The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

A week after some of the South’s last white Democrats went down to defeat, the Supreme Court will hear a case of alleged racial gerrymandering Wednesday to decide whether Republican lawmakers violated the Constitution by packing more blacks into black-majority districts.

The Alabama case opens a new phase in a long-running dispute over when, if ever, lawmakers may draw district lines based on the race of the voters.

The tables have turned since the 1990s, when the court last focused on the issue. Then, black leaders and civil rights advocates argued in favor of race-based districts as a means of electing new black representatives to Congress and to state legislatures. The court’s conservatives were mostly skeptical of these race-based districts.

But with a push from the Justice Department and the Voting Rights Act, Southern states drew new districts that helped bring a wave of African Americans into legislatures. By this measure, Alabama can claim success. About one-fourth of its voters are black, and black Democrats hold about one-fourth of the seats in the state House and Senate.

Their political power is minimal, however, since control rests in the hands of white Republicans. Now, black lawmakers and Alabama Democrats are arguing that states under Republican control have gone too far and concentrated too many blacks into black-majority districts. They say these “racial quotas” are a new form of segregation, and they urged the high court to rein in this overuse of race in redistricting.

For their part, Alabama’s lawyers say the state has followed the guidelines set out by the Justice Department and strengthened the majority-black districts.

AFP Photo/Mark Wilson


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

The privilege of beholding the corals of Belize, the second largest reef system on earth, is a complete marvel that can never be taken for granted. The school of nine squid in perfect alignment that stared at us like transparent sentinels ,the green barracuda that floated as if in suspended animation, looking for prey. Those moments of utter awe were soul transformative not only for a child, but also for parents nurturing a young human to the ultimate reason to exist on this earth, to care for life.

Over the next few years, a battle was waged between environmentalists and those who saw dollars in the form of oil extraction in the reef. Thankfully on December 1, 2015, right after the Cop21 Paris Climate Accord, Belize made the tremendous decision to ban drilling outright -- and is working hard to restore coral. The same cannot be said for many other fragile parts of the world particularly the warming Arctic, where Russia has a near stranglehold of more than half the Arctic Ocean.

Keep reading... Show less
Youtube Screenshot

The saturation of the ranks of our police forces with far-right extremists is one of the harsh realities of American life that bubbled up during the police brutality protests of 2020 and was laid bare by the January 6 insurrection. The presence of these extremists not only is a serious security and enforcement threat—particularly when it comes to dealing with far-right violence—but has created a toxic breach between our communities and the people they hire to protect and serve them. Too often, as in Portland, the resulting police culture has bred a hostility to their communities that expresses itself in biased enforcement and a stubborn unaccountability.

Much of this originates in police training, which are the foundations of cop culture. And a recent Reuters investigative report has found that police training in America is riddled with extremists: Their survey of police training firms—35 in all—that provide training to American police authorities found five of them employ (and in some cases, are operated by) men whose politics are unmistakably of the far-right extremist variety. And these five people alone are responsible for training hundreds of American cops every year.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}