Saturday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kathy says:

    Good news to end the week, Season 3 of Lower Decks is out.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Jim Crow-era provision of the Mississippi constitution designed to disfranchise Black voters is constitutional, a federal appellate court ruled on Wednesday.

    The case deals with a provision of the Mississippi constitution, Section 241, that lays out specific crimes that cause its citizens to permanently lose the right to vote. Mississippi officials initially adopted the provision at a constitutional convention in 1890, choosing crimes such as theft, arson, embezzlement and bigamy that they believed African Americans were more likely to commit. “We came here to exclude the Negro,” said the convention’s president. “Nothing short of this will answer.”

    A majority of judges on the US court of appeals for the fifth circuit did not dispute that the original provision was racist and unconstitutional. But they said Mississippi had since “cleansed” the provision of its “discriminatory taint” by tweaking the provision twice in the 20th century. Voters removed burglary from the list of disfranchising crimes in 1950 and added murder and rape to the list in 1968.

    “Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of showing that the current version of Section 241 was motivated by discriminatory intent. In addition, Mississippi has conclusively shown that any taint associated with Section 241 has been cured,” a majority of justices for the fifth circuit, one of the most conservative in the US, wrote in an opinion.
    The decision will allow Mississippi to continue to enforce an extremely harsh policy when it comes to voting rights for those with certain felony convictions. Ten per cent of the state’s voting age population – the highest rate in the country – cannot vote because of a felony conviction, according to an estimate by the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice non-profit. That includes 16% of the Black voting age population. The vast majority of people disenfranchised in the state have completed their criminal sentence.

    It is technically possible for someone with a disfranchising crime on their record to get their voting rights back, but the state makes it nearly impossible. To do so, a person with a felony conviction must get both houses of the state legislature to approve an individualized bill on their behalf by at least a two-thirds majority. The bill must then be approved by the governor. Hardly anyone has succeeded.
    In a dissenting opinion, Judge James Graves said the tweaks in the 20th century did not cure the discrimination of the original provision.

    “The 1968 vote reflects the voters’ views only on the addition or subtraction of three crimes in the original § 241 list. Those votes did not touch, in any way, the eight original crimes from 1890 that remain in § 241 to this day,” he wrote.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sullivan Walter was just a teenager when he was arrested in connection with a rape during a home invasion in New Orleans. More than three decades later, a Louisiana judge determined Walter, now 53, was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and freed him from prison on Thursday. The decision by district judge Darryl Derbigny ended the fifth longest wrongful conviction sentence of any juvenile in the US, reported, at a time when juvenile sentences, particularly life sentences, are under scrutiny.

    The Black man’s conviction illustrated the racial bias that plagues the US criminal justice system and has led Black people to be disproportionately wrongfully convicted of sexual assault, murder and drug-related offenses compared with white people. A 2017 review of nearly 2,000 cases between 1989 and 2016 by the National Registry of Exonerations found that Black people were significantly more likely to later be found innocent after a conviction.

    They were also more likely to wait longer for their names to be cleared. In Walter’s case, like others, race played a role, the Innocence Project New Orleans legal director, Richard Davis, said in a statement to the Associated Press.

    “The lawyers and law enforcement involved acted as if they believed that they could do what they chose to a Black teenager from a poor family and would never be scrutinized or held to account,” Davis said. “This is not just about individuals and their choices, but the systems that let them happen.”

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    36,000km in three days: $8,000 car rental charge shocks Canadian woman

    All of her calls to the Avis counter at the Toronto airport went unanswered. Her call with a manager at the general office left her feeling the company “didn’t seem to really get what [the] issue was” and the fee remained in place.

    Her rental receipt, posted to Twitter, shows the company levied a charge of 25 cents per kilometre – for 36,000 additional kilometres.

    Even if she had travelled from Mexico City to Skagway, Alaska, over the three days, driving nonstop, she would still be nearly 30,000km short of what the company claimed she had travelled – enough to traverse the entire continent of North America three more times.

    Visa, her credit card company, said it couldn’t stop a pending transaction.

    Only nine days later, after her story was picked up by local media, did Boniface get a response from Avis, which acknowledged the mistake and advised the extra charges would be refunded.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Science girl@gunsnrosesgirl3
    A spectacular Iridescent pileus cloud


  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hot Masculinity Takes

    Trigger warning: I threw up in my mouth.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trae Crowder has a thing or 2 to say about student loans.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    “The lawyers and law enforcement involved acted as if they believed that they could do what they chose to a Black teenager from a poor family and would never be scrutinized or held to account,” Davis said.


    And 3 decades ago, that belief was pretty much true. And America hasn’t moved a significant distance on this type of issue, either, but most of the movement over the previous generation or so has been more positive than negative.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The interesting problem for me is that I struggle to not read Eddie in LA and other whinging about this issue hearing their words in the same voice with the same inflections. But like I said about this in a post yesterday, I got no dog in this fight. Let everyone be fully convinced in their own minds.

  12. Chip Daniels says:


    And lo, Gawd placed a rainbow cloud in the sky to warn fundamentalists to cease their persecutions of LGBTQ people.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I am not persuaded by, “I got fcked, therefor everybody else should get fcked to.” arguments. By that reasoning we should never try to make things better for anyone.

    @Chip Daniels: HA! I wish I’d thought of that.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Chip Daniels: There’s not a single fundy or evangelical in the whole world that would make that interpretation. Even if there was a Bible verse for it.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: And I don’t think that people like you and Eddie ARE persuaded by them. I’m just talking about the tone my inner voice hears* when I read comments about student loan forgiveness. What I hear is on me, but I suspect that people say thing occasionally without thinking that “what you heard is not what I meant.”**

    *I’m one of the people who almost always hears a voice in my head when I’m reading. (Yeah. It really slows down reading speed, too. 🙁 )

    **Part of the quip that I used as an epigraph for the section of my English 101 syllabus that explained how the study of grammar would take place. I generally intended it to be an answer to the comment: “Why do I need to study grammar? I speak English fluently.”