August 1, 2013
Host: José Cárdenas
Arizona Voter Registration Law
- The United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found part of an Arizona voter registration law unconstitutional. Danny Ortega, attorney and past Chairman for the National Council of La Raza, will talk about the ruling and the Voting Rights Act.
- Danny Ortega - Attorney & Past Chairman, National Council of La Raza
| Keywords: law
, voting rights act
Jose Cardenas: During its recently completed term the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling dealing with part of an Arizona registration law, held it unconstitutional. Joining me to talk about that decision and the Voting Rights Act Case, another controversial case, attorney and past chairman for La Raza, Daniel Ortega. In many ways you have been directly involved in both cases, one specifically, the voter registration while you were counsel for one of the parties. Tell us about that.
Daniel Ortega: Well, the case started initially as a challenge to proposition 200, both provisions, those dealing with state benefits for the up documented as well as changing the registration laws of the state. The only thing that survived was the challenge against part of prop 200 that changed the manner in which you registered to vote which means you had to provide proof of citizenship, two, the manner in which you voted, which means you had to provide an identity document that showed you are the person you said you were. We challenged those and unfortunately at the trial level we lost it. We took it to the Court of Appeals and the portion that we wanted was the one where the court agreed that when it came to the federal form under the vote motor law that allowed people to register to vote without proof of citizenship, that the state was preempted from requiring a citizenship proof in order to register to vote. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people registered with the federal form and their registrations were rejected because they didn't provide proof because the form didn't require it. All it required was -- [audio not understandable] Before prop 200 everyone could register to vote if they said they weren't a felon, were over 18 years of age. Under prop 200 that changed. The particular challenge was only whether the state could impose on a federal form the requirement to show proof of citizenship.
Jose Cardenas: Justice Scalia said no.
Daniel Ortega: Yes, the majority of court said no.
Jose Cardenas: Was that a surprise that Justice Scalia voted in the majority.
Daniel Ortega: Big surprise to me but after reading the opinion Justice Scalia had to add more to his majority opinion where he was telling the state of Arizona, well, it's a problem but you can remedy this. You can go to the elections commission and try to get a preemption.
Jose Cardenas: Some think that was inappropriate. To basically tell a state how you can fix this.
Daniel Ortega: Well, there have been other situations, prop -- SB 1070 and others where he has done this. He's got a history of this.
Jose Cardenas: Let's move on to what many people think is much more significant decision, the voting rights act. You have been involved at the ground level on a lot of these issues.
Daniel Ortega: Well, I have been involved in two major voting rights act cases other than the one we just talked to as well as on the ground in terms of the voting rights act. What happened in the voting rights act, you have section 4 and section 5, which we only have time to deal with here. Section 4 basically has the mechanism or the formula for which states, which localities, municipalities, counties should be included in the pre-clearance process. In other words, you cannot pass a law that changes an election law without first getting clearance by the federal government. The court said the formula and the facts that were used to support that were antiquated, that it went back to the '60s, the facts of the '60s did not fit the situation today. The court I think historically did well appeared said, what existed in the '60s, in terms of the blatant discrimination, particularly against African-Americans in the south, and Latinos in the southwest to some degree, had to stop. That it was discriminatory. That's why the voting rights act was passed. As it continued to be extended a lot of the same facts according to the court that were being used to support the extension no longer applied to the situation today, and as a result, they declared unconstitutional section 4, which is the mechanism for determining who should be a part of pre-clearance under section . Section 5 is still alive, but in essence it's dead because there's no formula. Who is going to be covered and who is not?
Jose Cardenas: Many people have said those provisions may be effectively dead but the voting rights act isn't.
Daniel Ortega: The voting rights act is alive and well. The part of the process, what we see is people of color, Latinos particularly in Arizona, is the scrutiny to which the legislature, commissions like the redistricting commission, the scrutiny they were subject to in pre-clearance to make sure the voting rights act was complied with, that will not exist this. Is what I said to somebody today. We had the biggest law firm in the country helping us to make sure the voting rights act was properly applied. That was the federal government. That now is out of the equation until as the court says the Congress has a different formula for determining who should be included in pre-clearance.
Jose Cardenas: Ultimately maybe not that big of a deal but will just make things harder. Danny, thanks for coming on Horizonte.
