Posts of type: Editorial
This week the Supreme Court will hear one of the most important cases in our generation, Shelby County v. Holder. At issue is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires all or parts of 16 “covered” states with long histories and contemporary records of voting discrimination to seek approval from the federal government for voting changes. The court is questioning whether Section 5 remains a necessary remedy for ongoing discrimination.
After more than a century of debate, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress won a historic victory with passage of the Affordable Care Act. Exorbitant health care costs prompted Democrats to take the lead and do what no other Congress has been able to do --- put health insurance in reach for more than 50 million uninsured Americans and more affordable for everyone. Rather than build on this major step forward, Republicans immediately mounted challenges aimed at repeal to put insurance companies back in charge. Minutes after the highest court in the land upheld the law, multimillion-dollar attack ads hit the airwaves. But don't be fooled.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin on Tuesday to address potential new barriers between citizens and their right to vote. Speaking at the library, which honors the service of an American who fought for the seminal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and opened the doors to our democracy for millions of Americans, the attorney general acknowledged that this work continues, declaring: "Ensuring that every veteran, every senior, every college student, and every eligible citizen has the right to vote must become our common cause. And, for all Americans, protecting this right, ensuring meaningful access and combating discrimination must be viewed, not only as a legal issue but as a moral imperative."
Yes, we have come a great distance — but we still have a great distance to go. King’s speech was a cogent statement about the need for civil rights, but its deepest purpose was about much more. His dream was about more than racial justice, though racism often represents the greatest moral stain on our society. His dream was about building a society based on simple justice that values the dignity and the worth of every human being.
The letter comes as gas prices have surged above $4 a gallon in many parts of the country and the Big Five reported a combined $32 billion in first quarter profits, huge gains from a year ago.
The American people have said they want job creation and tax fairness to be a top priority of Congress. They also want us to be fiscally responsible and reduce the deficit, while we preserve important programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Seven young protesters arrested in Nashville last month recognized how much is at stake, and they did not hesitate to stand up for the rights of working people. Their civil disobedience brings to mind another fight for civil rights: the strike by the 1,300 sanitation workers of AFSCME Local 1733, whose courageous actions gained national attention and brought the intervention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Almost 50 years ago Saturday, Martin Luther King Jr. transformed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial into a modern-day pulpit with his message of faith and hope. He stood before the world and shared his vision for a different, better America. He inspired all of us to reach for our higher selves and lay down the burden of racial discrimination and hate.
As we hang in the balance as a nation, whispering silent prayers for the victims, the survivors and the slain, as we wait for news of the final outcome of this tragedy, perhaps we should take a moment to review our own history as a nation.
My heart goes out to the family of Officer Mark McPhail who has suffered, not only due to the wrongful death of a devoted father and husband, but also due to the inability of government to resolve this case justly.