Hi Everyone!                                                                                                August 2, 2016

Thanks for supporting the work of the Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC)! 

The Transformative Justice Coalition  is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3)  nonprofit organization , formed in 2015
by Renowned Civil Rights Leader Barbara R. Arnwine.

IGNITING CHANGE ON “Saluting the 51st Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act: More Necessary Now Than Ever!

On Tuesday, August 2nd, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. EDT, Igniting Change radio show host Barbara Arnwine, Founder and President of Transformative Justice Coalition, had the following guests:  Rev. William Barber, Architect of the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina, whose speech last week electrified the Democratic National Convention; Benard Simelton, President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference, civil rights leaders and  Lee Smith III, Junior at TSU who brought a Millennial's perspective on recent voting rights developments.  Our show covered the upcoming 51st Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, the planned National Days of Action, and the recent voting rights developments. If you missed the show or just want to hear it again, the podcast will be up on BarbaraArnwine.com tonight after 8:00 PM EDT.

Next week, our show will examine the two year anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Be sure to Tune In from wherever you are at  www.barbaraarnwine.com and you can call in at  1-800-450-7876 during the show next Tuesday from 12pm-1pm EDT.

Reverend William Barber

We were honored to have that Reverend William Barber, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week, on Igniting Change on Tuesday, August 2nd. He shared perspectives on the recent victory in the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the  NAACP v. McCrory  case, which found the North Carolina voter suppression law  racially discriminatory and violative of the Voting Rights Act. If you missed the show or just want to hear it again, the podcast will be up on BarbaraArnwine.com tonight after 8:00 PM EDT.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II addressed the nation  last Thursday at the Democratic National Convention. He gave a moral critique and call for people of conscience to be moral defibrillators to 'shock and revive the heart of our nation' with the power of love, mercy, and justice for all.

He is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church; author of “The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement"; president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach; visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary; and the architect of the "Moral Monday" movement in North Carolina.

He’s currently co-leading “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values” national tour, which has mobilized thousands of people of faith, including over 1,200 faith leaders, who signed on to the "Higher Ground Moral Declaration," delivered to both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention this month.

N. Carolina State Conference of
NAACP v. McCrory,
___ F.3d ____ (4th Cir. 2016).  
Not long after the United States Supreme Court  Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U. S. ____ (2013) decision (which dismantled Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act),  North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law H.B. 589. H.B. 589 shortened the early voting period by a full week, eliminated same-day registration, prohibited provisional ballots cast out of precinct from being counted, expanded the ability to challenge voters, eliminated a pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year olds, and implemented a strict photo ID requirement. North Carolina claimed to enact these laws to prevent election fraud.

The Department of Justice , the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, and various  individuals, churches, and civil rights organizations brought suit against North Carolina alleging "that the restrictions on early voting and elimination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting were motivated by discriminatory intent in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; that these provisions had a discriminatory result in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and that these provisions burdened the right to vote generally, in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment".  N. Carolina State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory, ___ F.3d ____ , ____, 16-1468, 2016 WL 4053033, at *19 (4th Cir. 2016). 

This case has been litigated in North Carolina courts for about 3 years. It was a surpisingly direct opinion written by Judge Motz, on behalf of the court (except for Part V.B.). In the first paragraph, while praising the lower courts for their in-depth research, the opinion also says how the lower courts erred: "But, for some of its findings, we must conclude that the district court fundamentally erred. In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees. This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina." Id. at ___, *9. 

Ultimately, the decision of the lower court was reversed and remanded, and the court held: 
  1. North Carolina had a history of racial discrimination in voting that weighed in favor of finding the election law was motivated by discriminatory racial intent; (Id. at __, *31)
  2. specific sequence of events leading up to the passage of North Carolina's election reform law weighed in favor of finding the election law was motivated by discriminatory racial intent; (Id. at ___, *25)
  3. legislative history of North Carolina's election reform law weighed in favor of finding the election law was motivated by discriminatory racial intent; (Id. at  ___, *23, *46)
  4. disproportionate impact of North Carolina's election reform law on African Americans weighed in favor of finding the election law was motivated by discriminatory racial intent; (Id. at ___, *49)
  5. North Carolina's non-racial motivations for passing an election reform law did not explain the passage of the law, thus race constituted a but-for cause of the law; (Id. at ___, *60)  
  6. North Carolina's election reform law was severable;  (Id. at ___, *70) and,
  7. the Court would enjoin all challenged provisions, notwithstanding North Carolina's amendment to the election reform law (Id. at ___, *69).
Note: "Id." means I'm referring to the case  I most recently cited. All "*" page numbers correspond with the opinion linked at the bottom. The holdings are directly quoted from Westlaw. 
  To read the full text of this opinion, click on the link:

Veasey v. Abbot,  
___ F.3d ____ (5th Cir. 2016).  
This case has been distinguished by the previous case,  N. Carolina State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory ___ F.3d ____ (4th Cir. 2016).  Our court systems normally rely on a doctrine known as stare decisis, which is latin for "to stand on decided cases". This means when one court decides something, other courts in the same state follow that precedent or rely on other state court decisions about similar case types as precedent if none is given. If the United States Supreme Court decides something, for example, (take Roe v. Wade) then all courts must follow that precedent.  When a case is  distinguished by another case, it means the court decides the holding or legal reasoning of a case does not apply, either because the case involves dissimilar facts or because it requires a different application of law.

