Ed Markey, left, replaced Mo Cowan, right, in a special election you may have missed among the Wendy Davis, DOMA, Voting Rights Act madness. PHOTO: Michael Horan, CC License.
How do you know it’s been an insanely epic news cycle? There was just a U.S. Senate election and no one seems to know or care. Not with Wendy Davis, DOMA, the Voting Rights Act, and a lot more. Here is a recap of the craziest 24 hours in political news in recent memory.
Tuesday Morning: The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 4, which detailed the areas of the country that required preclearance of any changes to election law, was a key provision of the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. Without Section 4, Section 5, which does the actual preclearing, is decommissioned until congress draws up new criteria for which districts should have the preclearance requirement (don't hold your breath on that one). Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act guarded against systemic disenfranchisement of minorities, and even helped an unknown Texas State Senator named Wendy Davis get elected.
Tuesday afternoon: President Obama gave a major address on climate change, outlining some of his most significant policy moves as President. Possibly the most significant move the President made: instructing his EPA to institute something along the lines of a carbon tax or cap and trade system.
Tuesday evening: The Supreme Court released another big decision with implications for minority groups in the weirdly named case, “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl.” An unlikely majority of 5 Justices (Alito, Kennedy, Breyer, Thomas, Roberts—not too often you see Thomas and Breyer on the same side of a 5-4 decision) ruled narrowly that the biological parent of a young girl could not claim custody over her via the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. Radio Lab did an excellent piece on the case prior to the decision. The decision was appropriately narrow, but still has many Native American groups concerned.
Tuesday night: Ed Markey defeated Gabriel Gomez to join Elizabeth Warren as another progressive Senator from Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. Markey takes John Kerry’s old seat, which he vacated to become Secretary of State. He is an environmental champion, one who big oil opposed, but couldn’t defeat in left-leaning Massachusetts.
Tuesday midnight, Texas time: Wendy Davis stood for 13 hours to block a bill which would have shuttered 90% of Texas abortion clinics from passing. Though her filibuster technically ended before she had run out the clock, she got a crucial assist from her Democratic colleagues and hundreds of screaming masses. Her fellow Democrats stalled the bill until there were 12 minutes to go, and the supporters literally screamed for the final dozen minutes, preventing the passage of the bill.
Wednesday morning: The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Signed into law by Bill Clinton, DOMA defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and made gay marriage federally unable to be recognized. The Supremes declined to rule on Prop 8, the California referendum that outlawed gay marriage. Instead, Prop 8 returns to its mostly dead status, due to an appeals court maintaining a district court ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Even before that happened, none of California's top officials were willing to enforce Prop 8.
Through all that and continuing on: The U.S. Senate continues to hash out details of amendments to the comprehensive immigration bill that has been a legislative priority since the 2012 election. Passage of the bill is virtually assured, but the degree of Republican support is not. Democrats, while wary of watering down the bill, want to attract as many Republicans as possible to put pressure on the House to put the same bill up for a vote.
Also, Edward Snowden, last we checked was still Tom Hanks from that movie where he's stuck in an airport.
Well that was fun. Let me know in the comments, what was the biggest story of this cycle? Wendy Davis, DOMA, climate change, the Voting Rights Act, something I missed? Enjoy the ride folks, politics hasn’t been this legitimately entertaining and substantive in a while.