Entries in Race (8)


Scalia Discusses Race, Homosexuality, Boredom

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia showed a lighter side while joking with students from the University of California Washington Center.

At the event Monday, held to publicize his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, Scalia answered students’ questions on a range of issues and offered insight into the perspective from the other side of the bench.

Scalia said most times justices ask questions in order to make colleagues understand which way they are leaning a certain way on a case.

“Sometimes I ask questions just because I’m bored, just to stay awake,” he joked. “Very often the questioning is done to convey your point of view to your colleagues.”

Scalia also touched on topics as varied as his viewpoint on the Constitution and opposition of Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The section requires that states and regions that have previously discriminated against minority voters such as African Americans gain federal approval when they want to change voting regulations in their states.

Scalia called the act one of “racial preferment,” which would continue to be reauthorized by Congress unless the high court took action.

Congress last reauthorized the act for another 25 years in 2006. The Supreme Court decision on the act’s constitutionality is expected in late June.

In February, when the act was last brought before the Supreme Court, Scalia had said Congressional support was based in part on what he called “racial entitlement.”

“I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about,” Scalia said. “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

Scalia shot down a question on homosexuality when a student asked about the interpretation of the constitution’s 14th Amendment regarding same-sex relationships, something the student suggested was a “new technical phenomena.”

“There was homosexuality in the time of the 14th Amendment. Every state had laws against it. It was criminal in every state,” he said. “I don’t consider homosexuality a new technical phenomena...people didn’t come forward and demand a constitutional right to homosexual marriage before (in the time of the 14th Amendment).”

Scalia agreed when questioned by a student as to whether fellow Justice Clarence Thomas pushed him to the right when Thomas came on to the court in 1991 or if it was the other way around.

“What had happened was I had followed Clarence’s lead, he knew that,” he said. “Clarence is his own man, he’s not going to follow me just to follow me. You know he’s a very stubborn man too, which is why he won’t ask questions. The more the press is on him for not asking questions the less likely he is to ask questions.”

Thomas broke his silence for the first time in seven years earlier this year when he made a joke during an oral argument.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mass. Senate Race: Warren’s Cherokee Ancestry Stirs Debate

US Senate/US Congress(BOSTON) -- To hear her opponents tell it, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren cheated the system for years.

Warren, 62, listed herself as a minority, based on a far-back Cherokee bloodline. How far back? Warren’s great-great-great-grandmother was listed as Cherokee on her 1894 marriage license, genealogists discovered.

The story has dominated the political news cycle in Massachusetts since it first broke last Friday. And to be sure, Elizabeth Warren has had a horrible week since then.

But amid all of the inquiry into Warren’s ancestry and all of the questions as to why she did in fact self-identify as Native American, two overarching questions still remain. First and foremost, did Warren actually use her heritage to get ahead in her career? And what’s the lasting damage from the story?

There’s no doubt that Warren has an impressive resume. She has taught law at numerous prestigious universities, including Harvard, where she currently serves as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law.

In 2008 she was tasked with heading the Congressional Oversight Panel to oversee the Troubled Assets Relief Program (more commonly referred to as TARP). She is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She made Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People In the World in 2009 and 2010.

Many of Warren’s past employers have come forward on her behalf, stating that their decision to hire her was in no way based on her heritage.

“When the Harvard Law School faculty voted in the early 1990′s to make Elizabeth Warren an offer of a tenured professorship at our School, the decision was based on three factors:  our goal of adding a top-notch academic expert in debtor-creditor law to the regular faculty; her excellent scholarship in that field; and her fabulous success as a teacher.  Her Native American heritage was not a factor in the discussion or the decision,” said Robert Clark, former Dean of Harvard Law School.

The only person who could answer the question as to whether Elizabeth Warren used her ancestry to get ahead is Elizabeth Warren. But Warren’s comments on the topic have not helped her case very much. First Warren explained that she listed herself as a minority in the hopes that she might meet what she described as “people like her.”   When pressed again about the subject by local reporters, Warren said her Aunt Bee used to envy Warren’s grandfather’s “high cheekbones” -- which Aunt Bee used to describe as a physical characteristic of Native Americans.

Still, there is an advantage to identifying as a minority within the realm of academia, says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and a fellow professor.

