A Busy Day YesterdayBy
Florida Gov. Rick Scott got his wrist slapped over recently passed H.B. 1355. The bill places criminal restrictions on third-party voter registration:
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle blocked most of the FL law’s new registration requirements today, finding they accomplished little more than suppressing the registration of new voters without serving any legitimate state interest. “If the goal is to discourage voter-registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work,” wrote Hinkle in his frequently scathing decision [PDF].
The Brennan Center quotes from Hinkle’s ruling this way: “Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one’s rights in a federal court. … [W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever … And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives — thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote — promotes democracy.”
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, First Circuit, in Boston struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional:
The court, the first federal appeals panel to rule against the benefits section of the law, agreed with a lower court judge who in 2010 concluded that the law interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns. The ruling came in two lawsuits, one filed by the Boston-based legal group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the other by state Attorney General Martha Coakley.
In Greensboro, the jury in the John Edwards campaign finance case acquitted Edwards on one charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions and deadlocked on the other five charges. Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial. After thanking the jury, Edwards said,
“While I do not believe I did anything illegal — or ever thought I was doing anything illegal — I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. And there is no one else responsible for my sins.”
“I am responsible…. It’s me, it is me and me alone.”
The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has become the nineteenth group to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council. Walmart’s departure from the right-wing legislation-crafting group is particularly salient because the big box chain is also the largest purveyor of firearms in the country.
Eighteen other groups have dropped ALEC since their ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation came under scrutiny in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Walmart is now the largest company to do so.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act is due soon. The Obama administration is already bracing for that.