Sounds of Cultura: Phoenix Fridas
- Phoenix Fridas are a group of valley artists sharing their inspiration from the works of artist Frida Kahlo. Carmen Guerrero, artist and member of the Phoenix Fridas will talk about the group.
- Carmen Guerrero - Artist and Member, Phoenix Fridas
| Keywords: artist
, phoenix fridas
Jose Cardenas: Tonight in SOC, they call themselves the Phoenix Fridas, valley artists on the works of Frida Kahlo. First here's some of their work. Joining me now is Carmen Guerrero, a member of the Phoenix Fridas. We're going to talk about some of the images we saw on the screen, but before we do that tell me about the Phoenix Fridas, how it was formed and what its inspiration and purpose is.
Carmen Guerrero: It was inspired by Frida Kahlo, the great Mexican artist, started by Kathy Moreo, a local author and crafter and she has talking about she's been doing craft shows all over the country. There was a movement of other groups calling themselves funny names, the Houston pistol girls. She thought, why don't we start a group called the Phoenix Fridas. That's how we came together about ten years ago.
Jose Cardenas: You have done a number of shows. Those pictures that we saw are from one this summer. But also there's an educational component. I understand some panel discussions.
Carmen Guerrero: We're going to have a panel at the Phoenix library. Every time we do an exhibition we talk about why Frida. Why she inspired each of us there are ten of us right now and we have different media, some are painters, some are beaders. I do bead work. We talk about why she inspires us and the idea is to also educate young girls or aspiring artists to find out more about this incredible artist, this amazing woman, also to find art inside themselves.
Jose Cardenas: Is one common theme? Is there one common theme that dominates the discussion?
Carmen Guerrero: Well, this coming panel discussion we're going to be talking about I paint my own realty, which is a quote from Frida's diary. She talked about painting her own realty. I think that's what we all do individually. We all have different gifts and different abilities.
Jose Cardenas: We're going to see how that's reflected in some of the pictures this. First one is an Emily Costello piece.
Carmen Guerrero: She's a painter.
Jose Cardenas: I think she has three or four that are particularly evocative of Frida Kahlo's face. We'll run through them as we're talking. This is one of hers. We have several more coming up that will just go through the screen as we're talking. This one, though, is yours.
Carmen Guerrero: Yes. It's an installation inspired by la Casa Azul, Frida and Diego Rivera's house. I was inspired by the blueness of it. It's so cool, especially in the heat.
Jose Cardenas: We have some of your handiwork.
Carmen Guerrero: I do bead work. I do earrings, necklaces and bracelets. That's my media.
Jose Cardenas: This is also a piece you've done.
Carmen Guerrero: Yes. I do mandalas. Frida Pated a lot of -- painted a lot of round things. Mandala is an even, round piece. It can be a meditative piece but it's something that's round, harmonic.
Jose Cardenas: We have several other artists whose work is represented here. I think I referenced some other pieces from Emily that we're going to have here. This is a different artist.
Carmen Guerrero: This -- we call her Banchita. She does quilting. This is the star in your eyes quilt. It's like three by five feet long.
Jose Cardenas: A theme in a lot of Mexican art and history is the serpent.
Carmen Guerrero: Yes, it takes her inspiration from her Mexican roots.
Jose Cardenas: This is very striking.
Carmen Guerrero: This is by Veronica. She calls this metro area Frida Murata. She does over lays of like the butterfly appeared the heart.
Jose Cardenas: And this seems to pick up the day of the dead theme.
Carmen Guerrero: The dead Frida.
Jose Cardenas: Another Emily Castillo?
Carmen Guerrero: Yes. This is called Las palomas, the doves. Frida always wore very Mexican dresses. That's what their painting reflects.
Jose Cardenas: Referring to --
Carmen Guerro: What I'm wearing today. A sarape. And the shawl.
Jose Cardenas: Very, very colorful.
Carmen Guerrero: Her colors are amazing. She paints in oils. She's an incredibly gifted painter.
Jose Cardenas: We have some more that we'll put up on the screen.
Carmen Guerrero: This is another one by Emily. Don't forget me. This picture that she got inspired was Frida's wedding picture. When she got married the second time to Diego she was wearing a dress similar to what she painted in that picture.
