Commentary

Five Supreme Court Justices just rolled back the most effective civil rights provision in our nation's history. What should we do now?

One option is to declare "mission accomplished" and forget about race in politics.

That, however, will not work. Although we have made amazing progress in the past fifty years, too many state and local politicians still maintain power by manipulating election rules.

Q. How would you summarize the decision in a single sentence?

A. The court effectively rolled back an important provision of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that the act’s formula requiring federal preapproval of election changes for some states but not others was outdated because it was based on data from the 1960s and ’70s.

Q. Did anything in in it — or in the justices’ votes — surprise you?

A. I was not surprised by the votes of the particular justices.

I spent the last couple of days at Netroots Nation, and it was one impressive gathering. Netroots is highly professional in how it's organized and wonderfully amateur in its inclusiveness. Most of this year's attendees were first-timers, including me.

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We are still waiting for a decision about the fate of the Voting Rights Act, but today the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in another voting rights case.

In today's case, the Court ruled in favor of those who support voter access. Arizona must accept federal voter registration forms--even those federal forms that do not comply with Arizona's restrictive proof-of-citizenship requirements. The opinion was written by Justice Scalia, who stated in February that the renewal of the Voting Rights Act was motivated by "racial entitlement."

I remember a time when liberals were the people who used government as a democratic counterweight to the abuses of capitalism, and conservatives were those close to big business who wanted to limit government. Liberals also recognized, with the Framers of the Constitution, that government had to be strong enough to protect the rights of the weak. Conservatives didn't like the power of the state, but were fine with concentrated private power.

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Huffington Post
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President Obama's personal summit with China's new president, Xi Jinping, at the well-named venue of Rancho Mirage, Calif., covered a wide range of issues, from North Korea to cyber-spying to territorial disputes with Japan and Taiwan, to global climate change. What the meetings did not engage is the fact that China's entire economic system violates the naïve American premise that free markets produce efficient and balanced outcomes.

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IS THE Federal Reserve planning to phase out its unprecedented $85-billion-a-month bond purchase program, which has kept interest rates at historic lows? The stock and bond markets have been gyrating in anticipation of the Fed’s possible moves. And if the Fed does start pulling back, what will be the impact on the still-fragile recovery?

The eurozone's descent back into recession this year has come as no great surprise to many economists. By scaling back government spending, austerity policies on the continent and in the U.K. have reduced economic demand -- which, of course, is the last thing you want to do if the goal is boosting growth.

Just as markets over-built housing, mispriced mortgages and bid up prices beyond the real financial capacity of homebuyers, America's colleges and universities have over-expanded and over-priced their product. We are getting an education bubble with dynamics similar to the late housing bubble.

As more and more students find themselves with debts that exceed the salaries offered by the current job market, colleges have expanded beyond the capacity of their markets. Some kind of shakeout is coming. The question is: what kind.

On April 30, 2013, at the Statehouse in Montpelier, I joined more than two dozen leaders — women and men from business, government and the community — to participate in the Vermont Works for Women press conference unveiling “Enough Said – Young Women Talk About School, Work and Becoming Adults: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do.” The report not only delineated what has been a somewhat hidden problem, but clearly touched a nerve for all of us that action is needed.

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