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from Jim Gaines:

Clear-eyed dissent from Supreme Court’s ruling to allow Texas voter ID law

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Before dawn on Saturday morning, the Supreme Court issued a terse, unsigned ruling that, in effect, endorsed Texas’s voter-ID law, the most restrictive such law in the nation.

On October 9, in a 147-page opinion that followed a two-week trial on the facts, the Federal District Court in Corpus Christi had struck down the law, known as Senate Bill 14, as patently discriminatory, the equivalent of a poll tax. A week later that court’s injunction was overturned by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit.  It was this stay of the injunction — in effect a decision to let the voter-ID law go into effect — that  the Supreme Court left in place in on Saturday with its 57-word decision. The decision did not articulate the Court’s reasoning, but a blistering dissent made clear that its basis was not Senate Bill 14, but rather the confusion that a change so close to the election might create.

Excerpts of that dissent, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and  joined by justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are below. For ease of reading citations are omitted, but they can be found in the full text here.

I would not upset the District Court’s reasoned, record-based judgment, which the Fifth Circuit accorded little, if any, deference … The fact-intensive nature of this case does not justify the Court of Appeals’ stay order; to the contrary, the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to home in on the facts found by the district court is precisely why this Court should vacate the stay….

from The Great Debate:

View from Dallas, Texas: The city isn’t taking Ebola seriously enough

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DALLAS, Texas -- I woke up to an early text from a close neighbor Sunday morning: “Did you get an emergency call from the city?” she asked. Dallas residents in the “M Streets” area were receiving reverse 911 calls about a nurse who lived on the 5700 block of Marquita, a street just four blocks south and four blocks west of the quiet block of McCommas, where I reside with my husband and two young children. The latest international health crisis patient – the first person to contract the disease on American soil – was a neighbor. Ebola was literally at my doorstep.

For me, panic had set in two weeks prior when Thomas Eric Duncan, who has since died of Ebola, was first admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the facility where I gave birth to my son. I wasn’t confident the hospital was equipped to handle an Ebola case. I wasn’t sure we knew enough about the disease. But, importantly, this being my third stint as a Dallas resident, I was unsure the city could handle the responsibility of becoming a guinea pig for the world. After all, Dallas, probably not unlike other U.S. cities, is operating at or close to healthcare capacity dealing with its daily medical demands. The U.S. Ebola protocols were to be tested for the first time in front of the world. Could we react quickly in the midst of an already full plate?  If not, how quickly would our healthcare system -- and our local population -- be in danger?

from The Great Debate:

Perry’s indictment: Crime and punishment, Texas-style

Texas Governor Perry, a possible Republican candidate for 2016 presidential race, answers questions from reporters following appearance at business leaders luncheon in Portsmouth

It’s a big country, where states have their own legal peculiarities, political cultures and definitions of what makes a debilitating political scandal. Take Texas, for example, where the Republican governor, Rick Perry, has been indicted for abuse of office.

In the past 25 years, we’ve seen politicians and government officials increasingly treat scandal less as catastrophe and more as just another cost of doing business. Perry, however, has taken this to a completely new level: He is wearing his indictment as a badge of honor and has smoothly returned to his 2016 presidential campaign without missing a beat.

from The Great Debate:

You can’t blame immigrants for gun violence

A pile of handguns are placed in a trash bin after they were surrendered during a gun buyback program in Los Angeles, California

The eruption of anti-immigrant fury over the federal government’s plans to temporarily relocate undocumented Latino children to shelters and Border Patrol facilities in Murietta, California, and other cities, is largely founded on the expressed belief that immigrants bring drugs and crime, threatening the safety of communities.

Yet as figures from the Murietta Police Department show, Latinos commit fewer crimes, especially drug offenses, compared to whites in their respective proportions of the city’s population.  Racially diverse areas with rapidly growing, younger immigrant populations are also becoming dramatically safer from gun violence, according to surprising new figures from the Centers for Disease Control.

from The Great Debate:

Twitter use on the rise in #statecapitals

Twitter’s November initial public offering has been a success for the company’s founders and early investors. This reflects the market’s optimistic view of the company’s profit-making potential. For Twitter has transformed much of daily life -- including how we get our news, communicate with others and participate in public discourse. (In fact, many media outlets now factor in what is trending on Twitter when covering news stories.)

Many politicians are now using Twitter to raise their profile. Most notable is the newest senator, Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Despite the fact that he was mayor of Newark, a city known for its high unemployment and high school dropout rates rather than good governance and policy innovation, Booker’s effective use of Twitter (1,446,106 followers) played a key role in making him a national political figure.

from MuniLand:

Texas’ great energy success

Texas is America’s energy powerhouse, producing 16 percent of domestic energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

    Texas was the leading crude oil-producing State in the Nation in 2011 and exceeded production levels even from the Federal offshore areas. Texas accounted for 28 percent of U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2011, making it the leading natural gas producer among the States. Texas led the Nation in wind-powered generation capacity in 2010 and is the first State to reach 10,000 megawatts of wind capacity.

Although Texas is known for its oil and natural gas production, it is in the area of wind energy that Texas has hit a new milestone. The state opened a massive electricity transmission grid that was built to gather wind energy produced in West Texas and move it to the population centers in East Texas. It is the first to build infrastructure specifically to support industrial scale production of alternative energy. Here is how it happened, according to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Texas:

from The Great Debate:

Democrats: It’s the states, stupid!

ILLUSTRATION: Matt Mahurin

Unless the Democrats wake up to the importance of winning state legislative elections, they are likely to remain a largely impotent minority in the House of Representatives and equally feeble in the state legislatures. The momentous Supreme Court decisions on the Voting Rights Act, same-sex marriage and affirmative action make winning these races all the more vital, for all these rulings deal with state action. The huge Republican victory in the 2010 election could turn out to be a gift that keeps giving.

The GOP electoral sweep in 2010 was no accident. Republicans understand the importance of the state legislative races. After the 2008 election the GOP adopted a strategy called the REDistricting MAjority Project (REDMAP). As Karl Rove explained:

from Full Focus:

Photos of the week

Our top photos from the past week.

from Full Focus:

Texas explosion

An explosion tore through a fertilizer plant and leveled dozens of homes in a small Texas town, killing up to 15 people, injuring more than 160 and spewing toxic fumes that forced the evacuation of half the community.

from MacroScope:

Texas-sized jobs growth turns puny? Don’t y’all believe it, Dallas Fed says

Is the pickup in U.S. jobs growth over before it even started? That’s the conclusion you might reach if you checked out the latest Texas employment update from the Dallas Fed , which shows the Lone Star state added only 4,000 jobs in January.Texas, as boosters like Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher never tire of pointing out, has been an enormous engine of job growth for the United States since the end of the Great Recession.

The state added 335,000 jobs last year. For it to generate a paltry 4,000 jobs in January – well, that sounds like bad news.

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