Jose Cardenas: The group has been together for ten years.
Carmen Guerrero: Right.
Jose Cardenas: What do you see going on in the future, more of these exhibitions, more education? What?
Carmen Guerrero: I think so. More exhibitions, more education. Maybe I see ourselves having like a role in our community to be fund-raisers to bringing awareness. I like to think we can raise awareness to women's issues. We haven't gotten there yet but we talk about it how can our group have a social mandate because Frida was very involved in her community, very out of the box the way she did her life.
Jose Cardenas: Even though she's been dead almost 50 years --
Carmen Guerrero: Over 50 years.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about Frida Kahlo. That is our show for tonight. From all of us at Horizonte, I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.
Supreme Court Review
- The United States Supreme Court released a number of rulings in its final few weeks in session. Arizona State University Law Professor Paul Bender will provide analysis of the session and long term impact of the rulings.
- Paul Bender - Law Professor, ASU
| Keywords: ruling
, supreme court
Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. The United States Supreme Court released a number of rulings in its just completed term. Joining me with analysis of this session and the long term impact of the rulings is ASU law professor Paul Bender. This is a yearly ritual. You have given commentary on the big news ones, defense of marriage, so forth. I would like to focus on some of the broader implications and what we're seeing the analysis of the decision has pointed out justice Kennedy was on the 5-4 decision, in the majority on 20 of 23. What does this say about the importance of his role?
Paul Bender: His role has been important for years. What it says is it continues to be important. It's very hard to find a case where Justice Kennedy doesn't get what he wants. Even when somebody else writes the opinion, Justice Kennedy seems to have influenced what happened because he probably said I won't join in that opinion unless you make it that way. Because he's the fifth vote in so many cases it's really the Kennedy court. The thing I find most interesting at the end the last term when chief justice Roberts joined with the liberals to uphold Obamacare, people said the court is going to be changing. He's a statesman, he's going to rescue the court from the solid blocks, partisan blocks that have been there for years and this term will be a test of whether that happens and he flunked the test. It did not happen. This term was just as solidly partisan on both sides. Roberts was just as solidly conservative as he's been and so is Kennedy who in case after case, what happens is what Kennedy wants to happen.
Jose Cardenas: I have seen some analyses indicating that justice Roberts even when he's voting with the liberals lays the groundwork for a future conservative decision. He gets some concessions from liberals in decisions that go their way and he joins and uses that in cases and there were examples of that.
Paul Bender: He did in the voting rights act. He had gotten Ginsberg and Breyer to join with him several years ago. Now when he holds it unconstitutional and they dissent he says those two joined my opinion when it says so and so. I don't think it forces them into doing something they don't want to do, but he's a long-term planner. He knows where he wants to go and he uses his power. Sometimes he will join the liberal majority so he can assign the opinion to somebody who will write an opinion more to what he likes, for example, the Arizona voting registration case. He and Scalia joined with the liberals and assigned the opinions to Scalia which I'm sure was much more favorable to Roberts' point of view than if Ginsburg or Breyer had written it.
Jose Cardenas: There's been a lot of discussion about the liberals versus conservatives but also about the women on the court and what role they play.
Paul Bender: Well, I think the three women on court are the three strongest justices. Clearly they are smart, they write well, I think they are persuasive. I think if anybody is going to bring the court together, going to break down the traditional partisan divisions it would be somebody like Justice Kagan or Justice Sotomayor. They are people who understand other people. They can work on trying to get people together on something. I'm really impressed with them. It's true they are all members of the liberal block. It would be nice if there was somebody like that on the other side so that some alliances could be forged across the usual divisions.
Jose Cardenas: Some people think that Justice Kagan is kind of the equivalent of Justice Scalia in terms of not just intelligence but the writing style, the ability to really put it to the other side.
