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Law Day 2014: Why Every Vote Matters From The American Bar Association Law Day Theme: The right to vote is the very foundation of government by the people.

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Presentation on theme: "Law Day 2014: Why Every Vote Matters From The American Bar Association Law Day Theme: The right to vote is the very foundation of government by the people."— Presentation transcript:

1 Law Day 2014: Why Every Vote Matters From The American Bar Association Law Day Theme: The right to vote is the very foundation of government by the people. For this reason, striving to establish and protect every citizens right to vote has been a central theme of American legal and civic history. Much of the struggle on voting rights began decades ago, but the work is far from complete, and a citizens right to cast a ballot remains at risk today. As we approach the 50 th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, The 2014 Law Day theme, American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters, calls on every American to reflect on the importance of a citizens right to vote and the challenges we still face in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in our democracy. The First Vote drawing by A.R. Waud, 1867 ; Library of Congress LC- USZ62-19234. Celebrating the 15 th Amendment

2 Who Controls Voter Registration and Who Determines Who Can Vote? At the beginning of our county only white, male, property owners were allowed to vote. Over the years, amendments to our Constitution and new Federal Laws have changed who was eligible to vote. Each State controls its own voter registration process. There are different rules in each state, but the states must follow the federal law. The following changes have been made on who can vote: The Fifteenth Amendment extended the vote to African-American males in 1870 The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920 Native Americans gained the right to vote in 1924, when granted U.S. citizenship The Twenty-Six Amendment gave 18 years olds the right to vote.

3 FOCUS QUESTION Why do you think that the U.S. Constitution left the power to determine who was qualified to register to vote to each of the States? Registration to vote is a feature relatively unique to America. In most nations the government registers its voters... This requirement grew up at the turn of the century. It was clearly aimed at reducing the voting by immigrant and lower income groups in urban areas. Indeed, many states limited registration to only urban areas. American Government, Rosencranz & Chapen, page 230

4 Civil Rights Act (1964) In a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy urged the nation to take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race. Soon after, Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address voting rights, public accommodations, school desegregation, nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, and more. Despite Kennedys assassination in November of 1963, his proposal culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson just a few hours after House approval on July 2, 1964. The act outlawed segregation in businesses such as theaters, restaurants, and hotels. It banned discriminatory practices in employment and ended segregation in public places such as swimming pools, libraries, and public schools. From www.ourdocuments.govwww.ourdocuments.gov Title I of the Civil Rights Act was to enforce the constitutional right to vote...

5 Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Passage of the act was not easy. House opposition bottled up the bill in the House Rules Committee. In the Senate, opponents attempted to talk the bill to death in a filibuster... The Senate filibuster was overcome through the floor leadership of Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the considerable support of President Lyndon, and the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois, who convinced Republicans to support the bill From www.ourdocuments.govwww.ourdocuments.gov Photograph from Congresslink Note Martin Luther King, Jr. behind the President

6 Voting Rights Act of 1965 This act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution was signed into law 95 years after the amendment was ratified. In those years, African Americans in the South faced tremendous obstacles to voting, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic restrictions to deny them the right to vote. They also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. As a result, very few African Americans were registered voters, and they had very little, if any, political power, either locally or nationally.fifteenth amendment to the Constitution was signed into law 95 years after the amendment was ratified. In those years, African Americans in the South faced tremendous obstacles to voting, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic restrictions to deny them the right to vote. They also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. As a result, very few African Americans were registered voters, and they had very little, if any, political power, either locally or nationally. In 1964, numerous demonstrations were held, and the considerable violence that erupted brought renewed attention to the issue of voting rights. The murder of voting-rights activists in Mississippi and the attack by state troopers on peaceful marchers in Selma, AL, gained national attention and persuaded President Johnson and Congress to initiate meaningful and effective national voting rights legislation. The combination of public revulsion to the violence and Johnson's political skills stimulated Congress to pass the voting rights bill on August 5, 1965. Question for Student Handout I What did the Act do? Outlawed literacy tests and provided for Federal examiners with power to register citizens Required covered jurisdictions (those with a history of discrimination) to obtain preclearance for any new voting practices and procedures. Applied a nationwide prohibition of the denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race or color. Directed the Attorney General to challenge the use of poll taxes in state and local elections. Why Was it Challenged? What was the Impact of the Act?

7 What is Moral Turpitude? Blacks Law Dictionary defines Moral Turpitude as: Conduct that is contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals What do you think the term means?

8 Case Study: Hunter v. Underwood Final Review Question: The Alabama provision was struck down by the Supreme Court at least partly because the historical evidence clearly established that the law was motivated by a desire to discriminate against blacks on account of race. But what if the evidence isnt so clear? If Alabama adopts the same provision today, without the same historical evidence of racial discrimination, should it still be unconstitutional?

9 Amending Delawares Constitution Article XVI of the Delaware Constitution defines how the Constitution may be amended. Unlike in any other state, the state legislature in Delaware can amend the constitution without a vote of the people. It must pass 2/3s of both Houses in two separate General Assemblies. It can also be amended through a Constitutional Convention

10 House Bill 10 The original Voter Restoration Act Amendment was passed in April of 2013. House Bill 10 was the second stage in enacting the Amendment. The SYNOPSIS of House Bill 10 states that, This Act is the second leg of a Constitutional Amendment which eliminates the existing five-year waiting period before eligible felons who have fully discharged their sentences may have their voting rights restored. This Act shall be known as the Hazel D. Plant Voter Restoration Act The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that, Over 14,000 people living and working in Delaware communities with past criminal convictions were not eligible to vote in the 2010 elections. Who was Hazel D. Plant? Upon the death of her husband, State Representative Al O. Plant Sr., Mrs. Plant successfully ran for his office and won the seat. She has served the 2 nd Representative District (in Wilmington, DE.) with distinction for 10 years. Hazel and her husband were founders of... The Organization of Minority Women which was instrumental in helping to keep Rev. King, Jr.s legacy alive by sponsoring the MLK JR breakfast annually and awarding scholarships to area students. Congo Funeral Home She died on November 24, 2010.

11 Testimony, House Administration Committee Meeting: Minutes 1/23/13 People lose interest in the democratic system because as ex-felons they are denied the ability to vote. It is a taxpayers right to vote Richard Smith Young men and women... Are deterred from complete rehabilitation into productive members of society when the right to vote is still being denied Pastor Howard Earle. (V)oting is a right and not a privilege, and having the right to vote has been proven in other states to reduce recidivism Kathleen McRae


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