In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two high-profile challenges affecting states directly: Shelby County v. Holder, a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as two cases on same-sex marriage. Arguments in the Voting Rights Act case are scheduled for February 27th, while arguments in the two marriage cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, are set for late March. States and the Obama administration are already filing briefs in advance of both cases. At the same time, efforts to advance marriage equality continued this week in state legislatures including Minnesota and New Jersey:
For months, conservative strategists and pundits have publicly ruminated on the need to turn their focus away from "divisive" social issues — things like the war on women's health that dominated statehouses in 2011 and 2012, when states passed an astounding 135 restrictions on abortion. But if this is the national strategy, word has apparently not yet filtered down to the states just yet. Here's just some of the anti-women's health bills that have been proposed and passed in statehouses over the past week as the war on women continues unabated:
A federal district court in Atlanta struck down major provisions of state anti-immigrant laws in both Alabama and Georgia. The decisions, following June's Supreme Court decision striking down provisions of Arizona's SB 1070, send a strong warning to states considering similar measures. Progressive States Network’s Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Suman Raghunathan, issued the following statement following today’s rulings:
A spate of destructive broadband bills has been sweeping across the country, spurred on by the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Unbelievably, just as broadband Internet becomes an essential tool for millions of Americans, these states, following the pattern of the model ALEC bill, are making moves toward depriving states of any power to ensure reliable, competitive, and affordable service that serves all state residents — from small businesses to those on the other side of the digital divide. The companies behind these bills want the ability to choose to serve only the locations and the individuals that yield the greatest profits. It is simply not smart governance to leave state authorities without the power to ensure everyone can use such a critical asset.
As “The Year of Voter ID” continues, pushback from outraged voters in a number of venues is leading to a growing realization that these supposed efforts to maintain election integrity are actually intended to suppress the vote this November. As a result, backers of voter suppression measures are facing unexpected obstacles at both the state and federal level in their efforts to tilt the electoral scales.
Last Friday, Governor Robert Bentley signed into law a head-scratcher of a bill, HB 658, which not only fails to address the catastrophic provisions of HB 56, but doubles down on its failed attrition-through enforcement strategy and cements Alabama’s standing as home to the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation in the country.
State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy – a growing national group of 96 state legislators representing constituents in 38 states and counting – issued the following statement today on last week’s signing of Alabama’s latest anti-immigrant bill, HB 658, into law:
As we approach the middle of the legislative session in many statehouses across the country, it’s clear that state legislators are continuing to abandon the unconstitutional, anti-immigrant approach modeled off of Arizona and Alabama’s economically disastrous laws. Legislators, responding to changing demographics and politics, have instead started to focus on plausible and inclusive strategies aimed at broadening prosperity and increasing opportunities for all – regardless of immigration status.
As the world marks the 101st International Women’s Day, more and more American women are finding their own health under rhetorical and legislative attack in the halls of Congress, on radio airwaves, and in state after state. From attempts to defund organizations providing women with basic health services, to placing intrusive and often humiliating obstacles before women exercising the right to choose, to retricting access to contraception, the past few weeks have seen a range of attacks on women in the states – and a growing movement of progressive state lawmakers standing up and fighting back.
As state legislatures begin to pick up speed early in the 2012 session, a growing number of states that passed broad anti-immigrant laws over the past two years are seeing the error of their ways. Citing widespread economic devastation, a dramatically-worsened business climate, and a loss of public support, four states out of the five that passed laws based upon Arizona and Alabama’s flawed models are now seeking to repeal their anti-immigrant laws.