Paul Bender: There's a lot in common but there's a big difference I think in that I don't think Justice Scalia has ever been successful in persuading other people to join with him and I don’t think he cares about that. He says what he wants to say, if you agree fine, if you don't, he's okay. I think she will as time goes on try to play the role of getting people together, trying to figure out what common points might be that she can get a majority that's not the traditional conservative versus liberal majority. I think that's her personality. She's very good with people. She likes to bring people together. I think that she is going to turn out in the long run to be somebody more like Justice Brennan, who in the days of the Warren court is really the Brennan court. He managed to get people, Justice Blackmun to join with him in things he never thought he would do. Brennan would figure out things that people wanted and would try to adapt his views to try to get three, four, five people together who weren't together before, move the law in the way that he wanted to do it. I think Kagan might do that. Scalia just doesn't have that kind of personality.
Jose Cardenas: I want to talk about Scalia. Justice Kagan has had to recuse herself in some critical cases, so I would expect as time goes on she will play a greater role in the court.
Paul Bender: Right. The recusal, she had to recuse herself because she was solicitor general before she went on the court. Solicitor general's office of the United States is involved in two-thirds to three-quarters of the cases the court sees. They were ones she worked on when she was in the lower court. That should be over now. She would be able to participate. This year one case that she did not participate in that was important was the affirmative action case from Texas. Where it was a challenge to the Texas affirmative, race conscious affirmative action program and there were only eight justices instead of nine. Because she was recused I think what happened was there were four conservatives want to overrule the Supreme Court's decision that approves of affirmative action to get diversity in higher education, and the four people, Kennedy and the three liberals, don't want to -- if they had voted that way it would have been a - tie and no opinion appeared the lower court would be affirmed. Chief Justice Roberts joined with the liberals and Kennedy arks signed the opinion to Kennedy so it would come out less favorable to affirmative action than the lower court opinion. So that if Kagan had been there that could not have happened because if she had been there, she and the four liberals and Kennedy would have made the majority and Ginsburg would have written the opinion and you would have a much more pro affirmative action opinion. Those things happen but that's not going to happen anymore. She will be in every case from now on.
Jose Cardenas: We have been making reference to Scalia. Is it just my imagination or has he been more irascible and cranky than usual?
Paul Bender: He's been cranky all the time. He joined a couple of times with the liberals but his whole career he has been cranky but he can be nasty to his colleagues. When he disagrees he doesn't just say I disagree, he says you're wrong, you're crazy, you're stupid, irrational, nobody could possibly think that. That's his style.
Jose Cardenas: A lot of readings from the bench, which is not normal practice.
Paul Bender: It used to be but isn't any more. Those are the things that make it hard for him to be somebody to bring the court together because he doesn't treat his colleagues as people he wants to agree with, he wants to say what he wants to say and if he disagrees he just wants to make that clear. He doesn't want to compromise.
Jose Cardenas: Couple of those decisions he joined with the liberals, those tending to 4th amendment search and seizure where he's very strong on the rights of individuals against government intrusion.
Paul Bender: That's another area where he takes a strong position. He believes that experts should have to testify rather than just hand in reports, for example, that hearsay evidence should not be brought inasmuch as it is. People have a right to confront the witnesses.
Jose Cardenas: The DNA ruling.
Paul Bender: The DNA ruling was really interesting. Earlier in the term, there he joined with the liberals to dissent from the decision that Kennedy wrote that permits police to take DNA from everybody they arrest just the way they take fingerprints for in this case serious crimes but I don't think you could be limited to that. He wrote an opinion saying this is really bad for the future. Something very bad is going on here. It wasn't clear to me what he thought bad was going on but it was clear he like a lot of liberals really worries about the government intrusion on his privacy. That is one area.
Jose Cardenas: One last question, Justice Ginsberg, who apparently is very close friends with Justice Scalia though they couldn't be more opposite in their opinions. She too read a number of her dissents from the bench. She is obviously getting up in her years. What can we expect?
Paul Bender: Her health was bad a couple of years ago. But I think she recovered from that, and I know she seems frail but her voice has always been weak and she is getting on. She's over 80, but she wants to stay on the court. I don't think she's going to leave unless forced to by health. Right now I don't see anything that's going to force her to leave. Some people have suggested maybe she would leave while Obama was still president to make sure that he would get to replace her rather than the person who replaces him. I don't think she will do that. That's not her of the she wants to be on the court, she wants to do what she wants to do. I think she will stay as long as she can.
Jose Cardenas: We'll see you again hopefully sooner than next July, but thank you so much for joining us.
Paul Bender: Thanks for having me.