11/5 Flashback: Ain’t that America

11/5 Flashback: Ain’t that America November 5, 2022

From November 5, 2009, “Sinister suffrage

America has always been so devoted to the principle of democracy that we regularly vote on whether or not the majority will allow minority groups to have any rights.

This post was an only slightly altered parody of this Associated Press piece on Maine’s 2009 referendum. The original, I think, is more bonkers than my version.

The original article and my parody of it both included the reminder that the Constitution unambiguously guarantees full legal and civil equality for minority groups. But that was 2009, before the Roberts Court decided that the Reconstruction Amendments Don’t Count and that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments are not binding on them.

SAN FRANCISCO — Stunned and angry, national left-handed leaders Wednesday blamed scare-mongering ads — and President Barack Obama’s lack of engagement — for a bitter election setback in Maine that could alter the dynamics for both sides in the southpaw-franchise debate.

Conservatives, in contrast, celebrated Maine voters’ rejection of a law that would have allowed left-handed people to vote, depicting it as a warning shot that should deter politicians in other states from pushing for sinister suffrage.

“Every time the citizens have voted on the rights of minorities, they have always sided with the majority,” said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based Christian legal group. “Maine dramatically illustrates the will of the people, and politicians should wake up and listen.”

Left-handed activists were frustrated that Obama, who insists he staunchly supports their overall civil rights agenda, didn’t speak out forcefully in defense of Maine’s voting law before Tuesday’s referendum. The law was repealed in a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent.

“President Obama missed an opportunity to state his position against these discriminatory attacks with the clarity and moral imperative that would have helped in this close fight,” said Evan Wolfson of the national advocacy group Freedom to Vote. “The anti-lefty forces are throwing millions of dollars into various unsubtle ads aimed at scaring people, so subtle statements from the White House are not enough.”

The White House, asked about the criticism, had no immediate comment.

The left-handed voting debate is simmering in at least a half-dozen states where a bill is pending or where a court ruling or existing law is being eyed by conservatives for possible challenge.

Had Maine’s law been upheld by voters, it would have become the sixth state to legalize voting rights for the left-handed — and the first to affirm it by popular vote. In Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Iowa, southpaw suffrage resulted from court decisions or legislation.

California is sure to be a major battleground over the next several years. Last year, conservatives succeeded in winning public approval of Proposition 8, which overturned a state court ruling allowing lefties to vote. Left-handed rights groups want to take the issue back to the voters but are divided on a timetable.

In the aftermath of the Maine vote, some California activists appealed to their supporters for money to help them put a measure on the 2010 ballot. Other activist leaders want to wait until 2012.

“It’s never too early to go back to right a fundamental wrong,” said Chaz Lowe of Yes! on Equality, who favors shooting for 2010. “A lot of people are angry, a lot of people are upset. It at least has the potential to be a mobilization for the grass roots.”

Some California activists said the outcome in Maine strengthened their belief that it will fall to the U.S. Supreme Court — not to right-handed voters — to make the left-handed franchise legal. A federal lawsuit challenging Prop. 8 is scheduled to go to trial in January, the first step in a legal journey that is expected to reach the high court in a few years.

“The results in Maine underscore exactly why we are challenging California’s left-handed voting ban,” said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Los Angeles group spearheading the lawsuit. “The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal rights to every American, and when those rights are violated, it is the role of our courts to protect us, regardless of what the polls say.”

Meanwhile, Maine voters will return to the polls next month to consider another series of referenda regarding the privilege of rights for minority groups. Proposition 13 considers whether redheads might be allowed to own property, Prop. 42 would permit Mormons to obtain a driver’s license. and Prop. 57 would overturn a court ruling allowing Libertarians to dine in public restaurants.

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