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Black Churches Have Moral Authority to Defend the Black Vote

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During the civil rights movement's struggle against discrimination and voter suppression in Jim Crow America, the Black Church was a source of refuge and resolve. Today, a new wave of voter suppression laws is targeting Black voters, and new generations of Black clergy are bringing their moral authority to a campaign to defend the Black vote.

We need these prophetic voices. The new Jim Crow doesn't look exactly like the old Jim Crow, but it is grounded in the same assault on the dignity, humanity, and citizenship rights of Black Americans. We need our communities' truth-tellers to speak out. Because the new Jim Crow is grounded in layers of lies.

The Big Lie told by former President Donald Trump and his supporters is that he won the 2020 election, but had his victory stolen by corrupt election officials and Black and brown people casting fraudulent votes.

The existence of widespread voter fraud is itself a lie. It has been debunked over and over again. But Republicans in dozens of states are using that lie to justify new restrictive voting rules. They claim to be protecting "election integrity" but they are really trying to make it harder for some Black and brown people to cast a ballot and have it counted.

Right-wing lawmakers feel free to impose discriminatory voting rules thanks to another liethis one told by John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States. He justified the decision of a conservative majority of the Court in 2013 to abolish a key enforcement mechanism of the Voting Rights Act by saying in effect that racial discrimination in voting was a thing of the past.

States from across the old Confederacy proved him wrong, by acting to impose new restrictions on registration and voting. Some went into effect just hours after the Supreme Court gave them the green light.

That was bad enough. But the right wing's voter suppression machinery really kicked into high gear after the 2020 election. Republican lawmakers saw that Black voter turnout helped President Joe Biden win key battleground states. And they vowed not to let that happen again.

Republican lawmakers' strategy for holding onto power is not to reach out to Black voters, but to shut them out. But we won't be shut out. We will push Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, two laws that are needed to overturn the new Jim Crow laws and prevent future restrictions on voting.

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It’s Up to Us to Defend the Black Vote

By Ben Jealous

Just weeks before Election Day, with millions of people voting already, the Black vote is being attacked from every angle.

After the Supreme Court’s conservatives gutted important parts of the Voting Rights Act a few years ago, many states controlled by right-wing Republicans went wild imposing restrictions on voter registration and voting.

This year, they’re completely out of control.

Massively funded right-wing extremists are using threats and lawsuits against state and local officials to force purges of lists of eligible voters. The Trump campaign is trying to enlist an “army” of poll watchers to intimidate voters. With millions more Americans expected to vote by mail, Trump’s man in charge at the postal service has imposed new work rules that caused chaos and disrupted deliveries.

And those are just a few of the examples of voter suppression efforts around the country.

The Republican legislature and governor in Florida overrode millions of voters who passed a constitutional amendment to return the right to vote to people with criminal convictions once they completed their sentences; Republicans added a requirement that returning voters pay all related fines and fees before voting. That’s an unconstitutional poll tax, but courts filled with Trump-nominated judges have let Republicans get away with it.

On top of all that, Republicans are trying to force another Trump justice onto the Supreme Court just in time for the court’s conservatives to hear a case in which they could further erode the Voting Rights Act—and undermine Black Americans’ right to be free from racial discrimination in voting. That justice could also be the nail in the coffin for the Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of Americans get access to health care.

Even more recently, a couple of far-right activists have just been charged with voter intimidation felonies by Michigan’s attorney general after they sent robocalls to voters in Detroit falsely claiming that voting by mail will somehow make people vulnerable to tracking by police and debt collectors.

Attacks on the Black vote have a long history. In the early 1980s, the Republican Party was sued for intimidating minority voters and the party agreed to a federal court order not to engage in “ballot security” efforts. That order (more...)

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