiden names and must produce documentation.  An Inquirer analysis of data shows over 27% of those age 80 or more are without IDs.  The older one is the more likely they do not possess a PennDOT ID.  That’s logical.  Many of these elderly citizens stopped driving.

All of this costs people money in order to vote meaning Voter ID is a poll tax.  PennDOT is requiring people to pay for state issued ID’s in violation of the law.  That also makes this a poll tax.

Since absentee ballots are exempt from the Voter ID law one solution is for voters to demand absentee ballots this November.  That may be the only way to insure your right to vote does not get infringed by Mike Turzai and Tom Corbett.

Corbett Has $$$ For Voter ID Propaganda

As if it isn’t bad enough that Pennsylvania Republicans disenfranchised 758,000 voters in order to elect Mitt Romney but now Gov. Corbett has found $249,660 to use to persuade you it was a good idea.  Taxpayers are forking over $10 million to fix a problem which even Sec. of State Carol Aichele acknowledged doesn’t exist.  None of these election fraud perpetrators can come up with a single case where a voter in the state has impersonated someone else at the polls.

Turzai admitted the Voter ID law is simply a ploy to win the state for Mitt Romney.  This constitutes election fraud, a  far worse problem, and a real one, than voter impersonation.  Rigging elections is illegal.

Every county currently issues a voter identification document to every registered voter:  a government issued voter card.  Why is that not sufficient?  County elections services departments verify each voter registration application submitted and verifies the voter’s identity.  The system works because not one Republican could identify a case of voter fraud during testimony on the bill.  Not one.

Meanwhile 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a state issued voter ID card with their photo.  These are predominently Democratic demographic voters:  young people, disabled folks, the elderly and the urban poor.  

The man who got Corbett’s contract while teachers go on furlough, disabled people lose benefits and others are kicked off medical care and cash assistance, is Chris Bravacos, a GOP operative.  He has raised money for Mitt Romney and now will actively engage in propaganda to convince you he isn’t actually working on a partisan election rigging scheme to get his man elected.  And you’re paying him to do the job.

Meanwhile PennDOT has been charging voters for the ID cards which makes this a poll tax.  $10 million of critically needed tax dollars are allocated to pay for the ID’s but it seems no one in Tom Corbett’s told PennDOT about that.

Bush v. Gore stipulated that Florida’s recount be suspended after the 2000 election because it might disenfranchise some voters.  Tom Corbett disenfranchised 758,000 Pennsylvanians when he signed this horrible bill.  Now lawsuits against it are popping up like weeds in the summer costing you more of your tax dollars.  This is what Republicans call fiscal conservatism?  Mike Turzai and Tom Corbett need to be arrested for election fraud.