“It is an advantage to be qualified as a minority if you’re looking for a job, or you’re looking to get a counter-offer,” Sabato said. “So to an academic looking at these facts, it appears fairly obvious why she did it.”

Whether or not Warren truly intended to game the system, Sabato says that damage has been done by this story, and it’s not insignificant.

The good news for Warren? Election day is still six months away, and in politics, six months is practically a lifetime.

“It’s May, the election’s in November, and everything seems vitally important on the day it happens” Sabato said. “And two weeks later we’re trying to remember the details.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pete Hoekstra Scrubs Racially Tinged Super Bowl Ad from Internet

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While it aired on television only in the state of Michigan, Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s racially charged Super Bowl ad soon became the perceived slur heard round the country.

Now, after a deluge of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, the Hoekstra campaign has scrubbed the ad from the Internet, wiping it from his Facebook page, YouTube channel and campaign website.

But Hoekstra has yet to be anything but supportive of his ad, which features an Asian woman riding through rice paddies and thanking Hoekstra’s Senate rival in broken English for outsourcing U.S. jobs to China.

The ad accuses Hoekstra’s Senate election rival, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., of supporting deficit spending in Congress and dubs her “Debbie Spend-It-Now.”

The ad’s actress, Lisa Chan, a recent University of California at Berkeley graduate, said in a Facebook post that she feels “horrible about my participation” in the ad, which was “absolutely a mistake.”

Hoekstra was unmoved.

“It’s not a stereotype at all,” he told Fox’s Megyn Kelly when asked a day after the Super Bowl whether the actress’ faked broken dialect was an unfair stereotype. "Through the creative [design of the ad] this is a young woman in China who’s speaking English. That’s quite an achievement."

A statement saying “this video has been removed by the user” now appears on Hoekstra’s YouTube page where the clip of this Fox interview used to be. Hoekstra’s campaign declined to comment on removing the ad.

The super PAC American Values, which is launching a campaign against Hoekstra over his controversial ad, has claimed partial credit for Hoekstra’s attempts to wipe the ad from the Web.

“It was less than 72 hours after we put this ad up and started sending it out to national press that he actually started scrubbing the ad from the internet,” said Jesse Tangkhpanya, the national political director at American Values. “He basically is trying to walk away from this issue but we are not letting go.”

The super PAC released an ad Friday condemning Hoekstra’s “racially tinged ad.”

“Congressman Pete Hoekstra, shame on you,” says the ad’s narrator after clips of Hoekstra’s Super Bowl ad.

“I can tell you right now that we are not going to stop until he actually apologizes,” Tangkhpanya said. “We are going to keep building up the pressure.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Congressman: Tea Party Wants to See Blacks ‘Hanging On a Tree’

US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- While Republican presidential candidates arrange and re-arrange their schedules in an attempt to court Tea Partiers, one House Democratic member of the Congressional Black Caucus is blasting the conservative group for trying to take America back to the days of the racist Jim Crow laws.

In a video circulated Tuesday by conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze, Indiana Rep. Andre Carson not-so-subtly implied the Tea Party wants to see African Americans lynched.

"This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow," Rep. Carson said at an Aug. 22 Congressional Black Caucus Job Tour even in Miami. "Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me...hanging on a tree."

"Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago," Carson added. "But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”

Carson’s office confirmed that he made the remarks, and refused to apologize for them. His spokesman Jason Tomsci told the Washington Post that the Congressman’s remarks were in response to many of his constituents’ frustration over “Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.”

“The tea party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” Tomcsi said, according to the Post. “We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning. A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life.”

“So, yes, the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing,” Tomcsi added.

Another Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., also had harsh words for the Tea Party last week when she said members of the movement could "go straight to hell."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fewer See Improved Race Relations Under Obama

Tom Williams/Roll Call(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- As President Obama prepares to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., with a speech at a new King monument on the National Mall, fewer Americans than two years ago say they believe race relations have improved under the country’s first black president, according to a new Gallup survey.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said race relations have gotten “a lot better” or “a little better” under Obama, down from 41 percent who said the same in October 2009.  The number who felt relations have remained the same rose by six points, from 35 to 41 percent, in the same period.

The results are a dramatic change from the day after Obama’s election, when Gallup found 70 percent of Americans predicted race relations would improve.

