02-27-2020  11:44 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Warren Rallies in Seattle

Washington state’s primary is Tuesday, March 10; voters should have received their ballots by Thursday, Feb. 27

Support for Black Reparations Grows in Congress

The Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act now has 125 cosponsors

Shifting Demographics Drive GOP Nosedive on US West Coast

Political districts have flipped in population centers, from San Diego in the south to Seattle in the north

'A World of Hurt': 39 States to Investigate JUUL's Marketing

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NEWS BRIEFS

Washington’s March 10 Presidential Primary Ballots Mailed to Voters

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State and Federal Agencies Aid Sunken Tugboat in Columbia River

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Multnomah County Promotes Voter Education Project

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New Travel Ban Takes Effect, National Groups Respond

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Harris, Booker Applaud House For Announcing Vote on Anti-Lynching Legislation

After passing the House, the bill will head to the president’s desk to be signed into law ...

Missing fisherman found dead in Newport Bay

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Suburban Seattle high school closed over new virus concerns

BOTHELL, Wash. (AP) — A suburban Seattle high school was closed Thursday after a staffer's family member was placed in quarantine for showing symptoms of possibly contracting the new virus that started in China - an action health officials say is unnecessary.Bothell High school, bout 20...

Former AD, All-American center Dick Tamburo dies at 90

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dick Tamburo, an athletic director at three major schools and an All-American center at Michigan State, has died. He was 90.Michigan State announced that Tamburo died Monday.A native of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Tamburo served as the athletic director at Texas...

OPINION

Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

As the cost of housing soars the homeless population jumps 12 percent, the number of people renting grows and homeownership falls ...

Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

Under the new ban on countries, four out of five people who will be excluded are Africans ...

Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin, has recently been voted by this administration’s NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

MLB appoints 1st black umpire crew chief

NEW YORK (AP) — Kerwin Danley became the first African American umpire crew chief in Major League Baseball when a series of promotions, additions and retirements were announced Thursday.The moves included Alfonso Marquez being elevated to the first Hispanic crew chief in MLB history born...

Kosovo offers to ease tariff on neighboring Serbia's goods

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's new prime minister said Thursday his government will partially lift a 100% tariff imposed on Serbian goods, in a goodwill move aimed to help restart suspended talks with Serbia on normalizing relations.Albin Kurti said the measure would come into effect from...

Nazi cautionary dramas wade into political, factual disputes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood mustered its creative forces in the 1940s when Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany sought to conquer the world, with Humphrey Bogart standing up to the fascist regime in “Casablanca” and director Ernst Lubitsch mocking it and its dictator in “To Be...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: Eric Johnson's vocals, acoustic guitar shine

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Lee Phillip Bell, co-creator of popular soaps, dies at 91

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” and hosted her own daytime talk show in Chicago for 33 years, has died. She was 91.Bell died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles,...

Kids shine as Broadway's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' goes big

NEW YORK (AP) — The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird” ditched its somber Broadway home Wednesday for the cavernous Madison Square Garden, performing the play for 18,000 school kids in an electric one-time-only performance that one actor called “primal.”It marks the...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Nazi cautionary dramas wade into political, factual disputes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood mustered its creative forces in the 1940s when Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany...

About 40% of US adults are obese, government survey finds

NEW YORK (AP) — About 4 in 10 American adults are obese, and nearly 1 in 10 is severely so, government...

Former Michigan wrestler urges more victims to 'speak up'

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — A University of Michigan wrestler from the 1970s said Thursday that he was kicked...

Putin rejected offer to use body doubles during Chechen war

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had rejected an offer to use body doubles for...

Syrian opposition fighters retake key town, cut highway

BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters retook a strategic northwestern town from government...

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

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McMenamins
Rachel La Corte Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- In a decision that could give momentum to other efforts to expand voting to inmates, a federal appeals court ruled that incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote in Washington state.
There's a patchwork of laws across the nation concerning restoration of felons' voting rights, but only Maine and Vermont allow those behind bars to cast ballots.
The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned the 2000 ruling of a district judge in Spokane. That judge had ruled that Washington state's felon disenfranchisement law did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former prison inmate from Bellevue.
The two appellate judges ruled that disparities in the state's justice system "cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."
A spokeswoman said state Attorney General Rob McKenna is weighing the state's next step. Spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie said that they could either ask a larger group of judges from the 9th Circuit to reconsider the ruling or go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court. If appealed, it's likely that the state would seek a stay on inmate's ability to vote until the case is resolved.
While the ruling only currently covers Washington state, if it stands, Guthrie said it could be the basis for litigation in any area covered by the 9th Circuit -- Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
Of the more than 18,000 felons currently in state custody who could get their right to vote back under this ruling, 37.1 percent are minorities. Of that group, Blacks make up the largest percentage, at 19.2 percent.
The issues the ruling raises about racial bias in the justice system are not unique to Washington state, said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., group promoting sentencing reform.
"They are issues that permeate the justice system and are relevant in every state," he said.
Mauer said that an estimated 5.3 million people nationwide are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction.
Tuesday's court's ruling is "an embarrassment," said Trent England, a policy director at Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington state. "`It flies in the face of precedent," he said. "Not only is felon disenfranchisement constitutional but it's good policy. People who commit the most heinous crimes should be deprived of their voice in our system of government at least for a time."
The lawsuit was filed by Muhammad Shabazz Farrakhan, formerly of Bellevue. He was serving a three-year sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for a series of felony-theft convictions when he sued the state in 1996.
Ultimately, five other inmates, all members of racial minority groups, joined as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit contended that because nonwhites make up a large percentage of the prison population, a state law prohibiting inmates and parolees from voting is illegal because it dilutes the electoral clout of minorities. That was a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965, the lawsuit said.
An attorney for Farrakhan equated disenfranchisement laws to poll taxes and literacy tests of the past.
"In this case, we have proved that the criminal justice system in this state is biased against African-Americans, and the impact has been a violation of their voting rights," said Larry Weiser, a law professor at Gonzaga University School of Law who is the lead attorney in the lawsuit.
The state contended that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the law was not intended to discriminate against minorities.
David Ammons, a spokesman for the state's head elections official, said that Secretary of State Sam Reed "supports minority rights, but believes it is a rational and reasonable sanction for society to demand that felons lose their voting rights while in prison or under community supervision."
Last year, lawmakers passed a law that allows convicted felons to reregister to vote once they're no longer on parole or probation. Previously, felons who were no longer in Washington state custody but owed court-ordered fines and restitution were not allowed to vote. Under the new law that took effect last July, voting rights could be revoked if a felon willingly fails to make regular payments on those financial obligations.
In her dissent, 9th Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown wrote that the majority "has charted territory that none of our sister circuits has dared to explore," and notes that three other appellate courts -- the 1st Circuit in a Massachusetts case, the 2nd Circuit in a New York case, and the 11th Circuit in a Florida case – "have all determined that vote denial challenges to felon disenfranchisement laws are not cognizable under the Voting Rights Act."
She wrote that since Washington state passed a law changing voting rights just last year, and after the 9th Circuit heard the Farrakhan case, the case should go back to district court.
"It is not our job to consider, in the first instance, the effect this new law has on plaintiffs' case and whether the totality of the circumstances analysis under ... the Voting Rights Act should be different now that plaintiffs' case remains viable only as to currently incarcerated felons," she wrote.
___
The case is Farrakhan v. Gregoire.


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