In 2011, the Texas Senate enacted a law known as Senate Bill 14 ( "SB 14" ). SB 14 was a voter photo ID law enacted, Texas claimed, to prevent voter fraud. The types of ID that were permissible for a Texan to be able to vote under SB 14 were: 

       (1) a Texas driver’s license or personal identification card issued by the Depart-                  ment of Public Safety (“DPS”) that has not been expired for more than 60 days;                  (2) a U.S. military identification card with a photograph that has not been expired                for more than 60 days; (3) a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photo; (4) a U.S.                    passport that has not been expired for more than 60 days; (5) a license to carry                  a concealed handgun issued by DPS that has not been expired for more than 60                days; or (6) an Election Identification Certificate (“EIC”) issued by DPS that has                    not been expired for more than 60 days. 

Veasey v. Abbot,  ___ F.3d ____, ____, 14-41127, 2016 WL 3923868, at *4 (5th Cir. 2016).

Before SB 14, Texas did not require voters to show photo ID to vote. Out of all the required photo ID's listed, among them not listed (and therefore not permitted) are a federal or state government ID and a student ID. A number of Plaintiffs, including Congressman Marc Veasey, brought suit against the State of Texas, alleging "that SB 14's photo identification requirements violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because SB 14 was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and has a racially discriminatory effect." Id. at __, *7. They also alleged "that SB 14's photo ID requirement places a substantial burden on the fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and constitutes a poll tax under the Fourteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendments." Id. at __, *7-8. Texas "defend[ed] SB 14 as a constitutional requirement imposed to prevent in-person voter fraud and increase voter confidence and turnout." Id. at __, *8. 

A little procedural history: when the case was first heard by a lower court, "the district court held that SB 14 was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose, has a racially discriminatory effect, is a poll tax, and unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote".   Id. at __, *3. Texas appealed, "and a panel of our court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded the case for further findings." Id. at __, *3. Then, Texas "filed a petition for [the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit] to rehear the case en banc, which [the Court] granted. Id. at __, *3 (emphasis added). When a court decides to hear a case en banc, it means all of the judges of a court participate together, rather than individually or in panels of a few. That made this case especially significant because a case heard en banc is usually reserved for the most important or controversial cases. (Although it is noted within the opinion that this opinion is not soley an en banc opinion).  Id. at __, *n1. 

The questions before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was the same question the previous courts had to answer: does SB 14 which requires Texas voters to acquire and present one of six forms of photo ID in order to vote, violate the Constitution and/or the Voting Rights Act?

The Court upheld the district court’s determination that the law violated section 2 due to its discriminatory effect on minority voters.

Note: "Id." means I'm referring to the case  I most recently cited. All "*" page numbers correspond with the opinion linked at the bottom.
  To read the full text of this opinion, click on the link:
  August 5th- 7th: National Days of Action
in Honor of the  51st Anniversary
of the Signing of the Voting Rights Act 
It was August 6th, 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. This year, on the week of that historic and important signing, we commemorate all it means for all to be able to have the right to vote. After the  Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision three years ago gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, it is just as important to recognize the 51st Anniversary of it's signing as it was to have it signed. We must draw attention to voting rights and create a national conversation and mobilization regarding voter suppression. We won't stop until every vote counts!

This is why on o August 5th-7th , the Voting Rights Alliance is calling on all Americans to join in National Days of Action, including our Twitter Town Hall on  August 6th  ( via our Twitter Handle @VRAMatters ) and candle-light vigils at churches and other assemblies at the Capitol in Washington, DC and across other cities to express our gratitude to those who sacrificed so much to make the 1965 VRA possible. We are picking up the mantle of fighting to restore the Voting Rights Act by fixing the damage done by the 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, which has helped to embolden states in implementing voter suppression laws. Visit tjcoalition.org for more information. 

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Registration  is now underway for the African American Women and the Law Conference (AAWLC). This conference will examine the role of the Law and public policy on the lives of African American women and girls with the goal of identifying transformational reforms and mobilization.

Early Bird Registration ends August 20th. If you register early, the registration price is $25 off.  

October 6th- TJC Voting Rights 3.0 Symposium & Annual John Conyers Awards Reception
Mark your calendars now for the Transformative Justice Coalition's October 6th Symposium on "Voting Rights 3.0" and the Annual John Conyers Award Reception!!  The 4:00-5:30 p.m. Symposium will feature national voting rights experts discussing voting rights three years after the Shelby decision and what can be done to improve the landscape for the November Presidential Election.  Following the symposium will be the Annual John Conyers Awards Fundraising Reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

* Aug. 20th--Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Howard University Bison Alumni, CLE Program
* Oct. 22nd--Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet