Various good-government groups will, this coming weekend, commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Montgomery to Selma led by Dr. King (dramatized in the outstanding film Selma), and hence the ACLU helps you tell Congress to repair the damage the Supreme Court did to the Voting Rights Act in its Shelby County v. Holder decision. As you remember, the Supreme Court found the Voting Rights Act's preclearance formula outdated (though, given the swift post-ruling proliferation of anti-voter legislation in a lot of the states the original Voting Rights Act targeted, maybe not so much out of date, amirite?). But the Court did not preclude (could not have precluded, really, so let's not give them too much credit) a different formula with which the Justice Department could preclear new state laws regarding voting rights, hence H.R. 885, the Voting Rights Amendment Act, an actual bipartisan piece of legislation. I would not be tremendously offended if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell worked to pass this legislation to prove that a Republican-run Congress isn't something to fear.
Meanwhile, if you've missed previous alerts concerning H.R. 706/S. 353, the Justice Safety Valve Act, then Lisa Angelos, of Sandy, UT, has started a petition on Change.org which helps you tell your Congressfolk to support fairer and saner sentencing for non-violent drug offenders. Ms. Angelos, as it happens, has a very personal reason to support the bill: her brother, a father of three, got 55 years in prison for a pot-related offense a little over a decade ago, and (in what has become a familiar refrain) the presiding judge opposed the sentence that mandatory minimum laws forced him to give. The Justice Safety Valve Act wouldn't change or repeal mandatory minimum laws, but it would give judges the ability to give sentences below statutory minimums if they can justify doing so, and the bill would also give all parties involved the opportunity to respond to the judge's decision. So, the bill would not only let judges judge a bit, but it would still allow a fair hearing of opinions about the judge's judging. Sounds like a win-win -- but only, of course, if we make ourselves heard.
Finally, President Obama has spoken more than once about the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the nefarious Citizens United decision, but if you're a bit tired of Mr. Obama acting like there's little he can do about campaign finance corruption, you're not alone, and there are indeed many tools available to him. One such tool -- which would not require approval from Great American Super-Awesome President of Fun Mitch McConnell or his trusty sidekick Orange Johnny -- would be an executive order mandating campaign finance disclosure from any corporation that receives federal contracts. That would mean any corporation spending our money must account for its campaign spending to us. And note that corporations getting federal contracts could very well donate to those politicians who have helped them get federal contracts in the first place -- and if that isn't a recipe for corruption, I don't know what is. Hence both People for the American Way and Free Speech for People help you tell Mr. Obama to mandate campaign finance disclosure for federal contractors.