Charges Dropped Against Pipeline Activists; and Continued Erosion Of Voting Rights In The United States

Charges Dropped Against Pipeline Activists

The climate movement won a significant victory on July 13 when all charges were dropped against 16 pipeline protesters and a journalist. The local district attorney in Saint Martinsville, Louisiana rejected all criminal charges and vowed not to prosecute them for alleged violations of Louisianas anti-protest amendments to their critical infrastructure law.

The Bayou Bridge pipeline is the tail end of the infamous 1172 mile long Dakota access pipeline which brings dirty oil from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico. The end of the pipeline runs from Texas to Louisiana.

In 2018, in the midst of fierce opposition to the Bainbridge Pipeline and at the urging of an industry association to Louisiana legislator added pipelines to the definition of critical infrastructure to significantly raise the penalties for people protesting pipeline project. Those found guilty could be punished with five years in prison with or without hard labor.

This critical infrastructure law is part of a national effort to crack down an environmental activists across the US. The law in Louisiana was adopted from model legislation put forward by ALEC, the corporate funded politically conservative group. Similar legislation aimed at pipeline protesters has been introduced more than 23 times in 18 states since 2017 and is in effect in 15.

Karen Savage, an independent journalist who was arrested, said that the first amendment guarantees water protectors the right to protest and protects my right as a journalist to report those protest without fear of retribution.

Guest – Anne White Hat, one of the people arrested and charged under the law. Whitehat Botanicals

Guest – Attorney Pam Spees, one of the team of attorneys that handled the criminal defense case. Shes also representing Anne White Hat in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Louisiana law. Whitehat v. Landry


Continued Erosion Of Voting Rights In The United States

We are in the middle of a second great disenfranchisement in America. The first was after the Civil War reconstruction ended and Black people were stripped of their right to vote and their ability to hold office. This disenfranchisement lasted almost 100 years until the modern civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Legislatures in Republican run states are imposing new voting restrictions particularly on non-white voters. The Brennan Center found that as of June 20th, 17 states enacted 28 new laws restricting the ability to vote since the start of the year.

Republican run states hastened to restrict voting by mail and in person, voting hours and locations, and the implementation of voter registration and voter ID requirements.

Georgia banned giving food or water to voters waiting in long lines, lines that were caused by reduced access to ballot casting locations in Black precincts. They get away with this by raising the imaginary problem of voter fraud.

The Supreme Court has six reactionary judges and three liberals. Three of the reactionaries were added to the court by Donald Trump. The reactionaries recent decision in Brnovich v Democratic National Committee delivered a huge hit to American democracy, such as it is. The decision makes the Court look like an obvious political institution where justices are simply partisan politicians with robes.

In the recent Brnovich decision, the court eviscerated the strongest remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act rights of 1965 which held that election laws and voting rules that actually had a racially discriminatory impact could be blocked.

The first major blow to the voting rights act was in 2013 when the court held in Shelby versus Holder that federal authorities could no longer block regressive new election laws or voting rules in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination.

Effectively, most of the Voting Rights Act is now dead, declared Hamlin University scholar David Schultz who specializes in elections.

Guest ” Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught from 1991-2016, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures, writes, and provides commentary for local, regional, national and international media outlets. Professor Cohn has served as a news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, and a legal and political commentator on the BBC, CNN, NPR, and other major stations.

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