Twenty-three percent of Americans now believe race relations have gotten worse during Obama’s presidency, representing little change from 21 months earlier.  

Obama invoked King while discussing lingering social and economic frustration in parts of the country at a New York City fundraiser last month, saying King's legacy is a reminder that progress takes time.  

“What he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own," Obama said. "It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc, and we are bending it in that direction, and it takes time.  And it's hard work. And there are frustrations.”

The Gallup poll, conducted Aug. 4-7, has a margin of error of four percentage points and includes an oversample of African-Americans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Conservative David Prosser Retakes Lead in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin's topsy-turvy Supreme Court race -- widely seen as a referendum on Republican Governor Scott Walker -- took another dramatic turn as incumbent justice David Prosser, a conservative, moved convincingly back into the lead.

On Wednesday, liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general, had appeared to eke out an upset -- besting Prosser by 204 votes in an unofficial tally. But officials in heavily Republican Waukesha County now say they discovered a counting error that, when rectified, gives Prosser an additional 7,582 votes.

Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus blamed the error on her failure to save results from the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield on her database. She told reporters, "This is human error which I apologize for."

If the new results hold -- and a Democratic official in the county said they appear to be accurate -- Kloppenburg faces an uphill fight in a recount because the new margin is too large for the state to pick up the costs.

The race has been closely watched because Walker supporters and detractors viewed it as a proxy battle for his controversial move to strip state employees of union rights.

It produced a record turnout: nearly 1.5 million votes were cast for what is typically a low-key judicial election. The outcome is significant because Wisconsin's Supreme Court may soon decide the legality of the state's anti-union law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Remarkable for a Black Man': Rick Santorum on Obama, Abortion

Photo Courtesy - Brendan Smialowski/ Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender, injected race into the debate about abortion rights, saying that President Barack Obama’s stance on the issue is “almost remarkable for a black man.”

In a recent interview with the Christian News Service, Santorum argued that because of his race, Obama should be able to say definitively that the life of unborn children is protected under the Constitution.

“The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that human life a person under the Constitution?  And Barack Obama says ‘no,’” Santorum said in a televised interview.  “Well if that person -- human life is not a person -- then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we're going to decide who are people and who are not people.’”

Santorum was referring to comments, now more than two years old, that Obama made as a candidate for president in which he said that the question of whether a baby should have human rights was “above my pay grade.”

Obama offered that answer in August 2008 at a forum on religion and politics organized by California pastor Rick Warren.

“Just about everything else in the world he’s willing to do -- have the government do -- but he can’t answer that basic question which is not a debatable issue at all,” Santorum told CNS News’ Terry Jeffrey.  “I don’t think you’ll find a biologist in the world who will say that is not a human life.”

The mingling of race and the abortion debate -- two extremely volatile issues -- is likely to present problems for Santorum’s presidential ambitions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Wave Yields More Racially Diverse Congress, No Gains for Women

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Come January, the halls of Congress will be filled with dozens of new Republican members, many of whom will help make the chamber more diverse than it was before. By numbers alone, the Congress that will meet in 2011 will be slightly more racially and ethnically mixed than the current one, according to an ABC News analysis of the election results. But the vast majority of representatives in Washington will continue to be white, straight men.

Several African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American candidates succeeded in their bids for House and Senate seats, while women candidates faced mixed results, leaving their overall representation in Congress flat or declining based on the outcome of several undecided races.

A record eight Latino Republicans were elected to Congress Tuesday, bringing total Latino representation on Capitol Hill to a near-record 27, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The number of Asian-American members of Congress will remain at 13, while the number of African-Americans will be 41, one less than the current makeup. Overall, the number of African-Americans in Congress will remain steady. But for the first time in five years, the U.S. Senate will not have an African-American member in 2011.

Meanwhile, despite record numbers of women filing to run for the U.S. House and Senate during the primaries, women failed to increase their number in Congress and could cede ground to men next year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Seventeen women currently serve in the Senate, and 11 were not up for re-election this year. In the House, where 73 women now serve, at least 70 women will be seated in 2011. But three women candidates are in races too close to call. If any one of them lose, there will be a decline in the total number of women in Congress for the first time in 30 years. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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